AP top 25: Where we ranked Florida State football and Deion Sanders

How high is too high for the Seminoles? And do Coach Prime’s Buffaloes belong in the top 25?
The Florida State football team has risen in our latest AP top 25 ballot after the Seminoles' convincing win over LSU.
The Florida State football team has risen in our latest AP top 25 ballot after the Seminoles' convincing win over LSU. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Sept. 5|Updated Sept. 5

Florida State, Duke and Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes had the best three performances of Week One. All three were rewarded with jumps in my Associated Press top 25 ballot.

I went into the Seminoles’ top-10 opener against LSU thinking Florida State was good enough to make the College Football Playoff but not good enough to win the national championship. I left thinking the second-half FSU team I saw in Orlando can win it all.

My latest rankings reflect that. I moved Florida State up from fourth to second on my ballot, behind only Georgia.

I still have some first-world concerns with FSU. The Seminoles don’t have the same depth as Georgia, Ohio State or Alabama, and the pass protection wasn’t great at times. I also don’t want to overreact too much to one game. But FSU’s skill talent is excellent, and coach Mike Norvell knows how to use it at a high level. If — and it’s a big if — the Seminoles can stay healthy, bottle that second half up and use it over eight quarters in the playoff, they’ll be a major threat to win their first national title since 2013.

FSU coach Mike Norvell has a playoff-worthy team.
FSU coach Mike Norvell has a playoff-worthy team. [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | Orlando Sentinel ]

I dropped LSU from fifth to 10th. I considered a larger fall but settled on 10th for two reasons. I think that highly of FSU (so a Tigers loss isn’t awful). Also, I saw both LSU and my No. 11 team, Utah, in person in Week One. I’d pick the Tigers to win if they played on a neutral field this weekend.

Duke was among the six teams I considered for the final spot on my preseason ballot. Obviously, I should have put the Blue Devils there, as shown by their three-score win over Clemson. I though Duke would be solid, but I also envisioned a regression after the Blue Devils had an unsustainable turnover margin of plus-16 last year. Their final five defensive series Monday: fumble, fumble, turnover on downs, interception, turnover on downs.

Duke went from unranked to 20th on my ballot after its biggest win since Steve Spurrier led the team. Clemson, meanwhile, dropped from 10th to unranked. The game, as coach Dabo Swinney said, was weird. But I can’t justify ranking a team with an offense that looked that rough in its only performance so far.

Deion Sanders is already in our AP top 25 rankings.
Deion Sanders is already in our AP top 25 rankings. [ CHRIS TORRES | Star-Telegram ]

I can, however, justify putting Colorado 23rd after an entertaining win over a ranked TCU team. The Buffaloes’ lines were better than I thought they’d be, and Colorado played without the foolish penalties or sloppy mistakes you expect in the first game of any new coaching staff. I don’t want to overreact too much from one game, especially since the Horned Frogs replaced almost every major contributor from last year’s playoff team. But it was an excellent Power Five coaching debut for Sanders, the FSU and NFL legend.

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Other AP top 25 poll thoughts

• Georgia stayed at No. 1 following a 41-point victory over Tennessee Martin. I hold onto preseason expectations a little bit for the first week or two until the scheduling disparities start to level out, which is why I still put the Bulldogs and their loaded roster ahead of FSU.

Tampa Bay Tech product Michael Penix Jr. led Washington to a big win over Boise State.
Tampa Bay Tech product Michael Penix Jr. led Washington to a big win over Boise State. [ DEAN RUTZ | Seattle Times ]

• Washington moved from ninth to seventh after Tampa Bay Tech product Michael Penix Jr. and his teammates blew out Boise State.

• Penn State rose three spots to No. 8 thanks to a 23-point win over West Virginia. Though I’m still not sold on the Nittany Lions as a playoff contender, I’m more convinced now than I was a week ago.

• North Carolina was another big mover; I bumped the Tar Heels up from 22nd to 15th after a big win over South Carolina.

• Ohio State didn’t wow me in a 23-3 win at Indiana, but I generally try not to penalize teams for conference road wins. I also didn’t want to make too much of, say, Michigan beating East Carolina by 27 or Alabama dominating Middle Tennessee. So the Buckeyes are third, though I don’t feel great about it.

• Texas Tech joined Clemson and TCU in falling out of my rankings. They made room for Duke, Colorado and Tulane (which had a 20-point win over a South Alabama team that should be one of this year’s best mid-majors). SMU, UCLA, Arkansas, Pitt and Iowa are among the other teams I considered.

My AP top 25 ballot

1. Georgia

2. Florida State

3. Ohio State

4. Michigan

5. Alabama

6. USC

7. Washington

8. Penn State

9. Texas

10. LSU

11. Utah

12. Notre Dame

13. Oregon

14. Tennessee

15. North Carolina

16. Oregon State

17. Wisconsin

18. Oklahoma

19. Mississippi

20. Duke

21. Kansas State

22. Texas A&M

23. Colorado

24. Kentucky

25. Tulane

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (1-0)

2. Michigan (1-0)

3. Alabama (1-0)

4. Florida State (1-0)

5. Ohio State (1-0)

6. USC (2-0)

7. Penn State (1-0)

8. Washington (1-0)

9. Tennessee (1-0)

10. Notre Dame (2-0)

11. Texas (1-0)

12. Utah (1-0)

13. Oregon (1-0)

14. LSU (0-1)

15. Kansas State (1-0)

16. Oregon State (1-0)

17. North Carolina (1-0)

18. Oklahoma (1-0)

19. Wisconsin (1-0)

20. Ole Miss (1-0)

21. Duke (1-0)

22. Colorado (1-0)

23. Texas A&M (1-0)

24. Tulane (1-0)

25. Clemson (0-1)

Others receiving votes: Iowa 73, UCLA 55, Arkansas 28, TCU 27, Kentucky 15, Pittsburgh 8, Mississippi St. 5, Miami 4, NC State 4, Auburn 3, Troy 3, Fresno St. 3, Minnesota 3, Wyoming 3, Iowa St. 2, Texas St. 2, Texas Tech 1, Louisville 1, Washington St. 1, Illinois 1, Houston 1, UCF 1, James Madison 1

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