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Ballot Type: human

Overall Rationale:
My rationale is based off of a combination of recent consistency, momentum, recruiting (primarily 2-4 years ago) & returning starters / staff.For any choices I think may be significantly controversial or have major swings from my preseason poll, I will provide detailed reasoning, but ones that I think speak for themselves will just be ranked as I believe they deserve. Any time that I think two teams are about a wash in where they should be ranked but one has no evidence (for example, Miami and Penn State), I'll give the edge to the team that has actually played games.

Rank Team Reason
1 Clemson Tigers
2 Ohio State Buckeyes This is where I ranked the Buckeyes preseason, and so far I don't think any of the teams just below them have any signature wins that justify jumping them quite yet. I believed very much last season that the Buckeyes were only a quarter step behind LSU's amazing season, and this year I think they have a wide open space to capitalize if they can bring back a team that's as capable.
3 Alabama Crimson Tide
4 Florida Gators
5 Georgia Bulldogs
6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
7 Miami Hurricanes Miami / Penn State are a wash in my mind at the moment - I'll admit the FSU win was an impressive margin, but I also don't think very much of FSU yet. Miami gets the edge for having actual proof and games played, however.
8 Penn State Nittany Lions Higher than most would take them before they start, but Penn State has proven under Franklin that they can field consistent and good teams. I started them at 7, but Miami and Notre Dame have earned spots ahead for the time being.
9 Auburn Tigers I think Kentucky was a legitimate opponent, and even though Auburn has offensive struggles (surprise, surprise) they did still win by 16. It's a bit of a small win to justify +4 spots from my preseason,
10 Cincinnati Bearcats Man, I didn't actually expect to put Cinci in the top 10 this early in the season but I think their defense is legit and I don't really know who I would justify putting above them as of now. Fickell has been an incredible coach for them, and I see them having a great shot at winning the American and very possibly a NY6 this year.
11 Mississippi State Bulldogs I could have ranked Miss State anywhere from 5 to 20 and come up with legitimate reasoning for it, but at the end I settled around the middle. Nobody really knows how good LSU is going to be this season, so even though Miss State seemingly has one of the best wins so far of the season I'm not quite ready to place them inside the top 10.
12 Wisconsin Badgers I started Wisconsin at 11 in the preseason and I still think they could likely land there, but I believe Cinci, UCF and Miss State have earned the right to jump them ahead of them for the time being.
13 UCF Knights
14 Texas Longhorns The Texas offense looks good, but I'm not quite ready to immediately jump to ranking them in the top 10. I started them at 21 because they pretty consistently turn out to not *actually* be back, and I think 7 spots up is more than fair considering that they don't really have a great win to flaunt yet.
15 North Carolina Tar Heels
16 Texas A&M Aggies Texas A&M is one of the teams I had the hardest time predicting this season. Their record was mediocre last season, but I believe if they played an average schedule and not one so monstrously difficult it would have been a lot different. That said, a tight win against Vandy is not a great looking data point to make up their whole season so far, and I think enough other teams have had good showings to drop them a few ranks from where I started them at 12.
17 Oklahoma State Cowboys
18 Minnesota Golden Gophers I started Minnesota at 15 preseason, but a few teams have earned the right to be placed ahead of them.
19 Oklahoma Sooners I feel like Oklahoma will eventually land higher than this and I always expect great things from them, but the loss they took is hard to ignore and their O-line (which already looked lost the entire 4th quarter) lost EJ Ndoma-Ogar. If there was any season I could see them somehow ending unranked, it'd be this one.
20 Tennessee Volunteers South Carolina is often pretty much the textbook definition of a "good but not great" SEC win, but it's more evidence than any teams below them have so far in my mind. Pittsburgh/Tennessee are a wash in my mind at the moment, but I think their games with Mizzou and N.C. State will clear that up visibly next week.
21 Pittsburgh Panthers
22 Michigan Wolverines
23 LSU Tigers God only knows where LSU will end up this season. Is Miss State really just that good? Are they average, and LSU is just kind of bad. Could they find their groove late season? I sure couldn't say off of just what we've seen so far, but I'm not making any hard assumptions and I'm going to watch closely.
24 BYU Cougars
25 Memphis Tigers

Submitted: Mon 28 Sep 2020 23:18