The first month of college football is in the books. What have we learned? We are always going to be knee-jerkish with our responses on a week-to-week basis. But we are also starting to see about 8 teams who legitimately have a great shot at being a national champion. However, a few of those teams get to see each other from here on out (5 SEC teams notably) so it will mean a lot of intense games. On the other hand, we see one conference finally eliminate themselves from the Playoff chatter. And we are zeroed in on conference play.
This week was a bit of a lull for games as a few top teams got byes while others had easy tilts despite a near-upset in Chapel Hill with UNC against Clemson. But aside from that, nothing. Which is good because Dish and Fox are in another dispute over fees so I missed those games on Fox and the Big Ten Network which stinks. So I had to look at highlights and reviews of those games. So I guess you can also call this the angry edition of the top 5 this week.
TOP 5 WINNERS
(1) OHIO STATE: Dominate on offense. Dominate on defense. Dominate everywhere. Ohio State has been obliterating their opponents left and right on both sides of the ball. It looks like there is no team that can stop the Buckeyes. Justin Fields is playing great and playing with a chip on his shoulder and that’s a problem. October will be interesting as they see Michigan State and their defense (top ten in defense) and at the end of the month Wisconsin and their top defense. If they can show they can run all over them, they have to be the favorites from here on out.
(2) AUBURN: The Tigers are dominating on both sides of the ball. That’s a major uh-oh to their 4 SEC rivals who are sitting in the top ten (that Auburn gets to play all of them). Next week is Florida and the end of the month is LSU (both on the road). The Tigers if they complete the upsets then they have to be without question the #1 team in the Playoff Committee selection as it opens up.
(3) PENN STATE: 59-0 win at Maryland is very impressive. The Nittany Lions want to show that they are also as dominant as Ohio State. But what they have to go through in October isn’t fun (at Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State) so if they can escape all three games, then that Ohio State game will be one with Playoff implications.
(4) NOTRE DAME: The Irish faced off against a ranked Virginia team after taking a tough loss to Georgia last week. However, the Irish stood tall in the second half getting key turnovers and making big plays for a nice win. That all said, they will need major help to get back in the Playoff chase.
(5) OKLAHOMA STATE: Big win against Kansas State and showing it more on defense. Of course their season always is defined in Bedlam, but having one loss and to Texas isn’t something to be stung on. They still could run the table until they see Oklahoma in November. And then, who knows?
TOP 5 LOSERS
(1) PAC-12: California losing sealed the deal that all 12 teams have a loss to their credit. With Washington and Oregon playing each other later on in the year while California and Utah both still have to play each other. It’s hard to even think a PAC-12 champion will even have one loss. But pretty much, the conference is out. And PLEASE could we eliminate this “Conference of Champions” moniker they have? They have the longest droughts among the power 5 in football and in basketball. It is getting to the point where it is hard to take the conference as a whole seriously.
(2) VIRGINIA: The good news for the Cavaliers is that the Notre Dame loss isn’t going to play into effect of the conference standings. They will likely be the favorite to win the ACC Coastal still. However, too many mistakes were made against the Irish in the second half and that doomed Virginia. I like Bryce Perkins but some of the decisions he made hurt. But he’s still a quality QB. Just wasn’t really yesterday.
(3) KANSAS STATE: It wasn’t like we were thinking the Wildcats would be in the mix of a playoff spot, but their offense being unable to do anything against Oklahoma State is a massive problem. They play solid defense, but mixing an offense with it is needed to be really considered a threat to Oklahoma.
(4) NEBRASKA: Scott Frost’s team is still a year or two away from being legitimately competitive and it showed last night. To beat a team like Ohio State, you gotta keep your composure. Nebraska lost that composure early and often. They were flat-out dominated.
(5) TEXAS TECH: You know how crazy is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? This is Texas Tech. I thought it was Kliff Kingsbury and his system that really kept the Red Raiders from being competitive with the quick strike air raid offense and the “option” defense. But it is still that and how the highlights showed yesterday the Red Raiders defense is a joke again. They can’t tackle, they get bullied up front, they just look like lost kids out there. The entire program in Lubbock needs an overhaul.
TOP 5 QUESTIONS
(1) IS CLEMSON REALLY THE TOP DOG IN THE NATION? If you look at their game yesterday against North Carolina, no.. But again, I’m giving them a free pass. Clemson does this EVERY. YEAR. They always scuffle in that first month before ramping it up the rest of the way. However, Trevor Lawrence has to get better. This isn’t the same Trevor Lawrence who carved up Alabama’s defense in the National Championship game last year. But my attitude remains: Clemson is still the top team in the nation until somebody beats them.
(2) WHO IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE SEC RIGHT NOW? It’s a team from Alabama. Just not the one we are thinking of. Auburn’s defense is strong and if they continue to get more consistency from Bo Nix (so far it’s been panning out), the Tigers are going to be the team that can just get after you. With a schedule they have, a 1-loss Auburn team is a lock for the Playoff. And remember, they get Georgia and Alabama at home. Alabama (problems against the run), Georgia (problems against the pass & coaching decisions), LSU (problems against the pass), and Florida (offensive consistencies) all have major things to work on right now. At this point, Auburn doesn’t.
(3) IS THERE ANY TEAM IN THE BIG TEN THAT CAN STOP OHIO STATE? People want to point at Wisconsin and Penn State. Wisconsin was rolling until yesterday against Northwestern where they had issues on offense, but the Badgers defense can do their thing. Iowa has given Ohio State fits too (we still remember the beatdown the Hawkeyes gave Ohio State in 2017 where it was the nail in the Buckeyes playoff chances) and their offense is pretty solid this year. Penn State rolled all over Maryland on Friday so there is hope the Nittany Lions can upend the Buckeyes but that game is in Columbus. But again, it isn’t the Buckeyes offense that has been the most impressive to me. It is their defense. And that is scary.
(4) DOES OKLAHOMA FINALLY HAVE A DEFENSE TO GO UP WITH THEIR STOUT OFFENSE? Yes. Is it great? Probably not but it is far better than the defenses the Sooners had taking with them to the playoff the last couple of years. But aside from their first week win against Houston, the Sooners have allowed less than 20 points in each game. And how often did we see the Sooners and Texas Tech win a game that was like 65-58? So for Oklahoma to take down Texas Tech by holding them to 16 points, this shouldn’t go unnoticed.
(5) WHAT DOES THE PAC-12 NEED TO DO TO GET THEMSELVES BACK IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT? If you’re talking about this year, nothing. I don’t see a one-loss PAC-12 champion get in. In hindsight, Oregon desperately needed that win against Auburn. That would have given them the inside edge and really a major argument for the Ducks being in the playoff. The hope is now for the PAC-12 is that the SEC teams all beat each other into oblivion where the top team still has two losses and you get upsets somewhere from Ohio State, Clemson (probably two losses), and Oklahoma. But again, two losses from every top team would have to be it. I don’t see it. But the issue is, there needs to be some team that dominates the PAC-12 like Oregon did in 2014. We have yet to see that happen.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat