The action continues to get better and better in the world of college football. Last week brought with it about a dozen close calls for some of the best teams in the nation and this week could prove to be more of the same with key divisional battles go down as well as some interesting out of conference games. Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings to see where everyone landed.
The Crimson Tide did what everyone expected them to do last weekend, ran over Georgia State 45-3. Alabama, who is 13-1 all-time against members of the Sun Belt Conference, didn’t really have to worry about this one being close. QB AJ McCarron was 15 of 16 passing for 166 yards and four touchdowns, serviceable and enough to get the job done. The Tide will hit the road this week to take on the Wildcats of Kentucky in a match-up pitting two programs at the opposite ends of the spectrum against each other. Alabama has won 35 of 38 games against Kentucky and hasn’t lost to them since 1997.
What was the most surprising part of Oregon’s 57-16 win over Colorado? How about the fact that the Buffalos actually were leading at one point? Does that blow your mind? Cause it really should. Colorado hasn’t had a winning season since 2005 and yet they were leading one of the best teams in the nation. It’s not like it mattered though. QB Marcus Mariota shredded Colorado for 355 yards and five touchdowns in this blow-out. The Ducks take on Washington this week on the road in what should be a very competitive. The Huskies took Stanford to the brink and an upset here is a possibility.
#3: Ohio State
Two big games down, one left to go as Ohio State escaped a very good Northwestern 40-30. At the beginning of the season, a lot of people (including myself) were pointing to this game as what could break the Buckeyes and it was fairly close to happening. Big defensive play towards the end of the game including the fumble recovery in the end-zone show off a lot as far as how good this team is. With no major opponent till Michigan at the end of the year, OSU has a good opportunity to go undefeated for the time being. Downside is that there is a chance they might get jumped in the polls. OSU has this week off before returning next week to take on Iowa.
QB Tajh Boyd just does whatever he wants apparently. His 455 yards and five touchdowns in Clemson’s 49-14 win over Syracuse was his highest offensive out-put of the season and his best game dating back to nearly identical game against North Carolina State last season. Boyd was hitting all field lengths, including a big 91-yard touchdown to Sammy Watkins. Clemson is firing on all-cylinders right now and Boyd’s play might be the one thing keeping them ranked so high. This week, the Tigers will play a very feisty Boston College in Death Valley. Clemson has won the last two matchups fairly easily.
Talk about surviving a scare. QB Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs were a fumble away from potentially losing to Tennessee this past weekend, escaping 34-31 in OT. The Georgia defense started to fracture pretty badly in the second half of that game, allowing Tennessee to not only catch up, but take the lead. Murray’s late game heroics are the saving grace here for the Bulldogs and keep them in the hunt for a potential BCS birth. This week brings with it a surprisingly good Missouri team that could also test Georgia in big ways. With how shaky the Bulldogs were last week, put this game on your upset watch list.
Another team that had a big scare, Stanford narrowly escaped Washington this past weekend, winning 31-28 at home and preserving their undefeated record. The Cardinal struggled to fully pull away from the Huskies as held a 10 point lead going into the final quarter. After holding Washington off for most of the quarter, the Huskies were able to get a late score and at least making it competitive. If this game is going to be a meter for what is set to come for Stanford, things might be a bit questionable. We will keep our eyes on this weekend’s match-up against Utah and yes, go ahead and include this game as a potential upset.
Facing a winless Temple, there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on Louisville to outright dominate and that is really what we saw in the Cardinals 30-7 win over the Owls. QB Teddy Bridgewater paced himself really well, completing 25 of 35 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns. In a game that was won before the first kick-off, Louisville’s focus was probably more on this week’s game against 4-1 Rutgers. These two teams are battling for the AAC crown and this is the toughest match-up that Louisville might play till the post-season. The Cardinals have won three straight games against the Scarlet Knights with their last lost going back to 2009.
#8: Florida State
Florida State is good, but I’m not sure that anyone thought they were going to beat an undefeated Maryland 63-0 this past week. Granted, it was a questionable undefeated record for the Terrapins, but it seemed like they would at least get on the board once. Credit goes to QB Jameis Winston whose 393 yards and five touchdowns sparked the offense. Winston continues to dazzle and make this Seminole team a serious threat in the ACC. Florida State will have this week off as they prepare for a battle of undefeated nationally ranked teams when they head to Death Valley to take on Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers.
#9: South Carolina
What is going on in South Carolina right now? Their 35-28 win over Kentucky marks the second straight game where they almost and now they have to deal with Jadeveon Clowney being injured (or not). Clowney, more or less, has been a massive disappointment this season, injury or not. Coach Steve Spurrier may be slowly losing his grip on what is going on in that locker room. Pro teams have to be weary at this point about Clowney, especially with his willingness to commit and show leadership being questioned. Clowney is a question mark for this weekend’s game against Arkansas.
Keeping it close for the first three quarters of play, LSU opened up a can and unleashed a powerful offensive push to beat Mississippi State 59-26 on the road. The Tigers benefited highly from an incredible game by RB Jeremy Hill, who rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. QB Zach Mettenberger and WR Odell Beckham had themselves a passing party, connecting on nine passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. This week we get a chance to see LSU face their first true defensive test with a visit from Florida. The Tigers have only won two of their last five games against the Gators.
#11: Texas A&M
Evil Tim Tebow and the Aggies return from a Manziel-free week of college football this weekend and everyone should be excited to see how much effort he will put in to making even the smallest of gains. The only scrambling Ol “Johnny Football” has probably done in the last seven days involves eggs. If someone was to map out the massive amounts of running around Manziel does just to pick up five yards, it would look like someone trying to do a connect-the-dots puzzle during a hurricane. Taking on Ole Miss, this game could be competitive, depending on which version of the Rebels decides to show up.
The good times continue to roll in Norman this week as the Sooners nabbed their fifth win of the season over TCU 20-17 at home. The Horned Frogs threated late in the game, scoring a touchdown in the last three minutes of the game. Luckily, Oklahoma was able to hold on and get their third straight win over TCU. It’s tough to say how quality of a win this is for Bob Stoops and his crew. TCU is a shell of its former self this season and have lost to every big opponent they have faced. This week, Oklahoma has a chance to pick up another question win over rival Texas. The Sooners haven’t lost to the Longhorns since 2009 and the last time this game was even competitive was 2010.
It appears that the Wolverines have officially remembered that they are a nationally ranked team with their 42-13 win over Minnesota. After weeks of struggling against sub-par opponents, Michigan was able to post their first 40+ point game since beating Notre Dame. Let’s not get anything confused though, this team is still super sketch. QB Devin Gardner and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint had good games, but nothing to write an article about. The Wolverines have a very winnable game this week against Penn State, who is coming off an absolutely beaten by Indiana. Michigan hasn’t beaten the Nittany Lions since 2007, but with all three of the previous games being vacated, the Wolverines have won nine straight match-ups.
Alright Baylor, this is getting stupid. No team alive, not even Oregon, should be able to do what you are doing to teams right now. Blowing out West Virginia 73-42 might have been the crown jewel to Baylor’s first four games. Destroying a team hot off a victory over a ranked opponent has to feel good. Baylor recorded a school and Big 12 record 864 yards of offense. The Bears currently only trail the Ducks by 26 yards of total offense for the top spot in the nation, which is impressive since Oregon has played one more game than Baylor. The Bears will look to make it five straight games with 69+ points this weekend against a struggling Kansas State.
The Bruins didn’t look much like the offensive juggernaut that they had been playing like in their 34-27 win over Utah in Salt Lake. If it wasn’t for the Utes being incredibly turnover happy, there is a good chance that UCLA wouldn’t have come out of this one alive. QB Brett Hundley was able to muster up 296 yards and two touchdowns, but seemed to be missing completely from this game. UCLA will need to get their heads on straight for a key game against Cal this week. The Bruins have Stanford coming up next week and for them to even think of upsetting the Cardinal, they need to make sure that their game is sound.
#16: Miami (FL)
Since defeating Florida in the second week of the season, Miami’s talent has been questionable and the pool of opponents they have faced has been shallow. Last weekend’s 45-30 win over Georgia Tech was probably the toughest game they have had since facing the Gators. Staying fairly close for a majority of the game, it wasn’t until RB Dallas Crawford found the end-zone twice in the fourth quarter that the Hurricanes were able to give themselves some breathing room. Having the weekend off, the Hurricanes will return on October 17th to take on North Carolina on the road.
