Well, that was the weekend to invite over your friend who doesn’t like college football, sit together in front of the TV for several hours, and shout at the end of the night: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
Man, was that good stuff. I was on the West Coast, and let me tell you, there’s not much better than football for breakfast. Texas A&M-Mississippi State started at 9 a.m. Pacific, and by 9:30 Johnny Manziel had enough highlights for an entire ESPN segment.
And as you know, it just got better from there: Notre Dame-Pitt in the gloaming, Oregon and USC playing laser tag, and Alabama-LSU topping it off with a game so dramatic that, for once, “Shakespearean” actually fits.
It almost sullies the moment to rank these teams. It’s like grading your joy on a scale of 1 to 10. But we love to rank pretty much everything (With the first pick of the first round, I select Hamlet), and so here we go with this week’s True Top Ten, which was really hard when it comes to the True Top Three.
1. Alabama (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated LSU 21-17.
As you know, we line up teams in the TTT by the body of work they’ve put together during the season. The truth is, Kansas State has played, and beaten, more good teams than Alabama has. But Alabama, in that bowl of fury at Baton Rouge, coming back to take it at the end … that’s the best win any team has had this year, and maybe in several years. It’s like Triple Word Score in Scrabble.
Not only that, the postgame was my favorite 4 minutes and 30 seconds of sports this year. Nick Saban grins, maybe for the first time in his life. His hands get all jazzy. He bro-hugs his quarterback. The great Verne Lundquist punctuates the whole scene perfectly, all the way down to his question at the end. And as I tweeted after the game: A.J. McCarron sobbing on the sidelines is real, and human, and one reason some of us care about these unreal and inhuman games. Next up: Texas A&M.
2. Kansas State (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State 44-30.
The other reason K-State drops a notch is that all the other Big 12 teams are beating on one another, and it’s harder to tell if any of them are really good. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU and Texas are all sort of the same grade of beef. The Wildcats have beaten the first two already; if they can handle the last two, they’ll have a great case for playing in Miami. All this hinges on Heisman-ready QB Collin Klein, who might have a concussion. When asked about it, coach Bill Snyder put on his sunglasses at the poker table. Next up: at TCU.
3. Oregon (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated USC 62-51.
I was at this one, and one thing I didn’t mention is that the Ducks run the fastest no-huddle I’ve ever seen. They didn’t run it the whole game, but when they did, they were up at the line and ready as fast as the referee could spot the ball. What Oregon does best is make discipline and precision look chaotic.
They’re still down here, instead of up there with ‘Bama, because their schedule hasn’t caught up yet. But if they win out against Stanford, Oregon State and somebody in the Pac-12 title game (maybe USC again), that’s probably enough to push them up in the BCS, and maybe even in the TTT. Next up: at Cal.
4. Notre Dame (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Pitt 29-26 (3 OT)
Pitt isn’t terrible, it just plays that way sometimes, and it smelled like a letdown special for the Irish all the way up to the moment that Pitt kicker Kevin Harper pushed a 33-yarder wide right at the end of the second OT. After that, Notre Dame wasn’t losing that game – not to Pitt, not to a plague of locusts.
However… I predict Notre Dame gets in a mess of trouble with Wake Forest in two weeks. Wake isn’t terrible either, and Notre Dame might be looking ahead to USC, and don’t be surprised if Irish fans will be chewing on whatever fingernails they’ve got left. Next up: Boston College.
5. Ohio State (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Illinois 52-22.
It’s sort of sad to look at the Big Ten standings and realize that three teams in the same division are marked with an X that makes them ineligible for the postseason. Ohio State and Penn State get the X for probation. Illinois gets the X because it’s 2-7, and 5-7 is the best it can hope for. Ladies and gentlemen, the Leaders Division! (By the way, I think there’s still a chance for an Indiana-Northwestern Big Ten title game. Which would be awesome.)
All of this is another way of saying that Ohio State appears way better than anyone else in the Big Ten this year, and the rest of the league better hope the Wisconsin and Michigan games are competitive, or Urban Meyer is getting all your recruits. Next up: at Wisconsin (Nov. 17).
6. Georgia (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Ole Miss 37-10.
7. Florida (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Missouri 14-7.
Georgia moves ahead of Florida this week because Florida struggled at home with Missouri, which Georgia whipped on the road (with old-man football) back in September. Georgia is now one win away from a shot at Alabama in the SEC title game. But first the Dawgs have to avoid getting hosed at Auburn, and I mean that literally. Next up for Georgia: at Auburn. Next up for Florida: Louisiana-Lafayette.
8. Oregon State (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Arizona State 36-26.
The Beavers are trying to do something hard: switch quarterback and still thrive. Sean Mannion melted down two weeks ago in OSU’s loss to Washington, and backup Cody Vaz (who had played well when he started a couple games when Mannion was hurt) kept the job this week against Arizona State. He stumbled at the start – fumbling on his own one-yard line – but ended up passing for 267 yards, three TDs, and a sign in the crowd that said WE’RE ALL BELIEVAZ. Nice. Next up: at Stanford.
9. Louisville (9-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Temple 45-17.
The Teddy Bridgewater Project held together even after Temple’s Matt Brown returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a TD. (There’s also a wrestler named Matt Brown at Penn State. But neither one is the most talented Matt Brown.) By the way, the Cardinals beat Pitt by 10 on the road. That schedule doesn’t look quite so soft now. I suspect Louisville will step into West Virginia’s old role as Surprising Victor Over Bigger Schools In Bowl Games. Next up: at Syracuse.
10. Florida State (8-1)
LAST WEEK: Idle.
Sometimes you make your way into the TTT, and sometimes the TTT comes to you. Next up: at Virginia Tech (Thurs.)
Dropping out: LSU (but damn, boys, you tried.)
Bubbling under: Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Stanford, South Carolina.