As usual, this is my ranking of the Top 25 teams in college football, but really, we need to start focusing more on the top two teams in the land, and if anyone can challenge them.
After great performances in Week 5, Alabama and Clemson have really established themselves as the two premier programs in college football. Alabama crushed Ole Miss — like they should have — and Clemson went into Blacksburg and controlled their game against a quality Virginia Tech squad from the start.
Until something else happens to prove me otherwise.. Alabama and Clemson will remain as the top two in the rankings. They’re that good. Now, as for who could actually challenge them for those spots…
1. Alabama — SEC, 5-0
LW: 2 — Result: W, 66-3 vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss has done their best to try and play spoiler to Alabama in recent years… yeah, that wasn’t happening here, as Alabama ate up Ole Miss and tossed them aside like nobody’s business.
Alabama has now won their last two conference games by a combined score of 125-3. Even if you wanted to consider Ole Miss and Vandy as bottom tier SEC teams… that’s just ridiculous.
2. Clemson — ACC, 5-0
LW: 2 — Result: W, 31-17 at Virginia Tech
ESPN does the thing now where if a team has a cool entrance onto the field, they show the entrance in its entirety. Showing the VT players walking to the stadium and then entering to Enter Sandman made the Hokies look like this monster of a team, as the hype and presentation was impeccable.
Clemson was unfazed. Dabo Swinney’s team quickly shot out to a 10-0 lead and had Virginia Tech on their heels for the entire contest. This one was over once it got to 31-10, as Clemson cruised for the rest of the game.
3. Penn State– Big Ten, 5-0
LW: 3 — Result: W, 45-14 vs. Indiana
For much emphasis as I put on Clemson and Alabama being great, the same can easily apply to Penn State. They’ve looked fantastic so far this season, and they shouldn’t be overlooked. Also, it’s a bit hard to overlook them, because Saquon Barkley will make sure you don’t.
As for their game against Indiana, James Franklin’s team quickly put to rest any idea of an upset. Penn State jumped out to a 28-0 nothing lead in the first quarter, and while Indiana was able to respond a little bit in the second quarter… it was just never going to be enough.
4. Oklahoma — Big 12, 4-0
LW: 4 — Result: BYE
Oklahoma had this week off. They get Iowa State at home next Saturday.
5. Washington — Pac-12, 5-0
LW: 5 — Result: W, 42-7 vs. Oregon State
Washington has struggled in the first half at times this season, and taking a 7-0 lead against a lowly Beavers squad into halftime doesn’t look that impressive. A missed field goal hurt, but they probably shouldn’t be punting that many times against Oregon State.
Second half, though? Complete turnaround, but hopefully this doesn’t become a trend for the Huskies, because it’s not going to work as well later in the season when they play the likes of Stanford and Washington State.
6. Georgia — SEC, 5-0
LW: 8 — Result: W, 41-0 at Tennessee
So as much as people have been complaining for the past two years about how their isn’t a quality second team in the SEC after Alabama… well, Georgia is stepping up to the plate as a worthy challenger.
A week after dominating Mississippi State, the Bulldogs put the hurt on Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee could do nothing right in this game, and even when they did… it usually backfired.
Make no mistake, Kirby Smart’s team is legit.
7. Michigan — Big Ten, 4-0
LW: 7 — Result: BYE
Michigan had the week off. They get rival Michigan State at home next week.
8. Ohio State — Big Ten, 4-1
LW: 9 — Result: W, 56-0 at Rutgers
This was one of the most impressive tackling performances by any team that I’ve seen over the past couple of years. Mississippi State couldn’t get anything going on offense, and even when they did, the Georgia defense swooped in and brought the ball carrier down — hard — on the first attempt. True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm also looked like a potential star.
At least for now, it looks like the SEC finally has a great No. 2 team to slide in behind Alabama in the rankings.
9. Wisconsin — Big Ten, 4-0
LW: 10 — Result: W, 33-24 vs. Northwestern
Northwestern didn’t just hold up in this game, but they responded pretty well every time Wisconsin tried to pull away. Northwestern is usually good for an upset a year under Pat Fitzgerald, but… it wasn’t here, as the Wisconsin defense pulled off the ol’ game-clinching safety as Northwestern had the ball with a chance at tying late in the game.
10. TCU — Big 12, 4-0
LW: 12 — Result: BYE
It appears that it is time for the annual “TCU might be really good!!” train to take off as they enter my Top 10 here. I wonder how they will disappoint this year…
Anyways, TCU had a bye week after upsetting Oklahoma State the week prior. They host West Virginia next week.
11. Washington State — Pac-12, 5-0
LW: 17 — Result: W, 30-27 vs. USC
The Mike Leach era is here! I don’t know if it’s an era we all want to be a part of, but it’s here nonetheless.
Washington State was finally the team that was complete enough on offense and defense to take down a wayward but hyped USC squad. As weird as that is to say, it’s true; Cougs QB Luke Falk looked like the Heisman candidate and No. 1 player in the land, while Sam Darnold struggled yet again.
12. Oklahoma State — Big 12, 4-1
LW: 13 — Result: W, 41-34 at Texas Tech
The key after getting upset in one week is to not let it snowball into the next. Texas Tech gave Oklahoma State a good run, but the Pokes set things straight by getting the hard-fought win in Lubbock.
