This is how my AP ballot looks this morning:
1. Florida State
4. Mississippi State
7. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Ole Miss
13. Arizona State
16. Georgia Tech
19. Southern California
In: Wisconsin, Missouri.
Out: Notre Dame, LSU.
- Here's a breakdown of the top:
Florida State: Five road wins. Only one win over a currently ranked team, and that's Clemson, barely ranked.
Oregon: Four road wins. Three wins over currently ranked teams. Loss at home to a ranked team.
Alabama: Three road wins. Two wins over currently ranked teams, one of them a top 5 team. The loss is at top 20 team.
Mississippi State: Three road wins. Two wins over currently ranked teams. Lone loss at Alabama.
Baylor: Four road wins. Two wins over currently ranked teams. Lone loss at West Virginia.
TCU: Three road wins. Two wins over currently ranked teams. Lost by three at Baylor.
Ohio State: Five road wins. One win over currently ranked team. Lost at home to Virginia Tech.
Florida State hasn't been impressive. But it has won every game, and Alabama and Oregon's resume's aren't compelling enough to jump them over undefeated FSU. Meanwhile, Mississippi State's resume' is almost better than Alabama, but obviously head-to-head is an easy tiebreaker. The same goes for Baylor and TCU; their bodies of work are close enough that you go with head-to-head. And Ohio State is gradually improving its resume', though the stink of that home loss to Virginia Tech still lingers.
At this point, two important reminders for those who haven't followed my thought process on this over the years:
- Head-to-head doesn't trump all. It's part of the equation, and I invoke it when the bodies of work are close enough. (As mentioned above.)
- When I say "currently ranked," I mean in my poll.
- The above criteria isn't the only one, it's just the easiest to quantify. Eye test, wins over teams with winning records, winning streaks, etc., all go into it as well.
OK, a few more notes:
- Georgia would have a pretty good resume' - three wins over currently ranked teams, three road wins - except for those two losses. That's why it's not higher in the poll.
- Georgia Tech can explain away its losses a bit better - Duke and UNC have a 13-7 combined record, South Carolina and Florida are a combined 10-9. The Yellow Jackets have four road wins, but none of them are to particularly good teams. And Clemson is the only win over a top 25 team, and one that's barely in the poll.
- Duke barely stays in despite the home loss to a subpar Virginia Tech because the Blue Devils have done enough to hang in there: Four road wins, including at Georgia Tech.
- Clemson's three losses are all to ranked teams, which is keeping it in the poll. The Tigers don't have any statement wins, but three of them are on the road, and over some decent teams (North Carolina, Louisville, Boston College.) Not overly impressive, but enough to barely keep the Tigers in.
- Missouri has the stink of losing at home to Indiana, and I personally saw Mizzou be uncompetitive at home against Georgia. But its record is its record, and winning at Texas A&M is impressive.
- Colorado State was my 26th team. The Rams' lone loss is at Boise State, by 13, and by the way Boise State is also 8-2 and worthy of consideration. But Colorado State's best win is at Boston College. I'm this close to putting the Rams in my poll, but there will have to be some other losses in front of them.
A reminder: I'm happy to respond to further questions in the comment section below. (As long as they're civil.) I don't usually respond to Twitter messages about this poll, or to e-mails.