Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Tom Murphy's top 25 ballot explained
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) hands off to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. LSU won 42-6. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The lone matchup featuring top 10 teams — Auburn at Florida — played out sloppier than most of us would have imagined.
The Gators’ defense was also better than I had previously believed, so that was an impressive win by Dan Mullen’s crew. I moved the Gators up two spots to No. 7 and dropped Auburn five places to No. 11. The Tigers’ defense is legit, but Florida found creases in the pass game and exploited their linebackers and safeties on occasion. Gus Malzahn’s bunch will be extremely motivated coming off an open date when they face Arkansas at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in two weeks.
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I did some minor juggling in my top 10, sliding Georgia up a couple of notches to No. 5 and dropping Oklahoma down a spot to No. 6.
I listened to and watched a good chunk of Iowa at Michigan, a top 25 matchup. I guess that’s the modern day version of old school Big Ten football, with interceptions and incompletions replacing three yards and a cloud of dust. Michigan is up three spots to No. 17 with its 10-3 win, while the Hawkeyes fell seven to No. 21.
The top new entrant is Baylor at No. 18 after the Bears thumped formerly ranked Kansas State 31-12 in Manhattan, Kan. Also new to the poll this week is No. 20 Minnesota, which improved to 5-0 by dropping Illinois 40-17. The back half of the schedule gets a lot more real for P.J. Fleck and the Gophers.
Idle Virginia and Texas A&M re-entered my ballot this week, with the Aggies the only two-loss club on my sheet. They host No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.
Falling out after losses: UCF, Washington, Cal and Oklahoma State, who all lost their second game each.
That was a valiant comeback by SMU at home to overcome a 30-9 deficit against Tulsa. I was tempted to drop the Mustangs off my ballot. I mean, the Golden Hurricane missed a 43-yard field goal by about a foot in the second overtime that would have won the game. But in the end, I left the Ponies at No. 25, ahead of that pack of two-loss teams and others, like Appalachian State, Missouri and Tulane.
Tom Murphy's Top 25 Ballot
3 Ohio State
9 Penn State
10 Notre Dame
14 Boise State
16 Arizona State
19 Wake Forest
24 Texas A&M
Dropped out: Central Florida, Washington, California, Oklahoma State
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