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My AP Ballot: Now hard to separate two SEC teams at top

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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BLACKSBURG, Va. -- As voters in the Associated Press poll, we're instructed each week to rank our top 25 teams from 1-25.

So I turned in my ballot with LSU No. 1 and Alabama No. 2. But if I was allowed, I would have ranked LSU No. 1A and Alabama No. 1B. They are that close. Can we just fast forward to Nov. 5 and get the Game of the Millennium over with?

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While Alabama jumped Oklahoma on my ballot this week, there were several other changes. Clemson, after beating a third consecutive ranked team, zooms all the way up to No. 6. Are the Tigers the nation's sixth-best team? Maybe, maybe not, but up to this point they certainly have a Top 10 resume.

With seven Top 25 teams losing last weekend, Michigan, Texas and Georgia Tech made significant jumps on my ballot. Also, I ranked Kansas State and Washington for the first time, while Auburn returns to my ballot after beating South Carolina.

Dropping out of my Top 25 this week: South Florida, TCU and Texas A&M.

Here is my AP ballot for this week. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

1. LSU (1): This will mark the second meeting between LSU and Florida in three years where either the Tigers (5-0) or the Gators ranked No. 1. In 2009, No. 1 Florida beat No. 4 LSU 13-3. Next: vs. Florida, Saturday.

2. Alabama (3): How dominant was the Crimson Tide (5-0) against Florida? Florida finished with 222 yards of offense, Alabama had 226 rushing. Next: vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday.

3. Oklahoma (2): OU fans who wanted to watch the Sooners' victory against Ball State on television had to shell out $39.95 –- or about 64 cents per point in Oklahoma's 62-6 win. Next: vs. Texas in Dallas, Saturday.

4. Wisconsin (6): Wisconsin's rout of Nebraska extended its streak of scoring in consecutive quarters to 16. The Badgers (5-0) have scored in 19 of 20 quarters this season. Next: vs. Indiana, Oct. 15.

5. Oklahoma State (4): This week marks the 36th time in Oklahoma State's past 40 games the Cowboys (4-0) have been ranked in the AP poll. By comparison, in the 1990s, Oklahoma State went 93 consecutive weeks without being ranked. Next: vs. Kansas, Saturday.

6. Stanford (7): Dating back to last season, the Cardinal (4-0) have now won seven consecutive games by at least 26 points. Next: vs. Colorado, Saturday.

7. Clemson (12): The Tigers became the first ACC team to defeat three consecutive ranked opponents. In the past three weeks, Clemson (5-0) has defeated Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Next: vs. Boston College, Saturday.

8. Boise State (5): The Broncos (4-0) hit the 30-point mark again in getting revenge against Nevada. Boise State has scored at least 30 points in 23 consecutive regular-season games and 33 of its past 35. Next: at Fresno State, Friday.

9. Oregon (9): With Oregon (3-1) off last week, LaMichael James still managed to become the nation's leading rusher. James, who has 492 yards rushing in his past two games, is averaging 153.2 per game. Michigan QB Denard Robinson, last week's leader, dipped to 139. Next: vs. Cal, Saturday.

10. Michigan (18): The Wolverines (5-0) posted their first shutout since 2007. Other than allowing 31 points to Notre Dame, Michigan has held its other four opponents -- Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Minnesota -- to a total of 20. Next: at Northwestern, Saturday.

11. Texas (22): The Longhorns (4-0) will be trying to avoid losses to Oklahoma in consecutive years since 2003-04. Oklahoma won last year's game 28-20. Next: vs. Oklahoma in Dallas, Saturday.

12. Illinois (13): The Illini (5-0) are off to their best start since 1951, when they began 7-0. That year, Illinois finished 9-0-1, won the Big Ten championship and defeated Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Next: at Indiana, Saturday.

13. Georgia Tech (20): The last time Georgia Tech (5-0) started 5-0 was 1990. That year, the Yellow Jackets just happened to finish 11-0-1 and win the UPI national championship. Next: vs. Maryland, Saturday.

14. Arkansas (24): Coming off a wild 42-38 victory against Texas A&M, the Razorbacks (4-1) look to avenge last year's 65-43 loss to Auburn. In the past two years against Auburn, Arkansas has scored 44 points in 2009 and 43 last season. Next: vs. Auburn, Saturday.

15. Kansas State (NR): After ending a seven-game losing streak to ranked teams by beating Baylor on Saturday, the Wildcats (4-0) are off to a second consecutive 4-0 start under Bill Snyder. The last time Kansas State was ranked in the AP Top 25 was 2007. Next: vs. Missouri, Saturday.

16. Arizona State (19): After going 15-21 the past three years under Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils (4-1) are off to their best start since 2007, when they finished 10-3. Next: at Utah, Saturday.

17. Auburn (NR): In their third year under Coach Gene Chizik, the Tigers (4-1) have won 26 games, 14 by eight points or fewer, with seven of those by three or fewer. Next: at Arkansas, Saturday.

18. West Virginia (23): In their first four games, the Mountaineers had 306 yards rushing. Against Bowling Green, freshman Dustin Garrison rushed for 291. The Mountaineers (4-1) also racked up 643 yards, the most ever at WVU's Milan Pusker Stadium. Next: vs. UConn, Saturday.

19. South Carolina (8): In the past 54 weeks, the Gamecocks (4-1) have lost three times to Auburn in three different cities: Columbia, S.C., Atlanta and Auburn, Ala. Next: vs. Kentucky, Saturday.

20. Nebraska (10): The Cornhuskers (4-1) allowed the most points in a 48-17 loss to Wisconsin since a 52-17 loss to Missouri in 2008 –- Bo Pelini's first season as Nebraska's coach. Next: vs. Ohio State, Saturday.

21. Florida (11): The Gators have been bait to Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won the last three meetings against Florida (4-1) by a combined margin of 101-29. Next: at LSU, Saturday.

22. Baylor (15): Robert Griffin III is human after all. The Baylor quarterback threw his first interception against Kansas State, but still remarkably has thrown 18 touchdowns passes and only 20 incompletions for the Bears (3-1). Next: vs. Iowa State, Saturday.

23. Washington (NR): The Huskies (4-1) are off to their best start since 2007. After going winless in Pac-12 road games in Steve Sarkisian's first season, Washington has now won four of its past six. Next: vs. Colorado, Oct. 15

24. Virginia Tech (14): The Hokies (4-1) were held without a touchdown at home for the first time since 1995 in last week's 23-3 loss to Clemson. Next: vs. Miami, Saturday.

25. Florida State (25): The Seminoles are off to a 2-2 start for the second time in the past three seasons. Before 2009, the last time Florida State started a season 2-2 was way back in 1989. Next: at Wake Forest, Saturday.

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