OFR College Football Rankings, 10/12/15

Previous College Football Rankings:
10/5/15

What this ranking is: A ranking of team resumes so far. It’s a combination of many things – avoiding losses is paramount to anything else, as winning is the name of the game. Unique wins are a good thing, too – being the only team to beat another carries a lot of weight. Being one of two to beat another carries weight, but less. If the losses come to undefeated teams, that matters. And if they didn’t, how many losses the teams that beat you have piled up matter. Also, to a lesser extent, how you won and lost matters – blowouts, close wins, close losses – there are adjustments for all these. But it’s a look at what you’ve done in a vacuum separate from perceptions we hold about CFB teams. This isn’t in awe of Ohio State because of what Ohio State did last year, who coaches the Buckeyes, or the collection of talent on the roster. This is 100% score-based.

What this ranking is not: It’s not a measure of the best teams in the country. Try ESPN’s FPI or Football Outsiders’ F/+ rankings for really good measures of the best teams. This ranking is also not predictive – again, try those. A higher ranked team in this list isn’t suggested to be capable of beating a lower ranked team. That is not what this is. There’s an instinct people have to change all rankings into what they want rankings to be, and that’s an easy trap to fall into with OFR’s. “Man, ain’t no way [team ranked #15] is better than [team ranked #30]!” “[Team ranked #20] would destroy [team ranked #10]!” If you have either reaction, or anything similar, you need to re-read this section of the post. It’s just a look at resume, because at the end of the year, that’s what matters most. FSU wasn’t one of the 4 best teams in the country in 2014, but the Seminoles had one of the 4 best resumes, so they made the playoffs.

The Bottom Fourth (#’s 128-97)

GSU QB Nick Arbuckle has averaged 7.3 ypp this year. (Photo: Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)
GSU QB Nick Arbuckle has averaged 7.3 ypp this year. (Photo: Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)


128. Wyoming (0-6)
127. UCF (0-6)
126. North Texas (0-5)
125. Eastern Michigan (1-5)
124. UTEP (2-4)
123. Fresno State (1-5)
122. Miami OH (1-5)
121. Idaho (1-4)
120. New Mexico State (0-5)
119. UL-Monroe (1-4)
117t. Georgia State (1-4)
117t. UT-San Antonio (1-5)
116. Kansas (0-5)
115. Charlotte (2-3)
113t. Colorado State (2-4)
113t. Hawaii (2-4)
112. Purdue (1-5)
109t. Florida International (3-3)
109t. Florida Atlantic (1-4)
109t. SMU (1-5)
108. Troy (1-4)
107. New Mexico (3-3)
106. Texas State (1-4)
104t. Army (1-5)
104t. Maryland (2-4)
102t. Massachusetts (1-4)
102t. Old Dominion (2-3)
100t. San Jose State (3-3)
100t. UNLV (2-4)
99. Ball State (2-4)
98. Virginia (1-4)
96t. Kent State (2-4)

 

Not Good (#’s 96-65)

96t. Middle Tennessee (2-4)
95. Connecticut (3-3)
91t. Colorado (3-3)

91t. Southern Mississippi (3-3)
91t. Tulane (2-3)
91t. UL-Lafayette (2-3)
90. Rice (3-3)
89. Oregon State (2-3)
88. Vanderbilt (2-3)
87. Arkansas State (2-3)
84t. Nevada (3-3)
84t. San Diego State (3-3)
84t. South Alabama (3-2)
82t. Buffalo (2-3)
82t. Central Michigan (2-4)
81. Northern Illinois (3-3)

Northern Illinois' Joel Bouagnon has 10 TD already.
Northern Illinois RB Joel Bouagnon has 10 TD in 6 games.

