It's October, and it's about time we draw some conclusions. This is about this point in the season where teams mature, showing their true colors and revealing their potential over the remainder of the season.
Alabama lost its quarterback (Bryce Young) on Saturday but College Football Playoff material after winning at Iowa, the place where top-five teams go to die. Also looking to be for real is USC, which suddenly faces a treacherous schedule in its own league. Clemson is back to being Clemson after ripping through NC State. Turns out the year-plus slump the offense experienced is no more.. Michigan is
The Big 12 and Pac-12 -- two combatants in realignment -- are both deeper than we thought at actually playing the game of football. USC having the Pac-12 in the College Football Playoff race this late in the season is reason enough to be optimistic. But then there's UCLA, which has seemingly turned the corner in Year 5 under Chip Kelly. Washington has the nation's passing leader after five weeks (Michael Penix Jr.), which beats firing your coach after 10 weeks (Jimmy Lake in 2021).
In the Big 12, Kansas and Kansas State are combined 9-1. Texas and Oklahoma are both 3-2 and unranked entering the Red River Showdown. Maybe that exodus to the SEC is coming just in time.
During a week in which there were five games between ranked opponents, the higher ranked team won four (sorry, Kentucky). The Wildcats will be kicking themselves after having a nightmare fourth quarter in a loss to Ole Miss. Speaking of the Magnolia State, get ready from plenty of, um, comments from within the borders. Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach are a combined 9-1.
For those calling for Syracuse to grace this hallowed list, sorry, but you don't get credit for beating Wagner. You just don't. No disrespect, but who schedules an 0-4 team from the Northeast Conference?
As far as LSU goes, we'll know more about the Tigers after Tennessee this week. There are more conclusions to be drawn.
|The Bulldogs hadn't come back from a double-digit deficit since the 2018 Rose Bowl semifinal win over Oklahoma. Missouri had leads of 16-6 and 19-9 before Georgia closed on a 14-3 fourth-quarter run. "This team bonded tonight," Kirby Smart said.||--||12-0|
|It's Jimbo Week, but you'd never know it. All the talk is about what sounds like an 80s punk band: Bryce's Shoulder Sprain.||--||10-2|
|Ryan Day has riches upon riches. When RB TreVeyon Henderson couldn't go, backup Miyan Williams ran for 189 yards and five touchdowns. C.J. Stroud was "off" throwing only two touchdowns in a rout of Rutgers.||--||11-1|
|We now have a clear picture of the Wolverines. They're better at quarterback. Blake Corum could be an All-American. A smothering defense took out Iowa.||--||12-0|
|There are still questions about an offensive line that had Caleb Williams moving around against Arizona State. We'll overlook the Trojans' first turnover of the season (Williams' INT) and celebrate the first 5-0 full-season start since 2006.||--||11-1|
|Death, taxes and Clemson clubbing NC State. For the 16th time in the last 18 games between the rivals, the Tigers did just that. Clemson reestablished itself as a national power in its most complete effort of the season.||2||10-2|
|Bye. LSU next. Little known fact: Hendon Hooker's dad ran Alan (North Carolina A&T) ran a 4.69-second 40 at the NFL Combine. We now return you to your normal programming.||--||10-2|
|The least talked about undefeated team in the country. The Cowboys went to Baylor and systematically dismantled the defending Big 12 champions. Remember this name: Jaden Nixon, a speedster who broke the game open with a 98-yard kickoff return.||2||7-5|
|The last time Lane Kiffin beat a top 10 team was 11 years ago. After knocking off Oregon at Autzen Stadium, Lane sat on an equipment cart telling media, "Nick Saban owes me a thank you card." The Ducks were in BCS contention at the time. Look out, Nick: These Rebels are in contention in the SEC West after beating Kentucky.||10||8-4|
|Since losing to Florida, the Utes have allowed 43 combined points in four games. They blasted Oregon State while picking off four passes.||1||9-3|
|No shame in losing by three at Ole Miss. Oh, but that finish. In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats turned it over on downs. QB Will Levis then turned it over on consecutive possessions. No bueno.||5||7-5|
|The Nittany Lions lost the turnover battle 5-3 against Northwestern but stuffed the Wildcats when it counted. A 5-0 start is nice, but there is lots to work on before Michigan on Oct. 15.||2||10-2|
|Dan Lanning and the Ducks are doing their best to make the country forget that egg laid against Georgia on opening day. Bo Nix ran 80 yards for a score against Stanford, which has beaten only toothpaste this season (Colgate).||4||9-3|
|Dorian Thompson-Robinson is maturing before our eyes. That Friday win over Washington was the Bruins' first against a top 15 opponent in eight years. Repeat after me: The Pac-12 is for real!||NR||9-3|
|Jalen Hall was thrown for at least 250 yards in nine straight games. The running game is a concern (74th nationally) heading to Notre Dame.||3||7-5|
|It took a while, but Adrian Martinez is truly a dual threat. In the last two games against Oklahoma and Texas Tech, he has accounted for 669 yards in total offense.||6||9-3|
|Best two-loss team in the country? Might as well say it. Only losses are to ranked teams (BYU, Oklahoma State). All is not lost. The Bears lost to the Cowboys last year and came back to win the league.||6||6-6|
|There is something magical to this season. The best start since 2009 (5-0) continues as Iowa State missed three field goals. Do not squint. That is Kansas and K-State tied atop the Big 12 (both 2-0).||7||6-6|
|Someone please tell me what's wrong with Oklahoma. Can't do that without mentioning what is right about TCU. Sonny Dykes has made Max Duggan the nation's most efficient passer. The 479 yards gained by the Horned Frogs was the most by an FBS team this season in a first half.||NR||12-0|
|Back to the white board for the Wolfpack, which collapsed on the big stage against Clemson. The Tigers now have ACC Coastal tiebreakers over Wake Forest and NC State.||7||8-4|
|Apparently the Air Raid translates to defense, too. The Bulldogs forced four Texas A&M turnovers, three in the red zone. A blocked A&M field goal also resulted in a score. The Aggies are in shambles as they head to Tuscaloosa.||NR||8-4|
|The Demon Deacons rebound to muffle one of the best stories of the early season (Florida State). A 10-point win in Tallahassee a week after losing in double-overtime to Clemson was impressive. "That was a great, gutty incredible team win," Dave Clawson said.||NR||7-5|
|Penix Jr. threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns against UCLA. He remained the national passing leader, but the Huskies were bullied in the (Rose) Bowl.||7||10-2|
|The only blemish on Wazzu's record is a three-point loss to Oregon. A 19-point win over Cal sets up a showdown this week at USC. Yes, that's six Pac-12 teams ranked this week.||NR||7-5|
|"Hey man, I'm fine. Go play." Those were the words from Tua Tagovailoa to his brother, Taulia, on FaceTime after Tua's brutal concussion. Taulia then threw for 314 yards and a touchdown against Michigan State.||NR||7-5|
Out: Minnesota, Texas Tech, Florida State, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma