For the first time this season, a team other than Clemson tops the Power Rankings. Debate all you want about Notre Dame. In this case, you beat No. 1, you become No. 1. The Fighting Irish rose from No. 5 after a thrilling double-overtime win against Clemson that for now has defined the season.
You shouldn't have to be told there could be a rematch in the ACC Championship Game.
Meanwhile, the Power Rankings welcome four new teams -- Texas, Northwestern, San Jose State and Liberty.
Texas (5-2, 4-2 Big 12) won a grinder against West Virginia and continues to look renewed in the Big 12. Northwestern (3-0) won a similar grinder against Nebraska to take the lead in the wide-open Big Ten West. San Jose State (3-0) is off to a hot start as it seeks its first winning season since 2012.
Liberty makes its first appearance of the season proving once again a head coach worth his head set can fall from grace and still remake himself. Hugh Freeze might be the hottest coaching commodity around at the tender age of 51. Stealing from the Notre Dame playbook, there was some luck o' the Flames on Saturday. Alex Barbir drilled the game-winning field goal against Virginia Tech after coach Justin Fuente called a timeout. While that timeout was being called, VT blocked Barbir's kick. Given a second chance, he drilled it true from 51 yards.
We can start having a meaningful conversation about the College Football Playoff. Conference championship games start a month from Thursday. The top five of these Power Rankings -- Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Florida -- control their own destinies. Four of those teams are likely to play each other in the next month.
If Florida and Clemson win those matchups as one-loss teams, then who gets left out? Couldn't be Notre Dame. Its only loss would be against a team it already beat (Clemson). And how could it be Alabama, which has laid waste (offensively) to everyone? Ohio State seemingly has clinched a spot, even with a loss.
If you haven't noticed, that's four spots for five teams. Too soon? Let's concentrate on the now ... for now. Behold this week's Power Rankings.
|The Power Rankings are bestowing an honor on the Irish that they have not reached since 2012 -- a No. 1 ranking. That 2012 team didn't have near the talent as this one. Give me quarterback Ian Book, safety Kyle Hamilton and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in any foxhole, and I'll take my chances. One of my favorite stats this season: Notre Dame opponents have led for a total of 23 minutes all season.||4||10-2|
|You snooze (during a bye week), you lose (the No. 1 ranking). Don't worry, it will all work out in the end. Mac Jones is still a Heisman Trophy candidate. The receivers are still the best. Nick Saban still invented quantum physics (or so I'm told). But Notre Dame just beat No. 1. Patience Bama, you'll get your chance to prove yourself.||--||13-0|
|If you get past Rutgers' fearlessness (onside kicks, trick plays), it was another dominating Buckeyes performance. Not to be ignored was Justin Fields throwing five touchdown passes, increasing his Ohio State total to 52 with only three interceptions in two seasons. Yes, you are impressed.||--||7-1|
|Would anything have been different with Trevor Lawrence? Doubtful. Notre Dame made it a point to shut down the run. That put the game on freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, who almost won it with a Notre Dame-opponent record 439 passing yards. In two starts in place of Lawrence, he's passed for 788 yards and four touchdowns. Lawrence returns after a bye week to face Florida State.||3||10-2|
|There is a changing of the guard in the SEC East. For the first time in four years, the Gators beat Georgia and all but clinched the division. Kyle Trask should be the Heisman frontrunner -- or something close to it -- after tossing four more touchdowns. He is no Joe Burrow yet, but after five games in their respective breakout seasons, they both are even at 22 touchdown passes.||2||8-4|
|Here's the weird thing. Luke Fickell would be perfect for Michigan. But in the silly, loyalist world of college football, Michigan would never hire an Ohio State guy if it parted ways with the ultimate Michigan Man (Jim Harbaugh). (Yes, Bo Schembechler coached at Ohio State, but he didn't go to school there.) The Bearcats remain on the doorstep of CFP consideration with a 38-10 win over Houston.||--||9-1|
|Cowboys needed some guts at Kansas State. Down several offensive players, the defense stepped up in a 20-18 win that kept Oklahoma State in Big 12 contention. The defense returned a fumble 85 yards for a score then stopped a Wildcats two-point conversion that would have tied it with 2 minutes left.||1||8-3|
|Zach Wilson reminds me of Lennon. Quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick is McCartney. Together they are one of the best quarterback-play caller combo in the game. Wilson lit up Boise State for 359 passing yards in a 51-17 dismantling. Roderick, a former assistant under Kyle Whittingham at Utah, was brilliant with his shifts and motions. The shame is there's no guaranteed New Year's Six berth for independents.||1||11-1|
