Every dynasty crumbles. Every kingdom collapses. Every empire ends.
Clemson’s reign over the ACC appears to be over. After the 24-17 loss at NC State, the Tigers are 4-4 and 2-4 in the league. As is the case when any dynasty begins to crumble, there is an assortment of “firsts.” For the first time since…
— 2010, the Tigers have four losses in their first eight games.
— 2011, the Tigers lost back-to-back games.
Saddled with a third loss at Miami last week, we knew Clemson would miss the College Football Playoff for a third straight season (after advancing to the CFP for six consecutive years). But now the question must be asked: Will they make a bowl?
The Tigers need to win two of their final four games — a slate that features home games against Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and North Carolina and a road game against South Carolina to end the year.
So what’s going on with Dabo Swinney’s team? First off, they’re having a real problem with turnovers. They entered this week having lost 13 turnovers and gained 12, ranking 78th nationally in margin. Against NC State, they finished with a 2-turnover hole, both from QB Cade Klubnik, who tossed the two picks and had zero touchdown passes.
The experiment with new OC Garrett Riley and Klubnik doesn’t seem to be working. And the defense hasn’t been the same group we saw for years under coordinator Brent Venables, now Oklahoma’s head coach.
There was much more that unfolded Saturday in college football, including a weird situation out West when USC got to attempt a field goal (it missed) after returning to the field after halftime. Officials ruled that the second quarter ended with one second on the game clock. When the teams returned to the field after the halftime break, USC was allowed one snap to complete the “second quarter.” Kicker Denis Lynch missed a 33-yard field goal and then moments later, USC kicked off to begin the third quarter.
And let’s not forget about coach Lance Leipold and Kansas, which upset and sent tumbling in the top 10 previously unbeaten Oklahoma. The Jayhawks improved to 6-2, guaranteeing the program their second consecutive bowl trip — only the second time that’s happened in school history.
Meanwhile, Oregon routed Utah. We welcome the Ducks back into our Top 10. In fact, let’s get to the rankings!
1. Florida State
This week: won 41-16 at Wake Forest
Next week: at Pitt
Best win: vs. LSU
Talk’n bout the Noles? Why, yes, we are. Florida State might have the best resume in college football, with four Power Five victories away from home including a neutral site win over LSU and a road win at Clemson. The Demon Deacons had little chance against FSU’s high-powered offense. QB Jordan Travis threw for a season-high 359 yards and three touchdowns.
2. Ohio State
This week: won 24-10 at Wisconsin
Next week: at Rutgers
Best win: vs. Penn State
This isn’t the high-powered Buckeyes offense we’re used to. QB Kyle McCord and the O-line can be a mess at times. However, Marvin Harrison Jr. makes up for any mess. He finished with a fourth straight 100-yard receiving game and accounted for two of OSU’s three TDs on Saturday.
This week: won 43-20 vs. Florida
Next week: vs. Missouri
Best win: vs. Florida
If you thought there’d be a dropoff with the Bulldogs missing TE Brock Bowers (I did!), well, think again. Kirby Smart’s crew wrecked the Gators from the very start. And now the focus drifts toward a significant doubleheader next weekend in the SEC, when both division leads are on the line. Georgia hosts Missouri and Alabama hosts LSU.
This week: won 42-33 at Stanford
Next week: at USC
Best win: vs. Oregon
Lately with the Huskies, it’s all about survival. For a second straight week, Washington needed late heroics to close out an inferior opponent. Should we be concerned about them? Maybe. But QB Michael Penix Jr. continues to steamroll, racking up nearly 400 yards and three TDs.
This week: won 35-6 at Utah
Next week: vs. Cal
Best win: at Utah
The Ducks spanked the Utes in a way that makes you think they may very well ride into the Pac-12 title game for a potential rematch with Washington. After all, coach Dan Lanning’s team gets home games against Cal, USC and Oregon State and a road trip to Arizona State. QB Bo Nix continues to post Heisman-esque numbers too. He was 24-for-31 for 248 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday.
This week: Bye
Next week: vs. Purdue
Best win: vs. Rutgers
Anything going on in Ann Arbor these days? Michigan’s bye week was anything but calm. News continued to trickle out about what appears to be an elaborate, sign-stealing scheme orchestrated by at least one member of the Michigan football staff spanning nearly three seasons. Will such a distraction impact the Wolverines in their next outing against Purdue?
This week: lost 38-33 at Kansas
Next week: at Oklahoma State
Best win: vs. Texas
It was a second ugly Saturday for the Sooners, who escaped in a close game last week against UCF. The Jayhawks didn’t allow such on Saturday. And now the Big 12 is absent of an unbeaten team. OU lost two fumbles, threw an interception and couldn’t stop the Jayhawks offense despite it being operated by a backup quarterback.
This week: won 35-6 vs. BYU
Next week: vs. Kansas State
Best win: at Alabama
Speaking of backup quarterbacks, the Longhorns started QB Maalik Murphy in place of injured starter Quinn Ewers. Murphy didn’t put up dazzling numbers, but the Texas defense did more than enough, holding the Cougars to less than 300 yards of offense, picking off two passes and recovering a fumble.
This week: Bye
Next week: vs. LSU
Best win: vs. Ole Miss
After LSU dropped a second game to Ole Miss and Alabama got rolled at home by Texas, few probably thought that this year’s LSU-Alabama game would be so relevant, but here we are. The Tigers and Tide will again tangle as top-15 teams with the SEC Western Division lead on the line.
10. Penn State
This week: won 33-24 vs. Indiana
Next week: at Maryland
Best win: vs. Iowa
The Ohio State game hangover proved true as the Nittany Lions struggled against the 2-6 Hoosiers. Tied with about two minutes left, Penn State’s offense and then its defense came up big. QB Drew Allar hit KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 57-yard go-ahead touchdown and then Manny Diaz’s defense forced a fumble that led to a safety as the ball bounded through the back of the end zone.