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)
Earlier I posted the state rankings for letters A-M. Here are the rankings for N-W:
— Angela Duncan (@AngelDnc2) October 5, 2014
1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
Ameer Abdullah could only muster 45 yards off 24 attempts against Michigan State, yet Nebraska lost by five. The Cornhuskers should be the favorite to win the B1G West.
1. Nevada Wolf Pack (3-2, 1-1 MWC)
Nevada scored 46 points for the first time since the 2012 New Mexico Bowl (48), but allowed a season-high 51 to Boise State in the loss. Still, these Wolf Pack look like bowl material.
2. UNLV Rebels (1-5, 0-2 MWC)
UNLV ranks 120th in points scored (16.8 ppg) and 118th in points allowed (38.7 ppg). That’s not a formula for success.
1. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
The latter half of Rutgers’ schedule is exceptionally more challenging than the first six games, but I’m not going to let that take away from what the Scarlet Knights have been able to accomplish thus far in a year where I thought three wins would be hard to find.
1. New Mexico Lobos (2-3, 0-1 MWC)
Five different players have 200 rushing yards or more and all of them have found the end zone at least once. How’s that for consistency in the backfield?
2. New Mexico State Aggies (2-4, 1-1 Sun Belt)
Since starting the season with two wins against Cal Poly and Georgia State, New Mexico State is being outscored by 21.3 points per game.
1. Syracuse Orange (2-3, 0-1 ACC)
It’s going to be hard for Syracuse to rally off four more wins with a remaining schedule that consists of Florida State, Clemson, N.C. State, Duke, and road trips to Pittsburgh and Boston College.
2. Army Black Knights (2-3)
I thought there was a chance that this could be Army’s year to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2010. Then it lost to Wake Forest and Yale in back-to-back weeks.
3. Buffalo Bulls (3-3, 1-1 MAC)
Losing Khalil Mack—the anchor of the defense and the best linebacker from the class of 2013—has played a significant role in Buffalo’s first half of the season. Last season Buffalo allowed 24 rushing touchdowns in 13 games, giving up 24.4 points per contest. In 2014, the Bulls have already let opponents score 16 rushing touchdowns, and have the No. 101 scoring defense (34.7 ppg).
1. East Carolina Pirates (4-1, 1-0 AAC)
It’s ARGHHHHH state! ECU won’t be vying for the College Football Playoff, but the Pirates have the American Athletic Conference title and Peach Bowl in sight.
2. Duke Blue Devils (4-1, 0-1 ACC)
The knock on Duke four weeks in was that it hadn’t faced quality competition. Well, we got an idea of its true colors when it scored just 10 points to Miami (Fla.) in a 22-10 loss in Week 5. Still, the fact that we’re even talking about the Blue Devils is a testament to what David Cutcliffe has done for this program.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-3, 0-2 ACC)
Does UNC have the worst defense in the country? That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the Tar Heels have allowed a staggering 154 points over their last three games (all losses).
4. North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-2, 0-2 ACC)
N.C. State became the first team ever to score 24 points on Florida State in the first quarter. EVER! It then became the first team in college football history to score 24 points on Florida State in the first quarter and then get shut out the following week.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-4, 0-2 ACC)
The day will come when Wake Forest arises from the depths of the ACC Atlantic to claim the division as its own. It just won’t be in 2014. (Or in the foreseeable future.)
6. Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt)
It hasn’t been a strong start for Appalachian State in its first year as a member of the FBS, and it will compete with Idaho for the last-place spot in the FUN (Sun) Belt.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
Ohio State hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 1921. That’s 45 straight wins. It’s still Buckeye country, y’all—‘nuff said.
2. Cincinnati Bearcats (2-2, 0-1 AAC)
I realize that this might be the worst defensive product Tommy Tuberville has been a part of—Cincinnati ranks close to last in every major defensive category. But when Gunner Kiel is in the backfield and the receivers are getting open, the Bearcats have the ability to score on any play.
3. Akron Zips (3-2, 1-0 MAC)
Akron? What a sight for sore eyes! Take out the 48-17 loss to Marshall—where the offense turned the ball over four times—and the Zips’ defense is holding opponents to 9.3 points per game, including a 21-10 win over Pittsburgh on the road.
4. Bowling Green Falcons (4-2, 2-0 MAC)
Three of BGSU’s four wins have come by five points or less—to Indiana, UMass and Buffalo. Its two losses are by a combined 79 to Western Kentucky and Wisconsin.
5. Toledo Rockets (4-2, 3-0 MAC)
Since getting blown out by Missouri and Cincinnati, Toledo is 3-0 (all conference wins) and is standing alone in first place in the MAC West.
6. Ohio Bobcats (3-3, 1-1 MAC)
Ohio’s three wins have come against Kent State, Idaho, and Eastern Illinois—all of which combine for a 1-14 record.
7. Kent State Golden Flashes (0-5, 0-2 MAC)
Holding Northern Illinois to 17 in a three-point loss is quite the moral victory.
