1. The social media coordinator at Clemson
Since college football has given us no clear No. 1, the social media coordinator at Clemson will have to do.
HOW. HOW DID YOU DO THIS. If, in the dark ages of the Tommy Bowden era, you told a sane person that Clemson would be filming its coach twirling a towel around his head like Petey Pablo and doing a dance called The Whip, all to a song called "Jumpman" by Drake and Future? That sane person would have quietly backed away before you started talking about chemtrails and the Phantom Time Theory, that's what they would have done.
But we're here, in 2015, a better and stranger place than the past. If we have no clear No. 1, we at least have Dabo Swinney somehow becoming the top brand of the season. Oh, in pregame they had Dabo high-fiving fans to the beat from the Drake diss track "Back to Back." I swear it kinda works, for reasons unknown to man, science, or the heart.
I dunno, they beat a team I had in the Top Whatever last week -- Notre Dame, by the score of 24-22 -- and did it despite reaaaalllllly looking capable of blowing a late lead. That's giving credit to a.) the Irish, who came back hard despite their injury situation and a driving tropical storm, and b.) Clemson, who overcame Clemson and some ridiculously tight-assed play calling down the stretch. I feel pretty confident calling them a good football team even with the gradual change in philosophy on offense.
The Gators start as many as three freshmen on the offensive line. They had something like 20 people on the roster with the flu, including starting quarterback Will Grier. Their coach, prior to this game, was best known for screaming at a player on camera following a penalty. Their resume thus far involved playing East Carolina too closely at home, a skull-numbingly narrow victory over Kentucky, and pulling a win from the clenched butt cheeks of Butch Jones' Volunteers.
They then turned around and beat the hide off Ole Miss, 38-10, in all three phases of the game. This is because 2015 will give you nothing easy, and also because Florida's defense and defensive line in particular turned out to be a very bad matchup for the Rebels, and because with just a bit of offense this might turn out to be a fairly good team.
I have no idea what they're doing here, but the Gators -- the young, inexperienced, still-rehabbing Gators -- are here after beating the No. 3 team in the AP. That might change after playing Mizzou next week, sure, but for the moment, they're somehow here.
P.S. Florida's defensive line is in your kitchen and wants some eggs. Make them before Jon Bullard gets cranky and starts eating the cabinets.
Maybe in Week 5, you just want a stone cold killer to bank on. Just one soulless apex predator who won't get upset by Florida (THANKS OLE MISS), pounded at home by Alabama (HI GEORGIA), or struggle on the road against a team nearly beaten by FCS Southern Illinois (GO BUCKS). Just one amoral natural disaster of a team, leveling all in its wake with equanimity.
Someone who, even when faced with a struggling Texas team, will not only throw the Longhorns into a well, but fill it up with biting ants and garbage before sealing it up with concrete. TCU beat the Longhorns 50-7 and it could have been so, so much worse. TCU is the psychopathic beast you know, and familiarity will buy you a lot of affection here. (Even if you happen to be a well-oiled, heartless death computer like the Horned Frogs.)
Enjoyed a 44-24 victory over West Virginia, a team thought to have a very good defense before Baker Mayfield threw for 320 yards and three TDs against it.
Why this team sometimes misplaces running back Samaje Perine in key situations is baffling, but consider this: what does it say that sometimes the Sooners completely forget one of their best players exists, and yet still win? That they're pretty good? And that Bob Stoops probably loses his keys pretty frequently, then blames it on his brother until he finds them? Yes, all of this.
The Utes did not play football this week, but the team they obliterated to stay undefeated and earn national credibility bounced back nicely at Colorado, which is kind of what Colorado does for struggling teams in the Pac-12. Utah plays Cal next week, ensuring the Pac-12 will be down to just one team without a loss.
The Bears ran for 368 yards on Texas Tech in a 63-35 victory, but sure, they're the mythical spread offense of a curmudgeonly football commentator's dreams.
TCU and Baylor do not play until Nov. 27, and in the meantime will both be favored in every game they play, so if you hate the idea of continually ranking two Big 12 teams in the top 10 (or Whatever) every week, ration your hate. It'll have to last two months, and that's before we all start talking about where Oklahoma fits into this equation.
Shut out Minnesota 27-0? What are you doing here Northwestern? Who's working the door, dammit don't leave it open like that, that's how you get flies and undefeated Pat Fitzgeralds in your walls.
That Stanford win and a stingy defense are enough to buoy them well past reason here, especially when you look at their body of work versus, say, LSU's, a team relying on wins over Auburn and the SEC West's designated crash test dummy, Mississippi State. That'll change, but that's where we're at.
Sleepwalked through most of a 44-22 win over Eastern Michigan. As is usual with Les Miles teams, the quarterback played badly, Leonard Fournette gained more than 200 yards and no one seemed to exert themselves too much until they had to. LSU's either the smartest or laziest team, and it's so hard to tell whether it even matters with the way this offensive line is playing.
10. Michigan State
An Iowa-type, in that your confidence in its quality is inversely proportional to the margin of victory. You hear about a narrow 24-21 victory over Purdue and think, "Oh, they must not be good," but that's deeply misunderstanding the soul of Michigan Stateness. Mark Dantonio will get this entire family to Disney World on just $17 and years of saved-up Marriott Rewards points. He'll do it, even if he has to eke out wins over MAC teams and Purdue. You'll even suspect that he likes it better that way.
11. Texas A&M
Quietly amassing a resume of quality by working its way through the SEC West. Related: Mississippi State's tragic role seems to be to provide quality wins for better teams without looking too bad. It's hard, but it's a living.
Beat a ranked Wisconsin 10-6, which should be the score in this rivalry every year by law. C.J. Beathard threw for 77 yards on 9-of-21 passing, the defense slowed the game to a crawl and the run game ate clock. Iowa's back, man. They're going for it on fourth down a bit more often, but otherwise this is prime Ferentz-ball. You might not want to watch it, but you also do not want to face it.
13. Ohio State
#Goutwatch and the struggle out of championship hangover are so real right now. But the Buckeyes are still undefeated, even if they're playing Indiana to the final whistle of a 34-27 road win, and even if their fan base is so poisoned by success they're resorting to online cannibalism.
The good news: Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line can run a counter consistently, which is progress when the offense seems to miss the large brain of former offensive coordinator and current Houston coach Tom Herman. (Houston's undefeated, btw.)
Beat Wazzu 34-28, a measly score qualifying as a defensive struggle for both. Cal might be the Pac-12's crazy man on the bus with a knife, but please: address it as "the Pac-12's undefeated crazy man on the bus with a knife."
15. Oklahoma State
No really, they're undefeated after a 34-32 win over Kansas State. That counts for something even if Big 12 refs were awarding free first downs for no reason whatsoever.
16. Florida State
Avoided an upset at the hands of Wake Forest in a 24-16 win. My, isn't that a confidence-inspiring statement. Florida State and Ohio State feel like the same team right now, except that FSU has the excuse and promise of youth.
Just missing and/or thrown clear of the Top Whatever through vicious and decisive loss
- Alabama, because beating a Mark Richt team with expectations shouldn't count for much.
- Georgia, because hiring Brian Schottenheimer to run your offense was going to show up sooner or later.
- UCLA, still being carried into the end zone by Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage.
- Stanford, whose loss to Northwestern looks way less embarrassing.
- Notre Dame, narrowly missing thanks to injuries and one atrocious two-point conversion call at Clemson.
- Memphis and Temple, undefeated but doomed by mid-major scheduling.
- Ole Miss, blowing its credit limit immediately in a loss to Florida.