Ray Ratto

Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (1030)

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Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (1030)

Every week, Senior Insider Ray Ratto votes in the Associated Press College Football Poll. Here is this week's stab at perfection.

RANKTEAMLAST WEEKTHIS WEEKCOMMENT1LSUTicketing Nick Saban's carAt AlabamaArmageddon2ALABAMAFertilizing Les Miles' lawnLSUNo, seriously, Armageddon3BOISE STATEEntertaining CFL West for football, NHL Northwest for everything elseAt Nevada Las VegasNo Armageddon here, though4STANFORDWon at Southern California, 56-48, 3 OTAt Oregon StateA trap game here if ever there was one5OKLAHOMA STATEBEAT BAYLOR, 59-24KANSAS STATESuddenly a less enormous game6OREGONBEAT WASHINGTON STATE, 43-28At WashingtonAn even better trap game, given that Stanford awaits7OKLAHOMAWon at Kansas State, 58-17TEXAS A&MA stunning performance begets another8ARKANSASWon at Vanderbilt, 31-28At South CarolinaNot a good result, not an easy opponent9CLEMSONLost at Georgia Tech, 31-17Dazed and confusedTech is good, but shouldn't have been this good10NEBRASKABEAT MICHIGAN STATE 24-3NORTHWESTERNWildcats like to score, don't like to prevent scoring11SOUTH CAROLINAWon at Tennessee, 14-3ARKANSASSee Arkansas analysis12HOUSTONBEAT RICE, 73-34At Alabama BirminghamIf you thought Rice was easy, wait 'til you see this13VIRGINIA TECHWon at Duke, 14-10Kickin' it old skool at Frankie Beamer's cribHard to see another loss by these guys14SOUTHERN CALIFORNIALost to Stanford, 56-48, 3 OTat Colorado, FridayA loss that makes them look better15KANSAS STATELost to Oklahoma, 58-17At Oklahoma StateA loss that makes them look much worse16PENN STATEBEAT ILLINOIS, 10-7Joe Pa reflecting on his recordUnderinspiring week after week, but they never seem to lose17MICHIGAN STATELost at Nebraska, 24-3MINNESOTAGood game to get well on18MICHIGANBEAT PURDUE, 36-14At IowaGood game to pretend that one can get well on19WISCONSINLost at Ohio State, 33-29PURDUEGood game to win easily20SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPIWon at Texas El-Paso, 31-13At East CarolinaHunch rout, only it's a hunch that is actually a mortal lock21TEXAS CHRISTIANBEAT BRIGHAM YOUNG, 38-28At WyomingMaybe Cowboys are for real; maybe it's just the Mountain West being the Mountain West22ARIZONA STATEBEAT COLORADO, 48-14At UCLAWon't be watched by anyone who has another channel23CINCINNATIWatched some hockeyAt PittsburghLike watching a canceled drama24GEORGIAWon at Florida, 24-20NEW MEXICO STATENot a good game for this late in the year25TEXASBEAT KANSAS, 43-0TEXAS TECHTech got smoked by Iowa State, so this could kind of suck

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

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AP

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

For the record, and just so you can’t say you weren’t told, these are the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and the 50 backups. Draw your own conclusions.

(Author’s note: We list these only because Joe Webb was just signed by the Buffalo Bills, whose starter and first backup, Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates, are still in the concussion protocol).

AFC WEST

DENVER: Trevor Siemian (Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler)

KANSAS CITY: Alex Smith (Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray)

LOS ANGELES: Philip Rivers (Cardale Jones)

OAKLAND: Derek Carr (E.J. Manuel, Connor Cook)

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE: Joe Flacco (Ryan Mallett)

CINCINNATI: Andy Dalton (AJ McCarron)

CLEVELAND: DeShone Kizer (Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Josh Woodrum)

PITTSBURGH: Ben Roethlisberger (Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs)

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON: Tom Savage (DeShaun Watson)

INDIANAPOLIS: Scott Tolzien (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett)

JACKSONVILLE: Chad Henne (Blake Bortles)

TENNESSEE: Marcus Mariota (Matt Cassel)

AFC EAST

BUFFALO: Nathan Peterman (Taylor, Yates, Webb)

MIAMI: Jay Cutler (Matt Moore, David Fales)

NEW ENGLAND: Tom Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo)

NEW YORK: Josh McCown (Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg)

NFC WEST

ARIZONA: Carson Palmer (Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert)

LOS ANGELES: Jared Goff (Sean Mannion)

SAN FRANCISCO: Brian Hoyer (C.J. Beathard)

SEATTLE: Russell Wilson (Austin Davis)

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO: Mike Glennon (Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez)

DETROIT: Matthews Stafford (Jack Rudock)

GREEN BAY: Aaron Rodgers (Brett Hundley)

MINNESOTA: Sam Bradford (Case Keenum)

NFL SOUTH

ATLANTA: Matt Ryan (Matt Schaub)

CAROLINA: Cam Newton (Derek Anderson, Brad Kaaya)

NEW ORLEANS: Drew Brees (Chase Daniel, Taysom Hill)

TAMPA BAY: Jameis Winston (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin)

NFC EAST

DALLAS: Dak Prescott (Cooper Rush)

NEW YORK: Eli Manning (Geno Smith, Davis Webb)

PHILADELPHIA: Carson Wentz (Nick Foles)

WASHINGTON: Kirk Cousins (Colt McCoy)

Again, draw your own conclusions. I know I’ve drawn mine.