Contenders avoid slippage in college football Power Rankings after Week 6

1:24 | College Football
Power Rankings: Michigan in Top 10 after Week 6
Tuesday October 13th, 2015

Game control became the buzzword of the 2014 College Football Playoff race. It wasn't just, Did you win? or Who’d you beat? It was, How’d you win? This year’s playoff race looks like it will have a different buzz word: Survival.

It’s only mid-October, but the idea of expecting perfection—60 minutes of dominance week in and week out—seems laughable. So while winning with style may still help, it won’t save a team if that team goes on to lose the next week.

Week 6 was almost completely devoid of game control outside of Lawrence, Kan.—and beating up on the Jayhawks hardly seems impressive (despite TCU’s near loss last season). What’s most important is that, with a few exceptions, nearly every team with playoff aspirations managed to survive to contend another week.

• NADKARNI: Three thoughts on AP Poll after Week 6 | Complete AP Top 25

College football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Utah Utes
    last week: 1
    record: 5–0
    This is the third straight week I’ve had Utah atop my Power Rankings, and each week only makes me more sure of the Utes’ position. On Saturday they forced draft scout darling Jared Goff into five interceptions with unrelenting pressure. Even with Oregon’s collapse, Utah still has the best résumé. It’s the only undefeated team with wins over two ranked opponents.
    Last week: Beat Cal 30-24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Arizona State

  • 2
    2Clemson Tigers
    last week: 2
    record: 5–0
    Remember that thing that Clemson used to be famous for doing and people got worried they’d do again this week even though they haven’t done it in a long time and Dabo Swinney got really annoyed that people still talk about it? Well the Tigers didn’t do that thing against Georgia Tech.
    Last week: Beat Georgia Tech 43-24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Boston College

  • 3
    3Baylor Bears
    last week: 3
    record: 5–0
    The average score of a Baylor game this season is 64.2–22.2. Clearly the Bears have the whole beating-up-on-inferior-opponents thing down. Their task gets a bit more difficult this weekend against West Virginia, but it’s still a waiting game until November to find out if Baylor is truly playoff-worthy. Given their schedule though, the Bears are doing everything they can to suggest they are.
    Last week: Beat Kansas 66–7
    Next week: Saturday vs. West Virginia

  • 4
    last week: 5
    record: 5–0
    Even with South Carolina loading the box to stop Leonard Fournette, the Tigers still rattled off 396 yards on the ground. And quarterback Brandon Harris took advantage for his best outing of the season, completing 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Harris’s ability to capitalize when teams put all their defensive emphasis on stopping Fournette will likely dictate whether LSU can make it through the SEC West.
    Last week: Beat South Carolina 45-24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Florida

  • 5
    last week: 8
    record: 6–0
    Since these Power Rankings evaluate what teams have done and aren’t intended to be predictive, I’ll wait until the Gators play without Will Grier before downgrading them. For now Florida is a 6–0 team with four conference wins. And don’t count the Gators out of the SEC East even with Grier suspended. No other team in the division is undefeated in conference play, and Florida holds the tiebreaker over Kentucky while Georgia is two games back. If the Gators can split their matchups with LSU and the Bulldogs, they’ll still be in prime position to reach Atlanta.
    Last week: Beat Missouri 21-3
    Next week: Saturday at LSU

  • 6
    6Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 6
    record: 5–1
    Alabama showed in its win over Georgia that its offense can be dominant. However, the Crimson Tide have also offered ample evidence that that offense will be inconsistent. Luckily for Nick Saban’s squad, its defense is relentless. Despite taking the better part of three quarters to get going offensively, Alabama got past Arkansas thanks to Reggie Ragland and the rest of the D. It’s a formula that while imperfect, can still lead to plenty of success.
    Last week: Beat Arkansas 27-14
    Next week: Saturday at Texas A&M

  • 7
    7Texas A&M Aggies
    last week: 7
    record: 5–0
    Despite being undefeated, the Aggies come in just behind their Week 7 opponent. Texas A&M hasn’t played a very difficult schedule yet, but the next two weeks should tell us if the Aggies are serious contenders. They got two weeks to prepare for Alabama, so there are no excuses.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday vs. Alabama

  • 8
    8TCU Horned Frogs
    last week: 10
    record: 6–0
    That emphasis on survival I discussed in the intro applies to TCU better than any other team in the country. The Horned Frogs trailed Kansas State 35–17 at halftime Saturday before rallying for a 52–45 win. It wasn’t a dominant performance (well, O.K., Trevone Boykin’s certainly was), but it’s still a conference road win over a quality opponent.
    Last week: Beat Kansas State 52-45
    Next week: Saturday at Iowa State

  • 9
    9Michigan Wolverines
    last week: 19
    record: 5–1

    While most teams were scraping by their opponents, Michigan plastered Northwestern 38–0, its third straight shutout. The Wolverines have blazed through their schedule since losing to Utah in Week 1. Even with that loss—not such a bad one considering what Utah has done since—Michigan has been the most dominant team in the Big Ten so far.

