College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 5
Well, that was close.
The top-ranked Clemson Tigers survived an unexpectedly tight trip to North Carolina, earning a 21-20 victory thanks to a clutch defensive stop. Clemson swarmed UNC quarterback Sam Howell and stopped the Heels short of the goal line on an attempted two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
However, the victory didn't stop Clemson from falling in B/R's Top 25. The defending national champions dipped a couple of spots in the post-Week 5 edition of the poll.
Bleacher Report's panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—each submitted a ballot. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
B/R Week 5 Top 25
T-3. Ohio State
T-9. Notre Dame
T-9. Penn State
16. Boise State
19. Wake Forest
20. Arizona State
23. Oklahoma State
24. Appalachian State
Who's Hot: Freshman-Led Auburn
If the College Football Playoff selection committee were to release a ranking right now, how high would Auburn be?
Gus Malzahn's team is 5-0 with a pair of Top 25 victories over Oregon and Texas A&M, plus an obliteration of Mississippi State on Saturday, with the Tigers cruising to a 56-23 triumph.
And freshman quarterback Bo Nix had a career day.
The prized prospect hit 16 of 21 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns and added 56 yards and a score on the ground. Nix connected with wide receiver Seth Williams eight times for 161 yards and two TDs, while running back JaTarvious Whitlow powered his way to three scores on the ground.
Although the offense lost three fumbles, Auburn's defense picked up the unit and didn't allow a single point off a turnover. The Tigers limited Mississippi State to just 5.2 yards per snap.
Up next for this scorching Auburn side is a showdown at Florida, which improved to 5-0 on Saturday too.
Who's Not: Texas A&M Narrowly Beats Arkansas
The good news for the Aggies? They won.
But it sure wasn't a convincing day. Texas A&M needed a 10-point fourth quarter to hold off Arkansas―which lost to San Jose State last weekend―and pick up an SEC victory.
"It's a win. I always feel good about a win," head coach Jimbo Fisher said, per TexAgs. "But you're not satisfied. You know there are a lot of issues that we have to improve on to play good football. In no way am I happy, satisfied or content with how we're playing."
Perhaps if Texas A&M were set to play Vanderbilt next, the level of concern wouldn't be particularly high. However, the Aggies are idle in Week 6 before hosting Alabama.
So, yeah, the margin for error is pretty slim.
Fisher and Co. have 14 days to turn a slightly above-average team into a national threat. It's understandable if optimism is low.
Fun Fact: DeVonta Smith Smashes Alabama Records
We knew a healthy Tua Tagovailoa was destined to rewrite the Alabama record books in 2019. We didn't know DeVonta Smith would assist in such electrifying fashion.
During a 59-31 rout of Ole Miss, the junior wideout snared 11 passes for 274 yards and five scores―four of which happened in the Tide's 38-point first half. Smith obliterated the previous Bama single-game records of 224 yards and three touchdowns.
"He just said he's kind of feeling it today," teammate Jaylen Waddle said, according to Charlie Potter of 247Sports. "It was DeVonta Smith Day. I'm happy for him."
Tagovailoa, meanwhile, finished with 418 yards and an Alabama-record six passing touchdowns. He moved into a tie alongside AJ McCarron for career passing scores at 77.
Good luck stopping this offense in 2019.
What to Watch For: Conference Play Heats Up in Week 6
Week 7 is loaded with marquee games, but the upcoming slate in Week 6 is a delightful appetizer.
Friday night, UCF heads to Cincinnati in a pivotal AAC clash. The winner will secure an early edge in the East Division and remain a contender for a New Year's Six bowl berth.
Iowa's trip to Michigan kicks off a superb Saturday of action, followed by Auburn at Florida―a clash of Top 10 teams―in the 3:30 p.m. ET window. Then at night, Ohio State hosts Michigan State, and Oregon has a showdown with Cal's feisty defense.
Even while a surge is unlikely, losses by any of Michigan, Michigan State or Oregon would effectively eliminate them from the CFP chase. Iowa and Florida don't have a particularly large margin for error, so it's also a defining weekend for their postseason dreams.
The drama is coming. But first enjoy a relaxing, yet exciting, slate.