Enter Sandman? It may as well have been Exit Sandman as No. 2 Clemson thoroughly dominated No. 12 Virginia Tech, the Tigers answering yet another challenge and bringing this point yet again.
How is Clemson not No. 1?
After taking down the Hokies 31-17, the defending national champions are the only team in the country with three wins over teams ranked 14th or higher.
No one has ever done that back before October.
The Tigers have now taken down No. 13 Auburn, No. 14 Louisville and Virginia Tech, while Alabama's only win over a Top-25 opponent was then-No. 3 Florida State (back when it had Deondre Francois), which until this afternoon in Winston-Salem was winless.
Granted, the Crimson Tide have a larger average margin of victory, with their 66-3 win over Ole Miss making it five by 37.6 points. But all of Alabama's wins have come against teams who now have two losses on the season in Fresno State and the Rebels at 2-2 and Colorado State and Vanderbilt, which are both 3-2.
With LSU falling to Troy and Mississippi State's defeat at the hands of Auburn, the Tide have only one more current Top-25 team on the schedule and that's the Iron Bowl vs. the Tigers on Nov. 25
Despite a more daunting schedule through the first month, the Tigers are seventh to the Tide's sixth in FBS in total defense ... by one yard a game. While Alabama leads the nation in 8.6 points allowed a game, the Tigers are giving up just 2.2 more (fourth). So ultimately we're talking semantics here.
It may just be a gripe with the process of preseason Top 25 voting, but shouldnt' the team that won -- granted that it didn't have a mass exodus on both sides of the ball -- remain No. 1 until proven otherwise?
Because if there were questions about entering the season, hasn't Clemson already erased any of those doubts?
Peter CaseyPeter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Kelly Bryant not be challenging Deshaun Watson as the most decorated player in program history, but he's been more than up for the task in two of the tougher environments in college football in night games at Louisville and -- Saturday night -- Virginia Tech.
The junior threw had a combined 280 yards of offense, threw for a TD and on delivered a juke you'll see a time or two on a QB keeper.
If the issues were with what happens in missing the likes of pass-catchers Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott and running back Wayne Gallman, these Tigers haven't missed a beat. Hunter Renfrow's 23 catches lead a group of three with at least 13 and Ray-Ray McCloud's 253 yards top four Tigers who have 114 or more.
While Bryant continues to be Clemson's most consistent option in the run game, Travis Etienne (31 rushes for 311 yards), Tavien Feaster (48 for 278), C.J. Fuller (26 for 116) and Adam Choice (21 for 110), given this backfield a depth that's ... well, almost Alabamaian.
The realist might say that the College Football Playoff rankings, when the first edition is released on Oct. 31, might get it right with strength of schedule as a key factor. And ultimately, Clemson could get its chance to prove its worthy of holding that No. 1 ranking again come the playoff. But what about the defending champ's resume this summer and in the first month of this season shows it's not worthy of already holding that spot?