LockedIN on The College Football

The Good, The Bad And The NCAA

Happy Monday Sports Fans! What a weekend in College Football. The Florida Gators showed the world that they were back and The Knights lost a heartbreaker. Lets take a look at what went down:

Clemson held their spots Sunday after a week off for both, but the Buckeyes caught up to the Bulldogs in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. The Crimson Tide received 32 first-place votes and 1,503 points, and the Tigers had 15 first-place votes and 1,433 points. Georgia got three first-place votes and 1,393 points. Ohio State, which was fourth last week, received 10 first-place votes and 1,393 points.

Baylor is ranked for the first time since 2016, the season following the offseason firing of coach Art Briles. The school fired Briles amid the university’s failures in its handling of sexual assault cases. An investigation led to the president of the university and athletic director also losing their jobs.

The American Athletic Conference lost one team in the ranking but gained two. Central Florida is unranked for the first time since the Knights moved into the Top 25 on Oct. 1, 2017. UCF saw its 19-game conference winning streak snapped by Cincinnati on Friday night. The 25th-ranked Bearcats were rewarded with their first ranking of the season. No. 23 Memphis also is ranked for the first time this season.  Sliding out of the ranking after losing for the second time this season along with UCF were Washington, Oklahoma State and Michigan State (which was tied for 25th).

No. 1 Alabama

Nobody is questioning Alabama’s offense, but the bye week was a chance to work on the kicking game, and for the defense to focus on making more third-down stops, forcing more turnovers and better tackling, particularly in the secondary. The schedule only gets more difficult, with three top-25 teams in the next seven games, starting on the road at Texas A&M. ESPN’s FPI gives the Tide an 83.2% chance to win. — Heather Dinich

No. 2 Clemson

Last week’s escape act against North Carolina translated into a week of questions surrounding the Tigers, but those close calls in the early season have been a staple of Dabo Swinney’s teams in recent years. With the bye week, however, figure on Trevor Lawrence & Co. ironing out a few of those missteps and looking much more like the offense fans expected when they return to the field against Florida State in Week 7. — David M. Hale

No. 3 Georgia

Tennessee quarterback Brian Maurer and his receivers gashed Georgia’s defense for big plays early. Not so much in the second half, however. Georgia’s defense allowed only 104 yards after halftime, and linebacker Tae Crowder scooped up a fumble and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown as the Bulldogs pulled away for a 43-14 victory on the road. The Bulldogs had three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Georgia has won eight of the past 10 against the Volunteers. The Bulldogs triumphed in the two most recent games at Neyland Stadium by a combined score of 84-14. One sore spot: UGA had 11 penalties for 107 yards. — Mark Schlabach

No. 3 Ohio State

Justin Fields finally threw an interception, and Ohio State was finally tested. But the most impressive part of the Buckeyes’ 34-10 home win over Michigan State on Saturday was how calmly they regrouped from a lackluster start and exploded for three touchdowns of 20-plus-yards in the second quarter to cruise to their sixth consecutive victory of 24 or more points. Ohio State is brimming with big-play ability, not just from Fields, and the defense is clearly playing with more confidence and with more consistency than it did at any point last season. That Wisconsin game in two weeks at the Shoe is looking more and more like it could be the first of two showdowns between the teams, the second one coming in the Big Ten championship game. — Chris Low

No. 5 LSU

The time for cruise control is over. After putting itself in the playoff conversation by beating Texas and debuting a newly dynamic offense a month ago, LSU breezed through Northwestern State, Vanderbilt and Utah State. Now comes the real gauntlet for coach Ed Orgeron’s squad, starting with a home game against No. 10 Florida next Saturday, followed by games at Mississippi State, at home against No. 7 Auburn and at No. 1 Alabama. — Alex Scarborough

No. 6 Oklahoma
The Sooners had their roughest first half of the season, trailing Kansas at one point and leading by only seven until 31 seconds before the half. They shook it off to cruise to a 25-point win, but the issues that arose — particularly on the offensive line — will be something Lincoln Riley & Co. must examine closely ahead of the pivotal Red River Showdown versus Texas. — Sam Khan Jr.

