College football rankings: ESPN updates FPI Top 25 entering Week 6 – 247Sports

College football rankings significantly changed Sunday via ESPN’s Week 6 FPI following another crazy weekend of results across the top 25. That included Clemson’s notable win over N.C. State in the rivalry’s first top-10 meeting and No. 1 Georgia’s escape from upset-minded Missouri. Nearing the season’s halfway point, the race to the College Football Playoff is heating within several Power Five conferences, including the Pac-12, where USC remains unbeaten after five weeks under first-year coach Lincoln Riley.
Kentucky’s loss at Ole Miss was the Wildcats’ first loss of the season and pushes the Rebels to 5-0 with LSU looming. Lane Kiffin has reworked his roster to near perfection and is reaping the rewards as an unexpected contender in the SEC West.
Per ESPN, the Football Power Index (FPI) is a “measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”
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Here’s a look at ESPN’s updated FPI entering Week 6 and our thoughts on each selection.
25. NC State Wolfpack (4-1)
24. Kentucky Wildcats (4-1)
23. Washington Huskies (4-1)
22. Oregon Ducks (4-1)
21. Maryland Terrapins (4-1)
20. Cincinnati Bearcats (4-1)
N.C. State and Kentucky each rose six spots in ESPN’s latest FPI rankings despite both teams suffering their first losses of the season to nationally-ranked competition away from. The Wildcats turned it over twice in the final moments at Ole Miss while the Wolfpack never got going offensively during a loss to Clemson. Washington is another team that suffered its first setback of the season on Friday night, falling Chip Kelly and UCLA on the road.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 8
How are the Sooners still ranked in the FPI after back to back disappointing losses to start Big 12? Who knows. First-year coach Brent Venables and Oklahoma need to get back to the fundamentals after giving up 55 points in Saturday’s blowout loss at TCU in a game that was never competitive. The Horned Frogs ran off 41 points in the first half and nearly 500 yards of total offense through three quarters before Oklahoma caught its breath. The Sooners lost Dillon Gabriel early to injury and it was downhill from there for a team many thought could win the Big 12 this season.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 16
Notre Dame bounced back with consecutive wins since the Marcus Freeman era began with losses to Ohio State and Marshall this season. According to ESPN’s latest FPI projections, the Fighting Irish are expected to challenge for a potential 8-4 finish this fall, but appear to be just as likely to finish 7-5 with several challenging games still to play. The recent road win at North Carolina was a positive sign moving forward.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 19
Mississippi State’s second-straight win over Texas A&M was a momentum-builder for the Bulldogs and much-needed considering Mike Leach’s team started SEC play two weeks ago with a disheartening loss to LSU. Mississippi State controlled the second half. Texas A&M’s loss in Starkville takes the Aggies out of the FPI rankings this week.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 15
Baylor’s shot at winning the Big 12 this season and repeating as conference champions has greatly diminished, per the FPI. The Bears win just 9% of simulations at this point after Saturday’s home loss to unbeaten Oklahoma State. The Bears started off on the wrong foot and struggled to recover against a Cowboys team that was well-prepared coming off of its open week. It’ll be interesting to see where Dave Aranda’s team goes from here after losing one of their most important games of the campaign.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 20
Oklahoma State now has an 18.6% chance of winning the Big 12 this fall after a momentum-seizing win at Baylor to avenge last season’s conference title game loss to the Bears. Anyone who didn’t believe in the Cowboys prior to Week 5 changed their minds after Oklahoma State dominated from start to finish against the defending league champs. Oklahoma State finished one yard shy of a College Football Playoff berth last season and looks the part once again.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 14
Minnesota stubbed its toe as a double-digit home favorite against Purdue as the mistakes piled up and the offense never got going. Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan threw three interceptions against the Boilermakers, who won 20-10 on the road against a Minnesota team that was previously-unbeaten and looked in charge of the Big Ten West. So much for that. P.J. Fleck said before the game his team’s goal was to execute and continue focusing on its primary goal, but the gameplan never materialized and execution failed throughout.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 28
This week’s biggest riser in the polls, TCU climbed an incredible 15 spots into the top 15 after humiliating Oklahoma in Fort Worth, 55-24. Max Duggan has played himself into the Heisman conversation after a spectacular five-touchdown showing, knifing his way through the Sooners’ defense early and often. Who projected Sonny Dykes and TCU to be a dark-horse title favorite in the Big 12? TCU has a 19% chance of winning the Big 12 this fall, according to ESPN’s algorithm.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 13
Penn State wins the Big Ten East only 7.4% of the time according to ESPN’s updated numbers after a less-than-impressive 17-7 win over Northwestern. The Nittany Lions did remain unbeaten and that’s all that matters for James Franklin’s team with a showdown at Michigan looming. This defense is elite and keeps Penn State in numerous games down the stretch against top-25 competition. Getting through the rest of the slate won’t be easy, however.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 9
