Another week, another set of college football rankings. And after all the craziness that ensued on Saturday, there was some shuffling at the top of the latest AP Poll.
Boomer. Sooner. Oklahoma rose to No. 2 in this week’s rankings behind a sparkling performance from senior quarterback Baker Mayfield, who threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
The Sooners just outclassed Ohio State, which fell to No. 8 after the home loss, on both sides of the ball. Buckeye receivers struggled to create separation. When they did, J.T. Barrett struggled to find them. But credit Oklahoma – Mayfield lost his three primary weapons: Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook – to the NFL this season. Oh, and he lost his head coach to boot. Didn’t matter on Saturday. Mayfield did what he does – he scrambled, he avoided plays that should have been sacks, and he was accurate. Oklahoma is a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.
So is Clemson, which might have the best defense in the country – and yes, that includes Alabama. The No. 3 Tigers held Auburn to 117 yards of offense in a 14-6 victory. We knew the Clemson defense would be awesome – that’s what happens when you win a national championship and return most of your key difference-makers. Duh.
What we were unsure about was the offense – Clemson lost Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams to the NFL. Kelly Bryant was solid, if unspectacular, in the biggest start of his college career, throwing for 181 yards and rushing for two touchdowns. The Clemson rushing attack was anemic, but give Auburn’s defense credit: it’s maybe only a notch below Clemson’s. In other words, they’re really, really good. We’re counting down the days to when Lamar Jackson, who went scorched earth on North Carolina Saturday, faces the Clemson defense this weekend.
The USC Trojans are back to where they started the season – fourth in the country – after an impressive home win against Stanford. Yeah, we can all stop panicking about the first three quarters of the Western Michigan game now. Sam Darnold completed 81 percent of his passes. Ronald Jones showed once again why he is, in fact, a dude; RoJo rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
The offense looked good. So did the defense – through the air, anyway. But the USC front seven still leaves some cause for concern; Bryce Love averaged 9.4 yards per tote on Saturday. Thankfully for the Trojans, their secondary is otherworldly. But you’re not going to win a national championship allowing that kind of real estate on the ground. The good news: there’s plenty of time left in the season for tweaks.