Top 25 College Football Rankings Week 5: UCLA, TCU highlight the newcomers

As we get further into the season, the college football Top 25 rankings begin to solidify. However, Week 5 brought even more newcomers to the forefront.

The spectacle that is college football never ceases to entertain. Week 5 upped the ante for the Top 25 rankings, with North Carolina State vs. Clemson and Kentucky vs. Ole Miss highlighting the top matchups on Saturday. But Washington vs. UCLA kicked off the must-watch action Friday night. Where does the Top 25 stand after five weeks, and who are the true national championship contenders?

PFN’s 2022 Top 25 College Football Rankings following Week 5

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Although Alabama was up 28-7 on Arkansas at the half, their focus was on QB Bryce Young, who injured his right shoulder attempting to throw a pass away. That opened a window for the Razorbacks to bring the score to 28-23, but once backup Jalen Milroe got going, it was a wrap.

Jahmyr Gibbs also finally showed up on the ground, exploding for 206 yards and two TDs. Much of their success rests on Young, but this Bama squad should be the favorite to win the natty.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

15 of 25 for 161 yards, two TDs, and one INT. That was Ohio State’s passing output in Week 5, yet they throttled Rutgers 49-10. RB Miyan Williams generated 189 yards and FIVE scores on 21 carries, two yards more than the Scarlet Knights had on the day. It wasn’t a surprising conclusion, but it serves as a reminder of just how talented this Buckeyes team is.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia didn’t score their first touchdown until the fourth quarter against a gritty Missouri program. But the Bulldogs’ overwhelming talent won out in the end, as they left Memorial Stadium with a 26-22 victory. It wasn’t the dominance we are used to seeing, but there’s nothing to worry about in Athens.

4. Michigan Wolverines

A quick glance at Michigan’s victory over Iowa may leave some onlookers underwhelmed. The 2022 edition of the Hawkeyes is inept on offense, with their punter receiving the most attention.

However, a deeper dive into the 27-14 matchup shows Iowa scored all their points in the final quarter, with their second TD coming with eight seconds left. As long as J.J. McCarthy and Blake Corum are in the backfield, the Wolverines have a puncher’s chance.

5. USC Trojans (Last week: 6)

USC cruised to a 42-25 win over a directionless Arizona State. Unsurprisingly, Caleb Williams threw for over 300 yards and three scores, Jordan Addison surpassed 100 receiving yards, and the defender notched five sacks and a pick. Lincoln Riley has his team humming, likely right into College Football Playoff contention.

6. Clemson Tigers (Last week: 7)

The prodigal son returns, as Clemson is the favorite to win the ACC. I was a bit late to the party, but DJ Uiagalelei and Will Shipley have won me over.

We knew the defense was national championship-caliber — it was the offense that gave cause to pause. Now? I’m not worried about DJU’s unit and expect the engine to keep churning right into the playoffs.

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last week: 9)

Spender Sanders didn’t have his best day through the air, yet Oklahoma State outlasted Baylor 36-25. It helps that the defense snatched two interceptions, and Jaden Nixon took a kick return 98 yards to the house. The Cowboys are on a roll but leaving the Big 12 gauntlet undefeated won’t be a cakewalk.

8. Tennessee Volunteers (Last week: 12)

Tennessee had the week off, but with multiple teams falling ahead of them, they crack the top 10 for the first time this season. They have victories over previously ranked Pitt and Flordia on their résumé, and Hendon Hooker has the receivers to transcend his game. But with a home date vs. Alabama in two weeks, this may be the highest Tennessee ranks for some time.

9. Ole Miss Rebels (Last week: 11)

Any time you beat a top-10 ranked team with your QB completing just over 50% of his passes for zero TDs and one INT, you gain faith in the rest of your roster. Ole Miss’ passing game has struggled with Jaxson Dart at the helm, but Quinshon Judkins (15-106-1) continued his dominant ways on the ground. And this defense is playing above the sum of their parts.

