Welcome to the time of year when you can proceed through the sad formality of playing a derelict Arkansas team, lower your points allowed per game to the nation's best (9.7), eliminate all hope of success in the first 10 minutes of a game, successfully execute at every turn of a 52-0 contest and look... well, you look like the dependable family luxury sedan. You're cruising along as Jameis Winston passes on the right at 180 miles an hour, music blaring and tail lights receding into the distance.
2. Florida State
It's not Clemsoning if you lose 51-14 to a Florida State team in a state of full, orchestrated rage, so stop yourself before you trot out that tired phrase. Clemsoning implies the possibility of winning a game, and then the forfeiture of said possibility via an incompetence passed generationally from one Clemson team to another. This was not Clemsoning, because Clemson never stood a chance of winning this game.
Not with the Florida State defensive line demolishing the Clemson offensive line on every play, not with Jameis Winston continuing a long, unconscious, and impossibly composed run of brilliance through the 2013 schedule, and not when Clemson averaged 4.5 yards a pass while Florida State averaged 12.7 per pass play. It's Clemsoning if you see the top of the mountain, then sneeze and fall 10,000 feet into an ice cave and die. It's not Clemsoning when the whole damn mountain falls on you.
Another victim of the mundanity of routine obliteration. Does it help to note that Washington State is slightly improved? (No, no it does not.)
Does it contextualize a 62-38 win to note that Byron Marshall had the most relaxed, low-profile 192-yard and three-touchdown performance you'll see this year? (Maybe.)
Does it help to note how numb you might be to the destruction that Connor Halliday threw an NCAA record 89 passes in a game and you hardly noticed? (It sort of does.)
The video game Turok: Dinosaur Hunter gave you, the player, so many outrageously overpowered guns that it almost became too routine to scroll through, pick the "NUCLEAR BOMB GUN," and fire it lackadaisically into the sky to watch the flames torch the ozone. That's Oregon right now. We're going to need some bigger dinosaurs to fight them.
Dismantling Iowa State 71-7 isn't as routine as it seems, since Iowa State remains the Big 12's gnarliest speed bump, but whatever, it's Baylor. They avoid speed bumps by taking an F-22 wherever they go, pollution and noise ordinances be damned.
5. Ohio State
The creeping feeling that there's a loss on the horizon does not improve when Iowa scores 24 points on you in a 10-point win. Then there's the creeping feeling that the three teams up there [wiggles eyebrows up the page] would take Ohio State's defense, bind it in a human-sized duffel bag, and throw it down the the steepest of elevator shafts.
The feeling that the win over Northwestern means a lot less after watching the Wildcats die at the hands of Minnesota this weekend.
There's the fear that this may be a different Big Ten now -- one where there is Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan with one hand on the ladder struggling to hold on, and then the rest of the mob fighting far below.
Fine. We're here. It's 2013 and Mizzou is undefeated, and is the best team in the SEC East, and will likely serve as the ritual sacrifice to whatever rough beast comes comes out of the SEC West in the Championship Game. Harp on Florida's injuries as much as you like: their corners were healthy and got dominated by Mizzou's huge receivers on Saturday.
P.S. This might actually be a ray of hope for the Tigers should they end up facing Alabama, since the last huge receiver the Tide faced was Mike Evans, and that very nearly ended in disaster for Alabama.
Listen: the loss column is zero, they beat a desperate UNC team on the road, Stephen Morris's foot has not fallen off yet, and they have a chance to beat Florida State. A statistical, actual chance, since it is possible they might win. Not probable. But possible, something I would like to remember since I watched Ole Miss beat LSU last night, and that means any damn thing is possible.
The waiting lounge
Stanford. The Utah loss was crippling for national title implications, but a road failure should not be a disqualifier for national title aspirations, if we're being fair. Looking at you, Alabama 2011.
Oklahoma. The stray beer kept at the back of the fridge in case we run out of everything else is the Sooners, our doomsday candidate from the Big 12 if everything else collapses in a pile of two loss teams. We really don't want to drink it, man, but it might have to do should the power go out for a few days and we have to eat everything in the fridge before it spoils. <---STRICTLY FOR EMERGENCIES DO NOT CONSUME
Clemson; Louisville, because losing to George O'Leary is a moral failure, not just a football one; Texas A&M, whose defense finally imploded fully and past the capacity of the Aggie offense to salvage it; LSU, victims of one of the best desperation defensive performances of the year by Ole Miss; UCLA, still in need of help along both lines; and South Carolina, the team that finally caught the point where an improving Tennessee team finally beat someone.