ESPN 2023 College Football Power Rankings after Week 6

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Sunday, October 8, 2023

While Oklahoma's thrilling victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry captured the nation's attention, Georgia, Michigan, Florida State and Ohio State were reminding the college football world they're still here.

All won in reasonably easy fashion -- Ohio State struggled early -- to secure their spots in our power rankings. While Texas' loss dropped the Longhorns from last week's No. 3 spot, it's Notre Dame that took a big tumble with the loss to unbeaten Louisville.

Next week should see another shakeup when the high-powered offenses of Oregon and Washington collide in a huge Pac-12 matchup in Seattle (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

Here's how the Power Rankings play out after Week 6 results:

No. 1Georgia Bulldogs(6-0)

So maybe the Bulldogs are going to be just fine. Say what you want about Kentucky, but beating the undefeated Wildcats 51-13 felt like a statement for Georgia. On offense, Carson Beck tied a career high with three touchdown passes ... in the first half. And All-Americantight end Brock Bowers eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for a third consecutive game. Meanwhile, the defense flexed its muscles by taking running back Ray Davis, who rushed for 280 yards his last time out against Florida, and held him in check to the tune of 59 yards and no touchdowns rushing. -- Alex Scarborough

Up next: at Vanderbilt (noon ET)

No. 2Michigan Wolverines(6-0)

The Wolverines' offense continued its string of strong games in a big 52-10 win over Minnesota. The Wolverines have scored 30 or more points in nine straight games going back to last season, which is the longest streak in program history. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw for over 200 yards with a touchdown through the air and added two rushing touchdowns. The Wolverines' defense contributed to the scoring as well, with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. It's the first time Michigan had two defensive scores on the road since 2006 against Notre Dame. This is a balanced team that is playing at a very high level through the first six games. -- Tom VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Indiana (noon ET)

No. 3Florida State Seminoles(5-0)

The open date following the dramatic win in Death Valley two weeks ago didn't seem to impact Jordan Travis and the Seminoles much as they collectively took care of business against Virginia Tech 39-17. Travis was efficient, completing 18 of 24 passes for 170 yards and two TDs -- both to Johnny Wilson, who left in the third quarter with an injury and didn't return. Florida State led 22-0 after the first quarter but saw the Hokies score the next 17, including on a 99-yard kickoff return to start the second half. But the Seminoles responded as Trey Benson had touchdown runs of 62 and 85 yards in the second half to punctuate a career-high 200-yard rushing performance. With the Clemson test now passed and the team 5-0 for the first time since 2015, it's all about getting ready for Duke (Oct. 21) and trying not to look ahead to Miami (Nov. 11) as the program looks to win its first ACC title since 2014. -- Blake Baumgartner

Up next:vs. Syracuse

No. 4Ohio State Buckeyes(5-0)

The gutsy, game-winning drive against Notre Dame that fired up Ryan Day and the Buckeyes wasn't the catalyst they hoped it would be. Ohio State looked sluggish after an open week, especially on offense without top rusher TreVeyon Henderson, and was fortunate to be tied 10-10 with Maryland at halftime after the Terrapins had the clock run out while in field goal range. The struggles continued after halftime, but Ohio State responded from a 17-10 deficit to score the game's final 27 points. Despite only 62 rushing yards for the team, quarterback Kyle McCord and his receivers gashed Maryland's defense in the final 26 minutes. McCord finished with a career-high 320 pass yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and the defense generated enough big plays from Josh Proctor,JT Tuimoloauand others. Ohio State will need to play more complete games, especially with Penn State visiting Oct. 21. -- Adam Rittenberg

Up next:at Purdue (noon ET)

No. 5Oklahoma Sooners(6-0)

A year after a humiliating 49-0 loss to Texas, the Sooners found some of their old magic, battling the Longhorns all game and letting a lead slip away before Dillon Gabriel put together a drive for the ages. He accounted for all 61 of Oklahoma's yards on the game-winning TD drive, including going 4-for-4 with 58 passing yards and stepping up into a pass rush to find Nic Anderson in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. The Sooners, who went 0-5 in one-score games last year, made a statement with three forced turnovers and an upset of the No. 3 Longhorns. The Sooners suddenly can see shades of 2000, when OU coach Brent Venables was a young assistant on an upstart team that made a run to the national championship. It's only six games, but the hope is back in Norman. -- Dave Wilson

Up next:vs. UCF, Oct. 21

No. 6Washington Huskies(5-0)

The Huskies had the week off ahead of next week's highly anticipated showdown against Oregon in Seattle. For USC, the winner of that game will be the de facto team to beat in the Pac-12 at the halfway mark of the season. The game also could be a springboard for Michael Penix Jr.'s Heisman campaign, which is off to a terrific start, but without a true marquee victory it's only ramping up. If he outduels Oregon QB Bo Nix, Penix could make believers out of those who might not have been paying close attention. -- Kyle Bonagura

Up next:vs. Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 7Oregon Ducks(5-0)

The Ducks have opted to use their first five games of the season to show just how much of a juggernaut they can be. Oregon has averaged over 51 points and held opponents to just under 12 points per contest. The dominant start hit a pause button this week with a bye, but what awaits the Ducks next week is an opponent befitting their potential. Washington is unbeaten, also coming off a bye and with a similar level of dominance in its previous stretch -- 46 points per game. Dan Lanning's team will have its hands full with Heisman contender Michael Penix Jr. and the potent Huskies offense in a matchup of top-10 teams with playoff aspirations. -- Paolo Uggetti

Up next:at Washington (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 8Penn State Nittany Lions(5-0)

A gifted Nittany Lions team led by one of the nation's best defenses recognizes its season likely will come down to two games: Ohio State (Oct. 21, road) and Michigan (Nov. 11, home). After a strong second half against Northwestern, Penn State had an open week to rest up before an Ohio State tuneup against UMass. The Nittany Lions are allowing just 9.6 points per game and 3.8 yards per play, while racking up 20 sacks, 37 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles. "They know where we're ranked," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz told me. "They know who's in our league, and that there are elite defenses in this league. So we can't sit around and act like we've got the market cornered because there's people coming up on our schedule that are side-by-side with us at the top of all these categories. So there's always more to do." Penn State wants a dominant and injury-free performance against UMass before gearing up for its trip to Ohio Stadium. -- Rittenberg

Up next:vs. UMass (3:30 p.m. ET)

No. 9USC Trojans(6-0)

When the Arizona Wildcats raced to a shocking 17-0 lead on a USC team that looked like it had just woken up, the game had all the makings of a classic Pac-12 After Dark upset. What's more: USC's defense had been bending the past few weeks, and Arizona looked determined to break it early on. It didn't help that quarterback Caleb Williams and the rest of the USC offense struggled to find any rhythm, but in the end despite their many flaws, the Trojans' talent won out. USC patched together a comeback of sorts, using bad Arizona penalties and a few stops to tie the game at 28. A botched kick to end regulation by USC kicker Denis Lynch pushed the game into overtime where, after three periods, USC escaped with a 43-41 win thanks to Williams' third rushing touchdown of the game. -- Uggetti

Up next: at Notre Dame(7:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Peacock)

No. 10Texas Longhorns(5-1)

The Longhorns came out with some aggressive playcalling by Steve Sarkisian, including a fake punt that Jordan Whittington converted for a first down and a pass by wide receiver Savion Red on another fourth-down play, both on the same first-quarter drive, then blocked a punt for a touchdown. But down 27-20 in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns were stuffed on four straight plays from the 1 and came away with no points before rallying to take a 30-27 lead with 1:17 remaining. Then disaster struck: Oklahoma'sDillon Gabrieldrove down the field in under a minute to toss a 3-yard TD pass to Nic Andersonwith 15 seconds remaining and win it 34-30. It's a crushing loss for the Longhorns -- as all losses to Oklahoma are for Texas -- but there's a solid chance they'll get a rematch in the Big 12 title game in December if they can bounce back. "I think this locker room is full of champions and our goal is to win a championship this year," Sarkisian said after the game. "We've got to go handle our business." -- Wilson

Up next: at Houston, Oct. 21

No. 11Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1)

Ugly wins, especially on the road in the SEC, are never to be taken for granted. Alabama made enough mistakes to lose a couple of games Saturday, but made the plays that counted to hold off Texas A&M 26-20 at a raucous Kyle Field. Quarterback Jalen Milroe is starting to make more winning plays than bad plays and passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns against the Aggies. It was also a good sign for Alabama that receiver Jermaine Burton had a breakout game with nine catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Tide needed a go-to receiver to emerge. The defense has been outstanding ever since the 34-24 loss to Texas, and the front seven was dominant at times and kept the pressure on Texas A&M quarterback Max Johnson. Alabama gets its next three games at home and heads into that stretch as the SEC West's only unbeaten team in league play. In other words, it's always premature to count out Nick Saban and the Tide. -- Chris Low

Up next: vs. Arkansas (noon ET, ESPN)

No. 12North Carolina Tar Heels(5-0)

