Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: Debating Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State

The Bulldogs, Sooners and Buckeyes all have reasonable arguments to claim the No. 4 spot. We went with...
Sorry, Georgia. You're not in the top four on Matt Baker's AP Top 25 ballot. [ AP Photo / AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald ]
Sorry, Georgia. You're not in the top four on Matt Baker's AP Top 25 ballot. [ AP Photo / AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald ]
Published December 2 2018

I don't have a voice on the College Football Playoff selection committee, so my opinion on Georgia/Oklahoma/Ohio State won't decide the semifinalists.

But I did face the same dilemma when I filled out my weekly AP Top 25 ballot.

I can make a reasonable argument for all three teams at No. 4. Ohio State has the best win (62-39 over Michigan). Advanced metrics have been higher on Georgia, and the Bulldogs have three double-digit wins over teams in my top 25.

I went with the Sooners at No. 4. Oklahoma has four wins over teams in my rankings or just outside (West Virginia, Iowa State, Army and Texas). That last one is the most important because it avenged the Sooners' only loss, by three in the closing seconds in October. The Sooners weren't as dominant in some of their wins as the Buckeyes and Bulldogs, but they weren't as bad in their loss, either. When I weighed their resumes late Saturday, I couldn't get past the fact that Oklahoma beat the only team it lost to, while Georgia and Ohio State both had defeats by at least 20 points on their resumes.

I put Georgia next because the Bulldogs played mighty Alabama better than anyone else has all season. That counts, even if it came in a loss. I've been higher on Georgia all season, and I saw nothing in the Big Ten title game that changed my mind.

When the Buckeyes were struggling to put away Northwestern, I thought UCF might jump them. But Urban Meyer's team pulled away, so I kept UCF at No. 7 after a nice comeback win over Memphis. If the Knights' defense could figure itself out in the first half, they'd have a much stronger case at the top five, or maybe even the top four. Alas.

I tried not to punish teams too much for losing in a conference title game — an extra game against a good team that comparable teams didn't have to play. Texas slid only one spot on my ballot (behind Florida) and stayed ahead of Washington State. The tiebreaker there was the common opponent, USC; the Cougars lost to the Trojans, whom Texas beat. Utah only moved down one after losing to Washington (which jumped ahead of LSU for No. 9). Northwestern stayed in, barely, because the loss to Ohio State was closer than the final score suggested.

Stanford's win over Cal moved the Cardinal into my top 25, ahead of idle Utah State (which dropped out). Among the other teams just outside my rankings: North Carolina State, Army, Iowa State and Appalachian State.

Here's the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:

1.       Alabama 13-0

2.       Clemson 13-0

3.       Notre Dame 12-0

4.       Oklahoma 12-1

5.       Georgia 11-2

6.       Ohio State 12-1

7.       UCF 12-0

8.       Michigan 10-2

9.       Washington 10-3

10.   LSU 9-3

11.   West Virginia 8-3

12.   Florida 9-3

13.   Texas 9-4

14.   Washington State 10-2

15.   Penn State 9-3

16.   Fresno State 11-2

17.   Kentucky 9-3

18.   Boise State 10-3

19.   Syracuse 9-3

20.   Mississippi State 8-4

21.   Missouri 8-4

22.   Utah 9-4

23.   Texas A&M 8-4

24.   Stanford 8-4

25.   Northwestern 8-5