Posted on October 27, 2021
Here’s how I see the college football landscape after eight weeks.
No. 1 — Georgia (7-0)
Georgia had a bye, which means we all run the risk of forgetting how thoroughly dominant Georgia has been this year.
So let’s remember that in their last three games Georgia has beaten Arkansas, Auburn, and Kentucky by a combined score of 101-20.
Next up for the Georgia reckoning is a reeling Florida.
No. 2 — Cincinnati (7-0)
Cincinnati needed all of its resourcefulness to pull out a 27-20 win over Navy. Considering Navy is 1-6 on the year, one could use this result to poke all kinds of holes in Cincinnati’s resume.
This may not sound totally logical, but I don’t care what Navy’s record is. If your team is playing a service academy and it’s closer than it should be, you should just be happy to come out with a win.
Navy has already given scares to Houston (28-20) and SMU (31-24), so they did to Cincinnati what they’ve done to the other best teams in the AAC, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do something similar against Notre Dame in a couple weeks.
No. 3 — Michigan (7-0)
No. 4 — Michigan State (7-0)
While Michigan State had a bye, Michigan took care of business against Northwestern by winning 33-7. This means the two Michigan schools will both be undefeated when they meet next week to battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
The winner of that game will be the last undefeated team remaining in the Big Ten.
Is there anything in the world of sports that is better than a late-season rivalry matchup between two undefeated teams? I can’t think of one.
No. 5 — Oklahoma (8-0)
Oklahoma trailed Kansas 10-0 at halftime and the Sooners didn’t take the lead until the fourth quarter in a 35-23 win.
Scoring 35 in the second half was a nice response, but those first 30 minutes should serve as a reminder that there’s some underlying issues that weren’t totally solved by replacing Spencer Rattler at quarterback with Caleb Williams.
No. 6 — Alabama (7-1)
Alabama trailed Tennessee 14-7 after one quarter and then proceeded to outscore the Volunteers 45-10 over the rest of the game.
Bryce Young threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns. With 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions, Young seems to be emerging as a Heisman favorite, yet there is something utterly routine about his performances.
No. 7 — Ohio State (6-1)
Ohio State beat Indiana 54-7, but the final score really doesn’t do this game justice. The Buckeyes were up 44-7 at the half.
Ohio State has outscored their last three conference opponents 172-37, but those three opponents were Rutgers, Maryland, and Indiana.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten, but they won’t play Michigan State or Michigan until late November.
No. 8 — Oregon (6-1)
If you told me that Oregon would fall behind 14-0 to start the game and turn the ball over on three second half possessions, I would have guessed UCLA beat the Ducks by 21.
But that’s not what happened. Oregon pulled out a 34-31 thriller.
Anthony Brown threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter that made the game more interesting than it should have been.
Those two picks may be the only thing focused on by those who have been calling for Brown to be benched, but I would hope those critics could also begrudgingly give credit to Brown for playing his best game of the season prior to that.
AB threw for 296 yards, which included a streak of 10 straight completions to start the second half.
Just as important, in a game in which the UCLA defense had completely shut down the Oregon ground game, Brown broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
The Ducks continue to do just enough to stay in playoff contention.
No. 9 — Wake Forest (7-0)
Remember when I said that anytime your team survives a scare from a service academy, you should be grateful? I hope Wake Forest fans are feeling grateful this week.
The Demon Deacons had no answer for Army’s triple option, but still managed to pull out a 70-56 win.
How wild was this one?
There was about a five-minute sequence in the third quarter in which Wake took the lead with a 75-yard touchdown pass, which was followed by a Wake interception return 86 yards for a touchdown, which was followed by a 71-yard touchdown run by Army, which was followed by another 75-yard touchdown pass by Wake.
The end result is a Wake Forest team that is 7-0. I’m sliding them back into my top 10 because I keep changing my mind week to week about what to make of an undefeated Wake Forest.
No. 10 — Notre Dame (6-1)
USC is having a bit of a nightmare season, so you can’t draw too much out of a win over the Trojans, but there was something oddly reassuring about Notre Dame’s 31-16 win.
They grabbed the lead in the first quarter and they never trailed. They looked like the better team all game. No fourth quarter magic was needed. Just a solid workmanlike victory.
No. 11 – Iowa (6-1)
Iowa had a bye a week after getting dominated by Purdue. During their bye, Iowa presumably watched that same Purdue team get dominated by Wisconsin.
Now Iowa will have to play that same Wisconsin team that just dominated the Purdue team that just dominated them. Hopefully the Hawkeyes took advantage of that extra week of prep.
No. 12 — Ole Miss (6-1)
No. 13 — Kentucky (6-1)
No. 14 — Auburn (5-2)
No. 15 — Texas A&M (6-2)
Kentucky and Auburn both enjoyed byes while Ole Miss rolled to a 31-17 win over LSU and Texas A&M pounded South Carolina 44-14.
How does one make sense of these four teams? Ole Miss seems like the best of the bunch because they can outscore almost anyone.
