We have a new No. 1 team in the nation. Well, kind of.
Thanks to its 66-7 rout over hapless Kansas, Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) received 163 points this week from Today’s U staff voters — tying Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) for the most of any team.
It’s the first time this season that the Buckeyes haven’t been the true No. 1 in the Today’s U Top 25 rankings, but can you blame us? Yes, Ohio State is undefeated, but has only had the lead at halftime in three of its six games against opponents that currently have a combined 16-20 record. It took over three quarters for Ohio State to finally break away from a Maryland team that had been dominated by West Virginia (45-6) and Michigan (28-0) in the two weeks prior, as the Terps entered the game with knowledge that their coach would be fired following the game.
Baylor, on the other hand, has done exactly what the Buckeyes haven’t done to this point: handle its schedule with ease. The Bears may get some flack for their non-conference schedule, but at least they’ve lived up to expectations, outscoring SMU, Lamar, Rice, Texas Tech, and Kansas by a total of 210 points (42.0 per game).
It’s not too late for Ohio State to turn things around and find that magic that helped it during last year’s College Football Playoff run. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 15 at this point in 2014 before tearing through the Big Ten, and have looked like a team that is just a few adjustments away from becoming the consensus No. 1 as everyone expected this preseason.
They’ll need to avoid another slow start in Week 7, though, with a big home matchup against a Penn State (5-1, 2-0) defense that ranks 11th nationally in points allowed per game (14.3).
What do you think of the rankings? Let us know in the comment section below, or follow @TodaysUSports to tell us how you really feel.
*A point system was assigned, giving 25 points for a team with a No. 1 vote, 24 points for a No. 2 vote, 23 points for a No. 3 vote, and so on.
WHY: Let’s be real for a second. Even if Ohio State continues to look like the opposite of its 2014 title team, if the Buckeyes win out, they’re going to be in the College Football Playoff. OSU was the first consensus preseason No. 1 in college football history, and the committee isn’t going to leave them out with a 13-0 record. And it may not seem like it, but Ohio State is beating its inferior competition (again, 16-20 record!) by 19.5 points, even if most of that has come in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes might end up as the No. 4 seed (assuming they win out), but something tells me that wouldn’t matter much to the Scarlet and Gray.
WHY: Baylor is on pace to score 770 points this regular season. That would be 143 more than the Bears scored in 2014, when they led the nation with 627 in 13 games. Since 1937, no team has scored more points over its first five games than Baylor has this season. I don’t expect that to hold up, but it’s safe to assume this offense will remain at the top of the leaderboard by January. They’ve now scored 60 or more points in four straight games, and have broke the 45-point threshold in nine of their last 11.
WHY: Down 35-17 at the half, TCU outscored Kansas State 35-10 through the final 30 minutes to win 52-45, as head coach Gary Patterson left Manhattan with a “W” in its pocket and maybe a few more gray hairs. The Horned Frogs are now 6-0 with three wins of seven points or less, and as long as they continue to stay on the right side of the scoreboard until their bout with Baylor on November 27, they will remain a legit playoff contender.
WHY: Welcome to the top 4, Utah. While it’s somewhat concerning that the Utes were only to win by six (30-24) against Cal after picking off Jared Goff five times, the Golden Bears are already their second Top 25 victory — and that doesn’t include their regular season opener against now-No. 12 Michigan. Travis Wilson will have to put one his worst performances (25.0 QBR) behind him and help the offense do a better job converting on third down (4-of-17 vs. Cal), but it’s clear that Utah is a team to recognize as a candidate for the Pac-12 Championship and more.
WHY: According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) rankings, Clemson is projected to win the rest of its games and finish the regular season with a 12-0 record. The Tigers have an ACC-best 49.4 percent chance to win the conference, with a Week 10 home contest vs. Florida State being the most difficult game (though they still are given a 67.8 percent chance to win that one). They currently have the No. 2-ranked strength or record and top the nation in game control. We’re not used to seeing Clemson win the big games, but beating Louisville, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech tells us that this isn’t your normal Clemson team. The Tigers are for real.
