Originally Published: October 4, 2010

The other guys

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

We now know that defending BCS national champion Alabama is the No. 1 team in the country again.

We also know that Ohio State will have to play better than it did against Illinois on Saturday if the Buckeyes are to keep the No. 2 spot over red-hot Oregon.

We know that undefeated teams such as Boise State, TCU, Oklahoma and Nebraska are potentially good enough to be undefeated at season's end.

What about the other teams carrying unblemished records after five weeks of the college football season?

Here's a closer look at eight other undefeated teams outside the top 10 in college football:

Contenders

Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Good: The Wildcats rank second in the Big 12 in rushing with 216 yards per game, and Daniel Thomas leads the league with 157 rushing yards per game. Kansas State already has a pair of so-so victories, beating UCLA 31-22 at home in its opener and Iowa State 27-20 in Kansas City in its Big 12 opener.

Bad: The Wildcats still play games against three Big 12 teams that are currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, along with a Nov. 6 home game against defending Big 12 champion Texas. Kansas State doesn't throw the football particularly well -- it ranks No. 103 nationally with 161.8 yards per game -- but it controls the clock by relying on its running game.

Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Good: The Wolverines might have a chance to win every game because of sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson, who has emerged as the leading Heisman Trophy contender. Robinson already has passed for 1,008 yards with seven touchdowns and rushed for 905 yards with eight scores. If Robinson stays healthy, the Wolverines are capable of outscoring any opponent.

Bad: Robinson carries a very sizable load on offense, and he'll have to be great every week because Michigan's defense is so bad. The Wolverines allowed 37 points against FCS foe Massachusetts and 35 against Indiana. The Wolverines rank 102nd in the country in total defense (433.6 yards) and 120th in passing defense (307.8). Michigan's special teams also aren't very special.

Michigan State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Good: The Spartans are well-balanced on offense and play pretty good defense, too. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is completing 67.5 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions, and Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell give the Spartans a nice two-headed monster in the backfield. Michigan State has two nice wins on its belt: 34-31 over Notre Dame in overtime and 34-24 over Wisconsin.

Bad: The Spartans will play most of their remaining difficult Big Ten games on the road. They'll play at Michigan on Saturday, at Northwestern on Oct. 23, at Iowa on Oct. 30 and at Penn State on Nov. 27. At least they don't have to play No. 2 Ohio State. Also, coach Mark Dantonio remains sidelined after suffering a mild heart attacking following the Notre Dame game.

Pretenders

LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC)
Good: The Tigers are pretty menacing on defense again, as they're ranked No. 6 nationally in total defense (246.6 yards) and No. 5 in scoring defense (12.4 points). Cornerback Patrick Peterson is one of the best players in the country, and Stevan Ridley has emerged as a dependable running threat.

Bad: The Tigers have one of the worst passing games in the country, and now they're rotating Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee under center. LSU coach Les Miles always seems to find ways to win games, but his late-game gaffes have become comical and will catch up with the Tigers at some point. LSU still plays four ranked teams, including three on the road.

Missouri (4-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Good: The Tigers were built on offense and scoring a lot of points, but their defense has looked better so far this season. Missouri ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (14 points per game) and fourth in total defense (320.5 yards). The Tigers have been more active in creating turnovers (13 forced) and sacks (nine). Of course, it might get more difficult to stop opponents once Big 12 play begins. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is completing 68 percent of his passes.

Bad: The Tigers really haven't been tested yet, and they struggled to put away mediocre teams like Illinois and San Diego State. The Tigers still play the Big 12's two best teams in consecutive weeks, at home against No. 6 Oklahoma on Oct. 23 and at Nebraska on Oct. 30.

Nevada (5-0, 0-0 WAC)
Good: The Wolf Pack are very explosive in coach Chris Ault's pistol offense. They rank No. 4 nationally in scoring (44.6 points), No. 5 in total offense (526.4 yards) and No. 5 in rushing (303.8 yards). Senior Colin Kaepernick is one of the country's best dual-threat quarterbacks, passing for 1,048 yards with seven touchdowns and rushing for 548 yards with nine scores. Tailback Vai Taua has run for more than 100 yards in each of the past four games.

Bad: Like WAC rival Boise State, Nevada won't have many chances to impress voters or the computers used in the BCS rankings. The Wolf Pack's best nonconference victories -- over Colorado State, California and BYU -- aren't great, and Nevada won't face much competition in the WAC. Even if it upsets No. 4 Boise State at home on Nov. 26, it probably won't be enough to earn the Wolf Pack a spot in a lucrative BCS bowl game.

Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Good: The Wildcats caught a big break from the Big Ten's rotating schedule, as they won't play either Michigan or Ohio State this season. Quarterback Dan Persa has been brilliant in his first season as a starter, completing 79.4 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions while running for 271 yards with two scores.

Bad: It's hard to figure out whether the Wildcats are really that good. They've struggled to put away three below-average teams, defeating Vanderbilt (23-21), Central Michigan (30-25) and Minnesota (29-28). The Wildcats rank near the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing, and Persa has been the team's best threat on the ground.

Oklahoma State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Good: The Cowboys are as explosive as any offense in the country under new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. The Pokes lead the Big 12 in scoring (52.3 points per game), passing (364.8 yards per game) and total offense (534.8 yards). Quarterback Brandon Weeden is completing 71.3 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Tailback Kendall Hunter is healthy again, gaining 100 yards or more in three of four games.

Bad: The Pokes still don't play much defense. They've allowed 28 points or more in three of four games and rank last in the Big 12 in pass defense (280 yards) and 11th in scoring defense (29.5 points). Oklahoma State will play both Nebraska and Oklahoma at home and play road games at Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas.

Conference rankings

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

Ranking the BCS conferences after five weeks of the 2010 college football season:

1. SEC
SEC teams have won each of the past four BCS national championships, and defending BCS national champion Alabama solidified its claim as the No. 1 team in the country this year. The Crimson Tide routed Florida for the second time in a row, 31-6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tide will face a difficult road test at No. 19 South Carolina on Saturday.

Six SEC teams are ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press Top 25 poll, including four in the top 12. No. 12 LSU barely survived in a 16-14 victory over Tennessee. The SEC suffered two unsightly nonconference losses, with Georgia losing 29-27 at Colorado and Vanderbilt falling 40-21 at Connecticut.

2. Big Ten
The Big Ten has five ranked teams and four unbeaten squads heading into the sixth week of the season. No. 2 Ohio State struggled in a 24-13 victory over Illinois, and then-No. 11 Wisconsin was upset 34-24 at Michigan State.

The undefeated Spartans will visit undefeated Michigan on Saturday. No. 15 Iowa seems headed back in the right direction after blasting Penn State 24-3 on Saturday. Unranked Northwestern is also 5-0 after holding off Minnesota 29-28 on the road.

3. Pac-10
The Pac-10 falls below the Big Ten this week because the Big Ten appears to have more depth. Three Pac-10 teams are ranked in the AP poll: No. 3 Oregon, No. 9 Arizona and No. 16 Stanford.

The Ducks flexed their muscles in a 52-31 victory over Stanford at home, and it might not be long before they jump Ohio State for No. 2 if they keep playing this well. Washington stunned Southern California 32-31 with a field goal as time expired, knocking the Trojans further down the Pac-10 ladder in coach Lane Kiffin's first season.

4. Big 12
Oklahoma seems to be on a collision course with Nebraska to play in the Big 12 championship game. The No. 6 Sooners beat then-No. 21 Texas 28-20 in the Red River Rivalry game in Dallas on Saturday. The Sooners won't play the Cornhuskers during the regular season.

Oklahoma State might be the Sooners' biggest threat in the Big 12 South, after the No. 22 Pokes held on for a 38-35 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night. The Cowboys are among five undefeated teams in the Big 12; Kansas State (4-0), Missouri (4-0), Nebraska (4-0) and Oklahoma (5-0) are the others.

5. ACC
It seems just like old times in the ACC. Florida State and Miami are staking their claims to being the best teams in their divisions heading into Saturday's showdown in South Florida. The No. 13 Hurricanes beat Clemson 30-21 on the road on Saturday, and the No. 23 Seminoles routed Virginia 34-14 on the road.

Virginia Tech, which lost its first two games of the season, won for the third consecutive time, 41-30 at previously red-hot NC State. North Carolina also continues to play well despite being short-handed because of NCAA-mandated suspensions. The Tar Heels routed East Carolina 42-17.

5. Big East
Even when the Big East gets some good news, like Connecticut beating Vanderbilt, it's followed by more bad news. Rutgers' 17-14 loss to Tulane overshadowed whatever momentum the Big East gained by the Huskies' defeating the Commodores.

The Big East conference race will begin to take shape after this weekend's games. Connecticut will play at Rutgers on Friday night, and Syracuse will play at South Florida on Saturday. The Big East could gain some much-needed respect if Pittsburgh can knock off Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday.

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