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College Football Playoff Projections: Week 7 Rankings and Bowl Forecast | Bleacher Report

Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard

Oklahoma State RB Chuba HubbardBrody Schmidt/Associated Press

Here is the full breakdown of bowl projections, listed alphabetically by conference. New Year’s Six games have been italicized and underlined to help those of you who just scrolled to the bottom to find the marquee games.  

American (9 teams): Cincinnati (Peach Bowl), Houston (Armed Forces Bowl), Memphis (Fenway Bowl), Navy (Military Bowl), SMU (Birmingham Bowl), Temple (Boca Raton Bowl), Tulane (First Responder Bowl), Tulsa (Myrtle Beach Bowl), UCF (Gasparilla Bowl)

ACC (11 teams): Boston College (Fenway Bowl), Clemson (Sugar Bowl), Florida State (Military Bowl), Georgia Tech (Holiday Bowl), Miami (Gator Bowl), NC State (Duke’s Mayo Bowl), North Carolina (Cotton Bowl), Notre Dame (Orange Bowl), Pittsburgh (Pinstripe Bowl), Virginia (Sun Bowl), Virginia Tech (Cheez-It Bowl)

Big 12 (7 teams): Baylor (First Responder Bowl), Iowa State (Cheez-It Bowl), Kansas State (Cactus Bowl), Oklahoma (Alamo Bowl), Oklahoma State (Cotton Bowl), Texas (Texas Bowl), West Virginia (Liberty Bowl)

Big Ten (9 teams): Iowa (Cactus Bowl), Michigan (Citrus Bowl), Michigan State (Pinstripe Bowl), Minnesota (Duke’s Mayo Bowl), Nebraska (Music City Bowl), Ohio State (Rose Bowl), Penn State (Fiesta Bowl), Purdue (Quick Lane Bowl), Wisconsin (Outback Bowl)

Conference USA (5 teams): Florida Atlantic (Boca Raton Bowl), Louisiana Tech (Armed Forces Bowl), Marshall (New Orleans Bowl), UAB (New Mexico Bowl), UTSA (Frisco Bowl)

Independents (4 teams): Army (Independence Bowl), BYU (Peach Bowl), Liberty (Myrtle Beach Bowl)

Mid-American (6 teams): Ball State (Cure Bowl), Buffalo (Quick Lane Bowl), Central Michigan (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), Miami-Ohio (Camellia Bowl), Ohio (LendingTree Bowl), Toledo (Arizona Bowl)

Mountain West (5 teams): Air Force (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl), Boise State (Los Angeles Bowl), Nevada (New Mexico Bowl), San Diego State (Arizona Bowl), Wyoming (Frisco Bowl)

Pac-12 (7 teams): Arizona State (Sun Bowl), California (Los Angeles Bowl), Oregon (Fiesta Bowl), Stanford (Independence Bowl), USC (Alamo Bowl), Utah (Las Vegas Bowl), Washington (Holiday Bowl)

SEC (12 teams): Alabama (Rose Bowl), Arkansas (Music City Bowl), Auburn (Gator Bowl), Florida (Outback Bowl), Georgia (Sugar Bowl), Kentucky (Birmingham Bowl), LSU (Texas Bowl), Mississippi State (Liberty Bowl), Missouri (Gasparilla Bowl), Ole Miss (Las Vegas Bowl), Tennessee (Citrus Bowl), Texas A&M (Orange Bowl)

Sun Belt (4 teams): Appalachian State (LendingTree Bowl), Coastal Carolina (Camellia Bowl), Louisiana (New Orleans Bowl), Troy (Cure Bowl)

                         

Kerry Miller covers college football and men’s college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.

Ranking the Best Position Units in College Football Early in 2020 | Bleacher Report

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    DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie III

    DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie IIIL.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    When a college football team is thriving, that success is always a product of multiple position groups playing well. But one particular unit usually deserves much of the praise.

    In the early stages of the 2020 season, several of these units have emerged. For this piece, “best” describes the most effective position groups on the most successful teams. So, yes, the highest-ranked programs are well represented.

    Additionally, the selections provide a snapshot of what has happened so far, not necessarily a projection of what’s to come.

    Quarterbacks are not included in the list; only positions with two-plus contributors were considered.

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    Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

    Two years ago, Appalachian State showcased an overwhelming secondary. That team surrendered 5.7 yards per pass attempt and a 56.5 completion percentage and logged 17 interceptions to eight touchdowns. This season’s secondary is statistically comparable.

