1. LSU. OK, so it needed a specially designed fake field goal to beat Florida, 35-28, in Death Valley. But with LSU you accept that the trap doors, secret passages and two-way mirrors are just part of the whole haunted house-type package.
There really isn't a lot to dislike, save for the occasionally deplorable special teams play, which is kind of an SEC West thing now? Presumably because you're all too busy worrying about recruiting the next 260-pound linebacker who can run a 4.4 to bother much with kickers over there?
Leonard Fournette had to grind for his 180 yards on 31 carries but still got his, the defense held Florida to a desperately earned but paltry 55 rushing yards and, most importantly, Brandon Harris passed the ball like an actual quarterback when he had to.
There are fewer questions after this weekend with LSU than there were going in, and the answers are largely positive. Oh, and the Tigers still test positive for lunacy, at least the kind of lunacy you want in a good Les Miles team. We'll take them, especially since they feel like a team that hasn't really shown everything it can do yet.
1a. This man.
Memphis beat Ole Miss, 37-24, and this man got to show the entire nation his sweatshirt. AS WAS HIS DIVINE RIGHT AMID SUCH GLORIOUS VICTORY.
2. Utah. An ugly-ass 34-18 win over Arizona State that was a struggle until the dam broke late in the fourth. (As in really late, since Utah scored 20 after trailing 18-14 in the third.) Devontae Booker was corralled for much of the game until a few key late runs, Travis Wilson took some huge losses in the run game and the Utes actually did this live on national television:
They did that, and looked as ugly as they've looked all season long, and yet still somehow won.
The Utes are peers with Michigan State: ugly even at their most functional, completely devoid of any sense of style points and dependent on a charismatic but sometimes inconsistent quarterback. And like Michigan State, I can't tell you not to respect the hell out of their unevenness and inability to surrender in dire game situations.
3. Clemson. Got some Boston College in their bloodstream in a 34-17 win. That's gonna require some fearsome antibiotics, because once Boston College's offense gets on you, it has the potential to take weeks to clear up, but champions keep fighting no matter the obstacle.
In the Tigers' case, it will be their schedule, which is on the downswing in terms of difficulty and features only Florida State as a "win that we can point to and get appreciative nodding from committee members." Good news: FSU might be really good again!
Bad news: FSU might be really good again, as in good enough to beat Clemson and end Playoff hopes completely.
4. Baylor. A 62-38 victory over West Virginia in which QB Seth Russell ran for 160 yards wait wait wait SETH RUSSELL CAN RUN FOR 160 YARDS? WHY? WHAT PERSON ON YOUR OFFENSE IS NOT A WARLOCK OR ESCAPEE FROM A GOVERNMENT EXPERIMENT GONE WRONG BUT YET ALSO SO VERY RIGHT?
TO BE HONEST I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW GOOD YOU ARE YET, BAYLOR, BUT YOU MAKE STUFF BLOW UP REAL GOOD. AND I THINK THAT'S THE PLAN, TO JUST BE SO SHINY AND EXPLOSIVE AND TO LET 400-POUND MEN CATCH THE BALL AND RUN WITH IT AND HOPE IT OVERRIDES ANY DEFENSIVE CONCERNS, AND YOU KNOW WHAT, BAYLOR? IT'S WORKING. FOR NOW IT IS TOTALLY WORKING.
P.S. AFTER TODAY, COREY COLEMAN HAS 16 RECEIVING TDS, WHICH IS MORE BY HIMSELF THAN 111 ENTIRE NON-BAYLOR FBS TEAMS HAVE.
5. Michigan State. TRIGGER WARNING, MICHIGAN FANS: Beat Michigan on a muffed punt, 27-23. The Spartans looked streaky and inconsistent and needed the biggest last-minute dickpunch of a play to beat their most hated rival, so of course we're all feeling more and more confident than ever about putting Michigan State up here, because the scrappier and more desperate they look, the more we like them.
It's not pretty. In fact, they have become the thing that went bad in the fridge that I want the whole country to taste. No really, try it; it's terrible and unforgettable and undefeated. I can't explain what Michigan State is, but a team capable of winning under such desperate circumstances is totally the Malort of football teams. You might not like the experience, but you have to admit that it wins every time you taste it.
6. TCU. Shook off a flirtation with an upset, composed itself, and then hit the afterburners in a 45-21 win over Iowa State in Ames.
A public service announcement: We're all getting a little cavalier about the kind of numbers Trevone Boykin amasses each week. Look, I can type 436 yards on 27-for-32 passing for 4 TDs and 13 rushes for 74 yards and one TD on the ground all I like, but if you're numb to his excellence at this point, you couldn't be blamed. He does this every week, and when you do something incredible every week, you risk spoiling everyone with your otherworldliness. That's why Dr. Manhattan left Earth. One day they're calling you a god, and a couple of weeks later when they're used to you, they're bored when you cure cancer for the 50th time.
7. Ohio State. Defeated Penn State 38-10 and made their two-quarterback system sort of work, something the Buckeyes can continue to do as long as Ezekiel Elliott stays healthy. We're getting into the region of the Top Whatever where one hamstring separates a team from also-ran status, but that really is how important Elliott is to Ohio State's continued viability as a Playoff contender. If he's running well behind a coordinated and forceful Buckeye offensive line, they're in. If not, not.
8. Florida State. Beat Louisville 41-21. Speaking of seasons resting on a single hamstring: to say that Dalvin Cook is the sole reason to consider the Seminoles a contender is not to insult the team as a whole. It's just that he's that freakishly good and capable of altering the course of a game by himself, and that even with a bad hamstring he puts up 163 yards and two TDs and makes things so much easier and more efficient for Everett Golson. Hamstrings are notoriously finicky and slow to heal.
Then again, if Jimbo Fisher can magically regrow a full inch or two on his hairline in an offseason, then miracles like Cook holding together for the rest of 2015 are possible, too.
9. Iowa. Beat Northwestern 40-10. No, I don't know how this is happening, either, but Iowa winning a national title by beating Baylor 8-4 is both the sweetest football dream we've had yet and the funniest possible ratings disaster for ESPN.
10. Oklahoma State. The undefeated Cowboys wisely decided not to play football this week. They also play Kansas next, so it might be said that they won't be playing what you and I would call football next week, either.
- Stanford, which has a loss already but flattened UCLA 56-35 on Thursday.
- Alabama, beneficiaries of having all quarterbacks in the game playing hard for the Tide in a 41-23 victory over A&M.
- One loss Notre Dame, winners of a 41-31 tennis match with headless USC.
- Oklahoma, which beat K-State 55-0 and WHAT DID YOU DO TO POOR BILL SNYDER? WHAT, INDEED?
- The undefeated Memphis Tigers, whom, by transitive property, would smoke Alabama by three TDs easy.