Alabama nabs No. 1 in college football Power Rankings after Week 5

College Football
College football roundup: Week 5
Tuesday September 30th, 2014

Texas senior wide receiver John Harris hurled an ill-advised barb Monday straight at Art Briles and the Baylor Bears. “They’re still Baylor,” Harris said. “Just because they started playing better, that’s good for them. We’re still Texas.” Yes, this is bulletin board material, tried and true. At the heart of it, though, this says a lot about our own impressions toward name-brand teams, particularly those that struggle.

They’re still Baylor, the same Bears that won 29 games the past three seasons and started this year 4-0. Texas is still Texas, a team that hasn’t had a 10-win season since 2009. And out in Ann Arbor, Michigan is still Michigan. The Wolverines have won one of their last 10 meetings against Ohio State and appear headed towards their third head coach since Lloyd Carr coached his final game on New Year’s Day 2008.

• ROSENBERG: Hoke is struggling, but don't indict his integrity

Coaches always say to play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. But the name on the front can be deceiving. Definitions and reputations are fluid. Just because a word, a team or a name meant one thing in a certain era does not guarantee it will hold true in the next. Things can change in a year or a week -- or a game.

The power rankings this week have tried to address that. Teams that aren’t playing like top 25 teams don’t belong there based on their preseason rankings alone. That’s why there’s a new No. 1 once again and why so many teams have shuffled. As’s Andy Staples wrote in his Punt, Pass & Pork this week, “We may still have the wrong idea, but five weeks of data have provided a few hints.” I’ve tried to take those hints into consideration.

INSIDE READ: Ethical questions surround the world of sign-stealing

College Football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 3
    record: 4-0
    In Week 1, while breaking in a new offense and a new quarterback, the Crimson Tide took a neutral site win over West Virginia. In their second and third games, the defense dominated teams it was supposed to dominate. Against Florida, the team made a couple mistakes and left points on the field but still looked like it was playing a different sport than the Gators. Based on personnel alone, the Tide should be able to contend for a title even without a solid quarterback. Now that Blake Sims looks comfortable in Lane Kiffin’s scheme, can anyone -- even in the stacked SEC West -- stop them?
    Last game: Beat Florida, 42-21
    Next game: Saturday at Ole Miss

  • 2
    2Oklahoma Sooners
    last week: 4
    record: 4-0
    Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield’s appeal to play in 2014 was denied Monday. The more concerning thing is the speculation that Mayfield might be Oklahoma’s best quarterback. Trevor Knight is still running on the fumes of that Sugar Bowl performance and has done nothing to indicate he can be trusted if the team has to come from behind. Luckily the defense won’t force Knight into that situation often.
    Last game: Beat West Virginia, 45-33
    Next game: Saturday at TCU

  • 3
    3Oregon Ducks
    last week: 2
    record: 4-0
    Oregon still has arguably college football’s best win through five weeks in its 46-27 result over Michigan State from Week 2. That carries some weight, but the Ducks need to shore up their offensive line or risk an injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota. The redshirt junior looks even better than he did at his best last year, but if Mariota takes one too many big hits, his Heisman hopes -- and Oregon’s national title aspirations -- could be in jeopardy.
    Last game: Beat Washington State, 38-31
    Next game: Thursday vs. Arizona

  • 4
    4Florida State Seminoles
    last week: 1
    record: 4-0
    This is where the line between perception and reality blurs like an Aldous Huxley essay written on hallucinogens. We know what we’re supposed to think about the Seminoles. They’re the reigning champs. They have last year’s Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback. They haven’t lost since November 2012. They have five-stars all over the field. But something doesn’t feel right in Tallahassee. Luckily for Florida State, other than in its Oct. 18 showdown with Notre Dame, any vulnerabilities might not make a difference. Duct tape, zip ties and some WD-40 could be enough to keep this car running into the playoff.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Wake Forest

  • 5
    5Auburn Tigers
    last week: 5
    record: 4-0
    Oregon may have college football’s best overall win, but it’s possible Auburn has the nation’s best road win. Beating Kansas State (even if the Wildcats hurt their own cause in the loss) could pay dividends down the road if the committee has to compare Auburn's nonconference wins to those of other deserving SEC teams. It’ll help if Nick Marshall can keep making plays like this:
    Auburn's Nick Marshall Escapes, Fires 44-Yard TD Pass
    Last game: Beat Louisiana Tech, 45-17
    Next game: Saturday vs. LSU

