Does any team want “elite” status? While a number of schools remain undefeated, the 2015 college football season lacks elite teams at this stage, and, with two of the top four guaranteed to lose, the playoff picture remains wide open.
25. Houston (4-0)—Watch out for Tom Herman’s team. The Cougars are poised for a run.
24. Iowa (5-0)—The Hawkeyes are quietly undefeated and could position themselves nicely with wins against Illinois and Northwestern the next two weeks.
23. Temple (4-0)—Right now, the Owls look like a team that could be undefeated when they play the Irish on Halloween.
22. Michigan (4-1)—Jim Harbaugh’s team is playing stellar football right now with a defense giving up 3.5 points per game over the last four contests. Big games against Northwestern and Michigan State could make the Wolverines a contender or expose them as a pretender.
21. Oklahoma State (5-0)—A narrow victory over Kansas State fails to impress, but a win this coming week against WVU would put the Cowboys at 6-0.
20. USC (3-1)—While SEC dominates the top 10 despite disappointing seasons for several teams, the PAC 12 owns the 11-20 range. However, with a tough schedule following Thursday night’s game against Washington, the Trojans could climb back up quickly.
19. UCLA (4-1)—The problem for the Bruins is the wins over BYU and Arizona really no longer look good. The loss against ASU also looks bad. Beating Stanford on 10/15 would get this team back on track.
18. Cal (5-0)—Who would have penciled in Cal vs. Utah as a matchup of major significance in the PAC 12 before the start of the season? Goff has the Bears winning.
17. Georgia (4-1)—A loss like the one the Dawgs suffered against the Tide can really haunt a team, especially one that did not have a quality win and now endures QB issues. Still, outside of Florida, this is a cupcake schedule.
16. Stanford (4-1)—An intriguing matchup shapes up between Stanford and UCLA on 10/15 with the Cardinal continuing to improve.
15. Northwestern (5-0)—The Wildcats defense dominated Minnesota. If they can get past Michigan this week and Iowa the next, they really could make a run in the Big Ten.
14. Notre Dame (4-1)—The scoreboard indicated a narrow loss to Clemson. Nevertheless, the Irish really struggled and will need to lick their wounds against Navy.
13. Oklahoma (4-0)—I’m very curious about the Sooners. This could be a team that either shoots up the rankings late, or fades from memory.
12. Ole Miss (4-1)—I hate ranking the Rebels lower than the Tide, who they beat handily. However, the way Florida manhandled them leaves a sour taste.
11. Utah (4-0)—The Utes benefit from the UCLA loss. Facing Jared Goff and Cal will be a test this week.
10. Florida State (4-0)—Jimbo’s team certainly seems content to squeak by in games. Still, they make the top ten as they keep winning.
9. LSU (5-0)—I’m not convinced that the Bayou Bengals are an elite team, but they have an elite runner and that will carry them. The Gators loom in two weeks.
8. Alabama (4-1)—Yes, the Ole Miss loss looks even worse, but the Tide’s dominating performance over the Dawgs serves notice that they aren’t ready to ride off into the sunset.
7. Florida (5-0)—Routing Ole Miss has forced the college football world to take a look at Gainesville once again. The Gators may have been playing above themselves, but that was a noteworthy performance.
6. Clemson (4-0)—The defense stifled Notre Dame. After beating the Irish, the Tigers are certainly in the thick of the discussion.
5. Texas A&M (5-0)—No, Mississippi State is not an elite team, but the Aggies’ defeat of the Bulldogs is an impressive feat. Kevin Sumlin’s program is very much a contender in the West.
4. Michigan State (5-0)—Michigan State and Ohio State seem incapable of putting together a dominating performance. Still, the Spartans are winners.
3. Baylor (5-0)—In their closest contest of the season, the Bears defeated the Red Raiders….by 28 points.
2. Ohio State (5-0)—Rankings cannot solely be based on talent and past performance. Five weeks into the season, the Buckeyes fall to the #2 spot after failing to impress.
1. TCU (5-0)—After a dominating performance over Texas, the Horned Frogs get the slight nod for the #1 spot. The fact that they struggle at times makes their hold at the top tenuous.