1. Arizona State. Oh, who’s 2-0 right now, with a gritty comeback victory in a desert heater against a mean Michigan State?
Not Chip Kelly, the vaunted college genius whom no one made fun of when he was hired. Not Jimbo Fisher, who got $75 million guaranteed to move to Texas A&M. Not Dan Mullen or Willie Taggart, other coaches who got hired to no ridicule by the so-called pundits. Certainly not Scott Frost, who’s lost not one, but two games in his much-ballyhooed debut at Nebraska.*
*Losses for Scott Frost: Lightning and Colorado, respectively. Shut up, lightning is undefeated.
Who is 2-0?
None of you considered Herm Edwards, and that’s fine. Herm doesn’t need your help anyway. The Sun Devils are undefeated with a 64-year-old former ESPN commentator leading them.
Down 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils rallied behind timely passing from Manny Wilkins, a game-winning field goal from kicker Brandon Ruiz, and the exhortations of a crazed man who hasn’t coached in college since 1989. UNDEFEATED AND NUMBER ONE, BABY.
You might ask: Will the Sun Devils be here next week?
Will any of us, really? Does it matter? What matters for The Top Whatever is that for a shining moment seen by at least 58 people on the East Coast at 1:30 a.m., Arizona State stayed undefeated after getting ridiculed for hiring a man with a worse Kansas City Chiefs winning percentage than Todd Haley.
The point is: Week two national champion Arizona State Sun Devils, you have been considered and considered well.
P.S. Arizona might want to look at hiring Todd Haley, now that we look at that Houston box score. There have been worse ideas.
P.P.S. The Big Ten is now 0-10 in Tempe against Arizona State, per the AP. Herm is going to win the Big Ten title, too.
2. Georgia. Let’s just make this a rule. It’s a rule Georgia fans can understand fully, because it involves golf.
Par for Georgia in this particular era of Bulldog football is 20 passes. If Jake Fromm throws more than 20 passes, then there is a tiny but real chance Georgia may lose. If he doesn’t, Georgia will not lose.
Since Fromm threw 18 passes on the day, that puts Georgia at 2-under for the day, in the clubhouse with a 41-17 win over South Carolina. The Bulldogs ran the ball like Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were still back there, let the Gamecocks do absolutely nothing on the ground in return, and appear to have lost nothing from the formula that got them to the national title game last year.
The Dawgs get No. 2 this week for facing a division opponent, changing nothing from 2017, and reducing one of their toughest opponents to an easy 18. If you think these are mixed metaphors, you are not a Georgia person, i.e. someone who has repeatedly skipped the spring game to watch the Masters without blinking.
P.S. KIRBY SMART IS THE SWING COACH TIGER WOODS NEEDS, Y’ALL.
3. Trevor Lawrence’s hair.
#Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence hits the field for warmups. About 90 min away from kickoff against Texas A&M. @foxcarolinanews pic.twitter.com/j7xhU4bzMC— Aaron Cheslock (@AaronCheslock) September 8, 2018
Sir Lance-a-Big-Lots is over here with the “Immigrant Song” blasting out of nowhere every time he takes his helmet off. Look at that butterscotch god. Ain’t even a starter, and he’s got someone with a fan standing in front of him like he’s about to launch into an encore version of “Halo.”
4. Clemson. The takeaways from an early 28-26 road struggle against Texas A&M will be fast, furious, and fickle on both sides. So: let’s state a bunch of things that could all be true at once.
- Texas A&M has great wide receivers and an elusive quarterback in Kellen Mond. These are precisely the kind of things someone needs against Clemson’s defense, where the primary strength is a line that will swallow up quarterbacks whole. Get the ball out fast to talented wideouts.
- Generally if a team is going to beat this version of Clemson, they’re going to have to do it through the air. The Pitt loss in 2016, to a lesser degree the loss to Syracuse in 2017, and Texas A&M coming close in 2018 all involved teams short-circuting the Tigers’ advantage at the line of scrimmage. This isn’t something a lot of teams can do.
- Dabo Swinney’s teams usually have a scrum on the schedule, and usually win in ugly but admirable fashion. The 2015 team had a 20-17 brawl on the road with Louisville. The 2016 team had a 19-16 drudge over Auburn to open the season, too.
- They also had a 30-24 game over Troy — Troy! — that no one remembers because Clemson went on to win the national championship. That still happened, though, which is why after a day of hyperventilating over narrow road wins, it helps to remember that this is September. Approximately one team in college football has its problems figured out, and no one cares what Alabama’s problems are anyway.
- Texas A&M didn’t win, but looked great in a loss that could have easily gotten away from them after Clemson took a 21-6 lead. Take a lap and feel great about losing by two to one of the top five teams in the nation, Aggies. Not even making a joke about how much your little motormouthed coach gets paid. He got A&M within a two-point conversion of overtime with Clemson in week two of his tenure.
- If that seems like what he should have done anyway, well: LOOK AT WHAT FLORIDA AND FLORIDA STATE DID UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. RECONSIDER YOUR FORTUNES.