Kentucky will probably finish with the best record because they’re the only one of the four who plays in the SEC East. Texas A&M has the best win (Alabama), but also the most puzzling loss (Mississippi State).
I guess the team in the most favorable position is Auburn as they’re the only one of the four that control their own destiny as far as the SEC Championship is concerned.
Controlling their own destiny requires beating Ole Miss this week.
No. 16 — Oklahoma State (6-1)
No. 17 — Baylor (6-1)
No. 18 — Iowa State (5-2)
Here’s where we stand in the Big 12 Round Robin.
On Saturday Iowa State gave Oklahoma State their first loss of the season. Oklahoma State previously gave Baylor their only loss of the season.
Baylor previously gave Iowa State their only conference loss of the season (the Cyclones already had a non-conference loss to Iowa).
None of these three teams have played conference leader Oklahoma yet, so they’re all very much in play for the Big 12 Championship.
No. 19 — Pitt (6-1)
We’ve known for some time that Clemson’s offense was a shell of its former self, but they were able to pull out close wins over Boston College and Syracuse in such a way that one could still imagine them running the table behind their dominant defense.
That illusion has now been completely dashed as Pitt’s Kenny Pickett (a legit Heisman contender) threw for over 300 yards while his counterpart D.J. Uiagalelei was benched in the second half.
Clemson is now a full two games behind undefeated Wake Forest in the ACC Atlantic while Pitt has a two-game lead over everyone in the ACC Coastal.
If not for Pitt’s puzzling early season loss to Western Michigan, this team would be a fringe playoff contender.
No. 20 — SMU (7-0)
Remember when Tulane took Oklahoma down to the wire in Week 1 and some people (by some people I mean myself) speculated that maybe Tulane was due for a breakout season?
Well, SMU just beat Tulane 55-26 and Tulane is now 1-6 on the year.
No. 21 — San Diego State (7-0)
If we’re giving Cincinnati a pass for surviving a scare from Navy, and we’re giving Wake Forest credit for putting away Army, then a lot of credit has to go to San Diego State for their 20-14 win over Air Force.
Air Force appears to be the best of the service academies this year (we won’t know for sure until they play Army in a couple weeks) and this looked like a tough road game for the Aztecs after surviving an overtime battle at San Jose State the previous week.
It doesn’t get any easier for San Diego State as they host Fresno State this Saturday.
No. 22 — UTSA (8-0)
With Coastal Carolina’s loss at Appalachian State, UTSA takes their place as the lovable upstart in the midst of a dream season. The Roadrunners improved to 8-0 with a 45-16 win over Louisiana Tech.
How good is UTSA? Let’s dig into this win to try to find some answers.
Louisiana Tech is just 2-5 on the year, so at first glance, this is a fairly routine win. But keep in that LaTech lost to Mississippi State by a single point after a fourth quarter collapse, lost to SMU on a Hail Mary, and lost to NC State by a touchdown.
Louisiana Tech is a team that has been competitive in every game they’ve played and UTSA utterly dominated them.
No. 23 — BYU (6-2)
BYU snapped a two-game losing streak by snapping Washington State’s three game winning streak.
Going into this game, much of the talk surrounding this game was centered on the firing of Wazzu coach Nick Rolovich for his refusal to get a vaccine.
Coming out of this game, the focus should be on BYU’s 4-0 mark vs the Pac-12. Do you know how many Pac-12 teams have four wins in Pac-12 play? That would be zero.
No. 24 — Oregon State (5-2)
Oregon State is one of those aforementioned Pac-12 teams and they posted their most impressive win of the year as they overcame an early 14-0 deficit to beat Utah 42-31.
The Beavs are in a tie with their rivals from Eugene for the lead in the Pac-12 North, and there’s a lot to like about their chances.
They have the leading rusher in the conference in B.J. Baylor (19 carries, 152 yards, 1 TD vs Utah) and the most efficient quarterback in the conference in Chance Nolan (14-for-19 for 208 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT).
No. 25 — Penn State (5-2)
Penn State should probably be higher than this. They have nice wins over Auburn and Wisconsin and they lost a close one to Iowa. That’s a pretty strong resume. But on Saturday they lost 20-18 in Illinois in a nine-overtime “thriller”.
I use the term “thriller” loosely. I guess there is something thrilling about teams needing nine overtimes to decide anything. It’s just that these overtimes were brutal to watch.
Penn State and Illinois ended regulation tied 10-10.
They trailed field goals in the first and second overtime to make it 16-16.
Then the two offenses combined to fail on 10 straight two-point conversion attempts which stretched from the 3rd overtime through the seventh overtime.
There were dropped passes, dropped interceptions, failed trick plays. Illinois’ starting quarterback broke his arm. It was a freak show as far as offensive football is concerned.
I’m leaving Penn State in the rankings for now, but I have a feeling it won’t be long. They play Ohio State this week and something tells me the Buckeyes will be a more formidable opponent than the Illini.
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