Winston-Salem Journal: Ap

Oct 26, 9:44 PM EDT

Ballot breakdown: Head-to-head or body of work?


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Breaking down the ballots for the AP Top 25 and wrapping up college football's ninth weekend.

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YOU MAKE THE CALL

Mississippi beat Alabama at home but lost at LSU to a team that had already lost twice.

Which team do you rank higher, the Rebels (7-1) or the Crimson Tide (7-1)?

Oregon lost with an injury depleted offensive line at home to Arizona, which then lost at home to Southern California on a last-second missed kick. The Trojans have lost a total of three games, two in the final seconds.

Which team do you rank higher, the Ducks (7-1) or the Wildcats (6-1)?

Voters in The Associated Press college football poll have been trying to sort out this stuff for years.

The College Football Playoff selection committee now gets to untangle these teams. The 12-member panel's first top 25 rankings come out Tuesday night. The committee begins deliberating just outside of Dallas on Monday, the first of seven gatherings before the playoff pairings are revealed Dec. 7.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, whose team remained No. 8 in the AP Top 25, said he'll be keeping an eye on the committee's rankings and that he's interested to see how the members come to their decisions.

"I think you've got to be a big-picture thinker here," Dantonio said of about his interest in the process.

In the latest AP poll Sunday, Mississippi State and Florida State, the only undefeated teams left in the Big Five conferences, hold the top two spots. The No. 1 Bulldogs received 46 first-place votes and the second-ranked Seminoles 14.

Overall, the voters valued total resume and recent performances over head-to-head matchups.

Alabama moved up to No. 3, followed by Auburn, Oregon and Notre Dame.

Ole Miss fell to No. 7 after its first loss.

"I look at my vote as a snapshot of what I have seen during the season, but weighing particular importance on the most recent game," said voter Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News in an email. He had Alabama ahead of Ole Miss and Oregon ahead of Arizona.

The Rebels were beaten 10-7 by LSU on Saturday night in Death Valley. LSU fans rushed the field to celebrate beating a top-five team

Just a few weeks ago the field-rushing was going on in Oxford, Mississippi, after the Rebels slipped by Alabama, 23-17.

So both Alabama and Ole Miss lost tough close games, though it could be argued the Tide lost to a better team. LSU has already lost at home to Mississippi State and were blown out at Auburn.

Alabama gets rewarded for losing to Mississippi?

"I waffled on this one for quite a while," said Adam Sparks from the Tennessean in Nashville. "My final decision was just a question of which team I think is better today on a neutral field, rather than three weeks ago in Oxford. I think Alabama is better today."

How about Oregon and Arizona?

The Wildcats were unranked when they went into Autzen Stadium earlier this month and coming off a miraculous comeback victory against California, capped by a Hail Mary TD pass.

Arizona took advantage of the Ducks' patchwork offensive line, and got the benefit of a late celebration penalty on Oregon during its game-winning drive, to win 31-24.

Since then, Oregon's offensive line has gotten healthier and Marcus Mariota and the Ducks have been rolling. Arizona immediately stumbled against USC, but routed Washington State in Pullman on Saturday.

Oregon is No. 5. Arizona is No. 14.

"The overall body of work through nine weeks should mean more than individual snapshots from any given week," said Drew Sharp from the Detroit Free Press. "Oregon might wind up with the biggest non-conference win of the season, taking a good Michigan State team out to the woodshed in the second week of the season. That affords them a little forgiveness over a bad game against Arizona."

Maybe preseason perceptions are still in play? Alabama and Oregon were top-five in the preseason. Ole Miss was No. 17 and Arizona was unranked.

But in some cases preseason rankings don't get in the way.

Baylor beat TCU in Waco, Texas, with a stunning 24-point, fourth-quarter comeback. The next week Baylor lost at West Virginia. The Horned Frogs have won two straight by a combined score of 124-36, including Saturday's 82-27 beatdown of Texas Tech.

TCU (6-1), which has also beaten Oklahoma, is No. 10. Baylor (6-1), best win TCU, is No. 12.

TCU was unranked in the preseason. Baylor was 10th.

Time to see what the selection committee has to say.

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GOING UP

The (hash)SECBias crowd won't like this.

LSU made the biggest move in the rankings this week jumping eight spots to No. 16 after beating Ole Miss.

Florida State did gain some ground on Mississippi State in the polls after the Bulldogs had a hard time shaking free from Kentucky in a 45-31 victory on Saturday. The Seminoles gained no first-place votes, but narrowed the points gap between them and the Bulldogs to 33. It was 47 the week before.

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IN AND OUT

USC's latest excruciating loss, this time on a last-minute touchdown by Utah, dropped the Trojans out of the rankings.

No. 24 Duke, the defending ACC Coastal Division champs, is in for the first time this season.

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LOOKING AHEAD

Some huge games coming Saturday that most didn't see coming in September:

-TCU visits No. 20 West Virginia.

-No. 18 Utah at No. 15 Arizona State in a key Pac-12 South matchup.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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