It only took five weeks for college football to make even the brightest analysts look completely silly.
Thanks to a Week 5 slate that saw four top 10 teams from the AP Top 25 lose — Ole Miss (3), Notre Dame (6), UCLA (7), and Georgia (8) — things are looking somewhat abnormal in terms of what we have grown accustomed to the last few years.
In the latest edition of the Today’s U Top 25, the staff places LSU (7), Texas A&M (8), and Alabama (9) as the three best teams coming from the Southeastern Conference. If that were to stand, the SEC wouldn’t sniff the College Football Playoff — and right now, we’re beginning to learn that anything can happen.
All in all, the SEC leads the rankings with six members. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are tied with five apiece, while the surging Big 12 Conference fields four. Only Clemson (5) and Florida State (14) represent the ACC, and the American Athletic Conference joins the conversation, adding undefeated teams in Memphis (24) and Houston (25).
With Ole Miss dropping due to its horrid performance against Florida, the TU playoff picture slightly changes. And if Ohio State and Michigan State have another lackluster display vs. inferior competition in Week 6, you can expect even more movement next Monday morning.
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: Hanging on to its No. 1 ranking is Ohio State, which beat out No. 2 TCU by a mere 10 points. Indiana had entered Week 5 undefeated with its “best” start since 1990, but beat Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest by a combined 11 points. The Buckeyes are capable of performing at a much higher level (there’s way too much talent on that roster), but if they struggle again against Maryland this week, it’s inevitable that they will lose some ground.
WHY: TCU reminded everyone that it is one of the best – if not the best – football teams in America when it jumped out to an early 30-0 first-quarter lead against Texas on Saturday, finishing with a 50-7 win. With Trevone Boykin under center, there’s nothing that will slow these Horned Frogs down, who rank second nationally in scoring (50.8 per game).
WHY: Now with at least 56 points in all four appearances, Baylor jumps a few spots back into the College Football Playoff picture after dominating a Texas Tech team that took TCU to the brink the week prior, winning 63-35. Quarterback Seth Russell is averaging 19.7 yards per completion, and the Bears rank No. 1 in the nation with 42 plays of 20 yards or more.
WHY: Today’s U voters weren’t impressed with Michigan State’s three-point win over Purdue, which has won one Big Ten game since Darrell Hazell took over in 2012. Add that to its Week 4 dud with Central Michigan—not to mention a victory over Oregon that’s starting to lose its value—and the Spartans have begun to lose some grip.
WHY: Beating then-No. 6 Notre Dame is Clemson’s biggest win since it defeated No. 5 Georgia in the 2013 regular season opener, but one could argue that it now ranks 1st on Dabo Swinney’s all-time wins list. The Tigers should now be considered a legitimate threat to take on their ACC schedule head on and win out, securing a spot as one of the four playoff teams.
WHY: Sometimes not playing has its benefits. Utah had a bye over the weekend, and despite spending its Saturday off the gridiron, it jumped four spots to No. 6 overall in the Today’s U Top 25. The Utes, now well respected, should be fresh and ready to roll for their showdown with Cal this upcoming Saturday night.
WHY: Now the highest-ranked member of the SEC in both the Today’s U Top 25 and AP poll, LSU still has some work to do before it can make that final climb into the top 4. After finding a difficult time putting Syracuse and Eastern Michigan away in back-to-back weeks, the Tigers—mainly the passing game—need a strong performance on the road at South Carolina.
WHY: Texas A&M, slightly behind the scenes since it lit the world on fire in its 38-17 opener against Arizona State, just keeps winning. Now 5-0 and heading into a bye week, the Aggies have some extra time to prepare for a huge matchup with Alabama in Week 7.
WHY: After spending some time in timeout (also known as “outside the top 10”), Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves back in the hunt, much in thanks to their 38-10 rout of Georgia and the fall of Ole Miss at Florida. But honestly, did you really think it’d be long before Alabama made it back? Even with an early loss, Saban and company control their destiny in the SEC West.
WHY: Bob Stoops was 0-4 against ranked competition in 2014, but is already 2-0 through his first four games in 2015. Beating a quality West Virginia team so soundly (44-24) had to be a breath of fresh air for Oklahoma fans, as it indicates that the Sooners are indeed a true contender for the Big 12, alongside TCU and Baylor.
WHY: Dominate the No. 3 team in the nation for four quarters, and you’re bound to make some noise in the Top 25 ranking. That’s exactly what Florida did when it ripped Ole Miss apart, 38-10, shooting up 14 spots to No. 11 this week. The Gators are the first SEC team to three conference wins in 2015, just like everyone had predicted this preseason. (Insert shrug emoji here.)
WHY: Is Northwestern the best team in the Big Ten? There’s still much to learn about the Wildcats in the coming weeks before we can give them that sort of anointing, but if their No. 1-ranked scoring defense (7.0 points allowed per game) stays intact throughout the season, I’d imagine they’ll be sticking around for the Big Ten Championship Game come December.
WHY: Just when you think Ole Miss has finally taken that next step to become an elite team … it gets blasted by Florida by four touchdowns. Last season, the Rebels started 7-0 with wins over Alabama and Texas A&M before falling apart, finishing 2-4 in their final six games. Are we looking at another collapse? Hugh Freeze is hoping that a contest with New Mexico State will help solve any lingering issues before seeing Memphis and then heading back to SEC play.
WHY: Eventually, Florida State is going to have to put together a full game where it enforces dominance. If the College Football Playoff voters are going to give the Seminoles another shot, they’ll want to see more than an eight-point victory against Wake Forest. To be taken seriously as a potential contender, Everett Golson and the ACC’s sixth-ranked scoring offense (32.8) have to prove they can put points on the scoreboard against anyone — dropping 40 on a Miami (Fla.) defense that was shredded by Cincinnati last week would be a good start.
WHY: It’s not time to press the panic button, Notre Dame fans. Realistically, if the Irish win out its schedule from here, there’s a great chance they’ll still find themselves in the College Football Playoff picture. But that starts off with avoiding back-to-back losses when hosting Navy this Saturday, as a loss here (which is quite possible, considering the Midshipmen’s strong 4-0 start) could send Notre Dame reeling.
Dropped from rankings: Wisconsin (19), West Virginia (20), NC State (22).
Other receiving votes (in order): Temple, Duke, Wisconsin, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Kansas State, Toledo, Indiana.