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California Golden Blogs College Football Top 25 Poll: Week 5

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How would the CGB writers vote if they were responsible for the national college football rankings?

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Here is this week's Top 25:

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

California Golden Blogs Top 25 - Week 5

Rank Team Delta
1 Utah Utes Arrow_up 1
2 Clemson Tigers Arrow_up 17
3 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_up 3
4 Baylor Bears Arrow_up 8
T-5 Ohio State Buckeyes --
T-5 Oklahoma Sooners Arrow_up 10
7 LSU Tigers --
8 Northwestern Wildcats Arrow_up 3
9 Florida Gators NEW
10 Michigan State Spartans Arrow_down 2
11 Texas A&M Aggies Arrow_down 2
12 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_up 1
13 Stanford Cardinal Arrow_up 5
14 Florida State Seminoles Arrow_up 2
15 USC Trojans Arrow_up 4
T-16 Ole Miss Rebels Arrow_down15
T-16 California Golden Bears Arrow_down 2
18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Arrow_down15
19 Michigan Wolverines Arrow_up 2
20 UCLA Bruins Arrow_down17
21 Oklahoma State Cowboys Arrow_down 4
22 Iowa Hawkeyes NEW
T-23 Toledo Rockets NEW
T-23 Memphis Tigers NEW
T-23 Temple Owls Arrow_up 2

Teams dropped from last week's Top 25Georgia Bulldogs, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Wisconsin Badgers

Others receiving votes: Georgia BulldogsBoise State Broncos, Navy MidshipmenDuke Blue DevilsWestern Kentucky Hilltoppers, Arizona State Sun Devils


Four teams dropped off the ballot after losses, allowing a few teams that were on the margins last week to enter the ballot. There were also some big jumps and drops this week; Oklahoma jumped 10 spots after a solid win against West Virginia (plus Berkelium remembering to put them on his ballot). Clemson had a huge jump this week of 17 spots, and that was due to the fact that they were not ranked at all last week by Berkelium and fiatlux, and this week those two voters had them at #2 and #11, respectively. They had a big move up from #19 to #2 on ragnarok's ballot, as well.  Baylor moved up 8 spots after blowing out a pesky Texas Tech team that had given TCU fits. Meanwhile, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and UCLA all took a big fall in the polls due to their losses, but they managed to stay on the ballot.

Nick Kranz:

The top six teams in my poll (Utah, Northwestern, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Clemson) are the only six teams that are undefeated with at least one truly impressive win. After those six, things become significantly more subjective and therefore difficult.

Notre Dame makes the biggest fall in my poll. Obviously the loss to Clemson hurts, but previously decent looking wins over Texas and Georgia Tech look signficantly less impressive now. I considered ejecting them from the top 25 entirely.

Ohio State, Cal, Florida State, and Oklahoma State are all hanging around in the late 20s, as undefeated teams without a truly impressive win yet. Ohio State's best win is probably a road win over Indiana. Cal's best win is probably a road win over UW. For Florida State, it's a road win over Boston College. For Oklahoma State, a home win over Kansas State. Needless to say, none of those wins make you sit up and take notice. All four teams can potentially shoot upwards with a meaningful win or fall precipitously with a bad loss.

PerryScope:

Clemson gets my #1 spot because of their gritty home win against a really impressive Notre Dame team.  They got sloppy in the second half but they got the win due to their defense continuing to force turnovers.  They are a team that should run the table in the ACC and ultimately make the College Football Playoff.

Alabama silenced the haters this week as they took down Georgia by 4 touchdowns.  It was their first game as an underdog in 5 years and I don't think we will be seeing that again for a while.

The Pac 12 lost on Saturday as playoff hopeful UCLA lost fairly easily against ASU, who had been a mediocre team all year.  The Pac 12 South is very much up for grabs and surprisingly so is the Pac 12 North as Cal and Stanford are the frontrunners while Oregon is still alive to make the Conference title game.

