College Football Rankings' Next 5: Texas Still Hanging Around

DALLAS - OCTOBER 02: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert #7 of the Texas Longhorns reacts during play against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 2 2010 in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Assessing the pitfalls and fortunes of the top five teams in the "also receiving votes" category that serves as college football's casting couch. This week: Texas gets more love than a two-loss team in Week 6 could possibly deserve, and Air Force scrambles for relevance.

•  Texas

Where They're At: 3-2 in the win-loss column; 2007, temporally speaking. Six votes out of Coaches' Poll contention, fourth team below the waterline in the AP.
What Went Wrong: Two straight losses to UCLA and Oklahoma, for a start. No analysis is necessary, really: Texas' plummet was as visible as it was rapid. A low-scoring, 10-point win over Texas Tech is the shiniest feather obtained thus far in 2010.
What's Next: The Longhorns are still the highest-ranked two-loss team, thanks in large part to their program's pedigree. They have Week 6 off to recuperate (and swap reams of Greg Davis revenge fan fiction) before traveling to Nebraska for their biggest remaining game.

•  Air Force

Where They're At:  4-1, No. 25 in the AP poll but 17 votes behind Texas in the Coaches'.
What Went Wrong: Does "playing in the Mountain West" count as a misstep? The Falcons took No. 7 Oklahoma to the wire but lost 27-24 in Norman. Last week's game with Navy was a depressing 14-6 slothfest.
What's Next: Frankly, some teams ahead of them are going to have to screw up. Mid-majors have to justify their existence, week in and week out, to an exacting degree that other programs wouldn't dream of sweating. Late-October date with TCU and Utah in back-to-back weeks could strengthen their case.

•  Northwestern

Where They're At: 5-0, 1-0 in Big Ten play. There's quite a spread in appreciation here: The Wildcats are ranked 25th in the Coaches' Poll but trail West Virginia, Kansas State, USC, and Texas in the AP.
What Went Wrong: Three of those five wins have come by a margin of five points or less. Those teams that gave the Wildcats so much trouble? Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, and Minnesota.
What's Next: Beating Purdue next week probably won't help matters all that much. Gridiron success against Michigan State two weeks later would be another story.

•  Kansas State

Where They're At: 4-0, with a Week-1 victory over UCLA that's got a bit more shine on it now and two close calls over Iowa State and Central Florida. Considerably lower on the Coaches' Poll bridesmaids' row than the AP's.
What Went Wrong: This early in the season, undefeated teams are thick on the ground, and a pyrrhic win over a Conference USA team plus a bye week keeps the Wildcats lying low.
What's Next: Some very immediate worries in the form of a visit from No. 7 Nebraska, but they at least avoid Oklahoma in conference play. Survive and advance is all K-State can do.

•  West Virginia

Where They're At: 3-1, the top vote-getter in the AP Poll's also-rans, considerably lower in the cheap seats of the Coaches' Poll.
What Went Wrong: The Mountaineers' most memorable win this season (Marshall) was only widely discussed because of how long it took them to put the Thundering Herd away. After losing to an LSU team we still suspect is built on quicksand in Week 4, a bye week did them no favors with voters.
What's Next: Coming up with an offensive plan that mimics the mild success of the "Let Jarrett Brown Make Up Plays On The Fly" scheme without Jarrett Brown would be a start; failing that, the 'Eers have to wait until Halloween weekend for anything closely resembling a statement game opportunity (a road trip to UConn).

Stay tuned for SB Nation's BlogPoll, out this Wednesday.

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