Week 9 is in the books and the latest Associated Press poll has been released. As we do every Monday LTSB breaks down the weekend that was for the AP’s top 10 schools.
1. Alabama (8-0) – ‘Bama prepared for Saturday’s showdown with LSU by giving #17 Mississippi State its first loss of the season 38-7. As usual the defense swarmed (forcing three turnovers and giving up just 256 yards), allowing its only touchdown late in the fourth quarter. A.J. McCarron was efficient (16/23, 208 yds, 2 TD). The ground game was effective (179 yards, 4.5 ypc). This was supposed to be Alabama’s toughest test since the Michigan game, that ended up not being much of a test at all. The Tide went into the game as the unquestioned best team in the county and did nothing to dispel that.
2. Oregon (8-0) – Poor Colorado. Last week they had to face Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and company. This week it was Chip Kelly’s high octane Oregon Ducks thumping them 70-14. The game was effectively over about five minutes in when Oregon was up 14-0. The Ducks went into the locker room with a 56-0 lead and took it easy on Colorado in the second half. Seven of Oregon’s touchdowns came via the ground game, which racked up 425 yards. De’Anthony Thomas messed around and pulled off a punt return score that you’d probably have a hard time duplicating in a video game. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett had almost as many passing yards (56) as Buffaloes starter Nick Hirschman (64). The worst part of the day for Oregon was the loss by USC, dropping them to #18 ahead of Saturday’s meeting.
3. Kansas State (8-0) – The Wildcats are for real, nevermind that they trailed 10-3 early in the second quarter. K-State scored on it’s final eight possessions to end up beating Texas Tech 55-24. Collin Klein had another Collin Klein game. He had 233 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air with 83 yards and two more scores on the ground. He’s your Heisman frontrunner. The defense was generous in giving up yards (442) but keeping Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege under wraps is easier said than done. Kansas State held when it needed to. As an added bonus one of the teams ahead of them in last week’s AP poll (Florida) lost, allowing the Wildcats to move up a spot this week.
4. Notre Dame (8-0) – The Irish went into Norman, Oklahoma and took care of the Sooners 30-13 to keep their record perfect. You wouldn’t get into many arguments for saying linebacker Manti Te’o is the best defensive player in college football. He had eleven tackles, a sack, and an interception in the fourth quarter that helped seal the game. He and his teammates held Landry Jones without a touchdown pass for the first time this season. A balanced running game led by Theo Riddick (74 yds) and Cierre Wood (74 yds) controlled the clock and freshman quarterback Everett Golson did a good job playing mistake-free football and managed the game well. The Irish now have four wins against Top 25 teams. The running game and defense will be there for Notre Dame but if Brian Kelly gets smart/efficient play from whichever quarterback he chooses each week a perfect season looks even more realistic.
5. LSU (7-1) – The Tigers didn’t play this week and jumped a spot in the rankings, not bad. The bye week gave head coach Les Miles extra time to figure out how to beat Alabama on Saturday.
6. Ohio State (9-0) – Braxton Miller was back under center for the Buckeyes and had three touchdowns to help OSU take down Penn State 35-23. If you didn’t see this one yard score, it’s worth a look. Miller was effective with his legs (135 yds, 2 TD) and arm (143 yds, 1 TD) and did enough to keep his name in the Heisman discussion. Miller tied Cam Newton and Julian Edelman with his sixth 130+ yard rushing game on the season, most by an FBS quarterback since 2004. The defense shut down the Nittany Lions running game, holding them to just 32 yards. The Buckeyes are the best team in the Big Ten by a decent amount. Whether that has more to do with OSU or the conference probably depends on if you’re a Buckeyes fan or not.
7. Georgia (7-1) – The Bulldogs came away from The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party with a hard earned 17-9 win over Florida. The game wasn’t easy on the eyes. At all. Aaron Murray tossed three interceptions. Florida had six turnovers of its own (four fumbles, two interceptions). Todd Gurley ran for 118 yards and a touchdown. Malcom Mitchell had 5 catches for 74 yards and a fourth quarter score when UGA was up just 10-9. If you hadn’t heard of linebacker Jarvis Jones prior to the game you certainly did if you watched it. He had a MONSTER day. Jones finished with 13 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. This play of his helped preserve the victory. Georgia’s defense has taken some heat for not being as good as anticipated prior to the season but stepped up in a big way Saturday, keeping Florida out of the end zone. On offense the Dawgs did just enough to win and now have the inside track to be the East’s representative in the SEC championship game.
8. Florida (7-1) – Florida came up on the short end of the score against Georgia and it was largely their own doing. You aren’t going to beat many teams committing six turnovers. Four of them were by quarterback Jeff Driskel (2 fumbles, 2 INT’s). Mike Gillislee had 77 yards on the ground but needed 22 carries to get there. Caleb Sturgis was the most effective player on offense for the Gators. He’s the kicker. The defense held their own, well enough for a win on most days. Unfortunately Saturday wasn’t that day.
9. Florida State (8-1) – The Noles are back in the Top 10 after an easy time of it against the Duke Blue Devils, beating them 48-7. Just about everything was working offensively as FSU piled up 560 yards. EJ Manuel had 282 yards passing on just eight completions and two touchdowns. The ground game added 261 yards, led by Devonta Freeman’s 104 and two scores. The defense held Duke to just 129 yards through the air and 3.1 yards per carry on the ground. The score would have been worse if the Noles held on to the football a bit better and didn’t fumble four times. Florida State is now 18-0 against the Blue Devils.
10. Clemson (7-1) – Dabo Swinney’s Tigers flexed their offensive muscle against Wake Forest on Thursday. Sammy Watkins set the single-game school record for receiving yards with 202. Tajh Boyd had 428 yards passing, a Clemson record, with five touchdowns. The Tigers were up 35-0 before the Demon Deacons scored just before halftime, but the rout was on. Clemson ended up with an easy 42-13 victory. Their offense should face little resistance over the next three games (Duke, Maryland, NC State). The defense won’t be confused with one of the nation’s best very often but after giving up 667, 420, 483, and 406 yards in the previous games the 290 allowed to Wake Forest is an improvement.