Power Ranking College Football Teams for Week 5
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College Football‘s Week 4 was one that had little suspense for the top teams in the country, and left everyone hoping the rest of the season’s action will pick up significantly in entertainment value.
There were some good games, including one that took three overtimes to decide. However, there were more questions raised than answered by Week 4’s results. The silver lining here is that conference play is going to help sort this mess out soon.
Here is every college football team ranked from worst to best after the least interesting weekend of the season…hopefully.
*The AP Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll (both via ESPN.com), Bleacher Report’s Official Poll, Jeff Sagarin’s power rankings and my own power rankings were all given equal weight in compiling this list. The average of every team’s ranking in each poll was taken, and that average determined where the team was placed.
126. Georgia State Panthers
Average Rank: 171
Georgia State’s 32-26 overtime loss to Jacksonville State wasn’t a bad performance, but the Panthers have to come to grips with a terrible truth: That game was their most winnable matchup of the season.
Georgia State might be able to pull together and find a victory on the schedule, but it seems far less likely now than it did at the beginning of the season.
125. Florida International Golden Panthers
Average Rank: 152.5
Florida International lost to Louisville 72-0 on Sept. 21, and the Golden Panthers looked largely inept against a team that barely beat Kentucky the week before. To be clear, nobody expected the Golden Panthers to beat the No. 7 team in the country.
However, the shutout confirmed that FIU may be among the worst teams in the nation. The upcoming Oct. 5 match against Southern Miss will be its next opportunity to prove that it can compete with other FBS schools.
124. New Mexico State Aggies
Average Rank: 150.5
New Mexico State is coming off a 59-13 drubbing by the UCLA Bruins. That result was expected, though it was admittedly impressive that the Aggies could find a way to score 13 points against the Pac-12 power.
There are still four games on their schedule that look like potential wins on paper, but that doesn’t mean the Aggies are confined to a four-win season.
123. Massachusetts Minutemen
Average Rank: 149.5
That game has upset potential, and it would launch UMass up a few spots in these rankings.
122. Eastern Michigan Eagles
121. Idaho Vandals
Average Rank: 145.5
Idaho was just shut out 42-0 by Washington State, but the game played out pretty much as expected. The Vandals are still on the watch list to move up based on their 45-35 loss to Northern Illinois.
Keeping up with a team like that points to at least one or two wins this season. In fact, the Week 5 battle with Temple could be the turning point for Idaho’s season.
120. Miami Redhawks
Average Rank: 140.5
Miami showed up with defense, and won’t be down on this end of the rankings if that performance becomes a habit.
119. Western Michigan Broncos
118. Old Dominion Monarchs
Average Rank: 132
That Pitt game will be what moves them up this list. The next two games won’t be enough to do it, though a loss or two could move them further down.
117. Army Black Knights
Average Rank: 126.5
Army has been a mixed bag this season. After hanging close to Stanford for the majority of their Week 3 game, the Black Knights lost 25-11 to Wake Forest in Week 4.
They absolutely must beat the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Sept. 28, or they will be relegated to a spot outside the Top 100 for the duration of the season.
T-115. UTEP Miners
Average Rank: 125.5
UTEP just completed a showdown with another hyphenated team from Texas: UTSA. The Miners lost 32-13. They have a solid rushing attack, but it didn’t show against the Roadrunners.
That’s poignant because the Roadrunners have the eighth-ranked rushing defense in Conference USA. (They moved up a spot after the UTEP game, which shouldn’t have happened.)
UTEP has to find a way to make its schemes work. If it couldn’t accomplish that against UTSA’s rushing defense, who can it exploit?
T-115. South Florida Bulls
Average Rank: 125.5
South Florida had a bye for the Week 4 festivities, and it may have worked out well for them. With the spirit of mediocrity that permeated the weekend, the Bulls should just be happy that they weren’t a part of it.
T-113. New Mexico Lobos
Average Rank: 124.5
New Mexico also had a week off for the Sept. 21 rotation, and that gave the Lobos a chance to regroup following a 1-2 start to 2013. Next up is UNLV, which is definitely a winnable game for them.
T-113. Central Michigan Chippewas
Average Rank: 124.5
Central Michigan lost a 21-point decision to a Toledo squad that hasn’t looked that good to start this season. It will take a few more games to figure out where the Chippewas actually belong, but the list of possible wins stands at three right now. Unfortunately, those games are at the end of the schedule.
112. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Average Rank: 124
Southern Miss didn’t have to play in Week 4, either, and the Golden Eagles come back to face the Boise State Broncos on Sept. 28. This game is an expected loss for Southern Miss, so there should not be much movement from the Eagles in the next edition of the rankings.
111. Tulane Green Wave
110. Akron Zips
Average Rank: 121.5
Akron held its own against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, walking away with a 35-30 loss. The Zips are coming along nicely under Terry Bowden, even if it isn’t showing in the win-loss column yet.
They have a long way to go to be successful, but it seems they’ve covered a lot of ground in just a short amount of time.
T-108. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Average Rank: 119.5
Much to the chagrin of opponents, Louisiana Tech has delivered a competitive performance every time it has taken the field over the last three weeks.
This week’s matchup with Army is a must-win if they want to gain any real respect for the 2013 season.
T-108. Hawaii Warriors
Average Rank: 119.5
If Hawaii wanted to show off its improved defense, Nevada was the perfect team to do it against. The Warriors lost 31-9, though, and that cast a lot of doubt on their potential.
The Warriors have managed to make USC, Oregon State and Nevada all look like equals. That may be true, but the more reasonable explanation is that Hawaii is just that bad.
T-106. South Alabama Jaguars
Average Rank: 118
South Alabama has had an extra week to prepare for a monster war with the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 28. This is should be a loss for the Jaguars, but there is absolutely a chance for an upset.
Unexpectedly beating Tulane and Western Kentucky is one thing. Tennessee is another. A loss wouldn’t hurt the Jaguars’ ranking here…a win would definitely help, though.
T-106. Florida Atlantic Owls
105. Kent State Golden Flashes
Average Rank: 116
Kent State was shut out 34-0 by the Penn State Nittany Lions, leading to this 10-slot drop in the rankings. Penn State was expected to win, and probably by 34 points. However, the Golden Flashes should have scored some points…if they were nearly as good as last year. They need to turn this around over the next two weeks, or it’s not getting fixed this season.
104. Air Force Falcons
Average Rank: 114
Air Force dropped a good bit after its 56-23 loss to Wyoming. The reason is that the Cowboys rushing defense is one of the worst (ninth out of 12) in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force should have been able to impose its will on Sept. 21, and it couldn’t.
That raises the following question: Just who could Air Force beat in its current condition?
103. UNLV Rebels
Average Rank: 112.5
UNLV scored a 38-7 win over Western Illinois on Sept. 21, and that at least solidified the Rebels as a competent FBS squad. While it didn’t rocket them up the rankings, even a win over an FCS team can sometimes be elusive.
Their Week 5 bout with New Mexico is the perfect opportunity for UNLV to legitimize this ranking and their season.
T-101. Troy Trojans
Average Rank: 111
Mississippi State defeated Troy 62-7 in Week 4, and that should have come as no surprise to college football fans. This loss didn’t hurt Troy in my personal rankings, but Sagarin did drop the Trojans from 104th to 122nd.
That seems a bit steep for a loss to a good SEC team, but Troy is still looking pretty solid for a six-win season with its slate for the rest of the year allowing for at least four more wins.
T-101. Texas State Bobcats
Average Rank: 111
Texas State’s 33-7 loss to Texas Tech actually moved it up the list, thanks to Sagarin. (That’s sure to burn up a few Troy fans.) The Bobcats scored just as many points against the Red Raiders as Troy did against Mississippi State.
The ranking difference between Texas Tech and Mississippi State caused this rise, as both teams stayed in their respective positions on my board.
T-99. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
T-99. Buffalo Bulls
Average Rank: 109.5
Buffalo had a bye week, and it ended up tied for 99th with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Bulls’ move resulted from the jostling of teams around them.
Buffalo needs at least three wins over the next four games to secure a Top 100 spot in the rankings, as that five-overtime win over Stony Brook was just barely enough to get them in these past two weeks.
98. UAB Blazers
Average Rank: 108
UAB put up a 24-point win over Northwestern State in Week 4, and the Blazers held serve inside the Top 100. They have a rough game against Vanderbilt in Week 5, which is not expected to be a win.
After that, though, there is a string of four winnable games stretching through early November. They may not be stuck ranked in the 90s for long.
97. Temple Owls
Average Rank: 107.5
Temple hasn’t shown up thus far in 2013, and the Owls have had two weeks to regroup and try to make a season out of the 0-3 debacle they currently have going on. Their next game is Sept. 28 against Idaho.
If the Owls lose this one, there is basically no shot at a decent ranking. They will be fighting amongst the other 120s for the Not Last Trophy at the end of the season.
96. UTSA Roadrunners
Average Rank: 102.5
UTSA topped UTEP on Sept. 21 by a score of 32-13. The Roadrunners already started the season off right with a win over New Mexico, and it seems that they are for real this season. (The 2-2 record is just because of losses to Oklahoma State and Arizona, and a lot of teams will be losing to those two this year.)
Every single one of their remaining eight games is going to be incredibly taxing on UTSA, but there are five games that could realistically be won. That is, unless the Roadrunners are even better than they already look.
95. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Average Rank: 102
Arkansas State just proved that it might be a shadow of its former self with a 31-7 loss to the Memphis Tigers. It’s not that Memphis is a bad team, but the 10-win momentum that Arkansas State had going over the past couple of seasons may have come to a screeching halt.
The Missouri Tigers will crush the Red Wolves on Sept. 28, but they should bounce back against Idaho in Week 7. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to how Arkansas State will fare.
94. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Average Rank: 99
Middle Tennessee took Florida Atlantic to overtime to bring a 42-35 victory home in Week 4. The Blue Raiders now enter a five-game section of the season of games expected to be losses or long-shot wins.
Look for the Blue Raiders to stick around this part of the rankings for at least the next month or so, but should round out the season on at least a three-game winning streak.
93. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Average Rank: 97.5
Louisiana-Monroe still needs to prove that it’s capable of winning at the level it did last season, but the 70-7 loss to Baylor did not hurt it much. The three-spot drop is largely due to the Warhawks’ near-complete inability to score points against the Bears.
If Kolton Browning is looking for an opportunity to lead his team up the rankings, he had better take ULM on an eight-game streak starting Sept. 28. The Tulane Green Wave shouldn’t pose much of a problem if he’s as good as he was last season.
92. Memphis Tigers
Average Rank: 96.5
Memphis impressed with a 31-7 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Week 4. In fact, it was an utter shock to see that win following the loss to Middle Tennessee. It looks like the Blue Raiders woke the Tigers up.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll go on a tear through the American Athletic Conference, but it definitely puts every team on notice that Memphis is not a toy.
91. Kansas Jayhawks
Average Rank: 95.5
Kansas came away with a hard-fought 13-10 victory over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 21, and that leaves the Jayhawks in a precarious position. There’s a distinct possibility that Louisiana Tech woke up and started playing real football last week, or that Kansas could actually be that bad.
The Jayhawks have a bye week in place of a game for Week 5. After that, it’s Big 12 opponents until the end of the season. Kansas needs to focus on coming out strong in every game. Without quick strikes, Kansas could post an 0-9 streak to end the season.
90. Purdue Boilermakers
Average Rank: 95
Purdue had a terrible showing against the Wisconsin Badgers on Sept. 21, with the Boilermakers losing 41-10. Generally speaking, they always play Notre Dame extremely tough and never play that strong again.
If Purdue wants to maintain (or improve upon) this ranking, it should adopt a new motto: “Every game is Notre Dame.” It may get the Boilermakers some much-needed wins.
Anything to get these guys looking like a Big Ten team, at least against Northern Illinois in Week 5. [Insert disgruntled fan who says they already look like a Big Ten team.]
89. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Average Rank: 93.5
Wake Forest is the epitome of an unpredictable team. The team that lost to both Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe showed up and trounced Army 25-11 in Week 4. The Demon Deacons held the nation’s 10th-ranked rushing attack to its lowest rushing total so far this season.
That bodes well for the rest of the season, but the Deacons need to be ready for the Clemson Tigers on Sept. 28. NC State provided a blueprint of how to slow the Tigers’ attack down. Wake will need to execute that game plan to perfection to topple Clemson.
88. SMU Mustangs
Average Rank: 92
SMU got walloped 42-13 by the Texas A&M Aggies, but that shouldn’t have shocked anyone. No, it’s not okay to accept losing, but we’re talking about an opponent that nearly defeated the No. 1 team in the country.
SMU is not on that level yet, but the move to the AAC will provide the Mustangs with the recruiting clout to start heading in that direction. In the meantime, they need to be focused on TCU.
The Horned Frogs are the next potential victim on the menu, followed by Rutgers, then seven games in a row that are winnable for the Mustangs. This is not the highest rank SMU will achieve this season.
87. Colorado State Rams
Average Rank: 90
Colorado State competed with Alabama, who held just an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. That’s not bad against the top-ranked Tide, and Jim McElwain can be proud of the effort his kids put out there.
Colorado State absolutely needs a win over the UTEP Miners in Week 5. Simply put, that’s their most likely win in the next three games. It takes time to build success, but even the players need to see some wins on the schedule before too long.
86. San Diego State Aztecs
Average Rank: 89.5
San Diego State dropped a four-point decision to the Oregon State Beavers, and that was the Aztecs’ best performance to date in 2013. They have the ability to compete for the postseason again, but they have to get things straightened out against New Mexico State in Week 5.
If they lose that one, San Diego State would be punished severely in the Week 6 edition of the rankings.
85. Colorado Buffaloes
Average Rank: 89
Colorado had a bye, and that puts a three-week gap between the last game they played and their Sept. 28 bout with Oregon State. The Beavers just played a close game with the San Diego State Aztecs, and Colorado’s extra weekend may be all the edge it needs to push itself into the top half of the rankings, if for just a week or two.
84. North Texas Mean Green
Average Rank: 88.5
North Texas is vastly improved over last season, and the 45-21 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs showed the strides they have made as a team. The Mean Green aren’t a Top 25 team by any means, but that loss certainly didn’t hurt their power ranking.
Look for them to handle Tulane on Oct. 5, after their Week 5 bye.
83. Boston College Eagles
Average Rank: 86.5
Boston College enjoyed a week off from the Sept. 21 round of play, and the Eagles will come back hoping to enhance their ranking against the Florida State Seminoles. It’s unlikely to say the least, but BC will at least have had two weeks to prepare.
Even if the Eagles lost, it wouldn’t hurt their ranking that much. The Seminoles are just that good.
82. Kentucky Wildcats
Average Rank: 85.5
Kentucky also had an off week to recuperate from their loss to rival Louisville and get ready for a lackluster Florida team. Jeff Driskel will not be the quarterback at Florida, so the Wildcats will need to watch out for an actual aerial attack this week from the Gators.
81. Nevada Wolf Pack
Average Rank: 85
Nevada completely destroyed Hawaii 31-9 in Week 4, and that means that either Hawaii’s defense isn’t as improved as some thought, or Cody Fajardo found his groove under center. The Wolf Pack host Air Force in an attempt to assert conference supremacy for a second week in a row.
Nevada will move down if it manages to lose to the disappointing Falcons.
80. Connecticut Huskies
Average Rank: 82
Connecticut dropped a 24-21 nail-biter to the Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 21, and the Huskies have officially put everyone on notice that they might be good. It’s an interesting situation for the Huskies, as their 0-3 record rails against everything they showed against Michigan.
However, their road trip to Buffalo on Sept. 28 will answer whether the Michigan game was a one-off display or a sign of things to come.
79. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Average Rank: 78
Louisiana-Lafayette came away with a slightly troubling 35-30 win over the Akron Zips. Fortunately, the Ragin’ Cajuns can always say that they beat the Zips by one more point than Michigan did.
Texas State stands in the batter’s box now with Western Kentucky on deck. Both these games need to be wins for the ULL to stay this high on the list.
