Clemson North Carolina Football

Dabo Swinney and Clemson narrowly escaped a shocking loss against North Carolina. 

Whoops.

“Not sure any of the three teams that plays next week will even receive a test.”

That’s what I wrote last week about Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. Two-for-three ain’t exactly a good, considering Clemson was a two-point conversion away from falling in Chapel Hill. To the credit of Alabama and Ohio State, neither of them faced any kind of challenge.

The Tigers aren’t as invincible as I thought.

But they did win a road game within the conference against what I think is a halfway-decent team, one that’ll wind up in a bowl game this year. So, they cling to that No. 1 spot for me.

Barely.

Here’s the ballot I filed this week:

1. Clemson (5-0)

Last week: won at North Carolina 21-20

Next: off (vs. Florida State on Oct. 12)

2. Alabama (5-0)

Last week: beat Mississippi 59-31

Next: off (at Texas A&M on Oct. 12)

3. Georgia (4-0)

Last week: off

Next: at Tennessee

4. Ohio State (5-0)

Last week: won at Nebraska 48-7

Next: vs. Michigan State

5. LSU (4-0)

Last week: off

Next: vs. Utah State

My take: I really did come here thinking I was going to move Clemson off of the No. 1 spot, but they stay there for reasons explained above.

Is Tua Tagovailoa on the redemption tour, or is Alabama? There’s an incredible Heisman race taking form, involving Alabama’s current QB and past QB, and Justin Fields and Joe Burrow aren’t going to soon be forgotten. The next month, from an observational standpoint as a Heisman voter, are going to be quite entertaining.

LSU probably won’t have too much of a problem with Utah State, but it’ll be fun to see Jordan Love face a top-5 team.

6. Oklahoma (4-0)

Last week: beat Texas Tech 55-16

Next: at Kansas

7. Auburn (5-0)

Last week: beat Mississippi State 56-23

Next: at Florida

8. Wisconsin (4-0)

Last week: beat Northwestern 24-15

Next: vs. Kent State

9. Penn State (4-0)

Last week: won at Maryland 59-0 (Sept. 27)

Next: vs. Purdue

10. Notre Dame (3-1)

Last week: beat Virginia 35-20

Next: vs. Bowling Green

My take: Ah yes, that Alabama QB of the past.

Jalen Hurts is putting up silly numbers and before we heap all the credit on the best offensive mind in college football (Lincoln Riley), give Hurts his due — he finishes Sept. having completed 66 of 85 passes for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns, with one interception, in four games. Factor in 443 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 47 carries — that’s your first-month Heisman leader.

Auburn at Florida, I’m assuming that’s where Gameday is headed next week? I realize that’s a huge deal between unbeaten teams, but it’s hard to see Auburn losing to a team that’s been as underwhelming as Florida.

Wisconsin and Penn State took care of business in different but effective ways. Assuming Penn State has figured out things offensively — certainly seems like it — the Nittany Lions will be what the preseason hype surrounding Michigan wanted it to be.

Notre Dame gets bumped up a spot because it bounced back by beating a really good Virginia team — which, to its credit, certainly didn’t come out sleep-walking in this one. We might wind up thinking Notre Dame is a top-4 team by the end of the year, but its remaining schedule isn’t going to put it above other possible one-loss teams.

11. Florida (5-0)

Last week: beat Towson 38-0

Next: vs. Auburn

12. Texas (3-1)

Last week: off

Next: at West Virginia

13. Oregon (3-1)

Last week: off

Next: vs. California

14. Iowa (4-0)

Last week: beat Middle Tennessee 48-3

Next: at Michigan

15. Utah (4-1)

Last week: beat Washington State 38-13

Next: off (at Oregon State on Oct. 12)

My take: Florida eased past the hometown team, but worry not, the Tigers are a big-time contender in the CAA.

Iowa made quick work of a lowly Middle Tennessee team, while Utah had the impressive late-night performance out west.

You wouldn’t link Utah and Notre Dame naturally, but they might be in the same boat in terms of being able to run the table from here as one-loss teams, but as ones that’ll get little-to-no consideration as a playoff teams unless there’s some serious carnage in front of them.

16. Boise State (4-0)

Last week: off

Next: at UNLV

17. Washington (4-1)

Last week: beat USC 28-14

Next: at Stanford

18. Michigan (3-1)

Last week: beat Rutgers 52-0

Next: vs. Iowa

19. Memphis (4-0)

Last week: beat Navy 35-23 (Sept. 26)

Next: at UL Monroe

20. Wake Forest (5-0)

Last week: won at Boston College 27-24

Next: off (vs. Louisville on Oct. 12)

My take: You just knew Washington was going to beat USC, and here we are, the Trojans tumbling off the ballot again and the Huskies moving up.

The Iowa-Michigan game is going to tell us a lot about both teams: Whether Iowa can be a contender with Wisconsin as the top team in the Big Ten West, and whether Michigan has any shot of turning things around under Jim Harbaugh.

Memphis gets a nice boost for dominating the second half against Navy. I didn’t set out trying to link the Birmingham Bowl foes, but it’s working out that way.

Wake Forest wins close games under Dave Clawson — it’s part of the formula for the Deacons.

21. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Last week: beat Kansas State 26-13

Next: at Texas Tech

22. Arizona State (4-1)

Last week: won at California 24-17 (Sept. 27)

Next: off (vs. Washington State on Oct. 12)

23. SMU (5-0)

Last week: won at South Florida 48-21

Next: vs. Tulsa

24. Appalachian State (4-0)

Last week: beat Coastal Carolina 56-37

Next: off (at UL Lafayette on Oct. 9)

25. Virginia (4-1)

Last week: lost at Notre Dame 35-20

Next: off (at Miami on Oct. 11)

My take: Oklahoma State’s lone loss is a 36-30 defeat at Texas, so the Cowboys might honestly need to be higher. They’ve got two of the best skill players in the country with running back Chuba Hubbard (also, all-name team) and wide receiver Tylan Wallace.

I can’t believe I’m going to type this, but it’s 7:17 a.m. in Boston and about to ship out: Maybe Herm Edwards actually knows what he’s doing.

SMU and App State bump up one spot each.

I didn’t drop Virginia out. Maybe that’s because I’ve been higher on them than most all season, and maybe their sleepy performances against Florida State and Old Dominion should penalize them. But losing at Notre Dame isn’t going to make me drop them completely off the ballot.

On the cusp (in no particular order):

Minnesota (4-0)

Last week: won at Purdue 38-31

Next: vs. Illinois

Baylor (4-0)

Last week: beat Iowa State 23-21

Next: at Kansas State

Michigan State (4-1)

Last week: beat Indiana 40-31

Next: at Ohio State

TCU (3-1)

Last week: beat Kansas 51-14

Next: at Iowa State

UCF (4-1)

Last week: beat UConn 56-21

Next: at Cincinnati

Tulane (3-1)

Last week: off

Next: at Army

Colorado (3-1)

Last week: off

Next: vs. Arizona

Dropped out:

17. California (4-1)

Last week: lost to Arizona State 24-17

Next: at Oregon

18. USC (3-2)

Last week: lost at Washington 28-14

Next: off (at Notre Dame on Oct. 12)

Keep up with all the latest on Wake Forest athletics, from analysis to features and lots more Deacons news you won’t find anywhere else.

Recommended for you

Load comments