Week 5 had everything a College Football fan could ask for. Conference play opened up around the land for everyone except LSU who played Towson. Towson in week 5? Way to go SEC. Other than that game, which Towson was actually in, there were some great match-ups. We saw the emergence of the clear-cut best player in college football, The all-but B1G Preseason Champs started 0-1 in Lincoln, and another Top 10 team fell. It’s week 5 and here are my Power Rankings.
25 Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-0) I didn’t want to put Texas Tech up here, but I truthfully think that this team is the most improved in the Big 12 this year. That, and I dropped Northwestern out after its horrid showing against a terrible Indiana team. The Wildcats will need to prove its worth to me this week by beating the Nittany Lions. Tech had some success in 2011 in beating the Sooners in Norman, but finished poorly losing to the Cyclones at home and dropping all of its last 5 games. The Red Raiders are back in full force. Seth Doege has his offense where they need to be to be competitive and they have the most improved defense in the land. This is an omen and they will probably drop their next 5 games (all against ranked opponents), but for now they sit in the top 25 for me.
24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-0) Rutgers is my favorite to win the Big East. Louisville is ranked higher in the AP this week, but I think Rutgers will beat Louisville head-to-head in the final week of the regular season. For now Louisville will stay ahead of them here, but watch out for the Knights. Rutgers beat a tough South Florida team in week 3. With the early bye week coming this week for the Scarlet Knights, its stout defense had the chance to get healthy and ready to continue conference play. Junior RB Jawan Jamison has eclipsed the century mark in yardage in each of the first 4 games and he will look to continue that success going forward. The Big East might be better than the B1G, but that’s a lot like saying you’re the skinniest kid at fat camp. Rutgers wants that title.
23 Northwestern Wildcats (5-0) Pat Fitzgerald has his squad undefeated through 5 games for the 3rd time in 5 seasons and Evanston is buzzing. Kain Colter is for real and the Wildcats seem to be firing on all cylinders right now. The key to that last sentence is “right now.” For now they sit in my top 25, but a lot will be learned about this team on Saturday when they go to Happy Valley and take on the hottest team in the conference.
22 Stanford Cardinal (3-1) A huge victory against USC had me and the nation high on Stanford going into the Washington game. I even went as far as saying they are the #3 team in the land. I made a mistake. They went on the road and were less than impressive against the Huskies and ultimately dropped a game that they desperately needed to continue the success. Josh Nunes is clearly no Andrew Luck and continues to be a work in progress under center. The defense continues to play well, but giving up 144 yards to Washington’s Sophomore RB Bishop Sankey is not the way to beat the Huskies. Stanford would love for an already used bye week this week, but instead will host a much improved Arizona Wildcats team who narrowly lost to the Beavers this week. It’s go time for Stanford if they want to be in the discussion for Pac 12 Champ at seasons end.
21 Washington Huskies (3-1) I am having a very difficult time getting a read on Washington. Preseason I thought they would be in the conversation for a Pac 12 title, but then were embarrassed by a down LSU squad in week 2. Keith Price rebounded nicely from that win and they shellacked Portland State and held on against Stanford. Bishop Sankey is continuing to grow into their offense and the Huskies defense is starting to look better. Still a lot of question marks here after this same team gave up 41 points to a suspect LSU offense, but for now they are in the conversation for a Pac 12 title as they are undefeated in the conference, which is more than can be said for Stanford and USC at this point.
20 Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1) Taylor Martinez is pretty good and Rex Burkhead is back. I have a hard time holding the Wisconsin game against Nebraska because they showed great resolve at home to claw back from a deep deficit. Bo Pelini’s guys only loss on the year came to a pretty good Bruins team in Los Angeles, and they have a pretty battle-tested offensive attack. The big test comes this Saturday with a road trip to Columbus, where they will play in the Shoe against an Ohio State team, who if not ineligible, would be the favorite for many to win the joke of a conference that the B1G has been so far.
19 Oklahoma Sooners (2-1) I wanted pretty badly this week to let the bye week get the best of the Sooners and drop them entirely out of the polls, but it’s no secret that the jury is still out on Bob Stoops’ squad. After a poor showing against Kansas State in Norman, the bye week came at a nice time for the Sooners. A lot will be learned in Norman this Saturday with the Red Raiders coming to town who made OU look like fools last season. The jury is out on Texas Tech and Oklahoma so that game will be intriguing on many levels this weekend. For now I will give the benefit of the doubt to a Landry Jones led offense and Bob Stoops and let the Sooners sit at 19 until further notice.
18 UCLA Bruins (4-1) UCLA was the funniest of all funny anomalies last season, qualifying for a bowl game with a losing record after playing in the Pac 12 Championship game at .500, but this is not the same team. Well, it is the same team, a year older and wiser and they are good. Overlooking that win against Nebraska would be foolish because right now that could be the victorious squad in Indianapolis when it’s all said and done. UCLA’s one loss on the young year came to what is proving to be a darn good Oregon State team and with superstar Freshman Quarterback Brett Hundley in the backfield the sky appears to be the limit for the Bruins. With a great combination of upper-classmem who are sick of losing and youngsters who can fly around the field on both sides of the ball, things are looking good in LA. Without the Ducks on their schedule and an easy going road for the most part until the final two weeks when they face off against the Cardinal and Lane Kiffin’s boys the Bruins have a great chance at ending up with 9 wins and a very nice season.
17 Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-0) I hate to say that an early season bye week is bad for an SEC team, but that appears to be the case for the Bulldogs. They have looked very good in the early going and an undefeated mark is the result thus far. Getting the bye week early is usually a nice time to figure some things out and get read for conference play in the toughest conference, but Dan Mullen and his coaching staff would have probably liked to keep the streak going with a pretty lazy schedule until the road trip to Tuscaloosa at the end of October. It is what it is, and now the Tennessee game in a couple weeks could be a great one with Tyler Bray and Derek Dooley narrowly getting ousted against the Bulldogs of Georgia last week, but that game is at home for the Bulldogs and they will look to probably be going 6-0 after getting a victory over Kentucky this Saturday. Mississippi State could go into the Alabama game with a 7-0 mark and as much confidence as anybody. The flip side of that is that they could end up being lazy against Kentucky and getting beat by Tennessee and go in with 2 losses. I like the former and the Bulldogs right now at 17.
16 Tie: Oregon State Beavers(3-0)/Louisville Cardinals(5-0) I don’t like doing ties in these things, but I had a really hard time taking a current top 25 team out with Texas Tech getting in and I think at this point, the jury is definitely still out on both of these teams, so I grouped them together. Both are undefeated, but Louisville is barely squeaking games out with its last 3 only being 1 score victories over sub-par competition. Oregon State has beat a good team in UCLA and a mystery team in Wisconsin. All of that being said, combined they are 8-0 and are each winning games, but for now I put them together. I promise I won’t do this again this year because I feel like a cope out loser. I’ll try to step my game up.
15 USC Trojans (3-1) Everyone and their mother, including this guy had USC running away with the Pac 12 and possibly getting a National Title bid and possible victory in that game. Lane Kiffin has a mess out West. Syracuse is a not a good team and they “let off on the gas” against the Orange. They lost to what could be a fraudulent Stanford team. It’s still extremely hard to drop a team with the best NFL-ready QB and who could be the best WR in the country out of the top 15 so I am covering all my bases and keeping the Trojans in the top 15. I pulled the cardinal sin of falling into the name ranking that everyone always does here, but it’s still USC, until Lane Kiffin ruins everything. He’s one more loss away from that. October 13th, November 3rd, 17th, and 24th should all be marked on your calendar.
14 Clemson Tigers (4-1) Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins, and crew are the greatest show in College Football if you are ignorant to West Virginia. I’m still convinced that Clemson could have beaten Florida State on a neutral field or at home and I am still more than convinced this team can win the ACC. With an exceptionally easy ACC schedule coming up for the Tigers they should be sitting with only 1 loss come postseason time, but this is still Clemson and historically they always lose a game down the stretch. That game could very well be the Gamecocks on November 24 in Death Valley.
13 TCU Horned Frogs (4-0) Yeah, I understand that the Horned Frogs barely escaped the Mustangs of Southern Methodist this weekend, but they won. This could very well be the best (only) defense in the Big 12 and with Casey Pachall gun-slinging in the back-field the Horned Frogs cannot be counted out. 13th may be a little high for the Horned Frogs, but I like Gary Patterson and this defense. The Big 12 is stacked with insane offenses this year, so the defense for the Frogs will be the X factor if you will.
12 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0) Braxton Miller keeps winning. If Ohio State is eligible, they are the favorite after week 5 to win the B1G. It’s too bad that they aren’t because the conference needs it as bad as it has in a long time. The B1G is absolutely horrible so it’s only fitting that the best team in the conference is coached by a shady coach and they are ineligible to play in the postseason. Hooray Buckeyes.
11 LSU Tigers (5-0) Here we go criticism. The LSU Tigers may very well be the 4th best team in the SEC this year after clearly being in the top 2 in 2011. I dislike Les Miles and I dislike LSU, but for me putting them outside of the Top 10 was practically a no-brainer this week. They struggled with Towson. Crickets. The Towson Tigers lost by more points to Kent State than LSU. I’m sorry Les Miles, but I can’t put you in the Top 10 after that. We can’t forget about the pitiful showing against a skeptical Auburn team as well. Where has LSU been impressive this year? They beat Washington who was looking for its identity, which it still may be searching for. I am not sold on LSU. If they beat Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back weeks coming up. If Les Miles can rally his troops in the next 2 weeks, I’d be happy to throw the Tigers back in the Top 10 and eve the Top 5, but for now. Shame on you Les Miles and your silly troubles with Towson.
10 Texas Longhorns (4-0) It’s hard to believe that a QB controversy plagued the offseason for Mack Brown’s Longhorns. Sophomore QB David Ash took hold of the starting job and frankly, the kid has sparkled with just over 1000 yards and 10 scores to just 1 pick. The rushing game is one of the best in the country with the two-headed monster that is Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown and the Longhorn defense is playing well. The Longhorns could easily propel themselves into the Top 5 with wins in the next two against WVU and OU. The season for Texas comes down to the next 2 games to set the tone.
