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My Take On Others: Tiers come into focus for this ‘Top 25’

My Take On Others: Tiers come into focus for this ‘Top 25’

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Sign me up for a six-team playoff right now. Clemson and Alabama get byes — that’s the correct use here — into the semifinals, while the first set of games is smorgasbord of Georgia, Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma.

That’s order I’ve got those four in — it’s negotiable.

Through a month, it’s clear those are the best teams in college football. We’ll see if Auburn and Wisconsin can maintain pace and maybe we’ll think there should be an eight-team playoff, but at this point, there’s a clear-cut top six teams in college football, there’s a next level of possible contenders, and then there are the long shots.

Including the only two unbeaten teams in this state, Wake Forest and Appalachian State.

Here’s the ballot I filed this week:

1. Clemson (4-0)

Last week: beat Charlotte 52-10

Next: at North Carolina

2. Alabama (4-0)

Last week: beat Southern Miss. 49-7

Next: vs. Mississippi

3. Georgia (4-0)

Last week: beat Notre Dame 23-17

Next: off (at Tennessee on Oct. 5)

4. Ohio State (4-0)

Last week: beat Miami (Ohio) 76-5

Next: at Nebraska

5. LSU (4-0)

Last week: won at Vanderbilt 66-38

Next: off (vs. Utah State on Oct. 5)

My take: Georgia held serve against a Notre Dame team that accounted itself better than I thought it would.

Dabo Swinney’s talking up of Charlotte being capable of embarrassing his Tigers was just that — embarrassing.

Seventy-six points from Ohio State and 66 from LSU — one of those isn’t surprising, one of those shouldn’t be surprising.

What I mean there is that LSU has finally found a quarterback in Joe Burrow to pair with playmakers and skill on the outside.

Not sure any of the three teams that plays next week will even receive a test.

6. Oklahoma (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: vs. Texas Tech

7. Auburn (4-0)

Last week: won at Texas A&M 28-20

Next: vs. Mississippi State

8. Wisconsin (3-0)

Last week: beat Michigan 35-14

Next: vs. Northwestern

9. Penn State (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: at Maryland (Sept. 27)

10. Florida (4-0)

Last week: beat Tennessee 34-3

Next: vs. Towson

My take: Auburn and Wisconsin take leaps — the Badgers leap-frogged a bunch of teams — because I took this weekend to reevaluate my poll instead of cling to what teams were thought to be in the preseason.

So, hopefully it’s not much too much of an overcorrection to bump Wisconsin up to eighth.

Penn State-Maryland still has some juice to it, and I expect to see some continued outrage from folks for that game being on a Friday night.

11. Notre Dame (2-1)

Last week: lost at Georgia 23-17

Next: vs. Virginia

12. Texas (3-1)

Last week: beat Oklahoma State 36-30

Next: off (at West Virginia on Oct. 5)

13. Oregon (3-1)

Last week: won at Stanford 21-6

Next: off (vs. California on Oct. 5)

14. Iowa (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: vs. Middle Tennessee

15. Virginia (4-0)

Last week: beat Old Dominion 28-17

Next: at Notre Dame

My take: Notre Dame played Georgia closer than I figured it would.

Texas’ win over a good Oklahoma State team might go under the radar, but that’s a quality win. The Longhorns could still factor into the CFP race, with a week off and what should amount to an easy trip to Morgantown before the Red River Shootout.

I’m not sure Oregon will get the same chance, but if the Ducks keep rolling and others stumble, they’ll be there, too.

I don’t feel great about moving Iowa up so far after not even playing, but that’s what happens when the Pac-12 cannibalizes itself (in part).

Virginia’s true test comes with a trip to South Bend, and if the Cavaliers keep starting games slowly it’ll be a miserable trip.

16. Boise State (4-0)

Last week: beat Air Force 30-19 (on Sept. 20)

Next: off (at UNLV on Oct. 5)

17. California (4-0)

Last week: won at Mississippi 28-20

Next: vs. Arizona State (Sept. 27)

18. USC (3-1)

Last week: beat Utah 30-23

Next: at Washington

19. Utah (3-1)

Last week: lost at USC 30-23

Next: vs. Washington State

20. Michigan (2-1)

Last week: lost at Wisconsin 35-14

Next: vs. Rutgers

My take: There’s an unsettling amount of West Coast flavor here. But Boise State keeps rolling along — I was able to watch some of the Broncos’ win against Air Force and it was a reaffirmation that they’re a top-20 team.

California is the last unbeaten team in the Pac-12 and will play an ornery Arizona State team coming off its first loss.

USC might not be long for this poll (again), but beating Utah with a quarterback who ended August as their third-stringer bumps the Trojans back this week.

21. Washington (3-1)

Last week: won at BYU 45-19

Next: vs. USC

22. Memphis (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: vs. Navy (Sept. 26)

23. Wake Forest (4-0)

Last week: beat Elon 49-7

Next: at Boston College

24. SMU (4-0)

Last week: won at TCU 41-38

Next: at South Florida

25. Appalachian State (3-0)

Last week: won at North Carolina 34-31

Next: vs. Coastal Carolina

My take: One more for the West Coast, Washington lands and is likely going to beat USC next week.

Memphis and Wake Forest elevate a few spots each — the Tigers and Deacons both get stiff tests next week.

SMU and App State won road games against decent Power 5 teams, and that’s more impressive to me than what Minnesota and Kansas State — both were off this week — have done this season.

Maybe I dropped too many teams out of my poll, maybe UCF shouldn’t be dropped out for losing a one-point game at Pittsburgh and maybe Texas A&M shouldn’t be dropped after losing two games to teams I’ve got in the top 10. But here’s the dilemma I think every pollster faces: What’s more important between convincing wins against lesser opponents or losses to impressive teams?

I opt for the former.

On the cusp (in no particular order):

Minnesota (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: at Purdue

Michigan State (3-1)

Last week: won at Northwestern 31-10

Next: vs. Indiana

Kansas State (3-0)

Last week: off

Next: at Oklahoma State

Dropped out:

14. TCU (2-1)

Last week: lost to SMU 41-38

Next: vs. Kansas

16. Texas A&M (2-2)

Last week: lost to Auburn 28-20

Next: vs. Arkansas (in Dallas)

18. UCF (3-1)

Last week: lost at Pittsburgh 35-34

Next: vs. UConn

19. Washington State (3-1)

Last week: lost to UCLA 67-63

Next: at Utah

23. Arizona State (3-1)

Last week: lost to Colorado 34-31

Next: at California (Sept. 27)


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