78t. Georgia Tech (2-4)
78t. Nebraska (2-4)
78t. Western Michigan (2-3)
76t. Akron (3-3)
76t. South Carolina (2-4)
75. Arkansas (2-4)
74. East Carolina (3-3)
73. Boston College (3-3)
71t. Iowa State (2-3)
71t. Wake Forest (3-3)
68t. Syracuse (3-2)
68t. Tulsa (3-2)
68t. Utah State (3-2)
67. Rutgers (2-3)
66. Air Force (3-2)
64t. South Florida (2-3)

Not Great (#’s 64-25)

64t. Auburn (3-2)
62t. Illinois (4-2)
62t. NC State (4-2)
60t. Arizona (4-2)
60t. Miami (3-2)
58t. Bowling Green (4-2)
58t. Virginia Tech (3-3)
57. Louisiana Tech (4-2)
55t. Georgia (4-2)
55t. Texas (2-4)
54. Oregon (3-3)
52t. Marshall (5-1)
52t. Missouri (4-2)
50t. Tennessee (3-3)
50t. Washington State (3-2)
49. BYU (4-2)

Georgia Southern's Matt Breida has 10 TDs and a whopping 10.3 yards per carry.
Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida has 10 TDs and a whopping 10.3 yards per carry.

45t. Georgia Southern (4-1)
45t. Louisville (2-3)
45t. Minnesota (4-2)
45t. Wisconsin (4-2)
43t. Indiana (4-2)
43t. USC (3-2)
42. Washington (3-2)
40t. Duke (5-1)
40t. Navy (4-1)
36t. Appalachian State (4-1)
36t. Cincinnati (3-2)
36t. North Carolina (4-1)
36t. West Virginia (3-2)
34t. Boise State (5-1)
34t. Kansas State (3-2)
31t. Ohio (5-1)
31t. Pittsburgh (4-1)
31t. Texas Tech (4-2)
28t. Arizona State (4-2)
28t. Mississippi State (4-2)
28t. Western Kentucky (5-1)
27. Kentucky (4-1)
25t. Penn State (5-1)
25t. Oklahoma (4-1)

 

Really Good (#’s 24-5)

There was a tie for the 25th spot, so I threw them back into the previous group. There’s plenty to write about with the top two dozen. Also, I’ll be breaking ties subjectively from here on out, so the list will just count straight down.

24. Memphis (5-0)
Signature win(s): Bowling Green, Cincinnati
Change: +5
Despite a bye, Memphis jumps 5 spots into the top 24. It’s mostly thanks to USF and Bowling Green winning and several other teams losing. Since they move into the top 24, let’s take a closer look at why Memphis is successful. Really, they haven’t been playing that well lately. Their last 3 wins have been by a net total of 17 points, coming against teams that really aren’t all that good. Memphis has looked its best against the truly terrible – FCS Missouri State and FCS-esque Kansas. If the Tigers don’t improve their quality of play, the season will go south. 5 of their final 7 opponents – Ole Miss, Tulsa, Navy, Houston, and Temple – are all likely better than anyone Memphis has yet faced. I think they’re a cinch for bowl eligibility, but that’s really as far as I’ll go. Despite all that, how is Memphis 5-0? They finish drives, averaging over 6 points per trip inside opponents’ 40 yard lines. That’s a big difference in close games, and Memphis has routinely found themselves in close games. QB Paxton Lynch has been phenomenal, completing 70.5% of passes for 1535 yards, a 10:0 ratio, and an impressive 9.7 ypp. He has yet to turn the ball over, via fumble or interception. There aren’t really any standouts on defense, though FS Reggis Ball does have 2 interceptions and 2 PBU.
This week: vs. Ole Miss

23. UCLA (4-1)
Signature win(s): BYU, Arizona
Change: +5
Like Memphis, UCLA moves up after a bye thanks to some losses from nearby teams and wins from those on the schedule. The Bruins really looked championship caliber through two weeks, and while they’ve tailed off a bit, they’re still playing like a conference contender. RB Paul Perkins has been a star, as expected, rushing for 5.8 ypc, 577 yards, and 7 TD. QB Josh Rosen isn’t the instant superstar we saw on opening day, but he’s averaging 7.1 ypp, and he’s handling the job really well for a true freshman. Rosen has yet to be sacked on a non-passing down, which means UCLA is doing a nice job avoiding early downs hole-digging.  They also get their players into space nicely – 88% of opponent tackles have been solo tackles, the 2nd highest rate in the country. UCLA isn’t really a team so far that blows you away with any single facet of the game. They just do lots of things well.
This week: at Stanford

