Matt Porter’s Associated Press college football top 25 ballot, Week 10

Iowa hoists kicker Keith Duncan in the air after his field goal stunned Michigan. (Getty Images)

Iowa hoists kicker Keith Duncan in the air after his field goal stunned Michigan. (Getty Images)

[Five things we learned from UM-Virginia]

[Game story: Miami pounds out a win]

[DT Jenkins suspended for lack of discipline]

A supposed lack of exciting matchups made more than a few observers predict that Saturday would be boring.

About that.

Nothing much happened, unless you’re intrigued by five of the top 10 teams in the playoff rankings losing in the second week of November. In the chaos, Nos. 2, 3 and 4 lost, a phenomenon that occurred on the same day once before, in 1985.

It all led to me hitting the reset button and considering resumes like never before. What follows is the ballot I submitted to the Associated Press poll, plus explanation of my choices. This was easily the toughest week of the year.

The playoff committee’s deliberations will be anything but boring this week.

  1. Alabama (where I had ‘em last week: 1; record: 10-0, 7-0 SEC). The only obvious choice. Been here since the preseason and is the last unbeaten Power Five team. Alabama being good is as reliable as anything in college football can be.
  1. Ohio State (5 – 9-1, 6-1 Big Ten). One loss, at Penn State by two points. Crushed Nebraska two weeks ago in a top-10 matchup. Won at Oklahoma in September. Won at Wisconsin. The problem for the Buckeyes: they no longer control their destiny in the Big Ten. If Penn State wins out, it will play in the title game regardless of how OSU fares. Would the playoff committee pick a one-loss OSU – which would have a win over Michigan in this scenario – over a two-loss conference champion?
  1. Michigan (3 – 9-1, 6-1 Big Ten). Saturday’s last-second loss at Iowa was the first of the year. Concerned about the Wolverines’ offense, which struggled to move the ball against a defense that allowed 41 points to Penn State, but their defense is rivaled only by Alabama. The resume includes wins over Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin. That’s solid. A Big Ten championship would seal a playoff bid, especially since it would include a win over Ohio State.
  1. Louisville (6 – 9-1, 7-1 ACC). Goes without saying, but another difficult call here. Only loss was on the road at Clemson, and if it matters, has the best player in the country. Sure, Clemson won the head-to-head matchup. But Louisville blew out their common opponents, while Clemson barely survived Florida State and North Carolina State. Another factor in the Cards’ favor: they’re playing better at this moment, having won five in a row (the last two by a 96-19 margin). Can make the ACC title game with a Clemson loss this week. If both teams win out, what would the committee do with one-loss Louisville?
  1. Clemson (2 – 9-1, 6-1 ACC). Close wins over the Cards and North Carolina State was the Tigers playing with fire. One-point loss to unranked Pitt (a team Miami destroyed two weeks ago) was the burn. Certainly not toast, though. A win at Wake Forest this week would send them to the ACC title game. The path to the playoff is clear: beat South Carolina (Nov. 26) and whomever emerges from the Coastal (likely Virginia Tech). I’m sure some will leave Clemson in the top four.
  1. Washington (4 – 9-1, 6-1 Pac-12). First loss of the year came at home to USC, a team on the rise. The problem with the Huskies’ resume is one of their best wins – a 44-6 drubbing of then-No. 7 Stanford – looks worse given the Cardinal’s subsequent struggles. The best win might be No. 17 Utah, which could wind up the Pac-12 South champion if it beats Colorado in two weeks. But back to Washington: its playoff bid probably arrives if it beats Arizona State this week, then wins at Washington State in the final week of the year.
  1. Wisconsin (7 – 8-2, 5-2 Big Ten). Maybe the best of the two-loss teams. Lost at Michigan and at home to Ohio State by a touchdown each. Going by rankings at the time, Badgers have three top-10 wins: No. 5 LSU to start the season, No. 7 Nebraska three weeks ago, and Michigan State in Lansing in September, when Sparty was ranked No. 8. Controls their destiny in the Big Ten West, needing wins at Purdue and at home against Minnesota to clinch a spot in the title game.
  1. Penn State (9 – 8-2, 6-1 Big Ten). Resume includes a loss to Pitt – which now looks much better, given the Panthers beat Clemson – and another to Michigan. Both were on the road. The wins? Ohio State and a rout of Michigan-beater Iowa. If Penn State wins out (at Rutgers, vs. Michigan State) and Ohio State beats Michigan, the Nittany Lions are in the Big Ten title game. Could “Big Ten Champion Penn State” get a playoff bid?
  1. Washington State (NR — 8-2, 7-0 Pac 12). As I rip it up and start over again, I realize I’m late in showing love to Wazzu, the only team without a Pac-12 loss. Early losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State, by a combined six points, the only blemishes here, and colored by judgment on the Cougs. They’re 8-0 since then, and no one’s stopping that offense. Road rout at Stanford (when Stanford was No. 15) boosts resume a little. The Apple Cup should be wild this year, since it will be for the Pac-12 North title, and it’s in Pullman. If chaos continues to reign, a 11-2 Wazzu – should it beat Colorado this week, beat Washington and then win the Pac-12 title – could make a compelling playoff case.
