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Ballot Breakdown: FSU's statement, top-10 makeover

October 21, 2013
Associated Press

Breaking down The Associated Press college football poll after Week 8 of the regular season.

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Florida State has been a tease in recent seasons.

Plenty of talent, some impressive steps forward, but always a few frustrating steps back.

For the first time since Bobby Bowden's Seminoles were in the midst of one of the great runs in college football history back in the 1990s, Florida State looks ready for a serious run at the national championship.

Florida State moved up to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll after a wild weekend produced an extensive makeover of the Top 25.

Alabama is still No. 1, Oregon still second and Ohio State still fourth, but otherwise there was much movement.

Florida State moved up two spots after its 51-14 win at Clemson on Saturday night.

The Crimson Tide received 55 first-place votes from the media panel. Oregon got three first-place votes and Florida State received two, the first time the Seminoles have gotten first-place votes since Sept. 2, 2002. Florida State is 6-0 for the first time since 1999, its last national championship season.

On Sunday night in the first BCS standings of the season, Alabama was No. 1, followed by Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State and Missouri.

The Seminoles destruction of Clemson has to count as the most impressive performance of the season.

Coach Jimbo Fisher's team is built similarly to Alabama — Fisher was Tide coach Nick Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU — so in many ways they're easy to compare.

Playmakers everywhere on offense, with Florida State having better receivers and Alabama better backs. NFL prospects on all three levels of the defense.

One clear advantage for Florida State is at quarterback, which might seem hard to believe considering AJ McCarron has led the Tide to two national titles and is so much more than the game-manager he has been too often labeled. But redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has quickly put himself in the Andrew Luck category of college quarterbacks. Winston looks as if he could play in the NFL right now and not be overwhelmed.

"The guy is a competitor," Fisher said after Winston threw for 444 yards against Clemson. "He steps up in the moment, but we played well around him."

Florida State has passed its big test, but it has been the little ones that have tripped up FSU in recent years.

Last season it was a loss at North Carolina State. The year before a loss at Wake Forest. In 2010, a loss at NC State.

The Wolfpack is next up for the Seminoles back at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, before what could be another top-10 matchup against the rival Miami Hurricanes on Nov. 2 in Tallahassee.

Florida State is back? That can be said with more confidence now than at any point in the last decade.

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MOVING UP

Five teams ranked in last week's top 10 lost to opponents that were lower-ranked or unranked.

The result: Missouri and Baylor both made big leaps into the top five.

Missouri went from 14 to fifth, its best ranking since 2008. No. 6 Baylor jumped to its highest ranking since 1980.

Miami is No. 7, followed by Stanford, Clemson and Texas Tech at No. 10.

Missouri's rise has been startling. The Tigers went 5-7 in an inauspicious and injury plagued Southeastern Conference debut last year. The Tigers improved to 7-0 on Saturday by beating Florida, a week after beating Georgia, and took firm control of the SEC East.

With redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk starting for the injured James Franklin, Missouri still gained 500 yards against a banged-up, but still talented Gators defense.

An upset-filled weekend in the SEC provided more good news for the Tigers. Georgia blew a big lead and lost Vanderbilt and South Carolina lost on a last-second field goal to Tennessee.

The 20th-ranked Gamecocks go to Columbia, Mo., on Saturday in a game that should pretty much settle the SEC East. If Missouri completes the sweep of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, only an all-time collapse would keep the Tigers out of Atlanta for the SEC championship game.

Missouri's Gary Pinkel might have locked up SEC coach of the year — if not for what's going on at Auburn.

The SEC's other surprise Tigers (6-1), moved up 13 spots to No. 11 in the rankings after upsetting Texas A&M 45-41.

Gus Malzahn has taken the most dysfunctional team in the country last season, one that went winless in the SEC, and has it contending in the West. While many were counting down to LSU at Alabama on Nov. 9, the Iron Bowl on Nov. 30 at Auburn might be the Tide's tough test left.

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MOVING IN

Welcome to the rankings Central Florida.

No. 21 UCF is in the AP poll for the first time since the final 2010 poll after handing Louisville its first loss of the season on Friday night. The Cardinals fell 10 spots to 18th.

The Knights are one of the newcomers to the American Athletic Conference, what used to be the Big East. Louisville is on its way out of the league, heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

As much as AAC officials have been happy to have Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater getting national attention, there's little doubt it would be better for the league if its final BCS automatic bid goes to a team that's part of its future.

Sensational running back Storm Johnson and the Knights are now in position to do that. And even though it didn't break that way when the ballots were counted, UCF can make a great case for being ranked ahead of Louisville.

The Knights have a road win against Penn State and a close loss to South Carolina. Louisville's best win came at home against Rutgers.

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MOVING OUT

Yes, Georgia and Florida, who both fell out of the ranking for the first time this season, have been beset by injuries. But to suggest that's the sole reason they have each lost two straight games is to overlook some significant issues for both SEC East powers.

Florida's offense has been a mess all season, and rarely has shown much punch in three seasons under coach Will Muschamp, Now a depleted defense can't carry the dead weight.

Georgia's defense hasn't stopped anyone all season, and now an injury plagued offense that has left quarterback Aaron Murray without his best weapons, can't cover up the Bulldogs' problems.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Alabama is No. 1 for the 66th time, two shy of matching Miami for sixth-most ever. Since the start of the 2011 season, Alabama has more No. 1 rankings (21) than every other team combined (20).

 
 

 

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