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.
Before we get to the ballot, let’s point out a poll discrepancy that seems a little off. Oklahoma dropped to No. 22 in
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after losing to Baylor on Thursday night. Texas moved into the poll at No. 23 after beating West Virginia in overtime, its sixth straight victory. Wait, the Sooners and Longhorns are both 7-2, and Texas rolled over Oklahoma 36-20 in Dallas on Oct. 12. And Oklahoma is still ranked ahead of Texas?
It’s not quite as egregious as the coaches poll, which still has Louisville ranked six (six!) spots ahead of Central Florida, but it’s still a little curious. More on that below, but let’s get to the ballot. As always, the teams’ actual rankings are in parentheses and we offer some poll thoughts below.
1. Alabama (1)
2. Florida State (2)
3. Baylor (4)
4. Ohio State (3)
5. Stanford (5)
6. Missouri (9)
7. Auburn (7)
8. Oregon (6)
9. Clemson (8)
10. Texas A (10)
11. South Carolina (11)
12. Oklahoma State (12)
13. Fresno State (16)
14. Wisconsin (17)
15. LSU (18)
16. Central Florida (16)
17. UCLA (13)
18. Michigan State (14)
19. Louisville (19)
20. Texas (23)
21. Northern Illinois (20)
22. Oklahoma (22)
23. Arizona State (21)
24. Miami (24)
25. Minnesota (25)
• What else can Baylor do? (The obvious answer, of course, is handle Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas in their last four games.) But for the moment, the Bears keep quieting the doubters with dominant performances. The latest came in a 41-12 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday.
The Bears are first in the nation in points per game (61.0) and sixth in points allowed (15.4). Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood are both averaging better than eight yards per carry.
If Oklahoma State can beat Texas this Saturday, Baylor could get another chance to face a top-10 team (this time on the road on Nov. 16) and pad the resume a little bit more.
• For those reasons, I jumped Baylor ahead of Ohio State, whose best victory came at home against an undervalued Wisconsin squad. I’ve consistently ranked Wisconsin ahead of the national voting bloc, and this week the Badgers are up to No. 14 on my ballot after handling BYU 27-17. (Wisconsin is 17th in the actual poll.)
• Stanford’s victory over Oregon was one of the most impressive performances of the season, a lesson that power football can still work in an era of high-tempo spread offenses. The Cardinal are in position to fall into the BCS title hunt if some teams falter, but for now, it was hard to move them ahead of Ohio State (21 straight wins) or Baylor.
• And finally, it might be time for voters to start taking Texas little more seriously. We had them No. 25 last week, while the Longhorns were unranked (and behind No. 25 Texas Tech) in the actual rankings. That changed in this week’s poll, of course, after the Longhorns squeaked by West Virginia in overtime.
It wasn’t a dominant performance. But after a 6-0 start in the Big 12 — and a victory over Oklahoma — Texas should at least be ranked ahead of the Sooners.
• Apologies to Ball State, which is 9-1 and unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference, and Southern California, which has turned its season around under interim coach Ed Orgeron.