Tom Murphy's final AP Top 25 ballot

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) scores the game winning touchdown in overtime during the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday, Jan. 8, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) scores the game winning touchdown in overtime during the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday, Jan. 8, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

I was prepared to keep the SEC duo of Alabama and Georgia at the top two spots in my final AP poll and their overtime thriller was a strong confirmation of that.

Though the Big Ten was not represented in the College Football Playoff, the strength in the upper half of the conference was very evident. I put five Big Ten teams in the top 17 spots of my final poll, including three in the top eight with No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Penn State, followed by No. 15 Northwestern and No. 17 Michigan State.

My final top four was reflected in the AP's overall poll, with Alabama, Georgia, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Clemson finishing in reverse order of their seeding for the CFP.

Unbeaten Central Florida's case for a high ranking was quite interesting. I considered the Knights for the No. 5 position but could not rank them higher than Ohio State, which had one of the most impressive bowl showings in the country. I slotted UCF at No. 7 behind the final four and two of the Big Ten powers.

Auburn, which defeated SEC rivals and CFP finalists Alabama and Georgia but lost four games, including its postseason clash with UCF, wound up No. 11 on my ballot.

The Pac 12, which had a miserable postseason, was shut out of my top 10, with No. 13 USC its highest-ranked member, following by No. 16 Washington, No. 23 Stanford and No. 24 Washington State.

The depth of the SEC was rightly questioned this season. I have only No. 18 Mississippi State, No. 19 LSU, and No. 25 South Carolina on my ballot behind the big three of Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.

The Big 12 also had a softish middle tier behind No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 9 TCU and No. 10 Oklahoma State. The ACC had four representatives on my last ballot: No. 4 Clemson, No. 12 Miami, No. 21 Virginia Tech and No. 22 North Carolina State.

Have a great offseason and we'll see you back here again in August.

Tom Murphy's Top 25 Ballot

1 Alabama

2 Georgia

3 Oklahoma

4 Clemson

5 Ohio State

6 Wisconsin

7 Central Florida

8 Penn State

9 TCU

10 Oklahoma State

11 Auburn

12 Miami

13 Southern Cal

14 Notre Dame

15 Northwestern

16 Washington

17 Michigan State

18 Mississippi State

19 LSU

20 South Florida

21 Virginia Tech

22 North Carolina State

23 Stanford

24 Washington State

25 South Carolina

Dropped out: Memphis

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