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AP POLL BREAKDOWN: Florida warrants rankings leap, if it can pull off the Auburn-LSU double dip

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Beating No. 7 Auburn at home is nice ... but Dan Mullen's Gators quickly must refocus their energies on a No. 5 LSU team that's suddenly a juggernaut on offense (No. 1 in SEC passing yards -- 416 per game).

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25

  1. Alabama (5-0)
  2. Clemson (5-0)
  3. Georgia (5-0)**
  4. Ohio State (6-0)**
  5. LSU (5-0)
  6. Oklahoma (5-0)
  7. Florida (6-0)
  8. Wisconsin (5-0)
  9. Notre Dame (4-1)
  10. Penn State (5-0)
  11. Texas (4-1)
  12. Auburn (5-1)
  13. Oregon (4-1)
  14. Boise State (5-0)
  15. Utah (4-1)
  16. Michigan (4-1)
  17. Iowa (4-1)
  18. Arizona State (4-1)
  19. Wake Forest (5-0)
  20. Virginia (4-1)
  21. SMU (6-0)
  22. Baylor (5-0)
  23. Memphis (5-0)
  24. Texas A&M (3-2)
  25. Cincinnati (4-1)

**NOTE: Georgia and Ohio State are technically tied for third place nationally, commanding 1,393 media votes apiece. However, for the sake of this WordPress listing, the incumbent Dawgs shall stay at No. 3.

TAKE #1
The SEC might be the greatest conference in college football (nine national titles since 2006), but not all league schedules are created equal.

Take Florida, for example: It’s bad enough the Gators draw LSU as a permanent-crossover opponent every year (unlike Alabama getting Tennessee on an annual basis), but did the SEC scheduling office really have to pack Florida’s slate with Auburn and LSU in consecutive weeks?

It’s madness, really. At least Auburn gets an FCS breather every November, stealthily sandwiched between major clashes with Georgia and Alabama.

For Florida, though, there’s barely any time to bask in the glow of upending No. 7 Auburn at home, a signature victory for Dan Mullen’s emerging tenure in Gainesville.

In a flash, the adrenaline-fueled Gators must refocus their energies on a No. 5 LSU team that’s suddenly a juggernaut on offense (No. 1 in SEC passing yards — averaging 416 per game) and formidable on defense, as always.

Now for the good news: If Florida can successfully weather this Auburn-LSU hail storm, with a perfect record intact, the Gators could (and probably should) leapfrog into the top 4 for next week’s Associated Press countdown, even if Clemson and Georgia remain undefeated.

TAKE #2
The Eye Test tells us Ohio State deserves a No. 2 or higher ranking, given its surgical dissection of every opponent to date, including Michigan State on Saturday night (34-10).

However, the Buckeyes won’t move the rankings meter — barring an unforeseen October upset involving Alabama, Clemson, Georgia — until No. 8 Wisconsin visits Columbus in three weeks.

Which brings us to this: For the anxious Alabama fans looking ahead to a berth in the College Football Playoff … as the presumptive No. 1 seed, would you rather face Ohio State or Oklahoma as the No. 4 seed in the CFP semifinals?

TAKE #3
There are many remaining hurdles left in the regular season, but one thing has become abundantly clear:

Even with four programs in the top 7 (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida), only one SEC team would garner an invite to the four-team Playoff, if Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma similarly ran the table in the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12, respectively.

(We’ll address this topic, in great detail, later in the week.)

TAKE #4
Can undefeated Wake Forest plausibly make it to its Nov. 16 showdown with No. 2 Clemson, sporting an unblemished record?

Here’s the good news: The Demon Deacons (wins over North Carolina, Utah State, Boston College) will likely be favored for their next four outings (vs. Louisville, vs. Florida State, vs. NC State, at Virginia Tech), leading into the Clemson affair.

Now for the bad news: In its 110-year history, Wake Forest has only registered two seasons of nine or victories (2006, 2007).

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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