2016 Post-Week Five College Football Playoff Power Rankings
|Jabrill Peppers, Michigan|
1 Alabama Crimson Tide 5-0 (2-0 SEC)
The Tide just keep on rolling, manhandling Kentucky over the weekend to improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 inside the SEC. The offense is far from perfect but continues to improve behind the arm of young signal-caller Jalen Hurts and Alabama's usual physical offensive line. On the other side of the ball, the Tide bring their usual cast of future NFL stars, ranging from defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Da'Shawn Hand to defensive backs Marlon Humphrey and Eddie Jackson. Questions may emerge after stud linebacker Tim Williams was arrested this past week, but no matter what, 'Bama should be in good hands as they prepare for the meat of their conference schedule.
2 Clemson Tigers 5-0 (2-0 ACC)
After a slow start to the season, Clemson proved that they were once more the team to beat in the ACC, taking down third-ranked Louisville in a thriller in Death Valley. Despite facing a very talented Louisville defense, the offense seemed to find its rhythm in the second half against the Cardinals. Junior quarterback Deshaun Watson did have some turnover issues, but the rest of the group looked great. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers did a wonderful job containing Lamar Jackson, thanks to the gritty play of defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and linebacker Ben Boulware. Even better news for the Tigers is that their schedule softens up significantly with Florida State and Pittsburgh appearing to be the only tough meetings remaining. After getting past the Cardinals, Clemson appears to be in very prime position to make a Playoff run.
3 Ohio State Buckeyes 4-0 (1-0 Big Ten)
Just a week after pounding Oklahoma, Ohio State opened up their conference slate by blowing out Rutgers 58-0 in front of the home folks. While it is quick to dismiss the dominant victory by stating it is lowly Rutgers, the Buckeyes didn't blow out anybody last season, so it isn't crazy to think that a team that went 12-1 last year could be improved. QB J.T. Barrett is in the thick of the Heisman race, and the ground game continues to improve. The speedy and athletic defense has also been impressive, and will need to continue to play well as the Buckeyes square up against Wisconsin on October 15th.
4 Michigan Wolverines 5-0 (2-0 Big Ten)
Through the first four weeks, Michigan had feasted on inferior opponents (with the exception of Colorado), but that changed this weekend. They met eighth-ranked Wisconsin at home and managed to hold off the Badgers for a 14-7 win, overcoming three missed field goals in the process. The kicking game will have to be monitored as the Wolverines go forward, but the rest of the performance was definitely impressive. The ground game moved the ball well, and the defense contained the methodical Wisconsin offense in a wonderful manner, thanks to great showings from Jabrill Peppers and corner Jourdan Lewis.
Four More in the Hunt
5 Houston Cougars 5-0 (2-0 AAC)
Last year, Houston's only loss was to UConn, as they struggled without their star quarterback, who was injured. They avenged that loss this past week by overpowering the Huskies, 42-14, in yet another dominant showing from the Cougars. Houston's Playoff chances took a hit when Louisville lost to Clemson (the Cardinals remain UH's only serious threat left on their regular season schedule and are a major resume booster), but Tom Herman has the Cougs on an absolute tear to open up the season. They should roll to an American Athletic crown and give the committee plenty of tough decisions to make.
6 Washington Huskies 5-0 (2-0 Pac-12)
On paper, Washington and Stanford were set to meet up this past Friday in what was looked like a classic, late-night Pac-12 shootout. Only one team showed up, however, and that was Washington. The Huskies thoroughly pounded Stanford in a way we haven't seen a Cardinal team beaten in a long time, and made it clear UW was the team to beat in the Pac-12. Next up is Oregon, who has owned the rivalry series with Washington lately, but the Ducks are struggling and likely to start a true freshman quarterback. A victory would only confirm the Huskies as the team to beat on the West Coast and a serious Playoff threat.
7 Louisville Cardinals 4-1 (2-1 ACC)
Even though it was in a losing effort, Louisville definitely impressed most of the college football world in a prime-time battle with Clemson. The Cardinals struggled early and were down 28-10 at half but showed tremendous resiliency and resolve and were within about a yard of pushing the Tigers to the brink. It may count as a loss, but this one may actually be a resume booster for the Cards. It proved that they are a balanced team on both sides of the ball and that Lamar Jackson can work his magic even against elite defenses. The good news for Louisville is that they still have opportunities to prove they deserve a spot in the four-team field. Houston is a huge matchup and if Clemson were to slip up, an ACC Championship berth would help them out even more.
8 Tennessee Volunteers 5-0 (2-0 SEC)
Some teams just have a knack for finding ways to win in miraculous ways, and that certainly describes this year's Tennessee squad. Once more, they fell down early, this time to Georgia, only to mount a wonderful comeback that culminated in an epic Hail-Mary to stun the Bulldogs at home. The victory was not only crazy, but it confirmed the Volunteers as the favorite in the SEC East, which puts them in prime position for a berth in the SEC Championship Game. The Vols still have plenty to work on, but they have showed plenty of magic, resiliency and some dumb luck. Sometimes, that is all you need to win some big games.
Others in the Mix
Texas A&M Aggies
North Carolina Tar Heels
West Virginia Mountaineers
Ole Miss Rebels