These rankings are all about rating teams against their conference brethren, but we are also ranking the conferences against each other.
Check out the chart below and click on a conference to get full details on why we ranked teams how we did.
The cream continues to rise in the SEC.
Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Kentucky were all victorious over the weekend and are each 5-0 (yes, Kentucky is now being mentioned in the same breath as all those other power programs; good job, Big Blue Nation).
Beyond that, much still remains unclear. Florida showed some encouraging signs of progress by going into Starkville, Mississippi, and taking down Dan Mullen’s old squad. On the flip side, Mississippi State — highly regarded coming into the season — has lost its first two SEC games. Auburn isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, either, even in its wins.
Week 6 will bring some key battles, including one between those latter two squads — the Bulldogs and Tigers — that will provide some intrigue in the SEC West. Can Kentucky go to College Station, Texas, and move to 6-0? And it’s LSU-Florida week, which is always fun.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0)
The 56-14 win over Louisiana was nice and all, but the most important thing to come out of the game was the final word that Jalen Hurts will remain the most overqualified backup quarterback in all of college football.
2. Georgia Bulldogs (5-0)
The Bulldogs took care of business at home against Tennessee as backup quarterback Justin Fields continues to push for more of a role in the offense after two touchdown runs.
3. LSU Tigers (5-0)
There would be no slip-up at home against Ole Miss as Joe Burrow and the defense continue to play well. With a growing sense of confidence, can the Tigers take care of business on the road at Florida before welcoming No. 2 Georgia to Death Valley the following week?
4. Kentucky Wildcats (5-0)
Big Blue Nation looks legit. The Wildcats are undoubtedly an SEC East title contender, having won their first three league contests, the latest a 24-10 triumph over South Carolina.
5. Florida Gators (4-1)
It wasn’t pretty, but Florida’s defense carried the day and got Dan Mullen his first top-25 win in his old stomping grounds at Mississippi State.
6. Texas A&M Aggies (3-2)
The Aggies turned in what Jimbo Fisher called his team’s “worst football game of the year, by far,” but still came out victorious over Arkansas. While the win is good, Fisher’s team has to be much better by the time Kentucky comes to town this weekend.
7. Auburn Tigers (4-1)
Another Saturday, another lukewarm victory. Southern Miss kept it close for too long as Gus Malzahn’s offense continues to struggle, especially along the offensive line.
8. Missouri Tigers (3-1)
The Tigers were off this weekend but have a key SEC battle awaiting them upon return, a road game at South Carolina.
9. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2)
Is there a more disappointing team than this in the SEC? Joe Moorhead’s tenure is off to a rocky start with two early losses, a quarterback who appears to be lost and an offense that seems to have no answers right now.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-2)
The Gamecocks ran into the buzz saw that is Kentucky and were inept offensively, with QB Jake Bentley having a rough performance. Fortunately for them, they’ll be home for the next three games, plus an off week.
11. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-2)
The Commodores had a tough time putting away FCS foe Tennessee State and that provides concern for them heading into the meat of their SEC schedule, which kicks off with Georgia this weekend.
12. Ole Miss Rebels (3-2)
At one point, Ole Miss called a timeout when LSU was getting ready to punt on fourth-and-1. LSU then decided to go for it and drew the defense offside for a first down. If anything sums up how poorly the Rebs’ defense is executing these days, that’s it.
13. Tennessee Volunteers (2-3)
The Vols had no business winning at Georgia. But in the interest of optimism, at least Jarrett Guarantano took care of the football and Tennessee didn’t give up entirely, scoring all 12 of its points in the second half.
14. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-4)
For the second straight week, the Razorbacks had encouraging signs of fight, this time taking Texas A&M down to the final minutes. The offense, which is coach Chad Morris’ forte, is still largely inept (248 yards on Saturday). It’s going to be difficult to win an SEC game until that gets fixed.
2. Big Ten
An eventful week for sure in the Big Ten, even with five teams off, but the power rankings saw little movement as the top teams battled in a Saturday night classic at Beaver Stadium, Michigan avoided a big upset and upstart Purdue extended Nebraska’s misery.
2. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1)
You may hear it discussed a bit. Why didn’t the Nittany Lions put Trace McSorley — who ran for 175 yards and threw for 286 — in better position to make a decisive play on fourth-and-5?
