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AP top 25 ballot: Pac-12 is a mess, and FSU keeps climbing our rankings

The Seminoles did something they haven’t done since 2013 to keep moving up on our ballot.
Jordan Travis and the Seminoles have moved into the top 20 of our AP top 25 ballot.
Jordan Travis and the Seminoles have moved into the top 20 of our AP top 25 ballot. [ JOSHUA BESSEX | AP ]
Published Nov. 13

As the top end of my Associated Press top 25 ballot solidifies, the bottom half continues to be a fluid jumble after another exciting college football weekend.

We’ll skip the obvious and start at No. 9, where the Pac-12 mess begins. I continue to rank two-loss Utah ahead of one-loss USC because of the Utes’ head-to-head win and better performances against common opponents (like Arizona). That said, the Trojans are that conference’s only shot at making the College Football Playoff.

Oregon came next at No. 11, a five-spot slide from last week. The Ducks had been dominant since Georgia blew them out in Week 1 before losing a heartbreaker to rival Washington. I still think Oregon is a very good team, however, and wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks won the conference.

Related: If Florida Gators turn it around under Billy Napier, remember these last 8 days

UCLA’s late-night loss to Arizona was a headscratcher. Putting them at No. 13, just ahead of one-loss North Carolina (which continues to play with fire) seemed fair because of the Bruins’ two very good wins (Washington and Utah). The Huskies moved up four spots to 15th on my ballot after beating Oregon. Tampa Bay Tech product Michael Penix Jr. isn’t the best player in the country, but he’s certainly one of the most exciting. It’s nice to see his fresh start work out at Washington after he left Indiana.

UCF's win over Tulane moved the Knights up to No. 17 on our ballot.
UCF's win over Tulane moved the Knights up to No. 17 on our ballot. [ MATTHEW HINTON | AP ]

UCF went up five spots to No. 17 after a 38-31 win at Tulane. The Knights are the AAC frontrunners and the state’s top team on my ballot. I don’t feel strongly about that claim, however, because Florida State continues to dominate. The Seminoles have won three consecutive games by 20-plus points for the first time since late in the 2013 national title run, as The Osceola notes.

FSU moved past Notre Dame to 20th on my ballot. The gap between 17 and 25 is miniscule, but I couldn’t justify sliding the Seminoles ahead of UCF after the Knights earned a top-20 win at Tulane (which has a win over one of the best three-loss teams in the country, Kansas State).

Related: Jordan Travis leads No. 25 Florida State past Syracuse

Illinois, Wake Forest and Texas all dropped off my ballot this week. North Carolina State did, too, barely, after a 21-20 loss to a bad Boston College team. It was, however, a nice win for Eagles coach Jeff Hafley, the former Bucs assistant.

Their departures made way for four teams that have been on my ballot at various times this year (Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Oregon state and Minnesota). I also considered Coastal Carolina and Iowa, among others.

My AP top 25 ballot

1. Georgia

2. Ohio State

3. Michigan

4. TCU

5. Tennessee

6. LSU

7. Alabama

8. Clemson

9. Utah

10. USC

11. Oregon

12. Penn State

13. UCLA

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14. North Carolina

15. Washington

16. Mississippi

17. UCF

18. Tulane

19. Kansas State

20. Florida State

21. Notre Dame

22. Cincinnati

23. Oklahoma State

24. Oregon State

25. Minnesota

• • •

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