The most important factor in my weekly Associated Press Top 25 ballot is my gut. I compare records, scores and research as much as possible, but in the end I just go with my opinion.
And my weekly ballot has led to others voicing their opinions.
Why didn’t I have A&M ranked last week? Why rank Texas so high? Why not rank Missouri? Northwestern and Iowa State ranked, really?
Those are all legit questions, so I thought I’d share some of the factors I consider.
I didn’t put A&M back in the Top 25 until it beat LSU. That more than offset losses to Mississippi State and Auburn. I think Mississippi State has Top 10 talent but is only a Top 25ish team. MSU’s losses are to Top 25 teams (Alabama, Kentucky, Florida and LSU). No bad losses, but if the Bulldogs were a really good team, shouldn’t they have won one or two of those games? MSU’s lone wins over ranked teams were Auburn and A&M. Auburn, turns out, is not even a Top 35 team and A&M wasn’t a ranked team until it beat LSU.
A&M’s win over Kentucky gets a nice check mark, but I think the Wildcats are a little overrated. The win at Florida was big, but the loss at Tennessee offset that. And Kentucky needed a little luck to win at Missouri.
I gave A&M style points for playing well against Alabama and Clemson, but it also lost brownie points for not putting away Arkansas. It took a hickey with the meltdown at Auburn, but the bottom line was the victory over LSU, a team which would have had a chance to sneaking into the College Football Playoffs if it had beaten A&M.
Texas did lose its opener to Maryland, but since then the Longhorns have lost only twice – by a field goal at Oklahoma State and by two points to West Virginia. Of course UT’s signature victory was Oklahoma. It gets check marks for victories over Southern Cal, TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State.
I’m picking Texas to lose this week, but I did that last time and was wrong.
I’ve thought long and hard about ranking the Tigers the last two weeks, but just couldn’t pull the trigger at the expense of other teams I have ahead of them.
Beating Florida was certainly a signature victory. That, though, is offset by a loss at South Carolina and especially the home loss to Kentucky. A win at Purdue gets Missouri a check, but it’s not enough.
Hey, if Missouri wins its bowl game, I’ll rank it in my final Top 25.
A bad loss to Akron early for the Wildcats, but checks for wins at Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan State. They get strong style points in losses to Notre Dame and Michigan.
ISU gets big checks for beating West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Solid marks for beating Baylor, Texas Tech. No bad losses or lost style points.
THIS WEEK’S BALLOT
3, Notre Dame
6, Ohio State (up 5, huge, dominating win, but not enough to top OU)
9, Michigan (down 4, they might still be too high)
10, Washington (up 7, great win)
11, Texas (holding steady)
12 Washington State (dropped 5, bad, bad loss)
14, W. Virginia
15, Penn State
17, Boise State
19, Texas A&M (movin' on up)
22, Miss. State
24, Iowa State
25, Fresno State
Only seven AP voters ranked the Aggies higher than 19th. Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville News had them the highest at 14th.
Voters not ranking the Aggies were Gary Horowitz of the Salem Statesman Journal, John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lauren Brownlow of WRAL in Durham, N.C, Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal; and Jim Alexander of the Riverside (Calif.) The Press-Enterprise.
FYI, Horowitz has Missouri 25th; Brownlow has Fresno State 17th and Missouri 21st; O’Neill has LSU 17th; Alexander has Army eighth; Cincinnati 20th and Appalachian State 25th. In Alexander’s Top 25, 11 teams are five or more sports from their actual rankings. That’s why his ballot this week was voted the most extreme by collegepolltracker.com and his ballot also was ranked the second lowest to Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal who must have made UCF fans made by having the Knights ranked 17th.
The Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation do a weekly Top 16 poll. Of course they have 16 voters. … no, they have 51 (go figure). A&M was third in receiving votes, so it was ranked 19th, just ahead of Mississippi State. FYI, Ole Miss was ranked 12th on one ballot and Auburn 14th on another.
Dick Weiss of Blue Star Media had the Aggies 11th. Phil Steele and Mike Griffith of AJC-DawgNation both had the Aggies 13th.
Retired A&M coach R.C. Slocum is a voter and had A&M 14th followed by LSU and Texas. That’s a smart man. R.C. has Alabama first followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington, Washington State, Michigan, Penn State, Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, A&M, LSU, UT.
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, USA Today retiree Rudy Martzke, former Georgia safety Scott Woerner, Cody Kellner of the Cody Kellner Points Index, Dave Congrove of CollegeFootballPoll.com and Phil Steele all did not rank LSU. Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star, Pete Fiutad of College FootballNews.com and Congrove didn’t have Texas on their ballots.