Like we always do early Sunday morning, it’s time to give you our Top 25 – or as we like to call it, a ranking of “What the AP Top-25 poll should look like.”
Before you dive into these rankings, please understand one thing: We only rank teams based on what they have done on the field this season, which is why these rankings will look wildly different than what you’ll see in the AP poll. We don’t care where you were ranked last week, where you ranked in the preseason, only what you have done on the field this season.
So who will you see? Here’s our Top 25:
25) Utah Utes (last week: No. 18)
The Utes suffered their first loss of the season — but it’s hard to blame them as they faced a good Stanford club which won its third straight game on Saturday night. Still, the Utes have plenty more chance to make a statement this season, starting with next week’s game at USC.
24) Texas Tech Red Raiders (last week: unranked)
A 65-19 road victory against Kansas isn’t necessarily a reason to celebrate (the Jayhawks are bad as always), but in Lubbock it improved the Red Raiders to 4-1 on the season. To the credit of Kliff Kingsbury and his staff, the Red Raiders are playing much better defense this year. They rank 111th nationally in total defense – but that’s way up from last year when they finished dead last in the FBS in the same category.
23) Navy Midshipmen (last week: unranked)
The Midshipmen are ranked for the first time this season, an overdue acknowledgment for a team which improved to 5-0 on the season Saturday. Ken Niumatalolo once again has his team rolling, as they get set to face a good Memphis club next week.
22) Michigan Wolverines (last week: No. 8)
We didn’t drop Michigan this far solely because it lost this week to Michigan State (which is a good team, by the way). It was because of how it happened. The Wolverines once again struggled offensively, tallying just 10 total points. And it’s fair to wonder – based on what we’ve seen this season – if this is destined to be a club which plays great defense but struggles to put up points on just about every opponent they face.
21) Oklahoma Sooners (last week: No. 4)
Like Michigan, it wasn’t just that the Sooners lost Saturday, but how they did it, losing as a 30+ point favorite at home to Big 12 bottom-dweller Iowa State. And if we’re being totally honest about Oklahoma, it really hadn’t looked crisp in the last few weeks following that massive Ohio State win. So who are the real Sooners? We’ll find out next Saturday when they face an improving Texas team in the Red River Rivalry game in Dallas.
20) Virginia Tech Hokies (last week: 19)
After a tough loss to Clemson last week, the Hokies had a matchup with ACC lightweight Boston College, and did exactly what they were supposed to do, winning on the road. The Hokies now hit a bye before facing North Carolina two weeks from now.
19) Michigan State Spartans (last week: unranked)
Mark Dantonio’s club was looking for a signature win and got it Saturday, stunning Michigan 14-10 at the Big House. Still, it’s hard to put the Spartans too much higher than this when you remember two things: One, they lost to Notre Dame by three touchdowns two weeks ago; and two, they had just one first down in the entire second half against Michigan. Credit them for picking up a big win against an in-state rival. But it still looks like there’s a major gap between the Spartans and the top two teams (Penn State and Ohio State) in the Big Ten East.
18) Oklahoma State Cowboys (last week: No. 22)
Despite having a bye this week, it was an important Saturday for Mike Gundy’s club, which saw cross-state rival Oklahoma lose to Iowa State. All of a sudden, the Cowboys are back in a position where they control their road to the Big 12 title game, starting with a visit from Baylor next Saturday.
17) South Florida Bulls (last week: No. 20)
Like so many teams this time of year, South Florida had a bye Saturday, meaning it got to sit back, relax and watch everyone else play this weekend. The Bulls return to the field Saturday with a winnable home game against 2-4 Cincinnati.
16) NC State Wolfpack (last week: No. 24)
The Wolfpack made a statement on Thursday night, dominating a good Louisville team in a 39-25 home victory. And really, if you look at their resume, you could make a case that NC State is the most underappreciated team in the country. Had they not given away a victory in their opener to South Carolina, they’d be undefeated with a bunch of solid wins (Florida State, Louisville). For now though, NC State will have to settle for No. 16 in our poll as they travel to Pitt next week.
15) San Diego State Aztecs (last week: No. 18)
It was another easy victory for the Aztecs on Saturday, which improved to 6-0 with an easy win over UNLV in Las Vegas. San Diego State now has what looks like the toughest test left on their schedule when they host Boise State next Saturday.
14) Central Florida Knights (last week: No. 15)
How good is Scott Frost’s club? Not only are the Knights 4-0, but all of their wins have come by at least 27 points. That includes Saturday’s 51-23 victory at Cincinnati. The Knights should have no trouble next week with a hapless East Carolina squad, before a showdown in two weeks against Navy.
13) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (last week: No. 16)
I’m just going to put it out there: The Irish are the most underrated team in college football. Remember, their sole loss was by one point to Georgia (a result which looks better by the week), and their best win was by three touchdowns against a Michigan State club which beat Michigan on the road Saturday. Brian Kelly’s club is rolling, and now gets a bye before a mega-showdown with USC two weeks from now.
12) USC Trojans (last week: No. 12)
We know USC is good, and after the way Washington State took care of Oregon on the road this week, all of a sudden, the Trojans’ loss in Pullman last week doesn’t look so bad. Still, USC is only halfway home in its 12-games-in-12-weeks gauntlet of a regular season, and things aren’t going to get any easier going forward. Clay Helton’s club is at home on Saturday against a good Utah team and then must travel to Notre Dame two weeks from now.
11) Auburn Tigers (last week: No. 9)
To quote the movie “Major League,” Gus Malzahn’s club is just “lyyyyyying in the weeds” after another dominant performance on Saturday, this one against Ole Miss. These Tigers are good, but we’ll find out just how tough they are in the coming weeks. Auburn has to play their next three games on the road, a daunting task for any SEC club.
10) Ohio State Buckeyes (last week: No. 10)
It seems like that loss to Oklahoma lit a fire under the Buckeyes’ butts, as Urban Meyer’s club has now won its four games since that loss by an average of 42 points per game. Mercy! Ohio State is rolling, but things won’t be easy next Saturday when they travel to Lincoln to face a good Nebraska team.
9) Wisconsin Badgers (last week: No. 11)
Speaking of Nebraska, it was the Badgers who went to Lincoln and pulled out a victory itself on Saturday. Wisconsin might be America’s quietest undefeated team at 5-0 and will look to stay that way when it hosts Purdue on Saturday.
8) Miami Hurricanes (last week: No. 14)
The Hurricanes won a thriller Saturday night, picking up their first win over Florida State since 2009 and the biggest win since Mark Richt took over as coach two seasons ago. Miami is now 4-0, and looking at their schedule, there’s reason to believe that they could be undefeated – and in the mix of the playoff picture – heading into November. The Hurricanes have three straight winnable games ahead, starting with Georgia Tech next Saturday.
7) Washington State (last week: No. 12)
Sometimes you’ve just got to admit when you’re wrong, and boy did I whiff on Washington State this week. I picked the Cougs to lose to Oregon Saturday in Autzen – instead they dominated in a 33-10 victory. It will be a quick turnaround for Mike Leach’s club, which plays at Cal on Friday.
6) TCU Horned Frogs (last week: No. 7)
For the second time in two games TCU beat a ranked team, surviving at home against a really good West Virginia club. With Oklahoma’s loss, the Horned Frogs now have the best shot of any Big 12 at making the College Football Playoff, even if that’s still a long ways away. They face a good Kansas State team on the road Saturday.
5) Penn State Nittany Lions (last week: No. 5)
It was a quiet day for Saquon Barkley (he rushed for “only” 75 yards), but the Nittany Lions beat Northwestern going away in Evanston. Penn State now heads into a bye before a two-game stretch that will define their season. After their off week, it will face Michigan at home and Ohio State on the road. Enjoy the rest, Penn State. You’re going to need it.
4) Washington Huskies (last week: No. 6)
Chris Petersen complained about this week’s late start time, and it’s hard to blame him. How many people really stayed up until 2 a.m. ET to watch the Huskies put the finishing touches on Cal on Saturday night (or was it morning?)? Washington is unquestionably the Pac-12’s best team right now, and that shouldn’t change next week, when it faces a lousy Arizona State squad in Tempe.
3) Georgia Bulldogs (last week: No. 3)
We’ve been on the Bulldogs since their victory over Notre Dame in Week 2, and all these Saturday’s later they still haven’t let their foot off the gas. Georgia’s latest win came at Vanderbilt Saturday in a 45-14 laugher, and they should notch another easy victory next week when they face Missouri.
2) Clemson Tigers (last week: No. 2)
The Tigers win over Wake Forest was easy and efficient, as Dabo Swinney’s club improved to 6-0 on the season. Clemson will have a bit of a quick turnaround this week, as they play at Syracuse on Friday night.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide (last week: No. 1)
What does it say about Alabama that this week’s 27-19 victory, in a true road game against Texas A&M, was seen as a “underwhelming” performance. It says that the Crimson Tide is good, darn good, and at this point, not playing against opponents, but instead the insane standard they’ve set for themselves. Alabama will face Arkansas next week, and you can imagine after a sloppy performance Saturday they’ll come out refocused next week. That’s bad news if you’re a Razorbacks fan.
- 5 things we learned from Michigan’s loss to Michigan State
- 5 things we learned in Alabama’s win over Aggies
- 5 things we learned from Clemson’s win over Wake Forest