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Power Rankings: Clemson rises after Week 5
1:23 | College Football
Power Rankings: Clemson rises after Week 5
Tuesday October 6th, 2015

As the number of remaining undefeated teams decreased in Week 5, it became increasingly apparent that the season simply lacks a dominant team. There doesn’t appear to be a 2013 Florida State-type squad who pummels everyone in its path.

Rankings are, by their nature, a relative thing. How does Team A compare to Team B and Team C and every other team in the country? So other than making it a little harder to determine a team’s relative strengths, it doesn’t really matter how historically good the best teams are. What’s important is they’re the best teams this year. And for 2015, that doesn’t mean that they’re flawless, just that they seem to have the smallest or most manageable flaws.

• NADKARNI: Three thoughts on AP Poll after Week 5 | Complete AP Top 25

College football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Utah Utes
     
    last week: 1
    record: 4–0
    The Utes had a bye in Week 5, which frankly seems like the safest option for any team right now. Michigan’s win to remain unbeaten since losing to Utah and Oregon’s rebound against Colorado helped the Utes’ rèsumé while they were idle.
     
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday vs. Cal

  • 2
    2Clemson Tigers
     
    last week: 12
    record: 4–0
    Remember what I said in the intro about teams not being perfect but having the most manageable faults? That’s Clemson for now. I’m still not sold on the Tigers’ offensive line, but their incredible defense and Deshaun Watson’s dynamism is making up for it so far. Wayne Gallman’s emergence (408 yards, 5.4 per carry this season) gives the offense another weapon, too.
     
    Last week: Beat Notre Dame 24–22
    Next week: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech

  • 3
    3Baylor Bears
     
    last week: 6
    record: 4–0
    The running game is a quietly critical component of Art Briles’s offense. With Baylor’s wide receivers spreading the field, the running backs can make the Bears basically unstoppable if they can capitalize on the extra space in the box. That’s happening this season, as Baylor is second in the country with 376.8 rushing yards per game. Not surprisingly the Bears are No.1 at 9.8 yards per play, nearly two yards better than the next closest offense.
     
    Last week: Beat Texas Tech 63–35
    Next week: Saturday at Kansas

  • 4
    4Oklahoma Sooners
     
    last week: 10
    record: 4–0
    Oklahoma made clear how explosive its offense was with Lincoln Riley calling the plays and Baker Mayfield executing them. What Saturday’s win over West Virginia demonstrated was the Sooners may have the full package. Led by linebacker Eric Striker and cornerback Jordan Thomas, the defense forced five turnovers while holding the Mountaineers to 4.3 yards per play.
     
    Last week: Beat West Virginia 44–24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Texas (in Dallas)

  • 5
    5LSU Tigers
     
    last week: 12
    record: 4–0
    The Tigers will go as far as Leonard Fournette can carry them and Brandon Harris can’t hold them back. With the former, that seems like a national title. It’s the latter that could be problematic. Harris’s 4-of-15 outing against Eastern Michigan contributed to LSU’s converting just 1 of 6 third downs. The Tigers looked their best this season against Mississippi State and Auburn, the only two games this year that Harris has completed over 50% of his passes.
     
    Last week: Beat Eastern Michigan 44–24
    Next week: Saturday at South Carolina
     

  • 6
    6Alabama Crimson Tide
     
    last week: 14
    record: 4–1
    After two sobering weeks, we finally saw Alabama at its best Saturday, and that best may be unparalleled. If Jake Coker can contribute efficient performances like he did Saturday (11 of 16 for 190 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions), the Crimson Tide have the running game and front seven to beat anyone.
     
    Last week: Beat Georgia 38–10
    Next week: Saturday vs. Arkansas

  • 7
    7Texas A&M Aggies
     
    last week: 15
    record: 5–0
    A running game that had struggled in its first two games against Power Five opponents showed up vs. Mississippi State, as the Aggies rattled off 194 yards on the ground. They continue to look like a complete team with Kyle Allen topping 300 yards for his second consecutive game and Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall forming one of the best defensive end pairings in the country.
     
    Last week: Beat Mississippi State 30-17
    Next week: Bye week

  • 8
    8Florida Gators
     
    last week: 20
    record: 5–0
    Funny, it’s almost like Florida was a competent offense away from contending in the SEC. If Will Grier can pick apart every SEC secondary as easily as he did Ole Miss’s (24 of 29 for 271 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions)—and the Gators’ offensive line can give him enough time to do so—Jim McElwain’s rebuild will proceed much more quickly than expected. The defense remains staunch, and Florida already has three conference wins.
     
