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My top 25 ballot: Nothing makes sense this week!

The return of the Big Ten and Pac-12 to Matt Baker’s rankings gave him a ballot that looks like something his 3-year-old would have drawn.
Florida coach Dan Mullen looks to the video board during an official review during Saturday’s game with Ole Miss.
Florida coach Dan Mullen looks to the video board during an official review during Saturday’s game with Ole Miss. [ THOMAS WELLS | SEC portal ]
Published Sep. 27, 2020
Updated Sep. 27, 2020

When I do my Associated Press top 25 ballot every Sunday, I jot things down in the same notepad with a pen. This week’s rankings look like something my 3-year-old would have drawn.

That’s how it goes when I had the option of adding teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 back into the mix after they reinserted themselves into the season.

As a general rule, I tried to slot the newcomers about where I had them in my preseason poll, adjusting for opt-outs/opt-ins as necessary. But I also tried to give a little more weight to teams that have already played and weathered the insanity of this season. The knowns should be emphasized more than the unknowns right now.

I’m valuing stability more now than I did a month ago, when I put a greater premium on roster depth. That’s why I’m higher on Wisconsin now than I was in the preseason, for example.

I don’t know if that makes any sense, but there isn’t enough coffee in the free world to help me make sense of this ballot and this weekend. I considered dropping Oklahoma (fifth on my ballot last week) all the way out after an embarrassing home loss to Kansas State, which previously lost to Arkansas State. I settled on putting the Sooners 21st. Mississippi State enters at 15th after upsetting LSU, which fell from eighth to 20th.

Miami jumped from 13th to 10th on my ballot, even with the additions of Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. I feel much stronger about the Hurricanes as a good (or even very good team) than I did two weeks ago, and I gave them credit for what they’ve done (three impressive wins) more than what some others might. UCF stayed 14th, and the Gators dropped a spot because Ohio State reentered.

Related: Is Florida State this bad? Or are the Miami Hurricanes that good? Both.

Louisiana Lafayette, Kentucky, Army, Louisville, Marshall and Tennessee all dropped out. That made room for Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan and Mississippi State. Texas A&M barely hung onto the final spot, ahead of a group that included the Volunteers and Kansas State.

Remember: This is a crazy year, and these rankings are fluid. I might end up breaking more of my own rules as the weeks go on, because nothing about this year or season makes any sense. But I’ll continue to be transparent, so you can at least try to follow my winding thought process during this chaotic fall.

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

1. Clemson

2. Ohio State

3. Alabama

4. Florida

5. Auburn

6. Georgia

7. Notre Dame

8. Penn State

9. Oregon

10. Miami

11. Wisconsin

12. Cincinnati

13. North Carolina

14. UCF

15. Mississippi State

16. Michigan

17. Memphis

18. BYU

19. Texas

20. LSU

21. Oklahoma

22. Virginia Tech

23. Oklahoma State

24. Pitt

25. Texas A&M