As usual, some of the biggest intrigue on my weekly AP Top 25 ballot centers on the state’s top two teams: Florida and UCF.
The Gators didn’t look very impressive early at Kentucky, lost their quarterback and then rallied to win behind veteran backup Kyle Trask. It’s UF’s second sloppy win this season over a top-40 team away from home (Miami in Orlando was the other). But I haven’t been solid on UF yet … and I don’t feel any differently after covering the game at Kroger Field.
The offensive line looks like a liability, and the quarterback play has been mixed. And now there’s no Feleipe Franks, who’s likely out for the season with a leg injury. I generally take a wait-and-see approach to quarterback injuries. That’s what I did when Florida State’s Deondre Francois hurt his knee against Alabama in the 2017 opener. I don’t know how well his backup will play. Maybe he’ll be even better. Or maybe he’ll be a lot worse, or about the same. Until I know for sure, I pause.
Why, then, did UF fall a spot to No. 9 on my ballot? Mostly because I don’t think I gave Wisconsin enough of a bump last week. Advanced metrics like the Badgers more than the Gators, and I probably should have had Wisconsin ahead of UF anyway. I corrected that this week, sliding UF down a spot to No. 9. But I don’t see a big gap between the two.
UCF was a big riser on my ballot. I had the Knights No. 18 last week but jumped them all the way to No. 11 after their blowout win over Stanford. The Cardinal isn’t a great team, but it’s a good one, and UCF dominated. It’s a strong win, period.
Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Michigan State all fell off my ballot. Washington jumped back in while Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU made their first appearances this season. I also considered Memphis, Arizona State and … Wake Forest (?) among others. Here’s the top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning from Gate B17 of the Louisville airport:
5. Ohio State
10. Notre Dame
13. Penn State
17. Texas A&M
18. Washington State
19. Boise State
21. Kansas State
24. Oklahoma State