    Last week: Beat Ole Miss 38-10
    Next week: Saturday at Missouri

  • 9
    9Northwestern Wildcats
     
    last week: 17
    record: 5–0
    If you haven’t already, It’s time to acknowledge that Northwestern’s defense might be as good as advertised. The Wildcats recorded their second shutout of the season Saturday and are second in the country in scoring defense. Who’s ahead of them? Michigan, their opponent this week. The two could be up for another #M00N game, but of considerably higher quality than the last one.
     
    Last week: Beat Minnesota 27-0
    Next week: Saturday at Michigan

  • 10
    10TCU Horned Frogs
     
    last week: 11
    record: 5–0
    The defense that was sorely lacking against Texas Tech showed up Saturday. TCU held Texas to 4.0 yards per play and would have had a shutout if not for a late-fourth quarter touchdown. The Horned Frogs have shut down the Longhorns and Stephen F. Austin this season; now they’ll need to do it against more competent attacks.
     
    Last week: Beat Texas 50-7
    Next week: Saturday at Kansas State
     

  • 11
    11Ohio State Buckeyes
     
    last week: 3
    record: 5–0
    Add Saturday’s narrow win over Indiana to the list of uninspiring victories the Buckeyes have produced this season. Few teams have looked worse while going undefeated this year. No damage has been done yet—Ezekiel Elliott helped to make sure of that against the Hoosiers—but Ohio State's air of invincibility is definitely gone.
     
    Last week: Beat Indiana 34-27
    Next week: Saturday vs. Maryland

  • 12
    12Michigan State Spartans
     
    last week: 4
    record: 5–0
    Like its Big Ten East rivals, Michigan State has done little to look intimidating while still managing to win all of its first five games. The Spartans needed a late stop after allowing Purdue to get past midfield to secure a win over the Boilermakers at home. At least they snapped their streak of allowing opponents to outgain them.
     
    Last week: Beat Purdue 24-21
    Next week: Saturday at Rutgers

  • 13
    13Ole Miss Rebels
     
    last week: 5
    record: 4–1
    So maybe Ole Miss’s sloppy victory over Vanderbilt wasn’t just the comedown from an emotional win over Alabama. The Rebels’ offensive struggles against the Gators are less surprising than its defense not feasting on an inexperienced Florida offensive line. We’ve now seen Ole Miss’s high—though it feels more relevant now that the win over Alabama required five Crimson Tide turnovers—and its low. Can the Rebels avoid another swoon like the one they underwent last season?
     
    Last week: Lost to Florida 38-10
    Next week: Saturday vs. New Mexico State

  • 14
    14Notre Dame Fighting Irish
     
    last week: 7
    record: 4–1
    Suddenly the Fighting Irish’s résumé doesn’t look so impressive. Their best win is a home victory over a Georgia Tech squad that hasn’t won a game since, and now they’ve got a loss. The defeat to Clemson, a two-point squeaker on the road, might be their strongest argument at this point. Fortunately Notre Dame has a few more chances to prove itself this season.
     
    Last week: Lost to Clemson 24-22
    Next week: Saturday vs. Navy

  • 15
    15Iowa Hawkeyes
     
    last week: NR
    record: 5–0
    It’s fitting that a Big Ten team would prove its worth in a game in which it scored just one touchdown. But that’s all it takes if you don’t allow any. By knocking off the presumed Big Ten West favorite, Iowa put the division in flux. With their 4–0 start, manageable schedule and unyielding rush defense, the Hawkeyes could come out of the chaos on top.
     
    Last week: Beat Wisconsin 10-6
    Next week: Saturday vs. Illinois
     
     

  • 16
    16California Golden Bears
     
    last week: 25
    record: 5–0
    I’d feel more confident in the Bears if they had blown out Texas, Washington and Washington State instead of winning by a combined 13 points. But two of those three were on the road, and a vastly improved defense is definitely a pleasant surprise. Cal leads the country with 18 takeaways this season, including a scoop-and-score from Stefan McClure and a late interception by Damariay Drew that helped get the Bears past the Cougars on Saturday.
     
