AP Top 25 Takeaways: 4 top-10 teams fall in wild weekend
By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
The college football weekend started with a freaky Friday that had two top-10 teams being upset, including the defending national champions, and pretty much ended with another top-five team going down to a big underdog.
When it was all done, four top-10 teams lost to unranked opponents and college football fans got a reminder that once you think you have things figured out, you will be proven wrong.
Several weeks of talking about the seemingly inevitable Clemson-Alabama III in the College Football Playoff national championship game led up to the second-ranked Tigers losing at Syracuse on Friday night. The same Syracuse team that lost at home in September to Middle Tennessee State.
No. 8 Washington State followed that up Friday night with a total meltdown in losing 37-3 at California.
On Saturday, No. 10 Auburn lost to LSU — not exactly a stunner. Then, maybe the most surprising of all, No. 5 Washington lost to Arizona State.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from Week 7, when we learned that we really don’t know much.
1. Baffling is the only way to describe what happened to the defending Pac-12 champion Huskies in Tempe, Arizona . The Sun Devils came in with one of the worst pass defenses in the country and having allowed at least 30 points in 11 straight games. Washington scored seven points. #Pac12AfterDark, indeed.
2. There are eight unbeaten teams left in FBS, and at most five can finish the regular season that way. None of those teams plays in the Pac-12.
3. So it’s not Alabama, Clemson and everybody else. It’s No. 1 Alabama and everybody else until further notice. The Tide has won 71 straight against unranked opponents.
4. After a weekend like this, no complaining about victories that were not pretty enough.
5. Who is living better than No. 11 Miami and coach Mark Richt? A second straight week of pulling one out in the final seconds has the Hurricanes the only unbeaten team left in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
6. The Hurricanes are piecing things together with several key players injured and a first-year starting quarterback in Malik Rosier who has been up and down. Miami might not be one of the 10 best teams in the country, but the Hurricanes will be ranked among them come Sunday when the new AP Top 25 comes out.
7. LSU coach Ed Orgeron took a whole lot of grief after the Tigers face-planted against Troy a couple of weeks back. Deservedly so. And he deserves some praise now for keeping his players from bailing on a season that was going downhill fast and winning two straight.
8. Just when it looked as if Auburn was rounding into a legitimate challenger to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC West, the Tigers lost in Death Valley for the ninth straight time . This week on the SEC cooker: C’mon down, Gus Malzahn.
9. USC quarterback Sam Darnold is probably not going to win the Heisman. Too many turnovers and inconsistent play. But the 13th-ranked Trojans head to South Bend, Indiana, next week to face No. 16 Notre Dame in what looks like a playoff eliminator.
10. Didn’t work, but liked Utah coach Kyle Whittingham going for two and the lead in the final minute against USC . Sign of a coach with plenty of job security.
11. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez appears to have found Pat White 2.0. Wildcats quarterback Kahlil Tate has rushed for 557 yards on 29 carries the last two games.
12. No. 9 Ohio State has now outscored Nebraska 118-17 the past two seasons. Related: No. 22 UCF, coached by former Huskers quarterback Scott Frost, improved to 5-0 with another blow-out victory .
13. Don’t want to overstate the result in the Red River Showdown because Texas and Oklahoma have played some competitive and entertaining games recently — even as the Longhorns program was floundering. But Baker Mayfield and the Sooners’ beating back a rally by freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns certainly portends to go things ahead for the rivalry under Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman.
14. A few thoughts on Friday’s developments: Fair to question why Clemson stuck with quarterback Kelly Bryant when he was limping around the Carrier Dome. Unable to run as usual, Bryant got slammed to the turf and sustained a scary concussion. The Tigers have a week off before playing Georgia Tech.
15. One thing was clear against Syracuse: Clemson needs Bryant healthy enough to be a running threat for its offense to function at a high level.
16. The ACC Atlantic wasn’t done providing odd results. Louisville is being exposed as Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and not much else. Boston College upset the Cardinals 45-42 with freshman A.J. Dillon rushing for 272 yard and four touchdowns.
17. Sitting atop the ACC Atlantic standings: No. 20 North Carolina State. And it’s no fluke.
18. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh needs to give defensive coordinator Don Brown a raise because his defense is the only thing keeping the Wolverines ranked. No. 17 Michigan goes to No. 3 Penn State next Saturday.
19. Both Michigan and Ohio State earned their 500th Big Ten victories on Saturday. The Buckeyes have the better winning percentage at .734.
20. Not much more to say about Butch Jones and Tennessee. Another excruciating loss for the Vols, who have not scored a touchdown since the first half of the UMass game on Sept. 23 .
21. The Vols are at Alabama next week. So it’s not getting any better.
22. The key to TCU’s resurgence: Less knuckleheads, according to coach Gary Patterson.
23. Boise State handing Mountain West rival and No. 19 San Diego State its first loss puts the American Athletic Conference in control of the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid. UCF and No. 18 USF are both unbeaten and meet in the regular-season finale.
24. With a little more than half the season in the books, Heisman top three: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford; Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma; Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State.
25. Top four right now: Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, TCU. Projecting the playoff: Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Miami.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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