It was shakeup Saturday for my AP ballot, as major fluctuations, adds and drops occurred as a result of several non-conference matchups and a few conference games. Here is this week's top 25, followed by quite a few explanations:
1. Ohio State
10. Texas A&M
12. Michigan State
13. San Diego State
19. Florida State
20. Boise State
25. South Florida
No. 12 Michigan State: The Spartans, unranked in my preseason poll, stayed that way after a mediocre win over Furman. They enter the poll after an impressive win over Notre Dame. MSU is lucky the Fighting Irish chose to punt near the end of the game, though.
No. 16 Florida: The Gators, in hindsight, had earned ranking last week, but debut here pretty high. Florida's defense is one of the best nationally thus far.
No. 18 Nebraska: The Huskers debut here after a 35-32 win over Oregon. NU was close to my Top 25 previously and benefited from losses from several teams (like Texas and Notre Dame) and a very strong performance in special teams, which helps improve the overall profile of teams. Further, I'm projecting that NU's 35-point win over Wyoming will look better and better as time progresses.
No. 21 Baylor: Still hasn't played a good team, but the Bears' performances have been strong.
No. 22 Arkansas: Lipstick on a pig? A little bit. But Arkansas has one of the best road wins of the season.
No. 24 Oregon: Enters after its loss to Nebraska. The Ducks looked better in Lincoln, in some ways, than they did in their first two games vs. Virginia and UC Davis.
No. 25 South Florida: A strong team at the end of the 2015 season has continued its strong start with a easy win at Syracuse. USF next gets Florida State.
Teams that dropped out of the poll:
Iowa: From No. 9 to unranked. That's how it goes when you lose to an FCS team, even if it is North Dakota State. The Hawkeyes were pounded on the ground, to boot.
Texas: Goes from No. 13 to out of the poll. UT could return soon enough, but its loss to Cal, coupled with Notre Dame's shabby loss to Michigan State, accounts for the fall.
Notre Dame: Lost to MSU, and the loss to Texas looks worse now. Buh-bye.
Ole Miss: The Rebels have losses to Alabama and Florida State, and both games unfolded in very similar manner. Ole Miss can start a game but it can't finish one. At 1-2, Mississippi now has a long season ahead of it.
Oklahoma: Lost 45-24 to Ohio State, and it could have been worse. OU makes too many mistakes. Lots of yards, lots of talent, too many errors.
Colorado: Lost 45-28 to Michigan after a spirited effort. The Buffaloes are better than people think, but special teams messes point to a fall out of the polls.
Pittsburgh: Lost 45-38 at Oklahoma State. Nothing to be ashamed of; OSU has an elite offense. Pitt is close to the top 25.
>> I picked Ohio State as No. 1 and Louisville as No. 2 — over previous No. 1 Alabama — because I'm reminded, once again, Alabama struggles against spread offenses. On a neutral field, after three weeks, I'll take OSU and the 'Ville to beat Bama. That may change.
>> Stanford got a big move up the polls after its 27-10 win over USC and Kansas State's rout of Florida Atlantic.
>> I'm not penalizing UCLA for a tight win at BYU. That's a good win in UCLA's second road game in three weeks. Bruins vs. Stanford next weekend.
>> Where do you put Florida State? Hard to say. But FSU's defense was supposed to be the strength of the team, and it's not. At all.
>> North Dakota State — should the Bison be ranked? NDSU surely should get some votes. They didn't get mine, in part because I'm reluctant to consider any FCS team among the top 25 in the country on a small sample size. Should Iowa win out or something, that'd be different. But Iowa hasn't done that.