My final AP top 25 ballot

semerson@macon.comJanuary 9, 2012 

The ballot I just sent in to the AP office:

1. Oklahoma State (12-1)                                              
2. Alabama (12-1)                              
3. LSU (13-1)                                 
4. Stanford (11-2)                                                
5. Boise State   (12-1)                                        
6. Southern California (10-2)          
7. Arkansas (11-2)                                             
8. Oregon (11-2)                                     
9. South Carolina (11-2)                          
10. Michigan State (11-2)                               
11. Wisconsin (10-3)                  
12. Kansas State (10-3)                                                            
13. West Virginia (10-3)                               
14. Baylor (10-3)                                      
15. Michigan (11-2)                             
16. TCU (11-2)                                                  
17. Oklahoma (10-3)                                    
18. Virginia Tech (11-3) 
19. Georgia (10-4)                           
20. Nebraska (9-4)                                            
21. Southern Miss (12-2)                                   
22. Houston (12-1)          
23. Florida State (9-4)            
24. Clemson (9-4)                                                       
25. Auburn (8-5)


I said before the game that I was voting LSU No. 1 unless it got trounced by Alabama. Well, LSU got trounced.

But I never said Alabama would automatically move up to the top spot. And I still haven't seen enough to say Alabama is undoubtedly the best team in the country.

So I went with Oklahoma State. Yes, the same team that lost to Iowa State. I don't care. I've said it before: Your body of work doesn't just include your losses. Who you beat counts too. And Oklahoma State beat four teams ranked in my final top 25 (Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Stanford), and Alabama beat three (LSU, Arkansas and Auburn).

Oklahoma State won four road games, all against bowl teams, and had three decisive home wins over Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma - all of which will finish in the top 20. Alabama won five road games, three over bowl teams. The Tide had one home win over a ranked team, Arkansas.

What's more, Oklahoma State's loss came on the road in overtime. Alabama's came at home. And Oklahoma State's loss came on a day when it was inevitably distracted by a tragedy within the athletics department.

The other argument for Alabama being in the championship game over Oklahoma State was the supposed eye test. Apparently, people could divine by watching both teams that Alabama was the better team.

Those furthering that argument - that based on the eye test, Alabama must be better - well, to each his own. I think it would be a great game.

Look, is Oklahoma State actually a better team than Alabama, or LSU? Who knows. I'd like to find out. But college football's inane system has once again robbed us of definitive answers or a satisfying ending.

Heck, you could still make a good argument for LSU. Its body of work is incredible, as it claims victories over the winners of the Sugar, Rose, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, Gator and Music City bowls. (And it would have also counted the Outback winner had it not been for Georgia blowing its 16-0 halftime lead.)

But another part of that body of work is how you finish. And the last impression LSU gave us was terrible.

Yes, Alabama's was mighty good. But Oklahoma State's wasn't bad either. It didn't dismantle Stanford, but at least it won.

Listen, we could go on and on. All of this is debatable. No matter what anybody says, there is no right answer. There's my ballot. I suspect I'll be alone, or close to it, on an island on this one. But it's how I feel.

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