Alabama has now blasted out the second-best and third-best teams in the Southeast Conference, beating Georgia by 17 and Texas A&M by 28. Clemson has wasted four opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference by an average margin of 34.3 points.
It’s your landslide 1-2, in which order you prefer. Then it becomes interesting.
Georgia earns third place in the SI Top 10 just as much out of default as anything else. The Bulldogs were good before going to Tuscaloosa and were good in the half once they were there. In the current barren landscape – where we do not rank anyone who has not yet played – it is enough.
North Carolina hosted a giant hairball against Florida State and Notre Dame was not impressive enough against Louisville that it seems reasonable to start a nationwide search for the fourth best team. Why not BYU? The Cougars passed their biggest test of the season to date Friday night and roared back to beat Houston.
The last half of the Top 1
Long story short, Big Ten’s arrival this week is perfectly timed. There are plenty of high rankings available.
Last game: Beat Georgia Tech, 73–7
Next match: Syracuse Saturday
The Tigers’ offense dropped 52 points on Georgia Tech in the first half, the most in half in school history against an ACC opponent – and that despite committing two turnovers. Trevor Lawrence had five touchdown passes before the break, though he threw his first interception since October 19, 2019. Most ridiculous state from this ridiculous Clemson offensive attack: 17 Tigers caught passes, including both Dabo Swinney’s sons. We’re back again and wonder if anyone in the ACC can even mildly stress Clemson. (Notre Dame or bust on November 7?)
Last match: Beat Georgia, 41-24
Next game: In Tennessee Saturday
Followed by the Bulldogs at the break, Crimson Tide opened a can of knockouts in the third and fourth quarters. Huge play by their incomparably wide receivers on some lovely deep balls from Mac Jones; the usual all-around efficiency from Najee Harris; and some great stops from a defense that had struck on the field and in the press. Maybe it would have been closer if Nick Saban had stayed home, but ‘Bama still looked like the better team when it tightened defensively and came after Stetson Bennett IV. A Joe Burrow supernova aside, the SEC continues to run through Tuscaloosa.
Last game: Lost to Alabama, 41-24
Next game: In Kentucky on October 31st
The Bulldogs’ outspoken defense was shredded by Alabama’s passing play, yielding 417 yards and four touchdowns through the air. These are the most passing yards Georgia has allowed since 2000, when Hal Mumme was the coach of Kentucky, and Jared Lorenzen threw it down. The second sharp question for Georgia: Stetson Bennett IV is not good enough to win a shootout. The previous walk-on has been a success story so far, but he was exposed by Alabama – he completed just 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. It may be time for Kirby Smart to contact UST transfer JT Daniels.
4. BYU (5–0)
Last game: Beat Houston Friday, 43-26
Next game: Texas State Saturday
BYU had it easy through the first four games, and then got the Houston Cougars to work for this one. After 26–14 late in the third quarter, BYU exploded for 29 unanswered points to win away. It was yet another showcase performance for quarterback Zach Wilson (25 for 35 for 400 yards and four touchdowns plus 40 yards rushing), and a defense that had trouble stopping Houston much of the night got up to make some great plays in the last quarter. The Cougars will be heavily favored in their next two games (Texas State and Western Kentucky) before meeting Boise State on November 6th. If the Cougars run the table, they will likely be the most argued team from a College Football Playoff perspective.
Notre Dame (4-0)
Last game: Beat Louisville, 12–7
Next game: At Pittsburgh on Saturday
The fighting Irish unexpectedly fought against 1-4 cardinals. Louisville came into the game surrendering 34.3 points per game, but did not give up a touchdown until late in the third quarter. Notre Dame failed to finish drive in the red zone and its passing play produced only 106 yards. There were zero games at 20 yards or longer through the air. This is the second straight game that the Irish have followed in the second half, albeit briefly. After four straight at home, it is now time for Notre Dame to go on the road.
6. Texas A&M (3–1)
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 28-14
Next game: Arkansas October 31st
The Aggies are still surpassed on the season thanks to a skewed loss to Alabama. But this was another equally impressive performance – offensively explosive against Florida last week and defensively tough against the Bulldogs this week. One week after losing receiver Caleb Chapman for the season, A&M showed some depth of playmaking at this position with a 51-yard touchdown reception by novice Chase Lane. But the offensive anchor continues to run back to Isaiah Player, who turned in his third 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Bulldogs.
Last game: Lost to Texas A&M on October 10th
Next game: Missouri October 31st
The only place the Gators did not suffer any embarrassment this week was on the field when their game was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. That followed coach Dan Mullen’s absurd stance that he would “Pack The Swamp” with 90,000 fans after the loss last Saturday against Texas A&M. The week ended with Mullen publicly acknowledging that he too has the virus. Florida is such a mess from a speaker standpoint that its scheduled game for next week has already been pushed back to Halloween.
Last game: Beat USC 28-7 on October 3rd
Next match: on SMU Saturday
The Bearcats’ own COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponement of their game against Tulsa, meaning they will be 21 days between games when they visit undefeated SMU on Saturday (provided the game remains on schedule). It’s a big one for the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati’s offense has been pedestrian so far this season, with quarterback Desmond Knight not as dynamic as he had been the previous two seasons. But Luke Fickell’s team remains the best defensive unit in the AAC, and that probably still makes them the team to beat in the league.
9. Oklahoma State (3-0)
Last match: Beat Kansas 47-7 on October 3
Next game: Iowa State Saturday
The Cowboys ‘game against Baylor was postponed by the Bears’ ongoing COVID-19 editions, so they are on the same schedule as Cincinnati – three weeks between games. The next one is one that will weigh heavily in the Big 12 race, where the cyclones are also undefeated in conference games. Oklahoma State’s defense leads the conference in the fewest allowed points per game. Games (9.0) and the fewest yards allowed per. Games (4.05).
10. Marshall (4-0)
Last game: Beat Louisiana Tech, 35-17
Next game: Florida Atlantic Saturday
Time to show love to Thundering Herd, who has yet to track down a game this season. Marshall has a top-10 defense nationally, and novice quarterback Ben Wells continues to impress – he was 19 of 24 in 227 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score Saturday against Tech. The Herd character is heavily favored in each of their remaining games of the regular season.