No matchups in the top 25? No problem!
Despite a boring schedule of games this Saturday, college football brought the drama.
Missouri upset Kansas State with a last-second 61-yard field goal, Ohio, not Ohio State! – stunned the state of Iowa and southern Alabama – not Alabama! – won at Oklahoma State. Duke, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Washington State, Oregon State and Kansas are all 3-0 (who knew?).
Georgia (South Carolina), Texas (Wyoming) and Colorado (CSU) needed second-half rallies to win, and in Brian Ferentz Watch, Iowa surpassed the 25-point threshold for the first time this season season (his contract requires the Hawkeyes to average at least 25 points this season in order to keep him).
BYU won at Arkansas (with this absurd touchdown) to continue the dismal SEC non-conference performance. This year the league drops to 5-7 in Power Five non-conference games. Stanford coach Troy Taylor lost to his old team, Sacramento State (the first FCS-over-Power Five result of the season), and Michigan completed the first three games without Jim Harbaugh undefeated.
But perhaps the biggest eye-opener for the second straight Saturday was Alabama. South Florida further highlighted other tidal problems. Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees have a lot to clean up before Ole Miss visits Tuscaloosa next week. The Tide have problems in two of the most important parts of a football team: quarterback and offensive line.
Bama played two more quarterbacks Saturday in the 17-3 win, Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner and redshirt freshman Ty Simpson, after benching last week’s starter, Jalen Milroe. In an indictment of the Tide’s O-line, USF finished with its most sacks in a game (five) since playing UConn in 2019.
Enough with the tide problems. Let’s get to our new Top 10.
Please note that we rank teams differently than most. We do not consider any pre-season polls or past season results. What happened in the past is in the past. For example, the Georgia and USC of the world, despite being in most of the top five, fail to make the cut due to their paltry early season schedules.
This system normally rewards teams with tougher opponents early in the season and places a premium on good wins, but it also creates an unusual group of teams in the first two weeks. By midseason, our Top 10 won’t be much different from many others. But for now…
This week: Won 41-7 at Michigan State
Next week: vs. Cal
Best win: At Michigan State
Surprised? Don’t be. The Huskies earned impressive wins over a solid Group of Five (Boise), Tulsa (meh), and a trip to a Power Five (Michigan State). It’s not the hardest list, but it’s far from the easiest, and they looked spectacular, led by Heisman hopeful Michael Penix. He added another 473 yards and four scores to a season total that now stands at 1,332 yards, 12 touchdowns, one pick and a completion percentage of about 75. On Saturday, the Huskies amassed the most yards any team from the State of Michigan has ever allowed: 713.
2. State of Florida
This week: Won 31-29 at Boston College
Next week: at Clemson
Best win: vs. LSU
Were the Noles looking past the Eagles to the Tigers? Perhaps. But Mike Norvell’s team is good enough in Year 4 to overcome a sleepy performance. FSU fed 6-foot-7 receiver Johnny Wilson (four receptions for 105 yards) and scored 21 unanswered to take a big lead before nearly blowing it. BC scored three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes. This is concerning as FSU heads to see his good friend Dabo Swinney next weekend.
This week: 31-10 win over Wyoming
Next week: at Baylor
Best win: at Alabama
The Longhorns laid the egg of the post-Alabama victory. They entered the fourth quarter tied at 10 with the Cowboys before a 44-yard Quinn Ewers-to-Xavier Worthy TD pass sparked a 21-point fourth quarter. Given this result and Alabama’s participation in USF, we should be concerned that the Horns actually aren’t Backwards? Yes We should.
4. Notre Dame
This week: Won 41-17 against Central Michigan
Next week: vs. Ohio State
Best win: At NC State
Other standout stats from transfer QB Sam Hartman: 330 yards passing on 16 completions and three touchdowns. The Irish and their new QB will face their toughest test in a premier matchup next weekend against Ohio State in South Bend. Sure, none of ND’s first four opponents are top-25 teams — Navy, Tennessee State, NC State and CMU — but none of the games have been particularly close. Let’s see what happens against the Buckeyes.
This week: 31-13 win over Minnesota
Next week: at Pitt
Best win: Against South Carolina
What do we have here…another good defensive performance by the Tar Heels? Well, I will be! UNC QB Drake Maye had the same number of incompletions as Minnesota QB Athan Kaliakmanis had completions (11). That’s the kind of day it was for the Gophers against Gene Chizik’s five D. Minnesota possessions in the second half that ended with three punts, an interception and a field goal.
6. Penn State
This week: 30-13 win over Illinois
Next week: vs. Iowa
Best win: at Illinois
The Nittany Lions picked off quarterback Luke Altmyer four times, forcing six punts and four 3-pointers. A great day for coordinator Manny Diaz’s unit. In fact, PSU’s defense has allowed 35 points in three games. He looks for that strong defensive performance to continue next week. PSU hosts one of the most inept offenses in the country (Iowa) before heading to Northwestern and hosting UMass. They should be 6-0 entering the Ohio State game.
This week: Won 43-35 in double overtime against Colorado State
Next week: at Oregon
Best win: at TCU
The Buffaloes tested their coach’s patience in an ugly affair in Boulder that ended at 2:25 a.m. ET on Sunday. They needed a 98-yard touchdown march in the final two minutes and a game-clinching two-point conversion to get it done and send it to OT. Despite the win, coach Deion Sanders and his crew lost two-way star Travis Hunter, whose prognosis is uncertain. According to ESPN, he missed the second half after suffering a hard hit in the second quarter and was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.
This week: Won 31-7 against Weber State
Next week: vs. UCLA
Best win: against Florida
The Utes may not win impressively — they barely outlasted Baylor last week — but they’re winning and that’s all that matters, especially without starting QB Cam Rising. Backup Nate Johnson, a redshirt freshman, ran for 71, threw for 193 yards and scored three touchdowns. Kyle Whittingham’s defense held Weber to 127 total yards.
This week: Won 30-14 against Northwestern
Next week: At UConn
Best win: vs. Clemson
Duke’s three opponents this season — Clemson, Lafayette and Northwestern — have started 30 drives. Only six of those resulted in points, 12 were punts and nine were turnovers. How about Mike Elko’s defense? QB Riley Leonard ran for 97 and threw for 219 against the beleaguered Wildcats. Are the Blue Devils real? Of course, it seems so.
10. Ohio State
This week: Won 63-10 against Western Kentucky
Next week: At Notre Dame
Best win: at Indiana
Receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown catch to go along with four other catches, and QB Kyle McCord was spectacular, misfiring on just four passes and hauling in three TDs for 318 passing yards. We still don’t know how good the Buckeyes are, but we’ll learn a lot in South Bend on Saturday.