10. Penn State Nittany Lions (Last week: 15)

Penn State took care of Northwestern … but it wasn’t pretty. In a 17-7 victory, Sean Clifford completed just 10 of 20 attempts for 140 yards, one TD, and one INT.

And each of the running backs fumbled, with rising freshman Nicholas Singleton putting the ground on the turf twice.

A win is a win, but the Nittany Lions’ offense may not have enough firepower — primarily at QB — to compete with upper echelon teams in the nation.

11. Kansas Jayhawks (Last week: 16)

Kansas should make the AP Top 25 following their 5-0 start — but we jumped on the train a week earlier. The Jayhawks scored 14 points in the second quarter against Iowa State, and that was all they needed to leave the contest victorious.

It wasn’t the most impressive performance, but the defense forced two turnovers and shut out the Hawkeyes in the bookend quarters.

A four-week stretch of TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Oklahoma State will either propel Kansas into the top 10 or boot them entirely out of the top 25 — there’s no in-between in the Big 12.

12. UCLA Bruins (Last week: unranked)

The Bruins won four in a row to start the year, but South Alabama (3-1) was their only opponent with a winning record. That changed Friday night, as Chip Kelly and Co. knocked off then-undefeated Washington 40-32.

Grayson Murphy and Stephen Blaylock made life difficult for the Huskies, especially in the first three quarters, where they scored just 16 points.

But Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Zach Charbonnet, and Jake Bobo have proven lethal on offense. UCLA has Utah and Oregon next on the docket, so their place on the Top 25 could drastically change by Week 7.

13. TCU Horned Frogs (Last week: unranked)

“Typically, profound change is viewed as a negative for a program. But in TCU’s case, it could be the catalyst toward Big 12 superiority.”

That’s what I had to say about Sonny Dykes’ hiring in Forth Worth following Gary Patterson’s 20+ year reign.

While the Horned Frogs have had their lumps, Max Duggan, Kendre Miller, and a loaded receiving corps simply produce points. TCU toppled ranked Oklahoma 55-24, but their next three weeks — at Kansas, vs. Oklahoma State, and vs. Kansas State — will test their mettle.

14. North Carolina State Wolfpack (Last week: 5)

North Carolina State vs. Clemson was the game I had circled on my calendar this week. I’ve had the Wolfpack over the Tigers all year, but after watching DJ Uiagalelei and the offense detonate on Wake Forest in Week 4, my confidence wavered.

Well, a week later, Clemson proved me wrong, defeating NC State 30-20. Although the defense played well all game, Devin Leary and Co. struggled to find traction on offense. The season is far from over, but the Wolfpack fell flat in their first real test.

15. Kentucky Wildcats (Last week: 8)

With the score 22-19, the Wildcats had every chance to defeat Ole Miss. They turned the ball over on their final three possessions, all within the Rebels’ 35-yard line. That is inexcusable execution, and it ultimately cost them the game.

Will Levis efficiently threw the ball (18 of 24 for 220 yards and two TDs), but he was the cause for two of those turnovers, fumbling the ball away. Kentucky undoubtedly has talent, but they’ve yet to reach their full stride.

16. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Last week: 17)

With Sam Hartman under center, Wake Forest will challenge for the ACC crown. A.T. Perry (8-91-1) certainly makes life easier on the outside, and RB Justice Ellison finally got going, recording 114 yards and a score off 18 attempts vs. Florida State.

The defense still has questions that likely won’t be answered in 2022. Regardless, they have bent more than they have broken thus far.

17. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last week: 19)

Drake Maye. North Carolina’s success has basically boiled down to the freshman phenom this season. He threw 363 yards and three scores with 73 yards and two TDs on the ground, and it wasn’t even astonishing — that’s how you know you’ve made it.

The Tar Heels’ defense even bounced back, conceding only 10 points to Virginia Tech, their lowest total of the year. Unfortunately, UNC may not face a Top 25 opponent until Wake Forest on November 12.

