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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]
Published Oct. 6

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. Florida Gators head coach Mike White, right, takes selfie photos with Gators fan Zev Goodman, 13, during open practice that was available to the public at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Thursday. Tonight the Nov. 4 Gators take on the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
    Florida State wasn’t ranked but received votes.
  2. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says he doesn't want to take anything away from Florida, but he doesn't want to keep quiet about the officiating either. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The South Carolina coach says getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct was "gutless.''
  3. After years of complex Internet-to-TV setups and multiple streaming boxes, it seems the tech has finally caught up with the dream of cutting the cable cord, as several companies, such as Roku and TiVo, have begun offering devices specifically geared to cord cutters.
    Live sports without cable TV isn’t as different as you might think. And that can have serious ramifications across college sports.
  4. Florida's James Houston IV (41) and Umstead Sanders (42) jog through the tunnel before the start of the NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) MIC SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY LLC  |  AP
    There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
  5. Florida's Kyle Trask throws a pass against South Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. Florida defeated South Carolina 38-27. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The quarterback’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns help UF put the Gamecocks away for good.
  6. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith watches as his team plays against Minnesota on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Game-day guide: Plus a look at Penn State-Michigan and a game plan that’s crazy enough to (almost) work for the Vols this weekend.
  7. BYU linebacker Max Tooley (31) tackles USF running back Jordan Cronkrite (2) during the second half of last week's game at Raymond James Stadium. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Game-day guide: And Will Muschamp’s South Carolina tenure looks almost exactly like his time with the Florida Gators.
  8. Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass against Auburn on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask and Emory Jones are thriving at Florida, while Willie Taggart is being tight-lipped at Florida State.
  9. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine runs against Tennessee during the first half of the Sept. 21 football game in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The Pac-12 has some interesting games this weekend. Too bad no one will be able to watch one of them. Plus: Times staff predictions for week 8.
  10. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) celebrates his touchdown reception with wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89) and tight end Kyle Pitts (84) in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: Times college football writer Matt Baker discusses Florida-South Carolina, USF-Navy, FSU-Wake Forest and the conference already out of the College Football Playoff picture.