2018 College Football Rankings, Week 5: Comparing Vegas Ratings, AP Poll Top 25

2018 College Football Rankings, Week 5: Comparing Vegas Ratings, AP Poll Top 25 article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ed Orgeron, Shea Patterson and Justin Herbert

  • College football rankings are taking shape one month into the season as teams start to separate themselves from the pack.
  • But there are some major discrepancies between our power ratings, which have a Vegas spin, and the AP Poll Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

College football rankings don’t truly matter until the College Football Playoff committee comes out with its Top 25 in late October.

Still, we can use The Action Network’s power ratings, the AP poll and the Coaches Poll to see how oddsmakers value teams differently than traditional voters.

AP voters and Coaches Poll voters (usually athletic department staffers, not actually the coaches) are often much more reactionary to recent results. Our power ratings, or other statistical systems such as S&P+ or ESPN’s FPI, are meant to be predictive and based on performance, not just wins and losses.

2018 College Football Rankings, Week 5


  • Power Ratings: 1
  • AP Poll: 1
  • Coaches Poll: 1

Expect anything different?

There’s not quite a word for what the Alabama offense has done to everyone in its path so far this season. Crushed? Decimated? Bulldozed? They all don’t do it justice.

The Tide are 4.5 points better than the No. 2 team in our power ratings, meaning they’d be -4.5 against Ohio State on a neutral field.

Ohio State

  • Power Ratings: 2
  • AP Poll: 3
  • Coaches Poll: 3

It’s not entirely necessary at this point to try to separate Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia. They’re all in an elite tier behind Alabama, so the Buckeyes coming in at No. 4 doesn’t mean a whole lot. We’ll know a lot more about them after this weekend in Happy Valley against Penn State.


  • Power Ratings: 3
  • AP Poll: 4
  • Coaches Poll: 4

The Tigers have shown some cracks in the secondary and haven’t looked quite as dominant as Alabama. But Trevor Lawrence is taking over at quarterback and should make this offense even more dynamic and explosive.

Pair that with an impossibly easy schedule — Clemson might be -14 or higher in every remaining game based on our power ratings — and you’ve got a College Football Playoff team.


  • Power Ratings: 4
  • AP Poll: 2
  • Coaches Poll: 2

This was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs, but there’s no reason they won’t reach the SEC title game. Like I said, there’s no reason to split hairs between Georgia, OSU and Clemson right now.


  • Power Ratings: 5
  • AP Poll: 7
  • Coaches Poll: 5

The Sooners start the next tier of teams, but are still a viable playoff contender in light of the fact that they’re the best team in the Big 12. Their ratings are all in line behind that top grouping.


  • Power Ratings: 6
  • AP Poll: 8
  • Coaches Poll: 9

The Tigers fell in the polls after a loss to LSU, but stayed up in our power ratings. Despite a loss, Auburn just about controls its own fate to reach the SEC Championship Game (assuming LSU will lose at least once, probably twice) and the defense is still excellent.


  • Power Ratings: 7
  • AP Poll: 15
  • Coaches Poll: 16

Michigan routinely checks in as one of the most underrated teams based on our power ratings, considering the perception that loss to Notre Dame still has.

Shea Patterson appears to be figuring it out, as the Wolverines offense has scored at least 45 points in three straight games.

There are tons of hurdles left for Michigan — at Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin — but this is a top-10 team by any statistical measure.


  • Power Ratings: 8
  • AP Poll: 10
  • Coaches Poll: 10

That early loss to Auburn stings, and the other polls are giving the Huskies just a little less credit than our power ratings do.

The defense is elite, but the offense has been inefficient.

Notre Dame

  • Power Ratings: 9
  • AP Poll: 6
  • Coaches Poll: 7

Notre Dame faces its toughest test left this season against Stanford (although there are plenty of challenges left). If Notre Dame runs the table, there’s zero doubt the Irish will be in the College Football Playoff.

With a win against No. 7 Stanford, the Irish will likely jump into the top 5 in the AP Poll.


  • Power Ratings: 10
  • AP Poll: 14
  • Coaches Poll: 14

We’ve been down on the Cardinal all season, but a (fortunate) win over Oregon last week vaulted them from 24 to 10 in our power ratings.

Still, bettors are slightly overrating Stanford. We’ll get our answer on Saturday night against Notre Dame.

Penn State

  • Power Ratings: 11
  • AP Poll: 11
  • Coaches Poll: 11

We’ll know much, much more about Penn State after Saturday night at Beaver Stadium against Ohio State. Stay tuned.


  • Power Ratings: 12
  • AP Poll: 16
  • Coaches Poll: 12

That loss to BYU is still lingering in the minds of voters. With sky-high expectations, the Badgers were setting all kinds of program records for rankings early in the season, but they’ve come down to earth a bit.

Last week’s win over Iowa put some voters at ease.


  • Power Ratings: 13
  • AP Poll: 18
  • Coaches Poll: 18

Wins and losses matter to poll voters. And that’s totally fair — why play the games if it doesn’t matter who wins?

But anyone who watched that Oregon game against Stanford last week knows the Ducks both shot themselves in the foot and got extremely unfortunate.


  • Power Ratings: 14
  • AP Poll: 5
  • Coaches Poll: 6

LSU has may have the best résumé in the country, but that doesn’t mean the Tigers are one of the 10 best teams.

The opposite of Michigan, LSU has been consistently overrated when you compare our power ratings to the AP Poll. Maybe LSU deserves that No. 5 spot, but if you’re looking to bet smart, don’t blindly believe the Tigers are punching in the same weight class as Alabama and Clemson.

Mississippi State

  • Power Ratings: 15
  • AP Poll: NR
  • Coaches Poll: NR

Because statistical power ratings aren’t as reactionary as voters, the Bulldogs fell only five spots after a loss to Kentucky. But man, what a loss it was.

There was nothing fluky. Mississippi State got hammered by the Wildcats and couldn’t even begin to move the ball on offense, which it normally does with ease.

Oklahoma State

  • Power Ratings: 16
  • AP Poll: 25
  • Coaches Poll: 21

Another case of not overreacting, the Pokes got smoked by Texas Tech last week, but fell only two spots in our power ratings. One loss isn’t enough to erase several seasons’ worth of data for us, but it is for AP voters.


  • Power Ratings: 17
  • AP Poll: Not Ranked
  • Coaches Poll: Not Ranked

Unlike the last two teams, TCU has two losses, which will knock it down a few pegs, and deservedly so. That they both came against quality opponents doesn’t matter to AP and Coaches Poll voters.

Texas A&M

  • Power Ratings: 18
  • AP Poll: Not Ranked
  • Coaches Poll: Not Ranked

Texas A&M has held its own against Clemson and Alabama, which is why it comes in at No. 18 on our power ratings. Its performance as a whole has been pretty strong considering the level of competition.

Michigan State

  • Power Ratings: 19
  • AP Poll: 20
  • Coaches Poll: 19

Michigan State came into the year with plenty of buzz, but after a loss to Arizona State, has mostly flown under the radar and settled in the back half of the Top 25.

The Spartans play consecutive games at Penn State and at Michigan starting in two weeks.


  • Power Ratings: 20
  • AP Poll: Not Ranked
  • Coaches Poll: Not Ranked

Utah almost always finds itself in the Top 25 of the College Football Playoff rankings, but never near the top. The Utes lost at home to Washington, and are probably still a year away from serious contention in the Pac-12.

West Virginia

  • Power Ratings: 21
  • AP Poll: 9
  • Coaches Poll: 8

Another overrated team based on our power ratings, the Mountaineers really haven’t been tested yet. They have an excellent quarterback in Will Grier, but the defense is a mystery.


  • Power Ratings: 22
  • AP Poll: 17
  • Coaches Poll: 17

Miami already played and won this week, so its ranking and rating should be different relative to the rest of the teams on this list.

The Hurricanes appear to be a different team offensively with redshirt freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry, so they might make some moves upward in the coming weeks.


  • Power Ratings: 23
  • AP Poll: Not Ranked
  • Coaches Poll: Not Ranked

Missouri looked decent in a loss to Georgia, but it was a strange, sloppy game that didn’t inspire voters much. The Tigers held steady at No. 23 in our power ratings.


  • Power Ratings: 24
  • AP Poll: 19
  • Coaches Poll: 20

Texas is back! Kidding, but maybe not. I don’t know.

AP voters like brand-name teams and tend to subconsciously favor them, leading to the six-spot discrepancy.

Boston College

  • Power Ratings: 25
  • AP Poll: Not  Ranked
  • Coaches Poll: Not Ranked

Boston College is a perfect example of the inconsistency in the AP voting from week to week.

BC lost pretty handily to 0-3 Purdue, but the Boilermakers had played better than their record suggested. The Eagles dropped out of the poll and received zero votes in the AP Poll.

Arizona State (2-2) got votes. So did 3-1 Florida, which has no quality wins and a loss to Kentucky.

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