78. Rice Owls
Average Rank: 77.5
Rice couldn’t finish off the comeback against Houston in a 31-26 loss on Sept. 21. The Owls came close, but a 18-point fourth quarter deficit is incredibly difficult to overcome.
It didn’t affect their ranking too much, and a decisive win over Florida Atlantic in Week 5 will help restore some of the lost slots.
77. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Average Rank: 76.5
Tulsa desperately needed a week off to adjust after their 1-2 start to the season. The Golden Hurricane were not competitive enough in the Bowling Green game, and Oklahoma is never a morale-boosting opponent.
Now, Tulsa hosts Iowa State, which is definitely not a lost cause. Tulsa needs this win, as does Iowa State. It’s going to be an intense battle with two teams power ranked right next to each other.
T-75. Iowa State Cyclones
Average Rank: 76
Iowa State also had a bye in advance of their battle against Tulsa. The Cyclones need this win just as much (if not more than) the Golden Hurricane.
Iowa State will fight for its life for 60 minutes, and that still may not be enough.
T-75. California Golden Bears
Average Rank: 76
Cal was nudged up the rankings during its Week 4 bye, moving up three spots to tie for 75th. The Golden Bears have started the season 0-2 against ranked opponents, and the Oregon Ducks host them in Week 5.
Cal’s rank will be okay if they lose, but it’s difficult to say what a 1-3 overall start to the season would do to morale.
74. Ball State Cardinals
73. Ohio Bobcats
Average Rank: 72.5
Ohio shut out Austin Peay 38-0 in Week 4, and that cemented the Bobcats’ spot in the rankings. There’s still hope that they’ll return to form and rise back up, but they will have to beat Akron on Oct. 5 to make it happen.
In the meantime, Ohio has a bye for Week 5, meaning it should be right around this spot in the Week 6 edition of this piece.
72. Virginia Cavaliers
Average Rank: 72
Virginia had an easy game against Virginia Military Institute in Week 4, winning 49-0. That didn’t erase the pain of the Oregon beating, but the Oregon loss didn’t hurt Virginia’s ranking, either.
This week’s game against Pitt could send Virginia in either direction based on the outcome.
71. Duke Blue Devils
Average Rank: 71.5
Duke finally found its offense against Pittsburgh on Sept. 21, but it completely lost its defense. The Blue Devils lost 58-55 in that contest, and the future looks bleak.
If Duke wants a shot at a bowl, they must win their three next games on the schedule. After that, chances don’t look good for more than one win unless the Blue Devils find their defense in a hurry.
70. San Jose State Spartans
Average Rank: 70.5
San Jose State lost to Minnesota by a score of 43-24. The Spartans should have done better, but Minnesota is also an underrated program. Those factors even out enough for a Top 70 ranking.
San Jose State’s biggest issue is its offense. If David Fales can find his rhythm, then he can lead the Spartans back up the board into the Top 40.
69. Houston Cougars
Average Rank: 70
Houston’s 31-26 win over the Rice Owls made a statement that the Cougars are going to compete this season. It won’t be enough to win them the AAC in 2013, but it’s certainly enough to help with their recruiting efforts for their 2014 class.
The Cougars could have a 5-0 start to the season lined up, and that should be enough to lock up a bowl appearance this season.
68. Marshall Thundering Herd
Average Rank: 69.5
Marshall took the Virginia Tech Hokies to three overtimes, and there wasn’t a fourth because of a dropped pass in the end zone on the final play of the game. Granted, it was an insanely wet field during the football game, but it was a perfect throw that should have been caught.
Ultimately, it was a 29-21 loss (mandatory two-point conversion by Virginia Tech), but it merely solidified Marshall’s place in the bowl-bound region of this piece.
67. West Virginia Mountaineers
Average Rank: 69
West Virginia dropped 10 spots following a 37-0 shutout at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins. After a severe thrashing like that, West Virginia needs to rebound quickly. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming to town on Sept. 28.
A loss wouldn’t hurt WVU’s ranking much, but back-to-back beatings will certainly kill morale. The Mountaineers have to put some points on the board just for their own confidence.
66. Bowling Green Falcons
Average Rank: 67
Bowling Green beat Murray State by 41 points in its Week 4 match. That was good enough to maintain its tenuous grip on the Top 70 for one more week.
The Falcons face Akron on Sept. 28, and that game looked much easier prior to the season before the Zips reeled off two competitive games against good opponents.
The Falcons are going to have a full-fledged battle on their hands.
65. East Carolina Pirates
Average Rank: 66.5
East Carolina held its place with a bye in Week 4, and the Pirates have an epic fight set for Sept. 28. Bryn Renner and the UNC Tar Heels host Shane Carden and the Pirates in what should be one of the best offensive masterpieces of the weekend.
If East Carolina can hold its own against another ACC hopeful, then the Pirates will be well on their way to a postseason berth.
64. Syracuse Orange
Average Rank: 66
Syracuse stomped Tulane 52-17, and moved up two spots from last week in the process. The Orange held a good C-USA team to just 17 points.
The Orange are off in Week 5 before hosting the Clemson Tigers on Oct. 5.
63. Toledo Rockets
Average Rank: 65.5
Toledo topped Central Michigan 38-17 in Week 4, and that kept the Rockets looking toward the postseason for one more week. Possibly the most decisive game of the season is on Sept. 28 against Ball State.
