Bulldogs Beat

My AP ballot: The top four, and why

I'm not on the selection committee, and everyone, including myself, is thankful for that. So my AP top 25 vote is just for, well, the AP poll. And here's how it looks:



1. Oregon

2. Florida State

3. Alabama

4. Baylor

5. TCU

6. Ohio State

7. Mississippi State

8. Michigan State

9. Arizona

10. Kansas State

11. Georgia Tech

12. Ole Miss

13. Arizona State

14. Georgia

15. Clemson

16. Wisconsin

17. Missouri

18. Auburn

19. UCLA

20. Louisville

21. Utah

22. LSU

23. Southern California

24. Boise State

25. Duke



Out: Oklahoma.

In: Duke



The explanations:



- I'm not as big on the eye test and margin of victory as some other people. It does matter, as you'll see in some of my explanations. But as Herman Edwards said, you play to win the game, and that counts for something too. I care more about overall body of work - quality wins, bad or quality losses, road wins and losses, and head-to-head.

- As I stated last week, Oregon is No. 1 because it has a good overall body of work, and it canceled out its lone loss on Friday by routing Arizona. It doesn't hurt that the Ducks are pummeling teams either.

- And as I also stated last week, Florida State remains ahead of Alabama because their bodies of work are close enough that Florida State's unbeaten record gives it the nod for the No. 2 spot. Oregon's resume' is more compelling. But ultimately how you order Florida State and Alabama doesn't matter for the playoff. They can just play each other and settle it on the field.

It would matter if we still had the BCS and could only pick two for the championship game.

But the committee has to cut it off at four, and here's how I would do it:

- I go with Baylor. Last week I moved TCU ahead of Baylor, but said at the time that it could be a short-lived move. One difference in their bodies of work, I pointed out, was TCU had beaten Kansas State and Baylor had yet to play them. So the Bears' convincing win on Saturday moves them ahead, and I didn't give it too much thought. TCU may still have a slightly better resume', as its loss is better than Baylor's (against West Virginia.) But when you have two teams with the same record and very close bodies of work, then head-to-head should win out.

- Ohio State thumped Wisconsin, and that's great, but in my mind it's too little, too late. In the Buckeyes you've still got a team with the worst loss (home against Virginia Tech) of any prospective playoff team, and no eye-popping non-conference win to offset it. Add in that the Big Ten just isn't a compellingly strong league, and Ohio State should not be in the playoff. You have to look at the entire body of work for each team, not just what they did Saturday.

Further down the poll ...

- When it comes to teams that make championship games, my inclination is not to penalize them for playing an extra game. It was the reason I didn't drop Georgia two years ago when it barely lost to Alabama. But Missouri wasn't as competitive, and it didn't have a great resume' entering the game. Still, I only dropped the Tigers one spot, behind Clemson.

- The same concept goes for Arizona, which I dropped a couple spots because of the way it got thumped by Oregon. But I didn't drop the Wildcats very far, especially since several other two-loss teams fell on Saturday.

- And the same concept would go for Wisconsin, but it got thumped even worse, and didn't have a great resume' to begin with. The Badgers lost to LSU, which is behind them in the rankings, and they also lost at Northwestern. And there really isn't the impressive win to offset it. The Badgers aren't being penalized in my rankings for playing an extra game, they're being penalized for having a weak resume', and not showing up in that extra game.

- On the other hand, I didn't move Georgia Tech down a single spot. It doesn't get jumped by Ole Miss, which was idle. Kansas State also stays at No. 10, because its loss was on the road to a top team. I'm not sure that's how every voter will handle it, or how the selection committee will handle it. But it's how I did.

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