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 (5-0), Arkansas (4-2)
25. Auburn (4-2)
(AP: No. 23) The Tigers looked outstanding in the first half against Mississippi State, taking a 35-0 lead into the break. It’s what happened after that — zero offense and defensive breakdowns — that prevented Auburn fans from forgetting about the season’s first month.
24. South Florida (5-1)
(AP: Unranked) The Bulls have been much more powerful than most fans realize. South Florida has scored at least 38 points in every game, including a 38-22 win over East Carolina this past weekend. The team’s only loss was a shootout at home against Florida State.
23. Utah (4-1)
(AP: No. 21) A 5-point loss to California is the only blemish on the Utes’ young season, and they should be able to move to 5-1 pretty easily at Oregon State.
22. Western Michigan (6-0)
(AP: No. 24) The Broncos are 2-0 against the Big Ten this year, and are a good bet to keep running through the MAC. They’ve outscored their opponents by 145 points since clipping Northwestern by 1 in Week 1.
21. Florida (4-1)
(AP: No. 18) Quarterback Luke Del Rio will return to the starting lineup against Mizzou, which opened the floodgates against LSU two weekends ago.
20. West Virginia (4-0)
(AP: No. 22) With two bye weeks now under their belts, the Mountaineers face the tough task of keeping up with Texas Tech’s offense in Lubbock this weekend. A win would mean West Virginia is serious about contending in the Big 12 this season.
19. LSU (3-2)
(AP: Unranked) I’m putting a lot of stock in the Tigers’ mauling of Mizzou a couple weeks ago. LSU looked like a new team under Ed Orgeron, and will still have a say in the SEC West race (both Alabama and A&M are on the back half of LSU’s schedule).
18. Boise State (5-0)
(AP: No. 15) An early-season win over Washington State — which smacked Stanford on Saturday — looks much better now. The Broncos should continue climbing the poll after a projected home win over Colorado State this weekend.
17. Baylor (5-0)
(AP: No. 11) Still smarting from a near-loss at Iowa State, Baylor needs to shape up at home against suddenly-tough Kansas.
16. Oklahoma (3-2)
(AP: No. 19) Beating Texas is nothing to write home about, but Oklahoma avoided getting upset at the state fair for the second straight season. Baker Mayfield (20-of-28 for 211 yards, 1 touchdown) is back to his playground ways.
15. Nebraska (5-0)
(AP: No. 10) No one should trust these Huskers, who are benefitting from a breezy early-season schedule. Up next: Games against Indiana and Purdue. Expect to see Nebraska in the AP Top 10 for a few more weeks.
14. Virginia Tech (4-1)
(AP: No. 17) The Hokies’ only sin was blowing a 14-0 lead against Tennessee. Hell, half the country’s done that by now! Virginia Tech blew out North Carolina — coming off a huge win over Florida State — by 31 points in Chapel Hill this past weekend. That stands as one of the year’s most impressive showings. However, a Virginia tech loss at Syracuse this coming weekend could reveal an ugly ACC echo chamber.
13. Houston (5-1)
(AP: No. 13) The Cougars are effectively out of the playoff race after falling to Navy on the road, but they’ve done enough to prove they are one of the country’s best teams.
12. Miami (4-1)
(AP: No. 16) A blocked extra point! That’s what cost Miami a chance to defend its undefeated record against Florida State. The Hurricanes are a strong team that has had one ugly quarter all season.
11. Florida State (4-2)
(AP: No. 14) It’s been a rough year for the Seminoles, but a 20-19 win at rival Miami on Saturday kept them in the ACC race. After this poll’s Top 7, there are many more “pretenders” than “contenders.” Florida State’s considerable talent makes it a safe(r) pick than others.
10. Tennessee (5-1)
(AP: No. 9) We finally got an answer to, “This can’t keep working, can it?” No, the Vols can’t afford to keep falling behind by three touchdowns. Especially not against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.
9. Wisconsin (4-1)
(AP: No. 8) A staunch defense has the Badgers in great shape, but their upcoming schedule is a bit rough: vs. Ohio State, at Iowa, vs. Nebraska. If they can go 3-0 during that stretch, Wisconsin will likely control its playoff destiny.
8. Ole Miss (3-2)
(AP: No. 12) Yes, this is high for any two-loss team in a normal year, but have you looked around at the other options? Wisconsin doesn’t have a quarterback, Tennessee has a death wish, Nebraska #HasntPlayedAnybody and Baylor nearly gave away its lunch to Iowa State a couple weeks ago. The Rebels could — and would — hang with anybody in the country.
7. Texas A&M (6-0)
(AP: No. 6) It’s a toss up between A&M and Louisville for the No. 6 spot, but I’m sticking with Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals if the two were to play head-to-head at a neutral site. The Aggies’ double-overtime win over Tennessee was impressive — considering the Vols were heretofore immortal — but A&M’s inability to keep comfortable leads is a tad worrisome.
6. Louisville (4-1)
(AP: No. 7) The Cardinalss took a needed week off after narrowly losing to Clemson on the road. We’ll see if Lamar Jackson still has his Heisman magic against Duke on Friday.
5. Washington (6-0)
(AP: No. 5) That big win over Stanford looks a little less impressive after the Cardinal were shredded at home by Washington State. There doesn’t appear to be any weaknesses on this Huskies team. They blew out Oregon, 70-21, in Eugene, and ended a 12-game Ducks winning streak against Washington.
4. Clemson (6-0)
(AP: No. 3) Dabo Swinney appears to have his team out of an early-season funk. One week after toppling No. 3 Louisville, the Tigers put a 56-10 whupping on Boston College out on the east coast.
3. Ohio State (5-0)
(AP: No. 2) There were some problem spots against Indiana at the Horseshoe, most notably quarterback J.T. Barrett’s efficiency. He finished 9 of 21 for 93 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
2. Michigan (6-0)
(AP: No. 4) Okay, we’ve seen enough, Jim. While the Wolverines’ primary rival failed to score many style points in Week 6, the Michigan put up a 78-0 win at Rutgers, out-gaining the poor Scarlet Knights, 600-39.
1. Alabama (6-0)
(AP: No. 1) After a couple weeks of sticking the Crimson Tide at No. 2, it’s time for a change. Alabama beat the stuffing out of Arkansas in Fayetteville, while Ohio State struggled to pull away from Indiana at home. This will continue to be a close battle at the top.