Florida State has entered my AP top 25 ballot, while Miami dropped out after its close loss at Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies. I don’t feel confident that the Seminoles are a better team, but that’s the decision I made after another wild, weird Saturday in a wild, weird season.
The deciding factor? LSU beating Mississippi State, of course. The Bulldogs were just outside my rankings last week, so the Tigers’ 31-16 triumph was an impressive performance. More importantly for these purposes, it helps validate FSU’s Week 1 victory over LSU in New Orleans. It’s a quality win. I’m not sure I’d say the same about FSU topping Louisville, but there are two other factors at play there: Never discount a conference win on the road, and FSU pulled it out despite injuries to its standout quarterback, top pass rusher and starting offensive tackle.
Miami, however, lost to a team that had just lost at home to Appalachian State. Texas A&M is talented, of course (and moved up slightly to No. 22 on my ballot). No shame in a close loss at Kyle Field. But Miami’s other performances are a blowout win over Bethune-Cookman and a 23-point win over Southern Miss in a game that was 10-7 at halftime. FSU, to me, has the better resume, so I give the Seminoles the final spot on my ballot as Miami fell from No. 12 to unranked.
I dropped the Gators two spots to No. 19 after Florida’s way-too-close-for-comfort win over USF. The Gators, like every team from 7-130, are flawed, and I understand why some voters would have them lower. I’m still putting a lot of stock in UF’s Week 1 win over Utah (which crushed San Diego State 36-7) and my belief that Kentucky is a top-10 team, which makes that loss more tolerable.
Other notable moves this week:
• I moved Alabama past Ohio State for second on my ballot. That’s because I feel better about the Crimson Tide’s close win over Texas and worse about the Buckeyes’ Week 1 win over a bad Notre Dame team.
• UF’s next opponent, Tennessee, is up three spots to 10th. I’m still not sold on the Volunteers, but they did what they were supposed to do by blowing out two bad teams and beating ranked Pitt on the road.
• Oregon went from unranked on my ballot to 12th after soundly beating BYU. After seeing Georgia continue to dominate everyone, I think the Ducks’ season-opening 46-point loss to the Bulldogs says more about Georgia’s awesomeness than Oregon’s shakiness.
• Penn State (15th) and Washington (16th) also made their way into my rankings with strong wins at Auburn and over a Michigan State team that I previously had in the top 15. In a season without an upper-middle class, expect to continue seeing a lot of volatility on my ballot.
• Oklahoma is up to sixth after the Sooners had no issues against the Scott Frost-free Cornhuskers. I had preseason questions about Oklahoma. Not anymore. The Sooners are very good.
• Michigan State, Marshall, Kansas State and the Hurricanes all dropped off my ballot this week. Their departures made room for Oregon, Penn State, Washington and the ‘Noles. Among the other teams I considered: Minnesota, Syracuse, Kansas and Tulane.
Here’s the top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:
3. Ohio State
11. Oklahoma State
15. Penn State
18. North Carolina State
22. Texas A&M
24. Wake Forest
25. Florida State
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