College football rankings: Clemson, Alabama swap in SI Top 10 - Sports Illustrated

High-Scoring Day of Drama in SEC Shakes Up SI's Top 10

Florida is out and Texas A&M is in, but that's not the only change in SI's college football rankings.
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What if I told you that three SEC games on Saturday featured a combined 3,380 yards and 276 points? And that the winners of two of those games were Missouri, over LSU, and Texas A&M, over Florida?

As if 2020 wasn’t bizarre enough, here we are in Week 3 with the SEC looking like the Big 12 and the Big 12 looking… well, bad. Oklahoma’s wild, four-overtime win over Texas in the Red River Shootout assured that the conference’s two powerhouse programs are 2–2 and only ahead of Kansas—Kansas!—in the Big 12 standings.

Oh, you want more weird? Let’s turn back to the SEC, where Kentucky won in blowout fashion, 24–2 over Mississippi State, with a whole 157 yards of offense. Speaking off, State coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense had more interceptions (6) than points (0). Then there was Auburn-Arkansas. Down 28–27, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix meant to spike the football, but he fumbled the snap and then spiked the ball backwards in what should have been ruled a lateral. Whistles blew the play dead, Auburn kept the ball and kicked a game-winning field goal.

Texas A&M players celebrate during a win over Florida

Oh, there’s more. Alabama and LSU, two programs that once played to a 9–6 score back in 2011, combined to allow 1,233 yards Saturday. The Crimson Tide, in fact, found themselves tied with Ole Miss, 42–42, in the fourth quarter before pulling away.

Meanwhile, outside the SEC, Boston College won after Pitt missed a game-tying extra point in overtime, North Carolina nearly gave up a 21-point lead to a COVID-depleted Virginia Tech and BYU had to fight to stay undefeated with a tight win over UTSA.

On to the Top 10!

1. Clemson

Last game: beat Miami, 42–17
Next game: Saturday at Georgia Tech

If anyone forgot that Travis Etienne existed, he reminded them on Saturday, bludgeoning the Hurricanes for 149 yards and two touchdowns with a 8.8-yard average. Even more impressive is what the Tigers did to UM quarterback D’Eriq King. He finished 12 of 28 for 121 yards and two interceptions. He did not throw a TD.

2. Alabama

Last game: beat Ole Miss, 63–48
Next game: Saturday vs. Georgia

The good: Alabama’s offense looks great despite the loss of Tua Tagovailoa, cracking the 700-yard mark against the Rebels. The bad: The Tide defense allowed a team to gain 600 yards for the first time in six years. The latter will need to get fixed before the colossal showdown against UGA next week.

3. Georgia

Last game: beat Tennessee, 44–21
Next game: Saturday at Alabama

Trailing 21–17, the Bulldogs reeled off the final 27 points of the game to take down the Vols and set up next week’s primetime clash with the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. QB Stetson Bennett continued to lead the UGA offense in an efficient manner (238 yards, 2 TDs). He averaged 15 yards a completion, too.

4. Notre Dame

Last game: beat Florida State, 42–26
Next game: Saturday vs. Louisville

The Irish steamrolled the Seminoles, jumping out to a 35–20 halftime lead before cruising to an easy win to remain undefeated. ND had two players run for more than 100 yards.

5. North Carolina

Last game: beat Virginia Tech, 56–45
Next game: Saturday at Florida State

The Tar Heels rolled up an insane amount of offense against the Hokies (656 yards to be exact), but they’ve got problems to solve on defense. The unit gave up 23 points in the third quarter to let Tech back in the game.

6. BYU

Last game: beat UTSA, 27–20
Next game: Friday at Houston

The Cougars remain undefeated, but it wasn’t easy. They nursed only an eight-point lead over UTSA in the fourth quarter before a 12-play, 80-yard drive sealed the deal. Can BYU finish unbeaten? Its toughest test might come next week at UH.

7. Texas A&M

Last game: beat Florida, 41–38
Next game: Saturday at Mississippi State

The Aggies knocked off what was the early-season’s breakout squad. Jimbo Fisher’s group gashed the Gators’ defense for 543 yards and 23 first downs. They were an incredible 12 for 15 on third downs.

8. Miami

Last game: lost at Clemson, 42–17
Next game: Saturday vs. Pitt

The Hurricanes barely hang in our Top 10 after hanging around for three quarters at Clemson. The D’Eriq King honeymoon, though, is officially over.

9. Louisiana

Last game: beat Georgia Southern, 20–18
Next game: Wednesday vs. Coastal Carolina

The Cajuns escaped some close calls in their last two games, needing a 53-yard field goal and a win in overtime, but they’ve remained undefeated and so have remained in our Top 10. But Wednesday poses a big test, against fellow undefeated Sun Belt foe Coastal Carolina.

10. Kansas State

Last game: beat TCU, 21–14
Next game: Oct. 24 vs. Kansas

With its backup quarterback running the show, the Wildcats went to Fort Worth and knocked off the Horned Frogs, mostly with defense. Despite a season-opening loss to Arkansas State, Kansas State is showing it might just be the best team in the Big 12.

Dropped out: No. 5 Florida
Entered: No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 10 Kansas State
Considered: Oklahoma State, Florida, NC State and Iowa State