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My AP Top 25 ballot: Gators pass ’Bama, close call with Wisconsin

The Florida Gators and Wisconsin Badgers are bunched together as the top two-loss team on Matt Baker’s ballot.
Florida players, including quarterback Kyle Trask (11), celebrate in front of fans after defeating Florida State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [JOHN RAOUX  |  AP]
Florida players, including quarterback Kyle Trask (11), celebrate in front of fans after defeating Florida State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Dec. 1

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.

RELATED: Gators’ rout of FSU proves they rule Florida. It’s not even close.

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.

Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae, right, sacks Colorado quarterback Steven Montez (12) in the second half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) [RICK BOWMER | AP]

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.

RELATED: Rout brings paths for Florida, Florida State into clear focus

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

2. LSU

3. Clemson

4. Georgia

5. Oklahoma

6. Utah

7. Florida

8. Wisconsin

9. Auburn

10. Alabama

11. Baylor

12. Oregon

13. Minnesota

14. Penn State

15. Michigan

16. Memphis

17. Notre Dame

18. Iowa

19. Boise State

20. Appalachian State

21. Cincinnati

22. USC

23. Kansas State

24. Virginia

25. Oklahoma State

RELATED: Still no word on Charlie Strong’s future as USF enters offseason

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

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  2. Florida coach Dan Mullen has led the Gators to consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances. [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
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  3. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates after the Southeastern Conference championship against Georgia on in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. [JOHN AMIS  |  AP]
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  4. 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.
  5. 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]
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  7. In this 2007 file photo, coach Billy Donovan cuts down the net after Florida defeated South Carolina to win at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship. [BRIAN CASSELLA  |  St. Petersburg Times]
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  8. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers face Georgia in the SEC Championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta. [MATTHEW HINTON  |  AP]
    Here are our picks for this week’s conference championships.
  9. Florida's Kerry Blackshear drives on Xavier's Jason Carter during the second half of the Charleston Classic title game on Nov. 24, 2019, in Charleston, S.C. [MIC SMITH  |  AP]
    UF goes on the road Saturday in hopes of extending its four-game winning streak, but it faces a tough test in Indianapolis.
  10. Memphis head coach Mike Norvell runs onto the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against USF on Nov. 23. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Mike Norvell and Jim McElwain are coaches to watch this weekend. And who should the Florida Gators want to win?
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