Our AP Top 25 ballot: Where Florida State, Alabama and Colorado landed

Florida State remained at No. 1 on my AP Top 25 ballot, while Alabama and Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes stayed in and Clemson reentered. I do not feel great about any of those decisions, but that’s where a messy Week 3 of the college football season left me.

I see no real separation in the top nine teams in my rankings. Could you justify Notre Dame at No. 1? Sure. The Irish have dominated everyone, are 4-0 and have a solid win at N.C. State. Georgia has the most talent and finally beat a real team (South Carolina). Washington has looked as impressive as anyone, though I’m not sure what to make of the Huskies’ schedule. Ohio State looked like a championship team by crushing Western Kentucky.

But I still have the Seminoles first for two main reasons.

First, I generally try not to ding teams for winning a conference game on the road (though a tight win at Boston College gave me pause). Secondly — and much more importantly — LSU’s 41-14 win at Mississippi State validates my lofty opinion of the Tigers … and makes FSU’s Week 1 victory look even better. That game in Orlando is the best performance by any team so far, and it’s the most compelling data point I had this week as I tried to sort through nine comparable teams.

Alabama was awful at USF. The Bulls deserve credit, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Crimson Tide’s offense looked putrid. Watching the game, I figured ‘Bama had a good chance of falling off my ballot. The Tide remain, however, because their defense is strong and because I didn’t see a suitable replacement.

Iowa hasn’t impressed me. The resumes of BYU and UCF aren’t strong enough yet. Florida’s breakthrough rivalry win over Tennessee came against a Volunteers team that I wasn’t sold on to begin with. Missouri upset Kansas State, but ‘Bama was more impressive against their common opponent (Middle Tennessee). So the Tide stuck in my rankings but fell from 11th to 22nd.

I’m still not sure of what to make of Coach Prime and Colorado after their double-overtime win over a bad Colorado State team. I typically do not knock a team for any win over a rival, but this tested me, too — especially because I did not have a strong opinion on the Buffaloes through the first two weekends. I decided to keep Colorado 20th but moved Washington State ahead (because the Cougars had a better outing against their common opponent, Colorado State).

Elsewhere on my ballot:

• Miami jumped four spots to No. 17 after trouncing Bethune-Cookman. That’s more of a product of other teams moving around; I didn’t take anything away from the Hurricanes doing what they were supposed to do.

Michael Penix’s Huskies rose from seventh to fourth after a convincing win at Michigan State. Michigan slid from fourth to fifth because the Wolverines’ soft schedule has made it difficult for me to gauge how good they truly are.

• Mississippi and Oklahoma rose from 16th and 17th to 11th and 12th after more blowouts. All six of their collective wins have been by at least 17 points.

• Clemson is back on my ballot at No. 23 after routing Florida Atlantic. I’m curious to see how the Tigers look against FSU this week.

• Arkansas, Tennessee and Kansas State fell off my ballot this week. They were replaced by the Tigers of Clemson and Auburn plus Syracuse. Some of the advanced metrics I check were higher than I expected on Auburn and the Orange, which is why I chose them over a group that included the Gators, UCF, BYU, Fresno State and Missouri.

Matt Baker’s AP top 25 ballot

1. Florida State

2. Georgia

3. Ohio State

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Texas

7. USC

8. Penn State

9. Notre Dame

10. LSU

11. Mississippi

12. Oklahoma

13. Oregon

14. Oregon State

15. Utah

16. Duke

17. Miami

18. UCLA

19. Washington State

20. Colorado

21. North Carolina

22. Alabama

23. Clemson

24. Syracuse

25. Auburn

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (3-0)

2. Michigan (3-0)

3. Texas (3-0)

4. Florida State (3-0)

5. USC (3-0)

6. Ohio State (3-0)

7. Penn State (3-0)

8. Washington (3-0)

9. Notre Dame (4-0)

10. Oregon (3-0)

11. Utah (3-0)

12. LSU (2-1)

13. Alabama (2-1)

14. Oregon State (3-0)

15. Ole Miss (3-0)

16. Oklahoma (3-0)

17. North Carolina (3-0)

18. Duke (3-0)

19. Colorado (3-0)

20. Miami (3-0)

21.Washington State (3-0)

22. UCLA (3-0)

23. Tennessee (2-1)

24. Iowa (3-0)

25. Florida (2-1)

Others receiving votes: Clemson 76, Missouri 72, Kansas St. 54, TCU 21, Fresno St. 17, Kansas 15, Tulane 13, Kentucky 10, Maryland 4, BYU 3, Wisconsin 2, Syracuse 2, Louisville 1, Auburn 1.

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