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July 27, 2021
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Josh Furlong's AP Top 25: Florida, Miami fail to live up to hype as regular season nears end

SALT LAKE CITY — “Nothing gold can stay.” Just as Florida was primed for an outside shot to claim a coveted spot in the four-team College Football Playoff, the Gators were swamped by the defending national champions LSU.

Heisman hopeful (no more) quarterback Kyle Trask threw for an impressive 474 yards and two touchdowns, but also committed two interceptions as the Gators struggled to stop an LSU team that simply wouldn’t go away despite being a 23-point underdog coming into the game. Florida got outmatched and fell victim to a crazy weekend of college football.

Florida, which entered the game ranked No. 6 in both the CFP rankings and the Associated Press Top 25, dropped to No. 13 in my ballot. The Gators still have tremendous talent, but laid a giant egg when it mattered most. LSU may be down this season, but they still have talent — it looks like Florida got caught looking a little bit ahead.

Maybe the Gators can hang with Alabama next week in the SEC Championship — imagine the chaos to unfold if they do. 🤔

And then there was Miami.

The Hurricanes were finally starting to get some national respect after a mostly solid season. Miami’s opponent, North Carolina, entered the game as a bit of a wildcard: a good but inconsistent team that failed to live up to its preseason expectations. And that chaos unfolded at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Tar Heels reeled off four touchdowns and two field goals in the first half of play to take a 34-3 lead before Miami added a touchdown before the break. But by then, the damage was already done. And even then nobody expected the Tar Heels to add 28 more points to their score in the second half in complete dominance over Mack Brown’s former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

Maimi has two losses on the season, but has dropped to No. 18 in my ballot, while North Carolina moves up to No. 17.

Some other notable reactions for the weekend:

  • Coastal Carolina escaped a scare from Troy a week after defeating BYU at home — BYU demolished Troy 48-7 in the third week of the season. But the Chanticleers live to see another day and are the only team in the country at 11-0. They move up to No. 11 in my ballot.
  • Georgia has its quarterback now in JT Daniels, the former USC starting QB before injury, and is playing some great football again. The Bulldogs have three wins over Top 25 programs, but none of them remain ranked. They check in at No. 10 in my ballot, but there’s not much more to play for with a New Year’s Six bowl all but a lock.
  • Speaking of USC, the Trojans again escaped upset, this time against UCLA. Either USC is the luckiest team in America or they live up to the mantra that good teams find a way to win — probably somewhere in between for the Trojans. USC wins but it still feels like the Trojans have yet to live up to their potential. USC checks in at No. 12 in my ballot this week, up two spots.
  • Wisconsin used to be one of my favorite teams this season and then just suddenly disappeared. I’m a little disappointed to see it happen given how well the Badgers started, but not all good things can last and they’re now out of my Top 25. Meanwhile, Iowa has quietly found a way to build momentum after a rough opening two-week stretch. I’m still hesitant about the Hawkeyes (not a lot of key wins), but for now Iowa moves up to No. 16 in my ballot, up one spot.

Dropping Out: Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin

Checking In: Buffalo, Oklahoma State, Texas

In Consideration: Arizona State, Army, Boise State, Marshall, NC State

If you have a question about any of the teams I ranked (or missed), hit me up on Twitter @JFurKSL and I’ll do my best to explain my reasoning. If you can’t see the ballot below, click here.

Josh Furlong

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