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My AP Top 25 ballot: Florida Gators rise, and a new No. 1 team

How far did UF jump after its biggest win of the Dan Mullen era? And who’s now ahead of Alabama?
Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain (16) outruns a tackle by Auburn defensive back Daniel Thomas on his way to a 64-yard touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [JOHN RAOUX  |  AP]
Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain (16) outruns a tackle by Auburn defensive back Daniel Thomas on his way to a 64-yard touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Oct. 6, 2019

Let’s start my AP Top 25 ballot explanation with the state’s most important game of last week: UCF’s loss at Cincinnati on Friday night. That’s the one you expected, right?

It was the most important because it had three big impacts on my ballot. The first is obvious: the Knights’ second loss dropped them out of my top 25. The second is obvious, too: Cincinnati jumped in (at No. 24).

But the third big impact? That’s less obvious. In Week 2, Cincinnati suffered its lone defeat, 42-0 to Ohio State. That was impressive then, and it’s even more impressive now that the Bearcats are a top-25 team (in my eyes, at least). Because that Ohio State win looks better and because the Buckeyes rolled to a big win over Michigan State, Ohio State has leapfrogged Alabama for the No. 1 spot on my ballot.

RELATED: Florida Gators a lock for a College Football Playoff spot? Not just yet

As for the other really big game in the state … Florida jumped two spots to No. 8 after a resilient win over Auburn. I considered putting the Gators higher but couldn’t justify putting them ahead of No. 6 Clemson or No. 7 Wisconsin yet. That said, I do feel more confident that UF belongs in the top 10 than I did a week ago, and the Gators will obviously have a big chance to rise into the top five next week at LSU. Auburn still has a strong resume, and its defense was as impressive in person as I thought it’d be. So I only dropped the Tigers to 10th.

RELATED: Florida Gators beat Auburn Tigers 24-13 to stay undefeated

This week’s big riser was Michigan, which went from unranked on my ballot to No. 16 after beating Iowa. I still don’t think Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are living up to their hype, but advanced metrics like them, and beating the Hawkeyes is a fine victory, no matter how ugly the game itself was. Iowa stayed on my ballot but dropped to No. 19.

Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Washington and the aforementioned UCF dropped off my ballot. Baylor, Cincinnati, Michigan and Virginia took their spots. Iowa State, Appalachian State and Tulane were among the other teams I considered. Here’s the ballot I submitted Sunday morning:

1. Ohio State

2. Alabama

3. Georgia

4. LSU

5. Oklahoma

6. Clemson

7. Wisconsin

8. Florida

9. Penn State

10. Auburn

11. Notre Dame

12. Oregon

13. Texas

14. Boise State

15. Utah

16. Michigan

17. Missouri

18. Arizona State

19. Iowa

20. Memphis

21. Wake Forest

22. Baylor

23. Cincinnati

24. Virginia

25. SMU


  1. The Knicks' Kevin Knox looks to pass as two Suns players defend him during the first half in a game on Jan. 16, 2020.
  2. Dan Mullen, of Florida, speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
  3. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) smashes into LSU Tigers safety John Battle (26) in the second quarter. (Bronte Wittpenn, Times)
  4. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter in a game against LSU at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
  5. Florida forward Keyontae Johnson, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, scores a career-high 24 points on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in a win over Arkansas in Gainesville.
  6. Florida State quarterback James Blackman (1) throws during the first half of the 2019 season opener against Boise State in Tallahassee.
  7. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Orange Bowl against Virginia on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens.
  8. In this 1980 file photo, Charley Pell celebrates his first victory as Florida Gators' coach, against Cal at Tampa Stadium.
  9. Florida basketball coach Mike White, shown here against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2020, continues to be frustrated by his team falling behind by large deficits early in games.
  10. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during a game Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville.
  11. South Florida Bulls tight end Mitchell Wilcox (89) makes a key reception with Temple Owls safety Amir Tyler (25) and Temple Owls linebacker Audley Isaacs (30) defending during the third quarter of the game between USF and Temple on Thursday, November 7, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  12. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times Florida Gators wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) walks in Gator Walk before the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla.