The last time the Florida Gators were ranked ahead of Alabama? Week 14 of 2009, according to Gator Country’s Nick de la Torre.
That will change this week, at least if the rest of the AP Top 25 voters agree with me. Auburn’s win over ’Bama helped vault the Gators past the Crimson Tide on my weekly ballot.
Four teams clustered into one tier for me this week: Florida, Wisconsin, Auburn and ’Bama. The Badgers and Gators were really close — the advanced metrics I trust were split on them — so I put the schedules of the Gators and Badgers side by side and ordered them win by win and loss by loss. I gave UF credit for having the best win (over Auburn) and the edge in two other side-by-side comparisons. Wisconsin also had three side-by-side edges, thanks to its wins over Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan State. The others were about the same. The tiebreaker, then, went to losses; UF was competitive in both of its defeats to top-four teams, while the Badgers lost to Lovie Smith’s Illini and were blown out by Ohio State. Advantage: UF.
Auburn rose to No. 9 ahead of the Tide, thanks to the head-to-head win. I settled on putting ’Bama 10th. Advanced metrics still put Nick Saban’s team in the top five, and the Tide outgained Auburn 515-354 Saturday in a close defeat. Those are the reasons why I kept Alabama in the top 10, ahead of Baylor (which jumped four spots on my ballot after crushing Kansas and getting some help with losses by Michigan and Minnesota).
Elsewhere on my ballot, I continue to scrutinize Oklahoma/Utah just outside the top four. The Utes are dominating everyone, and their only loss was to a top-25 USC team when they had some notable injuries. But their resume just isn’t enough to move ahead of the Sooners yet.
Memphis remains the top Group of Five team on my ballot (16th), but there’s some movement beneath Mike Norvell’s Tigers in that category. Boise State (No. 19) and Appalachian State (No. 20) both passed Cincinnati, which dropped to No. 21. I’m curious to see how the Bearcats fare in Round 2 against Memphis, one week later, with the AAC title at stake.
Virginia Tech and Iowa State both dropped out of my rankings this week and were replaced by … Virginia and Kansas State, the teams that beat them. Oklahoma State tumbled four spots but stayed on my ballot, just ahead of Navy and SMU (among others). Here’s the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:
1. Ohio State
14. Penn State
17. Notre Dame
19. Boise State
20. Appalachian State
23. Kansas State
25. Oklahoma State