Both teams are good, and either one could win the game, but the loser will walk away wondering if November will be the last month it plays football this year.
62. NC State Wolfpack
Average Rank: 64.5
If NC State could play every week like they do when they face highly-ranked opponents, they could be a Top 25 team. Their 26-14 loss to the Clemson Tigers should mean that the Wolfpack can compete with any team in the ACC.
However, until they actually do, they’ll be a team that barely qualifies for bowl season.
61. Wyoming Cowboys
Average Rank: 61
Wyoming handled Air Force’s vaunted rushing attack and held it to its lowest rushing total of the season so far (referenced in the Air Force slide). The Cowboys took home a 56-23 win, and a boost in the rankings following the blowout win.
60. Pittsburgh Panthers
59. Indiana Hoosiers
Average Rank: 58
Indiana lost to Missouri 45-28 on Sept. 21, and the Hoosiers are looking for a rankings boost and rebound win against the Penn State Nittany Lions in Week 6. Fortunately, they have a bye week to get ready for that battle.
That may prove to be the difference in the game.
58. Iowa Hawkeyes
Average Rank: 57
This game won’t decide the Big Ten champion, but it will make the difference between a recognizable bowl and something with 14 names and a dozen hyphens.
57. Arkansas Razorbacks
Average Rank: 54
Arkansas dropped the grudge match against Rutgers 28-24 in the Scarlet Knights’ back yard. That’s basically a loss due to home-field advantage, so it isn’t too bad. The Razorbacks must now face an incredibly tough SEC West schedule.
Six of the eight remaining teams they face are better than Rutgers, and the other two (Mississippi State and Auburn) would probably split a 10-game series with the Scarlet Knights.
Arkansas has to improve to change its fate. There’s no shortcut here. Bret Bielema has a lot of work to do.
56. Cincinnati Bearcats
Average Rank: 53.5
Cincinnati needs to make up its mind about the 2013 season. Their 14-0 victory over the Miami Redhawks was a win, but it was not solid. The Bearcats are now 3-1 with one decisive win, one lopsided loss, and one questionable win over its FBS opponents.
The Bearcats have a schedule with their hardest games set up for the end of the season, but if they aren’t careful, they’ll lose half their games anyway.
55. Washington State Cougars
Average Rank: 53
Washington State blanked Idaho 42-0, and the Cougars retained their identity as a pass-happy, defensively sound Pac-12 contender. They are not the favorites to win the conference, but they’ve already matched their win total from 2012.
Regardless of where they slip or rise on the board, Cougars fans are already satisfied with the immediate improvement…or they should be if they aren’t.
54. Illinois Fighting Illini
Average Rank: 51
Illinois had a bye following a 10-point loss to the Washington Huskies, and the Illini face a team they should beat in Miami (OH) before jumping into the deep end of the Big Ten against Nebraska.
Illinois is sitting relatively high on this list, but it cannot afford to overlook Miami. The Redhawks are dangerous enough to do some damage if the opponent isn’t paying attention.
53. UNC Tar Heels
Average Rank: 50.5
North Carolina let Georgia Tech escape with a 28-20 win in Week 4, and the Tar Heels face a well-balanced offense in East Carolina on Sept. 28. If the Heels can’t figure out how to contain the run by Saturday, Week 5 could prove to be the game that keeps them out of the postseason altogether.
52. Kansas State Wildcats
Average Rank: 49.5
Kansas State’s 10-point loss to Texas must have been a hard reality check for Wildcats fans. Things are going to be fine under Bill Snyder, but this is a rebuilding season. Collin Klein’s departure has proved devastating to Kansas State’s offense.
The Wildcats have slipped outside the Top 50 so far, and the prospect of a bowl game is not looking good. There are three more games that could be wins on the schedule, but the Wildcats will still have to find one more over either Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU or Oklahoma in order to make it to a bowl.
51. Oregon State Beavers
Average Rank: 49
Oregon State’s 34-30 victory over San Diego State was not all that impressive, except for the fourth quarter. The Beavers overcame a 27-14 deficit to score the four-point win.
If that final period was a sign of the near future, Oregon State is in good shape. If it was merely a combination of adrenaline and looming good fortune, this could be a terrible season for the Beavers.
The teams at the top of the Pac-12 aren’t going to allow a comeback like that.
50. Tennessee Volunteers
Average Rank: 48.5
Tennessee’s 31-17 loss to the Florida Gators was difficult to watch. First, the Vols defense did a decent job holding the Gators down. Second, Florida helped out Tennessee’s cause with an excellent job of being largely ineffective on offense.
That is, until Jeff Driskel broke his leg and came out of the game. As it turns out, Tyler Murphy is pretty good. Sadly, the loss hits really hard for Vols fans when their coach leaves the usual starting quarterback on the bench until his backup has earned a quarterback rating of 0.7.
Fans have to trust the coach of their program, but Butch Jones didn’t start Justin Worley against the Florida Gators. Hopefully, he learned that you don’t change clubs for your first PGA match. You work with the equipment that got you there.
The time for this kind of experimentation was in the fourth quarter against Oregon’s solid defense.
49. Navy Midshipmen
Average Rank: 47.333
Navy had a break for Week 4, and the Midshipmen will face Western Kentucky to maintain their undefeated record. As Navy wins each game, it steadily climbs up the ladder of success. Strength of schedule will keep it out of the national championship game, but there’s not a guaranteed loss anywhere on their schedule.
