You’ll notice one thing missing from my power rankings this week; a team I never expected to move outside the top five isn’t even ranked inside my top 25, and they sit all the way down at #25 in the AP Poll. The Clemson Tigers, who’ve looked great on defense but anemic on offense all year long, suffered their second loss at the hands of the North Carolina State Wolfpack. If you’ve kept an eye on the Tigers to this point, you could absolutely feel this one coming.
Clemson is just one of many surprises, both positive and negative, this year in college football. There aren’t too many surprises in this week’s power rankings; the top six all stayed static, but we’ve got a bunch of newcomers towards the back end of the list. Let’s take a look at how I ranked the college football landscape heading into Week 5.
* (NR) = not ranked in last week's power rankings
Who would have ever predicted this? Not only are the Hogs in my top 10, but they're also in the official AP Poll's top 10. As I mentioned in the notes above, Arkansas is just such a fun team to root for. They play hard, they're well-coached, and quite frankly - it's about time this program saw some success. Do I expect them to navigate the SEC gauntlet unscathed? I don't. But do I expect them to continue this strong play throughout whichever bowl game they're selected for? Absolutely.
What's going on in Norman? The Sooners offense, which has been absolutely potent since Lincoln Riley took over, looks completely lost. Spencer Rattler, a preseason Heisman favorite and a near-lock to be the first quarterback off the board whenever he declares for the draft, doesn't look comfortable. Expectations were lofty, but he seemed ready to live up to them. Perhaps the hype was unrealistic, but Rattler needs to figure it out and quickly.
Texas A&M Aggies
Losing Haynes King was obviously awful for this Aggie team, who I think had a real shot at making some waves this season. Their defense is legitimate, but the offense just can't seem to get anything going. Will it be too late for A&M once King finally returns? At this rate, perhaps.
Fresno State Bulldogs
As was the case with BYU in Week 3's rankings, I made a mistake not including Fresno State in Week 4's. The Bulldogs had a huge win over UCLA, but I wasn't fully convinced. It sounds strange to say I wasn't convinced by the Bulldogs knocking off a ranked team, but I decided to push them all the way up to 19 after a win by the skin of their teeth against a terrible UNLV team, but anyone who watches college football knows letdown games are real. And this was a typical letdown spot. But Fresno State didn't let it spiral. They came all the way back and secured an important win. Or, I guess, avoided a brutal loss.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Gundy is the epitome of consistency. He's over .500 every year, he's in a bowl game every year, and more often than not, he's got his Cowboys ranked in the top 25. They're in my top 25 for the first time this year, and they've got a big game coming up next week against another newcomer: Baylor. Winner stays, loser falls out.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Deacs were always your typical, middle-of-the-road ACC team. Capable of putting up 60+ points on any given night, while also capable of allowing 60+ points and losing the game. Not this Wake Forest team. The offense is still potent, but they've got a defense now. They racked up seven sacks against Virginia on Saturday.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
It doesn't matter that this is the worst Clemson team we've seen since possibly before Taj Boyd. This is a huge win for the NC State program. They don't have to apologize to anyone. They just need to enjoy this win and keep it rolling.
Iowa State snuck back into my top 25 last week, and Baylor ended that run as quickly as it started with a two-point home win over the Cyclones. Are the Cyclones a great team? No, but this Baylor team was a miserable 2-7 last year, and now they're 4-0. Like the Razorbacks, this is a fun bunch to get behind.
I'll keep this one short. Clemson is really going to have to show me something if they want to claw back into my top 25. I've been really hard on them all season, mostly on offense, and they've done nothing to change my mind. After how well he played in limited action last year, what a disappointing start to the season for DJ Uiagalelei.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
The Chants are a really good team, and they've got a ridiculously potent offense that's capable of scoring 50-or-more any given Saturday. Their defense isn't half-bad either. They just feel like a team that's going to have a tough time climbing the rankings unless we keep seeing top teams get knocked off. Their schedule just isn't in the same class as the Power Five teams, which isn't their fault, but it's also a reality.
The Bearcats have a real shot to justify their lofty standing. In my eyes, they already have. But this is an unbelievable challenge for this program: traveling to South Bend to take on one of the most storied programs in the history of college football: the undefeated Fighting Irish coming off a humongous win of their own. This is the game I'm looking forward to most this weekend - it's going to be a fun one.
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