It didn't take long for wide receiver Tez Walker (six receptions for 43 yards on eight targets) to get acclimated to the Tar Heels' offense after he was finally deemed eligible. He caught six passes for 43 yards in North Carolina's 40-7 win against Syracuse.Drake Maye and the Tar Heels offense was in perfect harmony from the jump. Maye picked Syracuse's defense apart, connecting with 10 receivers in the first half alone as the offense racked up 424 total yards, tied for the program's most in a half over the past four seasons. Nate McCollum led the way with seven receptions for 135 yards (103 in first half). Spurred on by Maye's precision (33-of-47 passing for 442 yards and three touchdowns), North Carolina finished with a season-high 644 total yards -- the third time it has surpassed 500 in a game this season -- while controlling the clock for 37:16. Maye's third career game with at least 400 passing yards has the program off to its best start since 1997, when it began 8-0. -- Baumgartner

Up next:vs. Miami

No. 13Louisville Cardinals(6-0)

The Cardinals used an aggressive game plan against Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman and it worked for the second straight year. Last year, Louisville forced him into six turnovers when he played at Wake Forest. This year, they forced him into three interceptions and sacked him five times in a 33-20 win that ended Notre Dame's record 30-game regular-season winning streak against the ACC. Jawhar Jordan rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Louisville has now beaten AP Top 10 teams in consecutive seasons. The other one? That's right, Hartman's Wake Forest team. -- AndreaAdelson

Up next:at Pitt (6:30 p.m. ET, CW Network)

No. 14Oregon State Beavers(5-1)

A week after winning a low-scoring slog against Utah, Oregon State responded by winning in a shootout against Cal 52-40. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 19 of 25 passes for 275 with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Beavers piled up 499 yards of total offense in what was their most complete offensive showing of the season and comes ahead of an important test next week against one of the conference's best defenses in UCLA. Despite their loss to WSU, the Beavers should still be considered a conference-title contender in what is turning into a very interesting Pac-12 race. -- Bonagura

Up next: vs. UCLA (8 p.m. ET)

No. 15Ole Miss Rebels(4-1)

Normally, when you go three quarters without converting a third down, you've got problems. Normally, when your starting quarterback throws for only 153 yards, it spells trouble. But give the Rebs credit for finding a way to beat Arkansas when Jaxson Dart and the offense weren't clicking on all cylinders. They coughed up a 10-point lead and recaptured the momentum with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. But of course the real star of the show for Ole Miss was its defense, which held down the fort to the tune of 288 total yards allowed and only 1.2 yards per rush. Protecting a one-score lead with under two minutes to play, the secondary came up with its second interception of the night. With games against unranked Auburn, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M coming up, the Rebs have a chance to make some noise in the SEC. -- Scarborough

Up next:at Auburn, Oct. 21

No. 16Utah Utes(4-1)

Will quarterback Cameron Rising return against California after this week's open date? That's the only question that matters right now with the Utes' schedule about to get a whole lot tougher as a trip to Los Angeles to face USC and then a home date against Oregon in Salt Lake City close out their October slate. Utah ranks last in the Pac-12 both in total offense (297.6 YPG) and passing offense (153.8 YPG) and finding a way to jump-start things is a must for Kyle Whittingham's team to stay in a conference race that features three teams in the AP's top 10. The Utes' defense, allowing 11.8 PPG, has been asked to carry a lot of the load early, surrendering 13 or fewer points in three of their four games against Power 5 foes. That number is going to get severely tested if the offense doesn't get in gear soon. -- Baumgartner

Up next:vs. Cal (3 p.m. ET)

No. 17Washington State Cougars (4-1)

A resigned Jake Dickert had no choice but to call the UCLA defense the best in the conference after his team was stumped offensively on its way to a 25-17 loss -- its first of the season. The Cougars arrived at the Rose Bowl with another one of the Pac-12's (and the country's) best offenses, having averaged nearly 46 points per game through four contests this season. But while Cam Ward struggled to look anything like the player he had been in the previous four games, the entire Wazzu offense found no rhythm as it was forced into 4 fumbles, 2 interceptions and 9 punts. Dickert bemoaned how outmatched WSU was on the line of scrimmage, where UCLA's athletes dictated everything and controlled the game from start to finish. -- Uggetti

Up next: vs. Arizona (7 p.m. ET)

No. 18Tennessee Volunteers(4-1)

Tennessee had Saturday off after an up-and-down early season. After a Week 3 loss to Florida, the Vols responded with comfortable home wins over UTSA and South Carolina. After riding to 11 wins with a high-flying passing attack in 2022, Tennessee has been Bizarro Tennessee this fall, winning with a dynamite run game and mostly strong defense. But the Vols will probably need some chunk plays from Joe Milton III& Co. if they're going to survive a three-game gauntlet through the rest of October. They host Texas A&M next Saturday, then travel to face Alabama and Kentucky. Can they shift into another gear? They'll need to. -- Bill Connelly

Up next:vs. Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. ET)

