Each week, I'll post the top 25 ballot I sent to the Associated Press as part of its weekly poll. My ballot is reactive to events of the previous weekend and the cumulative season and tends to have much more fluctuation in the first month than it does in the last. We'll start with teams that dropped out:
Georgia (22): The Bulldogs lost 38-31 to Tennessee, blowing a 21-point lead. They also appear to have lost, for some period, running back Nick Chubb.
West Virginia (24): I could see the Mountaineers getting back in the rankings soon, seeing as they've lost only to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But WVU's best win, over Maryland, isn't much to write home about.
New teams in the poll:
Boise State (21): The Broncos have two Power Five wins over Washington and Virginia, and their lone loss was a Hail Mary of sorts at BYU. I expect Boise to blast through the rest of its schedule with ease and land in another College Football Playoff access bowl.
Mississippi State (25): Edged out BYU for the No. 25 spot. We'll see where it goes from here. I don't love the wins or statistical performance on the resume. I'm playing more of a small hunch that MSU is a slightly better football team than BYU at this point. Lots of teams hover just outside the top 25.
My new top 25:
8 Ohio State
9 Notre Dame
11 Oklahoma State
12 Texas A&M
13 Michigan State
14 Ole Miss
18 Florida State
21 Boise State
23 Arizona State
25 Mississippi State
>> Utah is No. 1 by virtue of the wins on its resume, which includes Michigan and California at home, and a wipeout of sliding Oregon in Eugene. Obviously, I thought a lot of Utah in the preseason, ranking the Utes higher than any other preseason AP voter. That said, I expect Utah to lose two or three games this season. Utah also would have lost to Michigan were it not for lemonheaded mistakes by UM quarterback Jake Rudock. Nevertheless, Rudock made those mistakes.
I don't expect Utah to make the College Football Playoff. The Utes are Mississippi State and Ole Miss of 2014.
>> I held off on ranking Michigan higher until the Wolverines played Northwestern. After UM won that game 38-0, I am now calling the Michigan the best team in the Big Ten (reactively speaking) and predictively speaking — which is of course meaningless — the only team I have in front of Michigan is Alabama.
>> Alabama is probably the best team in the SEC. LSU is ranked higher based on accomplishment, but the Tigers will drop when they lose games. The Tigers get a break, though, playing at Alabama in early November. Alabama's a softer, sloppier team at home than it is on the road, and Alabama's crowd is notoriously effete and entitled. Ole Miss has the best schedule has the best remaining schedule of the bunch, but the Rebels will be lucky to beat Memphis in the Liberty Bowl, even if the crowd will probably be split.
>> Northwestern will be dropping out of the poll next week after it loses to Iowa.
>> I'm going to pat myself on the back, perhaps because I'm a bad person, but whatever. In the AP preseason poll, I ranked Oklahoma State, Utah and California higher than any pollsters, and Oregon, Auburn and Georgia Tech lower than any other pollsters.
>> I was, of course, dead wrong about Arkansas. The Razorbacks' defense didn't bring it this year. Ditto for Georgia. Georgia is the new Oklahoma. No consistency. Good coaches whose message has dulled. Georgia's season will hinge on the Florida game. A loss there, and that's an open job at the end of the year.
>> Had USC given Steve Sarkisian a leave of absence or whatever USC athletic director Pat Haden wants to call it after he left what appears to be a man battling a severe addiction on the sidelines for several weeks, I would have ranked USC higher than I have the Trojans now.