48. Vanderbilt Commodores
Average Rank: 45.5
Vanderbilt logged a 24-7 win over Massachusetts on Sept. 21, and the Commodores stayed in the Top 50 off that victory. The UAB Blazers will give them a tougher challenge, but Vandy is capable of the win.
A win won’t do much for the Commodores, but a loss would drop them into the 60s.
47. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Average Rank: 44
Mississippi State’s commanding victory over Troy moved it up a few slots into the Top 50. The quality of opponent didn’t necessarily have the biggest effect, but in a weekend full of less-than-stellar wins, beating a low-quality opponent by 55 points was enough for the boost.
46. Utah State Aggies
Average Rank: 41.5
Utah State struggled to get into the end zone against a motivated USC defense, and the Aggies lost to the Trojans 17-14. Their defense clearly did a fine job against their Pac-12 opponents, and that kept the Aggies from dropping too far.
Utah State faces San Jose State on Friday, Sept. 27, and that’s the Aggies’ chance to prove that they officially belong in the Top 50.
45. BYU Cougars
Average Rank: 41
The BYU Cougars really had a tough game against the Utah Utes in Week 4, losing 20-13. However, it was a valiant battle, and BYU still proved that it’s heading for the postseason.
The Cougars are going to rebound in a big way against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 27, assuming that they take the Blue Raiders as a threat…which they are.
44. Utah Utes
Average Rank: 40.667
The Utah Utes were on the other side of that 20-13 BYU loss. Given how close these rivalry games between these teams have been so far, it’s quite fitting that the three teams from Utah occupy the Nos. 44, 45 and 46 spots.
The Utes are going to surprise quite a few Pac-12 teams this season, although don’t expect an upset over the UCLA Bruins on Oct. 3. It’s possible, but will take a gargantuan effort to topple the Bruins.
This week is a bye, and the Utes will spend another week in the Top 50 before that matchup.
43. Boise State Broncos
Average Rank: 39.5
Boise State’s one-point loss to Fresno State has put the Broncos in a terrible spot for the MWC championship this season, not to mention the BCS. The Broncos should still make the postseason, but they will have to beat the rest of their conference handily.
This is much easier to theorize than accomplish, as Wyoming and other programs on Boise’s schedule are much improved over last season.
42. Northern Illinois Huskies
Average Rank: 39.4
Northern Illinois scored a great 43-39 win over an excellent FCS program, Eastern Illinois, on Sept. 21. That is one of the Huskies best wins of the season, and it still will be, regardless if they go undefeated.
Eastern Illinois could compete with a lot of the FBS programs. (Sagarin has it ranked at No. 89.) The Huskies now face a hit-or-miss Purdue squad that won’t be a walkover.
41. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Average Rank: 37.75
Rutgers took down Arkansas 28-24 at home, and that left the Scarlet Knights in good shape. Prior to that win, they were 2-1 with a loss to Fresno State, their only major FBS opponent thus far.
The Knights now carry momentum into their conference slate, which is going to be important as they face Louisville on Oct. 10.
40. Michigan State Spartans
Average Rank: 37.2
Michigan State came out on the losing end of a 17-13 struggle against Notre Dame. It was a struggle because the offenses simply weren’t effective, and it wasn’t due to the defenses for the most part.
Michigan State needs to turn the momentum around against Iowa on Oct. 5. However, the Spartans have a bye this week, so that will keep them in or near the Top 40 for another week.
39. Texas Longhorns
Average Rank: 36.75
Texas finally scored a big win. It was a 31-21 decision over the Kansas State Wildcats. Though Texas is clearly going to fall far short of a national championship, a decent bowl game and an eight-win season is not out of the question.
The Longhorns need to improve even more, though, or even a seven-win season is going to be a struggle.
38. Virginia Tech Hokies
Average Rank: 36.25
Virginia Tech fought through a deluge to come away with a 29-21, triple-overtime win over the Marshall Thundering Herd on Sept. 21. The Hokies don’t even get a semblance of a break, either. They turn around and face an undefeated Georgia Tech squad on Thursday, Sept. 26.
One thing you can’t say about the Hokies is that they haven’t earned their spot here.
37. Auburn Tigers
Average Rank: 35
The Auburn-LSU matchup is a rivalry in every sense of the word. Even in 2012, when Auburn won zero conference games, they kept the game within two points. This season, it was 35-21 in favor of LSU.
Auburn hasn’t proven itself worthy of a Top 30 ranking yet, but the Tigers are on the watch list for a complete turnaround from last season.
36. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Average Rank: 34.25
Minnesota played a relatively tough one with San Jose State, pulling out the 43-24 win. The bottom line is that wins matter, and the Golden Gophers have four of them…and no losses. That means a lot, even this early in the season.
They take on Iowa in Week 5, and that should be win No. 5 as well.
35. Penn State Nittany Lions
Average Rank: 33.5
Penn State shut out the Kent State Golden Flashes 34-0, leaving the loss to UCF as the Nittany Lions’ only blemish to the season thus far. Penn State is on their way to another season of disrupting the plans of other Big Ten teams, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
34. USC Trojans
33. Missouri Tigers
Average Rank: 31.75
Missouri quietly went undefeated for the first few weeks of the season, then made some serious noise with its 45-28 win over Big Ten long shot Indiana. Mizzou is the only undefeated team hailing from the SEC East.
That doesn’t mean that the Tigers are a shoe-in for the conference title game, but this is exactly the kind of season some were expecting. Mizzou was decimated by injury last season, and their record did not reflect the talent on the team.
