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Ballot Type: human

Overall Rationale:
I try my best to do the rankings each year based on games actually played. For this reason, my early season ballots are generally in the most controversial, but they fall more in line with everyone voting on expected results or how good they think teams are as the season progresses and we get more games to evaluate. This year might be especially weird. 

Rank Team Reason
1 Mississippi State Bulldogs Starting off the year 1-0 with a victory at the defending champions gets you to the top of the board. LSU looks like they may have lost a bit too much from last year, but we'll see if it plays out that way. 
2 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Early in the season, the Ragin Cajuns resume looks pretty good sitting at 3-0 with a win on the road over Iowa State, who went on to beat TCU the next week. Their stock will drop as other teams actually get wins over P5 teams or if Iowa State drops more games, but that looks pretty good for now. They have a week off before back to back games against Appalachian State and coastal Carolina. 
3 Miami Hurricanes 3-0. Put an absolute beatdown on Florida State this past weekend. Also have a nice win on the road at Louisville. 
4 Florida Gators 1-0 with a 51-35 win over Ole Miss. They have South Carolina next week but follow that up with Texas A&M and LSU, so we should get a better picture of just how good they are pretty quickly. 
5 Auburn Tigers Auburn handled business in a 29-13 victory over Kentucky. They play Georgia this coming weekend and have a good chance to jump to the top of my rankings. 
6 Clemson Tigers Clemson is 2-0 with a couple blowouts over Wake and Citadel. They play Miami on 10/10 and that's a good chance for them to claim the top spot. 
7 Alabama Crimson Tide Started the season off with a 38-19 victory over Missouri. Hard to know how much beating Missouri means, but they play Texas A&M next week so should have an early opportunity to rise higher in poll. 
8 Georgia Bulldogs Georgia beat Arkansas 37-10 with a pretty impressive second half after looking shaky early on. QB play looked like it took a big step back from last year but it was a first start. Defense still looked good. good matchup with Auburn next weekend. 
9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish ND is 2-0 with wins over Duke and South Florida. Like Clemson, they've looked good but just haven't really beaten a good team yet. They have games against Louisville and Pitt next month and should have a good chance to move up from that. 
10 BYU Cougars 2-0 with absolute beatdown of Navy. 
11 Memphis Tigers I struggled with figuring out where to put Memphis. They're only 1-0 and their 1 win came against Arkansas State from the Sun belt. Normally I would count that to mean basically nothing, as it wasn't a blowout. However, Arkansas state's other game was on the road against Kansas State and they won. K-State just beat Oklahoma. A chain of 3 games where they beat someone who beat someone who beat Oklahoma isn't incredibly strong, but without much else to judge on, I'm gonna use that to put Memphis here. They play UCF next month and that should help get a better understanding of where they belong. 
12 Oklahoma State Cowboys 2-0 with wins over Tulsa and West Virginia. Neither in particularly impressive fashion, but WVU had just come off a 56-10 win. Should beat Kansas convincingly next week and that is followed in a couple more weeks by a game with Baylor. 
13 Pittsburgh Panthers 3-0 with wins over Louisville and Syracuse. We'll find out what they actually have in October, with back to back games against Miami and Notre Dame. 
14 Texas Longhorns 2-0 but needed a miraculous finish to beat Texas Tech (who had previously struggled with Houston baptist). Their offense looks legit. Defense looks bad. They have a game with Oklahoma in 2 weeks that could really lock in their status at top of big 12. 
15 Cincinnati Bearcats 2-0 with a win over Army. Likely will be undefeated heading into game with Memphis at end of October.
16 UCF Knights UCF put a hurting on Georgia Tech in one of their 2 blowout wins. GT had just come off a win against FSU and I'd rate that as a better win if it weren't for FSU getting beatdown by Miami. UCF plays Tulsa and then has a week off before playing Memphis. 
17 SMU Mustangs SMU started the season 3-0. Best win is North Texas though. They play Memphis this weekend so we'll get some understanding of where they actually belong. 
18 North Carolina Tar Heels 1-0 with a Syracuse beatdown. This could be a pretty good team but its hard to know just yet. They have Boston College next weekend but follow that up with a game against Virginia Tech that could help show where they belong. 
19 Baylor Bears 1-0 with a blowout win over Kansas. 
20 Tennessee Volunteers 1-0 with a win over South Carolina. They play Missouri next weekend. Should be 2-0. Dream likely comes to a crashing halt the next weekend against Georgia. 
21 Texas A&M Aggies Started the season off 1-0 with a win over Vanderbilt. Not super convincing in a 17-12 win, but a win is a win. They play Alabama next week and could really make moves with a win there. 
22 Boston College Eagles Enjoy it while it lasts, Eagles. 2-0 with wins over Duke and Texas State. A matchup with UNC next weekend will likely drop BC out of the rankings. 
23 Marshall Thundering Herd 3-0 with a win over Appalachian State. Could run the table in Conference USA. 
24 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 2-0 with a win at Kansas. 
25 UTSA Roadrunners 3-0 against not great competition, but without a lot of schools playing, I'm putting them here. They play BYU and Army next month so we will know for sure if they should actually be ranked. (Also return of Big Ten football will likely mean there is no spot for teams like this)

Submitted: Mon 28 Sep 2020 15:49