CFP Favorites Put the 'Rank' in Rankings
Face it, the only lists Americans don't like are to-do tasks the wife hands over just before kickoff.
Lists helped make David Letterman a star, and now college football fans have proven that, even with the CFP Selection Committee reserving judgment until mid-season, they have to have a list, no matter how flawed the logic may be of their rankings.
So here we are at the end of Week 3, with the usual brand names atop the AP poll. Have they earned their rankings? Not really, and all five at the top showed why they've still got work to do if they expect to separate themselves from the pack.
Defending champion Florida State got a conscience and found a way to suspend Heisman Trophy holder Jameis Winston on general principles -- since they've ignored so many other chances to teach him how to man up -- and should have lost to Clemson.
The Seminoles will not be tested in the near future, with North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Syracuse in the immediate future. Perhaps they'll need to work up a sweat on Sat 18 Oct when they host Nôtre Dame.
The Pac-12 has three outposts off the beaten path. Eugene is out of the way, Corvallis is kinda out of the way, and then there's Pullman. Conference teams know to beware, especially now that Mike Leach is in residence.
Interesting that the highlight package didn't bother to show how Wazzu's last-minute drive to tie was stopped.
It's good to be the team everyone expects to win.
Make no mistake, though. Marcus Mariota made the plays necessary to survive Oregon's 38-31 scare, but the Ducks will be hard pressed to keep dodging bullets like this for the Pac-12's full slate of nine conference games.
Mariota is still the front runner in the Heisman race, completing 21 of 25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns. After an open date that should give Oregon's starting tackles time to recover from injuries that kept them out of this contest, the Ducks will face an Arizona Wildcat squad that needed a Hail Mary to beat the much-improved CalBears in a wild 49-45 comeback:
Alabama put on a turnover display and still managed to pull away from Florida in the second half to secure a 42-21 victory. Yes, Amari Cooper had himself a day and Blake Sims ultimately wound up in the plus column statistically, but this game should best be remembered as the one that confirmed Lane Kiffin's stamp on the Crimson Tide attack.
Even though 'Bama couldn't get out if its own way until midway through the third quarter, Kiffin kept dialing up the right calls at such frequency that sooner or later, the Tide couldn't help but prevail over what's still a disappointing Gator contingent.
Alabama gets a bye this week before facing Mississippi in Oxford. The Rebels have yet to be challenged, but they could have a pesky task against much-improved Memphis this coming Saturday before turning their attention to the Tide. If they jump the gun mentally, look for the Tigers to turn the clash into a classic trap opportunity.
Oklahoma did its part in competing with West Virginia for the most garish uniforms this side of Oregon. The game may have been a fashion tragedy, but the teams found time to put on a show:
Note the proceedings were tied at 24 at halftime before coach Bob Stoops and staff did what they did to adjust their defensive strategy. It worked, as the Sooners held the Mountaineers to a meaningless touchdown in the second half. Freshman Samage Perine rushed for four touchdowns for the Sooners while gaining 242 yards.
After a bye, Oklahoma gets TCU, Texas, and Kansas State in consecutive weeks. Whatever ol' Big Game or his DC told the Sooner D, the message had best be repeated and then some over the next month.
The difference between Clemson and Kansas state is this: Bill Snyder takes athletes with potential and gets them to overachieve; Dabo Sweeney takes talented athletes and ... well, think shotgun formation with the ball inches from Florida State's goal line.
And yet, this week, both the Wildcats and Tigers left enough points on the table to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Auburn started Week 3's slate by struggling against Kansas State in a game the Wildcats should have won. Kansas State missed three field goals, fumbled deep in Tiger territory, and threw and interception in the end zone.
Nick Marshall did throw two touchdowns for the Tigers, who have a tough schedule ahead after breaking a slight sweat against Louisiana Tech this weekend. After that comes contests against LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas A&M.
If these showings proved anything, it's the familiar argument that rankings may be entertaining, but they should not be part of a playoff equation.