Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Georgia, TCU make massive moves after ranked wins
There will be a time when
Alabama Crimson Tide
is tested, but that time was not Saturday. The Crimson Tide were locked in for a game against a team they were certainly going to beat even with their best performance, and it resulted in one of the most dominant victories we’ll see all season.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Southern California Trojans
were all giving voters reasons to reconsider the order of the top teams in the country, Alabama cemented its status as the nation’s No. 1 in a 59-0 win that had the backups on the field early in the third quarter and ended with a couple of kneels inside the red zone.
The most important development in Week 4 as it pertains to Alabama is the arrival of
as a worthy competitor for the conference title should the Bulldogs be able to continue playing at an elite level over the next nine weeks.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
exhausted a lot of energy in its upset of
, but there was not a moment on Saturday night in Athens where Georgia was not clearly the better team. Kirby Smart’s group is surging, so now the trick will be avoiding the bad losses that have plagued talented Georgia teams in the past.
But even these Bulldogs seem a step behind the Tide, who proved in Week 4 that no ones best is quite as good as Alabama’s best. Here’s how we think the top 25 will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Previous — 1): While Oklahoma and Clemson have been making their case as the top team in the country over the last two weeks, Alabama stepped back into the spotlight and reminded the country of how dominant the biggest, fastest and most talented team in the country can look when everything is clicking. It’s an old school Alabama team that will run the ball down your throat and squeeze the life out of you on defense and contend for the national title.
2. Clemson (2): Voters were likely keeping a very close eye on Clemson in the afternoon while Alabama was making work of
and the Tigers were tied 7-7 with
Boston College Eagles
. The 34-7 final score will mask the performance later in the year when we’re comparing profiles of College Football Playoff hopefuls, but spending all that time in the “upset alert” watch could change enough voters’ minds to reshuffle the top three. I’ll guess OU’s win wasn’t convincing enough to change up the rankings.
3. Oklahoma (3): Like Clemson, Oklahoma was on upset alert, and like the Tigers, the Sooners dominated the fourth quarter. After
fans rained down chants of “overrated” and “Who’s your daddy?” to taunt
and Co., OU responded with 21 unanswered points before the plot twist of Baylor mounting one last furious run that included recovering an onside kick. Oklahoma got it done on the ground with a great performance from
(312 yards, three touchdowns combined) but needed it’s defense to seal the win.
4. Georgia (11): It’s hard not to overreact on a weekend when so many top teams looked shaky, but Georgia definitely deserves a spot in the top five.
was efficient, and the Georgia ground game was brutally effective, but the key to the success of the 2017 Bulldogs is the speed and strength of the front seven on defense. The offensive attack they saw on Saturday night was more potent than anything they’ll face in the SEC East, so as long as they maintain form, we should be able to start counting down the days to a rematch of the 2012 SEC Championship Game.
5. Penn State (4):
put together a drive that Penn State fans will be talking about for years. In leading the Nittany Lions down the field in the closing seconds and throwing the winning touchdown pass, McSorley kept Penn State firmly in pole position int he Big Ten as the team to beat and the conference’s strongest playoff contender.
6. USC (5): Saturday’s 30-20 win at Cal was a 13-13 tie game at the end of three quarters, but there were too many mistakes (Cal quarterback
had four interceptions) for the Bears to pull off the upset. USC was without running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Steven Mitchell, and it ended up getting outgained by the Bears in a game that was much closer than anyone expected.
TCU Horned Frogs
(16): Gary Patterson is one of the best active coaches in the sport. On Saturday, one of the best offenses we’ve seen struggled mightily to get into rhythm against TCU’s defense, and
Oklahoma State Cowboys
much heralded wide receivers were outplayed by the Frogs’ defensive backs. TCU now has road wins at
and Oklahoma State, suddenly making it look like one of the better 4-0 teams in the rankings.
(7): The Huskies are currently in action at
played pretty well after
was injured in Michigan’s 28-10 win at
(18 for 26, 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception), but it was the Wolverines’ defense that won the game in the second half. Purdue led 10-7 at halftime but did not record a single first down in the second half and only 14 yards of offense in the fourth quarter.
Ohio State Buckeyes
(10): Back-to-back blowout wins has Ohio State fans feeling better about J.T. Barrett and the offense. Barrett threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers in the first half, and the Buckeyes’ athleticism was on full display. With Big Ten play resuming next week at
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
, we begin a countdown to the collision with Penn State next month.
(9): The Badgers were off this week and will be back in action next Saturday against
Virginia Tech Hokies
(13): All of the boxes were checked in the tune-up for the biggest game of the year in Blacksburg: 582 yards of offense, a 32-7 advantage on first downs and a 38-0 shutout win. Clemson comes to town next week, and Lane Stadium will be rocking under the lights.
13. Miami (14): A slow start was overcome and Miami’s runaway 52-30 win against
looked incredible, and even though he spent most of the second and third quarter either in the locker room or on the sideline nursing an ankle injury, he still finished with a career-high 204 rushing yards.
14. Oklahoma State (6): The Cowboys are set to fall after running into the only defense to slow
all year. The instinct will be to slide them down outside of the top 15, but voters looking at the landscape may struggle to find 14 teams to put ahead of the 1-loss Cowboys.
seems to be a confidence booster for everyone from
South Carolina Gamecocks
to Purdue and now Auburn.
returned to the lineup after missing time with an injury and made the most of a Mizzou team that looks like the least competitive team in the SEC, scoring five touchdowns in their 51-14 win.
Washington State Cougars
(18): On a day with several lopsided wins, Washington State’s 45-7 rout of
Nevada Wolf Pack
flew below the radar. What you probably missed was
throwing his 100th career passing touchdown during a 478-yard, five-touchdown performance. Per NFL.com, Falk has completed 76 percent of his passes for 874 yards and 11 touchdowns since getting benched against
Boise State Broncos
in Week 2.
(19): Making work of
Kent State Golden Flashes
isn’t going to draw the kind of attention that will lead to a huge jump in the rankings.
Luke Del Rio
is the hero of the night for Florida, leading the Gators on back-to-back touchdown drives to preserve three decades of dominance against
South Florida Bulls
(21): It will take a while for USF to climb near the top 10, but I expect it will get there eventually because the Bulls’ offense is clicking on all cylinders, and there’s no one coming up on the schedule that looks like a threat.
San Diego State Aztecs
(22): The Aztecs needed a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat
Air Force Falcons
(23): Given their recent performances against
(the Wildcats won four in a row in the series from 2012-15), the Utes have to be happy to get in and out of town with a win.
(24): The Ducks are currently in action against
Arizona State Sun Devils
23. Mississippi State (17): If voters drop MSU below LSU, it’s going to be a new low for the “win move up, lose move down” crowd. The Bulldogs should land somewhere between 20-25 after falling to a top-tier SEC team on the road, and absolutely should be above LSU, the team it crushed a week ago in Starkville.
24. LSU (25): The fact that
got significant work at quarterback against
is not insignificant.
was 10-for-17 passing for 188 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but Brennan, the freshman who is believed to be the future at quarterback for the Tigers, stepped in during the third quarter and led a nice touchdown drive in his first action against a Power Five opponent.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(NR): The Irish looked great against
Michigan State Spartans
, and now that one close loss to Georgia doesn’t look as damning given the way the Bulldogs have played. Notre Dame makes it back into the rankings as a result.
Projected dropped out:
Florida State Seminoles