Houston QB Greg Ward Jr is a true duel threat, averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt and rushing for 11 TD. (Photo: Rob Ferguson/USA Today Sports)
Houston QB Greg Ward Jr is a true duel threat, averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt and rushing for 11 TD. (Photo: Rob Ferguson/USA Today Sports)

22. Houston (5-0)
Signature win(s): Tulsa
Change: +3
With their toughest opponent arguably behind them (Louisville), there’s a decent chance Houston runs the table this year. Tom Herman’s offense ranks in the top 40 nationally in explosiveness, success rate, and points per trip inside opponents’ 40. A better indicator of how good Herman is might be to take a look at his old team, Ohio State, who have struggled without him so far in 2015. Houston blew out SMU over the weekend, 49-28, which is what a Group of Five team needs to do to get noticed.
This week: at Tulane

21. Toledo (5-0)
Signature win(s): none
Change: -1
The Rockets drop a spot despite a blowout 38-7 win over Kent State. That’s thanks to Arkansas, who lost their 4th game, Iowa State, who dropped their 3rd, and Ball State, who lost their 4th. Toledo is 5-0, but all 5 opponents have been beaten by at least two other teams. There’s not much to their resume so far. The Rockets did play their best, most complete game of the year against the Flashes. No team in the country is allowing fewer points when the opponent crosses the 40 than Toledo’s 2.27 points. DE Trent Voss has 6 TFL/sacks and 2 PBU, while DT Orion Jones has 7 TFL/sacks with 4.5 coming against opposing QB’s. FS DeJuan Rogers has an INT, 5 PBU, and a forced fumble, while CB Cheatham Norris has 7 PBU of his own. Toledo’s defense has allowed just 11.8 ppg, with only one game allowing over 12. They’re not quite Michigan, but DC Jon Heacock (former Youngstown State HC) has his defense playing at a very high level.
This week: vs. Eastern Michigan

20. Stanford (4-1)
Signature win(s): USC, Arizona
Change: -14
That’s a pretty significant drop after the bye, but two games drastically changed Stanford’s resume. On Friday, USC lost to Washington, and Stanford was no longer the only team to claim a win against the Trojans. Then, on Saturday, Northwestern finally proved mortal, meaning the Cardinal no longer had a claim that their loss was against an unbeatable team. They lost a game by multiple scores to a team another team figured out how to beat, and that should change how we view Stanford. There’s no new information on Stanford specifically, just that their schedule so far isn’t quite as tough as they hoped it was.
This week: vs. UCLA

19. Michigan State (6-0)
Signature win(s): Air Force
Change: -1
Can we stop fawning over Michigan State just because they beat Oregon? The coaches poll still has MSU in the top 4, which is pretty ridiculous considering how and who they’ve played. Oregon is arguably their best opponent, and Oregon might not be in the upper half of the FBS this year. Air Force is the only opponent with fewer than 3 total losses. It doesn’t matter now, because a win this week against the Wolverines mean MSU will finally have earned it. Still, MSU’s current ranking is the latest indicator of how lazy poll participants can be. Not once has MSU looked like a playoff contender. They’ve played pretty well in each game, but never really great. Over the weekend, they beat Rutgers by 7. Meh.
This week: at Michigan