32. Fresno State Bulldogs
Average Rank: 31.6
Fresno State got its first signature win of 2013, topping Boise State 41-40 in a contest that went all 60 minutes. The Bulldogs missed out on a potential BCS-boosting game against Colorado due to flooding, but as long as a possible makeup game doesn’t interfere with their next three games, Fresno State will easily be 6-0 to start the season.
31. Arizona Wildcats
Average Rank: 30.2
Arizona did not play last week, but the Wildcats come back in Week 5 for a massive battle with the Washington Huskies. The winner will be in the Top 25. Depending on the score, the loser might make it into the bottom of the rankings, too.
30. Nebraska Cornhuskers
29. TCU Horned Frogs
Average Rank: 28.5
TCU had a bye week in Week 4, and that will help the Horned Frogs recover from their 1-2 start to the season. The losses to LSU and Texas Tech aren’t that bad by themselves, but does hint at a disappointing season if they don’t get the train back on the rails.
For Week 5, they host the SMU Mustangs. It’s not at all a gimme win, but it’s a must-win game for the Horned Frogs.
28. Maryland Terrapins
Average Rank: 28.4
Maryland had possibly the most impressive win of Week 4 with its 37-point shutout of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
It was all Terrapins, all day long. In a week full of cupcakes and snoozefests, this was the one game that went against the grain with a monster win by the ACC over the Big 12.
27. Arizona State Sun Devils
Average Rank: 28
Arizona State fought Stanford valiantly, and walked away with a 42-28 loss. Although, there is a bit of an asterisk, as the Cardinal took a 39-7 lead into the fourth quarter and nearly blew it. Had Arizona State launched its comeback in the third quarter instead of the fourth, who knows what the Sun Devils could have accomplished?
They face USC on Sept. 28 and could move back up the ranking with a win.
26. UCF Knights
Average Rank: 27.8
UCF had a bye week in Week 4, and the Knights used it to prepare for their Sept. 28 showdown with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Make no mistake about this game, it’s an opportunity for Central Florida to crash the polls in an unbelievable way.
25. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Average Rank: 25.4
Either team is capable of pulling out the win, but a Georgia Tech victory would start the hype machine rolling in a big way for their Oct. 5 against Miami.
24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Average Rank: 24.2
With the exception of the Michigan game, Notre Dame is practically pulling off an identical repeat of the 2012 season, complete with one-possession victories over opponents. The Irish have started off 3-1, and a home game against the Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 28 will make or break their BCS hopes.
23. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Average Rank: 23.6
Texas Tech’s 33-7 win over the Texas State Bobcats didn’t do much for the Red Raiders other than keep them undefeated. That kept them in the Top 25 for the time being, and so should their Oct. 5 match against the Kansas Jayhawks.
In the meantime, they may rise just a bit during their bye as other teams around them drop important conference games on Sept. 28.
T-21. Northwestern Wildcats
T-21. Michigan Wolverines
Average Rank: 22
Michigan is tied with Northwestern after a disconcerting 24-21 win over the winless Connecticut Huskies. Michigan has found a way to slip slowly toward the bottom of the official polls, even while winning.
The Wolverines need to use their Week 5 bye to figure out exactly what has gone wrong over their last two games. Based on the current trend, they are on track to lose The Game by 70 points.
20. Wisconsin Badgers
Average Rank: 21.4
Notre Dame couldn’t put Purdue in its place in Week 3, so Wisconsin did it to the tune of a 41-10 victory in Week 4. The Badgers are now 3-1* for the 2013 season, and they face Ohio State in The Horseshoe in Week 5. The Badgers have a tough road ahead, but few teams are as motivated to prove their value as Wisconsin is.
*Referees were reprimanded and sanctioned for the events surrounding their lone loss.
19. Ole Miss Rebels
Average Rank: 21.2
Ole Miss had a bye week, and it could prove to be one of the best things to happen to Hugh Freeze and the Rebels this season. They maintained a spot in the Top 25, and they are heading to Tuscaloosa to take on the reigning national champions in Week 5.
Alabama has displayed an exploitable defense at times, and the Rebels are going to take their best shot at overthrowing the Crimson Tide. Win or lose, Ole Miss should stay ranked, but a win would send shockwaves throughout the college football world.
18. Florida Gators
Average Rank: 19.6
Florida scored an ugly 31-17 win over the Tennessee Volunteers in Week 4. The final score doesn’t look as ugly as the game was. The Gators won the turnover battle 6-3. That’s right, there were nine total turnovers and just 602 combined total yards.
The brightest spot of the game, for Florida, was Tyler Murphy’s performance after Jeff Driskel’s injury. Murphy went 8-of14 for 134 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
For comparison, Driskel went 3-of-6 for 33 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
17. Washington Huskies
Average Rank: 17.4
Washington had a huge week against Idaho State, as they won the matchup 56-0. That held them in the Top 25 for the moment, but Arizona will bring the first Pac-12 contest of 2013 to Husky Stadium on Sept. 28.
This game will help establish Washington’s place in the pecking order, and a win would definitely keep the Huskies in the official polls.
16. Miami Hurricanes
15. Baylor Bears
Average Rank: 15.2
Baylor’s 70-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe was not met with a great deal of chatter, but it showcased a defense that may be able to bring the Bears a Big 12 title. ULM’s Kolton Browning is a great quarterback, and he would have easily put up more points against the 2012 Baylor defense.