    Last week: Beat Northwestern 38-0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Michigan State

  • 10
    10Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 11
    record: 6–0
    Maybe we’ll look back on the Buckeyes’ second half against Maryland as the moment when the offense finally found its groove. Ohio State rallied from a 21–21 tie with 28 straight points bridging the third and fourth quarters, including touchdowns from J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott. Maybe that was the breakthrough, or maybe it was just the final blow of the Randy Edsall era at Maryland.
    Last week: Beat Maryland 49-28
    Next week: Saturday vs. Penn State

  • 11
    11Michigan State Spartans
    last week: 12
    record: 6–0
    It’s not a good sign that halfway through the regular season, we’re still waiting for Michigan State to produce a convincing win (now that its three-point home victory over Oregon means little). The Spartans’ largest margin of victory is 20 points, but even that required 13 unanswered fourth-quarter points against Central Michigan. Their seven-point win over Rutgers, which required an LJ Scott touchdown and a spiked fourth down in the final minute, fit right in.
    Last week: Beat Rutgers 31-24
    Next week: Saturday at Michigan

  • 12
    12Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: 13
    record: 5–1
    The Rebels rebounded from their beatdown at Florida by thumping New Mexico State. That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but at least the Gators and Alabama both won, which keeps Ole Miss’s résumé strong. Now it has to get past a challenging Group of Five matchup with Memphis, a potential trap game a week before Texas A&M comes to Oxford.
    Last week: Beat New Mexico State 52-3
    Next week: Saturday at Memphis

  • 13
    13Oklahoma State cowboys
    last week: 23
    record: 6-0
    No phantom first downs this time. The Cowboys just went into Morgantown and left with a quality overtime victory thanks to a bold call on fourth-and-goal and J.W. Walsh’s two-yard score. The Cowboys aren’t blowing away their Power Five opponents (their three conference wins have come by a combined 12 points), but they’ve made themselves impossible to ignore in the Big 12.
    Last week: Beat West Virginia 33-26 in overtime
    Next week: Bye week

  • 14
    Iowa Hawkeyes
    last week: 15
    record: 6-0
    With the exception of winless North Texas and FCS Illinois State, Iowa hasn’t dominated anyone. But, like Oklahoma State, the Hawkeyes have managed to string together wins through the first half of their season, and it’s not hard to imagine them heading into the Big Ten title game undefeated. With Jordan Canzeri (132 carries, 697 yards, nine touchdowns) driving the offense and C.J. Beathard (99 of 162, 1,239 yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions) avoiding mistakes, Kirk Ferentz has found a method that works.
    Last week: Beat Illinois 29-20
    Next week: Saturday at Northwestern

  • 15
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish
    last week: 14
    record: 5–1
    With Clemson at No. 2, Notre Dame’s two-point loss on the road is the least damaging loss of the season. The problem is the Fighting Irish’s résumé is devoid of quality wins. The disarray at USC makes this weekend’s matchup no longer a chance to get one either.
    Last week: Beat Navy 41-24
    Next week: Saturday vs. USC

  • 16
    Florida State seminoles
    last week: 17
    record: 5–0
    It’s hard to doubt Florida State in any game with Dalvin Cook (88 carries, 792 yards, eight touchdowns) in the backfield. And Everett Golson produced his best game Saturday since the season-opener against Texas State, completing 25 of 33 passes for 291 yards. One possible red flag was a secondary that Brad Kaaya picked apart for 405 yards. This was the Seminoles’ first game against a quality passing attack this season. Will that type of damage continue?
    Last week: Beat Miami 29-24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Louisville

