Two questions in this week’s AP poll: Where to move Clemson, and how much do you punish a ranked team after a “good” loss?
First, Clemson. The Tigers beat fifth-ranked Georgia 38-35 on Saturday, the most impressive victory of college football’s opening weekend. Based on that, you could make a case for Clemson being No. 1.
This early in the season, the poll is an uneven mix what you thought you knew in the preseason and the barest of on-field results. Yeah, we still think Alabama is pretty darn good. The Tide still deserves that top spot after a solid win over Virginia Tech, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Clemson has earned the No. 2 position.
I moved the Tigers from No. 6 to No. 2 on my ballot. They went from eighth to fourth in the AP poll.
Georgia shouldn’t be punished too much in the poll for losing a close game on the road to a highly ranked team, so I kept them in the top 10. Had to make a similar call for TCU, which I had at No. 21. The Horned Frogs lost in Arlington, 37-27 to LSU, which I ranked higher than most voters at No. 7.
I ended up dropping TCU from my ballot for now — I like seeing Fresno State on my list at No. 25 — but I’m not going to consider the Frogs’ opening loss a black mark as we move through the season.
The AP poll has four teams that I did not rank: No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 22 Nebraska (which I dropped after its close call against Wyoming), No. 24 TCU and No. 25 USC.
I dropped the Trojans from No. 25 on my preseason ballot after their lackluster offensive performance at Hawaii, although I’m not as down on USC as many seem to be. Head coach and play-caller Lane Kiffin might not optimize the offense, but that defense is going to be plenty salty and give the Trojans a chance in every game.
Here is my ballot, and how it compares to the actual poll: