College football's fifth week is over, and the power rankings changed drastically. Well, not at the top, because the Top 5 took care of business. Outside the Top 5, though, things got a little crazy with some important upsets.
From the SEC to the Pac-12 and every conference in between, here are the Week 6 power rankings for all 126 FBS programs.
*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. The average of every team's ranking in each poll was taken, and that average determined where the team was placed.
Average Rank: 167
Georgia State's Week 5 bye forced its appearance in the final spot of the rankings for one more round. The Panthers have yet to win a game this season, including against a relatively weak Jacksonville State from the FCS.
The Panthers' next opponent is Alabama, and that loss won't help or hurt their ranking...unless they pull off the upset off the century.
Average Rank: 161
Florida International had an off week for the Sept. 28 festivities, and the Idaho Vandals scored a win that allowed them to jump the Golden Panthers. FIU needs to find wins sometime this season, and the Oct. 5 match against Southern Miss is one of its most winnable games this season.
If the Panthers lose to the Golden Eagles, this spot may be locked in for the remainder of the season.
Average Rank: 153
New Mexico State looked okay against the San Diego State Aztecs, eventually falling by 10 points to the 118th-ranked squad on this list. However, a 26-16 loss to No. 118 definitely means a spot near the bottom of the rankings.
Average Rank: 149.5
The Miami Rehawks' 50-14 loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini was another humiliating defeat to cap off an 0-4 start to the season. Their inability to score points against teams like Cincinnati and Kentucky has put them down at 124th on the list at the moment.
If the Redhawks can't find at least one win out of the next three games against fellow bottom-dwellers Central Michigan, Massachusetts and Akron, this is most likely where they'll stay for 2013.
Average Rank: 148
Eastern Michigan still has just one win this season, and it was over Howard in the opener. The Eagles did not play on the weekend of Sept. 28, and their move down one slot is entirely due to Idaho's move up.
Eastern Michigan will have a chance to move up against Buffalo on Oct. 5, but that's a tall order. The Bulls look fairly good this season, and the Eagles might just get trampled.
Average Rank: 147
The Massachusetts Minutemen also didn't play in Week 5, and they remain near the bottom of the barrel pending some sort of win. The sorting hat brings Bowling Green, Miami (OH) and Buffalo over the next three weeks, and those games will tell fans everything they need to know about UMass.
Should the Minutemen fail to log single win over the next three games, this No. 121 ranking may be a bit optimistic.
Average Rank: 145
Kent State has been looking terrible this season (more on that later), and that makes Western Michigan's 32-14 loss to the Golden Flashes look even worse. There is still plenty of time to move up the lists, but losses to Nicholls State and Kent State do not inspire much faith.
The Broncos have got to figure out how to score points, as they are averaging a 122nd-ranked average of 14 points per game. Points are the most basic unit of success in football, and 14 of them won't win you many games, if any.
Average Rank: 142
South Florida's 49-21 loss to the Miami Hurricanes did not hurt it that much. The Hurricanes are a top-tier team from the ACC, and South Florida honestly did well to find 21 points in that match. (It's more than the Florida Gators could manage in Week 2.)
The Bulls need to find a rushing attack (No. 99), a passing attack (No. 114) and the end zone (No. 121) with some consistency if they expect to compete with anyone other than Georgia State before the end of the season.
Average Rank: 139
San Diego State is the first team on this list that actually has a win over an FBS opponent. The Aztecs managed to fend off New Mexico State 26-16 on Sept. 28, and they moved slightly up the list as a result of that win.
Other than that game, though, the Aztecs look nothing like the team that nearly clenched a Mountain West title last year.
Average Rank: 137
Idaho jumped from near the bottom of the barrel to not-quite-as-near the bottom with an impressive 26-24 upset of the Temple Owls. Idaho got off to a great start, took a 14-opint lead into halftime, and that was enough to keep the Owls at bay.
The Vandals got their first win of the season (over a BCS AQ team), and that assures fans that they will not be the worst team in the FBS for 2013. It also gives hope that more wins may be on the way.
Average Rank: 136.5
UTEP's 59-42 loss to Colorado State kept it from moving up in the rankings, but the Miners moved just one spot down. The loss itself wasn't surprising, but giving up 59 points to the Rams was.
That defense is going to have to get a lot better if the Miners want to finish with more than one win.
Average Rank: 134.5
Southern Miss set a new season record for points allowed in a game on Sept. 28 in a 60-7 loss to the Boise State Broncos. The Golden Eagles managed to make Boise look better than both Nebraska and Arkansas after having had two weeks to prepare for the match.
They are going to have to figure out how to win at least one game. Two winless seasons in a row would be incredibly difficult for anyone to handle.
Average Rank: 133.5
Louisiana Tech made its strongest argument of the season for the last spot on this list against the Army Black Knights. The 35-16 loss wasn't nearly bad enough to get to No. 126, but the Bulldogs are officially a completely different team than in 2012.
Yes, some of the most important factors (quarterback, head coach and offensive coordinator just to name a few) are missing from the equation, but to think that the entire returning roster can't do better than one win over Lamar is depressing.
The Bulldogs have a road game against UTEP in Week 6. If that's a loss, then there will definitely be no more than three wins this season.
Average Rank: 133
Temple posted its worst loss of the season to the Idaho Vandals on Sept. 28. The Owls lost 26-24 by falling just shy of the comeback. That is of little consolation to their fans, though, as they should never have been 14-points behind a team like the Vandals.
Nobody expected the Owls to contend for the American Athletic Conference title this season, but this loss was truly surprising.
Average Rank: 130.5
New Mexico's 56-42 loss to UNLV put the season in the garbage can. The Lobos' only win so far is over UTEP, and there's only one team left on the schedule that's currently ranked behind them: New Mexico State.
Luckily, that game is coming in Week 6, so the Lobos may just get a brief boost from the win for a week or so. However, they'll be underdogs in every game after that, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Average Rank: 130
Central Michigan's 48-14 loss to NC State was neither unexpected nor debilitating. The Chippewas didn't lose any power points from the loss, as NC State is a much better team. However, they didn't perform any better than expected, either.
This means that they didn't gain any style points, and their season projection of 4-8 didn't change either.
Average Rank: 126.5
Louisiana-Monroe's shocking 31-14 loss to Tulane pushed the Warhawks far down the rankings from No. 93 in Week 5 to here at No. 110 in Week 6. Tulane isn't a terrible opponent, but the 17-point loss put things into perspective.
Kolton Browning doesn't have enough support to repeat the things he was able to do last season, and an average of 18 points per game isn't going to be enough to beat more than just a few remaining programs on the slate.
Heads-up: This Tulane game was a 63-10 win for ULM last year. That's how bad things have gotten.
Average Rank: 123.5
Akron stepped up against Michigan and Bowling Green in Weeks 3 and 4, but the Bowling Green Falcons crushed the Zips 31-14 in Week 5. This loss didn't push them down the list at all, but they are on notice.
If they can't find some wins after those performances against bigger, better teams, then the Zips are on track to drop right back down near where they started. (They started at No. 125.)
Average Rank: 122.5
Old Dominion is finally winning games, now that it's into its FCS portion of the FCS-to-FBS transitional schedule. However, no amount of beating FCS opponents, even 66-10, is going to move the Monarchs up the ranks of the FBS teams.
However, as Maryland and East Carolina keep winning, the Monarchs' losses to those squads look less and less terrible. They could move up the rankings just because the teams that beat them are doing extremely well.
In that case, the wins over FCS opponents are absolutely necessary.
Average Rank: 119
Air Force could not stop Nevada from overcoming an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter on Sept. 28, and the Falcons eventually succumbed to a 45-42 loss. The Falcons have a lot to work with, but they have some major issues, too.
Their rushing attack is still seventh in the country, and their scoring offense is 75th. Granted, that won't get them to a BCS bowl by any means, but their No. 122 scoring defense is going to crush any hopes of winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy if they don't get it together.
Average Rank: 116.5
Army logged a solid 35-16 win over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Week 5, and that pushed the Black Knights up from 117th to 106th. The Black Knights are still a hit-or-miss squad that can hang with Stanford or lose to Wake Forest, but the win over Louisiana Tech at least enforced that they aren't a lost cause this season.
They can still win the service-academy battle, especially after Navy's performance on Sept. 28, but they will have to buckle down and make sure the Wake Forest debacle doesn't happen again.
Average Rank: 115
If there is such a thing as an incredibly awesome loss, Hawaii has the best one of the season so far against the ranked Fresno State Bulldogs. The Warriors lost to Fresno State 42-37, but they did not go down quietly.
Fresno had a 42-17 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the beast on the other side of the field woke up. Hawaii went on to put 20 unanswered points on the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter to pull within five.
Hawaii's fourth-quarter performance against Fresno State is worthy of a Top 25 ranking. However, there are four quarters to the game. If the Warriors can figure out what made them that great, there's almost no limit to what they can accomplish in the Mountain West this season.
Average Rank: 114.5
Kent State held serve near the 105th spot here with a 32-14 win over the Western Michigan Broncos on Sept. 28. The Broncos are a terrible team this season, and the win didn't do anything to prove that the Golden Flashes have improved that much since the beginning of the season.
Kent State desperately needs a signature win, and the Week 6 match against Northern Illinois is exactly the opportunity that it's looking for. Aside from that game, there isn't an opportunity to jump up the rankings for the rest of the season.
With a loss to NIU, all the Flashes can hope for is steady climbing.
Average Rank: 113.5
Troy's 38-31 loss to the Duke Blue Devils was not nearly as impressive as Hawaii's near-comeback against Fresno State, but it was a signature moment of sorts. The Trojans were coming off a complete blowout by the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Week 4, and this close game with an AQ opponent spoke volumes.
Duke isn't Clemson, so don't read too much into that result, but that was a solid performance against an ACC squad. Suddenly, the Sun Belt schedule doesn't look as intimidating to Troy as it once did.
Average Rank: 111
The Owl Bowl between Rice and Florida Atlantic ended with FAU on the losing end of an 18-14 scoreboard. The defensive battle was still nearly tied at 7-6 in favor of Florida Atlantic entering the fourth quarter, but they gave up two touchdowns to Rice in the final five minutes.
If FAU can figure out how to finish a game strongly, these Owls are not locked out of the Top 100 just yet. So far, that's been their Achilles' Heel this season, and it's completely fixable. For now, though, they are hanging out at No. 102 until they can win another game.
Average Rank: 110.5
Arkansas State and Kent State are twins this season, in that they've both had similar falls from grace at an alarmingly fast pace. The Red Wolves are a 10-win team that's suddenly struggling to score against teams like Auburn and Memphis.
Can Arkansas State bring this thing home over the next nine games? In theory, yes, but the Red Wolves would have beaten Memphis in theory.
Average Rank: 110
UNLV scored a huge 56-42 win over the New Mexico Lobos in Week 5, and that was good enough to put them right into the Top 100, though they are hanging by a thread. The Rebels are currently on a three-game winning streak heading into the Week 6 bye before hosting Hawaii on Oct. 12.
The Warriors are not an easy opponent, as Fresno State just found out, but UNLV does have the offense to take care of business if it spends the next two weeks watching the fourth quarter of Hawaii's last game.
If UNLV comes out with a win over Hawaii, they'll be firmly inside the Top 100 with no reason to suspect dropping out. A four-win team just has to be better than at least 26 others.
Average Rank: 108.5
UAB lost to Vanderbilt 52-24 in Week 5. The Commodores may not be a championship contender, but James Franklin is raising that program to new heights. There is no shame in that loss, and there was no ranking punishment either.
The Blazers got shuffled to No. 99 from 98th due to the movement from teams around them, but that was all the movement the earned with a decent showing against a respectable team from the SEC East.
Average Rank: 108
UTSA logged an uncharacteristic defeat at the hands of the Houston Cougars on Sept. 28, and the score was 59-28. To put that as clearly as possible: The Roadrunners lost to Houston by a larger margin than they lost to Oklahoma State back in Week 2.
Houston is not that good, and UTSA should not have been this bad. However, the Roadrunners were docked accordingly for the loss. As much as we would like to give every team a pass for one game per season (like Oklahoma State in 2011), there are only 12 games.
Rules are rules, and UTSA dropped from 96th to 98th as a result of the loss. It was an expected loss, but the margin required a little slip in the power rankings.
Average Rank: 107
Purdue seems to be pulling some A Knight's Tale shenanigans this season. Each game that passes, they do a little bit worse. ("I know! You want to drop back for a more dramatic victory!") The most recent performance was a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois.
Well, they're coming up on the halfway point of the season in Week 7, and the Boilermakers are sporting just one win. If they don't turn things around now, their trajectory toward the bottom of the rankings is not going to change.
They have a bye for Week 6 to prepare for Nebraska. They need to spend one solid week watching the second half of the UCLA-Nebraska game. Even if they have to copy the Bruins' game plan, a win is a win.
Average Rank: 104.5
Middle Tennessee's 37-10 loss to BYU was nothing to be concerned about. The Cougars are a first-rate team with a ton of talent. The Blue Raiders are in their first season as an AQ team, and they don't have near the buying power of the BYU name yet.
They are coming into Week 6 with a 3-2 record and a decent amount of momentum. If Middle Tennessee were to upset the East Carolina Pirates, that would definitely cause some ripples in the college football world.
Never fear, though, a loss to the Pirates won't hurt the Blue Raiders much, as they will be heavy underdogs.
Average Rank: 103
Connecticut lost more spots in the power rankings with a 41-12 loss to the Buffalo Bulls in Week 5. The Huskies are 0-4 on the season, and they are lining up against the South Florida Bulls for Oct. 12.
That game is a must-win, bu the Huskies do have a bye week for this round of play. That means that, worst-case scenario, they'll remain in the Top 100 for another week.
Average Rank: 100
Wake Forest got completely trashed 56-7 by the Clemson Tigers. The good news for Wake is that it wasn't an unexpected loss. The bad news, of course, is that the Demon Deacons are expected to lose a lot of games this season.
That's never a good place to be. While it's completely wrong to say that the Top 100 is a target rank for the Deacons (because they should be aiming much higher), that may end up being their goal before the dust settles.
The ACC seems to be getting better as a conference, and Wake has yet to prove that it's part of the shindig.
Average Rank: 98.5
The Jaguars have competed with every team they've faced, regardless of quality, and that bodes extremely well for them. Granted, they can't earn a great ranking without wins, but this is just to point out that they should definitely be on fans' radar as at least a bowl contender.
Average Rank: 98
Kansas had a week off for Sept. 28, and the Jayhawks naturally didn't do anything to fall in the rankings. They are scheduled for a massive battle against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Oct. 5, and a win in that game would completely make their season.
Though the Raiders will be heavily favored, Kansas may have the advantage of being overlooked. A fast start would definitely catch Texas Tech off-guard. If the Jayhawks lose, their rank will be adjusted accordingly.
Average Rank: 97.5
Tulane's 31-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe was impressive. Though Kolton Browning's supporting cast hasn't exactly stepped up to the plate this season, holding him down speaks volumes about what Tulane can do this season.
The Green Wave are currently 3-2, and they've got a season-defining game against North Texas on the docket for Oct. 5. The Mean Green are definitely improved this season, and Tulane is a good litmus test for how much better they really are.
Average Rank: 96
SMU suffered a 48-17 defeat at the hands of the TCU Horned Frogs on Sept. 28, and that pushed them down the list a bit. The loss wasn't shocking or anything, but the margin was a bit surprising, for sure.
The Mustangs have a 1-3 record, but the losses are to Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU. All three of those teams are either currently ranked, or were ranked for at least two weeks this season.
This team, though low in the rankings, has the best shot at advancing, simply because its schedule it much easier for the rest of the season than it has been so far.
Average Rank: 94.5
Memphis took a break for Week 5, and the Tigers stayed near the 90th slot in the rankings as a result of the time off. The Tigers' last game was a rebound 31-7 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves, and their next match is on Oct. 5 against a highly successful Central Florida squad.
Memphis has another five probable wins on its schedule, but it will have to perform at it best to score all of them.
Average Rank: 93
Buffalo is heading into a four-game stretch of likely wins as long as it keeps playing like it did against UConn. Look for the Bulls to rise up the rankings steadily through the entire month of October.
Average Rank: 89
Tulsa's 38-21 loss to Iowa State really hurt its credibility as a repeat contender for the Conference USA title. No, the loss didn't directly affect its chances, but it did color perception toward its ability to compete.
The Golden Hurricane are 1-3, and they're lining up against the Rice Owls on Oct. 5. This game is not going to make or break the Golden Hurricane's season, but a win would definitely help them get where they want to go.
Average Rank: 87
Colorado lost to Oregon State 44-17 in Week 5, and that kept the Buffaloes down in the 80s on the power rankings. Unfortunately for them, the upcoming schedule is full of ranked opponents, starting with Oregon on Oct. 5.
The Buffaloes are going to have to perform extremely well to stay anywhere near the Top 100 by the end of the season. Even against this daunting schedule, they can't expect to be ranked well with just two wins.
Average Rank: 86.5
Western Kentucky handed Navy its first loss of the season in a 19-7 defensive battle in which the Midshipmen didn't score a single point after the first quarter. The Hilltoppers moved to 3-2 on the season, and the only questionable loss was to South Alabama.
The Jaguars are up against a decidedly bad Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 3, and they would have to have a serious letdown game to lose that match.
Average Rank: 86
That offense looks like it will be far more than the San Jose Spartans will be able to handle in Week 7. For now, the Rams are heading into a Week 6 bye, and their rank will stay relatively constant for the next edition.
Average Rank: 85.5
Nevada eked out a 45-42 win over the Air Force Falcons in Week 5 after overcoming an 11-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Even though Nevada has looked less than stellar this season, it's important to note that the only losses the Wolf Pack have taken were to ranked AQ-conference opponents.
Nevada has just as good a title shot (if not better) as anyone else in the MWC, and the Wolf Pack will take their shot at San Diego State on Oct. 4.
Average Rank: 84.5
The first half of Kentucky's schedule is simply brutal, and the 24-7 loss to the Florida Gators is not going to be the Wildcats' last. Their Week 6 and 7 opponents are South Carolina and Alabama, respectively.
Kentucky's best chances to establish a good rank are against Alabama State (won't help much), Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Expect a steady slide from now until at least Nov. 2.
Average Rank: 83.5
North Texas is sitting at 2-2 following its Week 5 bye, and the Mean Green already have a signature win over the Ball State Cardinals. The Mean Green have another tone-setting game against Tulane in Week 6, which will either confirm or refute their apparent potential.
North Texas has played like a bowl-bound team so far, and a postseason appearance looks likely. The kicker is that the Mean Green look like a potential 10-win squad. If that's the case, then this No. 81 rank is only going to get better.
Average Rank: 82
Boston College lost to Florida State 48-34 on Sept. 28, and that was actually a surprisingly good performance, especially considering the 35-7 loss to the USC Trojans in Week 3. The Eagles seem to have turned a corner, but confirmation is coming against the Army Black Knights on Oct. 5.
If BC's performance against the Seminoles is really evidence of things to come, Army doesn't stand a chance. However, if the USC game is the "real" Boston College, don't look for this No. 80 rank to improve.
Average Rank: 81.5
Texas State's dominant 42-21 win over the Wyoming Cowboys launched it from No. 101 to No. 79 in the power rankings. This rank is just as much respect for the win as for the manner in which the game was played.
The first half was a seesaw with Texas State finally tying the game with 29 seconds left. The second half was a completely different story. Texas State outscored Wyoming 28-7 to score the 21-point victory.
The Bobcats started the season with two completely unimpressive wins, causing them to stay low in the rankings. This signature one over Wyoming confirms that the 3-1 start was less a fluke and more an example of how good they have gotten over the offseason.
Average Rank: 79.5
San Jose State's 28-point loss to the Utah State Aggies was just brutal, and the Spartans managed just one touchdown in the entire contest (failed two-point conversion). David Fales has not performed to par this season.
He's 92-of-158 for 1,194 yards, six touchdowns, five interceptions and six sacks so far. The Spartans need him to step up and do what he did last season, or things are going to get ugly fast.
Average Rank: 78.5
California logged a 55-16 loss to the Oregon Ducks in Week 5, and the only bright side to that score is that 16 points is the highest total that Oregon has allowed all season. It's not a win, and it's certainly not something to celebrate, but at least it's something.
The Golden Bears have already shown that they aren't going to have the breakthrough season that fans had hoped, but they have competed fairly well with the ranked foes they've faced (except Oregon).
That's at least got them close to the postseason. However, they will have to find a win over a ranked opponent sometime this season if they want to go to a bowl.
Average Rank: 78
Rice beat Florida Atlantic (No. 102 on this list) by a scant four points on Sept. 28, and that did not help it at all. It was still a win, so it didn't hurt much, but it was still an incredibly disappointing performance from a team that has made a huge habit of posting close games this season.
Rice desperately needs to figure out how to play consistently to keep winning. If the Owls can do that, then they are looking at a postseason appearance. If not, they'll drop out of contention before October is over.
Average Rank: 77.5
Louisiana-Lafayette had a break for the Sept. 28 rotation, like many teams did, and the Ragin' Cajuns stayed near their No. 79 slot from the Week 5 edition. After the close victory over Akron, this Oct. 5 bout with Texas State looks concerning.
The Bobcats just made a huge statement against the Wyoming Cowboys, and if Louisiana doesn't bring its A-game, the Cajuns and their ranking are in serious trouble.
Average Rank: 77
Wyoming suffered a 21-point setback against the Texas State Bobcats in Week 5, and the Cowboys have to rebound quickly against the New Mexico Lobos in Week 7. Fortunately, there's a bye week in between, and the Cowboys will appear right around here in the next edition due to inactivity.
Average Rank: 76.5
Virginia's 14-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers was impressive for two extremely different reasons. On one hand, their defense held the Panthers to 14 points. (The Panthers had just dropped 58 on Duke the week before.)
On the other hand, the offenses managed just three points, where the Panthers had allowed 55 to Duke. The Cavaliers are an enigma, and they need to find their identity before it's too late to use it to their advantage.
At 2-2, they definitely don't have much time.
Average Rank: 76
Navy was off to a great start this season, and head coach Ken Niumatalolo called the Week 5 shot before it ever happened. He said, "We're a team that has to scratch and claw to win every game. If we start thinking any differently, we're in trouble" after Week 5's Monday practice.
Lo and behold, the Midshipmen carried that practice spirit that ticked Niumatalolo off into the Western Kentucky game and dropped a 19-7 match to the Hilltoppers. Navy is good enough to beat Indiana and bad enough to lose to Western Kentucky.
This is a prime example of how record means little in power rankings, and neither do signature wins. There always needs to be confirmation before moving a team too high in the standings.
Average Rank: 74.5
The Ohio Bobcats had Week 5 off, and they remained ranked near the bowl-guaranteed Top 70. They come back from the break with games against Akron, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Miami (OH), and the Bobcats should be bowl-eligible by the end of October.
If they lose any of the next four contests, don't expect them to miss out on the postseason, but don't look for them in the Top 70, either. All four of those teams are currently ranked far behind Ohio.
Average Rank: 74
Duke won a tight 38-31 game with the Troy Trojans, and that does not bode well for their ACC fate. The Blue Devils are sitting at 3-2 entering their Week 6 bye, but their performance has been lacking so far.
They allowed Pittsburgh to score 58 points, and their defense hasn't exactly locked the field down in any contest since NC Central. Duke has to do much better in the near future, but that 3-2 record could be a lot worse given the Blue Devils' play, so that's at least something to be thankful for if you're a fan.
Average Rank: 71
Toledo played well against Ball State, but eventually did log a 31-24 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 28. The Rockets are struggling a bit this season, but things are going to get better for them on Oct. 5, when they take on a not-so-good Western Michigan squad.
Of course, any overlooked team is capable of upsetting anyone, so the Rockets must remain focused. If not, their rank is going to slip over the next month.
Average Rank: 69
Iowa State got a decent 38-21 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Week 5, and that stopped their fall that started with the season-opening loss to Northern Iowa. The slip got worse with the loss to Iowa in Week 3.
The Cyclones are sitting on a precarious postseason perch at the moment, but they look like they're going to miss out on it this season. With Texas and three ranked teams coming in the next four games, things aren't looking good.
Average Rank: 68
A cursory glance at that schedule reveals that there is a possible loss to Northern Illinois near the end, but the rest of the games are winnable. This means that Ball State could conceivably be 10-2 heading into the bowl season.
Yes, there are tough games, and the Cardinals could blow their season at any moment, but it's a good-looking potential run they've got set up.
Average Rank: 67
NC State's 34-point win over Central Michigan went just about as planned for the Wolfpack, and it kept them near the top half of the power rankings for another week. NC State is averaging more than 30 points per game, and it is allowing an average of roughly 19.
The Wolfpack may not be able to win the ACC this season, but they are going to be in the postseason yet again this winter.
Average Rank: 66
Marshall passed on the Week 5 party, and the Thundering Herd remained 2-2 and in the Top 70. With their last two losses coming by a combined 11 points, the Herd have to be happy about the week off.
It provided them with an opportunity to tweak their approach to garner more wins in close games. Whether that actually happened is another story, and it will play out on Oct. 5 against the UTSA Roadrunners, who will put up a valiant fight based on the reasons covered in their slide.
Average Rank: 65
North Carolina got blasted 55-31 by the East Carolina Pirates on Sept. 28, and the Tar Heels didn't look good in that game at all. They now take on Virginia Tech in a Week 6 battle that does not look favorable to UNC.
Virginia Tech's shutdown defense is not going to allow the Heels to score many points, and North Carolina's only hope is to return the favor when the Hokies' offense is on the field. North Carolina is 1-3 at the moment, and this game could end up deciding whether it ends up playing in December.
Average Rank: 64.5
Bowling Green's solid 31-14 win over Akron may not look good at first glance, but it was far better than the Michigan Wolverines did against the Zips back on Sept. 14. The Falcons are currently 4-1, and they have scored wins over every non-AQ team they have faced.
Bowling Green is heading for the postseason again, and they are going to cruise past the Massachusetts Minutemen on Oct. 5. After that, it's a tough game against Mississippi State followed by smooth waters for the duration.
As the Falcons rack up the wins, their rank will increase accordingly.
Average Rank: 63
Syracuse enjoyed the week off for the final round of September, and the Orange still have their head just above water at 2-2 for the season. However, their first season in the ACC is not going to be kind, as they have three games lined up against currently ranked opponents.
They may make a bowl this year, but they can't afford to lose to any unranked teams along the way. The Oct. 5 match is against Clemson, and that's going to be their first true taste of life outside the Big East (now the AAC).
Average Rank: 62.5
Minnesota's 23-7 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in Week 5 eliminated the Golden Gophers from the list of undefeated squads. They still have plenty of time and opportunity to cement their status as a top-half team, but their odds are a little lower after that lackluster showing.
Minnesota's rank at No. 61 could be just a mirage, though, and we won't know more until the Gophers play more quality competition. Their 4-0 start was against UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois and San Jose State. Those aren't exactly title hopefuls, conference or national.
Average Rank: 62
Pittsburgh scored a strong defensive win over the Virginia Cavaliers on Sept. 28, and the final score was a minuscule 14-3. Pitt tagged the Cavaliers' end zone twice in a three-minute span for its 14 points, and Virginia couldn't muster anything until a field goal late in the third quarter.
The Panthers are 3-1 after a season-opening blowout loss to the Florida State Seminoles, and they've fought hard for almost every victory since that game. They are here because they are likely bowl candidates, and they've done nothing to prove otherwise.
Sure, they've had a couple of scares, but they came out on top of all their close games.
Average Rank: 61.5
Houston dropped 59 points on the UTSA Roadrunners to stay unbeaten, and the Cougars are dark-horse candidates for the AAC title this season. (Emphasis on "dark-horse.") They haven't faced anyone of note, yet, but their schedule gets gradually more difficult.
They could steadily improve just enough to stay undefeated, though that five-game stretch starting with BYU and ending with Louisville does look like a bit more than Houston can currently handle. We'll see.
Average Rank: 61
So far in 2013, Indiana has beaten Indiana State and Bowling Green, and it has lost to Navy and Missouri. The Hoosiers' bye week for the Sept. 28 round has given them an extra week inside the Top 60, and it also gave them plenty of extra time to figure out how to defeat Penn State on Oct. 5.
Indiana is not a traditional power in the Big Ten, and the Hoosiers have to work harder than most for each and every win. (Hence the loss to Navy.) If they keep plowing through the field without distraction, this rank could follow them all the way into the postseason.
Average Rank: 56
Tennessee notched a solid 31-24 win over the South Alabama Jaguars in Week 5, and the Volunteers narrowly avoided another drop in the rankings. The Vols are 3-2, and their only losses are to ranked opponents.
The only problem with that is what's coming right now: A three-game stretch against ranked foes, and a game against Missouri right afterward. (Missouri might be ranked by then, but it's too soon to tell.)
Tennessee must be glad to have Butch Jones at the helm, but things aren't going to turn around overnight. A Top 60 ranking is definitely something to be happy about.
Average Rank: 55
West Virginia jumped up the rankings quite a bit (from No. 67) after upsetting the then-No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys 30-21 on Sept. 28. The ineptitude from the previous week's 37-0 shutout by Maryland seemed to disappear overnight, and the Mountaineers looked a lot more like their 2012 selves again.
There's a long way to go before they have an offense like the one with Geno Smith, but there's still a potential bowl brewing in Morgantown. The Mountaineers got off to a rocky start, but that single victory over Oklahoma State gives fans a lot of hope for the rest of the season.
Average Rank: 53
Washington State probably would rather not talk about the 55-17 loss to Stanford, but ignoring it might be worse than reliving it. The Cougars fell victim to the Cardinal, but the season is not lost by any means.
They can still hang their collective hat on the win over USC, and possibly the close game with Auburn. (It completely depends on how well the Tigers do in the SEC.) Washington State can still make the postseason, and it will probably ruin someone's season at some point.
For now, a rank firmly inside the bowl-eligible threshold should suffice.
Average Rank: 52.5
Arkansas played a solid game against the top-tier Texas A&M Aggies, but the Razorbacks lost 45-33. The Hogs have already done better than they did last season by beating three of their four out-of-conference opponents, and competing with the Aggies is also worlds apart from the thrashing they took that year.
Now that they are faced with four ranked foes in a row, the SEC schedule is going to force their hand. Arkansas is going to have to prove that it deserves a top-half rank and a slot in the postseason.
That's far easier to imagine than it is to accomplish, but the Hogs are off to a good start so far.
Average Rank: 51
Kansas State's bye week came right on the heels of the 10-point loss to the Texas Longhorns. This gave the Wildcats extra time to regroup after a disappointing 2-2 start to their season. They are still not eliminated from the Big 12 title conversation, as long as they can come back from the break and win games.
They stayed right in their No. 53 slot during the bye, and they return to face a wounded Oklahoma State squad who would love nothing more than to use the Wildcats as a punching bag. This will be a tough game, but a win would work wonders for Bill Snyder's crew.
For now, Kansas State is still a top-half team.
Average Rank: 50
Cincinnati started the season off well, with the exception of the Illinois game, and the Bearcats are sitting on a 3-1 record coming out of the Week 5 rest. They have earned this spot with dominant wins over lesser opponents.
That's not to say that their rank is locked in, as they could lose to quality opponents when the time comes. However, based on the way they have played for the first third of the season, the Bearcats are looking good for the postseason and a Top 60 finish.
Average Rank: 49
Mississippi State also had a pass for the Sept. 28 weekend, and the Bulldogs are bringing their 2-2 record with them into the home game against LSU in Week 6. Mississippi State's offense is averaging just 22.5 points per game against FBS opponents, and it is are going to have to do better than that to do well in the SEC West this season.
The Georgia-LSU and Alabama-Texas A&M games have already turned into East Coast shootouts, and Mississippi State simply can't keep up with those highly ranked programs at the rate it's currently playing.
If the Bulldogs can focus and fix the issues that are causing them scoring problems, they can stop the bleeding here and move back up. (At least they could keep from moving further down the list.)
Average Rank: 48.5
Illinois regrouped from its loss to Washington with a 50-14 win over the Miami Redhawks on Sept. 28. The week off seems to have made a difference in the Illini's fundamental play, but fans will find out for sure on Oct. 5 against Nebraska.
The 'Huskers are not invincible, and that's exactly what the 3-1 Illini are banking on for Week 6. Their ranking would soar with a win like that, but even a loss won't hurt them terribly. They are on the rise, not at the top.
There is a difference.
Average Rank: 45.5
Vanderbilt scored a four-touchdown win over the UAB Blazers in Week 5, and the Commodores' place in the standings stayed a solid 49th as a result. They have started the season off 3-2, and their only losses were to Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Both are good squads, and the loss didn't prove anything other than Vanderbilt isn't a Top 25 program this season. After losing Zac Stacy and Jordan Rodgers during the offseason, that is no surprise.
However, at the current rate, Vandy is heading for the postseason again.
Average Rank: 45
Texas bounced back against Kansas State in Week 4, and the Longhorns had a week off after that. They are limping around at 2-2 heading into the Oct. 5 weekend, and the Longhorns have drawn Iowa State as their opponent.
They face the Cyclones on Thursday, Oct. 3, and this is a must-win conference game for them. Even if Texas doesn't make a BCS bowl, getting left out of the postseason altogether would be terrible.
Average Rank: 44
USC lost a lot in Week 5. For starters, the Trojans lost to Arizona State 62-41. After that embarrassing loss, they lost their head coach as well. USC looked horrible on offense for the first few games but had a stifling defense, and it didn't allow more than 14 points in any game.
That all changed against Arizona State, when USC looked fairly good on offense but absolutely inept on defense. With no consistency coming from the squad, it will be a complete surprise if the Trojans end up anywhere near the Top 50 at the end of the season.
Average Rank: 43
Oregon State beat Colorado 44-17 in Week 5, and that moved the Beavers to a solid 4-1 for the season so far. Their only loss was to an exceptionally good Eastern Washington in the season opener, and they are still undefeated in conference play.
The Beavers still have a lot to prove this season, but that Eastern Washington loss looks more and more like the exception as opposed to the rule for the Beavers this season. So far, they have looked like a solid bowl team again this season, but we'll know more after the Week 6 bout with the Washington State Cougars.
Average Rank: 42.667
BYU's 37-10 win over Middle Tennessee put the Cougars at 2-2 on the season with losses to only Virginia and Utah. The Cougars are having trouble finding their identity on offense, but even in their losses, the defense has allowed no more than 20 points.
BYU might be a Top 50 team right now, but it is just a short trip away from the Top 25 if the offense will get itself together. On Friday, Oct. 4, the Cougars take on the Utah State Aggies. They'll need every bit of offense they've got to win that game.
If they do, expect to see a nudge in the rankings, too.
Average Rank: 42.333
East Carolina's offense did a number on the UNC Tar Heels' defense on Sept. 28, and the Pirates walked away with an eye-popping 55-31 victory over the Heels. After a stellar 3-1 start to the season, the rest of the schedule looks absolutely winnable for the Pirates.
Apart from the NC State game near the end of the year, the entire lineup is set to fall victim to East Carolina, as long as it keeps playing like it has for the first four games.
Average Rank: 40
Aside from the simple fact of not losing a game, the 60-7 Boise State win over Southern Miss didn't really help the Broncos that much. The Golden Eagles came in at No. 115 on this edition of the rankings, and a 53-point victory over them is rather ho-hum for the perennial BCS contender.
The Broncos are sitting at 3-2 right now, and their losses are to Washington and Fresno State. While the BCS bowls are not realistic goals for this season anymore, the postseason is still an obvious endgame.
Average Rank: 38.5
Auburn did not play in Week 5, and the Tigers kept their 3-1 record intact for another week. They take on Ole Miss on Oct. 5, and this is a season-defining game for them. They have the talent to win the game, based on their close call with LSU, but it will take focus, concentration and near-flawless execution for Auburn to pull it off.
The Tigers had zero conference wins last season, and they've already started this season with solid wins over Washington State and Mississippi State. This is clearly an improved team over last season, and the Ole Miss game will tell us how much better it really is.
Average Rank: 38
Michigan State is currently flying under the radar, but the Spartans have quietly started the season 3-1 with a four-point loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Just as some other teams on this list, the Spartans have really struggled to find their offensive identity, and it's bitten them once already.
The Oct. 5 match against Iowa looks like it will be far more interesting than some may have thought, and the more complete team will walk away with the win. That certainly looks like Iowa right now, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Sparty come out of the break with a refurbished offense.
Average Rank: 37.667
Iowa handed Minnesota its first loss of the season in a 23-7 contest on Sept. 28. The Hawkeyes currently hold a 4-1 record with the lone loss to Northern Illinois. If they can keep their defense clicking to the tune of 15 points per game allowed, then this could be an incredible season.
However, if their offense can't find a way to start putting some serious points on the board, this ranks is going to go away as soon as they start dropping games in the meat of their schedule.
Average Rank: 37.5
Rutgers took Week 5 off like so many other teams did, and the Knights held serve in the top third of the rankings for another round. The Knights are 3-1 this year, and their scoring offense and defense are ranked 40th and 43rd, respectively.
The Knights are a far cry from being considered AAC favorites, but they are absolutely on the radar for a conference title. They have their work cut out for them with games against SMU and Louisville coming five days apart, but at least their bye came immediately before that set of matches.
Average Rank: 36.5
Georgia Tech's 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech wasn't terrible, but it did far more advertising for the Hokies' offense than it did for Georgia Tech's offense. The Yellow Jackets are allowing just 12.8 points per game through the first five weeks, and their offense is averaging 36.5.
They are a solid ACC team with conference title hopes, and their next challenge is against the ranked Miami Hurricanes on Oct. 5. Georgia Tech has earned this spot with quality play, but it has to split the Miami and BYU matches 1-1 (or do better) to remain inside the Top 40.
Average Rank: 36
Utah had a week to rest following the gritty win over the BYU Cougars in Week 4, and they return from break to be intensely tried against back-to-back ranked teams UCLA and Stanford. The Utes have been stout all season long, keeping games close and winning more often than not.
The offense does need some work before the Utes can realistically compete with the top of the Pac-12, but they have looked good enough to score around seven or eight wins this season if they keep playing like this.
Average Rank: 34
Penn State is coming off a Week 5 bye that kept it steady in the Top 40 due to zero data collected. The Nittany Lions also return to one of the best under-the-radar games of the weekend: Penn State at Indiana.
Both these teams have one loss to non-Big Ten schools, and the battle could be one of the most epic shootouts of the season. Penn State's defining game is against the Hoosiers on Oct. 5, and that will prove exactly how close the Lions are to competing with the upper tier of their conference.
Based on the current 3-1 record and 13th-ranked scoring defense, Penn State is solidly inside the bowl-qualified portion of the rankings, even though it won't be appearing in the postseason.
Average Rank: 33.4
Nebraska didn't play during the Sept. 28 show, either, and the Cornhuskers rode their unchanged 3-1 record right into the Top 40 again. They have a 3-1 record, but no wins over AQ opponents yet.
The game against Illinois is a must-win for the 'Huskers, and a loss there would plummet them from the top tier of the rankings. After all, it's understandable to lose to UCLA, even if it's questionable. It's not understandable to have a Top 35 team with all its wins over weaker foes and a loss to Illinois.
Average Rank: 33.333
Arizona dropped a 31-13 decision to the Washington Huskies in Week 5, and the Wildcats put a halt to their steady rise through the rankings. They weren't rising much, since there wins were €over Northern Arizona, UNLV and UTSA, but those wins still garnered minor attention.
The loss to ranked Washington didn't destroy the Wildcats' ranking by any means, but it did stop them dead in their tracks. The bright side is that the next four games (USC, Utah, California and Colorado) will cement their status wherever it may be at the end of that run.
For now, the rankings look at Arizona with skepticism, as the data collected is from both ends of the spectrum. The 'Cats haven't played any upper-middle-class teams yet, but that changes on Oct. 5.
Average Rank: 32.4
Notre Dame's 35-21 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners nudged it down the list again, just like the Michigan loss did. The Irish haven't been blown out by anyone, and that in combo with competing well against ranked teams has left them close to the Top 25.
They will suit up against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Week 6 to attempt to enforce that they belong closer to rather than further from the upper echelon of the sport.
Average Rank: 31.5
TCU topped SMU in a commanding 48-17 win that kept them perched just outside the Top 25. The Horned Frogs have performed admirably in all games except the Texas Tech match back in Week 3. Even that game wasn't a truly terrible showing, they were just outclassed on defense by 10 points.
The Frogs have a 2-2 record heading into the Week 6 battle with the Oklahoma Sooners. A win over the Sooners would definitely make the season for TCU, but it's definitely going to be a hard-fought win if it happens.
TCU is one of the best teams in the country, but that's the problem with playing in a AQ conference. All the other "best teams in the country" are on your schedule.
Average Rank: 31.4
Central Florida has a 3-1 record with blowout wins over Akron and Florida International, a solid win over a talented Penn State squad and a close loss to then-No. 12 South Carolina. The question isn't whether UCF belongs in the Top 40, it's whether it should be in the Top 25 or not.
That will be answered before the end of the season, but don't expect a win over Memphis in Week 6 to do the trick. It will take a little more...unless the Top 25 teams decide to tear each other apart again.
Average Rank: 30.2
Northern Illinois finally played a complete game in Week 5, and it ended in a 55-24 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers. Prior to this contest, the Huskies looked like they were either not good enough to compete for a BCS berth or that they were simply playing down to their competition in every game.
Before the 31-point win over Purdue, they hadn't won a single game by more than 10 points, despite the fact that the competition was weak for the most part. The apparent confirmation of prowess against Purdue put Northern Illinois in the Top 30, but it still needs to start blowing out its competition soon in order to make a run at the BCS.
Average Rank: 30
Fresno State survived an epic fourth-quarter surge (as in 20-0 epic) by the Hawaii Warriors in Week 5 to escape with a 42-37 victory that was 40-yards away from being a completely different game.
