College Football Rankings by State: A through M

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Things got pretty weird last weekend, and that’s okay—a little weird can be good.

There were some massive changes to the AP Top 25, including my new-look candidates for the College Football Playoff, and the rankings feature a lot of names we’re not used to seeing.

You know what else you’re probably not used to seeing? Rankings based off proximity. I got the creative juices flowing and put together a list of college football rankings by state.

Go ahead and do us both a favor; find your team and let me know how you feel about it in the comment box below or via Twitter! (@Tyler_Waddell)

Here are state rankings for letters A-M:

ALABAMA

1. Auburn Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC)

Let’s be real for a second: Auburn’s offense hasn’t looked quite the same as it did toward the latter half of the 2013 season during its national championship run. That’s starting to change, however, as Nick Marshall looks to be finding a rhythm. What’s been impressive to me is the Tigers’ defense, which held Kansas State and LSU to a combined 21 points.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-1, 1-1 SEC)

Something’s not right in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is 3-3 against Top 25 opponents since its last national championship win in 2012, but has lost three straight dating back to last season’s Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide should still be considered elite, but you have to wonder if the “dynasty” is over.

3. UAB Blazers (3-2, 1-1 C-USA)

Bill Clark looks to have UAB primed for a bowl game in his first season as head coach—something that past coaches weren’t able to accomplish from 2005-2013. The Blazers, who have made just one postseason appearance in their 22-year existence, have already topped their win total from 2013 behind an offense that ranks No. 21 nationally in total yards.

4. South Alabama Jaguars (3-2, 2-1 Sun Belt)

South Alabama is on a two-game winning streak after road trips to Idaho and Appalachian State that both ended in convincing fashion.

5. Troy Trojans (0-5, 0-1 Sun Belt)

Larry Blakeney has been the Troy coach since the 1991 season—the year I was born—and has led the Trojans to many pleasant memories. However, Troy is 14-27 over the last four years, hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2010, and may possibly be fielding the worst team since he took over. Blakeney will retire at season’s end.

ARIZONA
Territorial-Cup-250
1. Arizona Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)

Arizona went from the depths of the unranked to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 after beating Oregon for the second straight year. What else is there to say? These guys are fun to watch.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)

Backup quarterback Mike Bercovici has been exceptional in Taylor Kelly’s absence, going 69-for-113 (61.1 percent) with 998 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions in two starts. He had a five-touchdown performance in a 38-34 win against USC at the coliseum last weekend.

ARKANSAS

1. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC)

Arkansas is arguably the worst team in the SEC West Division, but what if it was a member of the ACC Coastal? It would be playing in the ACC Championship Game this December with a chance to take out the underperforming defending national champs. That’s an incredible testament to what’s undoubtedly the strongest division in college football.

2. Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-2, 1-0 Sun Belt)

Blake Andersen has picked up right where Bryan Harsin left off; the Red Wolves are again contenders to win the Sun Belt.

CALIFORNIA

1. Stanford Cardinal (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12)

Kevin Hogan hasn’t looked sharp and the offensive line can’t open holes for its running backs, but the Stanford defense—thought to have lost some moxie with major offseason departures—has still been one of the best in the nation. Stanford’s two losses are by a combined six points, and I still expect the Cardinal to vie with Oregon for the Pac-12 North.

2. UCLA Bruins (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)

TEN SACKS. UCLA’s offensive line allowed 10 friggin’ sacks in a 30-28 loss to Utah on Saturday night, which is a ridiculous number for any Pac-12 team to have, especially one that was considered as a preseason College Football Playoff contender. The Bruins still rank as the No. 2 team in Cal for one reason: Brett Hundley—but even he can’t compensate for one of the worst offensive fronts in the nation.

3. USC Trojans

I had USC projected as a Top-10 team this preseason, but its defense has been horrid. 452 rushing yards to Boston College and then whatever kind of failed attempt to defend this Hail Mary? Justin Wilcox has some ‘splainin to do.

