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My AP Top 25 ballot: Florida Gators jump Georgia Bulldogs this time

There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
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]
Published Oct. 20

The most interesting question I encountered on my AP Top 25 ballot last week was whether to put Florida ahead of rival Georgia. I didn’t.

This week, I changed my mind. UF’s win on the road against a South Carolina team that beat UGA last week in Athens was part of the equation. The Bulldogs struggling at home against Kentucky and its third-string quarterback (who’s a great receiver, by the way) was the other part.

Put them together, and the Gators leapfrogged UGA for seventh on the ballot I submitted Sunday morning. We’ll find out whether the Gators can stay ahead after their meeting in Jacksonville next month, but for now, I think UF is playing like the better team —and that’s reflected in my rankings.

Ohio State stayed atop my ballot after crushing Northwestern on the road on Friday night. Penn State squeaked ahead of Clemson to enter the top five after the Nittany Lions held on to beat Michigan (which fell three spots to No. 20). I feel less confident Alabama is the No. 3 team in the country and strongly considered moving Oklahoma ahead of the Tide but didn’t pull the trigger this time.

RELATED: College football midseason review: The good, the bad and the ugly

Wisconsin, of course, fell mightily after inexplicably losing to Lovie Smith’s Illini. The Badgers dropped from fourth to 12th on my ballot, and I considered dropping them even lower than that. Texas also made a notable drop (from 15th to 20th) after trying to lose to Les Miles’ Jayhawks in Austin.

Washington and Missouri fell out of my rankings. Former Bucs assistant P.J. Fleck made his debut on my ballot this week with Minnesota, and Memphis reentered. Arizona State held onto the final spot ahead of a group that includes UCF, Virginia, San Diego State and Louisiana Tech, among others.

RELATED: Lovie Smith isn’t the only former Bucs coach to watch this week

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

1. Ohio State

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Oklahoma

5. Penn State

6. Clemson

7. Florida

8. Georgia

9. Auburn

10. Notre Dame

11. Oregon

12. Wisconsin

13. Utah

14. Baylor

15. Cincinnati

16. Iowa

17. SMU

18. Iowa State

19. Michigan

20. Texas

21. Appalachian State

22. Minnesota

23. Memphis

24. Boise State

25. Arizona 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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