Well, if Missouri hadn’t already gotten the memo that in the SEC they don’t play “Old Man Football,” they play “Full Grown Man Football,” Alabama was able to drive home the point. Now comes the third Saturday in October, and in the SEC that means Alabama and Tennessee exchange greetings, this time in Knoxville.
2. Oregon Ducks 6-0 —
This past weekend, the Ducks relaxed, surveyed the landscape and, hopefully for their sake, prepared for a road game this week at Arizona State. It will be the first real test for Oregon and frosh QB Marcus Mariota. He’s looked like the real deal, but ASU DT Will Sutton will put him to the test Thursday night.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6-0 +3
Yes, I jumped the Irish into the No. 3 slot. They have beaten Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford — all ranked, all respected — and have yet to give up a rushing TD this season. These Domers are gritty.
4. Florida Gators 6-0 —
Raise your hand if you really believed that Florida would be undefeated at this stage of the season. Really? Really? All the credit to coach Will Muschamp and his players for finding ways to win, while steadily improving each week. But now comes a mammoth game this weekend with South Carolina visiting.
5. Kansas State Wildcats 6-0 +3
Each week, people ask K-State to prove itself — and the Wildcats have answered the call every time. The next challenge is at West Virginia, which will be looking to get off the mat after getting jumped at Texas Tech. A very interesting game between WVU’s high-powered offense and K-State’s never-panicking defense.
6. Oregon State Beavers 5-0 +3
Starting QB Sean Mannion is out indefinitely. No biggie: “Cody Vaz, get out there.” And he did to the tune of 332 yards and 3 TDs in his first start at BYU on Saturday. This weekend, Utah heads to Corvallis to try its luck.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes 7-0 —
Credit Indiana for being more than game at home against the Buckeyes on Saturday night, but credit the Bucks for overcoming a bit of a flat stretch against the Hoosiers and winning. Purdue is next as OSU and QB Braxton Miller seek to become “Indiana State Champs” in 2012 (apologies to Notre Dame).
8. LSU Tigers 6-1 +3
There is no overstating just how big a win that was for LSU over South Carolina on Saturday night. Just when everyone was ready to count out coach Les Miles and his Tigers, they announced to the college football world that they are still a force.
9. Oklahoma Sooners 4-1 +5
Another team that many were ready to write off this season after a home loss to Kansas State in September, in the last two weeks OU has dominated previously undefeated Texas Tech and traditional rival Texas. Oh, Kansas … wrong week to head to Norman.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks 6-1 -7
The Gamecocks have really reinforced the idea that they can play and beat anyone in the nation, even with the loss at LSU. Coach Steve Spurrier heads “home” to Florida in a game South Carolina cannot lose if it wants to win the SEC East.
11. USC 5-1 -1
On the plus side, the Trojans have finished their “road” portion of the schedule, and they did it with a 5-1 record. Now, they get to put their home field to use with four of their next six in the Coliseum. Colorado kicks things off Saturday.
12. Georgia Bulldogs 5-1 +1
The Bulldogs got last weekend off to lick their wounds after the beatdown they endured at South Carolina. Fortunately, they get a chance to “get right” at Kentucky, which was “run ruled” by Arkansas on Saturday.
13. Florida State Seminoles 6-1 +2
Terrific bounceback after the stunning loss at NC State as poor Boston College bore the brunt of FSU’s ire. Miami is next on Saturday … and unfortunately for Miami, they are not the ’Canes of old, even at home.
14. West Virginia Mountaineers 5-1 -9
Most of us had the Mountaineers on “upset alert” at Texas Tech on Saturday after the emotional, hard-fought win at Texas the week before. But I don’t believe any of us saw WVU being thumped 49-14. And now Kansas State comes calling Saturday in Morgantown.
15. Mississippi State Bulldogs 6-0 +3
The Bulldogs remain undefeated after beating a good Tennessee team Saturday night at home. A dangerous Middle Tennessee is next (ask Georgia Tech about the Blue Raiders), and then things get serious as Alabama and LSU are still out there awaiting the “Bullies.”
16. Louisville Cardinals 6-0 +1
The Cardinals were sleepwalking through their game with Pitt, and then coach Charlie Strong got their attention at halftime — in a BIG way. WR DeVante Parker did his part with four catches for 153 yards and a TD as Louisville turned a 21-17 halftime deficit into a 45-35 win. South Florida tries its hand at Louisville on Saturday.
17. Clemson Tigers 5-1 -1
Weekend off, and now the Tigers get a Virginia Tech team that they beat twice convincingly last season. Coach Dabo Swinney is building a program for the long haul at Clemson.
18. Texas Tech Red Raiders 5-1 —
After a week out of my rankings, let’s welcome back the Red Raiders, who are in on merit. People were skeptical of their defensive ranking before the Oklahoma loss, even more so after it. But examine that loss a bit further — OU scored three TDs on interception returns. Texas Tech grounded West Virginia Saturday and QB Seth Doege bounced back with 499 yards and six touchdowns.
19. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 6-0 +1
LB Khaseem Greene was a “one-man Wolfpack” on Saturday at Syracuse with four takeaways and 1-1/2 sacks, and teammate Duron Harmon scored a 75-yard TD on a blocked FG. The Scarlet Knights, under first-year coach Kyle Flood, are in a three-team race for the Big East crown with Louisville and Cincinnati.
20. Texas A&M Aggies 5-1 +1
The postponement of the Aggies’ game with Louisiana Tech actually worked out for the best for both teams, as La. Tech’s hot start brought added attention to the game. A&M outlasted the Bulldogs and got a quality win, and if you have not seen A&M frosh QB Johnny “The Bro” Manziel play, do so … FAST.
21. Cincinnati Bearcats 5-0 +1
I told you a couple of weeks ago that the Bearcats’ leader, Butch Jones, could COACH. He continues to prove me right and has Cincy primed for a real shot at the Big East title — and a BCS berth.
22. Michigan Wolverines 4-2 –
It appears the Wolverines are the best hope in the Legends division in the Big Ten, but their path to a division crown will not be easy. The run to the title continues this week against Michigan State, which has won four straight over its former “big brother.”
23. Boise State Broncos 5-1 —
Fresno State was averaging just under 40 points per game and the Broncos held the Bulldogs to 10 on Saturday. I don’t see a real test left for Boise until the season ender against Nevada.
24. Texas Christian Horned Frogs 5-1 —
Two weeks ago, the Horned Frogs lost QB Casey Pachall, then subsequently a game againstIowa State. With a week to regroup, coach Gary Patterson’s vaunted 4-2-5 defense helped reduce Baylor’s big-play offense in a big win for the fellas from Fort Worth.
25. Ohio Bobcats 7-0 —
Still undefeated, and the season-opening win at Penn State continues to look better with each win the Nittany Lions put on the board. Good QB matchup this week between the Bobcats’ Tyler Tettleton and Miami of Ohio’s Zac Dysert. Ohio certainly will be favored in every game for the rest of the season.