The top two flexed their muscles last weekend. Alabama and Clemson looked a cut above as more upsets and disappointing performances from their closest contenders has opened the door for an Ohio State, Penn State or Wisconsin to crash the College Football Playoff as the Big 10 teams make their season bow this weekend. Here are the weekly highlights...
No.3 Georgia 24-41 No.2 Alabama
The much anticipated showdown I wrote about for Ninety Nine Yards between the second and third ranked teams in the nation didn't disappoint. These matchups have literally become a game of two halves. Alabama had to come from behind to beat the Bulldogs to win their national championship meeting and that trend has followed. True to form, Georgia took the early initiative here, leading 24-21 at the break. Nick Saban's half time talk would have been worth watching. Georgia were held scoreless in the second half. Bulldogs QB Stetson Bennett was under pressure from a suffocating Alabama defense and was picked off by Malachi Moore.
Alabama didn't look back. They ran up 564 offensive yards against the best defense in the country and looked unstoppable at times. Mac Jones threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle racked up 328 receiving yards between them and Najee Harris rushed for 152 yards. Saban now has a 22-0 record against his former assistants and is 3-0 vs. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
No.1 Clemson 73-7 Georgia Tech
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 2-2 vs. Saban and given their annihilation of Georgia Tech, it looks like the road to the national title still runs through Death Valley. They were just too good for the Yellow Jackets. Trevor Lawrence was removed after Clemson's first drive of the third quarter. In just over a half of play, he threw five touchdown passes and 404 yards. In a half. New York Jets fans must be getting excited as based on current form, it looks like Lawrence could be heading to the Big Apple as their no.1 pick in April.
Still in contention...
Louisville 7-12 No.4 Notre Dame
Notre Dame are still technically in the reckoning but looked a long way short in a dull win over ACC rivals Louisville. Fighting Irish QB Ian Book does not put up pretty numbers and many highlight play reels, and hence is rarely mentioned as a top prospect for the Draft. He is, though, a gritty player who gets the job done. Book passed for just 106 yards but his fifth rushing touchdown of the season was enough to beat the Cardinals.
No.11 Texas A&M 28-14 Mississippi State
Isaiah Spiller, on the back of an impressive outing vs. Florida last week, rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns. The Aggies' defense were equally impressive, holding Mississippi State to -2 yards rushing and recording 6 sacks. For the second week in a row, State QB KJ Costello was benched in favour of freshman Will Rogers. Bulldogs coach Mike Leach was less than impressed: "Offensively, we ate a bunch of pin cushions out there."
No.5 North Carolina 28-31 Florida State
More upsets this week and UNC really threw away their chance to move into the top four with a surprising loss to Florida State. Tar Heels coach Mack Brown has never beaten his alma mater. His 0-10 record vs. the Seminoles is one of the more surprising stats in college football. Florida State raced to a 31-7 lead at the half and a second half comeback from UNC wasn't quite enough. Sophomore QB Jordan Travis has injected some confidence into the Seminoles offense as a dual threat option since coming in for James Blackman. He ran for 107 yards and passed for 191 and could spark a mini revival for Florida State.
No.15 Auburn 22-30 South Carolina
A huge win for the Gamecocks who hadn't beaten Auburn since 1933. Two interceptions for DB Jaycee Horn from a total of three were game changers for South Carolina. Auburn QB Bo Nix's star is falling. The highly sought after recruit's college career is stuttering in his sophomore year. He completed 24 of 47 passes and his three interceptions all led to touchdowns for South Carolina.
Kentucky 34-7 No.18 Tennessee
Kentucky's impressive season continues as they posted their first win in Knoxville since 1984. Tennessee's offense was woeful as three interceptions in their first five possessions led to QB Jarrett Guarantano being benched.
Ole Miss 21-33 Arkansas
You just don't know which side of the bed Ole Miss will wake up on this season. After a dream offensive performance in a competitive loss to Alabama, they had a nightmare against Arkansas. A week after impressing against the Crimson Tide, Matt Corral threw 6 interceptions against the Razorbacks, DB Hudson Clark picking up three. Coach Sam Pittman is having a fine start, leading the Razorbacks to their first multiple wins in the SEC for four years.
No.13 Miami recorded their third straight win over Pitt. D'Eriq King was under pressure from an aggressive Pitt defense, but threw four touchdowns and two interceptions in a 31-19 win.No.23 Virginia Tech are gaining some momentum in the ACC, looking good in a 40-14 win over Boston College. Liberty continue to look impressive, moving to 5-0 with a dominant 338 rushing yards in a 38-21 win over Syracuse.
Look out for...
The Big 10 are back! No.24 Minnesota takes on No.19 Michigan in the pick of the Big 10 opening games in the battle for "The Little Brown Jug". Illinois travel to No.16 Wisconsin, No.6 Ohio State and top QB prospect Justin Fields host Nebraska and No.9 Penn State travel to Indiana.
Here's this week's AP Top 25 to finish:
3 Notre Dame
5 Ohio State
6 Oklahoma State
7 Texas A&M
8 Penn State
14= North Carolina
17 Iowa State
19 Virginia Tech
20 Kansas State
23 North Carolina State
25 Coastal Carolina