By the second Saturday in October, we are typically starting to get a pretty good idea of which teams are starting to separate themselves into playoff contenders. Meanwhile, other programs are beginning their slide into mediocrity (or irrelevance in some cases).
Anyone who watched Tennessee/Texas A&M. You were likely treated to the game of the year in college football as the Vols valiantly fought back from a 28-7 deficit (to the shock of no one) before falling in overtime after a Joshua Dobbs interception. The Aggie victory establishes them as the last remaining legitimate threat to Alabama in the SEC West while Tennessee tries to recover next week as they host the Tide.
Alabama. The Tide offense was spectacular as it averaged over 10 yards per plays against a solid Arkansas defense. Many pundits believed Arkansas actually had a chance in this game (I was not one of them) but the 49-30 beat-down solidifies the Crimson Tide as the team to beat in college football going forward as they look to be the first team to win a national title with a true freshman quarterback since Oklahoma did it with Jamelle Holieway back in 1986.
Washington. Well, the Huskies appear to be legit after a complete white-washing of the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Now don’t be fooled, this is certainly not the Oregon program that used to dazzle us with electrifying offenses and quirky uniform combos. The Ducks are on a huge slide and perhaps only Chip Kelly himself can resurrect them. Meanwhile, Washington is positioning themselves for a run at the College Football Playoff in Chris Peterson’s third season in Seattle.
Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers. Don’t look now but Malzahn’s hot seat may actually be cooling following a dominant 38-14 victory over Mississippi State. The Tigers are 2-1 in the SEC and could actually make quite a bit of noise down the stretch.
Purdue. Just like many of you, I had forgotten that they still played college football in West Lafayette, Indiana, The Boilermakers have been about as irrelevant as Kansas over the past several years but they picked up their first conference victory on the road at Illinois in overtime after taking advantage of an Illini missed field goal in regulation.
Michigan. Literally the biggest winners of the week as far as point differential goes. The Wolverines beat hapless Rutgers 78-0 which raises the question of why the Scarlet Knights are in any type of Power-5 conference at all?
Notre Dame. The team that was supposed to be a playoff contender this season are now 2-4 after losing 10-3 to NC State in a hurricane. The season has been a complete disaster for the Irish and head coach Brian Kelly is searching for answers as fans begin to jump off his bandwagon in droves.
Red River What? This used to be such a can’t-miss game with national title implications most years. Truthfully, I forgot it was happening until flipping over to the game by accident midway through the second quarter. The game itself was very entertaining but was stark reminders of how far these programs have fallen in the last few years (specifically Texas).
Michigan State. The Spartans are now 2-3 on the season after being dominated at home by BYU. This was a team that was supposed to challenge Ohio St. and Michigan in the Big 10 East, but instead may have to fight hard to stay out of the division cellar as they are now at risk for missing a bowl game for the first time since 2006.
Houston. And just like that the Houston Cougars are eliminated from the playoffs after losing to Navy 46-40. Navy has been a thorn in the side for major programs in the past, but this one was a devastating blow for a Houston team that seemed poised to run the table. Is Tom Hermann’s head in the right place at this point or could he be looking ahead to his coaching future in Austin?
Stanford. Remember when Christian McCaffrey was the best player we’d ever seen and Stanford were a shoe-in to win the Pac-12? Seems like many moons ago as the Cardinal were destroyed at home by Washington State Saturday night 42-16. In related news, Wazzu QB Luke Falk is the best quarterback in the country that NO ONE is talking about.