8. Miami RedHawks (1-5, 1-1 MAC)
Chuck Martin can scratch off ending the 21-game losing streak, but now he must focus on repeating success so Miami becomes hungry for more heading into the offseason.
1. Oklahoma Sooners (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
The loss to TCU is so Bob Stoops, but doesn’t mean the season is lost for Oklahoma. I truly believe this is one of the better Sooner squads we’ve seen for several years—they still rank No. 7 in my Top 25—and there’s a great chance they’ll win out from here.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-1, 2-0 Big 12)
Its defense isn’t going to allow Oklahoma State to win many blowout games, but it’s just the right amount of bend-don’t-break to keep the Cowboys as a consistent factor in the Big 12 race. Will OSU beat TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma? No, but winning one of those games should be expected.
3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-4, 1-0 AAC)
Bill Blankenship is in trouble. Since winning the opener against former C-USA brethren (and new AAC brethren) Tulane, Tulsa is 0-4 and is getting beat by 25.5 points per game.
1. Oregon Ducks (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
It’s odd; Oregon is supposed to lose the physical battle in the trenches, not out-talented via athleticism and speed. Yet the Ducks have lost two games in a row to Arizona, and Marcus Mariota seems to be losing trust in the weapons around him.
2. Oregon State Beavers (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Through five games, senior quarterback Sean Mannion is averaging a passing touchdown per 36.4 attempts. Through five games in 2013, he was averaging a touchdown pass every 11.3 attempt.
1. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
Christian Hackenberg has been a shell of what he was hyped up to be this season, but much of this is due to poor offensive line play and his wide receivers’ inability to create space between themselves and defenders. Still, I expect James Franklin to get creative and start finding ways to open the offense for his young quarterback.
2. Temple Owls (3-1, 1-0 AAC)
Matt Rhule is quickly changing our perception on Temple after a pleasantly surprising start, but let’s not overreact. Vanderbilt and UConn aren’t necessarily world-beaters, and Navy (Temple’s only loss) has lost three games in a row to mediocre opponents.
3. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3, 1-1 ACC)
Man, it’s been a rough few weeks for Pitt. After a promising 3-0 start and seemingly standing tall as the favorite to win the Coastal (is there ever really a favorite to win the Coastal?), the Panthers have lost three in a row to Iowa, Akron, and Virginia.
1. Clemson Tigers (3-2, 2-1 ACC)
As I wrote in my newest Top 25, Clemson is a team to watch out for now that Deshaun Watson is the full-time quarterback. The true freshman is completing passes at a high percentage (68.9), has no problem throwing the ball downfield, and simply does not make costly, freshman-like mistakes.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3 SEC)
Steve Spurrier said it best when he told reporters that the way South Carolina plays is “embarrassing.” This will be the year where Dabo Swinney finds that elusive victory over his in-state rival.
1. Memphis Tigers (3-2, 1-0 AAC)
There’s no need to rub your eyes. This is real. I’m one of the few that think Memphis is the best team in the AAC, rather than ECU, and I even wrote an article about how it can win the conference a month ago. The Tigers are a borderline Top 25 team, and how could you say they’re not? A near upset at the Rose Bowl and holding Ole Miss to seven points through three quarters says otherwise. Don’t be shocked if Memphis is playing in the Peach Bowl on December 31 with a 10-2 record.
2. Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
Sometimes we forget where Tennessee was when it fired Derek Dooley and hired Butch Jones to clean up his mess. This is a process. The Volunteers are the youngest team in the nation and will be my favorite to win the SEC East in 2015.
3. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (4-2, 3-0 C-USA)
It’s looking like another solid year for Rick Stockstill and company. Eight wins and a bowl trip is on the horizon.
4. Vanderbilt Commodores (1-5, 0-4 SEC)
James Franklin went 6-7 (2-6) in his first season with Vanderbilt in 2011. He didn’t leave the cupboard bare. You have to wonder about Derek Mason’s head coaching abilities and whether he’s the right fit in Nashville.
1. TCU Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Gary Patterson is a smart, smart man. Switching to an up-tempo offense to fit the mold of a Big 12 team is already paying off in dividends, and quarterback Trevone Boykin has benefited the most. No longer struggling with efficiency, Boykin has 13 total touchdowns and just two interceptions, leading the way with a career-best 69.9 QBR.
2. Baylor Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
I’m not trying to alarm anybody in Waco, but did you guys see Bryce Petty last week? 7-of-22 for 111 yards. That’s not a first-quarter stat—that’s for the entire game. Petty is working with a 74.5 QBR—12 points lower than last season—and you have to wonder if his back is giving him issues. Of course, this could all be put to rest with a strong performance against TCU this weekend.
3. Texas A&M Aggies (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
Those who were hopping on the Kenny Hill bandwagon after his season-opening performance against South Carolina are either long gone or hanging on for dear life. Hill will only get better, but his three interceptions and career-low 56.6 QBR against Mississippi State shows that he still has a lot of growing to do.
