This is the ballot I just sent in to the Associated Press office:
3. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
7. Notre Dame
10. Kansas State
14. Florida State
19. Boise State
21. Oregon State
22. Northern Illinois
23. Utah State
25. San Jose State
- There will be those who say Notre Dame should drop further. But you have to avoid the urge to overreact: Notre Dame beat Stanford, and its lone loss - as lopsided as it was - came to the nation's best team. I think where I have the Irish is appropriate.
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- Georgia is in the same spot it was before the bowl season, but I moved the Bulldogs past Notre Dame but behind Oregon. (In my last poll, Georgia was No. 4 and Oregon was No. 5.) My thinking there is Oregon beat a better team in its bowl (Kansas State is much better than Nebraska.) And, frankly, I just think Oregon is the second-best team in the country.
Ohio State was unbeaten, and while it didn't get to test itself in a bowl, it's still eligible for the poll, and, well, it's unbeaten. Look, I grappled with this all season. But bottom line, the Buckeyes are eligible, so I have to consider them. It's longstanding AP policy: The poll included Southern Cal, Auburn and others when they were ineligible. Since we're not part of the BCS formula, by our own choosing, the charge is to pick the best teams, period. (And for what it's worth, Ohio State and Georgia had one common opponent - Nebraska - and the Buckeyes won by 25, and the Bulldogs by 14.)
- Florida plummeted because it was routed by Louisville, and as the teams sport identical records, I can't rank Florida ahead of Louisville.
- The bottom of the poll was really hard to fill out, as it was the final couple weeks of the season. Utah State? San Jose State? Cincinnati? I know, I know. But too many major conference teams with quality wins (Mississippi State, UCLA, etc. blew it during the bowl season.)
- Finally, as this was the last poll of the season, I'd just like to thank everyone for reading, whether you agreed with me or not. There's never really a right or wrong way to vote, but I hope everyone knows I took every week's vote very seriously. It's been a bit of extra work, but it's been a pleasure, and I thank the AP for letting me be a part of the process.