- Oh, and two of those best teams in the nation seem to be doing just fine at getting one quarterback the majority of the reps while also making playing time for another, so maybe we all need to rethink the position at the college level? It’s a sport with shifts at every other position.
- Steve Spurrier has said this for over 20 years, because Spurrier is pretty much right about everything.
5. Pitt fullback George Aston’s Neck. Pitt lost 51-6 to Penn State, but it wasn’t because George Aston didn’t lift enough weights.
pitt fullback george aston looks like young swole-ass charles krauthammer pic.twitter.com/HFQIF7haLs— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) September 9, 2018
Aston is down to 240 pounds and can now only do 30 reps at 225 on the bench. Pitiful, son, just pitiful*. That neck is now probably down to a mere 30 inches in circumference.
Now that Pitt has lost by 45 points to Penn State, I feel confident, now more than ever, that they will beat someone they absolutely should not. Hey, look, Pitt plays Notre Dame on October 13th! That’s certainly not the game I’m talking about, nope.
* This is joking please do not hurt me I am old and you are very young and strong and fast
6. Stanford. Punted eight times and only had 13 first downs over USC in a 17-3 win. These are all positives for Stanford, who likes to book very short football games, ugly on the field and pretty on the spreadsheet.
Counterpoint? USC might be kinda mediocre without departed QB Sam Darnold papering over a lot of weaknesses with late game heroics.
Still, punting that many times and strangulating USC had to make David Shaw very happy. To the photo tool!
Ah, yes, that’s practically ebullient for Shaw. It’s “mildly pleased” for anyone else, but trust us, as experienced David Shaw watchers, that is beyond giddy. If he looks like that, the Cardinal are in a good place.
7. Mississippi State. 31-10 over Kansas State but it wasn’t even that close. Kylin Hill and Nick Fitzgerald combined had 370 yards rushing. The defense prevented K-State from setting sail on 28-play drives. Everything Mississippi State wanted to happen happened, and nothing K-State wanted to happen happened.
The Bulldogs should be 4-0 when they host former coach Dan Mullen on September 29th. They should be 5-0 after that, because Florida just lost at home to Kentucky, looked inert at best on offense, and lost top cornerback Marco Wilson for the year to an ACL injury. Do you like watching ineffective blitzers giving up huge plays while Miss State head coach Joe Moorhead cackles and draws up plays on the sideline? WATCH THIS GAME THEN.
That’s a request, I’m a Florida fan and I’m not going to watch it, so someone will have to tell me what happened without getting too graphic.
8. Penn State. 51-6 over Pitt, so that 45-38 result over App State might have been an aberration. Either that, or App State is much better than Pitt, which is difficult, given how hard Pitt is to pin down, quality-wise.
Either way, the terrifying stat for anyone facing Penn State is: even after losing two fumbles, Penn State still outpaced Pitt by 45 points. James Franklin’s teams can do some weird things to math.
9. Alabama. The Tide smoked Arkansas State 57-7, but do not have a quarterback named “Justice Hansen.” There’s one advantage not even a 50-point blowout can take away from the Red Wolves.
Alabama has done nothing interesting this year. That ends this week with a trip to Ole Miss, a team with the only consistent winning strategy against Alabama. No one can beat the Tide in football? No problem. Ole Miss has decided to turn everything into basketball.
Brilliant strategy, since Alabama is a much more beatable franchise in this sport. As long as Jordan Ta’amu hits 40 percent from 3, the Rebels should be in this one.
10. Oklahoma. 49-21 over a rehabbing UCLA isn’t overly impressive, but what everyone is scouting is the offense’s ability to replace Baker Mayfield. This week against a stingy Iowa State is a way better test.
I mean stingy in every way. Iowa State only allowed 13 points to Iowa this past week, but only scored 3 in return, with 19 yards rushing. If a normal person can throw a frisbee as far as your team rushed on the day, I feel confident in saying that’s not good.
11. Ohio State. Let Rutgers score on them, 52-3, for the first time since 2015. Really lucky they’re ranked at all after that, but I’m charitable for downtrodden programs like Ohio State’s.
Consider this: The Buckeyes started 2017 with Urban Meyer on the sideline. In their first two games, they went 1-1 and only scored 65 points. In 2018, the Buckeyes have 129 points and are 2-0 without Meyer.
I know it’s not popular, but I’m going to say it anyway: could Urban be the thing holding this program back? I’m not afraid to ask the hard questions, Buckeye Nation. The mirror sees what it sees. And I’m a just a mirror, one that refuses to hear excuses about “omg you idiot we played Rutgers and Oregon State, not Oklahoma and Indiana.”
Just sayin’, Ohio State. I’d go with the hot hand. Please email me at email@example.com with all of your thoughts on this definitely serious suggestion, Buckeyes.
Lurking undefeated and played lesser competition this week: Wisconsin, Auburn, LSU, TCU, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, UCF, Kentucky.
Had a weird game against Ball State, of all teams? Notre Dame, who won 24-16 against Ball State? Let’s just ignore this one and assume everyone was gassy from the pregame meal.
Boise State? 818 yards against UConn in a 62-7 win isn’t a resume line. It is a felony.