Our Top 25 teams in college football
Gordon McGuinness, Steve Palazzolo, and Mike Renner use PFF's data to rank the top 25 teams heading into Week 6.
Our Top 25 teams in college football
The top three remain the same, but several big upsets have shaken up the rest of the top 25, with a new addition to round out the group.
1. Ohio State (Previous ranking: 1)
They continue to cling on to that number one spot, but the chasing pack aren’t far behind at all. Most concerning is the fact that Cardale Jones (-14.7) continues to struggle and J.T. Barrett (-5.7) doesn’t offer much hope as a replacement. Thankfully, the combination of the offensive line and running backs Ezekiel Elliot (+13.0) and Curtis Samuel (+4.2) have kept the offense going.
2. Michigan State (2)
As good as they looked early in the year, particularly against Oregon, the past two weeks have been a bit of a disappointment. Quarterback Connor Cook (+3.0) has only had two good games from five this year. More worrying is the uncertain nature of star left tackle Jack Conklin’s (+12.1) injury. Arguably the best offensive lineman in the country, they need him back as soon as possible.
3. Baylor (3)
Baylor almost seems like the forgotten team in the top five, but they continue to look really good. Quarterback Seth Russell (+9.8) is playing well, while the defensive line boasts four players with a grade of +8.5 or better.
4. TCU (6)
TCU rounds out our top four after a big win over Texas. Quarterback Trevone Boykin (+13.4) is playing better than a year ago, even if we don’t think he’s quite up to the Heisman hype. What’s interesting about the top four is that we get to see Ohio State and Michigan State, and Baylor and TCU play each other late in the year, which will have big implications on who goes to the College Football Playoff.
5. Florida State (5)
A strong defense where cornerback Jalen Ramsey (+8.0) and safety Derwin James (+8.1) have starred on the back end, and an offense where both quarterback Everett Golson (+8.0) and running back Dalvin Cook (+5.1) keep the chains moving. That game with Clemson on November 7th looms large.
6. LSU (10)
Four games into their season and LSU running back Leonard Fournette (+14.2) has rushed for 864 yards. The defense looks pretty good too, with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (+8.9) and defensive end Arden Kelly (+6.2) impressing as pass rushers. Alabama and currently unbeaten Florida are on the schedule over the next four games, but the Tigers have shown they have the rushing attack to be a big player in the College Football Playoff picture.
7. Alabama (7)
Underdog on the road, facing their second loss which would have made making the College Football Playoff a very unlikely outcome, the Crimson Tide flat out dominated the Georgia Bulldogs. Quarterback Jake Coker (-3.2) has had two bad games this year, but is starting to find his rhythm and making enough plays to help them win.
8. Clemson (13)
They held on to beat Notre Dame on Saturday night. If they want to win the ACC though, they’ll have to get past Florida State, and they’ll need more out of quarterback Deshaun Watson (+0.7). Defensively there is a lot to like though, notably defensive end Shaq Lawson (+12.9)
9. Oklahoma (14)
They’ve scored at least 31 points in every game so far this year, and quarterback Baker Mayfield (+7.3) continues to grow into his role as starting quarterback. Baylor and TCU loom large on the schedule in back to back weeks in December so few are giving them much hope of going undefeated at this stage, but they have managed to handle everything thrown at them so far.
10. Texas A&M (15)
Undefeated through five weeks but still not getting much respect. That’s got a lot to do with who they have beaten, and they can prove everyone wrong with a big win over Alabama on October 17th. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (+6.1) has been the star of the show on offense.
11. Utah (16)
Slowly but surely everyone in the Pac-12 South has at least one loss. Minus Utah. The surprise package in what everyone knew would be one of the most competitive divisions in all of college football, they get the chance to cement their status as the best team in the Pac-12 when they take on Cal this Saturday.
