If I could describe last week in a word, it would be “meh”. Which is a good thing, considering the circumstances. I was in Bloomington for homecoming, so I really didn’t get to watch much outside of IU-Nebraska and Ohio State-Wisconsin. While were there some big movers in the AP poll (ie West Virginia), there are no real changes here. Let’s talk about it anyway, shall we?
10. Nebraska (Last Week: 10)
Nebraska edged Indiana 27-22 to continue IU’s homecoming futility. I would be not be a true homer if I didn’t point out that Nebraska gained 1/3 of its yards on two fluke plays. Just a year after IU’s defense wasted a historically good offense, the script has flipped. If there are any IU fans reading this, just look at this unbelievably accurate tweet and feel frustrated with me.
Your first reaction is probably, “impossible, it’s Indiana football we’re talking about”, but I can assure you that’s how weird the last two seasons have been in Bloomington.
Since I guess this section was supposed to be about Nebraska, let me close by saying Mike Riley seems like a nice guy.
9. Wisconsin (Last Week: 9)
Is Wisconsin upset that it couldn’t finish off Ohio State? Of course. But the Badgers can at least take pride in the fact that they proved that they can play with anyone in the country, and that’s why they’re staying in these rankings. You can’t really ask Wisconsin to play any better–it was better than anyone has been at slowing down the Buckeyes, Corey Clement finally had a big game, and even Alex Hornibrook matched JT Barrett’s passing-game production. At the end of the day, Ohio State is simply too good–and it’s hard for me to penalize Wisconsin for that. The Badgers now have what essentially is a must-win at Iowa. Incredibly (and as what must come as a relief to Iowa fans), this 11 am game will not feature Beth Mowins on the call.
8. Baylor (Last Week: 8)
Baylor beat Kansas thoroughly and now enjoys yet another bye week. The Bears continue to hang around on the fringe of the playoff picture, making everyone with a conscience wildly uncomfortable.
7. Texas A&M (Last Week: 7)
The Aggies had a perfectly timed bye in advance of their game against Alabama. With comfortable wins already over Auburn and Arkansas, a win over Alabama would put Texas A&M firmly in the driver’s seat in the SEC. It is imperative that A&M continues to establish a strong running game and consistently win the battle in the trenches if it hopes to win. If not, well, we’ve seen what Alabama is capable of.
6. Louisville (Last Week: 6)
The Cardinals held serve by winning 24-14 against Duke, a team that’s still waiting for the second overtime of the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl to begin. I’m really not that concerned about the relatively narrow margin of victory, because Duke actually does have a very strong defense. With that being said, Lamar Jackson’s Heisman hopes would benefit from a bounceback performance after the Blue Devils “held” him to 325 total yards and two touchdowns.
5. Michigan (Last Week: 5)
The Wolverines had the week off in advance of their game against Illinois. The Illini will probably not lose to Michigan by 78, which is a real thing that Rutgers already did.
4. Washington (Last Week: 4)
As you probably have figured out by now, a big part of why last week lacked chaos is because a lot of top teams didn’t play. After demolishing Stanford and Oregon, the Huskies received an extra week to prepare for Oregon State. The Beavers look equally (if not more) overmatched, and it would be surprising if Washington has much trouble.
3. Clemson (Last Week: 3)
Dave Doeren is quietly doing a great job turning around the NC State program. Deshaun Watson accounted for over 400 yards of offense, but the Wolfpack forced four turnovers and really made Clemson work for a 24-17 overtime win. Ultimately though, it’s hard for NC State to feel great when it should have won the game in regulation. In peak #collegekickers fashion, Kyle Bambard missed a 33 yard field goal that would have given NC State the win as time expired. Clemson has a full week off to thank its lucky stars.
2. Ohio State (Last Week: 2)
JT Barrett really proved his value in leading Ohio State to victory over an elite defense in a hostile environament. That was about as perfect a start that Wisconsin could have had, and for Barrett to weather the storm and account for over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns is extremely impressive. This was not a game that Cardale Jones would have won. The Buckeyes now travel to face inconsistent Penn State.
1. Alabama (Last Week: 1)
You just knew it was going to end like that. After weeks of surviving by the narrowest of margins and mounting comeback after comeback (even though it couldn’t quite complete the comeback against A&M), Tennessee’s magic ran out in a 49-10 shellacking at the hands of Alabama. The Tide outrushed Tennessee 438-32–even with Jalen Hurd in the lineup for the Vols. Now an intriguing matchup against a well-rested Texas A&M team awaits for Alabama.