No. 7 Florida

It does not get much easier for Florida moving forward, with a trip to LSU next Saturday. But if there are any takeaways from the win over Auburn, it is that the defense is capable of making a statement. Granted, LSU has proven to be a much better offense than Auburn to date, and Joe Burrow is playing at a far higher level than Bo Nix. Having cornerback C.J. Henderson back is a big boost as well. If Florida can put together a similar defensive effort, it will give itself a chance to win. Florida looked about the way we expected on offense, and the Gators are certainly breathing a sigh of relief to have Kyle Trask available after he took a hit to his knee earlier in the game, but he made his share of mistakes, too, including two fumbles as a result of being hit while dropping back. Florida simply cannot run the ball and its offensive line remains a liability. – Andrea Adelson

No. 8 Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s early-season dominance has been spectacular. The Badgers already have their most shutouts (three) since 1937, and they became the first Big Ten team since Michigan in 1973 to blank opponents three times in the first five games. Jim Leonhard’s defense has recaptured the nationally elite form it showcased from 2015 to 2017 under three different coordinators (Dave Aranda, Justin Wilcox, Leonhard). Quarterback Jack Coan bounced back nicely from the Northwestern clunker against Kent State, although his performance remains under the microscope. The key now for Paul Chryst’s crew is replicating its efficiency on the road, first against Illinois, before the Oct. 26 showdown at Ohio State in a potential Big Ten championship game preview. Road wins against top-10 opponents are the one box Wisconsin rarely checks, so continued progress in two weeks in Champaign is essential. — Adam Rittenberg

No. 9 Notre Dame
This was a “win by however much you want” game for Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish chose a 52-point margin. Ian Book was both nearly perfect and done early, the run game found a rhythm, and a bad and completely overwhelmed Bowling Green team didn’t have many answers, gaining most of its 228 yards in garbage time. This was a nice break for Notre Dame before the real games start again — Southern California next weekend and Michigan two weeks after that. — Bill Connelly

No. 10 Penn State
Penn State’s schedule is about to get much tougher, but James Franklin’s team continues to look like the best challenger to Ohio State in the Big Ten’s East Division. The Nittany Lions went on an 94-0 run — from the Pitt game until the second quarter on Saturday — before allowing a Purdue touchdown, their only score surrendered on the day. Brent Pry’s fast and physical defense is showing its depth up front, and the unit responded well to Franklin’s pre-Maryland challenge to improve on third down (Purdue went 1-of-14). Another efficient performance from quarterback Sean Clifford (264 pass yards, three touchdowns) is encouraging, although the offense will really be tested over the next two weeks against Iowa (road) and Michigan (home). If the Lions remain perfect, start circling their Nov. 23 trip to Columbus as the game of the season. — Adam Rittenberg

No. 11 Texas
West Virginia kept things tighter for longer than the Longhorns preferred, but four interceptions by a pass defense that has taken it on the chin — and is decimated by injuries — is an encouraging sign. Texas will need that type of play when it meets Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl for the all-important Red River Showdown. — Sam Khan Jr.

No. 12 Auburn
The open week is coming at a good time for the Tigers, who simply did not have the same success on offense as it had the first five weeks of the season. Much of that had to do with the best defense they have faced to date. But the run-pass balance that served this team so well was nonexistent, as the Tigers could not do much of anything on the ground, and Bo Nix threw several passes he no doubt wishes he could have back — including an interception in the end zone. Nix won’t be able to win games on his own, and the defense played well enough to win. But this is not the end of the Tigers’ College Football Playoff chances. With games remaining against LSU, Georgia and Alabama, there will be plenty of opportunities to rebound. — Andrea Adelson

No. 13 Oregon
The Ducks didn’t win in the prettiest of ways against Cal, and the sloppy play of star quarterback Justin Herbert was a little concerning, but head coach Mario Cristobal said grinding out a win like this was needed, especially with the running game finally going. Oregon hosts Colorado next Friday in a game that is the perfect trap before a trip to Seattle to play struggling Washington. This Ducks team is tougher than those in the past, but we’re still waiting for offensive consistency.– Edward Aschoff

No. 14 Boise State

Boise State remains the Group of 5 team best positioned for a run at the Cotton Bowl, and next week’s game on the blue turf against Hawai’i has the potential to be a preview of the Mountain West title game. The Rainbow Warriors aren’t the only team Boise State will play in the next month-plus that should provide a stiff test: San Jose State and Wyoming are both off to strong starts, and trips to BYU often are tricky. — Kyle Bonagura

No. 15 Utah

Even on a bye week, the effects of the Utes’ dominant performance last week against Washington State reverberated in the form of WSU defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys’ resignation. Utah, despite the loss to USC on its resume, still feels like the team to beat in the Pac-12 South and should be 5-1 (2-1 in conference) when it hosts Arizona State on October 19. Quarterback Tyler Huntley’s consistency this year has turned the senior into one of the most valuable players in the conference. – Kyle Bonagura