9 Kansas State Wildcats (4-0) The Kansas State Wildcats take full advantage of a bye week for me as well as Florida. Texas was less than impressive in the victory against Oklahoma State and it wasn’t enough for them to jump the Wildcats and Gators for me. Colin Klein did the unthinkable and beat OU in Norman last week and the bye week comes before 2 games that should be extremely winnable in Kansas at home and then Iowa State at Jack Trice in Ames. The game that really looms for Kansas State comes on October 20th when they travel down to Morgantown to take on the most potent offense in the land with Geno Smith and the Tavon Smith/Stedman Bailey combo.
8 Florida Gators (4-0) Will Muschamp is doing some good things in Gainesville, but how good are those things? At this point in the season the Gators are 4-0, but struggled against Bowling Green and didn’t get it going until late in the game against Tennessee. Florida has a huge one this week at Tiger Stadium in Louisiana and a lot is going to be learned about the Gators and the Tigers in that game. I think Will Muschamp’s guys are a year or two away, but right now it’s still Florida and they are still an SEC powerhouse.
7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0) The Irish also benefited from a bye week and will strap it on for 3 straight in South Bend against the Hurricanes from Miami, Stanford Cardinal, and BYU Cougars. The offense needed a bye week to figure out where it needs to be, but the defense will use the bye week to get the extremely potent defense healthy. Brian Kelly wanted to stress smash-mouth football when he came to Notre Dame from Cincinnati and it seems like he’s done just that. The Irish started off the season with a tough schedule, but things get easier as they go with toughies coming against OU, Stanford, and USC, but if Notre Dame can win 2 out of those 3, they have an extremely legitimate chance to play in a BCS bowl game behind that stout defense.
6 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-0)The Gamecocks beat Kentucky behind the legs of Marcus Lattimore who scurried for 120
yards and a pair of scores. The Gamecocks did all they could to try and drop in the rankings here, geting down early, but came storming back with 31 unanswered points in the second half to take down the Wildcats. If they hadn’t struggled I think it would have been easy to jump a Georgia team that struggled with Tennessee, but they didn’t so here we are at #6. The good news for us is that the Gamecocks take on the Bulldogs this Saturday at home, but after that one it’s a typical SEC schedule with road games in Gainesville and Baton Rouge lined up.
5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0) Mark Richt got it done, yet again with the squeaker against Tennessee Saturday. Aaron Murray is one of the most seasoned QB’s in the country that nobody is talking about and with the 3rd highest passer rating in the land behind Ash from Texas and the freak Geno at WVU, Georgia’s offense has been very good thus far. Impressive Freshman tandem at RB Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have combined for nearly 1000 combined yards on the year. The Bulldogs are built like a top 5 team with a true leader at the helm of the offense and a couple play-makers. Their defense still needs to find an identity, but UGA is as good as anybody right now outside of our top 2 teams.
4 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-0) Yeah they don’t play defense, but they have arguably the most explosive offense we have seen in the better part of a decade. Geno Smith doesn’t throw to the defense. Heck, Geno Smith doesn’t throw incomplete passes. Eventually West Virginia will lose a game or two because defense is essential for an undefeated season, but right now the Mountaineers are an exceptional squad. Hey, it’s the Big 12. They don’t have to necessarily need to play defense. We’ll see where things go.
3 Florida State Seminoles (5-0) The Stanford Cardinal dropped the Washington game like a hot potato and the Seminoles benefit more than anybody from it. They weren’t extremely impressive in the South Florida contest, but The Bulls are a pretty solid team and it was your perfect hangover game after a tough victory over Clemson. I’m sold more and more on EJ Manuel as what could actually be a legit NFL Quarterback and The Seminole defense is one of the elites. I’m not sold on FSU as a title contender, but I may be out of luck with that because they don’t play anybody until the Gators come to town in the final week of the year.
2 Oregon Ducks (5-0)No changes this week in the top 2 and it comes as no surprise. The Ducks hosted Arizona last week and really impressed, but traveled this week to the Mike Leach coached Washington State Cougars and played well again. Things heat up for the Ducks with a game in Autzen against a Washington Huskies squad coming off a huge win over Stanford. Things should go smoothly for Chip Kelly’s guys for the next couple weeks, but it’s a gauntlet for the final 4 games with USC, California, Stanford, and Oregon State to wrap the season up. Mariota had some struggles this week and he will continue to grow, but its relatively easy for a guy with the play-makers that he has around him that he does. Probably the best RB tandem in College Football with Barner and Thomas and the Ducks defense has actually shown glimpses of being pretty solid.
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0) Arguments? Anybody? Bueller?
That’s it. Week 5 saw some epic collapses. Coach, Stanford, Cough, but it also demonstrated why we love College Football. Conference play is in full swing and the season is nearly half over. It doesn’t feel like it’s gone that fast. Until next week. Make it a great one, or not, the choice is yours.