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Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot: A new No. 1 team, and what to do with Miami and UCF

Week 1 is hard, because some teams played stiff competition ... and other still ain't played nobody.
Miami stayed on my AP Top 25 ballot, and LSU entered. [ AP PHOTO ]
Published Sep. 4, 2018

Preseason rankings are hard, because no one has done anything.

Rankings after Week 1 might be harder, because some teams have earned very good wins while others ain't played nobody.

So here's the compromise I came up with for my AP Top 25 ballot: I put extra, obvious emphasis on teams that beat quality opponents (like Auburn over Washington) while trying not to reward or punish teams that beat awful Week 1 competition (UCF over UConn, Georgia over Austin Peay, and so on).

Note how I said trying not to reward or punish anyone. There were exceptions, starting at the top. Clemson did what it was supposed to against Furman. But Alabama was more impressive against a much better team, which is why the Crimson Tide jumped Clemson for the top spot on my ballot. Georgia jumped up to third because of some Wisconsin suspensions that happened after I had to submit my preseason ballot.

Auburn had the week's best win and rose two spots on my ballot to sixth. I could have justified putting the Tigers higher but, again, didn't want to dump the teams ahead of Auburn yet. By next week, we'll have a larger sample size to dump my preseason expectations.

The big mover was LSU, which went from unranked to 15th. Miami stayed on my ballot but fell to 22nd. I'm not sure yet whether LSU is that good, or Miami is that bad, or somewhere in the middle (which would be my guess). We'll see. In the meantime, the Hurricanes stayed as the top team in the state on my ballot, two spots ahead of UCF (again, not reading too much into beating awful UConn).

Florida State, obviously, dropped out after its worst home loss in a decade. The Hokies jumped from unranked to No. 17.

Texas and Florida Atlantic also dropped off my ballot. Northwestern joined Virginia Tech and LSU as newcomers to my rankings.

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

1.  Alabama (1-0)

2. Clemson (1-0)

3. Georgia (1-0)

4. Wisconsin (1-0)

5. Ohio State (1-0)

6. Auburn (1-0)

7. Oklahoma (1-0)

8. Notre Dame (1-0)

9. Washington (0-1)

10. Stanford (1-0)

11. West Virginia (1-0)

12. Penn State (1-0)

13.  Mississippi State (1-0)

14. TCU (1-0)

15. LSU (1-0)

16. Boise State (1-0)

17. Virginia Tech (1-0)

18. USC (1-0)

19. Michigan (0-1)

20. Michigan State (1-0)

21. South Carolina (1-0)

22. Miami (0-1)

23. Oregon (1-0)

24. UCF (1-0)

25. Northwestern (1-0)