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Ballot Type: hybrid

Overall Rationale:
I use two models --- one score-based, the other result-based --- to evaluate team strength. All FBS teams are treated as equal to start the season, but this changes as each team plays more games. I average the performance of teams in these two models, creating an aggregate model ranking. I then modify these rankings manually, with a current tolerance of five positions. Currently, teams must be in the top 45 in both models and the top 30 of the aggregate to be ranked. (Computer ranking in parentheses.) First N Out - Cincinnati (28), South Carolina (31), Michigan State (28)

Rank Team Reason
1 Alabama Crimson Tide Alabama won by the skin of their teeth, but their still the top team in the country. (1)
2 Clemson Tigers A convincing win over Pitt bumps Clemson up to second in my ballot. (2)
3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish No 13th win hurts the Irish a bit, but their perfect record and convincing wins keep them afloat. (5)
4 Ohio State Buckeyes Hot take time: Ohio State should be in the playoff; a fluke loss to an okay team doesn't mean the Buckeyes aren't far and away the best team in what is probably the second-best conference this season and they earned their way back from that loss to play in the playoff. (3)
5 Georgia Bulldogs Georgia came incredibly close for nearly upsetting Alabama and I certainly think they're one of the top teams in the country. (6)
6 Michigan Wolverines Unfortunately for Michigan, they played, and lost to, two top four teams (for me, at least), but they still had a good season and can finish strong with a game against (shocker!) Florida. (4)
7 Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma managed to avenge their loss to Texas and they now find themselves in the College Football Playoff, but, given the overall weakness of the Big 12, I'm not convinced they deserve to be there, and neither is my model. (7)
8 Washington Huskies The Huskies won the Pac-12, but it wasn't enough for them to get their foot in the door of the playoff. (11)
9 Penn State Nittany Lions A turbulent season for Penn State will reach its conclusion against Kentucky. (8)
10 Texas A&M Aggies Jimbo Fisher's team did well in their first season with him and things may finally be looking up for the Aggies in the brutal SEC West. (14)
11 LSU Tigers The Tigers had a strong season, and will look to wrap it up with a bowl win. (12)
12 Kentucky Wildcats The Wildcats will be left wondering "what if," but they've still had an excellent season to date and will have the chance to make it even better when they take on Penn State. (16)
13 Iowa Hawkeyes The Hawkeyes are actually a very good team, and I'm looking forward to watching their bowl game against Mississippi State. (10)
14 Northwestern Wildcats The Wildcats served as the West's sacrifice to Ohio State this season, but they still put together a strong conference record. (9)
15 UCF Knights The Knights are punished severely in my model for their weak schedule, though they're rewarded in the other for trouncing many of the teams they did play. (20)
16 Missouri Tigers Missouri seems like a team that consistently flies under the radar, but they're quite good and will hope to finish up strong. (15)
17 Fresno State Bulldogs The Mountain West Champions are, I think, a bit under-rated and are a very good team. (17)
18 Purdue Boilermakers Purdue is, for all intents and purposes, is the anti-UCF in my model; they're buoyed by some big wins, but their point-based evaluation is weak, and my model ranks them much higher than I would. (13)
19 Utah Utes Utah struggled some against Washington, but they're still a good team. (18)
20 Washington State Cougars The Cougars came close to playing in the Pac-12 Championship, but they still look to be a good team. (19)
21 Texas Longhorns The Longhorns were unable to repeat against Oklahoma, making it less clear that their first win was anything other than luck. (23)
22 Mississippi State Bulldogs Mississippi State had a decent season and will look to finish strong against Iowa. (27)
23 Stanford Cardinal Stanford did end up playing Championship Weekend, but probably not how they'd planned it. (21)
24 West Virginia Mountaineers West Virginia has a potent offense, but their defense proved unable to keep them in important games. (29)
25 Boise State Broncos The Broncos went 1-1 against Fresno State, but they lost the wrong game, ultimately coming out the Mountain West runner-up. (25)

Submitted: Tue 04 Dec 2018 04:47