The ballot I submitted to the Associated Press for this week’s college football Top 25:
1. Alabama (8-0; Last week: 1; Actual rank: 1)
The 33-14 win against Texas A&M was impressive. The Tide is 5-0 against ranked opponents this season. Only other team with even 3 such wins? A&M.
2. Michigan (7-0; LW: 4; Actual: 2)
With Ohio State’s loss and another dominating performance by the Wolverines, I vaulted them to No. 2, jumping them over idle Clemson.
3. Washington (7-0; LW: 5; Actual: 4)
The Huskies don’t have a single win against an opponent that would be considered a great team, so I hesitated a bit with this decision. They have been so dominant, however, and that’s why I jumped them over Clemson, which has struggled against lesser teams.
4. Clemson (7-0; LW: 3; Actual: 3)
It’s been an odd year for the Tigers, who own one of the most impressive wins of the season (over Louisville), but have struggled in other games.
5. Louisville (6-1; LW: 6; Actual: 5)
After a loss to Clemson and a sluggish win against Duke, the Cardinals looked to be back in a thrashing of NC State.
6. Ohio State (6-1; LW: 2; Actual: 6)
Disappointing loss to Penn State for the Buckeyes, but they’re still one of the country’s elite teams and own wins against two teams I have in my top 12 (Oklahoma, Wisconsin).
7. Baylor (6-0; LW: 8; Actual: 8)
Bears had a bye last week. Second half of the schedule is a lot tougher than the first half.
8. Texas A&M (6-1; LW: 7; Actual: 9)
Losing on the road to the clear No. 1 team in the country isn’t a bad loss. Aggies are still an elite team with three Top 25 wins and a second half that isn’t too daunting.
9. Oklahoma (5-2; LW: 9; Actual: 16)
I continue to have the Sooners higher than most voters. I know they lost two early, but they’ve been on a roll since a Week 4 bye. Defense needs to get better, but this team can score with anybody.
10. Nebraska (7-0; LW: 10; Actual: 7)
I have the Cornhuskers at No. 10 because they’re 7-0 against a decent schedule, but this is not a team that wows me. I have a feeling they’ll get knocked down to reality the next two weeks (at Wisconsin, at Ohio State). If they’re a legit top-10 team, they’ll win at least one of those games.
11. West Virginia (6-0; LW: 19; Actual: 10)
Another team that I don’t fully buy into yet. I give the Mountaineers credit for going undefeated, but I want to see them against Oklahoma or Baylor. I vaulted them nine spots because I probably had them too low last week as an unbeaten team, and after a 24-point win against TCU, I couldn’t justify having them below the set of two-loss teams I have next.
12. Wisconsin (5-2; LW: 11; Actual: 11)
A 17-9 win at Iowa certainly isn’t riveting, but the Badgers’ only losses came against Michigan and Ohio State – by a total of 14 points – and they’ve got two Top 25 wins. Only reason I moved the Badgers down was to bump West Virginia.
13. Auburn (5-2; LW: 17; Actual: 15)
Two early losses (Clemson and A&M) don’t look so bad now, while wins against LSU, at Mississippi State and home against Arkansas look good. Crushing the Razorbacks 56-3 on Saturday was impressive.
14. Florida State (5-2; LW: 12; Actual: 12)
The Seminoles had a bye last week, but got bumped down because I felt West Virginia and Auburn belonged ahead of them. This week’s game against Clemson will be huge.
15. Florida (5-1; LW: 14; Actual: 14)
Gators were also on a bye and also got bumped down because of West Virginia and Auburn. This team still has plenty to prove, too. They have yet to defeat a good team.
16. Utah (7-1; LW: 20; Actual: 17)
I really don’t know how good this team is, but I know they keep winning and because of that, they deserve this spot. They struggled to beat Oregon State, however, and then struggled to put away an underachieving UCLA team that was playing without its star quarterback. I’m eager to see how the Utes play against Washington this week.
