Florida State stayed on my Associated Press top 25 ballot this week after a 10-point home loss to Wake Forest, and I have a new No. 1 team in my rankings (again).
We’ll start with the Seminoles, who struggled to get off the field and gave up 28 consecutive points in one rough stretch. So why are they still on my ballot? Start with the opponent. I was very impressed with the Demon Deacons (whom I moved from 22nd to 17th). Clemson looking excellent makes Wake Forest’s only loss seem better.
Consider, too, FSU’s win over LSU. The Tigers entered last week in the top 15 in some advanced metrics before beating Auburn on the road. Auburn isn’t great, but winning at Auburn is always a big deal, period. LSU’s triumph over Mississippi State also looks better, now that the Bulldogs blew out Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies. All three of those teams (FSU, LSU, Mississippi State) have one loss; FSU beat the Tigers, who beat the Bulldogs. Put those factors together, and FSU only fell one spot on my ballot, to 22nd.
My new No. 1 team is my preseason No. 1 team, Alabama. To beat Arkansas by 23 points on the road after losing quarterback Bryce Young is a big statement. Georgia fell from first to third after a narrow win at Missouri. I try not to penalize teams for winning on the road against a conference team, but the gap between 1 and 3 is small, so everything counts.
Clemson moved up two spots to No. 4 after a nice win over North Carolina State. My skepticism surrounding the Tigers is disappearing.
Utah was a big riser this week, going from 19th to 12th. After looking at advanced metrics, I think I devalued the Utes more than I should have. Thumping Oregon State was the push I needed to correct myself.
TCU and UCLA moved onto my ballot this week after upsetting Oklahoma and Washington, respectively. I’m still not sold on the Bruins, but I can’t deny a 5-0 record and win over a good Huskies team.
Washington, Texas A&M, Baylor, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Arkansas all dropped out of my rankings this week. LSU and Mississippi State both entered my ballot, and Cincinnati reentered. Tulane took the final spot by virtue of a win at Houston and a previous victory over Kansas State. Among the other teams I considered: Syracuse, Illinois, Maryland and Coastal Carolina.
Here’s the AP top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:
2. Ohio State
9. Oklahoma State
10. Penn State
14. North Carolina State
15. Kansas State
17. Wake Forest
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22. Florida State
24. Mississippi State
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