18. Notre Dame (5-1)
Signature win(s): Navy
Change: +6
Texas won, which helped, but more importantly, Clemson won and the Irish handed Navy its only loss of the season. If Clemson and Navy keep winning, it’ll do wonders for Notre Dame’s resume. RB C.J. Prosise (7.1 ypc, 798 yds, 9 TD) continues to move the chains nicely, and QB DeShone Kizer (8.0 ypp, 65.9%, 8:4) is capable behind center, even though he’s a little turnover prone (a fumble or INT every 27 plays). Kizer relies heavily on WR Will Fuller, who has received over 28% of Notre Dame’s passing targets. Why shouldn’t he? He’s averaging 11.9 yards per target with 7 touchdowns. Defensively, let’s give some love to LB Jaylon Smith (5.5 TFL/sacks, 3 PBU, 1 forced fumble, 35 tackles) and DT Sheldon Day (8 TFL/sacks, 1 PBU). Due to injuries, they’re not the contender they wanted to be, but Notre Dame is still really good.
This week: vs. USC

17. Ole Miss (5-1)
Signature win(s): Alabama
Change: +4
The Rebs had a nice, easy week, cruising to a 52-3 win over sacrificial lamb New Mexico State. It was a well timed “get back on track” game for Ole Miss, who, since the win over Alabama, had slipped to merely good against Vanderbilt and then awful against Florida. That blowout, combined with Alabama and Florida both winning, pushed Ole Miss upward in the rankings this week. The name of the game for Ole Miss is finishing & limiting drives, ranking 6th offensively and 15th defensively in points per trip inside the 40. Per trip across the 40 yard line, Ole Miss has a 2.38 point advantage per drive. That’s pretty significant, which bodes well for Ole Miss in any close games. Chad Kelly may throw an interception or fumble every 24 plays, but when he doesn’t, he’s piling up yards, 9.6 per play this year. While Nkemdiches dominate headlines, the secondary is making plays. CB Trae Elston has 4 interceptions, while fellow back Mike Hilton has been a force all over the field, with 4.5 TFL/sacks, an interception, 6 PBU, and a forced fumble.
This week: at Memphis

Mississippi Rebels defensive back Trae Elston (7) returns an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Richard Mullaney (16) reaches out for him at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi Rebels defensive back Trae Elston (7) returns an interception as Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Richard Mullaney (16) reaches out for him at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

16. California (5-1)
Signature win(s): Washington, Washington State
Change: None
Last week, Cal was 16th at 5-0, and they’re still 16th at 5-1. That probably has more to do with other teams moving up and down, but let’s not forget that Cal’s loss just wasn’t that bad. They lost by 6, on the road, to an undefeated Utah. Cal isn’t winning by a lot, and they’re not a playoff contender as much as a spoiler to those who are, but Cal is fun to watch. Utah really gave Jared Goff fits, pushing his ball security rate to an INT/FUM every 19 plays, but there’s still a lot to like about his game this season. Having WR Kenny Lawler, recipient of 8 TD passes so far, doesn’t hurt. Defensively, the Bears aren’t great, but DE Kyle Kragen is proving himself a playmaker with 6 TFL/sacks, a FF, and a PBU so far. Plus, how cool is it to yell “RELEASE THE KRAGEN” on every passing down?
This week: BYE

15. Baylor (5-0)
Signature win(s): Texas Tech
Change: +4
Baylor might very well be the best team in the country, but their refusal to play anyone notable early means we can’t possibly know that until November. Even the conference schedule starts off lightly. In October, Baylor faces Texas Tech (63-35), Kansas (66-7), West Virginia, and Iowa State – arguably the 4 worst teams in the Big XII. November gets serious real fast, but for now, Baylor is just kind of on cruise control. This weekend they’ll try to avenge last year’s 41-27 loss to the Mountaineers, a game that kept Baylor out of the playoff.
This week: vs. West Virginia

