Like anything else that uses input from several dozen people, the aggregated Associated Press Top 25 poll typically leans toward “safe” results and groupthink (example: “Where was this team ranked last week?” instead of using a clean slate to make decisions).
So, naturally, we have some problems with the Week 5 poll. Here’s how we’d fix it:
First teams out: North Dakota State (4-0), Maryland (4-0), Virginia Tech (3-1), Utah (4-1)
25. Western Michigan (5-0)
(AP: Unranked • Last week should’ve been: Unranked) Since beating Northwestern by 1 point in Evanston, Western Michigan has outscored its opponents by 130 points. Next up: a date with suddenly-awful Northern Illinois.
24. Boise State (4-0)
(AP: No. 19 • Last week should’ve been: No. 20) The Broncos’ march to an undefeated season took a detour Saturday, as they needed all four quarters to do away with lowly Utah State. Even if Bosie finishes 12-0, its uninspiring conference schedule will keep it out of the playoff when stacked up against one-loss Power 5 teams.
23. Colorado (4-1)
(AP: No. 21 • Last week should’ve been: Unranked) Their Week 4 win at Oregon is less impressive now than it was then, but these Buffaloes continued a hot offensive run by thrashing Oregon State, 47-6, in Boulder this past Saturday. Their next game — at Southern California — should be a barnburner.
22. Florida (4-1)
(AP: No. 18 • Last week should’ve been: No. 23) An ugly win at Vanderbilt will hopefully mark the end of a drab period for the Gators, who might still be nursing some psychological wounds from their Week 4 loss at Tennessee.
21. Florida State (3-2)
(AP: No. 23 • Last week should’ve been: No. 12) No, we don’t have much faith in the Seminoles after their second conference loss of the opening month, but their talent still stacks up well against most teams in the Top 25. They get a chance to upend upstart rival Miami in Coral Gables this weekend.
20. West Virginia (4-0)
(AP: No. 22 • Last week should’ve been: No. 18) That Week 1 shellacking of Mizzou seems a lot less impressive now that LSU turned in a better version of it Saturday. Following a 1-point win over Kansas State at home, it seems safer to anticipate the Mountaineers’ first slip instead of their first big conference win.
19. LSU (3-2)
(AP: Unranked • Last week should’ve been: Unranked) Before you freak, answer this: Which team from the bottom of this poll would you pick to beat LSU? The Tigers are one of the most talented teams in the country, and interim coach Ed Orgeron proved that he can orchestrate a blowout win in a pressure situation. With only one SEC loss, Louisiana State is still in the conference race.
18. Oklahoma (2-2)
(AP: No. 20 • Last week should’ve been: Unranked) Saturday, we got the Baker Mayfield we’ve been waiting for. The Sooners’ Heisman candidate of a year ago completed 23 of 30 passes for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns, and added another 55 yards and 2 scores on the ground in a 52-46 win at TCU.
17. North Carolina (4-1)
(AP: No. 17 • Last week should’ve been: Unranked) Hey, they’re back! The Tar Heels were one of the ACC’s preseason favorites, and they look the part after a 45-42 win at Florida State. North Carolina’s lone loss came against Georgia at the Georgia Dome, when the Heels blew a fourth-quarter lead. Remember: They lost their first game (to South Carolina) last season before reeling off 11 straight wins.
16. Stanford (3-1)
(AP: No. 15 • Last week should’ve been: No. 9) Christian McCaffrey (79 total yards from scrimmage) did little to prevent a 44-6 blowout in Seattle. That’s worrisome for a team that has struggled to get its offense going in the first half of the season.
15. Arkansas (4-1)
(AP: No. 16 • Last week should’ve been: No. 19) There’s no reason the Razorbacks can’t shake off an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide on Saturday. This could be Bret Bielema’s biggest moment in Fayetteville since he took the job nearly four years ago. Lose, and the SEC West race is likely over for the Hogs.
14. Baylor (5-0)
(AP: No. 13 • Last week should’ve been: No. 16) Few people believe the Bears are a postseason threat after nearly getting upset in Ames, Iowa, but for now, they’re the best the Big 12 has got.
