Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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David Briggs

Why two-loss OSU should be ranked ahead of unbeaten UCF: Briggs' AP vote

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Editor’s note: This commentary has been updated to show UCF’s nonconference games were Florida International, Austin Peay, and Maryland. The game vs. Cincinnati was an American Athletic Conference game for the Knights.

A couple quick thoughts from my ballot in the final Associated Press college football poll, which will be released shortly after Monday night’s national title game between Alabama and Georgia:

• Over the weekend, the AP reminded voters in an email: “You are under no obligation to vote the playoff winner No. 1.” Which was a reference, of course, to Central Florida. The Knights did not make the four-team playoff — not even close — but they nonetheless pose an interesting dilemma as the only unbeaten team in college football and self-appointed national champions.

Maybe a voter or two will agree and put UCF atop their ballot. Just not this one. For as as much as the Knights accomplished, their title claim — a brilliant marketing play — has little merit. A perfect season punctuated by a bowl win over an Auburn team that looked like it didn’t want to be there makes for a great year but not a championship one. Sorry, just can’t get look past UCF’s schedule, which included a nonconference lineup of Florida International, Austin Peay, and Maryland (combined record: 16-21). If the the Knights played, say, Ohio State’s schedule, the guess here is they would have finished with more than the Buckeyes’ two losses. I voted the Knights fifth, and I thought that was generous.

• I generally think no playoff team should drop lower than fourth in the final poll. No sense punishing teams for playing the best teams in the biggest games. But there are exceptions, and the case of Ohio State — a team that was a coin flip away from making the playoffs and closed its season with consecutive top-10 wins — is one of them. For me, OSU‘s win over Pac-12 champion Southern California in the Cotton Bowl coupled with Clemson’s blowout semifinal loss to Alabama created a clear opening to slide the Buckeyes into the top four. I dropped Clemson to sixth.

• My full final ballot:

1. Alabama/Georgia winner

2. Alabama/Georgia loser

3. Oklahoma

4. Ohio State

5. Central Florida

6. Clemson

7. Wisconsin

8. Penn State

9. TCU

10. Notre Dame

11. Southern California

12. Auburn

13. Oklahoma State

14. Michigan State

15. Northwestern

16. Miami (Fla.)

17. Iowa State

18. Stanford

19. Washington

20. Boise State

21. North Carolina State

22. South Florida

23. Army

24. LSU

25. Mississippi State

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