Why Clemson is No. 1 over Ohio State on Nathan Baird’s Associated Press Top 25 ballot: College rankings

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The real college rankings that matter won’t be released until late November, when the College Football Playoff selection committee goes to work.

The rest of us will keep coming up with a consensus snapshot of how we think college football looks from week to week. And for the first time in 2020, I have a new No. 1 team.

Ohio State has been my No. 1 since the preseason, and on paper, the Buckeyes have an undoubtedly great team. Even with questions on defense, the totality of the offense will make OSU as dangerous as any team in the country.

Clemson, however, looks great on the field right now. The latest evidence came in Saturday’s 42-17 dismantling of Miami. Regardless of whether or not the Hurricanes were overrated coming into that game, what the Tigers are doing on the field right now deserves recognition.

Miami could not summon a pass rush that threatened Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and he and running back Travis Etienne both looked sharp. Yet it was a Tigers defense that made the Hurricanes look completely pedestrian at times that mostly swayed my vote. Look around college football over the past weekend you’ll see why defense might ultimately decide who lifts the CFP trophy in January.

As such, I’m voting Clemson No. 1 and Ohio State No. 2. I was one of only two No. 1 votes for the Buckeyes last week. We’ll see if they have any after today’s poll comes out at 2 p.m. — and whether Clemson also took some votes from Alabama after a defense-optional victory at Ole Miss.

I similarly considered flipping Georgia and Alabama, but they will decide that question in person on Saturday anyway.

Here’s the rest of my ballot:

1-Clemson (4-0)

2-Ohio State (0-0)

3-Alabama (3-0)

4-Georgia (3-0)

5-Notre Dame (3-0)

6-Penn State (0-0)

7-Oklahoma State (3-0)

8-Wisconsin (0-0)

9-Oregon (0-0)

10-North Carolina (3-0)

11-Texas A&M (2-1)

12-Florida (2-1)

13-Auburn (2-1)

14-Michigan (0-0)

15-USC (0-0)

16-Cincinnati (3-0)

17-BYU (4-0)

18-Miami (3-1)

19-Utah (0-0)

20-Virginia Tech (2-1)

21-Tennessee (2-1)

22-Washington (0-0)

23-Minnesota (0-0)

24-SMU (4-0)

25-UCF (2-1)

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