If you happened to miss this Saturday in college football, let us sum it up for you:
The nation's longest and second-longest losing streaks ended (congrats to Arizona, which had lost 20 straight, and UNLV, which had dropped 14 straight). Purdue beat an AP top-five team while unranked for the 17th time in program history (six times more than the next closest team).
The ACC shot itself right out of the College Football Playoff (blame Mack Brown!). Alabama nearly lost to LSU (yes, that happened), and Cincinnati needed consecutive goal line stands to beat Tulsa (Tulsa!). TCU, with an interim coach, knocked off previously one-loss Baylor.
Sports Illustrated's top 10 is quite a mess. Gone is previously unbeaten Wake Forest, Michigan State is out of the top five and Oregon—Oregon!—is our No. 2-ranked team because, well, there just aren't many other options.
Last game: beat Missouri 43–6
Next game: at Tennessee on Saturday
When are the Bulldogs gonna get in on the fun like everybody else and start losing? Join the chaos, fellas! Instead, coach Kirby Smart’s crew has been the most consistent and stable thing in what’s been a wacky year so far. It is by far and away the unquestioned top-ranked team in the country.
Last game: beat Washington 26–16
Next game: vs. Washington State on Saturday
Oh, what’s that, surprised that a team with a loss to 3–6 Stanford is our No. 2 team in the country? Welcome to the 2021 college football season, which has, by quite a large margin, been one of the most unpredictably wild in a while (maybe since 2007). The Ducks keep surviving, not necessarily impressing. But that’s O.K., because no one else is really looking all that beautiful either.
Last game: beat Tulsa 28–20
Next game: at USF on Friday
The Bearcats have gotten tested four times in the last three weeks (Navy, then Tulane, then the playoff committee, then Tulsa). If you paid any attention to the College GameDay signs on Saturday morning, you know that the committee tested Cincy more than any other opponent. The problem is, it didn’t do anything to really improve its No. 6 ranking. Cincinnati nearly lost to the 3–5 Golden Hurricane, escaping with a win after a goal-line debacle that we don’t have time or space to describe here (it was weird).
Last game: beat LSU 20–14
Next game: vs. New Mexico State on Saturday
You could nearly use your fingers on one hand to count the number of yards rushing that Alabama had against the struggling Tigers. Six. Six yards. The fewest by an Alabama team in more than a decade. To put it mildly, the Tide have problems— like everybody else, except Georgia, it seems. The offensive line is a mess and if it doesn’t get better, Georgia’s defensive front—and maybe even Auburn's as well— might romp right over it.
Last game: beat Texas Tech 52–21 (bye this week)
Next game: at Baylor on Saturday
The Sooners made one of their biggest leaps in the rankings while … not playing at all. The bye week did good for them, since a pair of top-10 teams lost. While OU hasn’t looked spectacular in recent games, it does have something that all but four FBS teams do not: a goose egg in the loss column. And despite the CFP committee’s so-called metrics and data, the win-loss column still does mean something in college football. However, the next stretch of games for the Sooners is no cakewalk: at Baylor, vs. Iowa State, at Oklahoma State.
6. Ohio State
Last game: beat Nebraska 26–17
Next game: vs. Purdue
Ryan Day’s team struggled with the Cornhuskers on Saturday; it was a one-score game for most of the fourth quarter. After next week's game against Purdue, it’s Michigan State and Michigan and then, maybe, the Big Ten title game. Can the Buckeyes really win all three?
Last game: lost to Purdue 40–29
Next game: vs. Maryland on Saturday
Sparty got an up close and personal look at Purdue’s magic dust. The Boilermakers are now the first team since 2007 Illinois to win two games against AP top-five teams as an unranked team in one season. And just like that, whoever wins the Big Ten, will have at least one defeat.
8. Oklahoma State
Last game: beat West Virginia 24–3
Next game: vs. TCU on Saturday
Keep doubting the Pokes and they keep winning (except for that trip to Ames, of course). Mike Gundy, brand new contract in hand, has OSU in position to win the Big 12 and, who knows, maybe squeak into the playoff. Oklahoma State’s résumé, outside of that loss, is impressive. The Cowboys have four-to-five quality wins and a strength of schedule that is top 30 in the nation. This year's Bedlam looms large.
9. Notre Dame
Last game: beat Navy 34–6
Next game: at Virginia on Saturday
We forget about the Irish but here they are, continuously marching up the rankings as others lose. Remember, Notre Dame’s only loss came at the hands of our No. 3-ranked team and they have one of the country’s best schedules (top-10 in fact). ND has a legitimate shot at winning out and at least getting into the CFP conversation (though it’s a long shot). The Irish go to Virginia, host Georgia Tech and play at Stanford.
Last game: beat Indiana 29–7
Next game: at Penn State on Saturday
The Wolverines, loss and all, are still very much in this thing. Just like the other one-loss teams in the Big Ten, they control their own destiny. However, the team they fell to last week lost to Purdue this week, so that’s not great. However, the road ahead provides the possibility for many quality victories, starting this coming week in State College.
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