Jablonski: New top-25 poll has a different look without Big Ten

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Chris Smith, center, returns a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Of all the strange things to happen in the sports world in 2020, the Ohio State Buckeyes falling from No. 2 to unranked in the Associated Press top-25 poll doesn’t even crack the top 100.

That’s what will happened Sunday, however, when the first AP poll of the regular season is released at 2 p.m. Voters, including myself, could not include teams from the Big Ten, Pac 12, Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences because they either aren’t planning to play this fall or don’t have schedules in place at the moment. Of course, that could still change for the Big Ten, which according to reports Saturday was nearing a vote on returning to play.

This is my first season voting in the poll. The preseason poll was a relatively normal exercise. Everyone was eligible. We voted as if everyone was going to play, knowing that likely wouldn’t happen.

Putting together this poll was more difficult. I dropped No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, No. 10 Oregon, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 13 USC, No. 15 Michigan, No. 22 Minnesota and No. 25 Indiana out of my top 25.

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Then it was a matter of judging the potential of a number of teams that haven’t played — and some won’t play for two weeks — against teams that have. Here’s what I settled on:

1. Clemson (1-0): Trevor Lawrence threw for 351 yards in a season-opening 37-13 victory against Wake Forest on Saturday.

2. Alabama (0-0): The Crimson Tide open the season Sept. 26 at Missouri. That’s the first weekend of games for the Southeastern Conference.

3. Oklahoma (1-0): The Sooners beat Missouri State 48-0 on Saturday.

4. LSU (0-0): The defending national champion Tigers open the season Sept. 26 against Mississippi State at home.

5. Georgia (0-0): The Bulldogs play at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

6. Florida (0-0): The Gators play at Mississippi on Sept. 26

7. Auburn (0-0): The Tigers open the season against Kentucky on Sept. 26.

8. Notre Dame (1-0): Playing their first game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Irish pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 27-13 victory against Duke on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

9. Texas (1-0): The Longhorns beat UTEP 59-3 on Saturday.

10. North Carolina (1-0): The Tar Heels opened the season at home with a 31-6 victory Saturday against Syracuse.

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11. Texas A&M (0-0): The Aggies play at home against Vanderbilt on Sept. 26.

12. Oklahoma State (0-0): The Cowboys will play Tulsa at home in their first game Saturday.

13. Cincinnati (0-0): The Bearcats open the season Saturday against Austin Peay at Nippert Stadium.

14. Central Florida (0-0): UCF plays its opener Saturday at Georgia Tech, which won 16-13 at Florida State.

15. Louisville (1-0): Micale Cunningham threw three touchdown passes as the Cardinals beat Western Kentucky 35-21 in their opener.

16. Memphis (1-0): The Tigers beat Arkansas State 37-24 in their opener Sept. 5 but had their second game against Houston postponed Friday because of positive COVID-19 tests at Memphis

17. Kentucky (0-0): The Wildcats open the season at Auburn on Sept. 26.

18. Tennessee (0-0): The Volunteers play at South Carolina on Sept. 26.

19. Virginia Tech (0-0): Because of COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech, its opener against Virginia was postponed. It’s scheduled to play at North Carolina State on Sept. 26.

20. Pittsburgh (1-0): The Panthers beat Austin Peay 55-0 on Saturday.

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21. Louisiana (1-0): The Ragin Cajuns recorded their road win against a top-25 ranked opponent, beating No. 23 Iowa State 31-14 on Saturday. If they crack the top 25, they will be ranked for the first time in school history.

22. Brigham Young (1-0): The Cougars beat Navy 55-3 on Sept. 7 in Annapolis, Md. Its next game Sept. 19 against Army was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests at BYU.

23. Miami (1-0): The Hurricanes beat UAB 31-14 on Thursday.

24. Appalachian State (1-0): The Mountaineers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Charlotte 35-20 on Saturday.

25. Arkansas State (1-0): The Red Wolves won 35-31 at Kansas State on Saturday.

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