I don’t want to say this was a “statement” game for a 4-1 team, but the way Oklahoma State fought here and overcame their own mistakes — two missed field goals — to rally and win in the final minutes is a good reflection on Mike Gundy and the heart of his team. They could have easily gone “here we go again”, but instead, quarterback Mason Rudolph prevailed by scoring the game-winning touchdown.
13. Auburn — SEC, 4-1
LW: 14 — Result: W, 49-10 vs. Mississippi State
There was a lot of panic and outrage in the college football world when Auburn only mustered up six points against Clemson. I thought that was an overreaction then and it really looks like one now as Auburn is starting to find a bit of a groove in recent weeks.
However, I will own up to this: remember when we thought Mississippi State was good after they demolished LSU? Well… that’s backfired. A lot.
14. USC — Pac-12, 4-1
LW: 6 — Result: L, 27-30 at Washington State
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t even that bad of a loss. On the road, by three to a quality team isn’t bad. But it’s not about this game for USC; the Trojans have been sneaking away with victories too often this season, and this was finally the game that bit them.
Sam Darnold has thrown eight picks in five games. The defense looks good, but if Darnold keeps up the inconsistency, it will be time to wonder if last year was a bit of a fluke and if opposing defenses have started to figure him out as more and more film gets out.
15. Miami — ACC, 3-0
LW: 15 — Result: W, 31-6 at Duke
I thought Miami might have some problems with Duke, as the Blue Devils have looked pretty good this season up to this point.
Miami did not have much problem with Duke. The Hurricanes’ defense just destroyed the Blue Devils, and while Duke’s defense was able to keep this close for three quarters, the inability of the Duke offense to get past the 50-yard line eventually haunted them.
16. Virginia Tech — ACC, 4-1
LW: 11 — Result: L, 17-31 vs. Clemson
Absolutely no shame in losing to Clemson, but this does put Virginia Tech on the defensive now, as they fall behind Miami and Georgia Tech in the early conference standings. The Hokies have games against BC, North Carolina, and Duke next on the ACC slate, so they will have a chance to rebound, but getting Miami and GT in back-to-back weeks later in the season will be TOUGH.
17. Utah — Pac-12, 4-0
LW: 16 — Result: BYE
Utah had a bye week. Their next game should be a good one: Bryce Love and Stanford at home.
18. Louisville — ACC, 3-1
LW: 18 — Result: W, 55-10 vs. Murray State
One way to recover from a blowout loss to Clemson? Play Kent State and Murray State in back-to-back weeks. Things finally get a little tougher for Louisville next week, as they head to N.C. State.
19. San Diego State — MWC, 5-0
LW: 19 — Result: W, 34-28 vs. Northern Illinois
NIU is pretty good — remember, they beat Nebraska — but this game probably shouldn’t have been this difficult for San Diego State. Of course, it probably doesn’t help when the opposing team is intentionally poking your star running back in the eyes.
San Diego State has a chance to go undefeated. We will keep an eye on how that goes.
20. South Florida — AAC, 5-0
LW: 21– Result: W, 61-31 at East Carolina
It has been a roller-coaster ride for South Florida this season, but they did get the big win here to move to 5-0. The 61 points were the second most in a game in school history. South Florida gets a week off in Week 6 before getting Cincinnati at home.
21. West Virginia — Big 12, 3-1
LW: 22 — Result: BYE
West Virgina had the week off. They definitely needed it, as they get TCU at home this upcoming week.
22. Notre Dame — ACC adjacent, 4-1
LW: NR — Result: W, 52-17 vs. Miami (OH)
So… Notre Dame might actually be good. I admittedly had some reservations about them heading into this season after a rough 4-8 season last year, but they continued to perform well and their close loss to Georgia is looking better and better every week. Also changing every week: the heat on Brian Kelly’s seat, which is cooling off rapidly.
23. Florida — SEC, 3-1
LW: 23 — Result: W, 38-24 vs. Vanderbilt
I still have no idea what to make of Florida. There still hasn’t been a game where they looked great, but this was the closest to that. The bad news is that quarterback Luke Del Rio is now out for the season due to a collar bone injury, but Feleipe Franks was able to lead the team very well afterwards despite struggling heavily last week against Kentucky.
24. NC State — ACC, 4-1
LW: NR — Result: W, 33-25 vs. Syracuse
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said after the game that he thought NC State was better than LSU, having played both team so far this season. That opinion was controversial at the time… not so much anymore.
However, N.C. State has recovered well after a Week 1 loss to South Carolina, and it may prove that their win last week at Florida State was less of a fluke and more of a “wait, they are actually good”.
25. Georgia Tech — ACC, 3-1
LW: NR — Result: W, 33-7 vs. North Carolina
Man… blowing that lead in Week 1 to Tennessee is really going to come back and haunt the Yellow Jackets.
Quarterback TaQuon Marshall continues to look fantastic in Paul Johnson’s option offense, and a weird thing is happening in Atlanta; they are starting to look good on defense, too. We will see soon if they are capable of being a contender in the ACC, as Tech has a week off before getting Miami, Wake, and Clemson in consecutive weeks.
DROPPED FROM THE RANKINGS: Memphis (20), Duke (24), Mississippi State (25)