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2009 NCAA College Football Week 5 Top 25

Week 5 Football Top 25 Rankings


I warned you last week that we were looking at another insane season. I mentioned that we had three top 5 teams fall in the first three weeks for the first time in over a decade. I took a close look at the top 10 and decided that it was time for a free fall for a couple of heavily overrated teams. And I wasn’t shocked when things played out exactly as I expected. In fact, the only shock for me was how many top teams fell this past weekend! There was a significant paradigm shift in my rankings as well, facilitated by a month’s worth of resumes to pore over, a number of major losses and one huge injury in Lexington, Kentucky. Also, be sure to check out Matt's weekly college football bowl projections as we take a look at the expected bowl matchups this winter.


  • Virginia Tech Still Owns The ACC

Going into this week, many people, including yours truly, expected Miami and Florida State (both coming off of major wins) to emerge as the class of the ACC. However, I made the mistake of buying into the pretty offenses and forgot one of my biggest rules of thumb: Good defense beats good offense. Virginia Tech’s exceptional defense absolutely dominated Miami and the Hokies are clearly the class of a league that they’ve controlled since their arrival five years ago.

  • This Is Not A Good Year To Be A Top Ten Team

As I mentioned earlier, three top 5 teams had lost in the first three weeks of the season. However, this week’s bloodletting took on nearly unprecedented proportions as no less than four AP top ten teams lost! While we’re still early enough for there to have been some overrated teams thanks to preseason misconceptions, this is quickly shaping up to be a year highlighted by unpredictability. You think that Texas and Florida aren’t happy to have off weeks right now with the upset bug going around?

  • The Face Of Florida Football Has Changed

No, not the Gators, though you have to be concerned about Tim Tebow if you root for the defending national champions. For decades, there has been a ‘Big Three’ in Florida of UF, Miami and Florida State. Well, after South Florida defeated Florida State in Tallahassee last weekend, I think it is time for the Big Three to become the Big Four. USF beat FSU at home with their backup quarterback and while that’s an indictment of how far Bobby Bowden’s program has slipped in the past few years, the reality appears to be that FSU is now only the 4 th best program in the state.

  • Notre Dame Is The Consummate Paper Tiger

The Irish moved to 3-1 with a last gasp victory at Purdue and on the surface, 3-1 is a very solid start. But the Irish have beaten Nevada, Michigan State and Purdue, who have a combined record of 2-9! Furthermore, Notre Dame barely beat two of the Big Ten’s worst teams! I guess we know now why they don’t want to join the Big Ten because MSU and Purdue are rapidly solidifying their place in the bottom half of the league. Notre Dame could win 9 games this year with their weak schedule but the simple truth is that this team stinks on defense and would finish 6-6 in most BCS conferences.

  • Cal Will Never Be Consistent Enough To Truly Impact The National Race

I have been high on Cal all season. This team started 3-0 with two wins against BCS opposition, the last of which was an impressive win at Minnesota, and I figured that the Golden Bears were finally going to shed their reputation as chokers. Guess what? Cal just lost 42-3 at Oregon. FOURTY TWO TO FREAKING THREE. I could have easily forgiven a tough loss that Cal actually put out some effort in and showed some pride in their play and university. But I can’t readily forgive Cal for losing to an Oregon team that hadn’t shown any life on offense all season because of the most lackluster effort since Illinois’ giant egg against Mizzou in week one. I will never put any major eggs in their basket again after they thank me for moving them into my top 3 by enduring the worst loss in the Tedford era.

  • When You Only Account For Results, The Top 25 Looks Much Different

I am officially hitting the reset button on my rankings. Whereas they represented some preseason thoughts in the past few weeks (for example, Penn State’s lofty ranking despite playing three home patsies to start the year), I am completely shifting my rankings to the on-field results this season. Most teams have now played four games and that’s enough for me to get a much stronger reading on how everyone stacks up. Thus, with that shift in thinking, we have a shift at the top of the rankings. But first, here are some teams you won’t see:

  • Ole Miss . They’ve played exactly one real team and lost. Their wins are against Memphis and a D-1AA team. Sorry, I’m not rewarding the crappiest scheduling in the country.
  • Boise State . I’ve already stated that I will have significant issues ranking Boise State. They beat an Oregon team that clearly wasn’t ready to play and won’t play any real opposition the rest of the season. Their defense is average at best and was gashed by Fresno State. Frankly, I think people who have them ranked #5 in the BCS standings right now are out of their minds and I’m not going to participate in rewarding a team that hasn’t earned it.
  • Notre Dame . Combined record of opponents that they’ve beaten: 2-9. This team is Claussen to Tate or Rudolph and that’s about it and they’re extremely lucky to have beaten Michigan State or Purdue. Is there ever a more perpetually overrated team than the Irish?
  • BYU. The Cougars’ biggest resume-builder is that they beat Oklahoma without Sam Bradford. While I believed that Oklahoma would have taken the game with ease in the second half had he been healthy, I moved the Cougars way up my rankings thereafter. Once they were blown out at home by Florida State, who lost to USF, Miami and should have lost to D-1AA Jacksonville State, they lost most of their luster in my eyes and they’re not in my top 25.

