A lot of us thought this would be the week when we’d see the top four teams in the country pair off against one another: Alabama at LSU, and USC at Oregon. But they’re not the top four teams anymore. LSU and USC couldn’t stay unbeaten, and USC has lost twice already, which probably has USC boosters slipping anonymous love notes to Jon Gruden in the “Monday Night Football” booth.
But the big story isn’t that two of the Fantastic Four have lost already. The big story is that the other two are NOT the top two teams in the country … at least according to the True Top Ten.
1. Kansas State (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Texas Tech 55-24.
2. Notre Dame (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Oklahoma 30-13.
Here’s a rare chance for direct comparison: Both of the top two teams have their best win against the same opponent. (K-State beat Oklahoma 24-19 back on Sept. 22.) The two games were very different. K-State won on two huge turnovers -- a sack/fumble return for a TD, and a Sooner fumbled snap on the K-State 1. Notre Dame just wore out Oklahoma on both sides of the ball. Slight advantage, Irish.
But then look at each team’s four next best wins:
K-State: at West Virginia, Texas Tech, at Iowa State, Miami
Notre Dame: Stanford, Michigan, at Michigan State, BYU
The Wildcats have played slightly better teams and have more good wins on the road, so I’m leaving K-State on top. But it’s a really close call. If you look at the same facts and conclude that Notre Dame belongs there, I’m not going to fight you over it. By the way, this would be as good a title game, in its own way, as Bama-Oregon. Next up for K-State: Oklahoma State. Next up for Notre Dame: Pitt.
3. Ohio State (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Penn State 35-23.
Penn State got decent while nobody was looking -- it had won five in a row -- which makes it impressive that the Buckeyes went to Happy Valley and won convincingly. Braxton Miller continued to make his case for the Highlight Reel Heisman with the one-yard run of the year. They’re two games clear of the rest of the Big Ten and beat the next-best team (Nebraska) 63-38. And of course, they’re on probation. Somewhere, a Buckeye fan is composing another profane email to Terrelle Pryor. Next up: Illinois.
4. Oregon (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def.Colorado 70-14.
5. Alabama (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Mississippi State 38-7.
Well, it’s Prove It Week for the two most talented teams in the country. Sports on Earth will be all over the games -- I’ll be in L.A. for Oregon-USC, and the great Chuck Culpepper will be in Baton Rouge for Alabama-LSU. If I had to pick an upset, I’d pick USC. Oregon’s defense hasn’t been tested yet, and if USC can keep the Ducks' offense on the sideline, the Trojans have a chance. Bama-LSU? I think the more times you play Nick Saban, the less chance you have to beat him. Next up for Oregon: at USC. Next up for Alabama: at LSU.
6. Florida (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Georgia 17-9.
7. LSU (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Idle.
8. Georgia (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Florida 17-9.
Yes, Georgia beat Florida on Saturday -- trust me, I know -- but Florida and LSU have both played tougher schedules so far. The big picture is, you could throw these three teams in an eternal round-robin and they’d all come out pretty even. And if there were a pay-per-view channel for that, I’d sign up immediately. Next up for Florida: Missouri. Next up for LSU: Alabama. Next up for Georgia: Ole Miss.
9. Louisville (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Cincinnati 34-31 (OT).
The Cardinals got a little separation in the Big East by beating Cincinnati on the same day Rutgers lost its first game (to Kent State, and yes, the MAC is 4-4 against the Big East this year, and yes, I’m reconsidering Louisville in the TTT). Teddy Bridgewater threw for 416 yards in the win. Although really, when Teddy Bridgewater gets in a shootout with Munchie Legaux, everybody wins. Next up: Temple.
10. Oregon State (6-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Washington 20-17.
I was hoping the Beavers would hang on long enough that Oregon-Oregon State would be the biggest game in the history of the Platypus Trophy. But QB Sean Mannion threw four picks, and even though backup Cody Vaz threw a game-tying TD, Washington had enough time for a field goal to win it. Still, with a decent finish, Oregon State could end up in the Rose Bowl. Not to mention that beating Oregon might make Kansas State or Notre Dame very happy. Next up: Arizona State.
Dropping out: Oklahoma, Rutgers.
Bubbling under: FSU, Clemson.
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Questions? Comments? Challenges? Taunts? You can reach me at email@example.com or on Twitter @tommytomlinson. Oregon-USC at 7 p.m. Eastern. Bama-LSU at 8. Check the batteries in your remote.