Hamilton’s Top 25: Lackluster scheduling menu creates few changes

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Hamilton’s Top 25: Lackluster scheduling menu creates few changes

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 13 ballot shook out.

Leftovers: It seems more like Groundhog Day rather than Thanksgiving. The top-10 teams on my ballot didn’t budge, the product of a schedule that included only one game featuring ranked opponents. Wisconsin beat then-No. 18 Michigan, 24-10, yet that didn’t help the Badgers move out of the No. 5 slot because there was simply nowhere to go. The particularly prime real estate –– my top spots that also mirrored last week’s College Football Playoff rankings –– has Alabama, Clemson, Miami and Oklahoma at Nos. 1-4.

Roasted: Oh, Oklahoma State. A season that had such promise is now simply kind of blah. The Cowboys are still on my ballot even after losing to Kansas State, 45-40. But they’re now they’re ranked 20th, down nine spots from last week’s and out of the CFP discussion that included Oklahoma State less than a month ago.

Drowsy: Miami wasn’t nodding off because of tryptophan, but perhaps because of a hangover from its season-defining win over Notre Dame the week before. Regardless, it beat Virginia 44-28 after falling behind by 14 points. Miami’s Malik Rosier threw three touchdowns passes and ran for another as the Hurricanes mounted its largest comeback in five years to extend their winning streak to national-leading 15 games. Up next: A regular-season finale at Pittsburgh on Saturday before a de facto CFP quarterfinal game against Clemson in the ACC Championship.

Empty calories: Alabama beat Mercer, 56-0, while Clemson ran roughshod over the Citadel, 61-3. The vanquished teams are a combined 10-12 –– in the Southern Conference of the FCS. Still a win is a win is a win, especially with the conference championship games and the playoffs looming.

Feasting: Oklahoma and Ohio State also rolled, though over FBS competition. The Buckeyes rolled, 41-3, over Kansas while the Buckeyes beat Illinois, 52-14. The Jayhawks and Illini are a combined 3-19, but at least they’re Power 5 teams.

Dinner guests: Welcome, Wake Forest. I penciled the Deacons in on my ballot for the first time in five years as a voter and why not? Wake Forest is 7-4, 4-3 in the ACC with a game remaining against Duke this weekend. And the Deacons are doing it with –– get this –– offense. A team that only a few seasons ago seemed determined to set the sport back to its pre-forward pass days is scoring at a record-setting rate. Wake Forest beat No. 25 N.C. State, 30-24, on Saturday to set a school mark for total points with 388 with two games to go (including a bowl). The win over the Wolfpack was also the Deacons’ first victory over a ranked team since 2011.

Holiday leave: Michigan is no longer on my ballot. Michigan’s loss at Wisconsin was yet another big-game letdown during Jim Harbaugh’s three years as head coach. Also not at my table is N.C. State after losing at Wake Forest and West Virginia, which lost 28-14 to Texas.

Stuffed: There are five teams each from the Big Ten and SEC, with three of those Southeastern Conference teams ranked first, sixth and seventh. There are four ACC teams, as well as four from the Pac-12. The Big 12 has three teams on my ballot –– the same amount as that of the American Athletic Conference of the Group of 5. Notre Dame, as always, is the lone independent.

This week’s rankings (previous week):

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Miami (3)
  4. Oklahoma (4)
  5. Wisconsin (5)
  6. Auburn (6)
  7. Georgia (7)
  8. Notre Dame (8)
  9. Ohio State (9)
  10. TCU (10)
  11. Central Florida (12)
  12. Penn State (13)
  13. Southern Cal (14)
  14. Mississippi State (15)
  15. Washington State (16)
  16. Memphis (17)
  17. South Florida (19)
  18. LSU (20)
  19. Stanford (23)
  20. Oklahoma State (11)
  21. Washington (24)
  22. Michigan State (25)
  23. Wake Forest (NR)
  24. Northwestern (NR)
  25. Virginia Tech (NR)

You can follow Scott Hamilton on Twitter: @ScottH_Sports.

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