14. Oklahoma State (6-0)
Signature win(s): Kansas State, West Virginia
Change: None
Like Baylor, the Cowboys really haven’t gotten a shot at any of the real big boys in the Big XII yet, but they have taken down Kansas State and West Virginia, albeit by a combined 9 points. Expect the Cowboys to keep rising in the ranks. They have a bye, then face Kansas and Texas Tech, so there’s a good chance Oklahoma State wakes up November 1 undefeated at 8-0. Diminutive WR David Glidden is only 5-8, but has 11.4 yards per target, 3 TDs and has been Mason Rudolph’s most sought after receiver this year. And you can’t talk Oklahoma State without talking about the defensive ends: Emmanuel Ogbah (11 TFL/sacks, 2 FF) and Jimmy Bean (10.5 TFL/sacks) are terrorizing opposing tackles. DT Vincent Taylor (6.5 TFL/sacks) has been excellent as well, as has WLB Seth Jacobs (6.0 TFL/sacks, 1 INT, 1 PBU). While you shouldn’t mistake the defense for a national championship caliber one, they make plays at and behind the line routinely, presenting big play potential that can be differences in close games.
This week: BYE

13. Alabama (5-1)
Signature win(s): Georgia, Wisconsin
Change: -1
Alabama looked great yet again in a 27-14 win over Arkansas, and I still think Alabama is the best team in the country. However, the resume slipped a tad. Georgia losing was the most significant thing, but Middle Tennessee and ULM losing hurt in minor ways. Alabama’s first 6 opponents look far less impressive than they did, say, two weeks ago. They’re in the SEC, so there are plenty of chances to impress going forward, and odds are good they will, so this placement is nothing to be really concerned about.
This week: at Texas A&M

12. Florida State (5-0)
Signature win(s): Miami
Change: +5
2015 Florida State is starting to look like 2014 Florida State: nearly losing plenty of games, but only nearly. That’s not to suggest that FSU is playing poorly. I think they’re getting good efforts from opponents so far, but Florida State has answered the bell each time. Still, you’d like to see some dominance before you really buy into the Noles again. They haven’t faced a top 25 caliber team, so I’m not sure what to expect when they face Clemson and Florida later, but for now, FSU is winning, mostly thanks to Dalvin Cook’s 9 yards per carry (that’s just stupid). Everett Golson is all about ball control, as he seems happy to take a sack (11) to avoid an interception or fumble (0 total).
This week: vs. Louisville

11. Ohio State (6-0)
Signature win(s): Indiana
Change: None
“To be the best, you’ve gotta beat the best.” Several teams have nearly beat #1 Ohio State, and when that happens nearly every week, maybe it’s time to accept that “the best” might not actually be the best. A top 4 ranking of Ohio State in 2015 is heavily reliant on things that happened in 2014, because this iteration, while undefeated, hasn’t been all that impressive. A 7 point win over 3-loss NIU, a 7 point win against Indiana (who went on to lose by 22 to Penn State), and now a game where they were tied with Maryland in the 3rd quarter. It’s only mildly acceptable to be tied with Maryland 2 minutes into the first quarter, guys. My ranking system actually doesn’t even dock Ohio State for the Maryland game, mostly because they finished so strongly, winning by 21 thanks to a 4th quarter outpouring of yards and points. Still, games like that are worth mentioning. The Buckeyes just don’t look like a playoff team at this point. Since the Hawaii game, they’ve looked more like a conference contender than a conference favorite, and were expectations more realistic, they might be viewed as a spoiler rather than the team that might get spoiled.
This week:  vs. Penn State

10. Temple (5-0)
Signature win(s): Penn State, Cincinnati
Change: +3
Temple hasn’t looked like a truly great team this year, but they have a schedule that might allow them to have the statistical record of one. The Owls did what they were supposed to, whipping Tulane 49-10 in their most complete game of the year.  With Temple, we’re just waiting on their Halloween game with Notre Dame. We don’t have to take them seriously until they win that one. But they’re fun to watch in the meantime. This weekend’s Penn State/Ohio State game is pivotal for Temple’s ranking. If the Buckeyes win, the luster comes off Temple’s biggest win. If the Nittany Lions win, suddenly everyone notices the team that did what Ohio State couldn’t.
This week: vs. UCF