4. Texas Longhorns (2-3, 1-1 Big 12)
You could feel a long-erased presence of Texas Longhorns football during the 28-7 loss to Baylor but there’s still a long ways to go bef—oh, hi coach Strong, how are you? Wait, you’re kicking me off the team? But I—okay. Yes sir.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-3, 0-2 Big 12)
Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has been turnover prone as of late, throwing eight interceptions over the last three games—all of which have been losses.
6. Houston Cougars (2-3, 0-1 AAC)
Houston hasn’t been nearly as lucky as it was in 2013. Though the defense has still been relatively opportunistic, the Cougars’ offensive line has already allowed 14 sacks (t-102nd) and John O’Korn was recently benched after throwing eight interceptions with 172 passing attempts.
7. Texas State Bobcats (3-2, 1-0 Sun Belt)
The Bobcats have hung tough with the likes of Navy and Illinois, and their 16th-ranked rushing attack (259.8 yards per game) has the led way to two straight wins.
8. North Texas Mean Green (2-3, 0-1 C-USA)
Inconsistent would be putting it lightly—North Texas’ defense has allowed scoring outputs in this order: 38, 6, 42, 3, and 49.
9. Rice Owls (2-3, 1-1 C-USA)
Defending its Conference USA title doesn’t look like an option right now, as Rice’s depleted defense has it on the outside looking in when it comes to any thoughts of a championship run. However, the Owls did wait to get hot until the latter half of the season in 2013, so I won’t say it can’t happen again.
10. UTSA Roadrunners (1-4, 0-1 C-USA)
It feels like months ago that UTSA manhandled Houston in brand new TDECU Stadium during the season opener, before nearly pulling off the upset against now-No. 10 Arizona in Week 2. Losing to Oklahoma State by 30 is understandable, but back-to-back losses to FAU and New Mexico? What the heck, Coker?
11. UTEP Miners (2-3, 0-1 C-USA)
Losing to Texas Tech by four will be the season highlight for UTEP.
12. SMU Mustangs (0-5, 0-1 AAC)
SMU gave us good reason to believe it was the worst team in college football before putting up 24 points on ECU last week. While it could still validated, the Mustangs have a glimmer of hope with former fourth-string quarterback Garrett Kristch under center.
1. Utah Utes (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
The loss against Washington State is an aberration. These Utes have finally found their home in the Pac-12 and are a dangerous threat in the South.
2. Utah State Aggies (3-2, 0-0 MWC)
Backup QB Darell Garretson has thrown five touchdowns in two starts since replacing the injured Chuckie Keeton, who had just two passes that went for scores in three total starts.
3. BYU Cougars (4-1)
Not only did the loss to Utah State crush BYU’s hopes of being the best non-Power 5 team this season, but it immediately puts the Cougars in jeopardy of a six-loss campaign.
1. Virginia Cavaliers (4-2, 2-0 ACC)
Virginia followed up its defensive prowess against UCLA with wins against Louisville and Pittsburgh, showing that it might be finally ready to take the next step and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
Numerous times over the last few weeks have I watched Virginia Tech and thought, “How in the hell did this team beat Ohio State?” Though slightly biased, these thoughts are warranted through the terribly inconsistent play of Michael Brewer, who has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and eight touchdowns since his outstanding performance against the Buckeyes.
3. Old Dominion Monarchs (3-3, 1-2 C-USA)
Its win over Rice shows that Old Dominion is making a smooth transition to the FBS. Also: There are way too many C-USA teams.
1. Washington State Cougars (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12)
Wazzu might be 2-4, but the opponents it has faced thus far have a combined record of 22-9. It lost to Rutgers (5-1) by three, Nevada (3-2) by 11, Oregon (4-1) by seven, and California (4-1) by one, and QB Connor Halliday is on pace to breach 6,000 yards passing and 50-plus touchdowns in the regular season.
2. Washington Huskies (4-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
There was nothing about Washington’s first four games (all wins) that stood out to me. Look for the Huskies to struggle for six wins.
1. West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 Big 12)
Dana Holgorsen taking over the offense and calling the plays in 2014 has made a world’s difference. West Virginia can’t be considered a conference contender yet, but playing both Alabama and Oklahoma tough shows that the Mountaineers made the right adjustments over the offseason.
2. Marshall Thundering Herd (5-0, 1-0 C-USA)
There’s no way Marshall loses a game through November. But it’s hard to tell how good the Herd really are with the third-easiest schedule in the FBS (per Phil Steele).
1. Wisconsin Badgers (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Melvin Gordon had a career-high 259 rushing yards against Northwestern and Wisconsin still lost. The Badgers’ passing game is a travesty.
1. Wyoming Cowboys (3-2, 1-0 MWC)
What do ya know, Craig Bohl is No. 1 again. Of course, there are no other FBS teams in the state of Wyoming, but he’ll take it nonetheless.