The ballot I submitted to the Associated Press for this week's college football Top 25:

1. Alabama (11-0; Last week: 1; Actual rank: 1): No explanation needed for this ranking. Tide are the clear-cut No. 1.

2. Ohio State (10-1; LW: 2; Actual: 2): Buckeyes escaped against Michigan State, but I still really like this team at No. 2.

3. Michigan (10-1; LW: 4; Actual: 3): It wasn't pretty against Indiana in a snowstorm, but the Wolverines bounced back and set up a showdown with the Buckeyes.

4. Clemson (10-1; LW: 7; Actual: 4): This one might look odd, as I decided to jump the Tigers over Wisconsin and Oklahoma, who both won convincingly. Why? Basically, I re-evaluated everything this week and felt I dropped the Tigers too much last week, and I think Clemson is better than Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The Tigers are 3-0 against teams in the College Football Playoff Top 25. Wisconsin is 2-2, Oklahoma is 1-1.

5. Wisconsin (9-2; LW: 5; Actual: 5): I really like how this team is finishing its season. Badgers have won 5 in a row and they have a shot at the Big Ten title.

6. Oklahoma (9-2; LW: 6; Actual: 7): Sooners have won eight in a row and they're now 6-2 against teams in the ESPN FPI top 50.

7. Washington (10-1; LW: 8; Actual: 6): Great bounce-back win for the Huskies, who need to win out and get some help to make the CFP top four.



Penn State (9-2; LW: 9; Actual: 8): The resumes for Penn State and Colorado are very similar, but I gave the nod to the Nittany Lions because their best win - against Ohio State - is better than any win CU has had.

9. Colorado (9-2; LW: 13; Actual: 9): Buffs made a big jump on my ballot this week, thanks in large part to losses by Louisville, West Virginia and Utah. I also bumped the Buffs ahead of Oklahoma State. Why? See below.

10. Oklahoma State (9-2; LW: 10; Actual: 10): OSU's two best wins - West Virginia and Pitt - are similar to Colorado's two best wins - Washington State and Stanford. The difference? CU hasn't lost to anyone as bad as Central Michigan or Baylor. And, while OSU coach Mike Gundy wants the committee to view the Central Michigan game as a win for his team (because the winning score came on a play that refs admitted should not have happened), I still think the Cowboys should be punished for not only being in that position at home against an average MAC team, but also, you still gotta defend that play.

11. Louisville (9-2; LW: 3; Actual: 11): It was amazing to watch the Cardinals cough up such a golden opportunity. They looked awful against Houston, and outside of Florida State, they haven't beaten anybody that's very good.

12. Southern Cal (8-3; LW: 15; Actual: 12): The way they are playing right now, the Trojans are probably a top five team in the country. Their early-season struggles will - or at least could - haunt them down the stretch, however, if they miss out on the Pac-12 title game and CFP.

13. Western Michigan (11-0; LW: 14: Actual: 14): You have to give the Broncos credit for beating everybody on their schedule, but with one week left in the regular season, their best win came in the opener at Northwestern, which has yet to earn bowl eligibility.

14. Florida State (8-3; LW: 17; Actual: 15): Seminoles were impressive against Syracuse and get a bump with West Virginia, Utah and Washington State all losing.

15. Auburn (8-3; LW: 18; Actual: 16): Auburn had a similar week to FSU - an easy win a three-spot jump thanks to losses ahead of them.

16. Florida (8-2; LW: 20; Actual: 13): Finally, the Gators beat somebody of note, knocking off LSU, 16-10. Gators will play Alabama in SEC title game.

17. Nebraska (9-2; LW: 23; Actual: 17): The Cornhuskers got a nice win against Maryland, 28-7. Big reason for their jump, though, was losses by West Virginia, Utah, Washington State and LSU.

18. Houston (9-2; LW: 24; Actual: 18): Did any team have a better week than the Cougars? They thumped Louisville, 36-10. Add that to an early win against Oklahoma, and their resume looks good.

19. Boise State (10-1; LW: not ranked; Actual: 20): Boise State was my first team out last week. After a convincing win against UNLV and several losses by others, they deserve to get back into the Top 20.

20. North Carolina (8-3; LW: 22; Actual: Not ranked): Tar Heels had an easy one against The Citadel. Combine that with others losing, and you get a small bump.

21. West Virginia (8-2; LW: 11; Actual: 19): I've been skeptical all year about this team, wanting to see them play against good teams. Now they've played two good teams - Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - and lost by 17 and 28 points.

22. Texas A&M (7-3; LW: 21; Actual: 22): Beating UTSA 23-10 did nothing to impress. They moved down because three teams I had below them - Nebraska, Houston and Boise State - are playing better right now.

23. Utah (8-3; LW: 12; Actual: 21): Utah is another team that I haven't fully believed in this year and the Utes now have two really bad losses, against Cal and Oregon.

24. Washington State (8-3; LW: 16; Actual: 23): Watching them in person on Saturday, the Cougars are better than I thought. They just ran into a determined Colorado team.

25. Tennessee (8-3; LW: not ranked; Actual: 24): I had the Vols just outside of my Top 25 last week. They crushed Missouri, 63-37, and appear to be closing strong after a three-game slide.

Dropped out

LSU (6-4; LW: 19; Actual: 25): Another SEC team that's been over-rated despite not really doing anything (remember Ole Miss earlier this year??). Tigers are now 0-4 against teams in the CFP Top 25. Their best win is probably against Arkansas (7-4).

San Diego State (9-2; LW: 25; Actual: ): It appeared the Aztecs were finishing strong with six wins in a row, and then they lost to Wyoming.

Knocking on the door (3 teams I have next in line)

Stanford (8-3): In the middle of the year, this team was struggling big time. They're on a nice four-game run, however, beating up on the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.

Virginia Tech (8-3): Nice win on the road in South Bend for the Hokies. Still, it's tough to forget losses to Syracuse and Georgia Tech.

South Florida (9-2): The have won three in a row, but a loss to Temple could keep them out of the AAC title game.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or