This week's AP top ballot: Duke, believe it or not

semerson@macon.comNovember 17, 2013 

Here's how my Associated Press top 25 ballot looked this week:

1. Alabama
2. Florida State
3. Baylor
4. Ohio State
5. Oregon
6. Clemson
7. Auburn
8. Missouri
9. Oklahoma State
10. Stanford
11. Texas A&M
12. Michigan State
13. UCLA
14. South Carolina
15. Arizona State
16. Fresno State
17. Northern Illinois
18. UCF
19. Louisville
20. Wisconsin
21. LSU
22. Oklahoma
23. Notre Dame
24. Southern California
25. Duke

Out: Georgia, Texas
In: USC, Duke

Comments:

- USC returns to the poll, powered by the Ogre. But while the temptation is to shoot the Trojans way up based on how how they are, a look at their resume' shows the win over Stanford is their only one over a currently-ranked team. Plus they lost to Notre Dame, so you can't really rank it ahead of the Fighting Irish, a three-loss team. USC is playing great right now, but the Lane Kiffin era does count.

- Yes, it's hard to believe I'm ranking Duke this late in the season and not programs like Texas, Georgia, Nebraska, Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Virginia Tech ... and so on.

- Stanford is a hard time to figure out. The Cardinal have five wins over ranked teams, but two losses to teams that were unranked at the time. (USC is now ranked.)

- Michigan State gets a boost with a good road win. But the Spartans still don't have a win over a team ranked on my ballot. So in my mind two-loss Stanford still has a better bodies of work. As for the ensuing two-loss teams, UCLA, South Carolina and Arizona State don't have quite enough yet to be top 10 teams. Arizona State's calling card is two losses to good teams, but it has no wins over ranked teams. UCLA is in a similar position. South Carolina has a quality win, at Missouri, but kind of canceled out by a bad loss, at Tennessee.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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