Mike Barber's AP Top 25 ballot: The preseason poll – Richmond.com

Clemson’s Myles Murphy tackled Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker after a fumbled snap in the first quarter Saturday night in Blacksburg. Hooker left the game in the third quarter.
Each week, I’ll be sharing my AP Top 25 ballot for you to enjoy/eviscerate as you like. One warning, in advance: I’m not going to be bound by the old approach of moving a team up a few spots when it wins, down a few when it loses.
Some teams may make drastic jumps for wins and losses and some may play well enough in defeats (or poor enough in wins) to move the opposite direction than you’d expect.
Head-to-head result matter a lot to me, but I also recognize teams are different Week 1 than they are in Week 10-12. And, honestly, some of my ballot may come down to who I get to watch play in a given week. I may be high (or low) on your favorite team on paper, and then change that opinion if they end up in a game I get to watch on television or cover in person. Voting in the poll is always a great excuse to give the DVR a workout each fall.
No, neither of the teams I’ll cover this year – Virginia Tech or UVA – appear on my preseason Top 25 ballot. That could change quickly for the Hokies, if they win Week 1 against North Carolina.
The Cavaliers will have to wait until at least Week 3, when they get their shot at the Tar Heels. I have North Carolina State as the next-best-team in the ACC and my current No. 26.
As most Top 25 voters will tell you, I’m sorry in advance for having a grudge against YOUR favorite team and for being a shameless fan-boy for its biggest rival. My ballot is designed specifically to upset you (Yes, you. The one reading this right now.)
So, without further ado, the least valuable of my ballots this year – my preseason Top 25. Valid until 2021 finally kicks off.
1. Alabama: No surprise here. The Crimson Tide are, once again, loaded with NFL-level talent. Alabama has to replace so much on offense, but the expectation is, it’ll be up for that.
2. Clemson: Similar story for the Tigers. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are gone, but Clemson has talent taking those spots and an absolutely loaded defense that figures to carry the team, at least early on.
3. Oklahoma: Spencer Rattler playing behind an offensive line that returns three starters should keep the Sooners in the CFP picture all season long.
4. Georgia: JT Daniels should thrive at QB this season, but a Week 1 test against Clemson’s defense is a formidable early hurdle.
5. Ohio State: If the Buckeyes can replace Justin Fields, the roster looks built for a Big Ten title run and maybe more.
6. Texas AM: The defense is stacked again, so if the offense can possess the ball the way it did last season, the Aggies should be a force.
7. Iowa State: Brock Purdy, Breece Hall and Charlie Kolar should make the Cyclones one of the best offenses in the nation this season.
8. Notre Dame: The Irish must develop some front-line receivers for Wisconsin transfer QB Jack Coan but, a year after their one-season stint in the ACC, they should have the talent to contend for another CFP appearance.
9. Oregon: If the Ducks figure out their QB situation, the offense figures to be much more potent than last season. I’m not a big believer in the Pac-12, but I do have high hopes for Oregon.
10. Florida: A fourth SEC team in my Top 10, the Gators need to establish a traditional run game with its backs to take some pressure off new QB Emory Jones.
11. Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ defense was lights out last season and should be on that same level this year.
12. North Carolina: Quarterback Sam Howell and a strong defense should give UNC the chance to develop its young wide receivers and running backs, though a road game at Virginia Tech to open the year figures to be a stiff test.
13. Wisconsin: Graham Mertz looks like he’s developing into a good quarterback, but gain the Badgers remember how to run the ball?
14. LSU: The Tigers weren’t very good offensively last season. That should improve this year.
15. Miami: Yes, I’m taking the bait again. With D’Eriq King back at quarterback, THIS is the year Miami’s back. Maybe.
The rest:
16. Penn State
17. Texas
18. Indiana
19. Iowa
20. USC
21. Louisiana
22. Ole Miss
23. Coastal Carolina
24. Washington
25. Liberty
Twitter: @RTD_MikeBarber
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