College Football Power Rankings: North Carolina, Texas A&M rocket upwards after top 25 wins

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If you didn’t believe it before, you’d better believe it now: Defense is all but extinct. It certainly seemed that way on a weekend where 31 of the 58 teams playing scored at least 30 points.

That shouldn’t be surprising because the average FBS team is scoring 30.3 points per game in 00. If that holds up, it would be a record.

Adding to the fun …

  • Ole Miss and Alabama combined for the most yards ever in a regulation SEC game.
  • Texas and Oklahoma played in the highest-scoring Red River Showdown, which went to four overtimes.
  • Texas A&M beat a top five team (Florida) for the first time since 2002. The Aggies needed 41 points to do it.

What that means for this week’s biggest game is fascinating. Alabama just rolled up its most yards ever on Ole Miss. It now hosts Georgia, which is No. 2 nationally in total defense. I’m sensing something similar to nuclear fission where everything around that clash is reduced to ash, especially if Nick Saban needs his offense to run up 743 yards to win.

“I’m not really calm,” Saban said after surviving Ole Miss, 63-48. “I’m boiling and bubbling, trying to be encouraging to the players.”

First, he has to settle down himself if recent history repeats. The Crimson Tide have given up at least 42 points three times in the last eight games. Before that, Alabama gave up 42 points three times in the prior 65 games.

Editor’s note: Teams from the five conferences not yet playing in the 2020 college football season will be eligible for the Power Rankings beginning Monday, Oct. 19.

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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Rcrd


1


Clemson

The trees wasted on newsprint chronicling whether Clemson will finally be challenged in the ACC could fill a forest. Once again, the Tigers remain head and shoulders above everyone else in their conference — and maybe the country. Miami was completely shut down offensively in a 42-17 loss. Travis Etienne has accounted for 409 total yards in the last two games. Trevor who? Clemson’s tailback might be the best player in the country. 4-0

2


Georgia

After all the upheaval within the program, the Dawgs are sitting pretty going into the showdown with Alabama. After a 23-point win over Tennessee, they seem to be the only SEC team playing defense. How does the nation’s No. 2 defense grab you? 1 3-0

3


Alabama

It better get Bama’s attention. The Tide are allowing twice as many yards (473) as the Dawgs (236). They just allowed the most in program history (647 vs. Ole Miss). Whatever happens, this season is going to be as entertaining as hell. Bama was the willing participant in a game producing the most yards in SEC history (1,370 vs. Ole Miss). Mac Jones is the country’s No. 1 rated passer and second-most accurate thrower. 1 3-0

4


Notre Dame

Let’s cut to the chase. The Fighting Irish aren’t likely to lose until playing Clemson on Nov. 7. There had to be disappointment in Florida State scoring 26 points in a 16-point ND win. Quarterback Ian Book accounted for three touchdowns, and Kyren Williams ran for 185 yards. Louisville is next. 2 3-0

5


North Carolina

The Tar Heels are in the top five of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1997. Some of that is a function of the Big Ten and Pac-12 not playing, but it’s also the talent of the guy I picked as the preseason coach of the year in Mack Brown. UNC took advantage of a depleted Virginia Tech for a convincing 56-45 win. 6 3-0

6


Oklahoma State

Idle. Still the best team in the Big 12. Right now, it isn’t even close. The Cowboys have won three games by an average of 21 points. They have to like what they saw in the Red River game. Oklahoma’s win basically makes undefeated OSU the Big 12’s best playoff hope. 1 3-0

7


Florida

Dan Mullen, take a bow: Kyle Trask’s 14 touchdown passes through three games are mighty impressive. He’s Florida’s best quarterback since Tim Tebow, which includes the entire reigns of Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain. The defense is another thing. After surrendering 543 yards to Texas A&M, the Gators D is giving up 495 yards per game, second-worst in the SEC since at least 2009. 3 2-1

8


Kansas State

Chris Kleiman had a nice week. He signed a six-year extension then knocked off TCU on the road, 21-14. The Wildcats are proving they can win any way you want. They won a shootout against Oklahoma. Against TCU, K-State managed less than 300 yards. True freshman quarterback Will Howard was good enough replacing the injured Skylar Thompson. The Wildcats remain tied with Iowa State for the Big 12 lead. 2 3-1

9


Cincinnati

Idle. Big AAC showdown this week with a trip to Tulsa. Actually, we’ll find out about the Bearcats quick with games to follow against SMU, Memphis and Houston. Cincinnati is built on defense with Marcus Freeman’s until allowing 12.3 points per game. 1 3-0

10


BYU

A sneaky good game against two undefeateds ended with the Cougars beating UTSA 27-20. Kalani Sitaki got big performances from Tyler Allgeier (116 yards rushing) and Dax Milne (102 yards receiving). BYU has a chance to run the table, even if the table doesn’t include a Power Five opponent. 3 4-0

