Top 25 Rankings: A "different" take on a top 25 ballot

Jonathan Ferrey

After the first BCS rankings of the season were released on Sunday, there was some understandable frustration expressed from ASU fans. Here's what HoS editor Kerry Crowley's ballot would look like if he had a vote.

The first set of BCS rankings for the 2013 season were released on Sunday evening and in typical BCS fashion, there were plenty of puzzling numbers.

While most of the country agrees on Alabama as the No. 1 team, the great debates start at No. 2. The human polls slot Oregon as the second-best team in the nation while the computers rule in favor of Florida State.

The fun only begins at the top of rankings as Missouri's ascension to the No. 5 slot in the BCS rankings coupled with Auburn's 11-spot climb in the AP poll have a large group wondering about potential SEC biases.

The controversy extends beyond the nation's top conference, as cinderellas Fresno State and Northern Illinois both find themselves closing in on an at-large berth in a BCS game with their respective rankings.

With so much conversation brewing around the water cooler, I couldn't help but put together my own top 25 ballot. I used a few unique ways to rank the nation's best teams, including how I thought they would perform on a neutral site against other top 25 opponents and the strength of the teams on their schedule at the time they played them.

Editor's note: Facing Georgia early on was much more difficult than facing a Bulldogs team decimated by injuries.

So without further ado, here's my top 25. Agree, disagree, or rip me to pieces.

Kerry Crowley's Top 25 Ballot

1. Alabama: I'm not a fan of ranking a team based on its performances from last season. But through seven games, the Crimson Tide has earned the top spot by allowing more than 10 points just once (42 against Texas A&M). We'll know much more about this team in two weeks when it takes on the LSU Tigers at home.

2. Oregon: Does Florida State have the season's most impressive victory? In my mind, yes. The demolition of Clemson on the road was sensational in every way, but Oregon has blown out every opponent it has played this season. Marcus Mariota is the Heisman front-runner, and that defense is surprisingly nasty.

3. Florida State: The BCS rankings put the Seminoles ahead of the Ducks, and that's definitely justifiable. Jameis Winston might have the iciest veins in America after his clutch effort at Clemson, but I don't think he's faced a defense that matches the caliber of the Ducks. At a neutral site, I'll take Oregon.

4. Baylor: From what I hear, the computers don't hand out style points. That's a real shame, because Baylor has scored at least 69 points in five of its six wins. The one caveat? All five of those games came at home. Three of the Bears next four opponents are ranked so Bryce Petty's Heisman candidacy is still in its infancy.

5. Missouri: The Tigers traveled into Georgia two weeks ago and handed the Bulldogs a 41-26 loss. Quarterback James Franklin was injured, but don't expect much of a drop off. Highly touted Maty Mauk is the real deal and he proved height doesn't matter as Mizzou hung 36 points on a Gator defense that hadn't allowed 20 points in what felt like a decade.

6. Stanford: Stanford lost at Utah which looks bad on paper, until you consider how difficult it is to win in Salt Lake City. I don't believe Ohio State would hang with the Cardinal's physicality for a full four quarters, even though Urban Meyer is one coach who can go stride for stride with David Shaw in terms of strategy.

7. Ohio State: Do I really believe the Buckeyes are deserving of my No. 7 ranking? Not entirely. Their win against Wisconsin is the only result keeping them in my top 10. Again, their win streak is impressive, but I don't consider last season.

8. Miami: The Hurricanes beat Florida in week two of this season, which is more impressive than Missouri's win last week. That result came when Jeff Driskel led the Gators and the defense was firing on all cylinders, so that said a lot about this team. Duke Johnson is a rugged SEC-type back, and he could surprise a team like Florida State.

9. Clemson: Aside from an embarrassing home loss against Florida State, Clemson has been one of the most entertaining teams in the nation. Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins have a special connection and I have faith that this team could go on the road and beat every team I rank below it on my ballot.

10. Auburn: Count me as one of many college football consumers who were shocked by the Tigers' victory over Texas A&M. I couldn't name a single player on the Tigers' roster before Saturday, but I can tell you that this team is gritty, tough and led by a sharp leader in Gus Malzahn.

11. Texas A&M: The LSU Tigers proved just how significant the Aggies' victory at Ole Miss was by dropping a game to the Rebels this weekend. A&M is easily the best two-loss team in the country in my opinion and if Johnny Manziel stays healthy, I can't wait to see him in a marquee bowl matchup.