No. 19Duke Blue Devils(4-1)

The Blue Devils had a much-needed open date this week after not only a tough, last-minute loss to Notre Dame, but also an ankle injury to quarterback Riley Leonard that has him week-to-week. Duke has not been able to offer much more of a timeline than that because his return depends on how quickly Leonard responds to rehab. If he is unable to play next Saturday against NC State, redshirt freshman Henry Belin IV will get the start. -- Adelson

Up next:vs. NC State (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)

No. 20Notre Dame Fighting Irish(5-2)

Three straight physical games against ranked opponents proved to be too much for the Irish, who lost at Louisville 33-20, effectively ending their College Football Playoff hopes. Louisville was the aggressor all night, especially on defense, harassing Sam Hartman into multiple mistakes and slowing down the running game. Notre Dame had only 44 yards rushing as Audric Estime had 20 yards on 10 carries. Notre Dame was forced to throw more than it wanted to once Louisville took the lead in the third quarter, and simply could not get anything going. Hartman went 6-for-19 for 150 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield. -- Adelson

Up next: vs. USC(7:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Peacock)

No. 21UCLA Bruins(4-1)

If there was any doubt the Bruins had the best defense in an offense-heavy Pac-12 this season, they showed it when they handed No. 13 Wazzu its first loss of the year. UCLA's menacing pass rush kept Cougs' quarterbackCam Wardon his back foot all day long as he threw two interceptions, and by the time the clock hit zero, the Bruins had held one of the best offenses in the country to 17 points and 216 total yards of offense. With a freshman quarterback in Dante Moore having growing pains (two interceptions Saturday), UCLA's defense has been the perfect complement, keeping the Bruins in games when Chip Kelly's offense struggles. After a one-score loss to Utah two weeks ago and a bye week, the Bruins are back on track and present a tough matchup for their upcoming opponents. -- Uggetti

Up next: at Oregon State

No. 22Miami Hurricanes (4-1)

It is hard to think of a loss as inexplicable as the one Miami just experienced. Needing just to kneel down to secure a win, Miami instead handed off and fumbled with 33 seconds left. Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King then led the Yellow Jackets on the game-winning drive, throwing a 44-yard touchdown pass to Christian Leary with 1 second left to stun the Hurricanes 23-20, ending Miami's unbeaten season. Miami turned the ball over five times -- quarterback Tyler Van Dyke threw three interceptions -- and lacked the type of cohesion and rhythm that it had before the open date. Next up is a road game at unbeaten North Carolina, so the Hurricanes will have to find a way to respond quickly. -- Adelson

Up next:at North Carolina

No. 23Kentucky Wildcats (5-1)

A 38-point loss on the road at Georgia stings, but it's not the end of the world for the 5-1 Wildcats. The key will be how they respond. On offense, quarterback Devin Leary has to find a way to complete better than 50% of his passes. And it might be time to find a complement to running back Ray Davis, who went from 280 yards against Florida to 59 yards against Georgia. The defense, meanwhile, has a lot of work to do, especially the secondary that was picked apart by Carson Beck in the first half. Missouri has a high-powered offense that will test Kentucky's resolve next week. -- Scarborough

Up next: vs. Missouri

No. 24LSU Tigers(4-2)

In the end, Jayden Daniels outplayed Brady Cook. That made the difference as LSU took down Missouri 49-39 in Columbia early Saturday. Cook threw for 395 yards and two touchdowns, and Mizzou bolted to an early 22-7 lead, but Daniels, with 259 passing yards, 130 rushing yards and 4 combined touchdowns, led a slow-but-steady comeback. His 29-yard strike to Malik Nabers with 2:58 left gave the second half its fifth and final lead change, and a late Major Burns pick-six sealed the deal. LSU's struggling defense gave up another 527 yards, but after scoring touchdowns on each of the first three drives, Mizzou managed just 17 points over its final 10. That was enough to flip the advantage in this track meet. -- Connelly

Up next:vs. Auburn

No. 25Missouri Tigers (5-1)

After three close wins helped to drive a 5-0 start, Mizzou ran afoul of the close-game gods. The Tigers led LSU most of the way but fell 49-39 after Malik Nabers' go-ahead touchdown with 2:58 left and a game-sealing Major Burns pick-six. Brady Cook threw for 395 yards and two touchdowns, Luther Burden III gained 149 yards on 11 catches and Cody Schraderhad 114 yards on the ground. But Cook also threw his first two interceptions of the season, and the defense gave up 325 second-half yards. Mizzou couldn't make an early 22-7 lead hold up and fell to 5-1 because of it. But there's no time for moping: A trip to Kentucky, where Mizzou hasn't won since 2013, looms. -- Connelly

Up next:at Kentucky

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