Myles Garrett has 9.5 TFL/sacks in just 5 games this year. (Photo: George Bridges/AP Photo)
Myles Garrett has 9.5 TFL/sacks in just 5 games this year. (Photo: George Bridges/AP Photo)

9. Texas A&M (5-0)
Signature win(s): Arizona State, Mississippi State
Change: -1
The Ags drop a spot on the bye because former opponents Ball State and Arkansas lost. Hopefully they used the bye well, because they host Alabama this weekend. Win that one, and A&M starts getting taken very seriously.
This week: vs. Alabama

8. TCU (6-0)
Signature win(s): Minnesota, Texas Tech, Kansas State
Change: +7
TCU surges forward thanks to their 52-45 win over previously 1-loss Kansas State and wins from Texas and Texas Tech. TCU is playing a few too many close ones for my taste, and they only look playoff-worthy once a month or so. That’s a recipe for an eventual loss. That loss isn’t likely to happen against Iowa State this weekend, but there are plenty of landmines down the road for the Horned Frogs. QB Trevone Boykin is justifying his Heisman hype more now than he did early, averaging 9.4 ypp, with a 25 total TDs and nearly 2500 yards of offense at the halfway point. It seems like we will also need a weekly Josh Doctson update: 13.3 y/target, 75.8% catch rate, 877 yards, 10 TD, and 29.6% of all TCU’s throws go his way. Those are All-American numbers.
This week: at Iowa State

7. Northwestern (5-1)
Signature win(s): Stanford, Duke, Minnesota
Change: -6
But they lost by 38 to Michigan! Calm down. Northwestern is who we thought they were, and they’ll likely lose at least a couple more, but the resume so far is still pretty impressive. They’re still the only team to beat Duke. They’re still the only team to beat Stanford. They’re still one of two to beat Minnesota. All of that is likely to change. Until it does, however, we have to respect it.
This week: vs. Iowa

6. Clemson (5-0)
Signature win(s): Notre Dame, Appalachian State
Change: +1
Clemson looks like a legitimate title contender. They’re playing better than any other team on their schedule, which really only means FSU, who has to travel to Clemson. There’s a very good chance Clemson goes 12-0. So why the low ranking? Well, it’s mostly opportunity. Clemson has already had a bye and they phoned in a week by scheduling Wofford, and in my ranking system, games against FCS competition at best count as non-games. They can certainly hurt (hello, North Texas), but the best case scenario is zero-sum. Want to impress me, schedule somebody, especially when you play in the notoriously light ACC. With a real first week opponent, Clemson is likely a top 4 team. Instead, we’ll wait. It’s easy to fall in love with the Tigers defense, which held Georgia Tech to the fewest rushing yards of the Paul Johnson era.
This week: vs. Boston College

5. LSU (5-0)
Signature win(s): Mississippi State, Auburn, Syracuse
Change: -2
LSU dropped out? How? Well, Syracuse lost again, and while we were never really counting on Syracuse as a big win for LSU in the long run, they had been a key one in the short term. It’s been a pretty light schedule so far. It ramps up immediately, so this ranking is pretty inconsequential. LSU could pretty easily be #1 if they beat Florida this weekend. There wasn’t much they could do with South Carolina, a pretty weak opponent, but they blew them out, which is good, and Leonard Fournette did things we’ve come to expect.
This week: vs. Florida

 

The Four

Jordan Canzeri's 43 carries for 256 yards kept Iowa undefeated and in OFR's top 4.(Photo: AP Photo)
Jordan Canzeri’s 43 carries for 256 yards kept Iowa undefeated and in OFR’s top 4.(Photo: AP Photo)

