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Flipping the Field: Rating every undefeated team's chances

And then there were 20.

After five weekends of college football, the list of FBS schools with an unblemished record is a motley crew -- some we expected to see, others we did not and none of them has had an easy road to get to something-and-oh, especially not the ones we assumed would breeze into October.

So how do the paths taken by these imperfect squads to perfect win-loss columns stack up? Here at Flipping the Field, we've gladly done that ranking for you. Just be sure to read it before Week 6 ... because the way this season is tumbling along, there is no refuge for sure bets, especially not ones with a zero on the righthand side of the dash.

1. Florida Gators (5-0): Are they the best team in the nation? No. But they have run the most impressive obstacle course to undefeated (even according to the non-eye test numbers), with victories over American contender East Carolina, at 4-1 Kentucky, Tennessee and then-No. 3 Ole Miss.

2. Utah Utes (4-0): Those Michigan and Utah State wins are looking better all the time. And QBR says Travis Wilson is the most-efficient passer in the country.

3. Oklahoma Sooners (4-0): Two wins against Top-25 teams (at the time), including the comeback of the year at Tennessee, and the continuously impressive Baker Mayfield have them back in the Big 12 driver's seat.

4. Northwestern Wildcats (5-0): Their SAT Cup victories over Stanford and Duke were once discounted, but neither of those teams has lost before or since -- and the Cats just skunked would-be Big Ten spoiler Minnesota.

5. Texas A&M Aggies (5-0): So, maybe that Arizona State win wasn't as anticlimactic as we thought two weeks ago? Nevada and Arkansas aren't as good as we thought they'd be, but Mississippi State is a little better. Now we need to see how they play away from home.

6. Michigan State Spartans (5-0): We remain impressed by their emotional win over Oregon, and their gritty win over Air Force. But we are a quickly shrinking minority after the lackluster win over Purdue.

7. Clemson Tigers (4-0): A pair of solid wins against ugly opponents (sorry, Wofford and App State) and a pair of ugly wins against solid opponents (you're welcome, Louisville and Notre Dame) make them look like awfully good considering what's left.

8. TCU Horned Frogs (5-0): Sometimes you're lucky (see: final play vs. Texas Tech) and sometimes you're just really, really good (see: dismantling Texas). When you consider that they lose roughly 15 players a week to injury, it's even more impressive.

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0): Allowing Virginia Tech to hang around as long as they did is becoming less and less excusable, especially when added to close wins over NIU and Indiana.

10. LSU Tigers (4-0): They keep letting so-so teams hang around, even lowly Eastern Michigan. They're one Leonard Fournette sprained ankle from not being on this list.

11. Baylor Bears (4-0): The Bears have played only one team that matters, Texas Tech, but they also beat them by four touchdowns. (Extra penalty points for scheduling Lamar.)

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-0): They started out with a trio of nobodies and have won their past two (Texas and Kansas State) by a combined five points, the last coming with a little boost from a Big 12 officiating crew.

13. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0): The Hawkeyes don't win impressively, they don't win decisively and only their last opponent, then-No. 19 Wisconsin, was legit. But they do keep winning.

14. California Golden Bears (5-0): The only team that allowed Texas' offense to actually look like an offense (the Bears won 45-44) is 2-0 in Pac-12 play after sweeping the state of Washington. Still, their only opponent with a winning record is an FCS school, Grambling State.

15. Toledo Rockets (4-0): They entered the Top 25 for just the second time since 2001. Back-to-back wins over Power 5 schools (even if one of them was Iowa State) deserves a tip of the cap, particularly when added to the two thumpings against fellow Gang of Five opponents.

16. Temple Owls (4-0): Wins against Penn State and at Cincy are reputable, but road victories over Bottom 10 contenders UMass and Charlotte don't exactly earn bonus points.

17. Navy Midshipmen (4-0): More on these guys in a minute ...

18. Memphis Tigers (5-0): They've played two teams that aren't awful -- Bowling Green and Cincinnati -- and handled them both ... barely.

19. Houston Cougars (4-0): Beating Louisville and Tulsa is nothing to sneeze at. But it's not on the level of the teams listed above.

20. Florida State Seminoles (4-0): Whipped Texas State and USF and barely beat Boston College and Wake Forest. Jameis' Noles these are not.

OK, on to more field-flipping.

Doomsday scenario (Not for us, for the committee)

I'm not sure, but is there a Costco near the Gaylord Texan Grapevine Resort? If so, then when the College Football Playoff selection committee members arrive there exactly one month from now, they might want to stop by and purchase one of those ginormous bottles of ibuprofen. If this weekend was any indication, sorting out the top four teams is going to be a headache. Last weekend alone four of the AP Top 25 lost, and the top two teams -- Ohio State and Michigan State -- were pushed to the brink by supposedly far inferior teams. The idea of those two being undefeated when they meet on Nov. 21 was once a foregone conclusion. It still doesn't feel like a long shot, but that shot is growing longer with each generic half of football played, OSU in first halves, MSU in seconds. Meanwhile, the SEC is down to three undefeated teams, while the Pac-12 and ACC are down to two each and the ACC's are in the same division. Throw in the round-robin tourney that is the Big 12 and, well, you see where this is going, right? A Blues Brothers-style pileup of one-loss teams. Actually, you don't see where this is going, do you? None of us do. So, pass the ibuprofen, will you?

Actually went over, actually went under

Saturday's Baylor-Texas Tech matchup received as much hype for its Vegas over/under of 90 points, the highest in an FBS game in a decade, as it did for being a game that might separate Baylor and TCU in the minds of the committee. The teams combined to score 98. The much-less hyped Boston College-Duke game was set at 36.5, the lowest in five years. Those two scored 16.

Everything's bigger in Texas, including awfulness

The Longhorns' current struggles are so historically bad that it took ESPN Stats & Information 1,200 words and four pages to put it into perspective. Among the most jaw-dropping revelations:

  • Their 1-4 record is the worst five-game record for a Texas team since 1956, the year before Darrell Royal was hired as head coach.

  • This the first time UT has ever suffered three losses before the end of September.

  • Since 2000, the Horns have been outgained through the first five games only three times, all the past three years. In 2013, they were minus-32 yards to opponents after five contests. One year ago they were minus-72. This year they are minus-843.

  • Since 1996, Texas has had only seven games with fewer than 12 first downs. Four of those have come in the past seven games.

Now the good news...

When Texas scored its lone TD against TCU with 5:14 to play, it allowed the Longhorns to avoid the second-worst shutout in program history, a would-be 50-0 loss. That worst-ever skunking was a 68-0 beatdown at the hands of Chicago in 1904, when touchdowns were worth only five points. Ah, the good ol' days.

BYOG, y'all

The Frank Reich Backup QB of the Week Award: Kent Myers, Utah State

Few players from non-Power 5 schools are more universally praised than Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton, who burst onto the scene in 2011 when, as a freshman, he nearly beat defending national champion Auburn. Recurring knee injuries earned him a rare sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, but last weekend he suffered another knee ding, this time against Washington, and will miss 4-6 weeks. On Saturday, he was relieved (again) by Myers in the Aggies' Mountain West opener against Colorado State. The sophomore responded by throwing for 137 yards and a TD and also set a school record for rushing by a QB with 191 yards and another TD. He averaged 11.9 yards per carry and by halftime had already amassed 124 yards on just seven totes. The Aggies won the lightning-delayed contest 33-18.

The Shane Falco Great off the Bench but Still Lost Award: Kody Cook, Kansas State

First, let's just take a moment to appreciate that the quarterback at K-State spells what should be Cody with a K. Second, let's also take a moment to find Cook on the preseason depth chart. Actually, that'll take a few moments. Why? Because we'd start in the wrong place. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior began 2015 as a starting wide receiver and was listed as the fifth option at QB, but an apparent head injury to starter (and good buddy) Joe Hubener less than two minutes into Saturday's game pressed Cook into service. He threw for 122 yards and two TDs while rushing for 87 yards and another score as the Wildcats nearly upset then-20th-ranked Oklahoma State. Cook walked on at Kansas State in 2013 and earned the job at wideout, joining the team after receiving zero scholarship offers out of high school and spending two years playing for Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. Fans of the Blue Dragons aren't surprised by his position transition. In the 2014 Salt City Bowl (hosted by Hutchinson), he started the game at wide receiver but moved to QB in the second quarter, earning MVP honors with five TD passes and one TD run.

The Ty Detmer Best Play You Missed Because You Went to Bed Award: Brett Rypien, Boise State

There's ball fake ... and then there's THIS ball fake.

Before we continue, let's pause for a dance break ...