13. Wisconsin (4-1)
(AP: No. 11 • Last week should’ve been: No. 5) The Badgers had to win that one. Their road to the playoff doesn’t let up after a visit to Ann Arbor; Wisconsin is scheduled for a three-game stretch vs. Ohio State, at Iowa and vs. Nebraska.
12. Nebraska (5-0)
(AP: No. 12 • Last week should’ve been: No. 16) This is another one of those iffy Power 5 teams that’s benefitted from a soft schedule and has mostly failed to impress. But the Huskers carry sentimental brand value — can’t ignore it! — and a 5-0 record that’s likely to be 6-0 after this weekend’s game at Indiana.
11. Tennessee (5-0)
(AP: No. 9 • Last week should’ve been: No. 11) There’s no trusting the Volunteers, but they don’t seem to care about any of our feelings (or our stress levels). This week brings a matchup with Texas A&M, in which Tennessee will undoubtedly fall behind 31-0 before marching back for a quadruple-overtime win.
10. Miami (4-0)
(AP: No. 10 • Last week should’ve been: No. 15) Mark Richt keeps passing tests in his first year at the helm of the Hurricanes. The latest triumph: a 14-point win at Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes have a tough four-game stretch coming up: vs. Florida State, vs. North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, and at Notre Dame.
9. Ole Miss (3-2)
(AP: No. 14 • Last week should’ve been: No. 13) A big win over previously undefeated Memphis put Ole Miss’ SEC brethren on notice: nobody should expect to stop the Rebels from moving the football. Despite the pair of losses, they might be the conference’s second-best team.
8. Texas A&M (5-0)
(AP: No. 8 • Last week should’ve been: No. 8) Who will stand up to Alabama this year? Both Texas A&M and Tennessee will have a chances this month if Arkansas can’t do it. We get a Top-10 clash between the Aggies and Vols this weekend to determine which team is the SEC’s second-biggest playoff threat.
7. Louisville (4-1)
(AP: No. 7 • Last week should’ve been: No. 1) A narrow loss at Clemson — punctuated by a near-scoring drive that would’ve won it — showed that Louisville is still serious about competing with the country’s best teams. Besides a trip to Houston in November, the Cardinals should have an easy road to 11-1 and a back-door ticket to the playoff.
6. Houston (5-0)
(AP: No. 6 • Last week should’ve been: No. 4) We’re already seeing the effects of a relatively light conference schedule. Michigan, Washington and Clemson all hopped over the Cougars in the national conversation thanks to wins over Top 10 opponents. Houston’s next chance at a big “W” doesn’t come until Nov. 17 against Louisville.
5. Michigan (5-0)
(AP: No. 4 • Last week should’ve been: No. 6) A 14-7 win over No. 8 Wisconsin at the Big House ensured that the Wolverines will be favored in every game between now and a mega-throwdown at Ohio State on Nov. 26.
4. Washington (5-0)
(AP: No. 5 • Last week should’ve been: No. 10) For the first time in 24 years, Washington is 5-0. The Huskies’ 44-6 win over Stanford was a shocking result that thrust them into the College Football Playoff picture. It’s probably too early to buy in on these guys, though. This weekend’s trip to Oregon is one of a few dangerous Pac-12 games left (at Utah, at Cal) on the schedule.
3. Clemson (5-0)
(AP: No. 3 • Last week should’ve been: No. 8) Bottling up Louisville in the first half was impressive, and then finishing the job with a late drive — and red-zone stop on defense — was evidence that Dabo Swinney’s team is finally worthy of the 2016 championship talk.
2. Alabama (5-0)
(AP: No. 1 • Last week should’ve been: No. 3) It’s still much too early to worry about whether your team is No. 1 or No. 2. Crimson Tide fans should be preoccupied with hoping Jalen Hurts and his young offense can solve a Razorbacks defense that’s given Alabama a scare in two consecutive seasons.
1. Ohio State (4-0)
(AP: No. 2 • Last week should’ve been: No. 2) A 58-0 beatdown of Rutgers did nothing to dissuade us from the belief that Urban Meyer’s squad is in championship form. If the Buckeyes were to go head-to-head with the Crimson Tide at a neutral site next week, there’d be plenty of money on the Big Ten team.