Duke Now

Laura Keeley’s 2015 AP football poll ballot: Week 4

We don’t get a ton of voting guidance from the AP. Among the few sentences we did get, though, is as follows:

*Base your vote on performance, not reputation or preseason speculation.

*Pay attention to head-to-head results and don’t hesitate to make significant changes in your ballot from week to week.

Those are the two guiding principles I use. And if you compare the results of Ohio State thus far to the results of Michigan State, in my mind, there is no question who should be No. 1. The Spartans have the better win (31-28 over Oregon) and do not have an unsightly win and quarterback controversy, like the Buckeyes do after their 20-13 head-scratcher against Northern Illinois.

The most tangled web at this point involves Northwestern, Stanford and Southern California. Stanford, obviously, lost 16-6 at Northwestern to open the season, looking woeful and offense and getting soundly beat on both lines of scrimmage. But the the Cardinal went on the road and beat last week’s No. 6, USC, 41-31. And it’s starting to look like Northwestern is pretty formidable along both lines and on defense (but don’t get me started about their lack of a quarterback, which is actually a common problem in college football this year—see Alabama, for instance).

I’m unwilling to ignore head-to-head results from just two weeks ago, so the Wildcats have to be ahead of the Cardinal. And the Trojans have to be behind Stanford. So, I put the trio right at the end of the top 20. Good enough for now. Thanks to their leagues, all three teams will have the ability to play their way up the rankings.

And, as always, I construct my ballot to reward teams for quality wins.

This week (last week)

1. Michigan State (2)

2. Ohio State (1)

3. Ole Miss (14)

4. Notre Dame (6)

5. TCU (4)

6. Baylor (5)

7. UCLA (7)

8. Clemson (9)

9. LSU (11)

10. Florida State (10)

11. Alabama (2)

12. Georgia (13)

13. Oklahoma (15)

14. Oregon (16)

15. Texas A&M (17)

16. Arizona (19)

17. Northwestern (22)

18. Stanford (NR)

19. Georgia Tech (12)

20. Southern Cal (8)

21. Wisconsin (21)

22. BYU (18)

23. Toledo (23)

24. Utah (24)

25. Missouri (20)

Welcome: Stanford (2-1, won at then No. 6 USC 41-31)

Goodbye: Arizona State (2-1, won 34-10 versus New Mexico)

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