Nursing a four-point lead at halftime against Arizona State, USC quickly pushed ahead and found some breathing room during Saturday’s win. The Trojans have a 33.6% chance to win the Pac-12 this season, second only to Utah out West. Not bad for Lincoln Riley’s first campaign after he flipped his roster and entered the season outside of the AP’s top 10. Caleb Williams threw three touchdown passes in Saturday’s victory.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 12
ESPN gives the Volunteers only an 9.6% chance to unseat Georgia at the top of the SEC East. Perhaps Josh Heupel, Hendon Hooker and the Volunteers can use the disrespect as motivation moving forward after an unblemished opening month. Hooker amassed over 450 yards of total offense against Florida last week as Tennessee snapped a five-year skid in the series. Up next for the Volunteers is a bout with LSU, who has won four straight.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 11
Climbing past Alabama will be difficult in a couple of weeks, but Vegas favors Ole Miss over the next several games prior to that anticipated showdown against the Crimson Tide in November. Due in large part to Saturday’s win over Kentucky, Ole Miss now has a 9% chance to get to Atlanta as a division champ, unexpected to say the least for a team that lost most of its lineup following last year’s 10-win campaign. Kudos to Lane Kiffin for staying unblemished thus far during the first half.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 7 
LSU turned back a 17-point deficit in Saturday’s win at Auburn, holding on to beat the hapless Tigers with a game-sealing interception in the final moments. It was the fourth straight win for Brian Kelly’s team since opening the season in New Orleans with a loss to Florida State and keeps LSU inside the FPI’s top 10 this week. LSU has the look of a squad that could be a thorn in the side of Alabama and Ole Miss at the top of the SEC West.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 10
The Pac-12 favorite nearing midseason according to ESPN’s FPI, Utah is winning at a consistent rate under Kyle Whittingham and is hoping to claim its second consecutive West Coast title. The season opening loss at Florida felt like it happened years ago for an offense that’s now clicking on all cylinders. Three more touchdown passes from Cameron Rising revealed a quarterback who’s in rhythm at the right time for the Utes in their quest of staying within playoff striking distance.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 6
There’s just something about the Longhorns that keeps the FPI rankings coming back. Texas won its first Big 12 game of the season on Saturday night, downing West Virginia at home in a must-win scenario for Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns expect Quinn Ewers to return to practice at full go this season moving forward, a shot in the arm for a team that needs its full arsenal offensively. The Big 12 opening loss to Texas Tech last week wasn’t catastrophic, but it did make getting to the league title game that much tougher this fall.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 5
After beating Wake Forest and N.C. State in its last two games, Clemson now holds an 88% shot of winning the ACC Atlantic and getting back to the league championship game after a one-year hiatus, an impressive feat by Dabo Swinney and a new-look coaching staff. The Tigers executed with precision offensively in each of the past two outings and DJ Uiagalelei looks like a quarterback capable of winning league player of the year honor this fall if he continues on his current trajectory.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 4
Michigan has a 17.7% chance of winning the Big Ten behind Ohio State nearing the midway mark, per ESPN’s FPI. The Wolverines dominated from start to finish during an impressive win over Iowa, toppling the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense with an early punch and decisive blow late to start the season 5-0. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was previously 0-3 as a player and coach at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, and he was happy to break the streak.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 3
So much for Georgia’s mystique as the defending national champions. Out-played throughout a tougher-than-expected road tilt at Missouri, Georgia’s touchdown drive capped by Daijun Edwards’ run late in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game in a near upset against the Tigers. Missouri was a 28-point underdog in the game, but led throughout until back to back scoring drives in the final nine minutes by the Bulldogs. Missouri led by as many as 13 points in the first half and held a 10-point advantage late in the third quarter before America’s top team stormed back.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 2
A virtual playoff lock per ESPN’s FPI, Ohio State won going away against a Big Ten opponent again. Ohio State running back Miyan Williams rushed for a career-high 189 yards and five touchdowns as the Buckeyes easily moved past Rutgers. The Buckeyes score 14 points in the first, second and third quarters to maintain a sizable advantage throughout the game. It was Ohio State’s ninth straight win over Rutgers. Ohio State travels to reeling Michigan State next week and will try and move to 3-0 in Big Ten play with a victory.
Last week’s FPI ranking: No. 1
Alabama has a 54.7% chance to win the SEC and an 87% chance to reach the playoff per ESPN’s FPI following Saturday’s win at Arkansas. Despite an injury to Bryce Young in the second quarter that sidelined him for the rest of the game, Alabama outscored the Razorbacks by 18 points in the fourth quarter to pull away in one of Saturday’s nationally-ranked SEC matchups. Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 206 yards and two long touchdowns while backup quarterback Jalen Milroe added another rushing score to headline a 317-yard day on the ground for the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban said after the game that Young has an injured shoulder and will be re-evaluated.
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