The Comeback of the Week Award (also named for Frank Reich): Arkansas Razorbacks

In a day filled with rallies that came up just a bit short, the Hogs came back from being down 14-0 less than seven minutes into their game in Knoxville. Hey, you know what? Not to mention bouncing back from three straight losses. Oh, and let's just plug Tennessee's opponent into this slot every week until the Vols prove we no longer need to. Honorable mention: UNC. The Tar Heels were down 21-0 at Georgia Tech but dug out of that rainwater-filled ditch to win 38-21, the biggest comeback in school history.

Speaking of Tennessee ...

On Friday, former head coach and athletic director Doug Dickey went full Jimmy Carter at Camp David, overseeing a handshake that many never thought would happen. Living legend Johnny Majors pressed flesh with his former protégé, heir and ultimate ouster Phil Fulmer, a moment that was meant to signify a final burying of the hatchet of the school's two greatest coaches not named Robert Neyland, a feud that dates back to 1992. Anyone who knows Majors knows he'll never allow the two to become fast friends, but the photo op was nice. The following day the Vols did something they did during both coaches' regimes -- blow a game against Arkansas.

OK, one more dance ...

The guy you should know about, but probably don't: Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy

The Midshipmen won the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy gauntlet by housing Air Force 33-11 (it was 27-0 in the third quarter). The boys from Annapolis are now 4-0, thanks to their senior leader from Antioch, Tennessee, rushing for 182 yards, throwing for 117 (plus a TD) and remarkably committing zero turnovers while playing in driving pre-Hurricane Joaquin wind and rain. Oh yeah, he also has a bum knee, hurt his shoulder and opened the game with a soul-crushing 54-yard run. He failed to score a rushing TD for the first time in 2015, but the guy who has said, "I honestly don't care who crosses the goal line as long someone on the team does," is only four scores shy of matching Montee Ball's career FBS record of 77.

The team you should know about, but probably don't: The 'Murica West!

Yeah, that's right, there's an entire conference division you should be watching and it's not in the Power 5. It's the American Athletic Conference -- West (that's how it's officially listed). Are any of these six teams going to win the national championship? In case you didn't notice earlier, three of those remaining 20 undefeateds are in this division alone -- Memphis, Houston and the aforementioned Naval Academy. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, all 6-foot-7, 245 pounds of him, has NFL scouts starting to take their first trips to the Liberty Bowl, former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman has Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. looking like Buckeyes' quarterbacks used to play (121 yards rushing and three TDs by halftime vs. Tulsa) and Navy hits its annual Notre Dame game 4-0. Even the division's worst team, SMU, is suddenly entertaining to watch, thanks to new head coach Chad Morris. Between these teams and fellow unbeaten Temple over in the American East, the race for the Gang of Five's big-stage bowl berth feels likely to be no more complicated than this conference's title chase.

The game you should be psyched for but probably aren't: ECU at BYU (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)

Speaking of the American Athletic Conference of American Athletics, it took the Pirates a little while to rediscover their sea legs after losing record-setting QB-to-WR combo Shane Carden and Justin Hardy, not to mention their offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, now at Oklahoma. But ECU pushed Virginia Tech around two weekends ago, and its only losses are to undefeated Florida and Navy -- and the Pirates nearly won in The Swamp. BYU's feel-good Tanner Mangum story is still rolling along, with its only losses coming at UCLA, who was a top-10 team then, and at Michigan, who might very well be a top-10 team very soon. Big stakes game? Probably not. Big fun game? Probably so.

BTW ... you're welcome ...

Last week we told you that the games you needed to watch were the Big Ten nooners. Well, Iowa knocked off Wisconsin, would-be contender Minnesota was housed by official contender Northwestern, Penn State was pushed by Army and Michigan State's playoff résumé suffered a damaging near-loss to Purdue.

Extra point: During its upset win over Nebraska, Illinois overcame not only the Huskers, but also the chain crew. The Illini ended their first series of the second half when it didn't convert on a fourth-and-3. Only, they didn't know it was fourth-and-3. They thought it was third-and-3 because that's what the sideline down marker said it was. The officiating crew apparently agreed, which is weird because referee trade magazines are packed with ads and stories featuring all sorts of doohickeys to help them keep count, including wearing a rubber band that is pulled over each finger as the downs are counted off. In the end, it had to go to the replay booth, who looked back at every play of the drive and confirmed it was actually fourth down. It was huge at the time, with Illinois trailing 10-0 and approaching midfield. We're thinking this might be mentioned in the officiating crew's weekly conference evaluations. And perhaps the football ops folks at Illinois might look into how its staff lost track too.