3. Wisconsin Badgers (3-1)
With a week off to savor the season-saving win over Iowa, the Badgers got extra time to prepare for a Nebraska team they’ve beaten in five straight meetings.
4. Michigan Wolverines (4-1)
The third-largest comeback in Michigan history and largest under Jim Harbaugh — down 17 to Northwestern — kept the Wolverines alive in the race for the Big Ten and more.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1)
All is not lost after the disappointment against Wisconsin. Iowa is projected by FPI as a favorite in every remaining game except a Week 9 trip to Penn State.
7. Indiana Hoosiers (4-1)
Scores on four consecutive possessions in the first half for the Hoosiers took care of Rutgers, but this was too uncomfortable for a team with postseason aspirations.
8. Maryland Terrapins (3-1)
The Terps have averaged 468 yards of offense in three wins. A similar showing this week at Michigan would cement as an anomaly that Week 3 performance against Temple.
9. Purdue Boilermakers (2-3)
A statement win at Nebraska for the Boilermakers, who scored 27 straight points to take control in a difficult environment for Jeff Brohm’s second straight Big Ten road victory.
10. Northwestern Wildcats (1-3)
Good signs from QB Clayton Thorson, who finally played a full game, but the Wildcats couldn’t run the ball in order to hold a lead without the recently retired Jeremy Larkin.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2)
A decent chance to get back above .500 arrives this week with a trip to Rutgers before the schedule takes a dark turn.
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-4)
Another 11 penalties for the third-most-flagged team nationally led to a school-record eighth straight loss despite 582 yards of offense against Purdue.
14. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-4)
The margin of victory is getting smaller — from 49 to 41 to 29 and seven at home against Indiana, a trend that likely won’t continue with four ranked teams left on the schedule.
3. Big 12
Going back to its inception, the Big 12 has been a quarterback-driven league. And this year, once again, the conference boasts Heisman contenders at the position in Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and West Virginia’s Will Grier. Yet the first month of the season has collectively brought more questions than answers at the position across the conference.
Those teams that figure out their quarterback dilemmas the soonest stand the best chances of finishing in the top half of the conference. Those that don’t will risk missing out on bowl eligibility altogether.
As for the top, the Big 12 is already beginning to feel like a three-team race, with Murray and Grier staring down a Black Friday collision course on Nov. 23. That said, Texas and Sam Ehlinger will have their say, beginning this weekend in the biggest Red River Showdown since maybe 2008.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (5-0)
Despite sitting the first series, Murray only enhanced his Heisman credentials with a seven-touchdown performance against Baylor. He can become a co-favorite alongside Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa by taking down Texas, too.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0)
Nobody in college football is averaging more TD passes per game than Grier, who padded his Heisman campaign with three more in Lubbock, Texas. Grier and the Mountaineers could be double-digit favorites in every game from now until November.
3. Texas Longhorns (4-1)
Since throwing a game-ending pick in the opener against Maryland, Ehlinger has now gone 128 consecutive passes without an interception, the third-longest streak in school history. Ehlinger nearly outgunned Baker Mayfield last year as a true freshman. Now, he’ll get his shot against Murray.
4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-2)
True freshman Alan Bowman had been tremendous in wins over Houston and Oklahoma State. But after he went down with an injury, it was Jett Duffey who electrified and nearly rallied the Red Raiders all the way back from a 25-point deficit against West Virginia. Kliff Kingsbury will have some decisions to make at QB, both in the short and long term.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-1)
After much consternation in Stillwater, Oklahoma, about the QB situation, Taylor Cornelius pieced together a very impressive performance in Lawrence, Kansas. Cornelius continues to be the guy, while Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders continue to sit on the sidelines.
6. TCU Horned Frogs (3-2)
As TCU played for the game-winning field goal against Iowa State, QB Shawn Robinson had to go to the locker room with an apparent left shoulder injury. Robinson had flashed tons of promise, but the Horned Frogs could be rolling with Penn transfer Michael Collins for the foreseeable future.
8. Kansas State Wildcats (2-3)
Skylar Thompson’s second-half performance in the loss to Texas should quash any notion that he shouldn’t be K-State’s full-time QB moving forward.
10. Kansas Jayhawks (2-3)
Kansas has been burning through QBs since the days of Todd Reesing. Which made Carter Stanley’s three-TD, no-interception performance against Oklahoma State worth noting.
