Sports

Sometimes winning isn’t enough. Here’s a new AP ballot that explains why.

The second ballot is really the first in the AP voting world because actual football has been played.

Some teams played bonafide opponents, others played college football’s version of exhibition games but the real job of analyzing the nation’s top 25 teams has begun.

The top five teams on my preseason all played impressively so there are no changes in that order: Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond had 463 total yards against Tigers in 2018

The shuffling began in the second five.

LSU moves up to No. 6 with Notre Dame at No. 7 as both leapfrog over Michigan.

The Wolverines beat Middle Tennessee 40-21 but their defense showed some weaknesses that could hurt them in the coming weeks. Thankfully, this Saturday’s home game with Army and a road trip to Wisconsin on Sept. 21 lie ahead so Michigan gets a chance to prove itself worthy of a higher ranking soon.

Notre Dame should have beaten mistake-prone Louisville by a larger margin. But a true road game in an opener against a Power Five opponent is a difficult test so the Irish are at No. 8.

Auburn moves into the top 10 at No. 10 following its thrilling 27-21 neutral-site win over Oregon. Nice rally by the Tigers.

That top-10 slot was only open because Florida, which I had at 10 in the preseason, was unimpressive in its 24-20 win over Miami back on Aug. 24. The Gators drop back to No. 12, which is where Oregon was last week. The Ducks stay in the top 20 at No. 18.

Now we get to the serious movement.

Nebraska, Iowa State and Missouri all fall off my ballot. The Cornhuskers and Cyclones both won at home but didn’t look worthy of a ranking in doing so.

Iowa State’s triple-overtime escape against Northern Iowa felt like a loss.

Nebraska looked dominant on its opening drive for a touchdown against South Alabama but pretty much sleep-walked through the rest of the game to win 35-21. Do better, Cornhuskers, and you’ll earn serious respect.

As for Missouri, well, that ill-fated trip to Laramie, Wyoming, and that 37-31 loss it brought home is all kinds of ugly. Taking a 14-0 first-quarter lead looked normal but allowing 27 Wyoming points in the second quarter wiped away all those good feelings.

Moving into the poll to take the place of those three -- for now -- are Central Florida, Virginia and Washington State.

UCF and Washington State both battered FCS foes but Virginia went on the road to win an ACC divisional game 30-14 at reigning Coastal Division champion Pittsburgh. That’s good for some attention.

Boise State, at No. 24 on my ballot in the preseason, stays one spot ahead of UCF and is my top-rated Group of Five team. Florida State is a struggling program these days but that rally to win 36-31 in Tallahassee solidified the Broncos’ status in my eyes.

Here is the full ballot:

  1. Clemson

  2. Alabama

  3. Georgia

  4. Ohio State

  5. Oklahoma

  6. LSU

  7. Notre Dame

  8. Michigan

  9. Texas

  10. Auburn

  11. Texas A&M

  12. Florida

  13. Penn State

  14. Washington

  15. Utah

  16. Wisconsin

  17. Iowa

  18. Oregon

  19. Michigan State

  20. Syracuse

  21. Boise State

  22. Central Florida

  23. Washington State

  24. Virginia

  25. Mississippi State

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
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