In which I completely ignore the fact that I picked Auburn to win the National Championship this season...
By: Jimbo X
The Associated Press? The USA Today's Coaches Poll? Whatever jibber-jabber is being puked out over at ESPN and Bleacher Report? Puh-leeze, we all know those alleged "Top 25" countdowns are pathetic jokes penned by homers, Power Five loyalists and Notre Dame nuthuggers. That's why I decided to release my own weekly rundown of the best FBS college football squads in the States, completely devoid of all the usual fanboyism and corporate malarkey that makes lists of the like elsewhere so unbelievably annoying.
Throughout the regular season, a new installment will go up every Wednesday morning, so you may want to bookmark this sucker for future reference ... and to show to all of your fellow NCAA football lovin' chums, so they can know that -- at least somewhere out in the tangled, endlessly frustrating World Wide Web -- there's someone on the Internet with some goddamn horse sense when it comes to ranking college 'ball teams.
Ole Miss (3-0)
Beating up a bunch of no-name squads by sixty-something points is one thing, but to march into Bryant-Denny Stadium and wallop the Crimson Tide on their home turf (complete with some of the grandest no-no-yes tomfoolery this side of a Harlem Globetrotters game?) The Rebels' 43-37 gunfight victory over No. 2 ranked Alabama over the weekend is more than enough to earn them the label of "college football's best" in this observer's eyes. Expect Chad Kelley's 341-yard day to put him in Heisman candidate talks for the rest of the season.
Leonard Fournette absolutely creamed Auburn's paper-thin defensive line, carving up the turf for three TDs and 228 yards on 19 carries. Factor in Brandon Harris's two TD runs and the Tigers racked up five touchdowns on the ground, accumulating over 400 rushing yards in the process. Before the season began, we all thought Alabama versus Auburn was going to decide the SEC West. Well, as it turns out, the division's fate may just hinge on the Tiger's Nov. 21 visit to Oxford, instead.
Ohio State (3-0)
Even before he exited the game, Cardale Jones was looking terrible, tossing two interceptions against a Northern Illinois team the Buckeyes should have pummeled by double digits. Backup J.T. Barrett saved the day in Ohio State's way-too-close 20-13 win Saturday, but it's painfully clear there are some passing deficiencies with this squad that simply must be corrected if they are to win the Big 10, let alone repeat as National Champions.
Michigan State (3-0)
After winning a dogfight against Oregon, the Spartans had a relatively smoother outing against an unbeaten-to-that-point Air Force team this weekend. Michigan State QB Connor Cook looked outstanding in the Spartans 35-21 victory, tossing four touchdowns and racking up 247 yards for the day. Looking equally great was WR Aaron Burbridge, who had three receiving touchdowns and 156 yards total on just eight completions.
Although SMU ain't no Oklahoma or Baylor, you nonetheless have to be impressed by TCU QB Trevone Boykin, who tossed five touchdowns and racked up 454 yards in the Horned Frogs 56-37 weekend win. That said, the defense also let a dismal SMU offense collect 330 receiving yards for the day -- a sure fire-sign that this secondary needs some marked improvement in an increasingly competitive Big 12.
The Golden Bears had a bye this week, giving them ample time to prepare for what should be a facile Rice Owls game on Sept. 26. The team's first true challenge of the season, however, awaits the first week in October -- that's when Baylor goes toe-to-toe with an overachieving Texas Tech team looking to dash the Waco faithful's National Championship dreams before they can even think about dancing with the likes of TCU and Oklahoma.
Friday night's 20-17 win over Louisville may not be the most resounding victory for the Tigers, but it certainly shows their mettle when it comes clutch time. While DeShaun Watson looked ho-hum, Wayne Gallman more or less anchored Clemson's offense, providing them a solid run-game that gave them just the narrowest of advantages over a team that could rightly (if not just a tad back-handedly) be called the best 0-3 squad in college football history.
Florida State (3-0)
We all expected Jimbo Fisher's 'Noles to take a big step back with Jameis Winston going pro, but by and large, Florida State has played exceptionally all season-long. Their 14-0 victory over an underrated Boston College team may not be the most exciting performance of the year, but it still proves their defense can get the job done when the offense isn't firing on all cylinders. After a (seeming) gimme victory over Wake Forest on Oct. 3, FSU has its first real challenge of the year in a home tilt against a resurgent Miami squad.
Notre Dame (3-0)
The Jackets may have outran them statistically, but the Irish certainly outran Georgia Tech strategically in their 30-22 home victory on Saturday. All in all, backup DeShone Kizer played quite well under center, but the hero of the day had to have been halfback C.J. Prosise, who racked up three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards for the day. We'll see if Notre Dame's new run-oriented offense really has legs on Oct. 3, when the Irish travel to South Carolina to take on ACC juggernauts Clemson. Let's just hope they learn the proper way to celebrate big plays before then, of course.
The quarterback situation in Athens has plagued the Bulldogs all year-round, but with Georgia's 52-20 manhandling of the Cocks (huh, huh), it appears UGA is finally set at the position. Not only did QB Greyson Lambert have three touchdowns on the day and 330 yards passing, he went 24 for 25 passing (an NCAA record, if I am not mistaken.) Factor in Nick Chubb's two two-TD, 159 yard day, and you have yourselves a team that actually looks like it can hold its own weight against the cavalcade of heavies over in the SEC West.