4. California Golden Bears (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)

I’ve been so impressed with Cal in Year 2 under Sonny Dykes. The Golden Bears have already quadrupled their win total from 2013, and are 3-1 in one-possession games. Obviously there are issues on defense, but it hardly matters when you’re scoring 50.0 points per content (No. 2 in the country). Cal is way ahead of schedule and could be bowl eligible by November.

5. Fresno State Bulldogs (3-3, 2-0 MWC)

You know it’s going to be a difficult transition when you lose a first-round quarterback and a receiver that’s now catching touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers.

6. San Diego State Aztecs (2-3, 1-1 MWC)

Thought to be a strength heading into the season, SDSU’s passing game ranks 101st in the nation at 189.0 yards per game.

7. San Jose State Spartans (2-3, 1-1 MWC)

SJSU can’t seem to adjust to life after David Fales. Spartan quarterbacks have combined for 1,237 yards off 167 attempts, but have just six touchdown passes to seven interceptions.

COLORADO

1. Air Force Falcons (4-1, 1-1 MWC)

Following its loss to Wyoming, Air Force was considered one of the worst teams in the country and Troy Calhoun’s job was hanging in the balance. But the Falcons have reeled off three straight wins—including Boise State and Navy—and own one of the most efficient running games in the nation.

2. Colorado State Rams (4-1, 0-1 MWC)

Losing to Boise State places Colorado State behind Air Force, but its win over rival Colorado keeps it at No. 2. Jim McElwain has done a remarkable job with this program.

3. Colorado Buffaloes (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12)

It looks like a bowl bid might be out of reach for Colorado, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t improved. The Buffs’ four losses have come by an average of 9.0 points, and quarterback ranks No. 4 in the NCAA with 19 touchdown passes.

CONNECTICUT

1. Connecticut Huskies (1-4, 0-2 AAC)

Good thing Yale isn’t Division-1A, amiright?

FLORIDA

1. Florida State Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC)

Innocent until proven guilty, right? Florida State is winning ugly, but the keyword there is winning. Judging by its schedule, we should expect the ‘Noles to keep doing just that.

2. Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC)

Yes, Florida is a mess, and yes, Will Muschamp will likely be fired by season’s end. But the pieces are there, and the Gators can still figure things out for a run at the SEC East.

3. Central Florida Knights (2-2, 1-0 AAC)

Justin Holman is a mini Daunte Culpepper in the making, but his offensive line (and lack of a running game) has limited his development and hindered his coaches’ trust in letting him loose.

4. Miami Hurricanes (3-3, 1-2 ACC)

Maybe Al Golden should have taken the Penn State job when it was on the table, because the writing might be on the wall already after losses to Louisville, Nebraska, and Georgia Tech.

5. Florida International Panthers (3-3, 2-0 C-USA)

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined ranking FIU fifth in anything after its loss to Bethune-Cookman in Week 1, but the Panthers have somehow rebounded to look like an actual team with a 2-0 start in the C-USA. Ron Turner may have earned himself another year of residence in the Greater Miami area.

6. South Florida Bulls (2-3, 1-0 AAC)

It’s shocking that the young USF defense has held up this well so far with quarterbacks Mike White and Steven Bench combining for a 39.7 completion percentage and the NCAA’s third-worst team passer efficiency rating (86.6). You could throw nine in the box and still have a chance to shut out the Bulls’ offense.

7. Florida Atlantic Owls (2-4, 1-1 C-USA)

Quarterback Jaquez Johnson has been a one-man wrecking crew, totaling 1,180 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns in five games this season.

GEORGIA

1. Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 SEC)

If only Georgia had beaten South Carolina in Week 3, it would undoubtedly be ranked inside the Top 5 right now. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs should still be the favorite to win the SEC East with Heisman frontrunner Todd Gurley tearing it up in the backfield.

2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-0, 2-0 ACC)

Paul Johnson may have the only undefeated team in the state of Georgia, but there’s just something about Georgia Tech that makes it untrustworthy. Maybe it’s because the last time the Yellow Jackets started 5-0 they finished with five losses (2011).