12. Florida (20)
A team that’s proving just how much we underrated them, the Gators continue to win. We expected their defense to keep it close against Ole Miss, but we didn’t expect them to blow them out. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard (+17.7) is having a ridiculously good season against the run as the defense continues to lead the way.
13. Northwestern (21)
One of the surprise teams of the year, the Wildcats have recorded two shutouts and are yet to allow an offense to put up more than 19 points against them so far this year. That bodes well for a low-scoring defensive game against Michigan this weekend, with the Wolverines shutting out their past two opponents.
14. California (23)
Behind Jared Goff’s (+24.3) arm, the Golden Bears are a serious threat to win the Pac-12 this year. Goff looks comfortable throwing the ball downfield, and so far is creating enough big plays to help them stay undefeated. This week’s game against Utah is a huge test.
15. Ole Miss (4)
That’s one way to burst your bubble. As good as their win over Alabama was, that loss against Florida has really hurt them. Few can realistically see them above Alabama now, and with Florida and LSU both impressing they now feel a distance back in an SEC where they looked so strong a week ago. After a strong start to the year, quarterback Chad Kelly (+3.2) has now had three straight negatively graded performances.
16. USC (12)
With no game this past week, they see themselves drop as more undefeated teams begin to prove themselves. One loss doesn’t knock them out of it in the Pac-12, especially when they have a game against Utah on the 24th of October, but they may live to really regret that Cal loss late in the year.
17. Notre Dame (8)
So close to staying undefeated against Clemson, their College Football Playoff hopes took a big dent on Saturday night. They have a strong enough schedule to still be in the mix if they beat USC and Stanford later in the year, but they are now relying on other teams slipping up too.
18. Georgia (9)
As solid a season as Greyson Lambert (-2.4) was having in his first year as the Bulldogs starting quarterback, he was thoroughly exposed (-5.5) against Alabama. The defense, lead by outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (+19.8) still looks good, but that loss, and the one sided nature of it, hurts big time.
19. UCLA (11)
Despite a monster game to go along with a monster season for defensive tackle Kenny Clark (+29.9), the Bruins fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils. Like with USC, one loss doesn’t kill their season in the Pac-12, but quarterback Josh Rosen (-0.1) will need to play better going forward.
20. Iowa (UR)
Quarterback C.J. Beathard (-0.1) had his worst game of the year against Wisconsin (-7.6) and the Hawkeyes still came away with the win. Defensively defensive end Nate Meier (+9.2) has impressed through five weeks.
21. Memphis (25)
Still winning and still behind the impressive arm of quarterback Paxton Lynch (+15.8). They’ve got two weeks to prepare for Ole Miss, and if they can pull off the upset there, they have a serious chance to go undefeated.
22. Temple (22)
Another surprise team with the chance to go undefeated, with Notre Dame the toughest team left on their schedule. Big wins over Cincinnati and Penn State early in the season got them the attention they deserve. On defense, defensive end Haason Reddick (+11.1) is really starting to find his form, with two big games in each of the past two weeks.
23. Stanford (24)
That loss against Northwestern was viewed as terrible at the time but it turns out that Northwestern is a pretty good football team. In the past three weeks they’ve scored 41, 42 and 55 points, with quarterback Kevin Hogan (+5.3) playing better than he did a year ago.
24. Michigan (UR)
Like Stanford, Michigan’s early season loss to Utah was originally viewed as a terrible loss, but we’ve since discovered that Utah are a very good team. Two shut outs in a row for the Wolverines, with defensive end Maurice Hurst (+18.4) and cornerback Jourdan Lewis (+11.1) just two of the many standouts on that side of the ball.
25. Toledo (UR)
A new entry in our top 25, the Rockets have got this far on the strength of their defense. Defensive tackles Treyvon Hester (+11.2) and Orion Jones (+10.2) have been the standouts but the unit as a whole has looked really good. They offense hasn’t looked as impressive but with wins over Arkansas and Iowa State behind them, they have a shot at an undefeated season.
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.