Josh Rosen looked like absolute crap in the Bruins' super-thin 24-23 win over BYU. He had just 106 yards on the day and tossed three INTs, but thankfully for the UCLA faithful, their run game was able to achieve what his arm couldn't, as Paul Perkins carved up the grass for 219 yards and a single TD. Needless to say, this team is going to have to put in some double-time during practice this week if they want to have a prayer against Arizona on Saturday.
Texas A&M (3-0)
Even with both Alabama schools losing, the Aggies just ain't getting the respect they probably deserve. The other, OTHER undefeated team in the SEC West had a pretty easy day against Nevada on Saturday, with QB Kyle Allen lobbing four touchdown passes and collecting 270 yards in the air. Their next four games are all divisional showdowns, starting with a road game at Arkansas this weekend and wrapping up with a tilt against Ole Miss on their home turf Oct. 24.
Rushing was the key to the Sooners' 52-38 win over Tulsa on Saturday. While Golden Hurricanes QB Dane Evans played just as well Baker Mayfield (both QBs had four TDs a piece and 400 plus yards on the day), it was Mayfield who was able to scramble for an additional two touchdowns and 81 yards. The Sooners are on upset watch Oct. 3, as they host an as of press time still-unbeaten West Virginia team dying for a win over a Top 25 squad.
While Fresno State outgunned the Utes, Utah's run game gave the Bulldogs far more than they could handle. Devontae Booker led Utah in both rushing and receiving, racking up two touchdowns and 156 yards by game's end. The dagger through the heart, however, was the Utes' special teams, which scored a TD a piece on a kick return and a punt return.
The Wildcats drubbed hapless Northern Arizona 77-13 over the weekend, as QB Anu Solomon threw four touchdowns and scrambled for a fifth. In all, Arizona had no less than seven rushing touchdowns by day's end, resulting in almost 500 ground game yards alone.
In a stacked Big 10, it's easy to overlook a team like Northwestern. However, the unheralded squad has played great on both sides of the ball this season, most recently winning a low-scoring slugfest against a much better than you'd expect them to be Duke team. While QB Clayton Thorson had an offday (he went just 9/23 on passes), the run game and special teams unit more than picked up the slack. These guys may not make it to the playoffs, but they're definitely a team that can play spoiler to a few playoffs hopefuls.
To crib a line from legendary pro 'rasslin announcer Jim Ross, the Tigers' 9-6 win over UConn this weekend was "bowling shoes ugly." After a couple of cupcake games, the defending SEC East Champs begin a long divisional skid next week, with an away game at Kentucky representing the first of six straight battles against fellow SEC squads
Oklahoma State (3-0)
Baylor this, TCU that, Oklahoma this-that. When are the Cowboys going to get some Big 12 lovin'? Oklahoma State posted more than 500 offensive yards in their 69-14 blowout of Texas San Antonio over the weekend, with QB Mason Rudolph tossing the leather for two TDs and nearly 300 yards. They shouldn't have many problems at all this Saturday, either, is they take on the moldy corpse of what used to be the Texas Longhorns football program in Austin.
There is no excuse for the Canes blowing a late lead and letting the Cornhuskers get back in Saturday's ball game. That said, Miami weathered the storm the best they could, and they did wind up winning the game 36-33, regardless. The Canes should end up 4-0 following this weekend's tilt against Cincinnati. What happen in week five's match-up against FSU, however, is anybody's guess.
Kansas State (3-0)
After two blowout victories against substandard teams, the Wildcats had to earn their W over Louisiana Tech and then some on Saturday. Alas, KSU proved the victor in that multiple-O.T. thriller, eventually besting the Bulldogs 39-33. Taking a breather this weekend, Kansas State returns on Oct. 3 to lock horns with fellow Big 12 unbeaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
Following a 45-44 barnburner victory over Texas, the Golden Bears are somehow the last undefeated team in the northern Pac-12 subdivision. Literally every game on Cal's schedule from hereon out, however, is a divisional match-up; the 9-game inter conference swing begins this Saturday against a Washington squad that would love nothing more than to make the already pell-mell division look even more chaotic.
Texas Tech (3-0)
Fresh off a 35-24 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville, the Red Raiders are among the more surprising Division I unbeatens remaining. Alas, things are about to get a whole lot harder for Texas Tech: they've got a home game against TCU this Saturday, with a follow-up game against Baylor just a week later.
Narrowly edging Pittsburgh 27-24, the Hawkeyes have what should be a gimme win against North Texas this Saturday. Next month ain't gonna' be no cakewalk, however; they've got to face a solid Wisconsin squad on their home turf on Oct. 3, with another tough road game at Northwestern on Oct. 17.
Sure, barely getting past Kentucky 14-9 isn't exactly something the Gators should be proud of, but they nonetheless remain an undefeated team -- if by sheer proxy of playing such illustrious squads as East Carolina and New Mexico State -- but 3-0 is still 3-0. Now a grueling conference grind awaits, with the first stop being a home game against Tennessee this weekend.