Here is the ballot I just sent in to the AP office:
2. Kansas State
3. Notre Dame
5. Ohio State
7. Florida State
9. Texas A&M
12. Oregon State
14. South Carolina
17. Louisiana Tech
22. Texas Tech
23. Southern California
- Moved in: Rutgers. Moved out: Mississippi State.
- Also considered: Wisconsin, UCF, Cincinnati.
- The biggest decisions were what to do with the top three and the next three.
- Alabama still gets the nod over Georgia as the top one-loss team, based on quality wins. Alabama has won at LSU, as well as Michigan and Mississippi State, all three of whom were ranked until this week. (MSU will likely drop out.) Georgia has wins over one ranked team (Florida), and only one more win over a team on the right side of .500. (Vanderbilt.) Alabama has four wins over teams with winning records.
- I also gave another look at Ohio State, and whether it deserved to be ahead of Georgia or Alabama. I gave a hard look last week too. The question for the Buckeyes is whether they have enough quality wins and if their schedule is hard enough to justify it. Their best wins are home against Nebraska and UCF. The record of Ohio State's opponents: 47-54. The record of Alabama's opponents: 57-43. The record of Georgia's opponents: 46-54. That made it easy to rank Alabama over Ohio State. Then the question of Ohio State vs. Georgia simply came down to record: Given an even split in resume (record of opponents, wins over teams with winning records, road wins) I went with the team that is still unbeaten.
- But keep in mind that Ohio State isn't eligible for the BCS. Since the AP (thankfully) isn't part of the BCS formula, I'm able to rank Ohio State. But when the BCS rankings come out tonight, Georgia will certainly remain in the top five, and the question is whether the Bulldogs leapfrog the Crimson Tide.
- Now the top of the poll. I gave serious thought to ranking Kansas State ahead of Oregon, based on quality wins: Kansas State boasts wins over Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU. Oregon has Arizona and USC. So I went through and added the records of their opponents, and that was similar: Oregon's are 45-43, and K-State's are 46-41. (I didn't include FCS teams.) Then there's Notre Dame, which has wins over three ranked teams Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford.
Ultimately you could make a decent argument for any of the three, so my tiebreaker went to the so-called eye test, as in how each team is getting these wins. That put Notre Dame at No. 3, based on close wins over Purdue, Pittsburgh and Boston College. (The Irish should have lost to Pitt.) The Ducks are just blowing teams out: There are no single-digits wins, and only three have been within 24 points. It was very, very close, but I went with Oregon over Kansas State.
- Final thought: All of this is debatable. There is no right way to rank the top six. So I welcome all disagreement.