12. UCLA: I think the most impressive result of the Bruins' season so far is their 41-21 win at Nebraska the week after losing wide receiver Nick Pasquale in a tragic car accident. Brett Hundley will make his mistakes, but he also makes his fair share of plays that make you shake your head and think about how talented he really is. A close loss at Stanford kept them near my top 10.

13. LSU: The Tigers lost to Georgia in one of the best games of the season when the Bulldogs were still close to full strength. Their other loss came on the road at Ole Miss. If not for a few rough possessions this season, I think Les Miles' squad would be in the thick of the national title conversation.

14. Texas Tech: Yes, the undefeated Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kliff Kingsbury has his boys playing an exciting brand of defense (As weird as that sounds) but I don't think you'll find a single expert who's sold on this team. The Red Raiders haven't played great competition and until they do, I can't justify ranking them higher.

15. Michigan: I don't want to hear about a "close win" against Akron. The bottom line is that Michigan has been getting it done on a weekly basis and the Wolverines don't deserve to be punished like they have been for a quadruple overtime loss in Happy Valley. Penn State is by no means a bad team, and Michigan lit up the scoreboard against a solid Notre Dame defense. Plus, Jeremy Gallon is a grade-A stud.

16. Ole Miss: How could I possibly rank a three-loss Ole Miss team this high? The AP poll doesn't even list the Runnin' Rebels and I have them at No. 16 based off of a few key factors. Their three losses come against teams in my top 11 and their best win came against my No. 13 team. Toss in a 21-point victory over a Texas team that easily defeated Oklahoma and I feel confident with my ranking.

17. Virginia Tech: The Hokies might actually be for real. It's still too early to tell based on who Virginia Tech has played, so only time will tell. Virginia Tech really doesn't have any wins to write home about either, but the bottom line is that this team has picked up 'W's' on a week-by-week basis and it's a sure-fire ACC contender.

18. Oklahoma: The loss to Texas is inexplicable and the Sooners' margins of victory aren't nearly impressive. They earn my No. 18 ranking based off of a dominating performance against Notre Dame in South Bend. If that win came at home, I don't think I would put a squad like the Sooners this high, but road wins are road wins.

19. South Carolina: So this is where things get tricky. Oregon obliterated Tennessee and South Carolina looked lost at times in Knoxville in the Gamecocks' weekend loss. I wasn't totally sold on ranking Steve Spurrier's team until one thing changed my mind. I don't believe the teams ranked below South Carolina could win at South Carolina. I know I preach neutral sites in my rankings, so cut me some slack on this one.

20. Arizona State: The Washington Huskies were a firm No. 20 heading into Tempe. Then, the Huskies lost by 29 points in stunning fashion to the Sun Devils. I could see pollsters ranking the Sun Devils as high as 18 or 19 and I'm not sure how voters justify leaving them off their ballots altogether. I guess we'll have to wait for this team to pick up a road win to impress the national media.

21. Wisconsin: If anyone watched the Arizona State-Wisconsin game, they know the better team won the game. It was a fluky ending which is a true shame for all parties involved. Still, if the Sun Devils traveled back to Camp Randall, I would still pick them to win because I think they simply have better talent.

22. Oklahoma State: I'm much cooler on the Big 12 compared to most people, although my rankings stack up with plenty of AP voters when it comes to slotting the Cowboys. The Cowboys' most impressive wins come against Texas Christian and Mississippi State, so I'm still waiting to be impressed.

23. Notre Dame: Say what you want about Tommy Rees and the Fighting Irish. I will maintain that Brian Kelly can have this team prepared to play any team in the country on any given week and give their opponent a run for their money. Notre Dame was in over its head against Alabama last year, but if the talent is close and the Irish have a lot of time to prepare for their bowl this season, I'll put my faith with the Catholics.

24. Michigan State: At this point, you might be asking when Fresno State and Northern Illinois are going to show up. Keep waiting. A one-loss Michigan State team that fell by four on the road at Notre Dame deserves a spot over undefeated teams that didn't prove themselves in their nonconference slates.

25. UCF: There isn't enough room on my ballot for both Central Florida and Louisville, so I'll take the winner of the head-to-head matchup. Blake Bortles and the Knights gave South Carolina a run for its money too, and that result against an SEC opponent trumps the Cardinal's 14-point victory against Kentucky.

Notable Omissions (In a very particular order)

Georgia

Oregon State

Nebraska

Louisville

Washington

Fresno State

Northern Illinois

Now it's your turn to tell me how crazy I am. Leave your comments below and let's discuss the rankings a little more.

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