Berkelium97:

We're far enough into the season now that strong one-loss teams are passing undefeated yet clearly flawed teams (sorry Cal!).  Also, I'm growing increasingly skeptical of the entire SEC.  A couple weeks after Ole Miss put a beating on Alabama, Alabama destroys highly (over)rated Georgia and Florida blows out Ole Miss.  Meanwhile LSU has a tough time putting away a directional school and Kentucky needs OT to beat an FCS team.  The conference's best OOC wins are Alabama's win over Wisconsin, LSU's win at Syracuse, and Texas A&M's win over ASU.  How do we know if these teams are any good?

fiatlux:

I'm flabbergasted, PerryScope, by your ranking of Clemson... Your rationale is so ludicrous it makes me not want to do this poll accurately because I need to balance it out... If I have this right, of all the undefeated teams - and they've only played four games, to boot - Clemson's wins over Louisville, Appalachian State and Woford and then a squeaker over Notre Dame without their starting QB has impressed you that much?  It makes exactly zero sense.  Zero.  In fact it's embarrassing.  Not sure if I'm being clear here. (Berkelium, you're only marginally less odiously offensive with your #2 ranking).

I wonder if Georgia will fall out of atoms' Top 10.

I probably have a glaring omission, but here you go.

Berkelium97:

Clemson looked pretty good in building up a 21-3 lead over Notre Dame during a monsoon.  Yes, Notre Dame is missing its starting QB (and starting RB too), but they've looked good in their win over Georgia Tech (although that win looks less impressive each week). Sure, Clemson blew the lead, but it was one of the strongest wins any ranked team posted last week.  I tend to weight recent results more heavily, so Clemson benefits this week.

No teams have stood out as clear top-five teams this year, as indicated by the lack of consensus at the tops of our ballots this week.

PerryScope:

Clemson's win was extremely impressive. They had control for most of the game and found the edge at the end in a gritty win.  They needed that game desperately and they delivered. Fiatlux, you have Michigan State #3 and they have been awful - there is no rationale behind that.  They haven't looked great in any game so far and their win against Oregon is not very impressive considering they could barely put away Colorado.

fiatlux:

Notre Dame had neither their starting QB or their starting RB. And Clemson beat them by 2. I'm sorry, nothing about that is remotely impressive, let alone  impressive. How many teams  in the country SHOULDN'T they beat if the other team was in that position. And I'll repeat, their other wins are over Louisville, Appalachian State and Wofford.  Not a thing about that resume says #1. They're certainly in the ranks of undefeated  teams, but not the best.

I agree with you, I may in fact have Michigan State slightly too high, but frankly i think there's a bit of a cluster there for about 5 or 6 teams.

ragnarok:

I continue to overrank undefeated teams, but that’s mostly towards the bottom of my ballot now, as I considered teams undefeated against weak slates (Oklahoma State, Memphis, Florida State) rather than one-loss Power 5 teams without a major win to balance the loss.

Utah is still my #1, but Clemson is a close #2, followed by SEC West leaders LSU and Texas A&M. I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the SEC, as they keep beating up on each other with surprisingly lopsided scores, which to me says "good, but inconsistent" rather than "superior, but facing tough competition". I’m probably still overvaluing Michigan State at #7, as their marquee win over Oregon has lost a ton of value recently, and a 3-point win over Purdue is nobody’s idea of impressive.

I probably have Cal too high at #18, more based on the brand recognition of their wins (@Texas, @Washington) rather than the quality of the teams they beat. We’ll see how they hang with Utah this weekend. Below them, however, I don’t have anybody who I feel deserves to be ranked any higher, so there we are.

PerryScope, why is Georgia still on your (or anyone's) ballot? Sure, they beat South Carolina and Vanderbilt pretty good, but those teams are a combined 0-5 in the SEC, and wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Southern don't count for anything but bowl eligibility. They got destroyed by 'Bama, and don't have anything nearly good enough on their resume to counter-balance that (unlike, say Ole Miss).

mpeters10:

NC State, Mississippi State and Miami drop out of the top 25. Michigan and Iowa make their first appearance in my top 25, while Temple returns to my list. I don't really feel like any team has really stood out yet. With that being said, I've been impressed by TCU's resiliency to fight through the injuries they have sustained defensively and Trevone Boykin is a stud. Their offense looks unstoppable at the moment and the same can be said for Baylor's offense. Yes, neither team has a particularly impressive victory (Texas Tech has a decent team), but who does at this point? Ole Miss has the best win of the season and look how that turned out for them against Florida. Also, I dropped Michigan State several positions for almost losing to a pathetic Purdue team. I thought about dropping Georgia and UCLA out of the poll completely, but I still feel as though they have a ton of talent on those two teams.

atomsareenough:

Actually fiat, I don't have Georgia ranked at all this week. They would have been my 26th team, probably, but I wanted to add in a pair of 5-0 teams in Iowa and Florida this week, so two of my teams on last week's ballot had to go, and that resulted in Wisconsin and Georgia getting the boot. This was Wisconsin's second loss, so they were gone regardless, but I did look over the one-loss teams and Georgia definitely has the weakest case among them. Ole Miss got to stay because they have that Alabama win, and the team they lost to (Florida) is still undefeated. Notre Dame lost, but it was a close game against another quality team, so I didn't drop them that far. USC didn't play, and their Stanford loss doesn't look so bad right now. Stanford's playing well and their close Northwestern loss still looks credible, with Northwestern up at #6 on my ballot... and Alabama is a one-loss team, but their one loss wasn't as bad as Georgia's, and of course they just beat Georgia anyway, so clearly they deserve to stay. I don't think Georgia is bad, but they will need to register an impressive win against a quality opponent at some point; the Alabama game has taken away their benefit of the doubt.

BTW, I'm glad you've come around a bit on Baylor, fiat. The metrics say they're a good team, they pass the eye test, and dropping 63 on a non-Kansas Big-12 conference opponent is impressive.

Maybe you'll come around on Clemson in coming weeks :) This week, the Tigers are rated 2nd overall by FEI and 4th overall by S&P+.

fiatlux:

I am coming around because they are still winning, when others aren't. I don't pretend to be able to judge the talent on the teams before the season starts and then keep justifying it as they play cupcake after cupcake.  On the same note, I am glad that you've recognized, repeatedly now, how wrong your preseason "analysis" was and how not good at that you are.  That's good growth, so I salute you for that. As I've said, the first few weeks are meaningless so my ballot has been very fluid.

As for Clemson, they beat a depleted Notre Dame WITHOUT their starting QB and RB. Louisville. Appalachian State. Wofford.  That's quite a resume.

atomsareenough:

You're repeating yourself, but yes, clearly it was a close win. Notre Dame is still a very talented team and a quality opponent, and if I recall, it was a sloppy game in the rain, and sometimes those games are messy. You still have Ohio State and California ahead of Clemson, and they both had 1-score wins against opponents much less impressive than Notre Dame. Heck, you have Michigan State #3, and they had a FG win at home over Purdue. Purdue!

As for preseason stuff, you had Clemson #4 and Baylor #5 coming into the season, and I had Baylor #6 and Clemson #7 preseason. They've both done nothing but win so far, Baylor winning by large margins. I feel like I'm being pretty consistent here about them. I thought they were good, they keep winning, and so they continue to be ranked highly on my ballot. You're the one saying "hey I think they're good" at first, and then "oh I'm not going to rank them anymore this week even though I just said I thought they were good and they've done nothing to make me think otherwise" and then "oh wait, just kidding, they played a decent team and won so I guess I was right the first time after all". That doesn't seem very consistent to me.

On the flip side, we also both had Georgia Tech, Oregon and Wisconsin in our top 10 preseason, and clearly they've not been very good, and as a result we both dropped all 3 of them very quickly. That's not growth, per se, it's just evidence that completely undermines your bullshit contention that my ranking methodology is somehow "biased" by previous weeks' polls. It's not. I re-evaluate every team every single week. I'm also looking at advanced metrics to at least sanity check a few of my selections. And at least I'm not forgetting about any teams when I make my ballot up, and I'm not ranking teams like Rutgers(!) instead of Clemson simply because it's Week 2 and nobody has a "quality win" yet or even knows for sure what one looks like. But yes, I do agree that the first few weeks are hard because there aren't a lot of data points yet. But then if it's meaningless, why are you trying to harp on my "preseason analysis"? Just because I do things iteratively doesn't mean that I'm not taking into account new information. I never claimed to have all the answers before week 1.