The Bulldogs remained an undefeated 4-0 for the season, and they have a solid ranking inside the Top 30. Four out of the five polls used in this piece have the Bulldogs in the Top 25, but Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings have them at No. 61. (That is understandable after a five-point win over the No. 105 team on this list.)
Average Rank: 29.5
Missouri's 41-19 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves helped keep the Tigers knocking on the door of the Top 25. Missouri is also the only undefeated team in the SEC East. Granted, their schedule started out much easier than the other teams' slates, but it's still worth bragging about while they can.
The Tigers already look better than they did last season, which makes total sense. They were decimated by injury in 2012, and that seriously hindered their ability to win games. So far, they look good, and they have a true separation game penciled in for Oct. 5 against Vanderbilt.
If they're still undefeated come next week, they will probably be in the bottom of the official Top 25 polls.
Average Rank: 29
Utah State took down San Jose State 40-12 on Sept. 27, and the Aggies are nursing a 3-2 record heading into the in-state rivalry game against the BYU Cougars. Utah State's scoring offense and defense are both ranked in the top 25 nationally, and that is going to serve them well over the schedule.
If they can manage to keep things clicking like that, a MWC title is imminent. (Their only losses are to Pac-12 teams, not conference foes.) The Aggies have put together a potentially great season, and it should be smooth sailing with little exception once they get past their cross-conference bouts.
Average Rank: 27.6
Virginia Tech shut down Georgia Tech's potent option attack and scored a 17-10 win over the Yellow Jackets on Sept. 26. The Hokies stayed a one-loss team (4-1) with their only loss coming to No. 1 Alabama in the season opener.
Virginia Tech looks to have returned to its 10-win form, but it has yet to score a dominant win over anyone other than Western Carolina. If the Hokies can find their offensive rhythm, they are a clear-cut Top 25 team with a legitimate shot at a BCS bowl.
Average Rank: 25
Wisconsin's suffered a 31-24 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sept. 28, and that put their season record at 3-2...with an asterisk. The Badgers are a one-loss team in disguise, and they'll have yet another chance to certify themselves as a unanimous Top 25 team against Northwestern on Oct. 5.
The Badgers have every bit of talent necessary to compete for the Big Ten crown, as they proved against then-No. 4 Ohio State in the seven-point loss. If they keep their heads down, they can still make it to the conference title game with a little help from the Buckeyes.
Average Rank: 24.4
Ole Miss took one on the chin from Alabama on Sept. 28, and the game ended in a 25-0 shutout in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels are still a good team, by virtue of their 3-1 record that includes impressive wins over Texas and Vanderbilt.
To be clear, the Vanderbilt score was not impressive, but the comeback victory was. Ole Miss still has a great shot at winning nine or more games, and the loss to Alabama didn't hurt their ranking much.
After all, a lot of teams are likely to lose to Alabama this season.
Average Rank: 23
Maryland had a bye week for the Sept. 28 round of play, and they still managed to find a way to improve in the rankings. After shutting out the West Virginia Mountaineers 37-0 in Week 4, the Terrapins were on the radar for a Top 25 appearance.
However, West Virginia hadn't really done much this season, so there was a little skepticism surrounding the lopsided win. While Maryland sat at home in Week 5, the Mountaineers decided it would be a good idea to upset then-No. 11 Oklahoma State.
The Terrapins got the nod for the Top 25 as a result, but they still need to prove that they truly deserve the respect. This week's game against Florida State is the perfect opportunity to confirm their reservation for the top of the list.
Of course an upset would seal the deal, but simply keeping it close would be enough to merit the slot.
Average Rank: 22.6
Michigan may not have scored the most convincing wins over the course of the first four weeks, but the Wolverines are still undefeated in spite of their best efforts to the contrary. They take on Minnesota in Week 6 after having had a week off.
To put it bluntly: The Wolverines that were on the field against Akron and Connecticut had better be stuffed in a metaphorical locker somewhere. If not, then this season is about to get laughably bad.
For now, the undefeated record including a solid win over a ranked Notre Dame squad has the Maize and Blue in the Top 25. However, after the subsequent weeks, there is no margin for error whatsoever.
Average Rank: 22.4
Arizona State just found its offense in a 62-41 win over the USC Trojans. Prior to this game, the Trojans had not allowed more than 14 points in any match. The Sun Devils changed that number by a full 27 points on Sept. 28.
The Sun Devils stand at 3-1 on the season with a massive battle against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish scheduled for Oct. 5. If they can pull off the win over the Irish, they'll officially confirm their place in the Top 25.
Average Rank: 21.2
Northwestern's bye week came at just the right moment: right before the throwdown with top-ranked Big Ten power Ohio State. The Wildcats are just as undefeated as the Buckeyes, but their record currently doesn't contain any wins over ranked opponents where Ohio State's does.
Northwestern does have respectable wins and a defense that played heavily into more than one game. (For instance, the Wildcats had two pick-sixes in the California game and won by 14 points.)
The Wildcats are going to have to claw their way through the season to stay in the Top 25, but they've definitely earned a nod so far.
Average Rank: 20.8
The Cowboys can still win the Big 12, of course, but they are already behind the curve. Are they a Top 20 team? At the moment, yes, but there are still eight games left. Four of them are against teams that are ranked higher on this list than West Virginia is.
Average Rank: 20.6
Texas Tech is 4-0 this season, with a solid defensive win over then-ranked TCU in Week 3. The Red Raiders had the week of Sept. 28 off, and they come back against Kansas in an absolute must-win contest on the road.
Texas Tech has shown flashes of great defense in the past, only to slip up against various teams throughout the season. (See 2012 as an example.) The Red Raiders are still undefeated and still in the mix for the Big 12 title.
They have a long road ahead, but the next few games should help them grow into their personality. If they can find their style, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.
Average Rank: 18.6
Florida's 24-7 win over the Kentucky Wildcats kept the Gators undefeated in conference play, and that means they're still alive for a trip to Atlanta in early December. The loss to Miami back in Week 2 really hurt their shot at a national title, but it did not completely kill their chances.
The Gators are up against a talented Arkansas squad on Oct. 5, and that game could decide the Gators' fate even as early as Week 6. For now, the 3-1 record and top-10 scoring defense has the Gators inside the Top 25.
Average Rank: 15.8
The Miami Hurricanes just dominated South Florida 49-21. They are currently the owners of the nation's No. 10 scoring offense (45.3 points per game) and the No. 7 scoring defense (12.5 points per game).
While they still need to face stiffer competition to get into the Top 10, they've earned their right to a Top 25 spot with their victory over then-No. 12 Florida. Since then, the Hurricanes have shamed every opponent they've encountered en route to a 4-0 record and a legitimate shot at the ACC title or better.
Average Rank: 15.2
Washington's 31-13 victory over the Arizona Wildcats kept the Huskies firmly inside the Top 25. Oddly enough, the team that has Keith Price under center is statistically better on defense than it is on offense.
The Huskies have the No. 28 scoring offense (39.8 points per game) compared to the No. 4 scoring defense (10.8 points per game). The Huskies look more and more like a Stanford- or Oregon-quality team as the weeks go by.