    Last week: Beat Washington State 34-28
    Next week: Saturday at Utah

  • 17
    17Florida State Seminoles
     
    last week: 9
    record: 4–0
    Even with Dalvin Cook, the Seminoles shouldn’t have had so much trouble putting away Wake Forest. After Florida State’s star running back left the game with a hamstring injury in the first quarter, the Seminoles gained just 33 yards on the ground and needed a diving interception in the end zone from Tyler Hunter to seal the win over the Demon Deacons. Florida State can’t afford to be so one dimensional even if Cook doesn’t miss any additional time.
     
    Last week: Beat Wake Forest 24-16
    Next week: Saturday vs. Miami

  • 18
    18Stanford Cardinal
     
    last week: 18
    record: 4–1
    The Cardinal continue to distance themselves from their Week 1 loss to Northwestern—which looks better with every week the Wildcats keep winning—as they pasted Arizona at home in Week 5. Kevin Hogan continues to look much more like the version of himself that ended last season than the one who began it, and running back Christian McCaffrey (17 carries for 156 yards vs. Arizona) has become the bulldozer he was expected to be. Could Stanford set aside an early loss to run the table and win a conference title? It’s been done before.
     
    Last week: Beat Arizona 55-17
    Next week: Bye week

  • 19
    19Michigan Wolverines
     
    last week: 23
    record: 4–1
    Since giving up a touchdown to Oregon State on the Beavers’ opening drive of the game, Michigan has allowed just seven points. That’s nearly four full games with only one touchdown drive allowed. The Wolverines are giving up just three yards per play and have allowed opponents to convert less than 20% of their third downs. The offense has been inconsistent, but it doesn’t matter with a defense that smothering.
     
    Last week: Beat Maryland 28-0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Northwestern

  • 20
    20Georgia Bulldogs
     
    last week: 8
    record: 4–1
    Georgia has proven it can beat up the lower tier of the SEC, but after getting routed by Alabama can the Bulldogs compete with the conference’s best? For now that phrase includes Florida, which could be the only remaining ranked team Georgia plays this season. Their Oct. 31 meeting might decide the SEC East.
     
    Last week: Lost to Alabama 38-10
    Next week: Saturday at Tennessee
     

  • 21
    21USC Trojans
     
    last week: 19
    record: 3–1
    Ratings aren’t done in a vacuum, which is why the Trojans drop two spots this week despite a bye week that was mostly favorable to them. Their loss to Stanford seems less damaging with each Cardinal win, and their smashing of Arizona State looks more valuable after the Sun Devils’ upset of UCLA. Bonus points for the Trojans that their crosstown rivals went down.
     
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Thursday vs. Washington

  • 22
    22UCLA Bruins
     
    last week: 2
    record: 4–1
    Could the Bruins turn around, prove that Saturday’s loss was just an off day, win the Pac-12 and make the playoff? Absolutely. But for now, they’ve lost to a team that’s already lost twice, their thrashing of Arizona looks less significant after Stanford did the same this week, Michigan’s shutout of BYU already tarnished their three-point win over the Cougars and neither of their other two wins are particularly notable.
     
    Last week: Lost to Arizona State 38-23
    Next week: Bye week

  • 23
    23Oklahoma State Cowboys
     
    last week: 22
    record: 5–0
    The Cowboys keep finding ways to win even though only one of their five wins has been impressive. With some help from the refs and another clutch kick from Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State remains unbeaten. We’ll cut the Cowboys some slack for a horrible day running the ball (27 carries for 49 yards) against Kansas State, as top backs Chris Carson and Rennie Childs were out.
     
    Last week: Beat Kansas State 36-34
    Next week: Saturday at West Virginia

  • 24
    24Houston Cougars
     
    last week: NR
    record: 4–0
    The Cougars did a better job of stopping Tulsa than Oklahoma could, limiting the Golden Hurricane 24 points for a key conference road win. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. gives Houston a dangerous dual-threat option. He set the school record for rushing yards by a QB with 182 and three scores Saturday.
     
    Last week: Beat Tulsa 38-24
    Next week: Thursday vs. SMU

  • 25
    25Boise State Broncos
     
    last week: NR
    record: 4–1
    Everything’s gone according to plan for the Broncos since they lost to BYU on a Hail Mary. Boise State can’t erase that loss, potentially its only one of the season, but a combined 163–14 margin in its next three games is a nice way of venting that frustration.
     
    Last week: Beat Hawaii 55-0
    Next week: Saturday at Colorado State

Dropped out: Wisconsin, West Virginia, Mississippi State
Next five:<> West Virginia, Toledo, Duke, Oregon, Wisconsin

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