Editor’s note: The Star’s Rustin Dodd has a vote in the Associated Press poll this college football season. Each week, he’ll provide an explanation for his ballot.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
Some sea-changing results in the top 25 this week, starting with Florida State’s 51-14 dismantling of No. 3 Clemson. There are statement victories … and then there’s going on the road and putting up more points than any visiting team in the history of Death Valley.
Then there was Missouri, which backed up a road victory at Georgia with a dominating performance against Florida. (That’s a 36-17 victory with backup quarterback Maty Mauk introducing himself to the country.)
And then there was Baylor, which was favored by a ridiculous 33.5 points against Iowa State. And, of course, promptly eviscerated the Cyclones in a 71-7 beating.
(A lot of brilliant quarterbacks are putting up gaudy numbers this year, but in the race for the Heisman, what about Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who is now averaging 9.2 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns in seven games?)
That was just the beginning of a wild week: Texas A&M went down to Auburn, LSU fell to Ole Miss, and South Carolina was shocked by Tennessee.
By the time the dust settled, Florida State had staked its case as a title contender, and Baylor and Missouri burnished their credentials as teams who could crash the BCS title game in Pasadena.
So let’s get to it, our latest Associated Press poll ballot. As always, the team’s actual ranking is in parentheses, and we offer some more poll thoughts below:
1 Alabama (1)
2 Oregon (2)
3 Florida State (3)
4 Ohio State (4)
5 Baylor (6)
6 Missouri (5)
7 Miami, Fla. (7)
8 Stanford (8)
9 UCLA (12)
10 Texas Tech (10)
11 Auburn (11)
12 Clemson (9)
13 Texas A&M (14)
14 Virginia Tech (16)
15 LSU (13)
16 Wisconsin (22)
17 Fresno State (15)
18 Louisville (18)
19 Oklahoma (17)
20 Northern Illinois (23)
21 Oklahoma State (19)
22 South Carolina (20)
23 Nebraska (25)
24 Central Florida (21)
25 Arizona State (NR)
… Of the top three teams in the poll, who has the toughest upcoming stretch?
No. 1 Alabama has Tennessee and LSU at home, and a road game at Mississippi State. Before the SEC championship game, the toughest test could come in a regular-season finale at Auburn on Nov. 30
No. 2 Oregon faces a tough two-game stretch: UCLA at home, followed by a Thursday night showdown at Stanford on Nov. 7. The Ducks also face in-state rival Oregon State in their regular-season finale before a potential berth in the Pac-12 championship game.
If its easy victory at Clemson is any indication, it could be relatively smooth sailing for No. 3 Florida State in the ACC. The ’Noles still have to play Miami at home on Nov. 2, and they travel to Florida on Nov. 30.
… Baylor and Missouri both made cases to jump No. 4 Ohio State, which looked pretty average in a 34-24 victory against Iowa. We kept Ohio State, which has won 19 straight, at No. 4 … for now. Here’s the Buckeyes’ problem: The Big Ten. The toughest game remaining on their schedule is probably at Michigan on Nov. 30. If Missouri and Baylor keep winning, it’ll be tough for Ohio State to hold them off…
… Stanford can climb back into the BCS title picture with a victory over Oregon. But they’ll still need a lot of help…
… We’re about to find out about Texas Tech: The Red Raiders face a four-week stretch of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor. Texas Tech has been impressive at times… but they’ve benefited from a favorable Big 12 schedule. Their first four games: TCU, Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia.
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.