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My AP Top 25 ballot: A new No. 1 (again) and why teams fall after big wins

Two notable teams fell despite 50-plus point wins. That happens sometimes.
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]
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]
Published Nov. 10

Because I try to start my AP Top 25 ballot fresh each week, I occasionally end up moving teams down despite lopsided wins. I did that twice this week, but both for defensible reasons.

LSU is my new No. 1 team after beating Alabama 46-41 on the road in this year’s Game of the Century. The side effect? Ohio State moved down from first to second on my ballot despite a 73-14 demolition of Maryland. The Buckeyes might be the nation’s most complete team, but I can’t justify putting anyone ahead of a team with LSU’s resume.

Florida also moved down a spot on my ballot to No. 11 through no fault of its own. The Gators’ 56-0 rout of Vanderbilt was impressive (especially considering the possibility of a post-Georgia hangover). But Minnesota’s semi-upset of Penn State meant that the still-unbeaten Golden Gophers had to move up. One-loss Penn State still belongs ahead of UF, to me, so the Gators ended up dropping a spot. Weird, I know, but it’s a reminder that rankings do not occur in a vacuum.

RELATED: Florida Gators’ receivers lead the team to victory. Again.

Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89) high fives fans after an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [JOHN RAOUX | AP]

Elsewhere on my ballot, Clemson moved up to third, with Georgia and Alabama at 4-5 as my top one-loss teams. Minnesota rowed the boat up to eighth, behind No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 Oregon. The Gophers’ win over Penn State proves they’re legit, but one very nice victory is still being weighed down by the overall strength of schedule (which is being weighed down even more by the large number of backup quarterbacks Minnesota has faced). But if P.J. Fleck keeps winning, the Gophers will keep rising.

The other somewhat unproven unbeaten, Baylor, moved down a spot to No. 14 because Minnesota moved ahead of the Bears.

RELATED: Kirk Herbstreit has three criteria for FSU’s next coach. Who checks those boxes?

UCF dropped off my ballot after losing at Tulsa. Wake Forest also fell out, and Iowa State’s down-to-the-wire defeat at Oklahoma knocked the Cyclones off. Their departures made room for Navy, Texas and … Indiana. Yes, 7-2 Indiana. I, too, am surprised. Among the other teams I considered: Appalachian State, Virginia, Texas A&M and the aforementioned Demon Deacons.

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

1. LSU

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Georgia

5. Alabama

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Minnesota

9. Penn State

10. Utah

11. Florida

12. Auburn

13. Wisconsin

14. Baylor

15. Michigan

16. Memphis

17. Notre Dame

18. Cincinnati

19. Boise State

20. Navy

21. SMU

22. Iowa

23. Texas

24. Kansas State

25. Indiana


  1. Joe Burrow poses with his trophy in New York after joining Billy Cannon (1959) as LSU Heisman winners. [JASON SZENES  |  AP]
    The quarterback dominates the voting in a record landslide.
  2. In this Dec. 7, 2019, file photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) warms up before the SEC championship game against Georgia, in Atlanta. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
    Matt Baker put two defensive linemen on his ballot, but neither could top the LSU star quarterback.
  3. Florida coach Dan Mullen watches his team take the field for pregame warmups before facing Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Nov. 2. The recruiting class so far for the Gators gives him plenty of reasons to be giddy. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    With the early signing period looming, UF is recruiting at a championship level.
  4. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benzkowski announces charges against ten former National Football League (NFL) players who are accused of defrauding an NFL health care program, at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. [CLIFF OWEN  |  AP]
    Former Jefferson High star and former Florida Gator, Donald “Reche” Caldwell is among two others who could be charged.
  5. LSU players celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
    “Members of Congress care about college sports. They recognize how important it is to American society."
  6. Running back DeeJay Dallas (13) and Miami will spend bowl season in Shreveport, La., for the Independence Bowl. [MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP]
    Starting Dec. 20, there is almost a full month of couch potato fun ahead if you love college football.
  7. Florida coach Dan Mullen has led the Gators to consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances. [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
    This will be UF’s first Orange appearance since Steve Spurrier’s final game
  8. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates after the Southeastern Conference championship against Georgia on in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. [JOHN AMIS  |  AP]
    LSU slides up to No. 1 in the final rankings of the season.
  9. Florida guard Ques Glover tries to drive on Butler forward Bryce Golden during the first half in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. [MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP]
    UF sees its four-game winning streak come to an end on the road.
  10. Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin celebrates his team's final touchdown in its victory over UAB in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Boca Raton. [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
    After leading the Owls to victory in the Conference USA title game on Saturday, the coach announces he’s leaving for the Rebels.