Who would've thought Saturday’s slew of top-25 showdowns would end with Ohio State coach Ryan Day calling out 86-year-old Lou Holtz?
And yet, as the clock struck 11 p.m. on the East Coast, that’s exactly what happened!
It was a fitting bookend to a wild and wacky day in college football, where the Buckeyes survived a nail-biter in South Bend after an egregious error from the Irish. Ohio State’s final-second, game-winning 1-yard touchdown run came against a Notre Dame team that had 10 players on the field.
The Buckeyes’ 17-14 victory was the last of seven top-25 matchups on this lovely Saturday of football. Let’s quickly hit on the others, shall we?
- Oregon 42, Colorado 6: A snoozefest in which the Ducks ended Deion Sanders’ honeymoon in Boulder.
- Florida State 31, Clemson 24: Don’t ask Clemson QB Cade Klubnik why he chose to pass on a run-pass option on third down in overtime, but he did.
- Utah 14, UCLA 7: The Utes needed 219 offensive yards to win — that’s how good they are on defense.
- Penn State 31, Iowa 0: Rough day for Brian Ferentz’s contractual clause requiring the Hawkeyes to average 25 points a game for him to remain coordinator.
Lots of other fun stuff went down Saturday, too. Maryland, Syracuse, Kansas and Duke all won games — in football! — to move to 4-0, Northwestern pulled the upset over 12-point favorite Minnesota in overtime and A&M coach Jimbo Fisher tried to make a tackle in the Aggies’ win over Auburn.
But let’s get to our latest Top 10, where plenty has changed.
Keep in mind that we rank teams differently than most. We do not consider any preseason polls or any past season results. What happened in the past is in the past. For instance, the Georgias and USCs of the world, while in most top 5s, don’t make the cut because of their paltry early season schedules.
This system normally rewards teams with tougher early season opponents and puts a premium on good wins, but it also makes for an unusual group of teams in the first couple of weeks. By midseason, our Top 10 won’t be much different than many others. But for now…
1. Florida State
This week: won 31-24 in OT at Clemson
Next week: Bye
Best win: vs. LSU
Does anyone have a more impressive résumé than the Noles? They’ve beaten LSU at a neutral site, won a tough fight at Boston College and then won at Clemson. Few teams have even played three Power Five programs to this point in the season. QB Jordan Travis is a surgeon and his two sharpest tools — receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson — helped shred through the Clemson defense.
2. Ohio State
This week: won 17-14 at Notre Dame
Next week: Bye
Best win: at Notre Dame
One minute, Ryan Day seemed like he’d be the laughingstock on this night after a failed jet-sweep call on fourth-and-1. Not so fast! Marcus Freeman takes that crown after one of the biggest blunders imaginable — having 10 players on the field for the final two defensive snaps of the game. The epic tilt in South Bend ends with the Buckeyes soaring up our poll after, arguably, the best win by any team this season.
This week: won 59-32 vs. Cal
Next week: at Arizona
Best win: at Michigan State
Can anyone slow the Huskies? Certainly not the Bears. We all saw that coming, but this one got out of hand early (45-12 at half). QB Michael Penix and Washington’s offense is good enough to roll a team like Cal, but coach Kalen DeBoer’s group got help Saturday. They returned an interception and punt for touchdowns in the first quarter.
This week: won 38-6 at Baylor
Next week: vs. Kansas
Best win: at Alabama
Quinn Ewers put up 293 yards — 110 of those to receivers Ja’Tavion Sanders — and the Longhorns picked up a second Power Five road victory of the year. They also beat a solid Wyoming team last week. Texas isn’t quite back yet, but they’re getting close.
This week: won 14-7 vs. UCLA
Next week: at Oregon State
Best win: vs. Florida
Utah has not allowed a team to score more than 13 points this season. Through four games, the Utes have given up a total of 38. On Saturday, they stuffed offensive guru Chip Kelly. In Kelly’s 113-game head coaching career, his offense has been held to under 10 points just twice. Saturday was the third time. To this point in the season, Utah’s résumé is pretty stacked: a Power Five road win over Baylor, an SEC victory over Florida and a win over the Bruins.
6. Penn State
This week: won 31-0 vs. Iowa
Next week: at Northwestern
Best win: vs. Iowa
The Hawkeyes had 10 drives in the game. Three of them ended in fumbles and seven in punts. Get this: Iowa didn’t have a drive of more than 30 yards in the game. A stunningly good defensive performance from Manny Diaz’s unit — again. Penn State has allowed 35 points in four games.
7. North Carolina
This week: won 41-24 at Pitt
Next week: Bye
Best win: vs. South Carolina
QB Drake Maye slashed through Pat Narduzzi’s defense for 296 yards passing, and receiver J.J. Jones finished with 116 yards and six catches. And, hey look, the Tar Heels played pretty solid defense again on Saturday. Keep this up, UNC, and we might think you’re serious about this football thing after all.
This week: won 42-6 vs. Colorado
Next week: at Stanford
Best win: vs. Colorado
The Ducks have a win at Texas Tech and a home blowout over Prime and Co. They're not the most glamorous victories, but they’ll do for now. Bo Nix is, so far, living up to the school’s Heisman Trophy billboard campaign. He’s averaging 292 yards passing a game, has thrown 11 touchdowns (one pick) and has completed at least 72% of his passes in every game.
This week: won 41-7 at UConn
Next week: vs. Notre Dame
Best win: vs. Clemson
Has any team put together a better defensive performance in the first four games? Mike Elko’s D has allowed 7 points, 7 points, 14 points and 7 points. Outside of Clemson, there aren’t many “good” wins, but a 4-0 Duke is a … 4-0 Duke! For now, they barely hold on to their Top 10 spot before the showdown next week in Durham against the Irish.
This week: won 41-7 at Temple
Next week: Bye
Best win: vs. Texas A&M
The Hurricanes have not been tested aside from the game against the Aggies and that was at home. Alas, they barely squeak into our Top 10 over Georgia (yes, the Bulldogs haven’t yet earned their way into our poll). But back to Miami. This isn’t the UM team of last year that got pushed around. The Hurricanes are tough, physical and have a quarterback back to playing like his old ways. Mario Cristobal’s coordinator changeovers are paying off.