No. 16 Michigan

Michigan has its defense to thank in its 10-3 win over Iowa. The unit forced four turnovers, including three interceptions and held Iowa to one total rushing yard in the game, which was helped by its eight sacks. The offense, however sputtered after a 51-yard pass in the first quarter and never seemed to muster any type of momentum or flow. The offense has had its issues all season, and is going to need to somehow improve if Michigan is going to get through Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Ohio State. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 17 Iowa

Iowa’s offense struggles against Michigan in the 10-3 loss and never had a chance to put together a scoring drive. Quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown 139 straight passes without an interception, but threw three in this game against Michigan. While the defense was able to hold Michigan to only 10 points, the offense’s mistakes and inability to score ultimately did them in. It was an uncharacteristic game for Iowa, but it doesn’t bode well for its games against Penn State and Wisconsin later in the season. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 18 Arizona State

The week-over-week improvements from true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels will be key in what direction the Sun Devils go from here. Their defense has proved it is good enough to keep ASU competitive each week, so it’s just a matter of seeing incremental improvement on offense for ASU to keep rising in the polls. Washington State will provide an interesting test in Tempe next week before the Sun Devils travel to Utah for what could wind up as a matchup of the two best teams in the Pac-12 South. – Kyle Bonagura

No. 19 Wake Forest

Jamie Newman and the Wake offense are red hot, but the bye week offers the Deacons a chance to continue work on an improving defense. It’s been a mixed bag overall since Lyle Hemphill was promoted to DC midway through last season, and while the unit has shown improvement, it’s going to need another big step forward if Wake hopes to challenge Clemson down the road. – David M. Hale

No. 20 Virginia

UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins, who was sacked eight times in the loss to Notre Dame, probably needed the break. Three of those sacks resulted in fumbles and points for the Irish. It can’t continue, as three of UVA’a next four games will help determine the Coastal Division winner, starting Friday at Miami. ESPN’s FPI gives Virginia less than a 50% chance to win against both Miami and at North Carolina (44.4%) on Nov 2. – Heather Dinich

No. 21 SMU

The AAC West is deeper than it’s ever been, and it almost cost SMU a spot in the Top 25. But the Mustangs showed massive resilience, and Tulsa’s kicking situation was just desperate enough that the home team could come back from three scores down and win in the third overtime. The bumpy road has just begun, though: After a well-earned bye, SMU will host Temple before heading to Houston and Memphis. The Mustangs will have to keep earning that ranking. — Bill Connelly

No. 22 Baylor

Matt Rhule’s remarkable work at Baylor continued as the Bears won 31-12 at Kansas State for their first road victory in Big 12 play in two years. Baylor’s defense was once again the difference, as it had six sacks and 15 tackles for loss — the most in a Big 12 game by the Bears in more than a decade. One concern: Quarterback Charlie Brewer exited with an undisclosed injury with about 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Rhule didn’t have an immediate update on his status. The Bears might be favored in their next four games before Oklahoma and Texas come to Waco, Texas, in November. — Mark Schlabach

No. 23 Memphis

The Tigers haven’t played the most arduous schedule to date, but they have a couple of quality wins over Ole Miss and Navy. They also have a fantastic running back, Kenny Gainwell, who became the first Memphis freshman to run for 100 yards or more in three straight games. He had 209 yards — on only 14 carries — in a 52-33 victory over UL Monroe on Saturday, the highest total by a freshman in school history. Memphis’ defense did surrender 575 yards of offense to the Warhawks. — Mark Schlabach

No. 24 Texas A&M

Heading into the season, it was obvious the Aggies had one of the toughest schedules in the country, with Clemson and Georgia on the slate, in addition to the arduous SEC West slate. And now the No. 1 Crimson Tide come to town. If Jimbo Fisher’s crew wants to shake off a poor effort against Arkansas last week, they’ll need to protect QB Kellen Mond and improve in a hurry. After this Saturday, the schedule lightens up a bit, but not for long.

No. 25 Cincinnati

The Bearcats clamped down on UCF’s high-scoring offense to pull off a 27-24 victory on Friday night to take early control of the American Athletic Conference East race. The victory ended UCF’s streak of 19 consecutive wins over AAC foes, and it snapped the Knights’ string of scoring at least 30 points in 31 consecutive games, which was the longest such streak in the FBS since 1936. The Bearcats forced four turnovers and limited UCF to only 3.0 yards per carry. The Bearcats have recovered nicely from an early 42-0 loss at Ohio State. —

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