4. Iowa (6-0)
Signature win(s): Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Illinois
Change: none

Saturday morning, a friend asked me what game I would watch at Noon. I told him I’d watch Illinois/Iowa. We briefly entertained the idea of an Illini upset, and then I said something to the effect of: “But Iowa’s gonna win by multiple scores, somehow in unimpressive fashion, like 19-9 or something.” It wasn’t quite that, but 29-20 is close enough. While I wasn’t far off on Iowa’s margin of victory, I was wrong about it being unimpressive. The Hawkeyes looked good on Saturday behind a record setting day from RB Jordan Canzeri, who now has 697 yards and 9 TD on the season. They’re still the only team to beat Pitt, and one of two to beat Wisconsin and Illinois. They’re not having many close calls against bad teams, beating North Texas by 46 and Iowa State and Illinoi each by multiple scores. They’re not electrifying, but they’re out there winning games against teams that have been pretty good so far. I still don’t expect it to last, maybe even not past this weekend’s road trip to Evanston, but it has been a really good first half for Iowa.
This weekend: at Northwestern

3. Michigan (5-1)
Signature win(s): Northwestern, BYU
Change: +7

The Scorch Trials was the #1 movie at the box office. Scott Walker was a Republican candidate for president. The Miami Dolphins were undefeated. That was the state of the world when UNLV scored a garbage-time touchdown against Michigan on the afternoon of September 19th. The successful PAT is the most recent point scored against the Wolverines. It’s, uh, been a while. This weekend’s 38-0 rout of Northwestern firmly establishes Michigan as the team to beat in the Big Ten. It’s not the team that needs 4 quarters to put away Maryland. It’s not the team that nearly loses to Rutgers. It’s not the team that beat Wisconsin 10-6. Seasons are fluid, and things do change, but right now, Michigan is the best and most accomplished team in the Big Ten. When Michigan or Utah drops another game, we’ll re-evaluate. Until then, sit back and enjoy what Jim Harbaugh has done with this defense. And know that Jim Tomsula could totally do it better, right SanFran?
This weekend: vs. Michigan State

2. Utah (5-0)
Signature win(s): Michigan, California, Utah State
Change: +3

Michigan is the feather in Utah’s cap so far, for good reason. Michigan might be one of the two or three best teams in the country, and Utah beat them (at home by one score, but still). But the Utes added another so-far impressive win on Saturday, handing a good California team their first loss of the season. I don’t think Utah is built to last in this race, as they really only put together a complete, playoff-worthy game once a month or so, but they have been consistently good. You may not always get Utah’s absolute best game, but to beat them, it’s going to require one of yours. I think there’s a loss or two somewhere on this schedule, but this is just fun to watch. Utah is eminently more rootable than anyone else in the Pac-12 South. You want them to keep this up, even if they probably won’t.
This weekend: vs. Arizona State

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 19: Will Grier #7 of the Florida Gators runs for a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Quite a touchdown. Almost unnatural. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

1. Florida (6-0)
Signature win(s): Kentucky, Ole Miss, Missouri
Change: +1

What impeccable timing. As I sit and write about Florida and why the Gators are #1, I glance at Twitter and see I’m not the only one talking about Florida. It seems QB Will Grier (65.8%, 6.6 ypp, 12 TD, 6 INT/FU) has been suspended for the remainder of the season one year by the NCAA due to a failed test for PEDs. Oh my. Grier’s competence under center has been a big boost for Florida, whose passing game ranks 17th in the country according to S&P+. It’s not a complete disaster – Treon Harris has actually been better on a per play basis, averaging more yards per pass and more yards per run – but Grier started for a reason. He was the QB that allowed Florida to do what they wanted to do, and now he’s done. It is a major blow to their title hopes, but the defense should allow the Gators to continue to win games. It’s still every bit as terrifying as before. A 21-3 win over Missouri only managed to confirm what we already knew. I don’t think the offense was good enough as it was to push Florida all the way to the title, but now it’s even less certain. While this space was intended to talk about why wins over Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Missouri had Florida #1, I instead had to talk about why one loss, that of their most important offensive player, will likely keep them from staying there.
This weekend: at LSU

About Brent Blackwell 172 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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