My AP Top 25 ballot: UCF football slides, Michigan drops out

The Florida Gators stayed steady after trouncing Tennessee, which is very bad at playing football.
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) reaches to recover his fumble in front of Central Florida linebacker Tatum Bethune (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Pitt recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) Keith Srakocic  |  AP
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) reaches to recover his fumble in front of Central Florida linebacker Tatum Bethune (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Pitt recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) Keith Srakocic | AP
Published September 22

A wild, fun college football weekend led to some interesting questions on my AP Top 25 ballot this week, starting here: How far should I drop UCF after its 25-game regular-season winning streak ended at Pitt?

I had the Knights all the way up at No. 11 on my last ballot, but that was before a close loss against a Panthers team whose only other victory was a 10-point triumph over mighty Ohio. And there’s this: UCF’s best victory is a blowout win over Stanford … which is now 1-3. The other two wins are routs of 2-2 Florida Atlantic (also not very good) and Division I-AA Florida A&M. I was willing to give UCF the benefit of the doubt as an undefeated team, which meant moving the Knights up over more talented teams. But after losing to a mediocre ACC team? That’s gone.

RELATED: Trick play helps Pitt upset No. 15 UCF 35-34

The good thing for UCF this week is that I don’t feel strongly about many of the other teams in the 13-30 range. They’re all flawed in one way or another, and UCF still has three convincing wins on its resume. I put the Knights 20th, slotting them behind Virginia (which opened with a road win against Pitt).

The Gators stayed at No. 9 after destroying an awful Tennessee team. They’re at the top of my good-not-great tier, which they share with Penn State and Texas. Notre Dame only fell one spot on my ballot to No. 11 after a close loss at Georgia. No shame there; the Irish actually did much better than I expected.

RELATED: Florida Gators, Kyle Trask blow out Tennessee 34-3

A few other quick notes on my ballot:

USC jumped into my rankings and up to No. 16 to get one spot ahead of Utah.

I’ve been hesitant on Texas, but the win over Oklahoma State was the proof I needed to justify moving the Longhorns up to 12th, even though advanced metrics haven’t been high on them.

I considered dropping Texas A&M, but Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies’ losses are to top-six teams on my ballot. I still think they’re one of the top 25 teams in the country, so they stayed in at No. 23.

Michigan, however, did not. I’ve been waiting for Jim Harbaugh to break through, and I’m still waiting after Wisconsin blew out his Wolverines. I can’t justify ranking a team whose resume consists of a 19-point win over Middle Tennessee, an ugly win to Army (that probably should have been a loss) and a 35-14 embarrassment to the Badgers.

RELATED: The Jim Harbaugh Effect: More sizzle than steak?

Oklahoma State, TCU and Washington State also fell off my ballot to make room for USC, Cal, Missouri and Wake Forest. Memphis and SMU were among the other teams I considered.

Here’s the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Georgia

4. LSU

5. Ohio State

6. Auburn

7. Oklahoma

8. Wisconsin

9. Florida

10. Penn State

11. Notre Dame

12. Texas

13. Oregon

14. Iowa

15. Boise State

16. USC

17. Utah

18. Kansas State

19. Virginia

20. UCF

21. Cal

22. Washington

23. Texas A&M

24. Missouri

25. Wake Forest

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