As much as I’d like to say I told you so about upsets, don’t think that would go over too well here.
While it might seem like the world is falling if you’re a Georgia or Wake Forest fan — really feel it for the few of you who are both — there’s still a path to seeing those teams accomplish a ton this season.
Georgia’s schedule, with remaining games against Florida, Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M and a possible SEC championship game, will have plenty of games left to get on a roll and force its way back into the CFP conversation — because history has shown we’re not going to go into the CFP with four undefeated juggernauts (as fun as that sounds).
And Wake Forest still has things laid out in front of it, too. The Deacons need to rebound for the first time this season — and that’s the last basketball term I’ll use here, I promise. A win next week against Florida State would still give the Deacons bowl eligibility in October for the fourth time in program history — and we won’t talk about what comes in the week after playing the Seminoles, at least not right now.
Here’s the ballot I filed this week:
1. Clemson (6-0)
Last week: beat Florida State 45-14
Next: at Louisville
2. Alabama (6-0)
Last week: won at Texas A&M 47-28
Next: vs. Tennessee
3. LSU (6-0)
Last week: beat Florida 42-28
Next: at Mississippi State
4. Ohio State (6-0)
Last week: off
Next: at Northwestern (Oct. 18)
5. Oklahoma (6-0)
Last week: beat Texas 34-27 (in Dallas)
Next: vs. West Virginia
My take: Maybe I’m stubborn, maybe I’m too beholden to preseason predictions and what happened 10 months ago, but I still think Clemson and Alabama are the best two teams in the country.
I don’t think Clemson will play another competitive game in the ACC — the Tigers already dominated four of their first five games, and now the ACC (plus South Carolina) has to deal with a pissed-off Clemson for the rest of the season. Good night and good luck.
All aboard the Joe Burrow train, he and Tua Tagovailoa are the mid-October frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy. Jalen Hurts is in there, too, but the red-zone turnovers were troubling in the Red River Shootout.
It’s incredible what LSU’s offense has become now that it’s emerged from the Stone Age — that’s what Burrow said the (correct) perception of it was before this season.
6. Wisconsin (6-0)
Last week: beat Michigan State 38-0
Next: at Illinois
7. Penn State (6-0)
Last week: won at Iowa 17-12
Next: vs. Michigan
8. Notre Dame (5-1)
Last week: beat USC 30-27
Next: off (at Michigan on Oct. 26)
9. Auburn (5-1)
Last week: off
Next: at Arkansas
10. Oregon (5-1)
Last week: beat Colorado 45-3 (Oct. 11)
Next: at Washington
My take: If I could split a vote, I’d put Auburn and Oregon in a tie.
I think Oregon is a better team than Auburn. But we know how the head-to-head matchup went. But that was the first game of the season. Oregon had a bunch of players missing. But the Ducks also have looked good against some bad teams — Auburn has beaten some better teams (Mississippi State and don’t sleep on Tulane).
So, I reverted back to the head-to-head matchup. It’d be swell if one of them would lose next week to help me escape this dilemma (I’m only kind of kidding).
Notre Dame is the best one-loss team in the country, that much I know. I’m still high on the Irish.
With Wisconsin and Penn State, I think one of them is capable of making the CFP. It’s Wisconsin. That defense is incredible. Not that shutting out Michigan State proves that, but rather the body of work as a whole. They’ve recorded four shutouts in six games. They’ve given up 29 points — this season. I watched Louisville give up 28 in a quarter, and Wake Forest give up 28 in a quarter plus 10 seconds, last night. And really, Michigan didn’t score its 14 against the Badgers until the game was decided.
Penn State, with a win against Michigan, might convince me it’s also fully capable of making the CFP.
11. Georgia (5-1)
Last week: lost to South Carolina 20-17, 2 OTs
Next: vs. Kentucky
12. Florida (6-1)
Last week: lost at LSU 42-28
Next: at South Carolina
13. Utah (5-1)
Last week: won at Oregon State 52-7
Next: vs. Arizona State
14. Boise State (6-0)
Last week: beat Hawaii 59-37
Next: at BYU
15. Michigan (5-1)
Last week: won at Illinois 42-25
Next: at Penn State
My take: I put a lot of thought into where to slot in the one-loss teams — could’ve probably spent the entire day wrestling with what means more between Georgia’s bad loss to South Carolina but win over Notre Dame, Florida’s loss at stellar LSU team but win over Auburn, which now climbs above it even though the Gators won that matchup last week, to where Utah and Michigan figure into all of this, and then you’ve got Boise State which got three touchdowns from its backup QB in a rout …
This is what I signed up for, so it’s fun, right?
