NCAA Football Rankings 2018: Predicting Week 6 Poll for Top 25 Teams

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2018

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates with Johnnie Dixon #1 after defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions  on September 29, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

College football never disappoints, and Saturday's slate offered as much excitement as ever. Week 5 didn't provide as many upsets as the previous gameweek, but a few battles between top-10 teams made for plenty of entertainment.

The highlight was Ohio State's thrilling come-from-behind victory at Penn State, which put the Buckeyes a step closer to a berth in the College Football Playoff but didn't eliminate the Nittany Lions from the conversation.

Notre Dame also took a step closer to its first playoff berth, knocking off Stanford in convincing fashion.


AP Top 25 Prediction

1. Alabama (Last week: 1)

2. Georgia (2)

3. Ohio State (4)

4. Clemson (3)

5. LSU (5)

6. Oklahoma (6)

7. Notre Dame (8)

8. Auburn (10)

9. Penn State (9)

10. Washington (11)

11. West Virginia (12)

12. UCF (13)

13. Michigan (14)

14. Wisconsin (15)

15. Kentucky (17)

16. Stanford (7)

17. Miami (16)

18. Texas (18)

19. Oregon (19)

20. Michigan State (21)

21. Colorado (NR)

22. Boise State (NR)

23. South Florida (NR)

24. Virginia Tech (NR)

25. Duke (22)

Dropped out: BYU (20), Mississippi State (23), California (24), Texas Tech (25)


9. Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Trace McSorley #9 of the Penn State Nittany Lions passes against the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 29, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Despite leading for the majority of the game, Penn State fell to Ohio State 27-26 in what will be considered one of the classic games of the 2018 college football season when all is said and done. However, the Nittany Lions might not be going anywhere in the rankings.

Voters typically drop a team in the rankings after a loss by default, but it will be difficult to justify moving Penn State.

In the Week 5 poll, the top-ranked one-loss team, Auburn, was ranked one spot behind Penn State, with Washington right behind them. So now voters must decide on the best one-loss team, and after a one-point defeat to Ohio State, the Nittany Lions have a strong claim to that honor.

Penn State is also likely to jump ahead of Stanford (previously No. 7) after the Cardinal were handily beaten at Notre Dame.

So despite dropping Saturday's game, the Nittany Lions are likely to remain in the No. 8 to No. 10 range, and if they run the table, the College Football Playoff should remain a realistic goal.


11. West Virginia

Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

West Virginia has been sitting on the edge of the top 10 throughout the year but hasn't made any significant movement because of an easy early-season schedule. Texas Tech, which entered the game ranked No. 25, provided the first real test for the Mountaineers.

The final score (42-34) makes the game look a lot closer than it played out thanks to the Red Raiders' 17-0 run in the second half. In reality, West Virginia controlled this contest from start to finish, building a 35-10 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers now sit at 4-0 with upcoming games against Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor before a showdown at Texas on November 3. West Virginia should be favored in each of those games, likely putting them at 7-0 heading into that showdown with the Longhorns.

If West Virginia doesn't crack the top 10 in Week 6, assuming the Mountaineers keep rolling over the next few games, it's only a matter of time.


16. Stanford

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 29: K.J. Costello #3 of the Stanford Cardinal is sacked by Jerry Tillery #99 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 29, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Ima
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Stanford was outplayed by Oregon in Week 4 and narrowly escaped with a victory thanks to a late fumble as the Ducks were attempting to run out the clock. The Cardinal followed that up by laying an egg at Notre Dame in a 38-17 defeat in which they scored just three points in the second half.

So do the voters treat Stanford like a team with one loss on the road to a top-10 team? Or do they treat the Cardinal like a team that lost convincingly and probably deserves to be on a two-game losing streak?

The answer is probably both, as voters rarely agree on anything, which means Stanford will likely land somewhere in the middle of the Top 25.

Michigan is another one-loss team that lost to the Irish, so voters may use the Wolverines as a measuring point for Stanford. Michigan was ranked No. 14 in Week 5, so the Cardinal are likely to land in a similar range.


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