WHY: Keeping the ESPN FPI page up, Florida currently projects to finish 11-1 and win the SEC East. Its one loss is expected to come in Death Valley this upcoming weekend. But even if the Gators fall to LSU, you can guarantee that an 11-win season earns something similar to a No. 6 ranking—and it also would blow the minds of college football pundits everywhere, who thought it would take Jim McElwain just a little longer than one offseason to get UF back as a national contender.
WHY: Over the last two weeks, Michigan State has struggled to beat 1-5 Purdue (won 24-21) and 2-3 Rutgers (won 31-24). The week prior, it held a seven-point lead against Central Michigan going into the fourth quarter, before pulling away (won 30-10). With Oregon’s 62-20 loss to Utah and its most recent blunder to Washington State (!), the Spartans’ 31-28 Week 2 victory looks more like a red flag than a marquee win. Michigan State is kind of just floating around at the moment, but a win at The Big House on Saturday would revive Sparty’s playoff talks.
WHY: Texas A&M started 5-0 last season before losing five of its last six conference games, finishing 8-5 (3-5). But this year has a different feel. The Aggies are a year older, and sophomore Kyle Allen (13 touchdowns, two interceptions) has looked like an elite quarterback. Coming off a bye, Kevin Sumlin’s crew should be fully prepared to host Alabama on Saturday in what could be a game that proves to eventually determine the winner of the SEC West.
WHY: In a few days, we’ll know if Alabama is “still Alabama.” Nick Saban hasn’t lost two regular season games since 2010, and the Crimson Tide haven’t lost two games before November since his first year as the head coach in 2007. Despite it still being early as a Week 7 matchup, this game has serious implications for both the SEC title and College Football Playoff.
WHY: LSU’s five opponents (Mississippi State, Auburn, Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, and South Carolina) are 74th, 108th, 44th, 128th, and 107th against the run. Florida — its next opponent — currently sits 12th nationally, allowed under 100 yards per game and 3.1 per attempt. This is the first time this season that LSU will have to rely on quarterback Brandon Harris to score enough points to win (rather than Leonard Fournette) and if the Tigers can secure a victory here, they’ll have truly established themselves as a playoff threat.
WHY: It’s been 23 days since Michigan last surrendered a single point. The Wolverines have outscored opponents 97-0 over the last four quarters, and have allowed 14 points since its Week 1 loss to Utah (24-17). We need to stop viewing UM as a program that’s close to being back — six weeks in, and Jim Harbaugh has this football team looking like the best team in the Big Ten. Beating Michigan State for just the second time since 2008 would help the Wolverines get closer to confirming that.
WHY: After getting thumped in The Swamp the week prior, Ole Miss took out its frustration on New Mexico State, out-gaining the Aggies 665-239 in a 52-3 win. The Rebels head out to Memphis to face off on another Group of Five opponent in Week 7, but don’t expect the same result—these Tigers, who received 59 votes in the latest AP poll, are going to give them everything they can handle.
WHY: Assuming it keeps winning, Florida State will likely stay around the No. 10-15 mark until it visits Clemson on November 7. Beating Miami would have been a resume-booster had the Hurricanes not lost to Cincinnati in Week 5, but for now, it’s just another close win on a suspect schedule. If the Seminoles upset Clemson, we can start to consider them as more than a middle-of-the-pack Top 25 team.
WHY: One could argue that Notre Dame’s 41-24 win over Navy is its best win of the season to date. And with the current situation regarding Steve Sarkisian and 3-2 USC, that could still remain so with a win against the Trojans.
WHY: ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is currently predicting Stanford to win out, take the Pac-12 championship, and appear in the College Football Playoff to square off against Baylor in the semifinals. While it’s not out of the realm of possibility — by all means, its schedule is winnable — it sure says a lot of how he views a team that lost to Northwestern in Week 1. But since then, the Cardinal have beaten UCF, USC, Oregon State, and Arizona by an average of 22.5 points, so maybe he’s on to something.
Dropped from rankings: Georgia (18), USC (19).
Other receiving votes (in order): Toledo, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Mississippi State, Arizona, Duke.