When the AP voters were asked to put together their preseason college football rankings, they were instructed to include the conferences teams that, at the time, had postponed their 2020 season. In that balloting, Ohio State checked in at No. 2 with 21 first-place votes, just behind Clemson at No. 1 (38 first-place votes) and ahead of Alabama at No. 3.
The Buckeyes were removed from the top 25 once the AP poll started running midseason updates, and when the Big Ten announced its return, those teams who had initially postponed the season were once again made available for the voters to consider for their top 25 ballots. But when Ohio State returned to the AP poll, it was as if it had lost its place in line. After just one week of SEC play, the trio of Alabama, Florida and Georgia had jumped ahead of the Buckeyes, along with a two-win Notre Dame squad, and those 21 first-place votes had diminished to just two. In the weeks since, even those two first-place votes went elsewhere, with last week's balloting showing a clear-cut top tier with just Clemson and Alabama.
Credit the AP voters for course-correcting now that Ohio State has put together four quarters of evidence showing that it very much belongs in the debate for best team in the country. After throttling Nebraska in its 2020 opener, the Buckeyes jumped ahead of Georgia and Notre Dame to land at No. 3 in the new AP Top 25.
The AP voters also put together ranking improvements for Wisconsin, from No. 14 to No. 9, and Michigan, from No. 18 to No. 13, after opening weekend wins in the Big Ten. Though neither of those teams saw the same kind of inexplicable drop in the rankings from the removal and addition process like the Buckeyes.
One team that did see a drop after Week 8 action was Penn State, though it came not as a result of voter behavior but from losing in its season opener. Perhaps the dramatic overtime defeat at Indiana cushioned some of the blow in the rankings as the Nittany Lions fell from No. 8 to No. 18, and clearly the voters think highly of the Hoosiers after the win with a jump from being unranked to No. 17.
Check out the full AP Top 25 below:
- Clemson (52 first-place votes)
- Alabama (10)
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Texas A&M
- North Carolina
- Kansas State
- Penn State
- Coastal Carolina
- Iowa State
- Boise State
Others receiving votes: Memphis 105, Liberty 85, Tulsa 80, Louisiana-Lafayette 50, Army 44, Auburn 41, Minnesota 40, Utah 36, Northwestern 20, Washington 15, Arkansas 15, Purdue 8, Arizona State 7, Appalachian State 6, California 4, Boston College 2, Texas 2, San Diego State 1