The carnage this weekend felt more appropriate for week 10 than week 3 - and it could've been worse. With a couple of well-placed scores by the underdogs, this weekend would've gone from Fists of Fury to Kill Bill. If you needed any more proof of how hard it is to win in college football, you have it now.
Once again, if you're curious about methodology, well, there isn't really one. I'm sort of following what I understand of the committee logic (and, refresher, remember from last year's ranking series that I'm more or less on board with the committee) and as a tiebreaker using a completely subjective "who would win on a neutral field" test.
Our Playoff Teams
- Ohio State - Whoa, Nellie. A third-quarter pick-six for Ohio State was the difference against Northern Illinois, who covered with 27.5 points to spare. Perhaps worse than that, Meyer may have jump-started a dormant quarterback controversy, pulling Cardale Jones for a marginally more effective JT Barrett after just nine passes. All is not well in Columbus; that matchup with PJ Fleck and Western Michigan next week looks a bit more interesting. It's not time to drop them just yet, but if this continues I'll seriously consider it.
- Ole Miss - Remember, I'm mirroring committee logic - and by any metric, a road win against Alabama as of right now is easily the most impressive win of the season. Even if it took one of the craziest plays I have ever in my life seen. I don't think they have the juice to stay here all season, but kudos to them for at the very least putting the brakes on the Bama hype train early this year. They draw Vandy at home next week.
- Michigan State - Took care of Air Force in impressive fashion, going up 35-7 in the third before the Zoomies got a couple of late scores to make it look better (a theme for the weekend, Irish fans). Once again, I'm not really sold that they're the third best team in the country, but they're on a roll early. They have one more pre-Big Ten tuneup against Central Michigan this week, at home of course.
- Notre Dame - Don't be fooled by the final score, folks - the Irish absolutely dominated a good team, even while leaving at least six and arguably 14 points on the field. The sound and fury of Paul Johnson's raging spleen ultimately signified nothing, as the vaunted Georgia Tech option attack was confounded and smothered by Brian VanGorder's attacking defense. The Irish own the best 3-0 record in the country right now, with a nod to 2-1 BYU, and absolutely belong up here. They host UMass as four-touchdown favorites next week.
Our Near-Future Playoff Teams
Because, let's be honest, we all know this thing is going to eight teams sooner rather than later.
- TCU - Raise your hand if you're absolutely positive that the Frogs will make it to ten regular-season wins this year. Yeah. They get a little benefit of the doubt because they faced Chad Morris, but still, they were very much in danger in the fourth quarter against SMU and squeaked past Minnesota in week 1. They travel to Lubbock next week to face Texas Tech, who just stomped Arkansas. Could get interesting.
- Georgia - The Old Ball Coach did not have a good day - the Bulldogs rang up 576 yards of total offense and 52 points against Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team. South Carolina doesn't look too good this year, but still... Georgia has played two SEC games but, weirdly, briefly resumes its cupcake segment when it takes on Southern this week.
- Florida State - They had a dogfight against Boston College in their ACC opener, with the game in doubt late. A dominant defense covered for a decidedly pedestrian offense - an outlier, or signs of trouble down the road? If you're participate in Golson Watch, note that Jimbo has lit into him a few times already. The Noles are off this week.
- UCLA - Much like Michigan State, I'm not really sold that they belong here - but they gutted out a last-minute win against a BYU team that I think is pretty decent, and hey, they are 3-0. That counts for something. They'll be tested next week when they travel to Arizona.
The Best of The Rest
- Alabama - Brutal loss to Ole Miss - that tip play was fluky and the Tide did score 37 points, but make no mistake, the Ole Miss defense has raised some very difficult questions in Tuscaloosa meeting rooms this week. For the third time in their last six games, Alabama has give up 40+ points. Not pretty. They host Louisiana-Monroe this week, who, you know, has beaten a Saban-led Alabama team before...
