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Matt Baker’s AP top 25: A new No. 1 team and mess at the bottom

Alabama has done enough to move past Clemson (for now). And good luck sorting out the two-loss soup at the end.
Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) cuts back as he runs in the middle of the Mississippi State defense during Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) cuts back as he runs in the middle of the Mississippi State defense during Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa. [ GARY COSBY JR | AP ]
Published Nov. 1, 2020

The highlights of my Associated Press top 25 ballot this week:

Alabama is my new No. 1 team after a 41-0 win over Mississippi State (the first shutout of Mike Leach’s career). Some of it is because the Crimson Tide is, obviously, really good. But Clemson needed a late push to beat Boston College. Yes, the Tigers were without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But still. It’s a bunch at the top — you can justify Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson in any order — and this week I thought Alabama deserved the No. 1 spot. If Clemson tops Notre Dame on Saturday, I might flip them back.

Related: Meet the FSU fan who got Mike Norvell’s cornrows tattooed on his leg

Cincinnati is up to sixth on my ballot after crushing Memphis. I think the Bearcats absolutely deserve College Football Playoff consideration.

I had been lower on Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies than my peers, which is fine. Texas A&M had some unimpressive performances (a 17-12 win over Vanderbilt) and was weighed down by advanced metrics (still only 28th in the Sagarin Ratings). But a nice win over Arkansas was the push I needed to move the Aggies into my top 10.

Florida started at 10th on my ballot, even though I feel better about its chances of beating Georgia now than I did a week ago. Idle Miami inched up a spot to 13th because of movement elsewhere.

Related: Florida Gators show fight in brawl, 41-17 win over Missouri

The bottom half of my ballot is basically a two-loss soup. I don’t see a lot of difference between Iowa State and Virginia Tech or North Carolina and Oklahoma. The lack of non-conference games is really hurting there, because I don’t have a lot of good comparisons to make across conferences.

Minnesota, Memphis, Tulsa and Kansas State dropped off my ballot this week. Boise State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Iowa State all entered. Winless Penn State barely stayed on because its two losses are to top-15 teams. Northwestern, Texas, Auburn and Liberty were among the other teams I considered.

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

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Georgia

5. Notre Dame

6. Cincinnati

7. Wisconsin

8. Oklahoma State

9. Texas A&M

10. Florida

11. BYU

12. Oregon

13. Miami

14. USC

15. Indiana

16. Boise State

17. Coastal Carolina

18. Iowa State

19. Oklahoma

20. North Carolina

21. Michigan

22. Marshall

23. Virginia Tech

24. SMU

25. Penn State

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