Before I get into my usual breakdown of the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll, I just want to acknowledged this Dick Vitale tweet. In a season where the Alabama Crimson Tide beat West Caroline 63-0 and the Pittsburgh Panthers slaughtered New Hampshire 77-7, how did he settle on the Canes game as one to discuss?
Having kids humiliated , physically & emotionally whipped for a payday is sickening . Yes @CanesFootball whips Central Connecticut State as Miami must feel great as they won 69-0 ! How does this help anybody but the cash register ?— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) September 25, 2021
Anyway, let's talk about the other craziness that unfolded in week 4. This weekend, two AP Top 10 teams lost. On top of that, four other teams in the AP Top 25 were also defeated. Out of those six losses, four of them came at the hands of unranked teams. This all boils down to the greatness of college football. It’s never predictable and it’s a wild ride each weekend.
From Clemson losing in overtime to the NC State Wolfpack, the Oklahoma Sooners needing a last-second field goal to knock off the West Virginia Mountaineers, and to the Texas A&M Aggies and their poor quarterback play losing to the Arkansas Razorbacks, the storylines are all over the place. Also, with Notre Dame and Arkansas taking leaps, the weekend of upsets and underdogs also sent the polls into some wildness. Let’s see how their wins, and plenty others, translated to poll movers and shakers in week 4.
3. Oregon Ducks
4. Oklahoma Sooners
10. Ohio State Buckeyes
12. Ole Miss Rebels
13. Texas A&M Aggies
15. BYU Cougars
T-16. Michigan State Spartans
T-16. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
19. Clemson Tigers
20. UCLA Bruins
21. Fresno State Bulldogs
22. Auburn Tigers
24. Baylor Bears
25. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Other Teams Receiving Votes: Texas 101; Boston College 91; NC State 70; San Diego State 69; Maryland 59; Wisconsin 56; Southern Methodist 54; Virginia Tech 39; Louisiana State 36; Iowa State 31; Army 23; Arizona State 12; Texas-San Antonio 11; Liberty 11; North Carolina 10; Central Florida 9; Oregon State 7; UL Lafayette 3; Appalachian State 3; Louisville 2; Indiana 2; Wyoming 1.
AP Top 25
3. Oregon Ducks
6. Oklahoma Sooners
10. Florida Gators
11. Ohio State Buckeyes
12. Ole Miss Rebels
13. BYU Cougars
15. Texas A&M Aggies
16. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
17. Michigan State Spartans
18. Fresno State Bulldogs
19. Oklahoma State Cowboys
20. UCLA Bruins
21. Baylor Bears
22. Auburn Tigers
23. NC State Wolfpack
24. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
25. Clemson Tigers
Other Teams Receiving Votes: Texas 131, Maryland 91, San Diego State 57, Boston College 55, SMU 44, Kentucky 26, Iowa State 25, LSU 24, Arizona State 23, Virginia Tech 20, Wisconsin 13, Rutgers 6, Kansas State 5, UTSA 4, Oregon State 4, Louisville 3, North Carolina 1
One of the biggest things I take from the polls is that 7 of the 14 SEC programs are ranked. Four are in the top 10. Alabama destroyed Southern Miss 63-14, Georgia routed the Vanderbilt Commodores 62-0, the Florida Gators took care of the Tennessee Volunteers, and more. I’m not a SEC devotee but the dominance that the conference is showing this season can’t be denied.
The biggest headline in the SEC this weekend goes to the Arkansas Razorbacks and Sam Pittman’s fantastic rebuild in Fayetteville. When they dismantled the Texas Longhorns and first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian, eyebrows were raised. Now that they dominated Texas A&M, we can giving them their props. It may get dimmer for the Razorbacks since they have to play Georgia, Ole Miss, and Auburn in the next three weeks. But, no matter what happens during that harsh run, the program’s turnaround is looking promising. AP agrees as it has them ranked at 8.
Heading to another well-represented conference—the Big Ten, OSU won 59-7 over Akron, Iowa edged Colorado State 24-14, Penn State won their in-state matchup over Villanova 38-17, and Michigan survived at tight one at the Big House against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. No shade to the Nebraska Cornhuskers and MSU, but the Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin game is going to get most of the Big Ten commentary today.
The Fighting Irish lost starting quarterback Jack Coan, who was looking to play well in a revenge game (he’s a former Badger), and they still blew Wisconsin out 41-13. Notre Dame’s defense held the Badgers’ running game to just 2.8 yards per carry and forced five turnovers, including an eye-popping total of four off of quarterback Graham Mertz. This was the kind of performance ND needed to distract the “overrated” discussions (by me) that have been circling them all year. Notre Dame is in the top 10 for another week.
In the Big 12, the Sooners are still looking up-and-down. Better yet, they look ok-and-down. So far this season, they’ve survived in one-score games against Tulane and Nebraska. Yesterday, they needed a field goal as time expired to beat an average (defense aside) West Virginia team. It was also the Sooners’ third straight Big 12 game in which they scored 27 points or fewer. You may think that’s no big deal. But what if I told you that the Sooners had never scored under 28 points in Lincoln Riley’s head coaching tenure before this three-game streak? It’s clear that the offense is trending down and thatRiley has some shuffling to do. And judging by the boos being hurled Spencer Rattler’s way yesterday—the fans think the same. The Sooners are outside of the top 5 for the first time this season.
Baylor quietly started the season on tear against poor opponents (Texas State, Texas Southern, and the Kansas Jayhawks). But after beating the Iowa State Cyclones 31-29, we can put some respect on their name. Starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon completed 73.7% of his passes, averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, and threw for 2 TDs. The Bears take on BYU in three weeks, we’ll see how they handle that test. For now, they’re ranked 21.
Now on to the ACC. What can I say about this conference’s play so far? The team on the biggest downslide is Clemson. They won 36 straight games against unranked opponents dating back to 2017. The Tigers’ steak finally came to an end with a 27-21 double-overtime loss to NC State. And this is just one week after they marginally beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 14-8. Dabo Swinney’s program is faltering and the polls took notice this week. Clemson fell all the way to 25.
One state away, the North Carolina Tar Heels also lost. Georgia Tech literally came into the matchup at 1-2 and their lone win was over Kennesaw State. The Yellow Jackets beat UNC by more than double their points, 45-22. And because of that, the polls flipped the duces emoji to the Tar Heels.
In a bright spot in the conference, the Wake Forest Deacon Deacons have pounced on the failures from Clemson, the Miami Hurricanes, and North Carolina, to look like the one of the most well-coached teams in the ACC. Coach Dave Clawson has led them to a 4-0 start with dominant wins over the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Cavaliers. Quarterback Sam Hartman is also on a tear– 961 yards passing, 66.1% completion, 9 touchdowns, and just 1 INT. The Demon Deacons just may walk away with the ACC title if another team doesn’t wake up. They’e now slotted at 24.
Miami takes on UVA this Thursday night on ESPN to open conference play. Even if they win, I doubt they’ll scratch the polls anytime soon. But their 60-9 victory may launch them on a string of ACC wins and maybe a polls resurgence (I can dream).