Former Winston-Salem Journal columnist and ESPN Triad host Scott Hamilton is one of 61 voters in the Associated Press college football poll. Here’s how his Week 11 ballot shook out.
Incumbents: Alabama and Georgia retained the top two spots on my ballot, with the Crimson Tide beating No. 20 LSU, 24-10, while the Bulldogs comfortably handled South Carolina, also 24-10. Georgia’s win –– when paired with Kentucky’s last-minute loss to Mississippi –– locked the Bulldogs into the SEC championship game for the first time since 2012. Alabama, which still has a game looming with Auburn (as does Georgia), has won each of the past three SEC titles.
Hanging chad: UK’s 37-34 loss to Mississippi kept it off my ballot for yet another week. And it’s unlikely the Wildcats will be ranked at any point this season unless they win at least three of their final four games (including the to-be-determined bowl game) or upset Georgia later this month –– or both.
Flip-flopper: Ohio State followed up its big win over Penn State by failing to show up at Iowa, losing 55-24 to the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes are now 7-2 and drop from third to 10th on my ballot.
Negative ad: Saturday was night kind to the Big Ten. In addition to the shocking dismantling of Ohio State, then-No. 5 Penn State lost at Michigan State, 27-24. Wisconsin is now the league’s best chance to make the College Football Playoff, as no two-loss team has made the CFP field in its three-year history. To compound matters, the league’s top Heisman Trophy contenders also suffered hits to their candidacies. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, one week remove from his fourth-quarter heroics against Penn State, completed only 18 of his 34 pass attempts for 208 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions’ Saquon Barkley –– the winner of the mythical September and October Heismans –– had only 93 total yards against the Spartans.
Mavericks: Notre Dame continues to do everything it needs to accomplish in order to make its first appearance in the College Football Playoff. The Fighting Irish beat Wake Forest, 48-37, to move up five spots to No. 3 on my ballot. Of course, a playoff berth for Notre Dame would be the first awarded to a team without a conference affiliation.
Mavericks: Miami is 8-0, leads the ACC’s Atlantic Division and with 13 straight wins owns the longest current winning streak in the FBS. But three of those wins this season have come by less than a touchdown, causing a bit of speculation that Miami could be more sizzle than steak. The Hurricanes put some of that concern to rest on Saturday via a 28-10 win over then-No.13 Virginia Tech, giving Miami the upper hand in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. And make no mistake about it –– that’s a big deal. Since it left the old Big East for the ACC in 2004, the Hurricanes have yet to win a division title, let alone a conference championship. As one of only five remaining undefeated FBS teams, Miami has an opportunity to reinforce the statement it made against the Hokies when it plays Notre Dame this weekend.
Status Quo: Even with a record seven games between ranked teams being held over the weekend, there were still a few squads that maintained positions on my ballot. In addition to Alabama and Georgia keeping a grip on Nos. 1 and 2, Wisconsin (No. 4), Miami (No. 7), Central Florida (No. 14) and LSU (No. 20) didn’t budge for one reason or another.
Lobbying: South Florida and West Virginia have both spent time on my ballot throughout this season, especially with the Bulls climbing as high at 15th during Week 9. Each suffered losses and fell off completely last week before rebounding with victories that placed South Florida at 22nd and WVU 24th.
Frontrunner: If he hasn’t disenchanted voters with his antics or passion or whatever you want to call it both on and off the field, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield could be in the driver’s seat for the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield completed 24 of 36 passes for 598 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions during the Sooners’ wild 62-52 Bedlam win over Oklahoma State. For the season, he’s gone completed nearly 72 percent of his passes for 3,226 yards and 28 touchdowns with five interceptions. He also has 181 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 62 carries. Mayfield is trying to become only the second player in more than 70 years to finish in the top four of the Heisman voting three times in his career. Georgia great Hershel Walker also did it.
Unseated: Arizona, Stanford and N.C. State are no longer on my ballot. The Wildcats lost to Stanford, 49-35, while the Cardinal fell to Washington State, 24-21. The Wolfpack lost to Clemson, 38-31.
Super PAC: There are five teams each on my ballot from the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC, while the ACC and Pac-12 each landed three. All three Group of 5 teams on my ballot hail from the AAC, while Notre Dame is the lone independent.
This week’s rankings (previous week):
You can follow Scott Hamilton on Twitter: @ScottH_Sports.