Big Ten

See how they stack up: Week 5 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 5 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 5 in the books, here’s my top 25.

1. Clemson (5-0)

Marching into Blacksburg against a Virginia Tech D that hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown, Clemson scored two, part of a 31-point night in which its own D shone with three takeaways, including a pick six.

2. Alabama (5-0)

Bama is amazing. And its schedule will allow that to continue, with Auburn the only ranked opponent left. So maybe every game will look like Saturday’s 66-3 mauling of Ole Miss.

3. Oklahoma (4-0)

The Sooners were off this weekend. They’re tuning up to go undefeated in October: Iowa State, Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech. Let Baker Mayfield’s Heisman campaign ratchet up.

4. TCU (4-0)

The Frogs were off this weekend, no doubt prepping for next weekend’s huge Big 12 matchup with West Virginia. Here’s to 1,000 points being scored in that game.

5. Penn State (5-0)

It took the Lions just one quarter to completely run away from Indiana. Saquon Barkley had 107 rushing/receiving yards, but the highlight was his 98-yard kick-return TD to open the game. Dude’s good.

6. Georgia (5-0)

So the Dawgs are pretty darn fantastic, going up on Rocky Top and blanking the Vols in a 41-0 shellacking. The Georgia defense took the ball away from Tennessee four times. That’s not fake news.

7. Wisconsin (4-0)

It wasn’t the smoothest of sailing, but the Badgers stayed undefeated with a win over Northwestern. Wisconsin trailed at halftime, but a near-perfect third quarter on both sides of the ball locked in the win.

8. Washington (5-0)

Though I still submit Washington’s schedule has been really soft, it’s outscored its five opponents 220-54. That scoring defense ranks right up there with all these other top-of-the-line teams.

9. Miami (3-0)

I was very impressed by the Canes dominating previously undefeated Duke. The Devils were averaging more than 40 points a game coming in, and the Miami defense kept them out of the end zone.

10. Michigan (4-0)

The Wolverines were off this weekend, allowing Jim Harbaugh to go diving while wearing khakis.

His form is questionable, but his defense remains terrific and will face an unexpectedly 3-1 Michigan State team next weekend.

11. Washington State (5-0)

There weren’t many stories bigger than Wazzu’s upset of USC on the Palouse. Mike Leach and Luke Falk run a hell of an offense, but how about that Cougs defense? Big reason they’re still undefeated.

12. Ohio State (4-1)

Yeah, this is still that same Ohio State team that demolishes opponents — especially when that opponent is Rutgers. A 56-0 throttling ought to keep the Buckeyes in those title discussions.

13. Oklahoma State (4-1)

It was almost back-to-back losses for the Boys, who got a late tie-breaking touchdown run — plus 376 yards and three touchdown passes — from Mason Rudolph to sneak out of Lubbock with a win.

14. Auburn (4-1)

Since the post-Clemson scare against Mercer, Auburn has smoked Missouri and Mississippi State by a combined 100-24 score. More of the same coming against Ole Miss, LSU and Arkansas?

15. Virginia Tech (4-1)

I feel like you can’t blame anyone for losing their undefeated season to Clemson at this point. It happens every week. I fully expect the Hokies to still be good, but you just can’t beat Clemson right now.

16. Florida (3-1)

An eye-popping performance from Florida this weekend. I guess Vandy’s defense was never that good, as the typically low-scoring Gators exploded for 38 points. But of course there’s some more QB drama.

17. West Virginia (3-1)

The Mountaineers were off this weekend, resting up after scoring at least 56 points in three straight games. Think that streak comes to an end next weekend against that TCU defense?

18. Utah (4-0)

The Utes were off this week, but keep in mind that they’re one of just three still-unbeaten teams in the Pac-12. Some real tests coming, though, against Stanford and USC.

19. USC (4-1)

Sam Darnold does some impressive things, no doubt about it, and he nearly kept the Trojans undefeated. But he makes a lot of mistakes, too, now with eight picks, second most in the country.

20. Louisville (4-1)

While everyone was paying attention to other things, Louisville trucked Murray State, with Lamar Jackson racking up 349 passing/rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Ho hum.

21. Notre Dame (4-1)

The Irish went over 500 yards of offense in their blasting of Temple. They’ve scored 139 points in the three games since the loss to Georgia, two of which were road games against Power Five teams.

22. USF (5-0)

The Bulls dropped 61 points on Saturday! That’s a lot of points!

23. San Diego State (5-0)

Not even a grotesque poke in the eyes could stop Rashaad Penny from racking up triple-digit yardage against Northern Illinois.

SDSU also had an 80-plus-yard pick six, one of three interceptions for the D.

24. North Carolina State (4-1)

Two more sacks for Bradley Chubb in NC State’s win over Syracuse. Should be interesting to see the talented defensive lineman go up against Lamar Jackson next week.

25. UCF (3-0)

In a battle of American unbeatens, UCF crushed Memphis, beating a team that dumped 48 points on UCLA by a 40-13 score. The Knights can pile up the points, man, with 139 of them in just three games.

Maryland (3-1)

What a win for the Terps, taking down previously unbeaten Minnesota on the road behind third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager, college football’s most fun name to say with a German accent.

Stanford (3-2)

I fully believe Stanford is the best two-loss team in the country, mostly because Bryce Love is absolutely amazing. He went off for a school-record 301 yards and three touchdowns this weekend.

Texas Tech (3-1)

A mighty fine showing from the Red Raiders in nearly upsetting Okie State. Nic Shimonek can sling like any good Texas Tech quarterback should, and maybe the Raiders put some more teams on upset alert.

Oregon (4-1)

The Ducks have the highest-scoring offense in college football. But they also have a head-scratching loss to Arizona State and now a serious injury to starting quarterback Justin Herbert.

Duke (4-1)

The Dukies got destroyed by Miami this weekend, bringing their undefeated start to an end. We’ll see where Duke goes from here. It should be a win against Virginia.

Georgia Tech (3-1)

North Carolina is a shell of itself, but still an impressive blowout win for the Jackets, with TaQuon Marshall and Kirvonte Benson combining for 267 rushing yards.

See how they stack up: Week 8 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 8 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 8 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Alabama (8-0)

Of course the Tide continue to roll, this weekend rolling over an increasingly hapless Tennessee team to the tune of 45-7. No, the schedule doesn’t look any tougher than it did last week.

2. Penn State (7-0)

Hello, Penn State. We knew these Nittany Lions had an explosive offense, but the 42-13 beatdown they put on Michigan and its nation-best defense was incredible. Talk about revenge for last year.

3. TCU (7-0)

A 43-0 smackdown of Kansas? That’s to be expected. But the Frogs are still in the driver’s seat in the Big 12, with two road trips against top-25 teams — Iowa State and Oklahoma — coming in the next three games.

4. Georgia (7-0)

No game for the Dawgs this weekend, but how good is that win at Notre Dame looking now that the Irish are looking like one of the country’s top teams? That’ll get the Dawgs barking.

5. Wisconsin (7-0)

The Badgers had no trouble in their 25-point cruise-control win over Maryland. Poor Jonathan Taylor has to live in a world where Saquon Barkley exists, taking attention away from his fantastic freshman year.

6. Miami (6-0)

The Canes haven’t been making things look easy, but they’re still undefeated — and surprisingly the best team in a thought-to-be-loaded ACC — after sweating out giant-killing Syracuse.

7. Notre Dame (6-1)

The Irish are really, really good, you guys, as evidenced in their 49-14 throttling of USC on Saturday. Josh Adams carved up the Trojans for 191 yards and three touchdowns, another guy who unfortunately lives in the same world as Saquon Barkley.

8. Ohio State (6-1)

The Buckeyes sat back and watched as their game against Penn State this coming Saturday became a showdown of epic proportions. Quietly, no team is scoring more points than Ohio State and its 47.3 per-week average.

9. Clemson (6-1)

With a bye following that upset loss at Syracuse, here’s a rarity for you: Clemson will enter next weekend’s game without a win in three weeks!

10. Virginia Tech (6-1)

Playing North Carolina these days is like stamping the free space on a bingo card, but Virginia Tech will take the style points that came with a 59-7 crushing of a win.

11. Oklahoma (6-1)

The game of the week was the Sooners’ comeback win in the Little Apple, a classic Big 12 shootout against Kansas State. Baker Mayfield can still ball, and Oklahoma’s only a win over TCU away from being back atop the conference.

12. Michigan State (6-1)

It doesn’t seem that Michigan State is capable of winning any way but ugly, winning this weekend despite having just three points with six minutes left. But Sparty’s 6-1 with its only loss to a dominant Notre Dame team.

13. Oklahoma State (6-1)

Mason Rudolph and the Okie State offense lost their mojo this weekend in Austin but sweated out an entertaining-enough overtime win over Texas. The Cowboys need a statement win of some kind, and they’ll have an opportunity next weekend at West Virginia.

14. West Virginia (5-2)

Allowing 23 fourth-quarter points to Baylor is not a good thing to do. But West Virginia won behind Will Grier and David Sills. Sills has an insane 15 touchdown catches through seven games, eyeing the NCAA record.

15. Washington (6-1)

Who knows what the Pac-12 holds on any given Saturday. Washington didn’t play this weekend, and it’s nearly impossible to predict what it’ll do against any team left on its schedule. Pac-12 insanity ftw!

