A month into the college football season, one thing appears certain: the teams many of us thought might be back are very much not back.
We’re looking at you Texas and Miami. Texas Tech beat the Longhorns in overtime, and Middle Tennessee walloped Miami in maybe the most shocking result of the day (on coach Mario Cristobal’s birthday, no less). On Saturday, it was good to be a Raider, both Red and Blue.
It was good to be Orange, too. Just ask Tennessee, which rolled Florida, and Clemson, which survived a scare at Wake Forest. And there’s Auburn, too, which didn’t exactly win as much as Missouri lost in an epically ugly overtime game on the Plains. Coach Bryan Harsin survives for at least another week.
In another SEC battle, Arkansas blew a 14-0 lead in a 23-21 loss to Texas A&M that included one of the most bizarre missed field goals you’ll ever see. Cam Little’s go-ahead attempt in the final two minutes doinked off of the top of the right upright and fell into the end zone! Gone from the Top 10 are the Hogs as well as the Sooners. The Adrian Martinez-led Kansas State Wildcats, a week after losing to Tulane at home, went on the road to stun Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, Kansas remained undefeated with a win over Duke, and Sonny Dykes’ TCU team took it to SMU in his return to Dallas. The skillet heads back to Fort Worth. Michigan finally played a Power 5 team, Maryland, and passed the test, while Minnesota traveled to Michigan State and bludgeoned Sparty.
Out in Colorado, things have gone from bad to worse. The Buffaloes and the Rams are a combined 0-8, losing on Saturday by a cumulative score of 86-27 to UCLA and Sacramento State, respectively (yes, Sacramento State). At Georgia Tech, things aren’t much better. Geoff Collins’ hot seat is scorching after the Yellow Jackets dropped to 1-3 with a 17-point loss at UCF.
But let’s go back to discussing those who are very much not back. The Longhorns are now 2-2 to start Year 2 under coach Steve Sarkisian after losing for the first time to Tech since 2017. At Miami, Year 1 of the Cristobal Era is off to an awful start. The Hurricanes scored nine points in a loss at A&M last week, and their defense allowed chunks of yards to Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders had scores of 69, 71 and 98 yards, and their quarterback, Chase Cunningham, threw for 401 yards on just 16 completions (that seems almost impossible).
Needless to say, the Longhorns and the Hurricanes are not in our Top 10. Before we get to the rankings, keep in mind that we put particular importance on who teams played (ahem, Michigan fans).
To the rankings!
1. Georgia (4-0)
Last game: Beat Kent State 39-22
Next game: at Missouri (Saturday)
First of all, give it up for Kent State, which played at Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia this year as a sacrificial lamb for the payday. The Flashes picked up $5.2 million worth of game guarantees. And they seemed to have Georgia on the ropes midway through the third quarter. The Bulldogs led 12-10 before pulling away, mostly on the heels and hands of versatile tight end Brock Bowers, who had two rushes for 77 yards (both touchdowns) and five catches for 60 more.
2. Ohio State (4-0)
Last game: Beat Wisconsin 52-21
Next game: Rutgers (Saturday)
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the first quarter even ended. For the most part, Ohio State did what he wanted against the Badgers, which is somewhat unusual. In fact, the 52 points are Wisconsin’s most given up in a non-overtime game in at least six years.
3. USC (4-0)
Last game: Beat Oregon State 17-14
Next game: Arizona State (Saturday)
Oregon State gave USC all it could handle for three-plus quarters in Corvallis on Saturday night. But the Trojans’ defense and special teams kept Lincoln Riley’s team in it to set the table for QB Caleb Williams, whose 11-play drive late in the fourth quarter gave USC the lead for good. Jordan Addison, who had been relatively quiet most of the night, caught the winning 21-yard pass to seal the drive.
4. Penn State (4-0)
Last game: Beat Central Michigan 33-14
Next game: Northwestern (Saturday)
The Nittany Lions continue to churn out running back talent. Last week, it was Nick Singleton running all over Auburn. This year, it was freshman Kaytron Allen helping PSU put away a feisty Central Michigan team coached by one Jim McElwain. Allen had 111 yards on the ground and James Franklin’s team turned a one-score game at halftime into a rout in the second half.
5. Alabama (4-0)
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt 55-3
Next game: Arkansas (Saturday)
Bryce Young plods along in his attempt to become just the second repeat Heisman winner, padding the old stat book against the Commodores with 385 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Saban’s crew didn’t only keep Vandy out of the end zone but the ‘Dores took a total of 11 snaps on Bama’s side of the field (seven of those on the field goal drive).
6. Tennessee (4-0)
Last game: Beat Florida 38-33
Next game: LSU (Oct. 8)
The Vols and second-year coach Josh Heupel have exploded out of the gates in 2022, scoring in bunches. They’re averaging more than 500 yards of offense, and they piled up 576 against the Gators. Don’t sleep on the Vols. They get a bye week before traveling to play LSU and then hosting Alabama in what could be the first relevant UT-Bama game in a very long time.
7. Clemson (4-0)
Last game: Beat Wake Forest 51-45 in OT
Next game: NC State (Saturday)
The Tigers, for a second straight season, aren’t their dominant selves, but they found a way to win on the road in overtime and with their quarterback finally having a breakout game. DJ Uiagalelei passed for 371 yards and five touchdowns to help lead Clemson to the comeback victory. Wake had four second-half leads (one in overtime) that it blew. Dave Clawson is now 0-9 against Dabo Swinney, who claimed during a post-game interview that the game aged him 10 years.
8. Florida State (4-0)
Last game: Beat Boston College 44-14
Next game: Wake Forest (Saturday)
The Noles are welcomed into our Top Ten at 4-0 for the first time since 2015. It comes a year after they started 0-4. QB Jordan Travis continues to make plays (321 yards passing) and Mike Norvell’s defense suffocated against the Eagles in what was 60 minutes of dominance from FSU. BC had two drives that went more than 25 yards.
9. Kansas (4-0)
Last game: Beat Duke 35-27
Next game: at Iowa State (Saturday)
A month into the season, Kansas still hasn’t lost. Who’d a thunk that before the year kicked off?! The Jayhawks smothered the Blue Devils in the meeting of surprisingly undefeated basketball powers. KU QB Jalon Daniels delivered a gem. He completed 82% of his passes for 324 yards, four TDs and ran for 83 more.
10. Michigan (4-0)
Last game: Beat Maryland 34-27
Next game: vs. Iowa
Wolverines, welcome to the Top Ten! An uninspired early season schedule – Colorado State, Hawaii, UConn – kept us from putting Michigan into our Top Ten. But the win over the Terps was enough for them to enter the rankings. It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but RB Blake Corum rolled up 243 yards and two scores to squelch a gutsy outing from Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa.
10. NC State (4-0)
Last game: Beat UConn 41-10
Next game: at No. 5 Clemson
The quality of NC State’s wins aren’t great, we know. But we’ll find out if the Wolfpack is real next week in a game at Clemson. After the scare at East Carolina to open the season (NC State won 21-20), Dave Doeren’s squad beat Charleston Southern, UConn and Texas Tech. That Tech win looks awfully good after the Red Raiders knocked off Texas.
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