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Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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Matt Baker's AP Top 25 college football ballot

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team. Maybe he's right.

Right now? He doesn't, at least not on my eyes.

I dropped FSU off my Associated Press Top 25 ballot after its 27-21 loss to North Carolina State gave the Seminoles their first 0-2 start since 1989. I was higher on FSU than most other voters after their season-opening loss because Alabama is really, really good and because I wanted to see how freshman QB 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.

Would FSU 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. The criteria is results, not reputation, and 0-2 speaks for itself.

So FSU is off my ballot, along with Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Maryland. Four teams had to enter, so hello, Duke, and welcome back USF, Florida and Notre Dame.

I dropped the Bulls and Gators out after early season struggles. Neither has looked great, but winning matters. I put USF (No. 22) ahead of UF (No. 23) 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 only played two games, so I'm not quite sold on them 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 Alabama 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)

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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