Man, college football is awesome this year. My only complaint thus far was that for as much chaos as there has been in the rankings, Bama and Georgia were solidly at the top of the rankings and clearly way ahead of everyone else. Because of how many upsets we’ve seen, people were comparing this season to the insane roller coaster ride that was 2007, but the main difference thus far between 2021 and 2007 has been that in 2007, everybody lost, including the top 2 teams in the rankings. Up until this weekend, we hadn’t seen that in 2021. Bama and Georgia were largely immune to the chaos in the rankings below them.
But not anymore. Alabama went down to College Station and lost to the Aggies, the first time A&M has beaten Bama since 2012, when A&M had Johnny Football. I’m sure we all remember that game. It is Bama’s first loss in 19 games, with their last loss being the Auburn game in 2019. Saban finally loses to a former assistant coach, making him now 24-1 against them. Jimbo Fisher finally beats Saban for the first time in 5 tries.
Last week I had basically thrown in the towel on the idea that anyone could beat Bama–not just this season, but ever again. The fact that they beat Ole Miss, who was at the time #12, by 3 TDs, I just thought Bama had become too good for college football–Saban had, after 14 years in Tuscaloosa, finally figured out how to just never lose again. They had transcended college football and now existed at a level above college football, but below the NFL. It felt like it was 1. the NFL, 2. Bama, and 3. college football, in that order.
Well, not so fast. The Bama defense was unable to hold the A&M offense in check, and they couldn’t get the stops they needed late in the game, allowing 2 A&M TDs in the final 5 minutes, plus the game-winning field goal. This game breaks a streak of 100 Bama wins over unranked opponents, a streak that dates back to 2007, Saban’s first year in Tuscaloosa.
- ❌ Alabama, L, 41-38 at Texas A&M: So Bama finally loses. After how bad A&M had looked in their two previous games, I figured there was no way Bama would lose this game, but A&M had other plans. Now, while Bama’s defense got gashed (by a backup QB no less!) and they made a lot of atypical mistakes, the Tide are absolutely still alive in the playoff. Everybody in the SEC West has now lost at least 1 conference game, so Bama controls their own destiny and if they win out, they will play in the SEC Championship. A&M has 2 conference losses, so they will only have a tiebreaker with Bama if Bama loses again, but if that happens, Bama’s not making the playoff anyway, so it’s kind of a moot point. Bama just needs to run the table and win the SEC. If they do that, there’s no way they’re left out of the playoff. So while this loss is a big deal right now, just because Bama rarely loses, it really doesn’t shake up the playoff picture that much.
- ✅ Georgia, W, 34-10 at. Auburn: Your new #1 team in the nation, the Georgia Bulldogs. They’re absolutely rolling right now. Are they going to be able to beat Bama? It seems that way now, but let’s not forget they failed to score a single offensive touchdown against Clemson in week 1. Everyone’s acting like Georgia is this unstoppable juggernaut, but their offense is really nothing special. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve looked great thus far, but they haven’t really played anybody on their level. Next up: Kentucky, then Florida the week after that, both games at home. We won’t see Georgia truly get tested until the SEC Championship, but these next two games should be closer than the last few games Georgia has played. At least I think so…
- ✅ Iowa, W, 23-20 vs. Penn State: Iowa was getting beat pretty good in the first quarter of this game, but when Penn State QB Sean Clifford went down, everything changed. That’s why I’m a little concerned about Iowa: they were completely unable to stop Penn State when Clifford was in. Iowa might be a fraud up there, which is funny because Colin Cowherd finally officially declared that Iowa is no longer the “Fake ID” of college football. However, he did say that while Iowa has turned 21 as a program, they still have the fake ID in their wallet.
- ❌ Penn State, L, 23-20 at Iowa: They still almost won the game without their starting QB. Penn State should not fall far. They want another crack at Iowa, I’m sure. I think everyone in State College believes that game would have gone differently had Clifford not gotten hurt. I don’t think Penn State will get a chance at a re-match with Iowa, though: they’ve still got to play Ohio State on the road, Michigan, and then Michigan State on the road. I seriously doubt they go 3-0 in those games.