  • 6
    6Texas A&M Aggies
    last week: 7
    record: 5-0
    There’s something about these Aggies. Kevin Sumlin’s built his reputation on offense, but it was a defensive stand against Arkansas’ beefy front line that won the game for Texas A&M in overtime. Afterward Sumlin called out all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Improvement in the latter two this season means the Aggies are a force to be reckoned with. If Texas A&M beats Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville to move to 3-0 in conference, we’ll have to start seriously respecting them.
    Next game: Saturday at Mississippi State

  • 7
    7UCLA Bruins
    last week: 16
    record: 4-0
    After the Bruins squeaked by Virginia, Memphis and Texas, we were ready to label them frauds. This wasn’t a playoff contender. This was a jack in the box waiting to pop out and start laughing as we were startled into a hiccuping fit. Thursday’s primetime dismantling of Arizona State on the road proves knee jerk reactions through three weeks are just as dangerous as stubbornly sticking to preseason predictions. After Week 5, UCLA falls somewhere in between.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Utah

  • 8
    8Michigan State Spartans
    last week: 11
    record: 3-1
    Let’s play a game: If the Spartans had scheduled Buffalo or a lower level Power Five team like Wake Forest or Vanderbilt and were heading into conference play 4-0 with something like a 224-49 point differential rather than playing (and losing) to Oregon in Eugene, where would you have them ranked?
    Last game: Beat Wyoming, 56-14
    Next game: Saturday vs. Nebraska

  • 9
    9Baylor Bears
    last week: 6
    record: 4-0
    The Bears won by three scores over the Cyclones, breaking the curse and escaping the Hellmouth that is Ames. Now the Scoobies are off to Sunnydale Austin.
    Last game: Beat Iowa State, 49-28
    Next game: Saturday at Texas

  • 10
    10Notre Dame Fighting Irish
    last week: 8
    record: 4-0
    The turnovers are bad, but Everett Golson completing 25 passes in a row is good. It’s like one of those movies in which the script was really bad but the actors in it salvage it somehow. You’ll Redbox it, but you’re not about to pay $11.75 to see it.
    Last game: Beat Syracuse, 31-15
    Next game: Saturday vs. Stanford

  • 11
    11Stanford Cardinal
    last week: 10
    record: 3-1
    This defense deserves better than the effort the offense has mustered in the red zone so far this season. Stanford has allowed 23 total points through four games. There must be some sort of app the tech wizards can develop in Palo Alto that’ll make the Cardinal more effective offensively or something. Call it BoxSco7e, get angel investors to pump in $4 million and get an open office with Eames chairs and a ping pong table. It’ll be great.
    Last game: Beat Washington, 20-13
    Next game: Saturday at Notre Dame

  • 12
    12Mississippi State Bulldogs
    last week: 12
    record: 4-0
    The Bulldogs didn’t play last week. Here is a video of Mississippi State milking cows from last season:

    Last game: Beat LSU, 34-29
    Next game: Saturday vs. Texas A&M

  • 13
    13BYU Cougars
    last week: 15
    record: 4-0
    Taysom Hill has accounted for more points (78 off of his 13 touchdowns) through five weeks than six FBS schools have as a team. If you give him credit for the extra points resulting from those touchdowns, he has as many points or more than 22 teams. Not bad.
    Last game: Beat Virginia, 41-33
    Next game: Friday vs. Utah State

  • 14
    14Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: 9
    record: 4-0
    The Rebels had such an advantage in size and athleticism over their first four opponents that they basically slept through their games and came out ahead. They didn’t play particularly well against Boise State or Memphis, and that’s a concern. Alabama will be a big wake up call, and I’m not so sure the offense will be efficient enough to hang with the Crimson Tide.
    Last game: Beat Memphis, 24-3
    Next game: Saturday vs. Alabama

  • 15
    15Georgia Bulldogs
    last week: 14
    record: 3-1
    Somebody has to win the SEC East. Maybe it could be you. Who says the American Dream is dead?
    Last game: Beat Tennessee, 35-32
    Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt

  • 16
    16Nebraska Cornhuskers
    last week: 21
    record: 5-0
    It’s time to start taking Ameer Abdullah seriously as a Heisman contender, and not just because he has his own brand of batteries now. He’s also is a good guy to hang around if the zombie apocalypse strikes: “You think I’m playing. I’m dead serious. Definitely got food stored up and water. Fall camp we get a bunch of Gatorades and water. Instead of just drinking that stuff right after practice, I save that crap. You never know.”
    Last game: Beat Illinois, 45-14
    Next game: Saturday at Michigan State

  • 17
    17East Carolina Pirates
    last week: 19
    record: 3-1
    The scene at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday as the Pirates plow through SMU might get so bad they’ll have to call in a forensics expert.
    Last game: Beat North Carolina, 70-41
    Next game: Saturday vs. SMU

  • 18
    18LSU Tigers
    last week: 25
    record: 4-1
    I put LSU in time out last week, and they responded well after Les Miles finally made the decision to bring in Brandon Harris. Harris has now been named the starter, a decision that arguably could have been made in Week 1. It won’t matter who is under center if the Tigers can’t win the battle in the trenches against Auburn on Saturday.
    Last game: Beat New Mexico State, 63-7
    Next game: Saturday at Auburn

  • 19
    19Wisconsin Badgers
    last week: 18
    record: 3-1
    The Badgers can’t keep taking their sweet time to get going. They don’t have the luxury of being Peter Jackson and getting 18 hours to make a point. If they’re not careful, they’re going to lose another game they shouldn’t.
    Last game: Beat South Florida, 27-10
    Next game: Saturday at Northwestern

  • 20
    20USC Trojans
    last week: 20
    record: 3-1
    A memo to the Pac-12: I get that you think there is an East Coast bias. Nobody loves watching your weird, unpredictable league more than me. But if you keep having four-plus hour games with 200-plus yards of penalties that end after 2 a.m. on the East Coast, we’re going to have problems. I’d rather you guys do brunch games instead. Breakfast tacos are delicious.
    Last game: Beat Oregon State, 35-10
    Next game: Saturday vs. Arizona State

  • 21
    21Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 22
    record: 3-1
    Ohio State ran 101 plays and had 710 yards, 45 first downs, almost 42 minutes of possession and one bodyslam by an assistant coach.
    Last game: Beat Cincinnati, 50-28
    Next game: Saturday at Maryland

  • 22
    22Kansas State Wildcats
    last week: 23
    record: 3-1
    Last week’s game wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. It was 52-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
    Last game: Beat UTEP, 58-28
    Next game: Saturday vs. Texas Tech

  • 23
    23Oklahoma State Cowboys
    last week: NR
    record: 3-1
    The summer before high school, my friends and I went to Six Flags Ohio (née Geauga Lake) in Aurora all the time. It had almost as many coasters as Cedar Point and the cost of a season pass was about $50. For someone who couldn’t drive yet and wasn’t nearly brash enough to get himself into any sort of real trouble, the place was perfect. There was an old wooden coaster called the Big Dipper that never felt safe to ride, and we found out if you reached back far enough you could undo the lap bar and ride unimpeded. Of course we did that because we were dumb, idiot kids. Daxx Garman is the rickety old wooden coaster with no lap bar of college quarterbacks.
    Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 45-35
    Next game: Saturday vs. Iowa State

  • 24
    24TCU Horned Frogs
    last week: NR
    record: 3-0
    After TCU’s win over Minnesota, coach Gary Patterson was asked if the offense had progressed from last year. “I have no idea,” Patterson said. “We played Samford and then played a Big Ten team.” Initially construed as a shot at the Big Ten, what he meant was it was impossible to tell. Playing SMU, which is already on an interim head coach and has been outscored 202-12, won’t give him any idea either. But we’ll all find out soon enough when the Horned Frogs play Oklahoma.
    Last game: Beat SMU, 56-0
    Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma

  • 25
    25Marshall Thundering Herd
    last week: NR
    record: 4-0
    These are my Power Rankings, and if I want to rank the Thundering Herd -- who probably have the best chance of any team in college football of finishing undefeated -- I’m going to rank the Herd.
    Last game: Beat Akron, 48-17
    Next game: Saturday at Old Dominion

Next five: Missouri, Arizona, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Arizona State

College Football
Heisman watch: Week 5 review
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