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.
The holiday weekend — and a couple of games on Sunday and Monday — pushed back the release of this week’s Associated Press poll to Tuesday. And if you watched Florida State eviscerate Pittsburgh 41-13 on Monday night, it was certainly a wise decision.
Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was, in a word, a revelation, a ridiculous combination of Howitzer arm and craftsman’s accuracy. In his collegiate debut, Winston, a redshirt freshman, finished 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. And because the Seminoles had the night to themselves, the impact performance will likely be felt in the polls.
So let’s get to the rankings. As always, a few thoughts below.
3 Ohio State
5 South Carolina
7 Texas A
10 Florida State
12 Oklahoma State
14 Notre Dame
22 Southern California
WHO DROPPED IN:
Washington (18); Northwestern (21); Baylor (24)
WHO DROPPED OUT:
Boise State (19); Kansas State (22); Fresno State (24)
There wasn’t much movement atop my ballot, where Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and an idle Stanford remained in the top four. I rewarded Clemson for its marquee victory at home over Georgia — and for good reason — but I couldn’t rank the Tigers over in-state rival South Carolina, which looked plenty competent against North Carolina.
• The toughest part of the ballot may have come in the 7-to-10 range, where Louisville, Florida State and LSU all looked impressive. Specifically, Florida State and LSU looked like (early) title contenders. Or at least something close to that. Winston could be an emerging star, and LSU handled a capable TCU squad in the Horned Frogs’ backyard at Jerry World. For now, though, we’re keeping Texas A at No. 7, ahead of those three impressive teams.
• Some ballots will likely drop Georgia farther than 11th, where we slotted the Bulldogs, but it’s hard to knock them too much after losing on the road against one of the best teams in the ACC. Next up: South Carolina.
Yeah, rough way to start the year.
• Washington was our biggest riser of the week; the Huskies go from unranked to No. 18 after manhandling a ranked Boise State.
• We dropped Nebraska a few spots after a close victory over Wyoming, and dropped Fresno State from the ballot after an overtime victory against Rutgers. The Bulldogs could still wind up back on the ballot soon, but for now, we rewarded Baylor with a spot at No. 24. Finally, at No. 25, is TCU. The Frogs certainly have issues after a disappointing loss to LSU, but are they one of the best 25 teams in the country? Right now, probably so.