Dooley’s final AP ballot and way too early Preseason Top 25 ranking

Rising senior running back Lamical Perine is one of many talented players on Florida's 2019 roster. [John Bazemore/Associated Press]

There were about 10 minutes remaining in the national title game Monday when I saw the white flag.

Alabama coach Nick Saban punted down by 28. That meant I could send in my final Associated Press ballot with Clemson at the top and go to bed without worrying about a historic comeback.

The day had been spent managing the rest of the ballot and for maybe the first time this year I felt pretty good about it.

Then I saw the results Tuesday.

It’s my fault, Gator Nation.

You could have been all alone in seventh place instead of tied with Georgia. But some knucklehead put the Bulldogs ahead of the Gators and that one extra point pulled Georgia into a tie with UF.

Now, I think voters who had Georgia below Florida put too much into the bowl season and I seem to remember a game in Jacksonville that didn’t end well for the Gators. But I can see some logic. Florida beat LSU. Florida hammered Michigan. Georgia lost badly to LSU. Georgia lost its bowl game.

Still, I voted Georgia ahead of Florida.

Don’t hate me.

Here is my final ballot for this football season:

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Ohio State

4. Oklahoma

5. Notre Dame

I thought about dropping the Irish lower but 12-1 is still a pretty nice season.

6. Georgia

7. Florida

8. LSU

9. Texas

10. UCF

LSU finished ahead of Florida in the final poll and I don’t get that.

11. Kentucky

12. Washington State

13. Michigan

14. Army

15. Washington

Did I have Army too high? Heckuva season. And I wondered how far Michigan would drop. The Fighting Harbaughs ended up 14th.

16. Syracuse

17. Penn State

18. Texas A&M

19. Fresno State

20. Cincinnati

21. Appalachian State

22. Northwestern

23. Utah State

24. West Virginia

25. Iowa

There you have it. I love being an AP voter. I can always tell people I have to watch football because of my obligations to the process. Hee-hee. I hope they let me do it again in 2019.

I already have my early preseason ballot ready (subject to change):

1. Alabama: A hungry Nick Saban is a dangerous Nick Saban. There is so much talent on this team and a healthy Tua Tagovailoa will win the next Heisman Trophy.

2. Clemson: Those losses on the lines of scrimmage will be the difference.

3. Ohio State: I’m a little reluctant with a new coach and a new quarterback, but it will be a reload.

4. Georgia: New coordinators will be interesting.

5. Oklahoma: Remember the name Austin Kendall, who could be the next Heisman winner.

6. Oregon: A bit of a reach, but the Ducks could be a playoff team.

7. Texas

8. LSU

9. Notre Dame

10. Florida: The Gator roster is better than it was at this time last year, but the schedule is a little tougher.

11. Texas A&M

12. Michigan

13. UCF: At what point do the fans of this school start complaining again?

14. Washington State

15. Kentucky: Two best players gone, but the Wildcats will be solid.

16. Northwestern

17. Auburn: Coach Gus Malzahn is calling the plays. Watch out.

18. Penn State

19. Washington

20. Wisconsin

21. Iowa State

22. Utah

23. Iowa

24. Army

25. Missouri. One of the most intriguing stories of next season will be quarterback Kelly Bryant, the Clemson transfer.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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