One byproduct of the College Football Playoff era is how it has reduced the prestige of winning a Power 5 conference title. It’s still rewarding and teams and fans can look back fondly on the achievement, but should it come without a playoff berth there is now no avoiding the added sense that the team fell short of where it really wanted to be.
So even though neither Stanford nor Washington has lost a conference game yet, their nonconference losses are deflating because of how they will impact their hopes for a playoff berth at the end of the year. In a way, that will frame the season for the Pac-12: It doesn’t matter how fun the conference will be to watch on a weekly basis, it will still feel like every team is chasing a consolation prize.
That dynamic is why an eight-team playoff — with automatic bids for Power 5 champions — would make a lot of sense. It keeps many more fan bases engaged for much longer during the season. That’s a win for everyone.
1. Washington Huskies (4-1)
The Huskies’ 35-7 win against BYU was their most complete performance of the season when taking into account the caliber of opponent. The Cougars came into the game ranked, but it was clear very early they would be no trouble for Washington, which gets UCLA this week before its showdown with Oregon.
2. Stanford Cardinal (4-1)
A win at Notre Dame would have made the Cardinal a legitimate playoff contender. Instead, they fell flat and return to conference play looking for consistency.
3. Oregon Ducks (4-1)
After scoring 42 points against a good Cal defense, the Ducks are still probably aching for a mulligan for their collapse against Stanford. They’ll use the bye week to prepare for Washington on Oct. 13.
4. Colorado Buffaloes (4-0)
The Buffs have looked great. QB Steven Montez and WR Laviska Shenault Jr. are fun to watch. The obvious disclaimer is that their record has come against teams that are a combined 1-16.
5. USC Trojans (3-2)
USC’s 18 penalties against Arizona are the most an FBS team has committed in a game since Week 3 of 2016. This USC team is well below the program’s standard … and yet it’s still a good bet to win the South.
6. Washington State Cougars (4-1)
Utah and WSU played the Cougars’ style in the first half (tied 21-21 at halftime), but when the game reversed to the Utes’ style in the second … it was the Cougars who found a way to close it out.
7. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-2)
With Colorado, Stanford and USC upcoming, we’ll really get to find out what to make of the Sun Devils.
8. Utah Utes (2-2)
It was encouraging to see the Utes focus on running the ball because it’s clear that’s their strength offensively.
9. California Golden Bears (3-1)
The Bears don’t have the firepower on offense to keep up in a high-scoring game, and through four games, three different quarterbacks have essentially served as QB1.
11. Oregon State Beavers (1-4)
The Beavers don’t play UCLA this year, so it’s entirely possible the Pac-12 will have two teams that go winless in conference play.
12. UCLA Bruins (0-4)
After losing seven games in four years at Oregon, Chip Kelly might need just seven games to equal that total at UCLA.
1. Clemson Tigers (5-0)
Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Clemson on Saturday, but the Tigers still pulled out a win over Syracuse. Credit a dominant run game, led by Travis Etienne, that had taken a backseat to the QB battle until carrying the offense in Trevor Lawrence‘s absence.
2. Miami Hurricanes (4-1)
N’Kosi Perry has made a few mistakes, as expected, but it’s clear the Canes’ offense looks far more dynamic with him at QB. Add in 60 TFL through five games and Miami looks poised to push for the Coastal again.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1)
The ODU loss may go down as one of the most inexplicable of the season. Ryan Willis was sharp filling in for Josh Jackson, and the Hokies cruised to a win over No. 22 Duke.
5. Syracuse Orange(4-1)
There’s no shame in the offense struggling against Clemson’s elite D, but what’s frustrating is how many missed opportunities there were. Still, Syracuse proved it belonged on the big stage.
8. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-2)
Giving up 24 to Rice isn’t going to convince anyone the defense is fixed, but a win’s a win.
9. Virginia Cavaliers (3-2)
The ground game had been the cornerstone for Virginia to open the season, but it was nowhere to be found against NC State.
11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3)
Bowling Green didn’t put up any sort of challenge, and the Jackets won in a blowout. Wake us when they beat a quality opponent.
12. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-3)
The loss to Miami was ugly, but the success of the ground game offers something to build on. Now, about the QBs …
13. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-3)
The blowout loss to UCF marked the sixth double-digit loss for Pitt since the start of last year. On the upside, at least this one came against a defending champ.
14. Louisville Cardinals (2-3)
Advice to coaches out there: Run the ball on first down when you have a lead, you’re in opposing territory and there’s less than two minutes to play.