But in all seriousness, the top seven teams are solidified, in my mind. And then just a giant drop-off. I’m not saying none of the top seven could lose — they obviously can.
So here we are, in the midst of the giant drop-off. Boise State is really good but the best team its beaten this year is … Florida State? Michigan can’t even take a 28-0 lead without tripping over itself. Utah eviscerated a team that really needs to be relegated to — *checks names of FCS conferences* — the Big Sky Conference.
16. Arizona State (5-1)
Last week: beat Washington State 38-34
Next: at Utah
17. Baylor (6-0)
Last week: beat Texas Tech 33-30, 2 OTs
Next: at Oklahoma State
18. Minnesota (6-0)
Last week: beat Nebraska 34-7
Next: at Rutgers
19. Cincinnati (5-1)
Last week: won at Houston 38-23
Next: vs. Tulsa
20. Appalachian State (5-0)
Last week: won at Louisiana 17-7 (Oct. 9)
Next: vs. UL Monroe
My take: I wanted to see App State play defense, because a team that plays a bunch of 45-38-type games is going to eventually get outpaced — so Wednesday night, as long as that seems now, was a resounding game, to me.
I’ll repeat: it’s time to consider Herm Edwards actually knows what he’s doing. Or that he at least knew enough to recruit Jayden Daniels, who’s one of the most-dynamic freshman QBs in the country and probably the one that you know the least about. So, here: He’s listed at 6-3, 175 and has thrown for 1,610 yards and eight touchdowns, against one interception; and has run for 198 yards and the game-winning touchdown against Washington State in the final minute this week.
I swear I didn’t intentionally group together the unbeaten Power 5s that we don’t know too much about, Baylor and Minnesota, behind the three Group of 5 teams chasing Boise State. But that’s how it worked out.
I will say: I’m impressed that Baylor and Minnesota were good against mostly unimpressive nonconference schedules, but have remained good once reaching conference play.
Row, row, row your boat, Minnesota.
(I hate myself for that)
21. SMU (6-0)
Last week: off
Next: vs. Temple
22. Texas (4-2)
Last week: lost to Oklahoma 34-27 (in Dallas)
Next: vs. Kansas
23. Washington (5-2)
Last week: won at Arizona 51-27
Next: vs. Oregon
24. Temple (5-1)
Last week: beat Memphis 30-28
Next: at SMU
25. Iowa (4-2)
Last week: lost to Penn State 17-12
Next: vs. Purdue
My take: The first three two-loss teams appear, and I’m comfortable with two of them. I searched long and hard for a team to put in over Iowa — candidates were Iowa State, Tulane, Missouri, others and yes, Wake Forest — but the Hawkeyes got the nod mostly because of the head-to-head win over Iowa State and their losses were one-possession scores against ranked teams.
Temple’s fans wanted props for beating Maryland — allow me to laugh at my home state’s team, here — but beating Memphis legitimizes the Owls, in my mind. I thought really highly (still do, just a bit less) of that Memphis team, and it’s not at full strength, so they could be back in here quickly.
The Washington-Oregon game next week should be "fun" — take the under.
On the cusp (in no particular order):
Last week: beat Mississippi 38-27
Next: at Vanderbilt
Last week: off
Next: at Syracuse (Oct. 18)
Iowa State (4-2)
Last week: won at West Virginia 38-14
Next: at Texas Tech
Last week: beat UConn 49-7
Next: at Memphis
Oklahoma State (4-2)
Last week: off
Next: vs. Baylor
17. Memphis (5-1)
Last week: lost at Temple 30-28
Next: vs. Tulane
18. Wake Forest (5-1)
Last week: lost to Louisville 62-59
Next: vs. Florida State
25. Virginia (4-2)
Last week: lost at Miami 17-9 (Oct. 11)
Next: vs. Duke