Anyway, here are some interesting outliers this week, in case anyone wants to speak to them:

Everyone has Northwestern in the top 12, except PerryScope who has them way down at #20. With Georgia ahead of them at #18. PerryScope also has Arizona State ranked; I think that's the only 2-loss team on anybody's ballot at this point.

All voters ranked Ohio State between #4-9, except for Nick who had them down at #17.

I'm the outlier on Michigan State; most people had them around the top 10, but I have them down at #19 because I think they've had too many close wins against unimpressive teams.

Everybody ranked UCLA except fiatlux. Everyone also has Michigan except fiatlux and ragnarok.  Everybody has Temple except PerryScope.

There's a wide range of opinions on most of the teams in the teens this week.

There's a 3-way tie at #23 between Temple, Memphis, and Toledo, and then a big dropoff after that, which rounds out the top 25 teams nicely.

PerryScope:

I definitely made a big mistake not ranking Northwestern higher but Georgia is still a very talented team that I think will be the SEC East Representative in the conference championship. As for Temple I don't know much about them but apparently they're pretty good.

Nick Kranz:

Re: Ohio State- So far, the Buckeyes have beaten:

2-3 Virginia Tech
2-3 Hawaii
2-3 Northern Illinois
1-3 Western Michigan
4-1 Indiana

Of the five teams Ohio State has beaten? None of those teams have looked impressive the rest of the year. Probably the best win any of those teams have notched is Indiana's home win over Western Kentucky. Ohio State's schedule strength is generally around 100th best in the country, depending on which metric you look at. And two of those games were basically coin flip games that came down to the final possession. It's a resume that's essentially indistinguishable from, say, Cal. Which is why I have OSU ranked one spot ahead of Cal in the late teens.

atomsareenough:

Yeah, I see your Ohio State case as similar to my Michigan State case, except I give Ohio State a little more credit for margin of victory in at least a couple of their games, and I think their overall talent level is better than Michigan State's. Honestly, I probably should have ranked both of them somewhere in the mid-teens, but 3 teams I had ahead of Ohio State ended up losing, and I wanted to ding the Spartans for barely pulling it out at home, yet again. So the Buckeyes ended up a little extra bit higher and the Spartans ended up a little lower this week.

fiatlux:

Atoms, that was, even for you, a lot of sanctimony to not make a cogent point.  As I've said repeatedly, the early polls are meaningless because we have exactly zero insight into anything. I, unlike, um, others, don't pretend that i can evaluate the talent ...  The early poll is nothing more than throwing darts against the board. (see how I was able to make my point in one crisp paragraph.)

Nick, well stated... I will say I give OSU some more credit because they did win convincingly at VATech.  Agree with you otherwise and as I've said, there seems to be a great muddle of undefeated teams.

ragnarok:

I feel like both UCLA and Georgia have a ton of talent too, I just don't think the amount of talent a team has should factor in their ranking (at least post-preseason).

mpeters10:

I was conflicted about leaving Georgia in the top 25. It came down to them or Boise State for the last spot. I don't think either team has a great win on their profile, which made it tough.

atomsareenough:

Fiat, I don't know who's pretending to be omniscient here. Certainly not me. Look, I made my best guess in the preseason and every week I'm constantly adjusting as we amass new information. You're drawing up a completely new guess every single week. That's the difference, and it's a subtle but I suspect meaningful one.

Rags, I think assumptions about talent matter less, the more data points you have, but it's still early and half of many teams' schedules are FCS, non-Power 5, or bottom-feeding Power 5 teams at this point. Really we're not going to have a great sense about which teams are truly elite until they've played 7 or 8 games and have had a couple matchups against some stiff competition. You mentioned UCLA, and they are talented, but they also have a lot of key injuries, and I think it makes sense to take something like that into account as well. It doesn't have to be your main factor, but I think it's fair to use it to make minor adjustments. I mean, we're all just making guesses here, and taking more things into account makes for more educated guessing.

Okay, full ballots below:

CGB T25 W5