There are just 22 undefeated teams remaining (well, 23, but like I said earlier, there is no way in Dante's Inferno that UTSA ever will appear on this ballot). That means it's time for one-loss teams (at least 3-1) to return to the ballot.
But which three are most worthy? It was a thorny matter of some choosiness. Here's what I settled upon:
Clemson has the "best" loss of the candidates, falling to AP No. 3 Florida State on the road (which gives FSU the second-best win of anyone, as well).
Washington has the second-best loss of the candidates, falling to AP No. 4 LSU on the road (the Tigers currently have the sixth-best win of any team), as well as the fourth-best win, over AP No. 18 Stanford.
Stanford did lose to Washington on the road, which is why the Cardinal are ranked behind the Huskies, but AP No. 13 USC is the "best" win anyone in the ballot has. (FYI: K-State has the third-best, over AP No. 17 Oklahoma.)
Scroll down for the rest of my ballot, with further discussion following:
Kansas State and LSU executed a swap because LSU's second-straight dismal performance against a bad team means I no longer think the Tigers could beat the Wildcats. They just don't look to be on the same level right now.
Texas, despite the late come-from-behind finish, impressed me enough on both offense and defense to move into the top 10. While the Longhorns do not appear to be an elite team, they are pretty solid across the board.
Oregon State also has done a lot to impress. The Beavers' relatively low position in most polls is due to their late entry, nothing more. That win at UCLA is the seventh-most impressive one currently on the board.
Nos. 15-18 just represent minor adjustments to account for teams ahead of them falling out. But Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech both make three-spot gains with impressive road victories.
Ohio slides slightly because barely edging 0-5 Massachusetts is not at all impressive, but the win at Penn State continues to gain steam. One must cut the Bobcats a little slack because the starting quarterback is injured.
Baylor and Iowa State, while still technically both eligible at 3-1, fall out because the one has no defense whatsoever and the other has no offense whatsoever. You must be a complete team to be ranked.
(Note: I clearly have a West Virginia exception to that last rule, but Geno Smith is so bloody good, he almost makes up for the complete lack of defense by himself. This Saturday will tell us a lot about how far WVU can go like this.)
Minnesota, it was nice seeing you while it lasted. Way to schedule yourself to an all-too-fleeting, weeklong appearance at No. 25. I don't expect you'll be back any time soon...
This week's one-loss team waiting list looks something like this: UCLA, USC, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Baylor, Arizona State, Miami, Iowa State.