- ✅ Cincinnati, W, 52-3 vs. Temple: This game was on Friday night. Absolute smack down. Temple didn’t belong on the field. The Notre Dame game last week was the big test of the season for Cincy. They should be heavy favorites in the rest of their games. They play no ranked teams until they host #24 SMU on November 20. Cincy will likely move into the top-4 after the new rankings come out, and they now have the best shot of any Group of 5 team of making the playoff since the playoff began in 2014. If Cincy loses to anyone on their remaining schedule, it will be a huge upset. However, they still need Bama to lose again, I think, because Bama is still very much alive in the playoff hunt
- ✅ Oklahoma, W, 54-48 vs. Texas: As someone who has been saying OU is cruisin’ for a bruisin’ for the past few weeks now, and who bet on Texas to win straight up on Saturday, I was riding high when Texas was up 28-7, and then 38-20 in the second half. But then the Longhorns underwent the collapse of the year. I guess I have to give Oklahoma some credit here because they did come back and win, but I’m more just disappointed in Texas than anything else. The thing is, now, Oklahoma may actually be better going forward because they finally benched Spencer Rattler (who seems like kind of a douche, and who is apparently not popular with the OU fanbase given the way they booed him in the West Virginia game and chanted his backup’s name) and replaced him with Caleb Williams, the freshman. Rattler was expected to be a Heisman contender and in the running for the #1 overall draft pick in 2022, but none of that has materialized. After turning the ball over twice early against Texas, Lincoln Riley benched him for Williams, and Williams was the one who sparked the comeback for the Sooners. Maybe Rattler was holding them back?
- ✅ Ohio State, W, 66-17 vs. Maryland: Absolute massacre. Treyveon Henderson is a beast, CJ Stroud looks like he’s got it all figured out, and the Ohio State defense now looks like it can get a stop. The offense is ridiculous, and if the defense comes around, whoaaaa buddy, watch out. My entire outlook on Ohio State changes now in the wake of the Bama loss: I think Ohio State might have a chance to win the whole thing now that Bama doesn’t look invincible. Ohio State still has to run the table in the Big Ten, and it’s not going to be easy because they have to play Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and presumably Iowa if they make the Big Ten Championship, but if they win the Big Ten, they’ll get into the playoffs, and they will be very formidable. Ohio State and Bama might be the only offenses that can score on Georgia. However, all that said, they did just play Maryland. Maybe we shouldn’t overreact here.
- Oregon, bye week.
- ✅ Michigan, W, 32-29 at Nebraska: Cool, Michigan: you beat Nebraska. I’m sorry but we have seen this story before with Michigan. They start hot, then stumble when they play good teams. I will not start believing in this team until they can beat someone like Penn State or Ohio State. Even Michigan State, who they call “Little Brother” even though “Little Brother” has dominated them the past 10 years.
- ❌ BYU, L, 26-17 vs. Boise State: Well, BYU’s time in the top-10 was short-lived. They couldn’t handle the pressure, apparently. That’s fine because they kinda snuck in there anyway.
- ✅ Michigan State, W, 31-13 at. Rutgers: Sparty is now quietly 6-0 and about to enter the top 10 in the new rankings.
- Oklahoma State, bye week.
- ❌ Arkansas, L, 52-51 at Ole Miss: I respect going for the win at the end of that game. Arkansas was on the road, so when they scored to make it 52-51 with 1 second left on the clock, they went for the win. They didn’t get it, but I respect the hell out of the decision anyway. Even though Arkansas has seemingly crashed and burned after a hot start, I like what Sam Pittman is doing down there in Fayetteville.
- ✅ Notre Dame, W, 32-29 at Virginia Tech: I didn’t watch this game. But Notre Dame is pretty much out of the playoff picture at this point, right? I mean unless some 2007-esque craziness happens, Notre Dame can’t make the playoff.
- ✅ Coastal Carolina, W, 52-20 at Arkansas State: Coastal should go undefeated, and then the real fun begins when they inevitably get left out of the playoff.
- ✅ Kentucky, W, 42-21 vs. LSU: LSU is just in complete free fall right now. Apparently it’s basically a certainty that they will fire Ed Orgeron after the season, which is pretty crazy considering he led them to the National Championship in 2019. But I guess the reason is because outside of that season, when LSU went 15-0 and became one of the greatest teams in college football history, he just hasn’t been that great. Take that season away and he’s 33-17 at LSU overall, 21-14 in conference play. As for Kentucky, they’re off to their best start since 1950, when Bear Bryant was their head coach. Yeah. They’re probably going to lose to Georgia this week, but if they don’t… look out, folks. All hell breaks loose not only in Lexington, but across the whole college football world.
- ✅ Ole Miss, W, 52-51 vs. Arkansas: Lane Kiffin’s team bounced back and got the win in an entertaining shootout. Arkansas tried to go for 2 at the end and Ole Miss got the stop. But Ole Miss just doesn’t have a defense. They can score points, but they can’t stop anybody. This same Arkansas team that got shutout by Georgia dropped 51 on Ole Miss.
- ❌ Auburn, L, 34-10 vs. Georgia: I’m just gonna say it: I think Auburn sucks this year. Three of their four wins this year have come over complete cupcakes: Akron, Alabama State and Georgia State. And they should have lost to Georgia State. True, Auburn did play Penn State tough up in Happy Valley, which is not an easy environment to play in, but I have my questions about Penn State anyway. Auburn’s best win this year is a 24-19 thriller over LSU, and LSU is not good. LSU very well could’ve won that game, they got hosed by a bad call late.
- ✅ Wake Forest, W, 40-37 at Syracuse: I did not watch this game. The ACC is basically irrelevant as a conference with Clemson out of the picture. I mean, come on, Wake Forest is the conference’s highest-ranked team. Wake Forest–them and NC State are the only teams in the ACC in the top-25. It’s an irrelevant conference, what else can I say?
- ✅ Florida, W, 42-0 vs. Vanderbilt: Vandy is the punching bag of the SEC. Florida gets back on track after losing to Kentucky last week. However, with 2 conference losses, it’s going to be very difficult to catch Georgia. Even if Florida somehow wins the head-to-head matchup, they still need Georgia to lose another one. And it does not look like that’s going to happen.
- ❌ Texas, L, 54-48 vs. Oklahoma: I can’t believe Texas blew this. They were up 28-7, then 38-20 in the second half. It would have been an awesome way to start off year 1 of the Sarkisian era, but it ended up being a massive choke job. Hopefully the program doesn’t spiral after this, because then we’ll have to wait another 4-5 years before we can start with the “Texas is back!” talk. I still continue to be baffled by Texas’ inability to be a perennial top-5 program. It just doesn’t make any sense. Charlie Strong couldn’t bring Texas back, Tom Herman couldn’t, but for the first 35 minutes or so of that game against Oklahoma, it looked like Steve Sarkisian may have brought Texas Back. But then they went back to being the same old Texas. The past 10 years have been nonstop disappointment for the Longhorns, and I’m getting sick of it. Figure it out, Texas.
- ✅ Arizona State, W, 28-10 vs. Stanford: Herm Edwards’ squad is now 5-1, with their only loss being to BYU in week 3. The Pac-12 is pretty wide-open at this point.
- NC State, bye week.
- ✅ SMU, W, 31-24 at. Navy: Had no idea SMU was even ranked until I did this write-up. I’m not going to bullshit you here and pretend I watched this game, or that I know anything about SMU. I don’t know shit about them.
- ✅ San Diego State, W, 31-7 vs. New Mexico: Didn’t watch this game, either. But hey: the AP voters believe San Diego State is better than Clemson, so there’s that.
They’re already doing Ed Orgeron dirty on Wikipedia:
This man won a National Championship less than 2 years ago, people. Sheeeeeesh. The internet is absolutely ruthless.
Anyway, we had 3 top-10 teams lose this week. 6 ranked teams in total went down.
The new rankings look like this:
A&M, NC State, SMU, San Diego State and Texas round out the remaining 5 teams.
The top-4 in this week’s rankings was pretty easy to predict. The real uncertainty began at the #5 spot: would the voters put Ohio State over Bama after Bama’s loss? It turns out no, they did not. Ohio State may have a better loss than Bama (Oregon vs. A&M), but Bama without question has better wins: Florida and Ole Miss, both of whom were ranked within the top-12 at the time they played Bama. To me, it was the right call keeping Bama ahead of Ohio State. Ohio State hasn’t beaten a ranked team this year.
Penn State falling to #7 was fair. They were previously #4, and I didn’t think they deserved to be dropped more than 3-4 spots, so this is in line with expectations.
Overall, it’s starting to get a little bit of that 2007 feel. You have Iowa and Cincinnati at #2 and #3 respectively, that’s not something you see very often. That kind of thing only happens in crazy seasons. Plus you have Kentucky lurking at #11.
However, in the grand scheme of things, there’s still a ton of chalk in the top-10: Georgia, Oklahoma, Bama, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Oregon, Michigan State–and honestly Iowa being in the top-10 isn’t really that crazy. Iowa being top-5 is unusual, but not top-10. Really, Cincinnati is the only team in the top-10 that you look at and go, “Whoa, how’d they get all the way up there?” But then again, Cincy has been good for the past couple years.
The more interesting thing about this season is the teams we don’t see in the rankings, namely Clemson and LSU. After all, they did square off in the National Championship as recently as January 2020.
Here’s to hoping the upsets continue and this season gets crazier with each passing week.