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My AP Top 25 ballot: Florida Gators ahead of Georgia Bulldogs?

Do the one-loss Florida Gators belong ahead of the one-loss Georgia Bulldogs this week?
LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) carries against Florida defensive back Kaiir Elam (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. LSU won 42-28. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) [GERALD HERBERT | AP]
Published Oct. 13

Before the Florida Gators even kicked off Saturday night at LSU, some of my colleagues were already debating an interesting question:

If the Tigers beat UF (which they did), should the Gators be ranked ahead of SEC East rival Georgia?

After thinking about it last night and this morning at the finest, cheapest hotel in all of Baton Rouge, here’s the answer I came up with for my AP Top 25 ballot:

No. But it’s close.

RELATED: Florida Gators’ offense can’t keep up in 42-28 loss at LSU

First, the top few spots in my rankings. I could make a valid case for at least four teams at No. 1, including LSU. The Tigers’ resume (top-15 wins over UF and Texas) is certainly deserving. But I kept idle Ohio State there, and some of the advanced metrics I use agree. LSU jumped Alabama (which thumped Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies) for second my ballot. With four shutouts, Wisconsin also has a case for No. 1 but settled into fourth, just ahead of Oklahoma.

It’s weird, because I’m more impressed with teams 2-5 on my ballot than I was a week ago … but there was only so far they could move up. Same with 6 and 7 (Clemson and Penn State).

And that brings us to the Florida-Georgia question.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp reacts after his team returned an interception of a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) [JOHN BAZEMORE | AP]

RELATED: Florida Gators showing trust in Emory Jones

Their best wins (Georgia over Notre Dame in Athens, UF over Auburn in Gainesville) are comparable; the Tigers and Irish are 10-11 on my ballot and in the same tier. Georgia struggled early against their common opponent (Tennessee), but the lopsided victories ended up comparable, too.

Although UF’s 42-28 defeat at LSU is better than Georgia’s 20-17 home loss to South Carolina, the deciding factor, for me, was everything else. UF has two Division I-AA blowouts and two wins over decent but not great teams (Miami and Kentucky) by 12 points. UGA has a single I-AA rout but blew out its other teams by a combined 85-6. If I felt stronger about Miami or Kentucky being a quality win, I’d rank the Gators over UGA right now. But I don’t, so Georgia has the edge right now.

The good news? This will be decided, one way or another, in Jacksonville on Nov. 2.

RELATED: Georgia football’s rise comes at the expense of Florida, in more ways than one

Elsewhere on my ballot, Missouri continues to rise, all the way up to No. 16. I’m higher on the Tigers than my fellow voters, but advanced metrics like them, and I don’t feel strongly about any team from 16-25.

Virginia dropped off my ballot after losing at Miami. Memphis and Wake Forest also exited to make room for the return of Washington and Iowa State and the triumphant debut of Appalachian State. Among those I also considered: Minnesota, Temple, Tulane and South Carolina.

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

1. Ohio State

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Wisconsin

5. Oklahoma

6. Clemson

7. Penn State

8. Georgia

9. Florida

10. Auburn

11. Notre Dame

12. Oregon

13. Boise State

14. Utah

15. Texas

16. Missouri

17. Michigan

18. Arizona State

19. Baylor

20. Cincinnati

21. Iowa

22. SMU

23. Appalachian State

24. Washington

25. Iowa State

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves kneels in the end zone after the Seattle Seahawks defeated his team in overtime in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer) JOHN FROSCHAUER  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: It’s a mailbag episode, with answers on Jameis Winston’s future, Lavonte David’s season, Mike Evans’ plight, Kevin Cash’s third-place finish and Charlie Strong’s job...
  2. Florida quarterback Emory Jones looks for a receiver against Towson during the second half on Sept. 28 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones all have remaining eligibility, which adds an interesting dynamic to next season.
  3. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass in the first half of an NCAA football game against Alabama Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    Two notable teams fell despite 50-plus point wins. That happens sometimes.
  4. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by his teammates after defeating Alabama 46-41 on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    The Tigers break an eight-game losing streak to the Tide with a gutty, statement road victory.
  5. Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, here against Tennessee earlier this season, says “I’m proud of myself’’ after leading Florida’s defensive domination vs. Vanderbilt. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Journal: One of Diabate’s sacks is also a turnover that sets up a Gators touchdown.
  6. Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) runs after a reception past Vanderbilt linebacker Kenny Hebert (21) during the first half in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask’s 363 yards were the most by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2008. But give credit to the guys catching his throws.
  7. Quarterback Kyle Trask threw for 257 yards and got the Gators back in the game vs. Georgia in the second half, but Florida lost 24-17. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The last three times Florida lost to Georgia, the Gators lost the next game by double digits.
  8. Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs play their first home game in 49 days at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Can Jameis Winston make the Bucs’ welcome-home game a success?
  9. USF Bulls head coach Charlie Strong on the sideline during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, October 12, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including USF-Temple, FSU-Boston College, Florida-Vanderbilt and Alabama-LSU.
  10. Florida State fans watch as Miami wins an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Matt Baker joins Rick Stroud to talk coaching search, USF-Temple, Gators and Alabama-LSU.
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