  • 17
    Northwestern wildcats
    last week: 9
    record: 5-1
    There’s no way of softening it. It wasn’t just an off day or bad luck. Northwestern was just clearly nowhere near as good as Michigan. The good news for the Wildcats is the Wolverines might be very good and no team in the Big Ten West looks anywhere near as talented. Northwestern can still reach the conference title game if it can take down Iowa at home Saturday.
    Last week: Lost to Michigan 38-0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Iowa

  • 18
    18Stanford Cardinal
    last week: 18
    record: 4–1
    Hopefully Stanford enjoyed a restful bye week because the on-field results weren’t kind to the Cardinal. Northwestern’s bludgeoning makes Stanford’s Week 1 defeat look worse. If the Wildcats’ loss is the start of a serious slide, they could quickly become an anchor on the Cardinal’s playoff aspirations. Washington’s victory over USC deprives Stanford of its lone win over a ranked team.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Thursday vs. UCLA

  • 19
    last week: 22
    record: 4–1
    On the contrary, UCLA’s bye week treated it pretty well. The Bruins’ opponents went 3–2, and the stature of their wins and loss didn’t change much. UCLA’s loss at home to Arizona State is still worse than Stanford’s defeat, and the Bruins likewise lack a win over a ranked opponent, so they still trail the Cardinal for now. Luckily, we’ll get a definitive answer on Thursday.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Thursday at Stanford

  • 20
    20Oklahoma sooners
    last week: 4
    record: 4–1
    You can say the cliché about tossing out the records with rivalry games, but Oklahoma still had no business losing to Texas. TCU proved Jerrod Heard could be stymied if forced to pass rather than run, but the Sooners failed to execute the gameplan. Heard managed to escape the pocket for 115 yards on the ground, part of the Longhorns’ 313 rushing yards. That was the key trigger for the upset, but suddenly the disappearance of Samaje Perine from Oklahoma’s offense (a season-low 10 carries Saturday) feels more relevant.
    Last week: Lost to Texas 24-17
    Next week: Saturday at Kansas State

  • 21
    last week: 24
    record: 5-0
    The Cougars have a road win over a Power Five team (Louisville) and have beaten all their other opponents by 14 or more points, including a 49–28 win over SMU on Thursday. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. might be the best player you’re probably not paying attention to. The dual threat has recorded 1,302 yards passing, 554 yards rushing, 19 total touchdowns and only one interception.
    Last week: Beat SMU 49-28
    Next week: Friday at Tulane

  • 22
    California Golden Bears
    last week: 16
    record: 5–1
    That the Bears were still in a position to beat a top Pac-12 team despite arguably Jared Goff’s worst statistical performance shows the difference between this year’s team and coach Sonny Dykes's first two squads at Berkeley. Cal is a much more complete team with an aggressive defense, which helped to keep the Bears in the game against Utah by forcing three turnovers.
    Last week: Lost to Utah 30-24
    Next week: Bye week

  • 23
    Boise State Broncos
    last week: 25
    record: 5–1
    Who knew a quarterback injury would be the spark to get Boise State’s offense out of its sluggish start? Since Ryan Finley broke his ankle against Idaho State, the Broncos have averaged 51 points per game and look poised to roll through their Mountain West schedule with true freshman Brett Rypien under center.
    Last week: Beat Colorado State 41-10
    Next week: Friday at Utah State

  • 24
    Toledo Rockets
    last week: NR
    record: 5–0
    No longer just the team that stunned Arkansas, the Rockets have tallied up four more wins since then and look to be the favorites in the MAC this year. Unlike the MAC squads fans are used to, Toledo’s strength is its defense, which is surrendering just 4.5 yards per play and has allowed more than 12 points in a game only once this season. The Rockets are second in the country in points allowed per play, a result of their sixth-ranked rushing defense.
    Last week: Beat Kent State 38-7
    Next week: Saturday vs. Eastern Michigan

  • 25
    Duke Blue Devils
    last week: NR
    record: 5–1
    Add Duke to the long list of teams this season winning with average offense and elite defense. The Blue Devils have allowed just 10 points in their last two games, including a win over Boston College in which Duke failed to reach the end zone. David Cutcliffe’s squad held Army West Point’s triple-option attack to just 44 rushing yards in the first half Saturday and took advantage of three turnovers to rout the Black Knights 44–3. Duke ranks 92nd in the country in yards per play, but in the wide-open ACC Coastal, the Blue Devils don’t need to be flawless to contend.
    Last week: Beat Army 44-3
    Next week: Bye week

Dropped out: Georgia, USC​
Next five: Temple, Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Memphis, Georgia

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