AP Top 25 College Football Rankings [Picking On The Pollsters]

My weekly college football feature where I breakdown each of the Associated Press Top 25 ballots. The mission is to hold these “experts” accountable, in hopes of improving the AP Poll in some small way by calling out all those writers who show far too much homerism to the team they cover, pointing out those we don’t think watched a single game, and those ballots that simply don’t make any sense. Oh, and occasionally I might even give someone a pat on the back when credit is due.

This week’s AP Top 25 poll is out and four new teams enter the rankings: North Carolina at 22, Michigan State 23, Pittsburgh 24 and Ball State 25. The top of the rankings remain relatively the same with all the big undefeated teams staying in similar positions. That will all change after this weekend with some huge head-to-head matchups, none bigger than #5 Texas vs #1 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.

I don’t have to many problems with most pollsters top rankings, except for a few assorted writers continuing to believe in Texas Tech. Since they impressed with an explosive road win against Kansas State, I’ll lay off the criticism just for this week, but maintain they’re the most overrated team in football.

For what it’s worth I still believe that Southern California is the best team in the country. I wouldn’t rank them at No. 1, of course, it’s not deserved after losing to Oregon State. But should the Trojans win out, I’d hope to see Pete Carroll get an opportunity to play against the Big 12 or SEC’s best.

Here’s this week’s nit-picking at the week 7 ballots…

Worst Ballot: Chris Fowler (ESPN)

Chris is one of my favorite guys in all of sports, but he’s on notice this week for turning in his ballot before he went to bed on Saturday night. Fowler failed to realize Fresno State lost to Hawaii at home. That’s the only way to explain his keeping the Bulldogs ranked 21st.

Naturally, we have to discuss Jon Wilner (San Jose Mercury News). King of the “what have you done for me Saturday” balloting, Wilner bumped Vanderbilt up to 6th. Hey, that had a big win. That’s cool. But I have a hard time believe they are that much better than BYU and Florida, who he has ranked 18th and 19th, respectively.

Now you all know where my fandom rests, but don’t confuse me with a homer. Having watched every snap of Michigan State’s season, trust me in telling you they are not a top 25 team. Not yet, at least. And they most definitely are not the 18th ranked team, according to Craig James (ESPN/ABC). The Spartans are improved from a year ago, learning to win close games with defense, but let’s wait until they face Ohio State October 18th before ranking State. James also is buying the Notre Dame hype, ranking the Irish 21st without a single win worth discussing.

Doug Segrest (Birmingham News) has Utah laughably at No. 9. After many top 10 teams play each other this weekend, I can’t wait to see how high he has the Runnin’ Utes.

Doug Lesmerises (Cleveland Plain Dealer) has a curious placement of Vanderbilt and LSU. Vandy scored a big win against Auburn at home, worthy of top 10 consideration no doubt. But wouldn’t you argue that the Tigers win on the road at Auburn was comparatively more impressive? I sure do. Nonetheless, Lesmerises has Vandy 6th and LSU 7th.

John Heuser (Ann Arbor News) had a front row seat to Illinois’ blowout victory in the Big House. Michigan may not be great, but that was the most yards the Wolverines have ever given up at home. The Illini have two losses, but were to Heuser’s 3rd and 8th ranked teams. My thinking is he’d at least give Ron Zook some credit, but alas, Illinois is not to be found in his Top 25.

Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN) continues to drive the Arizona bandwagon. Since the Wildcats lost to New Mexico, I refuse to grant them any consideration for a ranking until they score a solid win. Herby has ‘Zona at 22nd.

Lastly, I have to give credit to Molly Yanity (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), whom I harass on a weekly basis. She’s been trumpeting the Kentucky Wildcats all season and on Saturday they played like a Top 20 team. For now, you look wise. Congrats.

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