11


Texas A&M

Florida was a prove-it game for Jimbo Fisher. He had been 0-7 against top-five ranked teams at Texas A&M. The Aggies were coming off a four-touchdown loss at Alabama. Now there’s hope there will be a payoff for that $75 million contract. Fisher had Kellen Mond threw for 338 yards and three scores. Seth Small kicked the game-winning field goal with no time remaining. 11 2-1

12


Miami (FL)

Back to the drawing board for the Canes. They produced only 210 offensive yards against Clemson. D’Eriq King accounted for all of 5 yards of it. The Tigers held the ball for more than 38 minutes. Clemson has now won the last three meetings by a combined 138-20. 7 3-1

13


Auburn

Man, did Arkansas ever get screwed. Attempting to clock the ball late, Bo Nix fumbled the snap and appeared to make a backward pass throwing the ball to the ground. That would have been a turnover if the SEC officiating crew hadn’t missed it. The Tigers survived 30-28 on a late field. Watch for an opponent not on the schedule — karma. The football gods owe Auburn one to even things up. 2 2-1

14


Iowa State

The Cyclones remain tied with K-State atop the Big 12 (both are 3-0). They got there with a methodical 31-15 decision over Texas Tech. Since the Louisiana loss, Brock Purdy has completed almost 70% of his passes without any interceptions. Chuba who? Breece Hall leads the Big 12 in rushing. 3 3-1

15


SMU

Idle. Going into the Tulane game, the Mustangs lead the country in explosive plays with 48 runs of 12+ yards or pass completions of 18+ yards. Shane Buechele is having a magic season leading the AAC in passing yards, touchdown passes and quarterback rating. 1 4-0

16


Tennessee

The SEC’s leading pair of rushers — Ty Chandler and Eric Gray — were absolutely shut down by Georgia. They entered the game with 321 combined yards rushing. They were held to 36 yards on 16 carries by Georgia’s D. The Vols gained only 71 second-half yards. The SEC East still belongs to Florida and Georgia. 7 2-1

17


Oklahoma

The Sooners saved their season with a four-overtime win against Texas. T.J. Pledger saved the Sooners. After leading rusher Seth McGowan was ruled out because of injury, Pledger, a junior, stepped in with a career-high 131 yards in the highest-scoring Red River Showdown of all-time. That’s saying something after the 117th edition of the game. Of course, there was much more. Spencer Rattler was yanked, then pulled a Lazarus job to rally the Sooners. 4 2-2

18


Louisiana

Idle. Remember the Ragin’ Cajuns? They will have not played for 18 days when they meet Coastal Carolina on Wednesday. Hurricane Delta forced Saturday’s game with Coastal to be moved. Since beating Georgia Southern on Sept 26, they’ve also had a game against Appalachian State postponed. 2 3-0

19


Tulsa

Idle. The Golden Hurricane have already beaten UCF. Now they have a chance to gain further control of the AAC with Cincinnati at home this week. Tulsa (1-1) has only played twice but has shown resilience. It hasn’t started 2-1 since 2016. 1-1

20


UCF

Idle. A trip to Memphis looms. The Knights are trying to get over a loss to Tulsa, their fourth in a row to the Hurricane and eighth in the last nine meetings. We need to hear more about Dillon Gabriel. The sophomore continues to lead the AAC in passing. 2-1

21


LSU

Missouri achieved one of the 10 best wins in its history after stopping the defending national champions four straight times from its own 1. LSU is OK offensively (Myles Brennan had a career game). Defensively, it is a mess. Expect defensive coordinator Bo Pelini to be called out this week. Missouri was missing seven in the two-deep and still put up 45 points. 9 1-2

22


NC State

The Wolf Pack got to 3-1 with the help of 320-pound Alim Mitchell’s pick six against Virginia. The Cavaliers outgained NC State but turned it over four times. That makes it nine turnovers on the season for Virginia. NR 3-1

23


Marshall

The Thundering Herd rushed out to a 38-0 lead on Western Kentucky before settling for a 38-14 win. Freshman Grant Wells threw for 162 yards, and Brenden Knox rushed for three scores. The Herd (3-0) had been off for three weeks but turned three Hilltoppers turnovers into touchdowns. NR 3-0

24


Boston College

You have to feel for Pittsburgh. In consecutive games, the Panthers lost to NC State with 23 seconds left and then on Saturday to BC when an extra point went wide in overtime. Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec (358 yards) and receiver Zay Flowers (6 catches, 163 yards) have a thing going. NR 3-1

25


Coastal Carolina

Idle. Possibly the game of the year in the Sun Belt on Wednesday as the Chanticleers travel to Louisiana. No opponent has been within 15 points of Coastal this season. The teams have split the only two meetings. Coastal wants revenge for a 41-point win by the Ragin’ Cajuns last season. NR 3-0

Dropped out: Mississippi State, Texas, TCU, Virginia Tech

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