- Oregon - Georgia State made it a little bit interesting, closing to within 19 late in the third, but the Ducks won the fourth 14-0 to put it on ice. They'll open Pac-12 play against 3-0 Utah at home next week.
- LSU - I know they entered the top ten in the AP (whoever gave them a first place vote should be tossed from the body politic) and the Coaches' polls, but I can't quite put them there yet. Mostly because there's a very substantial possibility that Auburn is just bad. They travel to Syracuse next week for an incredibly rare SEC out-of-conference game above the Mason-Dixon - although less rare for LSU, who deserves some credit for their stronger-than-average-SEC out-of-conference scheduling.
- Clemson - Clemson snuck by Louisville, who lost to Auburn, who went to overtime with Jacksonville State and got destroyed by LSU. They actually dropped a spot here this week, because I can't justify putting them ahead of Alabama, Oregon, or LSU.
- Baylor - Cheeseburgers didn't help Baylor this week - wins over SMU and Lamar, while giving up 21 and 31 points, will do that to you. They also dismissed their starting tight end this week, earning them exactly zero tears from Irish fans. They'll face Rice this week in their last pre-conference tuneup.
- Texas A&M - The Aggies clobbered Nevada and will go on the road to Arkansas next week. The Razorbacks are smarting after humiliating losses to Toledo and Texas Tech, so expect them to come out fired up for this one. But will it matter?
- Oklahoma - It took them a while, but the Sooners eventually iced Tulsa. They're off this week.
- Utah - The Utes handled Fresno State and will travel to Eugene for a huge conference opener with Oregon this week. Go Utes!
- Northwestern - The Fighting Fitzgeralds went on the road and knocked off David Cutcliffe's Duke squad. Mildcats? Perhaps not - in fact, they might just be able to shake up the Big Ten race this year. They'll host Ball State this week.
- Stanford - Left for dead after a week 1 loss to Northwestern, Stanford is back in a big way after a huge upset of USC. The big news here is perhaps that neither team has any idea how to play defense against a real opponent, as the Cardinal won 41-31. They'll travel to Corvallis next week to tackle the Beavers. Heh.
- Georgia Tech - Absolutely manhandled by the Irish, despite a couple of cosmetic late scores. Paul Johnson needs to regroup quickly to face Duke in Durham.
- USC - Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahahahahaha. I'm pretty sure Sark is still looking for a bar to close down, two days later. Most disturbingly for SC fans is the fact that the Trojans were pushed around the field on defense. They have no gimme next week, traveling to Arizona State.
- BYU - Lost a heartbreaker on the road to UCLA in the last minute. They're travel to Michigan next, which means for one week, we all have a massive man crush on Bronco Mendenhall.
- Temple - Snuck by lowly UMass after impressive wins against Penn State and Cincinnati. The Owls will travel to Charlotte this week.
- Arizona - The Western Wildcats held a scant 7-6 lead over Northern Arizona at the end of the first quarter - and then won the next three quarters 70-7. Yikes. Arizona will host UCLA with a chance to seize an early lead in the Pac-12 South.
- Oklahoma State - The Pokes clobbered Larry Coker's UT-San Antonio. They travel to Texas, who lost in the worst possible way to Cal last week and should be super-ornery.
- Wisconsin - The Badgers beat Troy, which, well, whatever, but somebody has to be in this spot. They'll host Hawaii this week.
The Walk of Shame
Auburn. If there was any doubt... By the way, how are they still ranked in the coaches' poll? Seven-point win versus a mediocre-looking Louisville, overtime against Jacksonville State, and destroyed by LSU is worthy of a ranking? Come on, coaches, try harder.
Missouri. Sorry, Pinkel. Winning 9-6 against Coach Enegery Buckets won't impresss anyone.
Alabama. Yes, their ranking is still solid and they're very much in control of their own destiny. But... Three 40+ allowed games in their last six. Sirens are going off in Tuscaloosa right now.
USC. It's early, but that didn't look like a playoff team getting pushed around by Stanford.