The Bears are quietly demolishing their competition. They face their first Big 12 opponent on Oct. 5: the West Virginia Mountaineers.
14. Oklahoma Sooners
Average Rank: 13.4
Oklahoma had a bye last week, and the Sooners stayed solidly in the Top 25 during the break. This week, they make up for the fact that they didn’t play by giving fans one of the best games of the weekend: Oklahoma at Notre Dame.
Obviously, this game is a potential season-breaker for Oklahoma, and the Sooners had better come to play.
13. UCLA Bruins
Average Rank: 12.6
UCLA is yet another powerhouse that grossly outmatched its opponent in Week 4. The Bruins scored a 59-13 win over the New Mexico State Aggies. Now, the cruise control has been fully engaged, and the Bruins have a bye for the Sept. 28 weekend.
UCLA will come back for a conference road game against the Utah Utes on Oct. 3.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks
Average Rank: 11.8
South Carolina had a hall pass, like so many of the top-ranked teams in the country did during Week 4. The Gamecocks rode that break to another week in the polls, and they’re coming back to a potential upset game against the UCF Knights on Sept. 28.
11. Louisville Cardinals
Average Rank: 9.8
Louisville has a relatively easy schedule compared to the rest of the Top 25, so don’t look for the Cardinals to leave this area of the rankings unless Rutgers or UCF manages the upset.
10. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Average Rank: 9.6
Oklahoma State cruised through the Sept. 21 weekend without a game, and the Cowboys are hitting the road to play the West Virginia Mountaineers for Week 5. Based on the Maryland-West Virginia game (linked in both their slides), Oklahoma State will be right back here next week.
9. Texas A&M Aggies
Average Rank: 9.2
Texas A&M beat SMU 42-13 on Sept. 21, continuing the potential path to a rematch against Alabama in the BCS title game. Even if the Aggies miss out on the title game, a one-loss season would definitely put them in the Sugar Bowl.
This week, they drew Arkansas in a Saturday evening (Sept. 28), SEC West battle.
8. Georgia Bulldogs
Average Rank: 8.2
Georgia was able put North Texas away on Sept. 21 with a final score of 45-21, but at one point, the Mean Green had the game knotted at 21, which Georgia clearly didn’t expect.
After that questionable performance, Georgia hosts LSU in the biggest matchup of Week 5. If Georgia plays like it did against North Texas, then the Bulldogs will have their second loss of the season.
7. Florida State Seminoles
Average Rank: 6.8
Florida State’s 54-6 win over Bethune-Cookman was exactly the game it was supposed to be: a blowout. Teams like Georgia looked sloppy against their lesser Week 4 opponents, but the Seminoles stayed true to form and performed like a Top 10 team.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Seminoles face their second ACC opponent of the season, but the score won’t be much different. Boston College is not ready to compete with a team like FSU.
T-5. LSU Tigers
Average Rank: 6
LSU bested Auburn 35-21 on Sept. 21, and that was a better sparring match than what Georgia saw in Week 4.
LSU simply keeps winning its games, and that’s good enough to inspire voters’ faith that the Tigers will once again be a premier team in the SEC West. Hence, their appearance here tied for No. 5 in the composite rankings.
T-5. Clemson Tigers
Average Rank: 6
Clemson played a terrible game against NC State on Thursday, Sept. 19, and the Tigers limped away with a 26-14 win. Yes, the win kept them ranked this highly, but it does call into question their ability to go the distance.
Sure, NC State plays ranked teams aggressively at home, but does Clemson really think it can get past the entire ACC and South Carolina playing like that? Hopefully not, just as other teams ahead of it in the ranking can’t afford to repeat their Week 4 performances.
As long as Clemson stays undefeated, its strength of schedule should push it into the national championship game.
T-3. Stanford Cardinal
Average Rank: 5.6
Stanford owned Arizona State for three full quarters on Sept. 21, taking a 39-7 lead into the final period. This is what gives fans pause when it comes to the 42-28 final score. The Sun Devils outscored Stanford 21-3 over the final 15 minutes.
Granted, that’s not a complete meltdown, but how would that scenario play out against Oregon? There’s no reason to throw Stanford in the trash, but there is a little concern there.
T-3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Average Rank: 5.6
Ohio State participated in yet another top-tier mismatch of Week 4, a 72-0 shutout of the Florida A&M Rattlers. The Buckeyes at least took care of business against the lesser squad, but it didn’t help them move up the rankings.
Of course, it’s going to take a major win over a highly-ranked team to jump over an undefeated Oregon Ducks team. The Buckeyes can make an attempt at jumping up with a huge win over Wisconsin in Week 5.
2. Oregon Ducks
Average Rank: 2
Oregon sat out of the Week 4 debacle, and it stayed a unanimous No. 2 on this list. The Ducks need to beat California resoundingly in Week 5 as a precaution against Ohio State jumping over them in the rankings.
The Buckeyes face a ranked Wisconsin squad while Oregon faces Cal, and it may come down to which team looks more unbeatable to the voters. It will be interesting to see which team comes out on top in the Week 6 Power Rankings.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Average Rank: 1
Alabama is unanimous in the power rankings at No. 1. The Tide beat Colorado State 31-6 on Sept. 21, even though the Rams kept it relatively close until Alabama’s 14-point fourth quarter.
The Tide host Ole Miss on Sept. 28, one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The Rebels are going to screw up someone’s season this year, and Alabama could be that team.
Alabama has won the last two national championships. As long as it keeps winning, get used to the No. 1 ranking.