Brownlow's Week 3 Top 25 ballot: shakeup at the top?
Posted September 17
I am not afraid to move teams around if I have to in my AP Top 25, especially during the first few weeks, when we're still learning a lot about who these teams are. I went into the season with Alabama as my clear No. 1, as I had plenty of questions about the other top teams. Clemson and Oklahoma have certainly answered many of those questions. The only reason Clemson isn't No. 1 after the first two weeks of play is really that Alabama has given me no reason to move them down, and the Tide DID have a pretty convincing win over Florida State in Week 1 on a neutral field. That has to count for something. Plus, you try making Nick Saban mad. I kid.
As usual, my ballot is organized into tiers, however said tiers reveal themselves. The top 3 to me is pretty clear. Beyond that? I still think USC is really good, but there are obviously question marks. Still, am I going to punish them for a two-overtime win against a Texas team that has disappointed but still has talent? Not just yet. But I think every other team in the country is a clear notch below Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.
I don't ever want to punish teams too much in general for being underwhelming. But it all depends on what teams around them do. For example, I have been less than impressed with Michigan and very impressed with Oklahoma State, hence the Cowboys jumping them but Michigan staying at 10. But I've yet to see a super convincing reason to move any of that group of Florida State, TCU, Ohio State or Virginia Tech ahead of Michigan, so there they stay. For now.
That having been said, here's my ballot in all its glory! The number in parentheses indicates last week's ranking. If the ranking was unchanged, there will be no number.
2. Clemson (3)
3. Oklahoma (2)
5. Penn State
8. Georgia (9)
9. Oklahoma State (12)
11. Florida State
12. TCU (13)
13. Ohio State (14)
14. Virginia Tech (20)
16. Miami (17)
17. Washington State (18)
18. Oregon (21)
19. Mississippi State (UR)
20. Florida (UR)
21. LSU (8)
22. Louisville (16)
23. South Florida
25. Maryland (UR)
-Movers: Oklahoma State is up to 9 from 12. The Cowboys have just taken care of business in impressive fashion this year. I know they haven't beaten anyone particularly good yet, but they have been dominant and in control from the opening kickoff. And I thought highly of them entering the season anyway. Oregon is up to 18 from 21 for me, even though they weren't ranked a week ago. Their home win over Nebraska last week looks less impressive now, but they did dominate a Wyoming team with a supposed NFL Draft darling at QB this week.
Both schools start with Big L's, and both TOOK Big L's this week as LSU dropped from 8 to 21 and Louisville from 16 to 22. I try to honestly look at each team as I assess how far to drop them. I don't want to punish LSU too much, but at the same time, a 37-7 L is a pretty comprehensive one. Louisville...well, the Cardinals need Lamar Jackson to be superhuman. He wasn't, and against that Clemson defense, it's tough to be.
As tempted as I was to drop Louisville out of the top 25, they did still get beaten by a team I think is one of the best in the country, if not THE best. I do not think LSU got crushed by one of the best teams in the country. But I do think both teams are better than USF, Utah and Maryland -- right now.
-Welcome to the top 25: Mississippi State (what a win over LSU!), Florida (winner of the All Right Fine, I Have to Rank One of You Bowl) and Maryland (transitive-property winners over USC on the road!)
-Fringe top 25: Memphis, Colorado, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, California, Wake Forest (yes, I'm serious), Toledo, Iowa