There will be plenty of time to find out whether that's actually true, but they've definitely earned a top-tier spot in the meantime.
Average Rank: 13.2
South Carolina survived a 28-25 scare against the UCF Knights on Sept. 28, and the Gamecocks had better snap out of their doldrums if they intend to compete for anything other than a spot in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the end of the year.
Outside of the season opener, the Gamecocks have not allowed fewer than 25 points in any match, and they haven't scored more than 30. This could be the most illusory team ranked in the Top 25.
South Carolina was expected to dominate defensively, but it hasn't. Offensively, it was supposed to consistently look like it did against Michigan in the Outback bowl...it hasn't done that either.
If the Gamecocks are waiting for an engraved invitation to start playing like they mean it, here's a message: The invitation came at kickoff against North Carolina.
Average Rank: 12.6
UCLA's 3-0 record entering last week's bye is one of the more impressive resumes in the country. Even though the Bruins fell far behind Nebraska on Sept. 14, they came back and made it a decisive victory of almost three possessions.
UCLA averages more than 50 points per game and allows just 18. They may not have the best defense in the country (currently 29th), but with a 50-point offense, who cares?
UCLA has had a quietly awesome start to the season. If the Bruins keep up the pace, there's no way they lose more than two games during the regular season.
Average Rank: 12.2
Baylor also enjoyed a bye week prior to the Week 6 edition of the rankings. The Bears have the nation's top-ranked passing and scoring offenses, the No. 5 rushing attack and the No. 2 scoring defense.
Granted, they have played just three teams and none were from BCS-AQ conferences, but they still handed all three of those teams their worst losses of the season to date. (Links to the Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe schedules.)
If the transitive property worked in college football, the Bears would be ranked ahead of Ohio State right now. However, the Bears are simply going to have to do what everyone else does: win games.
If they simply keep doing that, the standings will take care of themselves.
Average Rank: 9.8
That win pushed them to 4-0 so far this season with a victory over a ranked opponent. The Sooners remained undefeated and created separation between themselves and in-state rival Oklahoma State. (The Cowboys lost to West Virginia.)
Oklahoma is now the highest-ranked team in the Big 12, and it is a co-favorite with Baylor for the conference title. (The Bears don't quite have the resume that the Sooners do, but they will eventually settle the dispute on the field.)
Average Rank: 9.4
Louisville doesn't get a lot of respect, and that's due to its strength of schedule being so weak. However, if you want to go ahead and look at the Cardinals like a non-AQ squad, here's an argument as to why they should be No. 10 even under those circumstances.
First, the Cardinals have the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, allowing just 6.8 points per game. They are averaging 48 points per game (No. 8 nationally), and that puts their average margin of victory at six touchdowns.
Yes, they had a bit of a scare against Kentucky, but even that was a 14-point win in an in-state rivalry game. The Cardinals are trashing their opponents like Boise State did back before the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Whether Louisville gets into the national championship game or not, there's no reason to put an undefeated team with that kind of margin of victory outside the Top 25, or even the Top 10 right now.
Average Rank: 9.2
LSU graced everyone with one of the best shootouts of the year against Georgia on Sept. 28. It went back-and-forth, down to the wire, and the Tigers eventually lost it 44-41. LSU has racked up a 4-1 record with a 1-1 mark against ranked opponents.
The game was decided by three points. It was not an indication that LSU isn't a Top 10 team, but it was a hint that they aren't title material yet. LSU is near the top of the SEC, and it's competing extremely well with the elite.
That's got Top 10 written all over it.
Average Rank: 8.8
Just all wins are not created equal, neither are losses. Some are better than others, especially if this season ends up with fewer than two undefeated teams when the national title game rolls around.
Texas A&M's season is far from over, and the win over an improved Arkansas squad proves that A&M is fully aware of that. Next up for the Aggies? Ole Miss, wounded and ready to take out some serious frustration on a defense.
Average Rank: 7
Florida State took down Boston College 48-34 in Week 5, and that kept the Seminoles at least two losses away from dropping out of the Top 25. The Seminoles have earned this spot by virtue of elite status on both sides of the ball.
They are ranked No. 4 in scoring offense and No. 15 in scoring defense so far this season. Their numbers are prepackaged with grains of salt for your enjoyment, as they have yet to play anyone truly great, but that's about to change over the next three weeks.
Florida State takes on Maryland on Oct. 5 and the Clemson Tigers on Oct. 19 with a bye in between. If the Seminoles' defense (or offense) is all smoke and mirrors, then they will be exposed before October is over.
Average Rank: 6.6
Georgia scored a 44-41 win over then-No. 6 LSU to completely redeem itself from the season-opening loss to Clemson. (The partial redemption came against South Carolina in Week 2.) The Bulldogs are out in front in the SEC East race for the conference title game, and they are creeping back up on a possible national title with each passing week.
If there is one thing that's going to stand between the Bulldogs and a crystal football this season, it's their defense. The Dawgs have the No. 9 passing attack, No. 22 scoring offense but the No. 93 scoring defense in the country.
That is their weakness for now, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. They have engaged in three shootouts against Top 10 teams and come out 2-1 against them. This is an elite team, even if it doesn't win the crystal ball.
Average Rank: 5.6
Clemson's 49-point win over Wake Forest confirmed that the Tigers are in a league of their own over in the ACC. (Well, that league does have one or two other members: Florida State and possibly Miami.)
Clemson is 4-0 with a major win over then-No. 5 Georgia, and the Tigers' strength of schedule dictates that they be amongst the elite until they lose a game. They'll have to get by Florida State, South Carolina and the ACC Coastal champion to stay here, but they're certainly off to an impressive start.
Average Rank: 5.2
Ohio State's next match is against an undefeated (and ranked) Northwestern Wildcats squad whose defense has been the difference in half the games it has played so far. This is one of the most dangerous matches Ohio State will suit up for this season.
Of course, until the Buckeyes lose, they will be solidly in the Top 5...unless they pull a Michigan and barely squeak by a team like Akron.
Average Rank: 5
Stanford's 55-17 win over Washington State was a shot across the bow of every other Pac-12 contender. It sent a message that the Cardinal have found their offense.
The showdown with Oregon in early November is looking more and more epic each week.
Average Rank: 2
Oregon is the unanimous No. 2 squad from the rankings used in this piece, and the Ducks keep winning at a level worthy of that ranking. The Ducks just took down California 55-16 on Sept. 28, and that was a much bigger margin than the Ohio State Buckeyes could manage against the same Golden Bears squad just two weeks prior.
Oregon has four Pac-12 teams (two currently ranked) to wade through before facing Stanford in what increasingly looks like a battle of unbeatens for the Pac-12 North title. Until this team loses a game, don't expect a shift in its ranking.
Average Rank: 1
Alabama's 25-point shutout of Ole Miss certified the Crimson Tide defense, which had been a question mark all season long until that point. The Tide aren't necessarily the best team in the nation, but they are on the recognizable Nick Saban path to that end.
With consistent improvement and zero losses, the Tide are shaping up to be the team to beat for the 2013 season. As long as Alabama keeps its head on straight and its nose to the grindstone, this season is going to end, for better or worse, in the national championship game.