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: Navy (4-1), Washington State (4-2)
25. Auburn (4-2)
(AP: No. 21) We’ll learn plenty about Gus Malzahn’s team in the next two weeks (vs. Arkansas, at Ole Miss). At the moment, it’s hard not to be skeptical of the Tigers’ Top 25 worthiness.
24. Colorado (5-2)
(AP: Unranked) The surprising Buffs have lost at Michigan and at USC, but have also recorded several impressive wins this fall. We could very well see them emerge victorious from a wacky game of musical chairs in the Pac-12 South.
23. LSU (4-2)
(AP: No. 25) The Tigers fell to Auburn (barely), but that was before Les Miles got canned and Ed Orgeron stepped up. LSU looks recharged, and will get a chance to prove its clout against Mississippi this weekend with Leonard Fournette back in the fold.
22. Ole Miss (3-3)
(AP: No. 23) Sure, they’ve lost three games, but the Rebels are still worthy of a Top 25 spot because the other options are less than appetizing. Ole Miss could hang with any team in the country, which is something a lot of schools in the back half of the poll can’t claim.
21. North Carolina (5-2)
(AP: No. 22) Has any team been as hot and cold as the Heels? North Carolina upset Florida State, got walloped by Virginia Tech, and then beat Miami by a touchdown in Coral Gables this past weekend. The ACC Coastal race is wide open, and North Carolina has an excellent chance of running the table.
20. Utah (6-1)
(AP: No. 19) If you’re looking solely and wins and losses, the Utes have one of the best resumés in the country. But it’s how they’re getting these wins that’s a tad concerning; Saturday’s 19-14 escape at Oregon State was the latest in a line of close calls.
19. Western Michigan (7-0)
(AP: No. 20) The rest of the MAC looks helpless against Western Michigan’s offensive attack, which has produced at least 41 points in all three conference games.
18. Florida (5-1)
(AP: No. 15) There’s a lot to love about the Gators defense, but the demolition of Missouri on Saturday hid the offense’s inability to move the ball through the air. Luke Del Rio needs to play much better against Georgia this weekend.
17. Tennessee (5-2)
(AP: No. 18) The Volunteers still have time to save their season, but that likely requires a 4-0 finish in conference play (at South Carolina, vs. Kentucky, vs. Missouri, at Vanderbilt).
16. Arkansas (5-2)
(AP: No. 17) There’s still plenty of mystery to this team. The Hogs’ only two losses came against Texas A&M and Alabama. They’ve recorded impressive wins against TCU and Ole Miss.
15. Oklahoma (4-2)
(AP: No. 16) The Sooners have high upside, but little to no chance of reaching the national playoff. Their chances of winning the Big 12? Significantly higher.
14. Houston (6-1)
(AP: No. 11) Non-Power 5 schools don’t get the benefit of the doubt. In back-to-back weeks, the Cougars have fallen at Navy and needed last-minute heroics to defeat Tulsa at home.
13. Boise State (6-0)
(AP: No. 14) The Broncos’ schedule sets up nicely for a potentially undefeated season, but they’ll need mass chaos to earn a College Football Playoff bid. A “New Year’s 6” bowl win would be a great way to get the Boise State brand rolling again.
12. Florida State (5-2)
(AP: No. 13) There has not been much to like about Florida State this season outside of its pure talent. The ‘Noles appear to be capable of losing in any given week, but they’re also good enough to knock off Clemson in Tallahassee on Saturday.
11. Nebraska (6-0)
(AP: No. 8) Here’s the first of a trio of undefeated Power 5 teams that haven’t really proved much. Nebraska won’t have much trouble advancing to 7-0 this week against Purdue, but back-to-back trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State await.
10. Baylor (6-0)
(AP: No. 9) Much like the Cornhuskers, you should still be in “wait and see” mode on these Bears. They have yet to face a big test, and nearly lost at Iowa State two weeks ago. A trip to Texas this weekend gives Baylor a chance to prove itself as a true Big 12 contender.
9. West Virginia (5-0)
(AP: No. 12) Dana Holgorsen drank a ton of Red Bull during a blowout win at Texas Tech, and his players were similarly amped up. The Mountaineers have a favorable schedule down the stretch, including home games against Oklahoma and Baylor that might decide the conference title.
8. Wisconsin (4-2)
(AP: No. 10) If only the Badgers had strong quarterback play. The hallmark of a great Wisconsin team are there, but its lacks of playmaking ability from the most important position on the field hurt the home team in an overtime loss to Ohio State on Saturday.
7. Louisville (5-1)
(AP: No. 7) There was not much special about Friday night’s 24-14 win over Duke, but Lamar Jackson became the first player in ACC history to record 15 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns in the same season, per ESPN Stats & Info.
6. Clemson (7-0)
(AP: No. 4) North Carolina State had the Tigers on the ropes Saturday, but the Wolfpack missed a 33-yard field goal that would’ve given Clemson its first loss. The ACC favorite has looked ugly at various points this year.
5. Texas A&M (6-0)
(AP: No. 6) Few people are giving the Aggies a chance at Alabama this weekend, but they’ve earned a Top 5 spot by winning two SEC road games by double digits and pounding Arkansas at a neutral site.
4. Washington (6-0)
(AP: No. 5) After surviving a scare at Arizona in Week 4, the Huskies decimated Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weeks. They are clearly the Pac-12 favorite, and the race isn’t close right now.
3. Michigan (6-0)
(AP: No. 3) The Wolverines took a week off, but they didn’t need one; Jim Harbaugh’s team has outscored its Big Ten opponents 141-17.
2. Ohio State (6-0)
(AP: No. 2) Putting up 30 points on Wisconsin’s defense while overcoming a 10-point deficit in Madison was an impressive reminder that Ohio State has been nearly impossible to beat under Urban Meyer.
1. Alabama (7-0)
(AP: No. 1) Both Louisville and Ohio State have now come and gone from the top spot in the “Should’ve …” poll. Alabama should be wary of its competition in the ACC and Big Ten (and maybe the Pac-12), but the Crimson Tide deserve to be No. 1 after beating Tennessee by 39 points in Knoxville.