Without further ado, here is my new number one team………



#1)Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, #4 Last Week)

Week 4 Result: 35-7 Victory at Home versus Arkansas

Their resume: Four Wins, Two home blowouts over patsies, one win in Atlanta against what appears to be an excellent Virginia Tech team and a home blowout win over Arkansas in their SEC opener. Alabama has the best defense in the country, period. That Arkansas team that they just held to seven points was coming off of a 41 point showing against Georgia! While these rankings are always subject to change, this has been the most consistently rock solid team in the country during the first month of the year and I’m rewarding them for it.

Week 5: At Kentucky, 12:21 PM EST


#2)Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0, #18)

Week 4 Result: 21-10 Victory at #5 Penn State

See what I mean about a major change? Look at Iowa’s resume: They’ve beaten a Big XII team on the road (rival Iowa State), beaten a Pac Ten team at home (3-1 Arizona) and beaten a top 5 Big Ten team on the road (Penn State). That’s one heck of a resume and Iowa has done all of this thanks to one of the best defenses in the country. Now, would the Hawkeyes beat some of the teams that they’re ranked ahead of on a mythical neutral field? Maybe not, but the point of these rankings should be to reward the teams that have achieved the most on the field and almost no one in the country can challenge the Hawkeyes in that regard.

Week 5: Home versus Arkansas State, 12:05 PM EST


#3)Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, #9)

Week 4 Result: 31-7 Victory at Home versus #8 Miami

The Hokies, with one loss, are ranked ahead of Florida and Texas? Well, neither Florida nor Texas has beaten anyone of Nebraska or Miami’s caliber thus far and the Hokies’ only loss was a tightly contested battle with my #1 team. Heck, Virginia Tech has played three ranked opponents in the young season and posted a 2-1 record while neither Texas nor Florida has played a single ranked team! Much like Iowa, Tech has succeeded thanks to an extremely solid defense and the Hokies will continue to dominate the ACC.

Week 5: At Duke, Noon EST


#4)Texas Longhorns (4-0, #2)

Week 4 Result: 64-7 Victory at Home versus UTEP

Texas’ resume: 4 wins, three of which were blowout victories over patsies. Their other victory was a 34-24 win against Texas Tech. In short, this is an extremely high-powered team that has one major flaw thus far: They haven’t really played anyone of note. The Longhorns are what I like to call upwardly mobile: A few similarly impressive wins against stronger competition could vault them back up towards the top.

Week 5: Off Week


#5)Florida Gators (4-0, #1)

Week 4 Result: 41-7 Victory at Kentucky

Here’s the thing: Florida has been impressive this year. They’ve been death on defense and boast a 2-0 record in the SEC. They dominated their preseason patsies. In short, this appears to be a really good football team. However, they don’t have a deep threat ( Tennessee’s stellar defense shut them down) and now they have to deal with the possibility of life without Tim Tebow. If he misses a game or two, then the Gators could have some trouble, especially considering that they have a trip to Death Valley on tap after the off week. Thus, with the uncertainty surrounding Tebow and the concerns about their ability to stretch the field against strong competition, I’m moving the defending champions down to fifth.

Week 5: Off Week


#6)Southern California Trojans (3-1, #6)

Week 4 Result: 27-6 Victory at Home versus Washington State

This is the toughest team for me to place. USC went on the road and beat Ohio State with a true freshman and that’s probably the most impressive win anyone in the country has on their resume. On the other hand, they lost at Washington and have struggled on offense all year. I’m just not really sure what to think about USC so I’m going to leave them here on the strength of their win at OSU and see how the perform at Cal this weekend.

Week 5: At #21 California, 8:00 PM EST


#7)Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1, #7)

Week 4 Result: 30-0 Victory at Home versus Illinois

The Buckeyes are still a work in progress on offense but their defense has been incredible. They’ve pitched back to back shutouts against two highly touted offensive teams and have only allowed one touchdown (USC’s final drive) in nearly twelve quarters! This team is going to win a lot of games but they won’t really have a chance to move much higher until their November stretch of Penn State, Iowa and Michigan to close the year.