17. Boise State (7-0; LW: 13; Actual: 13)
The Broncos are unbeaten, and yet I dropped them four spots. Why? The past two weeks, they’ve played two .500 teams (Colorado State and BYU) at home, and won by a total of six points. They looked awful against BYU, with five turnovers, but escaped by blocking a field goal at the end. This week’s trip to Wyoming is no gimme.
18. Tennessee (5-2; LW: 18; Actual: 18)
The Vols were idle last week after back-to-back losses to A&M and Alabama. They do own three quality wins (Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia) and should go 5-0 the rest of the way.
19. North Carolina (6-2; LW: 22; Actual: 21)
Despite two losses, this is a team that’s defeated Pittsburgh, Florida State and Miami. Then, they went on the road to rout Virginia last week. The schedule sets up for a potential 10-win season.
20. Penn State (5-2; LW: unranked; Actual: 24)
Of course, the Nittany Lions’ 24-21 upset of No. 2 Ohio State turned heads – mine included. It’s one of the most impressive victories of the season for any team in the country. Let’s not forget, however, that they also have three other wins against five-win teams (Temple, Maryland and Minnesota). A 49-10 loss at Michigan was ugly, but the only other defeat came on the road, by three, against a Pitt team that sits at 5-2.
21. Colorado (6-2; LW: 25; Actual: 23)
Tied atop the Pac-12 South and bowl eligible before Halloween? It’s been a great season for the Buffs so far. The Buffs do have just two wins against winning teams, though (Arizona State and Stanford) and have yet to beat a Top 25 opponent. That said, this is a team that can line up with the vast majority of teams in the country and come out on top.
22. LSU (5-2; LW: unranked; Actual:19)
What a strange ride for LSU this season. The school fires long-time coach Les Miles after a 2-2 start, and his replacement, Ed Orgeron, has guided three consecutive blowout wins since.
23. Western Michigan (8-0; LW: 24; Actual: 20)
The schedule has been weak – and should be fairly easy until the finale against Toledo – but the Broncos have taken care of business. As long as they’re undefeated, they deserve to be ranked, but with that schedule, I don’t think they belong much higher than this.
24. Navy (5-1; LW: unranked; Actual: 22)
Four weeks into the season, Navy hardly looked like a Top-25 teams. But, back-to-back impressive wins against then-undefeated and 6th-ranked Houston and Memphis vaulted them onto my ballot.
25. Washington State (5-2; LW: unranked; Actual: unranked)
After opening the season at 0-2, including a loss to FCS Eastern Washington, I never thought I’d have the Cougars here. They’ve been exceptional in going 4-0 during Pac-12 play, however. This team should be 8-2 when it arrives in Boulder on Nov. 19.
Houston (6-2; LW: 15; Actual: unranked): Losing at Navy isn’t that bad. But barely getting past Tulsa and then getting routed by SMU proves this team doesn’t belong in the rankings.
Arkansas (5-3; LW: 16; Actual: unranked): The Razorbacks got a lot of respect in my book when they defeated Ole Miss two weeks ago. They lost all that respect with an absolutely embarrassing performance against Auburn, losing 56-3.
Mississippi (3-4; LW: 21; Actual: unranked): Myself – and plenty of other voters – kept excusing the Rebels’ record and defending their national ranking by pointing at the high caliber of teams they were losing to. That’s fine, but at some point, you gotta beat those teams. So far, the only wins are against Wofford, Georgia and Memphis.
Miami (4-3; LW: 23; Actual: unranked): I was all-in on the Hurricanes during their 4-0 start, but the season is unraveling quickly with three straight losses.
Knocking on the door (3 teams I have next in line)
Oklahoma State (5-2): The Cowboys have had a solid season to this point and rolled past Kansas 44-20 last week. They’ve got a real shot at making national noise this week against West Virginia.
Southern California (4-3): Everybody forgot about the Trojans after their 1-3 start. They’ve now won three straight and should make it five in a row as they host California and Oregon the next two weeks. A Week 11 visit to Washington could be very interesting.
Virginia Tech (5-2; Actual rank: 25): Hokies looked great against North Carolina and Miami, but threw a stinker against Syracuse in between those games. They need a great performance at Pitt this week.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.