It’s time to start talking about the debate for No. 1 again.
Alabama Crimson Tide
ceded a few No. 1 votes to
when the Tigers jumped
for No. 2 following the win at
. Then, the Tide pounded
by 59 while Clemson was caught in a tough battle with
Boston College Eagles
, and the rowdy masses were back in Alabama’s corner.
Virginia Tech Hokies
on the road on Saturday night, Clemson notched its third top-15 win of the season. Those three top-15 wins — with two of them coming on the road — anchor the most impressive profile in college football through five weeks of play. Alabama will probably retain the No. 1 spot in Sunday’s new AP Top 25 poll, but expect Clemson to have more No. 1 votes than it has this season as it closes the gap following its dominant win on Saturday night.
Here’s how we expect the rest of the AP Top 25 to look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Previous — 1): The Crimson Tide completed yet another dominating performance with a 66-3 shellacking of Ole Miss. The combined score for Alabama’s wins the past two weeks is 125-3.
2. Clemson (2): I don’t know if we’re on a collision course to see Clemson and Alabama in the title game quite yet, but it sure does look like the Tigers are primed for another playoff appearance. No one in the ACC has looked as consistently strong as the defending champs, and Saturday night’s win in Blacksburg will only look better as Virginia Tech moves forward in conference play.
3. Oklahoma (3): The Sooners were off in Week 5. They return to action next Saturday at home against
Iowa State Cyclones
Penn State Nittany Lions
turnovers kept the Hoosiers from ever sniffing a shot at the upset in Happy Valley. Saturday’s 45-14 win had everything you want to see from Penn State as we approach the teeth of its schedule — at
Ohio State Buckeyes
in the next three weeks — including a .
(7): When the team is moving the ball at a clip of more than five yards per carry on the ground, the pressure is lightened on the quarterback.
didn’t have a great showing in Georgia’s , but it wasn’t bad.
got his first work in garbage time since being injured early in the season opener, and now the quarterback will become a popular topic of debate for Georgia fans. It’s a good problem to have, since both quarterbacks seem capable and the defense and running game are strong enough for Georgia to win the SEC East with either player under center.
(6): In the last two weeks,
has returned to being a focal point of the Huskies’ offensive attack. The junior running back had 24 carries for 153 yards in the first three games. He’s now had 42 carries for 315 yards in the last two. It’s an encouraging sight to see the 1,300-yard rusher from the last two years regain form as Washington hits conference play.
7. Michigan (8): The Wolverines were off in Week 5 and will be back in action on Saturday at home against
Michigan State Spartans
TCU Horned Frogs
(9): No game this week for the Frogs, who host
West Virginia Mountaineers
next Saturday in a top-25 battle.
(10): With no Penn State or Ohio State on the regular season schedule, Wisconsin is in a favorable spot to win the Big Ten West again, only this time entering the conference title game with a shot at the College Football Playoff. There were some bad turnovers that allowed Northwestern to hang around, but Wisconsin’s defense showed why its one of the best in the conference in the 33-24 win.
Washington State Cougars
(16): I don’t know if Washington State is set to make a run at Washington, but picking up the win against
Southern California Trojans
increases the chances that the Apple Cup will be a game with the Pac-12 North on the line. The key to Friday night’s statement win against USC was the Cougars’ defense and its improvement over the last three seasons.
11. Ohio State (11):
were able to get some work in at quarterback thanks to a dominant win at
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
. Three straight blowout wins have Ohio State feeling better about its offense, and looking ahead (
), there doesn’t seem to much in the way of resistance prior to the date with Penn State at the end of October.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
is a great way to show that last week’s offensive spark against
. With a fully healthy backfield, Auburn did a good job keeping the defense off-balance and appears to have the kinks worked out with
back in the lineup.
13. Miami (14): There was never much of an opportunity for
Duke Blue Devils
to feed off of the home crowd on Friday night. Miami jumped out to an early lead and didn’t allow a touchdown all night in a 31-6 runaway win to start its pursuit of an ACC Coastal Division title.
was sharp early and
looked great in his return from injury as the Hurricanes suddenly enter FSU week looking like the better team in the rivalry.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
(15): The competing styles in the rivalry with
Texas Tech Red Raiders
are going to make every contest a battle, so no major adjustments after a close win. It’s always a wild game and the better team ended up winning behind the superior quarterback.
15. USC (5): If there was a spot where USC might slip up during this 12-week grind from the season opener to its off week on Nov. 25, a Friday night in Pullman seems about right. The key is not letting the team’s current struggles — part execution, part depth and injury issues — cost the Trojans another conference win. USC can still win the Pac-12 and reach the College Football Playoff by running the table, but how much of what we’ve seen from USC this year suggests they are set to navigate the rest of the schedule with no losses?
16. Virginia Tech (12): Expect a slight step back for Virginia Tech after getting beat pretty handily, but there’s no huge downgrade for where we see the Hokies following the loss to Clemson. This is still a team that will be in the mix in the ACC Coastal, challenging Miami and hoping for a rematch with the Tigers in the ACC Championship Game.
17. Louisville (17): The aggregate score in the Cardinals’ last two wins (
Kent State Golden Flashes
, Murray State) is 97-13. The easy wins have helped cool down the nerves after a tense start to the season and even more stressful week for the athletic department as a whole with the FBI investigation, but it hasn’t done much to change the perception of Louisville’s standing against its peers.
South Florida Bulls
(18): Not many teams in the American Athletic Conference can score with USF. When ECU pushed the Bulls, they responded by hanging 61 on the scoreboard in Greenville. That doesn’t do much for you in the AP poll, but it sure sent a message to the rest of the league.
San Diego State Aztecs
(19): The Aztecs held on after a tough upset bid from
Northern Illinois Huskies
. San Diego State is 5-0 and now not only in the thick of the Mountain West title race, but also the bid for a New Year’s Six bowl spot.
(20): Off this week, the Utes are now the only Pac-12 South team without a conference loss. Up next is a home date with
is back after
Luke Del Rio
, but there’s more confidence in the offense as a whole after seeing the running back trio of Lamichal Perine,
get rolling against Vanderbilt. They’re going to catch a fragile
team next week in The Swamp, and it will be crucial to use that ground game to provide stability for Franks against the Tigers.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(22): We’re going to be paying close attention to the status of
‘ ankle, but if he’s healthy, then you have to assume Notre Dame’s rushing attack is going to be one of the best in the country. The Irish have rolled up yards against everyone except Georgia, but now they’ll be tested against the toughest six-week stretch of their schedule.
23. West Virginia (23): The Mountaineers were off with an extra week to prepare for next Saturday’s showdown with TCU in Fort Worth.
NC State Wolfpack
(NR): Avoiding the letdown home loss after knocking off
Florida State Seminoles
was a win for this Woflpack team. The loss to
South Carolina Gamecocks
silenced a lot of the preseason hype, but one month later, the Wolfpack are staring down a remaining schedule that includes getting both Louisville and Clemson at home.
(NR): Canceled and rescheduled games have kept UCF out of the spotlight, but a thorough dismantling of
should get the attention of AP voters looking for an undefeated Group of Five challenger to USF and San Diego State.
Projected dropped out of the rankings: Mississippi State (24), LSU (25)