Week 5: At Indiana, 7:00 PM EST


#8)Houston Cougars (3-0, #19)

Week 4 Result: 29-28 Win at Home versus Texas Tech

Their resume: Wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and an unblemished record. Houston’s offense is extremely powerful and their defense has made plays at key junctures in the 4 th quarter against both teams. In short, the Cougars have earned their spot in the top 10 because I don’t put non-BCS teams this highly lightly.

Week 5: At UTEP, 9:05 PM EST


#9) Louisiana State Tigers (4-0, #12)

Week 4 Result: 30-26 Victory at Home versus Mississippi State

LSU has started off the season with three victories against BCS conference opponents, including a 2-0 mark in the SEC. Now, this team has its issues and I definitely question their ability to maintain a top 10 ranking with a questionable passing game and the inability to put away opponents. However, the combination of a 4-0 record and three BCS wins gives them a top 10 resume at this point. We’ll find out exactly how good the Tigers are at Georgia on Saturday.

Week 5: At #11 Georgia, 3:30 PM EST


#10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-1, #14)

Week 4 Result: 56-6 Victory at Home versus Grambling State (D-1AA)

Oklahoma State has had more ups and downs than almost any other team in the country. After beating Georgia decisively, they were universally lauded and praised as a National Championship caliber team. After being upset the next week by Houston, they were derided as a team not ready for the big time. Now they’re 3-1 and Houston appears to be a fine football team and I feel confident placing them at #10 in the country in the early going.

Week 5: Off Week

#11) Georgia Bulldogs (3-1, #15)

Week 4 Result: 20-17 Victory at Home versus Arizona State

No one has played a tougher opening fare than the Bulldogs. Since their loss at Oklahoma State, they’ve beaten South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State! While I have some serious concerns about their defense, there’s no denying that playing only BCS foes is impressive and so is their winning record. A win over LSU would be extremely impressive for the team which has challenged themselves more than any other in the country thus far.

Week 5: Home versus #9 LSU, 3:30 PM EST


#12) Miami Hurricanes (2-1, #8)

Week 4 Result: 31-7 Loss at #9 Virginia Tech

Miami’s young team showed their age on Saturday and sophomore QB Jacory Harris was rattled by a massive pass rush. Their defense also showed the vulnerability that I was worried about as previously inept passer Tyrod Taylor threw well all day. However, Miami still holds two wins over ranked BCS opponents and that’s quite the solid start. The young Hurricanes face a crossroads this week when they host Oklahoma, who is more talented than their ranking currently shows.

Week 5: Home versus #14 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM EST


#13) Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0, #11)

Week 4 Result: 28-20 Victory at Home versus Fresno State

Cincinnati is coming off of their least impressive showing in the young season, as Fresno State nearly pulled off the upset. However, Cincinnati’s offense has been very strong in the early going and they boast two road victories over BCS conference opposition, which combined with their 4-0 record makes them deserving of a lofty ranking.

Week 5: At Miami ( Ohio), 1:00 PM EST


#14) Oklahoma Sooners (2-1, #10)

Week 4 Result: Off Week

At this point, the Sooners have allowed 14 points in three games. I believe that their only blemish was the direct result of losing their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and this exceptional defense is one of the best in the country. A win at Miami puts Oklahoma right back into the mix but they haven’t played a BCS foe yet and I can’t justify putting them any higher.

Week 5: At #12 Miami, 3:30 PM EST




#15) South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, Not Ranked)

Week 4 Result: 16-10 Victory at Home versus #13 Ole Miss

South Carolina’s resume includes a road victory at newly ranked NC State and a home victory against an Ole Miss team that was ranked as high as 4 th in some polls. Their only blemish was a 4 point loss at Georgia that they really should have won, giving them one of the toughest opening runs in the country. This is all about what they’ve done on the field and what they’ve done has been very impressive.

Week 5:Home versus South Carolina State, 7:00 PM EST


#16) Auburn Tigers (4-0, NR)

Week 4 Result: 49-30 Victory at Home versus Ball State

Auburn is 4-0 with two wins over BCS opposition. While the Tigers haven’t yet played away from Jordan-Hare Stadium, they’ve averaged over 45 points per game of offense (their Achilles Heel last year) and appear much improved. However, Auburn has two tough road tests at Tennessee and Arkansas the next two week and we’ll find out how good the Tigers really are.

Week 5:At Tennessee, 7:45 PM EST


#17) Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1, #23)

Week 4 Result: 55-0 Victory at Home versus Louisiana-Lafayette

Nebraska has drilled the teams they’ve been expected to beat and their only blemish is a one point loss in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech. Nebraska’s defense has been especially impressive, allowing an average of only 7 points per game!

