Oregon State, Baylor, and Rutgers are in the top 25 for the first time this season thanks to Michigan’s awful performance against Notre Dame, UCLA becoming the second ranked team to lose to Oregon State this season, and Arizona getting blanked in Eugene by Oregon. Kansas State jumped up from #17 to #7 on the strength of their victory over then #6 Oklahoma, who is now #16. Notre Dame is 4-0 for the first time since Knute Rockne was there (okay maybe not that long but it feels like it) and grabbed the final spot in this week’s AP top 10.
As we do every Monday LTSB offers a few observations of the weekend that was for college football’s elite.
1. Alabama (4-0) - Alabama received 59 of the 60 Associated Press first place votes after dispatching of Florida Atlantic 40-7. I’m not sure if the most disappointing thing from Bama’s weekend was that they actually gave up points for the first time since defeating Michigan in week 1 or that someone gave third ranked LSU a first place vote. The Owls snuck a touchdown in with less than three minutes to go in the game while Alabama was already thinking about how many points they’ll beat Ole Miss by next week. The Tide racked up a season high 503 yards of offense and allowed a season low 110. Talking trash before a matchup against Alabama probably isn’t a good thing.
2. Oregon (4-0) – After a relatively soft schedule to start the season the Ducks faced a ranked opponent for the first time and blew out Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats 49-0. A sluggish start had Oregon up only 13-0 at halftime but Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense got going after the break. Mr. All-Purpose De’Anthony Thomas had a quiet game by his standards, but he can’t be Superman all the time. The Ducks defense made Arizona’s senior quarterback Matt Scott look like a true freshman, picking him off three times. Then they picked off his backup. Two of Oregon’s interceptions were returned for scores. Oregon’s defense scored more touchdowns on Saturday than the offense of the team sitting below them, who received a first place vote. That is all.
3. LSU (4-0) – LSU dropped a spot from last week but they’re 4-0 and that’s really all that matters in the grand scheme of things. I guess. They survived a trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium by coming out on top 12-10 over Auburn. Auburn was 1-2 entering the game. But that one win was against the University of Louisiana-Monroe, who beat a then #8 Arkansas earlier this season! Arkansas hasn’t won since so that W over ULM doesn’t mean as much now. Yes the Tigers were on the road. Yes it’s the SEC and every game is tough. I get all that. But when you’re the #2 team in the nation you’re supposed to beat lesser opponents by more than two points. And they didn’t. That’s why they’re not #2 anymore. Silver lining: The D played great as usual.
4. Florida State (4-0) – Last week I mentioned we would learn alot about the Noles after their matchup with Clemson. After playing no one really worth mentioning in their first two games and rolling over Wake Forest in the third FSU got a test from Clemson. And they passed. The game was a tale of two halves. The Tigers were up 21-14 going into the half and their offense looked like it was going to give the Noles fits all night. Then FSU unleashed a 35-3 run to bury Dabo Swinney’s men. Quarterback EJ Manuel had 380 yards passing and 102 on the ground. He was Charlie Ward-ish. FSU came into the game with the nation’s top ranked defense and while it gave up a decent amount of yards they made plays when needed. They might be for real this year. Just pretend you haven’t heard anyone say that about Florida State in recent years.
5. Georgia (4-0) – The Dawgs ran past Vanderbilt 48-3. As you would expect them to. As they should have. Quarterback Aaron Murray (250 yds, 2 TD) looked good. Freshman running back Todd Gurley did as well (130 yds, 1 TD). Keith Marshall (RB) and Marlon Brown (WR) also had solid games at the skill positions. Georgia has scored more than 40 points in each game this season and the season low 3 points allowed is a good sign going forward for what should be one of the nation and SEC’s best defenses by season’s end. One thing I was looking for from UGA was a quick start against a team they should’ve handled after struggles in the first half of previous games. Check.
6. South Carolina (4-0) – Eventually Missouri is going to win an SEC conference game. It wasn’t happening Saturday. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers 31-10 and it was the Connor Shaw Show. The junior quarterback completed 20 of 21 passes for 249 yards and 2 scores. So much for Shaw’s shoulder injury affecting his play. And those whispers saying his backup Dylan Thompson should get the start. Running back Marcus Lattimore did was Marcus Lattimore does, score touchdowns. He had two more to bring his season total to six. South Carolina is probably the one top 10 team people are talking the least about right now.
7. Kansas State (4-0) – A 24-19 win over Oklahoma in Norman generally gives you a pretty decent boost up the rankings. As Kansas State found out. The Wildcats got a bit of revenge on the Sooners, who beat them 58-17 last year. KSU quarterback Collin Klein is the real deal. So is running back John Hubert. K State’s defense forced three turnovers and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones rarely looked comfortable in the pocket. The Wildcats have a brutal schedule towards the end of the season so staying here will be a challenge but this week they looked every bit of a top 10 team.
8. Stanford (3-0) – Stanford had the week off to bask in the glory of their win over then #2 USC.
9. West Virginia (3-0) – The Moutaineers won their border war with Maryland but it was alot closer than many expected at 31-21. Quarterback Geno Smith is probably your Heisman winner if the season ended today. He had 338 yards and 3 TD’s (yawn). Wide receiver Tavon Austin likes playing against the Terps. Alot. He had 13 receptions for 179 yards and was on the receiving end of all three of Geno’s touchdown passes Saturday. Austin reeled in 11 for 122 against Maryland last year and 7 for 106 with 2 TD’s in 2010. The Moutaineers had more yards in penalties (59) than they did on the ground (25). That probably can’t happen with matchups against Baylor and Texas on the horizon.
10. Notre Dame (4-0) – Hey look Notre Dame is in the top 10! The Irish knocked Michigan out of the top 25 and into to the realm of “others receiving votes” with a 13-6 win. Truthfully Notre Dame should’ve won by alot more than seven points. Alot more. Denard Robinson looked inept in the pocket and the only reason he didn’t throw more than four interceptions was because when Robinson missed his intended receiver he was so errant the Irish couldn’t get hands on it. Notre Dame had quarterback issues of its own. Tommy Rees and Everett Golson looked like neither one really wants the starting job. Thank goodness for the defense forcing six turnovers and Manti Te’o, who is going to win an award or two at the end of the season.