Love it when things live up to the hype.
Clemson-Louisville sure did, staging a Game of the Year front-runner in Death Valley. A 26-point second-half comeback by the road team, led by the nation’s most exciting player? And then somehow they fall a yard short in a game with major playoff implications? My goodness.
That wasn’t all. Florida State-North Carolina gave us a billion yards of offense (by ACC standards, anyway; it’s not like this is Pac-12 After Dark), a last-second winning field goal by the road team, UNC, and its long-haired kicker running down the field doing the Seminole chop. Then we had the bananas finish in Tennessee-Georgia, two ranked SEC East rivals flinging the ball back and forth downfield in the final seconds like kids playing with bottle rockets. Josh Dobbs Hail Mary for the win? Sure. Why not.
College football, you were great this weekend. Here’s the ballot I will submit to the Associated Press this morning. The poll comes out at 2 p.m.
- Alabama (1) Kentucky did score first. It actually held a lead. (Three ranked teams on the schedule next.)
- Ohio State (2) Demolished Rutgers, as expected, and I guarantee neither team had that much fun.
- Michigan (3) If ever someone tells you something is impossible, show them that Jourdan Lewis pick. If that can happen, what cannot?
- Clemson (6) Deshaun Watson is still pretty good. Did anyone forget? Tigers in the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic and a playoff spot.
- Washington (10) Hello, Huskies. (I was waiting for this game to see if the hype was real. It is real.)
- Louisville (4) Lamar Jackson somehow solidified his status as the Heisman front-runner in a loss.
- Houston (5) I don’t think it will happen, but what if some NFL team lets Greg Ward play quarterback? Anyway, a win over UConn inspires no one, so Clemson and Washington leap the Coogs.
- Texas A&M (8) Missing several key players, including Myles Garrett, the Aggies surived a scare at South Carolina.
- Wisconsin (7) Gave Michigan a run in the Big House, allowing just 14 points. About all you can ask.
- Miami (13) Young defense handled triple-option test. Unbeaten heading into FSU week. Is this 2013 all over again, or are the Hurricanes for real?
- Tennessee (15) An all-timer between the hedges. Still the team that struggled with App State, so I can’t rank them above Miami.
- Mississippi (12) A 20-point win at home over Memphis. A 3-2 team I wouldn’t want to play, mostly because of Chad Kelly.
- Stanford (9) All those things Stanford does really well, Washington would let them do any of them. Still has wins over Kansas State, USC and UCLA. I believe in you, Stanford.
- Baylor (17) Big fourth quarter at Iowa State saved Bears’ 5-0 start.
- Oklahoma (16) Feeling validated for keeping Sooners in my poll, when others dropped them. Went up big in a slugfest at TCU and held on.
- Colorado (NR) Don’t look now, Buffs are unbeaten in Pac-12 play and 4-1 with a loss at Michigan. Decent!
- Arkansas (20) “Beating Alcorn State by 42” is a September thing, not an October thing, but OK.
- Nebraska (19) Trailed Illinois after three, but stayed perfect with 21-point fourth quarter.
- North Carolina (23) Not good at playing defense, but the offense is on fire.
- Florida State (11) Serious issues on defense, though Dalvin Cook continues to do his thing and Deondre Francois showed some clutch playmaking ability. (Whispers: FSU is 7-5 in its last 12 games).
- LSU (24) I like how ESPN’s SEC blog put it (paraphrasing): “No Leonard, no Les, but Ed Orgeron’s debut a success.” Inspired 42-7 win over Missouri.
- Oklahoma State (NR) Back on my ballot after sound win over Texas.
- Florida (NR) Back in the poll after beating Vanderbilt, but mostly because they’re 4-1 and others looked bad.
- Georgia (22) What a way to lose. Jacob Eason atoned for those freshman mistakes and threw a final-minute TD bomb, and it wasn’t enough.
- Texas (14) Teetering on the edge after losing last two, allowing 99 points.
Dropped: No. 18 Utah (lost to Cal on a goal-line stand, after seven plays inside the 10. Ouch), No. 21 Michigan State (Sparty, no! You can’t lose to Indiana!), No. 25 San Diego State (blown out at … South Alabama?)
Also considered: Boise State (4-0), UCLA (3-2), TCU (3-2)