Week 5:Off Week


#18) Kansas Jayhawks (4-0, #16)

Week 4 Result: 35-28 Victory at Home versus Southern Mississippi

Kansas has scored over 40 points per game en route to their 4-0 start. The Jayhawks have been impressive in their victories but they just haven’t played anyone elite yet and have only made national headlines for fighting with their basketball team. Still, this has been an explosive winning team in September.

Week 5: Off Week


#19) Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, NR)

Week 4 Result: 38-30 Victory at Home versus Michigan State

The Badgers have surprised their way to a 4-0 start. After gutting out an overtime victory against Fresno State while half of the team was suffering from the flu, Wisconsin stomped Michigan State last week in a game that wasn’t as close as the score. While I’m hesitant to rank the Badgers after they collapsed last season around this point in time, they’ve been solid with their 4-0 start.

Week 5:At Minnesota, Noon EST


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#20) Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1, #5)

Week 4 Result: 21-10 Loss at Home versus #18 Iowa

The Nittany Lions’ upset at the hands of Iowa last week went almost exactly how I expected. Penn State’s rebuilt offensive line is going to struggle this year and their light early season scheduling left them ill-prepared for the battle-tested Hawkeyes. However, the Nittany Lions have been very good in the early going on the defensive side of the football (Iowa’s offense only produced 13 points) and this is undeniably a more talented team than their current ranking indicates.

Week 5: At Illinois, 3:30 PM EST


#21) Oregon Ducks (3-1, NR)

Week 4 Result: 42-3 Victory at Home versus #3 California

I’m still at a loss for this result. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli had been terrible all season and was coming off of a 4 for 16 showing against Utah but he managed to put up 253 yards and three touchdowns? Oregon has rebounded from an ugly opening to the season and now has victories over Purdue, Utah and Cal in consecutive weeks.

Week 5: Home versus Washington State, 9:15 PM EST


#22)Michigan Wolverines (4-0, #21)

Week 4 Result: 36-33 Victory at Home versus Indiana

For all the excitement about Michigan being ‘back’, Wolverine fans have to be seriously concerned about their defense at this point. Yes, Michigan is 4-0 and has beaten two BCS foes. But those BCS foes were Notre Dame and Indiana and they allowed 67 points in those two contests! While they’re ranked because they’ve earned it, Michigan looked a lot more like a middle of the pack Big Ten team against Indiana than a bonafide top 25 squad.

Week 5: At Michigan State, Noon EST


#23) California Golden Bears (3-1, #3)

Week 4 Result: 42-3 Loss at Oregon

One word: Pathetic. I nearly dropped them out of the top 25 but their resume really merits inclusion. Before the debacle at Autzen, which was the worst loss under head coach Jeff Tedford, Cal was an offensive juggernaut that beat two BCS teams, including one at home. Now they have to try and pick up the pieces because USC is coming to Strawberry Canyon this week.

Week 5: Home versus #6 USC, 8:00 PM EST


#24) UCLA Bruins (3-0, NR)

Week 4 Result: Off Week

So here’s UCLA’s resume: Early season blowout of a patsy at home, tight road victory at Tennessee and strong home victory against Kansas State. That’s two wins against BCS conference competition, one of which was at a very tough venue. While I’m not really sure that UCLA is going to be able to maintain a top 25 resume, they’ve earned it in the early going.

Week 5: At Stanford, 3:30 PM EST


#25) North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-1, NR)

Week 4 Result: 38-31 Victory at Home versus #17 Pittsburgh

NC State’s only blemish was a moribund 7-3 loss to South Carolina to start the year and they’re coming off of a big come from behind win against Pitt which really was the first time that the Wolfpack looked like the team I expected to see. Russell Wilson is simply one of the best quarterbacks in the country and he’s going to win this team a lot of games with his inability to throw interceptions.

Week 5: At Wake Forest, 3:30 PM EST



  • TCU Horned Frogs
  • Missouri Tigers
  • Boise State Broncos
  • Pittsburgh Panthers
  • South Florida Bulls
  • Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  • Minnesota Golden Gophers
  • Stanford Cardinal
  • BYU Cougars
  • North Carolina Tar Heels



With the major shakeup, the rankings now look decidedly different. The SEC checks in as the leader with six ranked teams! Behind them, the Big XII and Big Ten each boast five ranked squads while the Pac Ten has four. The ACC claims three teams while the Big East and Conference USA round things out with one entry apiece.

Matt Baxendell is’s football writer. Keep an eye out all fall for his multiple weekly articles discussing everything college football. If you want to get in touch with him, email him at or follow him on Twitter @MattBaxendell



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