Things got weird this week in the SEC. Florida beat LSU. Then Texas A&M beat Kentucky. That left a strange quandary for the Top 10 Plus One.
Do I rank Florida, which beat the team I had at No. 5 last week (LSU)? But if I do that, where do I put Kentucky? The Wildcats and Gators have the same record, and Kentucky beat Florida in Gainesville on Sept. 8. So I did something that would make Kirk Ferentz proud. I punted. None of those teams are ranked this week. They’re all hanging in the 11-to-15 range. Maybe next week they’ll provide some clarity.
1. Alabama (6–0)
Last week: 1
Last game: Beat Arkansas, 65–31
Next game: Saturday vs. Missouri
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a pass in the third quarter. That’s about the only news that came out of this one. Unless you’re a gambler. Then you’re pretty mad Arkansas scored with 13 seconds remaining to cover the 35-point spread. Don’t worry. Nick Saban is mad about that touchdown, too.
2. Notre Dame (6–0)
Last week: 3
Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 45–23
Next game: Saturday vs. Pittsburgh
Much like last week against Stanford, Notre Dame kept it close for a half and then began pulling away in the third quarter. Dexter Williams averaged 10.5 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns as the Fighting Irish won in a very hostile environment. Notre Dame is probably going to be favored in every game remaining on its schedule, so it’s time to acknowledge that the Irish are a serious playoff contender.
3. Ohio State (6–0)
Last week: 2
Last game: Beat Indiana, 49–26
Next game: Saturday vs. Minnesota
Other than give up a few touchdowns, the Buckeyes didn’t really do anything wrong Saturday. I’m giving Notre Dame credit for a slightly better collection of wins, but that could change down the stretch. Besides, if this were the playoff selection committee’s ranking, the only difference between No. 2 and No. 3 is jersey color in the semifinal.
4. Georgia (6–0)
Last week: 4
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt, 41–13
Next game: Saturday at LSU
The Bulldogs rolled past Vanderbilt thanks to 12 yards per pass attempt from Jake Fromm (with three touchdown passes) and a run game that averaged 6.4 yards a carry. The Bulldogs now will face their toughest test to date when they visit Baton Rouge on Saturday.
5. Clemson (6–0)
Last week: 7
Last game: Beat Wake Forest, 63–3
Next game: Oct. 20 vs. NC State
The Tigers crushed an overmatched opponent, which isn’t something they always do. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence got through the game healthy and threw two touchdown passes, but the Tigers did most of their damage on the ground. The trio of Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon and Adam Choice combined for 458 rushing yards on 30 carries with six touchdowns. Now Clemson gets a week off to prepare for NC State, which might provide the biggest challenge the Tigers see in ACC play.
6. Texas (5–1)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Oklahoma, 48–45
Next game: Saturday vs. Baylor
Are the Longhorns back? Maybe not to national title contention. But after slowing down Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray just enough to win, they should be considered contenders for the Big 12 title.
7. Penn State (4–1)
Last week: 8
Last game: Lost to Ohio State, 27–26 on Sept. 29
Next game: Saturday vs. Michigan State
The Nittany Lions spent the week getting yelled at by everyone about that fourth down play against Ohio State. So add that to their already simmering desire for revenge on the Spartans, who beat them in an exceedingly odd game last season.
8. West Virginia (5–0)
Last week: 9
Last game: Beat Kansas, 38–22
Next game: Saturday at Iowa State
Three interceptions from Will Grier against the Big 12’s worst team are a concern. But Grier did also throw for 332 yards and four touchdowns. Though the Mountaineers don’t hit the teeth of their schedule until November, they should be wary of a trip to Ames. Iowa State scored a breakthrough win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, and the Cyclones could be dangerous.
9. Oklahoma (5–1)
Last week: 6
Last game: Lost to Texas, 48–45
Next game: Oct. 20 at TCU
I’m not dumping Oklahoma from the top 10 because I don’t think there are many defenses that can slow the Sooners’ offense enough to outscore them. Texas has a good defense, and Oklahoma still scored 45. But as Oklahoma fans have been pointing out for approximately the past five years, the Sooners’ defense is a problem. With the notable exception of last year’s win at Ohio State, this D tends to make pedestrian offenses look good and good offenses look great. This quote from Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley to The Athletic’s Jason Kersey on Saturday pretty much sums up the entire enterprise on that side of the ball. “We just keep talking about it and talking about it,” Motley told The Athletic. “I get tired of that [expletive]. … We got to go prove it. It’s crazy. We keep talking about it and not doing it.”
10. Michigan (5–1)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Maryland, 42–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Wisconsin
The sky was falling after the Wolverines lost at Notre Dame in Week 1. But could it just be that Michigan lost on the road by a touchdown to one of the best teams in the country? Michigan’s struggles with Northwestern—and subsequent comeback—got a little more context on Saturday when the Wildcats beat Michigan State. Michigan has blown out its other four opponents. When Wisconsin comes to the Big House this week, we’ll learn a lot about the Wolverines and the Badgers. (Though, unfortunately, the Big Ten has not adopted fellow SiriusXM host Braden Gall’s idea to make this the ultimate trophy game and have the teams play for the Upper Peninsula.)
Plus One: Colorado (5–0)
Last game: Beat Arizona State, 28–21
Next game: Saturday at USC
Dear Buffaloes’ opponents,
THEY’RE TRYING TO GET THE BALL TO LAVISKA SHENAULT. YOU PROBABLY SHOULD JUST TACKLE HIM BEFORE THE SNAP AND TAKE THE PENALTY.
— End of transmission.
But seriously. Shenault, who might be the nation’s best receiver, scored all four of Colorado’s touchdowns—two receiving, two rushing—in Saturday’s win against Arizona State. If the Buffs can win in Los Angeles next week, they can take control of the race for the Pac-12 South title. At that point, they may find themselves out of Plus One territory and into top 10 territory.