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My AP Poll ballot: Week 13

Written by Sam Werner on .

Each week, I'll go through my AP Top 25 ballot and give a few thoughts on how I voted and how it compares to the overall poll results.

There were some great games and certainly memorable finishes Saturday (Auburn's Hail Mary will probably end up as the play of the year and, honestly, it's one of the most memorable plays of the last several years), but at the end of the day, the top of the poll ended up the same way it started. Here's a link to the full poll, and here's my ballot...

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida State
  3. Baylor
  4. Ohio State
  5. Auburn
  6. Oregon
  7. Clemson
  8. Missouri
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Stanford
  11. Texas A&M
  12. UCLA
  13. Wisconsin
  14. South Carolina
  15. Michigan State
  16. Northern Illinois
  17. UCF
  18. LSU
  19. Arizona State
  20. Louisville
  21. Oklahoma
  22. Fresno State
  23. Ole Miss
  24. Duke
  25. USC

- Starting at the top, this was the toughest week for me in terms of writing in Alabama at No. 1. I thought really long and hard about putting Florida State there after the Seminoles shellacked another opponent while the Tide overcame its own sloppiness to win at Mississippi State. Ultimately, Alabama's cumulative strength of schedule won out of Florida State's more impressive score lines. It doesn't really matter, as both these teams control their own destiny in terms of playing for a national championship, but I was surprised that Florida State didn't pick up more first place votes from Alabama this week.

- I had Baylor ahead of Ohio State last week, but the Bears passed the Buckeyes in the overall poll this week as well. It's not really a huge surprise. As Baylor started playing good teams down the stretch, their strength of schedule was eventually going to pass Ohio State's. Plus, needing all four quarters to beat a pretty bad Illinois team didn't do the Buckeyes any favors. If Baylor beats Oklahoma State in Stillwater next week, the margin between the teams will probably grow.

- Auburn over Oregon was really close for me, but the Tigers get the slight edge because I think their win at Texas A&M trumps anything Oregon has done this year. Neither one looked particularly dominant Saturday, as Auburn needed a miracle to beat Georgia and Oregon was stuck in a dogfight with Utah into the third quarter.

- Stanford drops to No. 10 after losing at USC Saturday night. I still think the Cardinal are a good team, and just ran into a USC team that's playing really, really well right now. If a team is physical enough to play with Stanford's offensive line in the trenches (which USC was) the Cardinal can be beaten.

- I have Wisconsin at No. 13 (the Badgers are No. 16 in the overall poll). If you take out the referee-aided loss at Arizona State, the Badgers' only loss was a very respectable home defeat against Ohio State. I still think they're the second-best team in the Big Ten, and the pasting they gave Indiana Saturday only confirmed that.

- In terms of the potential BCS busters, I have Northern Illinois pretty significantly ahead of Fresno State. The other voters apparently disagree, as the Bulldogs check in at No. 15 in the overall poll and the Huskies are at No. 20. Northern Illinois arguably has two wins (Ball State and at Iowa) better than Fresno State's best (probably Boise State). Plus, Jordan Lynch should be in the conversation as a Heisman finalist after his performance Wednesday night.

- Duke cracks the poll at No. 24 after the Blue Devils' impressive win against Miami Saturday. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, especially thinking back to September when it was a question whether or not Duke would make a bowl game, but Duke controls its own destiny in the ACC right now. The Blue Devils have very winnable games at Wake Forest and North Carolina left, and two wins would set up a date with Florida State. That probably wouldn't go too well, but, heck, Duke fans should just enjoy the ride while it lasts.

- USC checks in at No. 25. I didn't feel great about it, because for as good as the Trojans have played lately, it doesn't erase how lackluster they were earlier in the season. I thought about putting Minnesota in here, but they were off this week. The Gophers will have a chance to state their case against Wisconsin next week.

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