  1. Colorado (22 – 8-2, 6-1 Pac-12). Another team making a big jump in a week where I reset the table. The only losses for the Buffs were on the road at Michigan and USC, the latter by four points. Not sure what the best win is here; would it be 10-5 at Stanford, or 20-10 against UCLA? If Colorado can beat Wazzu or Utah in the final two weeks – both games are at home – those will move to the top of the resume.
  1. Oklahoma (11– 8-2, 7-0 Big 12). Has won seven in a row after the blowout loss to No. 3 Ohio State in the third week of the season. That and a season-opening loss to Houston are the only scuffs on the Sooners’ shoes. In a down year for the Big 12, would a two-loss Oklahoma, without the benefit of a conference title game, be playoff-worthy?
  1. West Virginia (10 — 8-1, 5-1 Big 12). Beat Oklahoma this week and not only do the Mountaineers have a path to the Big 12 title, everyone forgets how badly they lost at Oklahoma State last month.
  1. Nebraska (12 – 8-2, 5-2 Big Ten). Rebounded from the blowout loss to Ohio State with a tight win over Minnesota at home. Needs wins over Maryland and Iowa (on the road) in the final two weeks, plus a Wisconsin stumble, to reach the Big Ten West title game.
  1. USC (NR – 7-3, 6-2 Pac-12). Just looked like the better team at Washington. Rolling with new quarterback Sam Darnold, who took over after Trojans started 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah, the latter two on the road. A win over Colorado means they have a path to the Pac-12 title game, should the Buffs slip.
  1. Auburn (8 — 7-3, 5-2 SEC). Loss at Georgia was Tigers’ third, deletes their playoff chances and takes some of the steam out of the Iron Bowl. Was looking strong after early losses to Clemson and Texas A&M, and beat LSU in that stretch.
  1. Texas A&M (13 — 7-3, 4-3 SEC). Loss to Ole Miss was Aggies’ third, and at home. A bad look, coming after a loss at struggling Mississippi State. Positives: three ranked wins (No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 9 Tennessee, all at home) and only LSU has played Alabama better.
  1. Oklahoma State (23 – 8-2, 6-1 Big 12). Two puzzling losses (Central Michigan, then-No. 16 Baylor) but playing well of late. A win over No. 10 West Virginia is the crown jewel of this resume – and a shot at Oklahoma in two weeks could give the Pokes another.
  1. LSU (17 — 6-3, 4-2 SEC). Took out frustration from the Alabama loss on No. 25 Arkansas, pounding the Hogs in Fayetteville. The Tigers’ other losses came to Wisconsin and Auburn, both unranked at the time. No SEC title game for them, but a chance to push for year-end top-10 consideration with wins over Florida and Texas A&M in the next two weeks.
  1. Florida State (15 – 7-3, 4-3 ACC). Routed Boston College and was likely displeased to see North Carolina and Clemson lose. At least Miami and Louisville won. The Florida game in two weeks should be fun.
  1. Utah (16 – 8-2, 5-2 Pac-12). Sitting in a tie for second in the Pac-12 South, but owns the tiebreaker over USC and could win the division by beating Colorado in two weeks. Both conference losses came to North teams (Washington and Cal, by a combined 12 points). Win over USC looks better this week. Like Colorado, the Pac-12 championship is a must-get for its playoff resume. After I submitted my poll I realized I probably have the Utes too low, so I’ll have to wear that for a week.
  1. Florida (18 — 7-2, 5-2 SEC). Can win a very uninspiring SEC East race by beating LSU this week. Should have the defense to challenge Florida State in Tallahassee in two weeks, but the Gators’ offense is abysmal.
  2. Western Michigan (14 – 10-0, 6-0 MAC). Still unbeaten. Still playing MAC teams. I may have dropped the Broncos in my week of change, but they’ll will get some love this week when ESPN’s College GameDay comes to Kamalazoo. The opponent is Buffalo, which is 2-8.
  1. Boise State (24 — 9-1, 5-1 Mountain West). The win over Wazzu looks better and better. Is thankful for Wyoming’s triple-OT loss at UNLV last week, which dropped the Cowboys into a three-way tie for first in the Mountain division. Is rooting for West division leader San Diego State, which plays Wyoming this week.
  1. Iowa (NR — 6-4, 4-3 Big Ten). The win over Michigan doesn’t completely wipe away losses to Northwestern and a very good North Dakota State team, or the blowout loss at Penn State, or the loss to Wisconsin. But that’s a nice win for a preseason top-25 squad.
  2. Minnesota (25 – 7-3, 4-3 Big Ten). Beat up on the low-tier Big Ten teams and lost close games at Penn State and Nebraska, and at home to Iowa.

Dropped out: No. 19 Baylor (three losses in a row, and unfortunately, a devastating injury to quarterback Seth Russell), No. 20 Virginia Tech (lost at home to Georgia Tech), No. 21 North Carolina (handed Duke its first ACC win).

Also considered: Pittsburgh (6-4, 3-3 ACC; beat Penn State and has tight losses to UNC, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State. It’s the blowout loss to Miami that’s most concerning); Troy (8-1, 5-0 Sun Belt; Only loss came at Clemson, but plays in a feeble conference); San Diego State (9-1, 6-0 Mountain West; the early South Alabama loss was bad, but the Aztecs have been ripping up the MWC since. Big game at Wyoming this week).

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