16. Washington State (7-1)

Wazzu showed up after that upset loss to Cal, blanking Colorado by a 28-0 score on The Palouse. Luke Falk has more touchdown throws than Pac-12 NFL Draft darlings Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.

17. Stanford (5-2)

No game for the Cardinal after blasting Oregon the weekend prior. Expect another blasting next weekend against terrible Oregon State. Even with no game this week. Bryce Love is still the nation’s top rusher by more than 230 yards.

18. Auburn (6-2)

The Tigers can still run and ran all over Arkansas, with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson combining for 153 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

19. South Florida (7-0)

Another game, another 30-plus-point showing by the Bulls’ offense. USF racked up 378 rushing yards — 378! — against Tulane. The USF-UCF I-4 Lighting Bowl or whatever the heck they call it needs to happen yesterday.

20. Central Florida (6-0)

Speaking of UCF, an easy-enough 31-21 victory over a good Navy team showed its the Knights and the Bulls then everyone else in the Group of Five. Bring on the I-4 Lightning Bowl!

21. North Carolina State (6-1)

NC State is for real, nobody’s questioning that thanks to wins over Florida State and Louisville. But next weekend brings the test of all tests, a trip to Notre Dame Stadium against a red-hot Irish team.

22. LSU (6-2)

If only this LSU team could’ve been the one to show up against Mississippi State and Troy. Saturday brought a 40-24 beatdown of Ole Miss. The Bayou Bengals are playing real well right now, but this is a three-month season, guys.

23. Memphis (6-1)

Memphis knocked off another Group of Five big boy in Houston. Good for them. Sadly the Tigers aren’t as good as USF or UCF so … 

24. Iowa State (5-2)

For the second time in three weeks, Iowa State knocked off a good Big 12 team and now has the distinction of being a good Big 12 team itself. Clones haven’t been this big a deal since that sheep.

25. Louisville (5-3)

Thanks to James Blackman’s dumbfounding fumble, Louisville avoided a disastrous comeback loss to Florida State. Lamar Jackson is still really good, though, so you’d like to think the Cardinals are still a threat to beat anyone.

Others receiving votes:

Texas A&M (5-2)

For all the negative attention over that Week 1 blown game against UCLA — and the calls for Kevin Sumlin’s job that came with it — the only loss the Aggies have had since was to Alabama.

USC (6-2)

Getting trounced by Notre Dame proved what we already kinda knew: that USC ain’t the preseason national title contender it was cracked up to be. The Trojans’ loss also probably knocked the Pac-12 out of the Playoff. Oops.

Arizona (5-2)

Did you know that Arizona is secretly good? The Cats have five wins, in which they’ve averaged 52.4 points. That’s a lot of points!

Arizona State (4-3)

The Devils have had a penchant for beating teams they shouldn’t beat this season, and they did it again Saturday with a win over Utah. They’re 3-1 in their last four with wins over Oregon, Washington and Utah and the lone loss coming to Stanford.

Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

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Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

While Saturday's trip to the Twin Cities featured some more of the same for the Fighting Illini, it marked important step in Lovie Smith's rebuilding project.

Freshman quarterback Cam Thomas, a Marian Catholic product, saw action for the first time in his collegiate career, Smith busting out a new option at the game's most important position. Thomas threw a nasty pick six, but he did lead Illinois in rushing in a 24-17 loss at Minnesota.

Thomas only made four throws, completing two of them and landing a third in the hands of a Minnesota defender, but his play injected a bit of excitement into what's looking like another dreadful season of Illinois football, with Smith's team falling to 2-5 through the first seven games of his second season at the helm of the program. Thomas mostly starred with his feet Saturday, rushing for a team-high 79 yards in the defeat.

His first appearance came following the first of the Illinois' defense's three takeaways. Thomas ran for a nine-yard gain on his first carry, and the Illini tied the game with a touchdown on the next play. Thomas was interchanged with starting quarterback Jeff George Jr. from there on out.

While the Illini defense kept the Gophers at bay for much of the day thanks to those three takeaways, P.J. Fleck's team had no trouble racking up rushing yardage, finishing with a whopping 292 rushing yards. Minnesota engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter exclusively running the ball to break a 10-all tie and go up 17-10.

Thomas threw a pick six on the very next play from scrimmage, sending the Gophers up 24-10 to effectively seal the deal. George led an Illinois touchdown drive on the next possession, but the Illini couldn't make up the suddenly big gap in the limited amount of time.

Illinois finished with only 282 yards of offense. George was 18-for-23 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Ra'Von Bonner carried the ball 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The defeat dropped the Illini to 2-5 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. One of just two teams without a Big Ten win (Indiana is the other), Illinois faces off against a top-10 Wisconsin team next weekend.