The Huskers got a big win this past week on the back of RB Ameer Abdullah as Nebraska defeated Illinois 39-19 to move to 4-1 on the season. Abdullah was on fire, rushing for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, which was a career high and marks the fourth time this season he has rushed for at least 100 yards. With QB Taylor Martinez out, Abdullah has stepped up big to give the Huskers the offensive push they need. Nebraska will travel to take on Purdue this week, which should mean that the Huskers will be 5-1 after this week, cause you know, Purdue is awful.
Look who has a reasonable passing attack now! The Gators offensively looked better than they have recently in their 30-10 win over Arkansas this past weekend. QB Tyler Murphy looked good in just his second game starting following the injury to Jeff Driskel, throwing for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 16 of 22 passing. Again for the Gators though, it was the defense that helped out the most, especially Loucheiz Purifoy’s 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. This week, the Gators will take on their biggest offensive threat to date with a trip to the Southern Death Valley to take on LSU.
#19: Fresno State
QB Derek Carr is really good and my poor Vandals had to learn that first hand as Fresno State ran away from Idaho early, winning 61-14. Carr had five touchdowns in the first half alone. While blowouts of this nature will help pad Carr’s Heisman resume, it does very little to help them in the race for the BCS. A win over a school whose only win comes from beating a team that is worse than them isn’t the stuff of dreams and doesn’t help show a strong schedule. The way to the BCS will more than likely take Fresno State through their conference title. The Bulldogs have the week off before returning home to take on UNLV.
Give it up for the Wildcats! Northwestern’s tough 40-30 loss to Ohio State showed the nation that this team is looking to be a contender for a long time. That’s pretty weird to say since Northwestern hasn’t been an interesting program since last season and before that the late 90s. The Wildcats could end up seeing the Buckeyes again in the Big Ten championship game, but to do that, they have to put in some work. This week they will face-off against a very beatable Wisconsin team. A win over the Badgers could give them the momentum they need for their future games against their division rivals.
A hard fought loss is nothing to be ashamed of. That is what Washington is dealing with this week after coming up short against Stanford 31-28 on the road. QB Keith Price’s stock has to be rising with how well he is playing right now. Through four games, Price has already amassed 51% of his yards from last season and 46% of his yards from 2011. QBs like Price are powering their teams to greatness this season more than ever. The tough times for the Huskies don’t just stop with Stanford. They will play host Oregon this weekend looking for their first win against the Ducks since 2003.
#22: Oklahoma State
It was a close call down in Stillwater, but the Cowboys survived on some late-game heroics, defeating Kansas State 33-29 to move on to 4-1. QB J.W. Walsh saved the day for OKST with a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to take the lead. A follow-up field goal with 2:24 left helped provided the final score in what should have been a second straight upset. The Cowboys aren’t playing their best football right now and it could hurt them down the road. Oklahoma State will take this week to think through some things as they prepare to take on a disheveled TCU on the 19th.
#23: Northern Illinois
If NIU’s 38-24 win over Kent State is any indication of how conference play is going to go for the Huskies, it’s going to be smooth sailing from here on out. RB Cameron Stingily had a monster game this week, rushing for 266 yards and two touchdowns on a jaw-dropping 37 carries. QB Jordan Lynch has been surprisingly quiet so far this season, having just now reached the 1,000+ yard mark while at the same time nearly matching last season’s interceptions total. Then again, wins are wins. NIU will look to get their sixth win of the season this week against 1-5 Akron.
#24: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders kept their undefeated season and title hopes alive this past weekend with a 56-14 win over Kansas. The 5-0 start for Texas Tech is the best they have seen since they went 11-2 in 2008 and were the South Division Co-Champions in the Big 12. TTU at this rate may contend with Baylor and Oklahoma for the Big 12 title, although it has yet to be seen how they will stack up against either of those teams. The Red Raiders will take on Iowa State this weekend looking to go 6-0 for the first time since that championship season.
After a long hiatus, Missouri returns to the halls of the nationally ranked for the first time since September of 2011. Yes, it has been two years since the Tigers have been ranked. Much like Maryland and Michigan State, there is a massive likelihood that this will be short-lived. Undefeated, Missouri gets to take on Georgia this week in what should be a fairly competitive game. The toughest competition that the Tigers have faced this season may have been Indiana, but even calling that tough may be a stretch. Historically, Missouri has a habit of starting off hot and then plummeting sporadically. Watch for this one to be a close game and possible upset.
ON WATCH: Virginia Tech, Arizona State & Auburn