An unforgettable college football Saturday resulted in some shuffling at the top of the AP Poll. Most notably, two College Football Playoff contenders switched spots.
RELATED: AP Top 25 Poll
You have to be frustrated if you’re Oklahoma, which beat Ohio State handily last week, took care of business in Week 3…. and dropped from second to third. The frustration may be justified. But based on Clemson’s ridiculous Saturday night showing, it’s hard to argue with the Tigers vaulting to No. 2.
Simply put, Clemson is a complete team. Kelly Bryant has looked awesome taking over the spot once occupied by Deshaun Watson, who tweeted this during last night’s game:
He will be better than me! https://t.co/CUyyNcesZO— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) September 17, 2017
And then there’s the defense. Oh my, that defense. Clemson held reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and company to 21 points. To his credit, Jackson played pretty well. He just didn’t have much time to throw. That’s a credit to the Tigers’ overwhelming front seven, which sacked Auburn 11 times in Week 2 and put a similar amount of pressure on the Cardinals.
Oklahoma didn’t do anything to deserve to slip in the rankings. But Clemson did everything to deserve to move up. Bottom line: if both of these play like this for the rest of the season, they’ll make the College Football Playoff. Heck, they might even square off against one another. Two other top-five teams flip-flopped, as well; that would be Penn State and USC. The No. 4 Nittany Lions continue to dominate, while the No. 5 Trojans continue to make things… well, more interesting than they’d like. USC survived high-wire acts against Western Michigan and Texas. It hasn’t yet, but that could come back to bite it.
Oklahoma’s in-state rival is singing a different tune today. That would be Oklahoma State, which balled out against Pittsburgh yesterday; the Cowboys jumped from No. 9 to No. 6 with their 59-21 throttling of Pittsburgh.
Oklahoma State doesn’t have the defense of an Alabama or a Clemson. But it has as much offensive firepower as anyone. Mason Rudolph threw for 497 yards and five scores on Saturday – and didn’t even play the whole game. James Washington, perhaps the fastest man in college football, reeled in five passes for 124 yards. Justice Hill scampered for 91 yards and two scores. Everywhere you look on the Oklahoma State offensive depth chart, there’s a stud – or maybe even two or three – at each position. Bedlam is always fun, but it could be extra meaningful this November.
The middle of the rankings were relatively stagnant, but we’ve got some notable new arrivals. Welcome to the AP Top 25, Mississippi State.
Well, welcome to the top 17 would be more accurate – yes, the Bulldogs landed firmly inside of the top 20 after manhandling then-No. 12 LSU by 30. Mississippi State was unranked a week ago.The Bulldogs are generally underrated, so it’s nice to see them get the credit they deserve. Of all high-major games that have been played in the first few weeks, this might be the most surprising outcome of all. It’s not just that Mississippi State won. It’s how easy the Bulldogs did it. They piled up 285 rushing yards against what we all thought was a fierce rushing defense. They held Derrius Guice, a darkhorse Heisman contender coming into the season, in check. Impressive, impressive stuff, Mississippi State.
Three more new arrivals made their way into this week’s rankings: No. 22 San Diego State, No. 23 Utah and No. 24 Oregon. The Aztecs took down Stanford after knocking off Arizona State in Week 2. Utah continues to do Utah things – in other words, win football games without garnering much chatter. The Utes are 3-0 and haven’t allowed more than 20 points in a tilt this season. Oregon looks explosive once again – the Ducks hung 49 on Wyoming to improve to 3-0. The Pac-12 has some depth this season.
A few of the biggest fallers: Louisville, which slipped five spots to No. 19. It’s not just that the Cardinals lost. It’s how they lost. A close game in which Louisville looked like it could play with Clemson probably would have left them in a similar spot. Didn’t happen. Whether this is more of a credit to Clemson or an indictment of Louisville, the former looked like it belonged on a different field than the latter on Saturday.
LSU is still ranked – barely. The Tigers fell 13 spots to No. 25 after the loss to Mississippi State. LSU seems to do this on a yearly basis – they’ll lose some games they shouldn’t early, people will forget about them, and they’ll finish the year strong. That’s nice if you want to be considered a respectable program year in, and year out. But if you have College Football Playoff hopes, it’s tough sledding. We’ll see if the Tigers can back bounce during the rest of the SEC slate.
More of the same next week, please, college football. Crazy stuff is happening already. And yet, it feels like the craziest of the crazy still awaits.