|The Aggies' playoff run continues. A 48-3 win at South Carolina was so complete the boos rained down at Brice-Williams Stadium. Kellen Mond set a school record with his 68th career touchdown pass. "We're turning heads and doing a lot of things that people didn't think we were going to do," defensive tackle Bobby Brown III said.||3||9-1|
|Remember when Kirby Smart was the standard in defensive coaching? The Dawgs have now given up at least 41 points twice in a season for the first time since 2013. The loss to Florida looked a lot like the Alabama game. Georgia just does not have the offensive weapons to win a championship. Not in the SEC this season. JT Daniels' knee must be really hobbled if he can't get on the field. Georgia simply can't win at a high level with Stetson Bennett IV.||6||8-2|
|It wasn't efficient, but what did you expect? It's Stanford, one of the most physical squads in the country. Physical but not very good on offense. Mario Cristobal's crew opened the season with a convincing 35-14 win. Cardinal QB Davis Mills was unavailable meaning Tyler Shough had the stage to himself. In his first start, he threw for 227 yards and ran for 85 more.||1||4-3|
|In a performance for the ages, D'Eriq King ran up 535 yards in total offense and tossed five touchdown passes against NC State. He is the first to achieve those numbers at two different schools in 25 years. The Hurricanes suddenly find themselves a half game out of second in the ACC. If you need to be reminded, the top two in the ACC this season play for the championship.||1||8-3|
|The last time Indiana beat Michigan by double digits was 1959. The Hoosiers are 3-0 for the first time since 1988 after a 38-21 win. This is the first time they've beaten Michigan and Penn State in the same season. And if you're wondering, the Ohio State game is in two weeks. The Big Ten East will be at stake.||1||6-2|
|The Sooners have won four in a row after an expected beat down of Kansas, 62-9. Rhamondre Stevenson ran for 104 yards in his second game back from a drug positive suspension. "I still don't feel like ... that we can't play with them," Kansas coach Les Miles said. What the what?!||1||9-2|
|When the Tar Heels offense is humming, it's as good as any in the nation. North Carolina scored touchdowns on its first six possessions and rolled Duke, 56-24. Sam Howell tossed three touchdowns. The rushing attack averaged 7.2 yards. Mack Brown followed by saying something witty and humble.||4||8-4|
|The Chanticleers scored on their first two possessions against South Alabama, then went to sleep offensively. They carved out only three field goals the rest of the way in a 23-6 win over South Alabama. "I told them that when they have their own kids, there's no ugly baby," CCU coach Jamey Chadwell said. So there's that.||2||11-1|
|For the first time, Iowa State has started a conference season 5-1. That after a 38-31 home win over Baylor. The Bears turned three Brock Purdy interceptions into touchdowns. The Cyclones still lead the Big 12 with three games left. Hey, it's only been 108 years since Iowa State won a conference title.||4||9-3|
|Idle: Sooner or later, the Badgers need to start playing. COVID-19 positives have ground the program to a halt. Coach Paul Chryst is over the coronavirus and some football activities have begun. The Badgers can't afford another cancellation and (per Big Ten rules) compete for the conference title.||3||4-3|
|The Trojans spent the first 55 minutes mostly falling behind Arizona State. Then in the last 5 minutes, Kedon Slovis led USC back in a 28-27 win. Down six, the Trojans recovered an onside kick and drove 45 yards for the game-winning pass to Drake London. They did it all in time for lunch. The game started at 9 a.m. PT.||1||5-1|
|The Mustangs just keep hanging around the New Year's Six conversation. Since losing to Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, SMU has scored a combined 98 points in its last two games. Temple went down 47-23 when SMU scored 37 second-half points. Only five quarterbacks have more touchdown passes than Shane Buechele's 20 this season.||3||7-3|
|West Virginia was stopped on downs twice in the red zone in the fourth quarter and the Longhorns held on 17-13. Texas has won three straight following the four-overtime loss to Oklahoma||NR||7-3|
|A week before the 50th anniversary of the Marshall plane crash, the Thundering Herd moved to 6-0 with a 51-10 win over UMass. Grant Wells threw three more touchdowns and sits at 11 on the season. Only four freshmen quarterbacks have more.||2||7-3|
|In some parallel universe, the Flames might be a playoff team. They've certainly accomplished more than some contenders. The win over Virginia Tech was their second over a Power Five team this season.||NR||10-1|
|The Wildcats are 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 2000. The defense hasn't allowed a point in the second half after a 21-13 win over Nebraska. Coach Pat Fitzgerald continues to make the Wildcats the easiest team to root for this side of "Hoosiers".||NR||7-2|
San Jose State
|Why not some Mountain West love? Boise State got embarrassed, and the Spartans are 3-0 for the first time since 1982. If you want a trendy pick for national coach of the year, you could do worse that San Jose State's Brent Brennan. In five of the last 11 seasons, the Spartans haven't won more than three games.||NR||7-1|