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Florida State is up, Gators are out on our AP top 25 ballot

Here’s how high we moved the Seminoles after they crushed Boston College for a 4-0 start.
Florida State fans can celebrate a Seminoles team that's off to a 4-0 start.
Florida State fans can celebrate a Seminoles team that's off to a 4-0 start. [ GARY MCCULLOUGH | AP ]
Published Sep. 25|Updated Sep. 25

The Florida Gators are back where they started the season (off my Associated Press top 25 ballot), while Florida State sits just outside the top 20.

We’ll start with UF. My general rule is to honor head-to-head results, unless the resumes grow too far apart. That philosophy helped UF stay in my top 20 last week, despite the close win over USF; I valued the Utah win highly and wanted to reward the Gators accordingly.

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and the Gators lost at Tennessee, dropping them out of our top 25.
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and the Gators lost at Tennessee, dropping them out of our top 25. [ WADE PAYNE | AP ]

Not after a loss at Tennessee dropped UF to 2-2. Granted, the two losses were to top-12 teams, one on the road. The Gators made a game of it late at Tennessee, an extremely hostile road environment, and improved on offense. But I can’t justify ranking a 2-2 team at this stage. UF has one very impressive performance (Utah), one unimpressive win (USF) and two losses. The Bulls’ struggles at Louisville on Saturday hurt the Gators, too, weakening the Week 3 win.

Related: Florida Gators fall at Tennessee as Billy Napier blames himself

Add it up, and UF is off my ballot.

Last week, I gave the final spot on my ballot to Florida State, ahead of Miami. I obviously feel better about that decision after FSU blew out Boston College and the Hurricanes suffered a home beatdown to Middle Tennessee State. The Seminoles are the only state team on my ballot this week; they moved up four spots to 21st. Among the teams FSU passed: Wake Forest, this week’s opponent for what should be a fun matchup in Tallahassee.

Florida State running back Trey Benson and the rest of the Seminoles are off to an impressive 4-0 start.
Florida State running back Trey Benson and the rest of the Seminoles are off to an impressive 4-0 start. [ GARY MCCULLOUGH | AP ]

Other notable moves in my rankings:

My skepticism of Tennessee and former UCF coach Josh Heupel is disappearing. I’ve got the Volunteers all the way up to seventh after their win over Florida. That’s one spot ahead of Kentucky. I’ve seen both teams with my own eyes and would pick Tennessee to win on a neutral field tomorrow.

I considered dropping Georgia from No. 1 after an unimpressive win over Kent State but opted not to. The Bulldogs’ blowout win over Oregon remains the best performance among the top teams (Ohio State and Alabama), so I still gave them the edge. I didn’t change No. 4 (Michigan) or No. 5 (USC), either. The Trojans’ tight win over Oregon State showed some grit, and I try not to drop a team for winning conference games on the road.

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Kansas State reentered my rankings at No. 17 after knocking off Oklahoma on the road. Yes, it’s the same Kansas State team that lost a week before to Tulane. This season makes no sense. I slid the Wildcats one spot ahead of the Sooners (who fell a dozen places).

Washington dropped from 16th to 24th in my rankings despite an 18-point win over Stanford. Why? Because I was impressed by the Huskies’ Week 3 win over Michigan State. That’s not quite the case anymore after the Spartans were blown out by Minnesota.

The 4-0 Golden Gophers joined my rankings after crushing the Spartans on the road. I also welcomed Kansas — yes, Kansas — to my ballot. The unbeaten Jayhawks have wins at Houston and West Virginia, plus a home win over previously unbeaten Duke. That was enough to edge Kansas past Cincinnati for the final spot on my ballot.

Florida and Texas dropped off, as did the Bearcats. Cincinnati’s close loss to Arkansas doesn’t look as good now after the Razorbacks lost to Texas A&M. Texas Tech and Pitt were among the other teams I considered.

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

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Ohio State

4. Michigan

5. USC

6. Clemson

7. Tennessee

8. Kentucky

9. Penn State

10. Oklahoma State

11. Oregon

12. Mississippi

13. North Carolina State

14. Texas A&M

15. Arkansas

16. BYU

17. Kansas State

18. Oklahoma

19. Utah

20. Baylor

21. Florida State

22. Wake Forest

23. Minnesota

24. Washington

25. Kansas

• • •

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