College Football Power Rankings: Clemson up to No. 1, Notre Dame makes big gain

Like the Grand Canyon, everyone should see the Clemson defense in person once in their lives.

There was a moment Saturday night in Blacksburg, Virginia, that was like looking down at the majesty of millions of years of geology. Virginia Tech had just driven for a garbage touchdown late in the Tigers' 31-17 victory. It was against the second team defense.

I was about 40 feet behind Clemson's bench noticing massive defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on the sidelines. In anger over the touchdown, Wilkins stomped his foot and uttered some sort of invective.

I swear: The ground shook just a little bit.

There's a glimpse of your new No. 1.

Despite having five teams in the Power Rankings, the SEC is mediocre for the second-straight. Alabama is a given. But after Georgia, who is really a top 15 team? Auburn is playing well, but LSU and Tennessee have to consider the future of their coaches. Mississippi State has cratered the last few weeks. Florida seems to be doing it with mirrors. What the SEC cannot afford is a repeat of last season when there was essentially a 13-way tie for second behind the Tide.

There are three teams this season that have beaten top-five ranked teams in the AP Top 25: Alabama, Oklahoma … and Washington State. You've never read that sentence before.

They say you can't win the Heisman in September, but you can lose it. Well, folks, Stanford's Bryce Love has come as close to winning the Stiff Arm in the first month of the season as anyone ever has through five weeks.

Love has 1,088 rushing yards after a thrashing of Indiana. That's a 3,000-yard pace assuming a Pac-12 Championship Game (why not?) and a bowl game.

Behold, the Power Rankings after Week 5 …

Biggest Movers
8 Washington State
6 Southern California
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Clemson I am convinced that the Clemson defensive front can cover everything except the deep pass. That includes 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end Austin Bryant lining up to cover a receiver and break up a fourth-down Virginia Tech pass. Since late 2014, the Tigers are 36-2. Yikes. 1 10-1
2 Alabama The Tide are now apparently into grudge winning. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have paid in consecutive weeks by combined scores of 125-3. Rout 66 (to 3) against Ole Miss made it 50+ points in back-to-back games for the first time in 72 years. Alabama's point differential alone (188 points) is more than 112 teams have scored all season. 1 11-0
3 Penn State The defending Big Ten champs are doing a good job of defending. Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 98 yards and DaeSean Hamilton caught three touchdowns in a spanking of Indiana. -- 9-2
4 Oklahoma The season picks up again Saturday at home against Iowa State. The Sooners still own the season's single most impressive win at Ohio State. -- 10-1
5 TCU Bye, while waiting for West Virginia to come to Fort Worth this week. Fun fact: The Frogs are in the top 12 nationally in average starting field position and average drive yards. -- 9-2
6 Georgia The Knockout in Knoxville featured a systematic dismantling of the Vols and perhaps the Butch Jones era. The Dawgs are now clearly the biggest challenger to Bama. But how does that look on Dec. 2 in Atlanta? 4 10-1
7 Washington State Mike Leach has himself a defense, too -- probably the best of his 16-year head-coaching career. Remember the name Alex Grinch. The Cougars' defensive coordinator is a rising star after forcing Sam Darnold into the worst game of his career. 8 9-2
8 Washington The Huskies just keep chugging along after wiping out Oregon State. Washington is averaging only 9.6 yards per point scored. 1 9-2
9 Michigan After a bye week, it gets real again as Michigan State comes to town. Jim Harbaugh is 1-3 against the Spartans and Buckeyes. 1 8-3
10 Wisconsin After slapping Northwestern, there is every reason to believe Wisco will playing for the Big Ten title for the fifth time in the last seven years. What say you, Iowa, Nebraska in the Big Ten West? 1 11-0
11 Ohio State The Buckeyes are slogging through a boring part of their schedule. Things get interesting this week as Maryland comes in. Ohio State is second nationally with more than 52 percent of its possessions being snapped in the opponent's red zone. 2 9-2
12 Southern California The Trojans play only two other currently ranked teams the rest of the way: Utah and Notre Dame. Never mind the playoff, USC has to worry about winning the Pac-12 South after losing to Washington State. 6 10-2
13 Oklahoma State Something doesn't make sense here. The Cowboys seemed destined to win by shootout, but they've allowed opponents touchdowns on only 18.5 percent of their possessions. Character win at Texas Tech. 1 8-3
14 Louisville A rout of Murray State distracted Cardinals fans from the 800-pound investigation in the room. Bobby Petrino could run for president right now. I'm not sure who'd stop him. 1 7-4
15 Auburn That ol' Gus Malzahn magic is returning. The Tigers were balanced against Mississippi State, running for 247 yards and passing for 244. Ole Miss is next. 2 9-2
16 San Diego State Properly motivated, the Aztecs spanked Northern Illinois 34-28. Rashad Penny, the nation's second-leading rusher, went for 107 yards. San Diego State is 5-0 for the first time since 1975. 2 9-2
17 NC State Can this be right -- the Wolfpack are 2-0 in the ACC for the first time in 11 years? Wow. That's the significance of a narrow win over Syracuse. NC State now qualifies as one of the few blips left on Clemson's schedule (Nov. 4). 1 7-4
18 South Florida And we thought Charlie Strong was an defensive guy. After trouncing East Carolina, the Bulls are averaging 9.5 yards per play. 2 9-1
19 Virginia Tech On the upside, the Hokies could claw their way back to the ACC title game. But how does that look after almost complete domination in one of Virginia Tech's biggest games in years? 3 8-3
20 UCF Running back Adrian Killins sprinted for a school-record 96-yard scoring run in the Knights' 40-13 over a fairly good Memphis team. This is significant because Killins calls himself the fastest man in college football. He crossed the goal line like a sprinter breaking the tape. 6 10-0
21 Notre Dame The first instinct is to shame the Irish for playing a MAC team. But Miami's Chuck Martin is Notre Dame's former offensive coordinator, and the seven remaining games look absolutely winnable. That means a major bowl, if not a CFP berth, are possible. 4 9-2
22 Florida Best SEC record (3-0), 10th in point differential (+5). Yes, the Gators are putting it together with Krazy Glue and crazy plays. Who's arguing? -- 4-6
23 Utah Bye before Stanford comes in. It's not clear when the Utes will get injured quarterback Tyler Huntley back. 2 5-6
24 Kentucky Yes, it was Eastern Michigan, but it's better to eek out a four-point win than to lose to the Eagles -- after losing to Florida. 1 7-4
25 Maryland The Terps have used three quarterbacks while winning at Texas and Minnesota. D.J. Durkin has something special going on. Say Max Bortenschlager three times fast and win a stuffed Terp. 1 4-7
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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