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Monday, Oct 16, 2017
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My AP Top 25 ballot: FSU out, USF, Florida Gators back in

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. Maybe he's right.

But right now? He doesn't have a top-25 team - at least not on my eyes.

I dropped the Seminoles off my AP Top 25 ballot after a 27-21 home loss to North Carolina State gave FSU its first 0-2 start since 1989. I was higher on FSU than most of the other voters after the opener, because Alabama is really, really good and because I wanted to see how James Blackman fared before dropping the ‘Noles too far. Well, I saw it. Mostly, I saw a defense that isn't performing up to expectations and an offense that struggled in the red zone.

Do I think FSU would beat some of the teams on my ballot? Yes. But I can't justify ranking a winless team that just lost at home to a good (not great) Wolfpack team after losing by 17 in the opener. The criteria is on results, not reputation. 0-2 speaks for itself.

So the ‘Noles are off my ballot, along with Vandy, Kentucky and Maryland. Four teams had to enter, so hello, Duke, and welcome back USF, Florida and Notre Dame.

I previously dropped the Gators and Bulls off my ballot after early-season struggles. Neither team has looked great to me, but winning is kind of the most important thing. I put USF ahead of UF to reward a 4-0 start, and because I still have serious concerns with the Gators (quarterback and defense, to name two).

I strongly considered UCF, too, after a 28-point win at a Maryland team I had ranked. But the Knights have still only played two games, so I'm not quite sold on the Knights yet based on that small sample size.

I'm following the Joey Knight school of thought by trying not to punish a team for a conference road win (Oklahoma, Penn State). I also thought about putting ‘Bama back at No. 1, but Clemson still has two wins over teams I have in the top 20. Thanks to FSU's loss, the Tide has none.

My top 25:
1. Clemson (4-0)
2. Alabama (4-0)
3. Oklahoma (4-0)
4. Washington (4-0)
5. Penn State (4-0)
6. USC (4-0)
7. Georgia (4-0)
8. TCU (4-0)
9. Michigan (4-0)
10. Ohio State (3-1)
11. Wisconsin (3-0)
12. Oklahoma State (3-1)
13. Virginia Tech (4-0)
14. Miami (2-0)
15. Auburn (3-1)
16. Washington State (4-0)
17. Utah (4-0)
18. Louisville (3-1)
19. San Diego State (4-0)
20. Notre Dame (3-1)
21. West Virginia (3-1)
22. USF (4-0)
23. Florida (2-1)
24. Duke (4-0)
25. Mississippi State (3-1)

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