Our AP Top 25 ballot: A new No. 1, plus ranking FSU, Michigan and LSU

Ohio State had been clinging to the top spot on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot because the Buckeyes’ resume was the strongest of any team in the country. As of today, that’s no longer true.

Georgia’s 35-point win over top-12 Mississippi was enough for me to move the two-time reigning national champions to No. 1 in my rankings.

The Bulldogs have six victories over teams ranked in the top 40 in ESPN’s Football Power Index. I don’t think all of them are top-40 teams, but the point stands; Georgia has amassed enough quality wins (including Missouri and the Rebels in back-to-back weeks) to warrant the jump.

Another factor: Penn State is merely good, not great. That was one of my takeaways from watching Michigan’s 24-15 road victory over the Nittany Lions. Penn State was simply underwhelming in ways that had nothing to do with how good the Wolverines are. As a result, I found myself downgrading Ohio State’s win over the Nittany Lions, which weakened the Buckeyes’ resume.

It’s unfortunate for Michigan that Penn State isn’t better, because I still don’t have a good read on the Wolverines. That’s why I kept Michigan fifth at the bottom of the top tier.

I also did not see a reason to lower Florida State or Washington after their wins. One of my general rules is that I try not to punish a team for beating a rival, no matter how ugly it is. The Seminoles’ 27-20 victory over Miami wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t dominant either. Still, FSU remained third in my rankings, just ahead of Washington (which picked up a quality win over Utah).

Other AP Top 25 thoughts

• Louisville is up to ninth after Thursday’s 31-24 win over Virginia. I liked the Cardinals’ defense and their rushing attack led by Jawhar Jordan. Louisville remains FSU’s likeliest opponent in the Dec. 2 ACC championship game, and the Cardinals do not look like a pushover.

• Despite being unimpressed with Penn State, I kept the Nittany Lions 10th. That’s because advanced metrics like them and because I didn’t think any of the teams in the 11-15 range deserved to move ahead of them.

• I only dropped Mississippi three spots to 12th. Thank the Gators’ loss for that. LSU remains the top three-loss team in the nation after racking up 701 yards — the most Florida has ever allowed. One of the Tigers’ defeats came to the Rebels, so LSU’s strength buoys Mississippi on my ballot. The Tigers’ win over Missouri looks better, too, after Mizzou crushed Tennessee.

• I remain an outlier on Kansas State, who was unranked in the AP poll last week. I moved the Wildcats up three spots to 16th after their 59-24 obliteration of Baylor. Kansas State’s three losses were all tight and against good teams, and advanced metrics view the Wildcats as a top-15 team. That’s why I’m fine being higher on this team than my colleagues are.

• Oklahoma State and Kansas dropped off my ballot this week. I could overlook the Cowboys’ early, bad loss to South Alabama, but there’s no justification for ranking them after a 42-point loss at UCF. I considered keeping the Jayhawks in the mix but couldn’t have after they lost at home to Texas Tech.

• Their exits made room for Arizona and SMU. The Wildcats were close last week and earned their way in with a win at Deion Sanders’ Colorado. The 8-2 Mustangs have been in the mix for a month and finally had enough movement ahead of them to join the mix. I thought about dropping Tennessee but kept the Volunteers at No. 25 ahead of Toledo and Iowa.

Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot

1. Georgia

2. Ohio State

3. Florida State

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Oregon

7. Texas

8. Alabama

9. Louisville

10. Penn State

11. Oregon State

12. Mississippi

13. LSU

14. Missouri

15. Oklahoma

16. Kansas State

17. Notre Dame

18. Utah

19. North Carolina

20. Tulane

21. James Madison

22. Arizona

23. Liberty

24. SMU

25. Tennessee

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (10-0)

2. Michigan (10-0)

3. Ohio State (10-0)

4. Florida State (10-0)

5. Washington (10-0)

6. Oregon (9-1)

7. Texas (9-1)

8. Alabama (9-1)

9. Louisville (9-1)

10. Oregon State (8-2)

11. Missouri (8-2)

12. Penn State (8-2)

13. Mississippi (8-2)

14. Oklahoma (8-2)

15. LSU (7-3)

16. Utah (7-3)

17. Tulane (9-1)

18. James Madison (10-0)

19. Arizona (7-3)

20. Notre Dame (7-3)

21. Tennessee (7-3)

22. North Carolina (8-2)

23. Kansas State (7-3)

24. Oklahoma State (7-3)

25. Liberty (10-0)

Others receiving votes: Iowa 111, Kansas 83, Toledo 51, Fresno St. 13, Southern Cal 5, UNLV 4, SMU 4, NC State 2, Miami (Ohio) 1, Texas A&M 1.

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