3. Georgia Southern Eagles (4-2, 3-0 Sun Belt)

Georgia Southern, which if you recall beat Florida in its last season as a member of the FCS in 2013, lost to N.C. State and Georgia Tech by a combined five points.

4. Georgia State Panthers (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt)

It should be noted that Trent Miles went 1-22 in his first two years with Indiana State before turning the program around for three straight winning seasons. Miles went 0-12 with Georgia State in 2013.

HAWAI’I

1. Hawai’i Warriors (1-4, 0-0 MWC)

Does Punahou High School qualify? No? OK, moving on.

IDAHO

1. Boise State Broncos (4-2, 2-1 MWC)

This isn’t 2006 Boise State caliber, but these Broncos are back on track to being a Mountain West power again with Bryan Harsin at the helm.

2. Idaho Vandals (0-5, 0-3 Sun Belt)

Positive note: Idaho is No. 13 nationally in passing yards (328.8 ypg), and is only getting beat by an average of 12.0 points per game. Negative note: Idaho is 4-37 since 2011.

ILLINOIS

1. Northern Illinois (4-1, 1-0 MAC)

The offense hasn’t been nearly as dynamic without Jordan Lynch running the show, but Northern Illinois just continues to win. It should again be playing in the MAC Championship Game.

2. Northwestern Wildcats (3-2, 2-0 Big Ten)

Are the ‘Cats back? Northwestern has won three games in a row, including two huge wins against Penn State and Wisconsin—doubling its conference win total from 2013.

3. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten)

Tim Beckman lost the only thing that could save his job when Oklahoma State quarterback transfer Wes Lunt went down with injury during last week’s loss to Purdue.

INDIANA

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0)

This is an awfully similar product to the 2012 product that went 12-0 during the regular season but was thrashed by Alabama in the BCS national championship. The difference: We’ll find out if this is true in two weeks when the Irish travel to Tallahassee.

2. Indiana Hoosiers (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten)

Probably the most inconsistent team in the Big Ten, Indiana hasn’t put together a two-game winning streak during the season since October 27 and November 3 of 2012.

3. Purdue Boilermakers (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten)

Purdue already has two more wins than it did all of last year and was competitive against Notre Dame and Iowa.

4. Ball State Cardinals (1-4, 0-1 MAC)

Let’s not forget that Pete Lembo was one of the hottest coaching candidates this past offseason, but ended up staying with Ball State with an extension through 2018.

IOWA

1. Iowa State Cyclones (1-4, 0-3 Big 12)

Iowa State has played three opponents ranked in the Top 25, and has lost all three by an average of 14 points. Its one win came against none other than Iowa on the road.

2. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten)

See above.

KANSAS

1. Kansas State Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 Big 12)

Never doubt Bill Snyder, a.k.a. the White Wizard, a.k.a. Snyder the White. Kansas State had one self-inflicted mistake too many and lost to Auburn, which now ranks No. 2 in the AP Poll. These Wildcats have what it takes to win the Big 12.

2. Kansas Jayhawks (2-3, 0-2 Big 12)

Kansas lost in more ways than one when it hired Charlie Weis. Not only did he finish with a 6-22 record in Lawrence, but the athletic department will still have to pay him roughly $5.625 million through 2016.

KENTUCKY

1. Louisville Cardinals (5-1, 3-1 ACC)

I’m on the fence with Louisville. Yes, it’s one of three teams in the ACC with five wins on the season, but it’s against questionable competition and its sole loss came against Coastal foe Virginia. We’ll know more about the Cardinals after this weekend’s battle with Clemson.

2. Kentucky Wildcats (4-1, 2-1 SEC)

Something weird is going on in Lexington; people are attending football games! The Wildcats are 4-1 for the first time since 2008 and are arguably coming off their biggest win (South Carolina) since it beat LSU in 2007.

3. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-3, 0-2 Sun Belt)

WKU has impressive wins against Bowling Green and Navy, and three losses to Illinois, Middle Tennessee, and UAB by a combined 14 points.

LOUISIANA

1. LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC)

Could LSU be the worst team in the SEC West? The Tigers’ bowl hopes might come down to Arkansas in November. Either way, there’s no doubting the Bayou Bengals are still Louisiana’s top program.

2. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-3, 2-0 C-USA)

Skip Holtz’s Bulldogs are (quietly) in first place of the C-USA West.

3. Louisiana-at-Monroe Warhawks (3-2, 2-1 Sun Belt)

Even if ULM reaches the six-win plateau, it’s unlikely that it will be chosen for a bowl game.

4. Tulane Green Wave (1-4, 0-1 AAC)

Tulane’s last chance for another win this season comes against UConn on Saturday, according to aacfootballfever.com.

5. Louisiana-at-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (2-3, 1-0 Sun Belt)

ULL went through a difficult non-conference schedule with Boise State and Ole Miss, but what’s going on with Terrance Broadway? The Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year has thrown just six touchdowns to seven interceptions with a 44.1 Adjusted QBR five games into the season.

MARYLAND

1. Maryland Terrapins (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Before its Big Ten home debut against Ohio State, Maryland was 4-1 and had won its games by an average of 22 points. Welcome to the Big Ten.

2. Navy Midshipmen (2-4)

Navy was on my preseason Top 25 ballot. Boy, was I wrong. The Midshipmen currently rank 100th in turnover margin (-4) and 90th in yards per play allowed (5.9).

MASSACHUSETTS

1. Boston College Eagles (3-2, 0-1 ACC)

Florida quarterback transfer Tyler Murphy nearly has as many rushing yards (579) as he does passing (660). He has three more touchdowns on the ground (6) than he does through the air (3).

2. Massachusetts Minutemen (0-6, 0-2 MAC)

UMass held a 41-21 advantage over Miami (Oh.)—which had lost 21 games in a row—before allowing 21 unanswered in the second half to lose.

MICHIGAN

1. Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)

Let’s just cut to the chase; only Ohio State stands between Michigan State and another Big Ten title. That game comes at home on November 8.

2. Michigan Wolverines (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten)

I think we can all agree that Brady Hoke’s tenure in Ann Arbor will be cut short following the regular season. The real question is will Michigan win another game in 2014?

3. Western Michigan Broncos (2-3, 0-1 MAC)

P.J. Fleck is returning stability to Western Michigan, but patience is a virtue—the Broncos are not bowl caliber just yet.

4. Central Michigan Chippewas (3-3, 1-1 MAC)

CMU lost to Kansas by two touchdowns. That is all.

5. Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-4, 0-1 MAC)

Mark it down: the season opener against Morgan State will be the only win EMU gets.

MINNESOTA

1. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)

Outside of a near shutout loss to TCU (which is now a Top-10 team after its win over Oklahoma), Minnesota has looked rather solid and is without doubt a sleeper in the West.

MISSISSIPPI
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1. Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC)

It didn’t take long for Dak Prescott and Mississippi State to steal our hearts. In Week 3, the Bulldogs were unranked. Now they’re No. 3 in the nation. Whether they can sustain their momentum and knock off No. 2 Auburn this weekend is an unknown, but it sure is fun having them as a relevant factor in the SEC.

2. Ole Miss Rebels (5-0, 2-0 SEC)

Same thing here. If Ole Miss continues to perform at a high level and the defense stays true to what I think is the No. 1 defense in all of college football, then the Egg Bowl is going to be the 2014 version of last year’s Iron Bowl.

3. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (2-4, 0-2 C-USA)

Things aren’t nearly as bad as they were from 2012-13, but So. Miss has a long ways to go before getting back to 2011 status.

MISSOURI

1. Missouri Tigers (4-1, 1-0 SEC)

It was almost inexplicable how Missouri lost to Indiana and followed it up with a win at then-No. 13 South Carolina. And then the Gamecocks lost to Kentucky and everything made more sense.