You can’t write about college football (and college football odds) without being hyper-aware of polls.
There’s an AP Poll, and a coaches poll, and the CFP rankings, among many others, to say nothing of various sabermetric rankings like ESPN’s S&P+.
Alas, I have not been invited to be a part of any of those various polls. So I decided to create my own. I watch more college football than 99% of voters anyway, so why shouldn’t I make my own rankings and share them with all of you?
Welcome to my in-season power rankings, which I’ll be updating at the beginning of every week once the season begins.
College Football Power Rankings: Week 5
|Power Poll||Team||Record (2023)||ATS Record (2023)||ATS Record (2022)|
On the Rise: No. 5 Washington
Michael Penix Jr. jumped up to co-favorite status alongside Caleb Williams in the Heisman Trophy odds market, but that’s not the reason I’m starting to take Washington a little more seriously. (To be frank, I already knew the offense was good and spent most of the offseason talking about Washington futures.)
It’s the defense that looked so impressive against Cal, which may mean that Washington – unlike USC – is not just an all-offense machine.
I was skeptical about the Huskies’ chances as a CFP team simply because of how difficult the Pac-12 schedule is, but there’s a chance they’re good enough to succeed in spite of a bevy of challenging games. A legitimate defense makes them look less like USC and more like Oregon and Utah.
Past Their Prime: Iowa
Iowa popped into the AP Top 25 after beating Iowa State in Week 2, despite national week-to-week coverage of the Hawkeyes’ struggles on offense.
Those struggles were on full display on Saturday night, as it was clear Iowa was no longer lining up against the likes of Utah State or Western Michigan. Iowa was shut out in Happy Valley and is clearly not a top team in the Big Ten – even if they are the presumptive favorite to win a miserable Big Ten West.
Eyes On the Playoff: No. 3 Florida State
I don’t have Florida State No. 1 in my poll, but they’d likely be a deserving No. 1 seed if the 2023 College Football Playoff started today.
With a neutral win over LSU and a road win at Clemson, the Seminoles have run through an impressive September schedule and remained perfect, earning a well-deserved bye this week.
The schedule from here on out is very, very friendly, which means FSU is a likely playoff team that will flirt with the No. 1 seed, depending on what happens elsewhere.
The Best Game You Didn’t Watch: Kansas 38, BYU 27
Week 4 gave college football fans a ton of great matchups, so I’d understand if this Big 12 opener didn’t quite make the big screen.
Both teams were 3-0 coming into the game, and the Cougars (+9) led at halftime, 17-14. But Kansas returned a pick for a touchdown early in the third quarter, and Jalon Daniels threw a pair of second-half touchdowns to Luke Grimm, putting the game mostly out of reach.
Kansas’ defense isn’t exactly known for its stoutness, but give the Jayhawks’ defensive front a lot of credit. They held BYU to nine total rushing yards on 22 attempts.
G5 Check-In: Air Force
Don’t sleep on the Falcons. Air Force is off and running at 4-0 with a plus-88 point differential. Their next two games – against San Diego State (Sept. 30) and Wyoming (Oct. 14) – will likely determine their ultimate fate in the Mountain West this year.
Updated College Football Rankings: Watch List & Other Notes
- Georgia State – There are only two undefeated Sun Belt teams remaining, and one of them isn’t eligible for anything. Keep an eye on the Panthers, who were picked to finish sixth in the rugged Sun Belt East in the preseason, but who are off to a 1-0 conference start, with extra prep time ahead of this weekend’s game against Troy.
- Louisville – Is Louisville top-25 good already under Jeff Brohm? It’s possible. I’m not overreacting to wins over Boston College, Indiana, Murray State, and Georgia Tech, but this team looks like a legit second-level team in a surprisingly deep ACC.
- Clemson – I actually thought Clemson looked pretty good in its overtime loss to Florida State. The Tigers might be 2-2, but their ceiling (when they play up to potential) is still pretty high. That said, I have them on major upset watch this weekend when they travel to undefeated Syracuse.
- West Virginia & James Madison: Regular readers of my analysis know that I closely watch both WVU and JMU. I’m a Madison graduate who grew up in Morgantown. These are my teams. And they’re a combined 7-1! That’s pretty great. But let’s tamp down any expectations that either of these teams are remotely top-25 relevant at the moment. Both teams appear deeply flawed.
- Ohio – The Bobcats have a Big 12 win in hand and likely won’t be seriously challenged again until the final week of October. This is a 10-win candidate.
- Fresno State – I know Fresno State is creeping into other polls, but I’m just not sold on the west-coast Bulldogs as a legitimate poll team quite yet.
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