18. Utah Utes (Last week: 22)

Utah didn’t have a running back gain over 20 yards in Week 5, but Cameron Rising picked up the slack. He led the team with 73 rushing yards and a score on top of his efficient passing (19 of 25 for 199 yards and three TDs). Devaughn Vele continued his ascension in the offense, corraling seven passes for 94 yards and a TD of his own.

The defense allowed Oregon State to gain 417 total yards but intercepted a whopping four passes, holding the Beavers scoreless through the air. The Pac-12 is known for its cannibalistic nature, and with the Utes challenging UCLA, USC, and Washington State over the next three weeks, we could see a major shakeup at the top of the conference.

19. Kansas State Wildcats (Last week: unranked)

Adrian Martinez is far from an elite passer, but he demoralizes defenses with his legs. He and Deuce Vaughn combined for 341 yards and three scores on the ground against Texas Tech, with each owning longs of 69.

Kansas State’s defense generates pressure upfront, evidenced by their six sacks and 10 tackles for loss in Week 5. But Martinez’s lack of passing prowess will hinder the Wildcats’ potential in the Big 12.

20. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last week: 10)

After outscoring opponents 183-34 through the first four weeks, Minnesota fell 20-10 to Purdue. The Boilermakers may not be ranked, but they are a tough beat in the Big Ten. And the score could’ve been much worse had Minnesota’s defense not stepped up, as QB Tanner Morgan tossed three interceptions.

The Golden Gophers entered the contest short-handed, with star RB Mohamed Ibrahim and WR Chris Autman-Bell out. But it was a putrid offensive performance that they must correct to challenge in the conference.

21. Washington Huskies (Last week:13)

Washington struggled out of the gate vs. UCLA, but Michael Penix and the Huskies showed fight toward the end, scoring 16 fourth-quarter points.

The secondary was banged up, but even at full strength, Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon aren’t running out of the locker room. Nevertheless, the front seven is stout, and Penix and the receiving corps aren’t going anywhere.

22. Florida State Seminoles (Last week: 14)

Jordan Travis. Treshaun Ward. With those two in the backfield, ankles will be broken. And with Mycah Pittman, Johnny Wilson, and Ontaria Wilson out wide, the DBs will be mossed.

Still, the Seminoles began to press early on while Wake Forest got into rhythm. Florida State also ended the day with 11 penalties, seven more than the Demon Deacons. Mike Norvell’s young corps will be tested with NC State and Clemson on tap.

23. Syracuse Orange (Last week: unranked)

4-0 Syracuse vs. 0-3 FCS-level Wagner went how you’d expect it to. Garrett Shrader completed all 17 of his passes for 238 yards and two TDs, while Sean Tucker barrelled his way to 232 yards and three scores on 23 carries.

The Orange have victories over Louisville and Purdue this season and will get to prove their worth with NC State and Clemson next up.

24. BYU Cougars

The Cougars are 3-0 at home and firing on all cylinders offensively. Gunner Romney returned from injury against Utah State, catching four passes for 51 yards. Christopher Brooks — aided by his dominant offensive line — maintained his efficiency on the ground, generating 90 yards and a score on 11 carries.

And star QB Jaren Hall needed just 17 completions to rack up 274 yards and three TDs. Oh, and the defense held up their end of the bargain, snatching two picks, with Max Tooley taking one 34 yards to the house on Thursday.

25. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Last week: unranked)

“Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”

While also the opening lines to Adele’s biggest hit, that’s what Coastal Carolina is saying to the national media. After being the Group of Five darling in 2020, the Chanticleers haven’t received the attention they deserve.

CJ Beasley hurdled a defender en route to a 24-yard go-ahead touchdown that sealed Georgia Southern’s fate Saturday night. Jamey Caldwell’s program is 26-3 in the last three seasons, and with Grayson McCall still running the offense, they aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Teams on the outside looking in 

  • Illinois Fighting Illini
  • Oregon Ducks
  • Maryland Terrapins
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • JMU Dukes
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