Matt Stevens Top 25 Ballot: Top Five Big Ten Matchup This Weekend; Hello SMU

IlliniGuys.com football beat writer/analyst Matt Stevens does not have an Associated Press Top 25 ballot this season but if he did, this is how he'd fill it out.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

October 5, 2021

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- There are two distinct narratives as the 2021 college football season enters the month of October.

First, Alabama and Georgia are just head and shoulders above everybody else in the country and are proving that (especially on the defensive side of the line-of-scrimmage) each and every week. Barring a massive upset of epic proportions, I don’t see No. 1 or No. 2 changing on my ballot until those two teams play each other in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 4. And right now, the loser of that game probably has a strong case to remain at No. 2.

Second, I think you can take the teams vying for spots at No. 3 through No. 12, write their names down on a sheet of paper and draw them out of a hat and not necessarily be grossly wrong with obvious exceptions (Oregon did still beat Ohio State in Columbus).

I struggled with what to do with teams from about 16 to the end but I want to applaud the job Dave Clawson is doing at Wake Forest as the Demon Deacons are 3-0 in ACC play and have started its season 4-0 overall for just the fifth-time this century (2019, 2017, 2016, 2006) and the fourth time in the Clawson era.

Yes, Florida has two losses (31-29 vs. Alabama on Sept. 18 and 20-13 at Kentucky last weekend) but I still think the 2-2 Gators are a gifted football team that are a total of play or two away from being a miraculous 4-0.

I’d like to welcome SMU to my Top 25 ballot as the alma mater of Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson are 5-0 and have a chance to implode Cincinnati’s run to the College Football Playoff when the Mustangs travel to The Queen City on Nov. 20.

Without further ado…

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Penn State
  4. Iowa
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Oregon
  8. Ohio State
  9. Michigan
  10. BYU
  11. Michigan State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Kentucky
  14. Coastal Carolina
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Arkansas
  17. Ole Miss
  18. Auburn
  19. Arizona State
  20. Wake Forest
  21. Florida
  22. North Carolina State
  23. Baylor
  24. San Diego State
  25. SMU

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