    So far, the Mountaineers have surrendered just 491 passing yards in three games. Opponents have completed an FBS-worst 40.5 percent of their attempts with a meager 6.6 yards per throw.

    Shemar Jean-Charles leads App State with eight pass breakups, while Kaiden Smith has four and an interception. Shaun Jolly is a terrific corner, and Ryan Huff (pictured) has an interception too. That quartet is the foundation of a lockdown secondary.

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    While quarterback Zach Wilson is the star and the offensive line deserves a ton of credit, BYU’s running backs are excelling too.

    Tyler Allgeier (pictured) has scampered for 391 yards at a scorching 7.4-yard clip and scored four touchdowns in four games. Lopini Katoa has provided versatility with 215 rushing yards and eight catches for 78 yards, totaling four touchdowns.

    For good measure, Jackson McChesney added 56 yards and a score before a season-ending foot injury.

    Wilson willunderstandablygrab headlines if the Cougars keep winning games, but the rushing attack has been a significant part of BYU’s 4-0 start.

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    One important caveat is Cincinnati’s competition. Austin Peay is an FCS program, and Army is reliant on the running game. But the Bearcats dominated both of them and shut down South Florida.

    The secondary has ceded just 5.1 yards per attempt, a 51.5 completion percentage and only 515 passing yards. Three playersstar corner Ahmad Gardner (pictured, 12), Arquon Bush and Coby Bryant (pictured, 7)have nabbed two interceptions apiece, while Garner and safety James Wiggins each have three pass breakups.

    Cincinnati entered 2020 with high expectations for the defensive backfield, and the unit is exceeding them.

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    You are reading this correctly: In a program known for its offense, the linebackers are Oklahoma State’s strength.

    Running backs Chuba Hubbard, LD Brown and Dezmon Jackson merit shoutouts, but Amen Ogbongbemiga (pictured), Malcolm Rodriguez, Calvin Bundage and Devin Harper have demanded the spotlight.

    Ogbongbemiga leads OSU with 22 tackles, and the other three are within

Le’Veon Bell’s Career Earnings After Early Release from Jets Contract | Bleacher Report

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Le’Veon Bell’s short stint with the New York Jets proved extremely lucrative, even if his production didn’t match his salary. 

The Jets released Bell on Tuesday, less than two years into the four-year, $52.5 million contract he signed in March 2019. The $28 million he earned in 17 games with New York is nearly double the $16.2 million he earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers over five seasons.

Bell was a key cog in the Steelers’ offense from 2013-2017, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2014 and 2017 while tallying more than 1,200 yards rushing three times. After his second All-Pro season, Bell sat out the entire 2018 campaign due to a contract dispute with Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers handed off to Bell a career-high 321 times in 2017, and the tailback was looking to sign an extension before becoming a free agent following the 2018 season. When Pittsburgh instead franchise-tagged him, Bell elected to remain on the sidelines rather than risk his health in a contract year. 

From a financial standpoint, there’s no question the decision made sense. The Jets gave Bell a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $61 million overall, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

He didn’t come close to justifying that contract, though. Across the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Bell carried the ball 264 times for 863 yards and three touchdowns to go with 500 receiving yards and one touchdown.

Spotrac.com puts Bell’s career estimated earnings at nearly $44.1 million. That number could jump up again in the near future if Bell signs elsewhere as a free agent. 

NCAA Football Rankings 2020: Analyzing Week 7 Polls and Top 25 College Standings | Bleacher Report

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell plays against Boston College during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The latest string of upsets in college football shook up the AP Top 25, as Florida and Miami both tumbled six positions in the Week 7 poll. 

The downward movement from those two teams, combined with the drops for Oklahoma, Texas and LSU in the last few weeks, has allowed some unfamiliar faces to climb into the top 10.

North Carolina turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of Saturday’s upsets by boosting three spots to No. 5. Oklahoma State and Cincinnati also gained three positions on their way up to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. 

If those programs come out on top Saturday, they could gain more ground since Alabama and Georgia are scheduled to meet in what could be the first of many top-five showdowns across the nation this season. 

             

AP Top 25

1. Clemson (4-0)

2. Alabama (3-0)

3. Georgia (3-0)

4. Notre Dame (3-0)

5. North Carolina (3-0)

6. Ohio State 

7. Oklahoma State (3-0)

8. Cincinnati (3-0)

9. Penn State

10. Florida (2-1)

11. Texas A&M (2-1)

12. Oregon

13. Miami (3-1)

14. Auburn (2-1)

15. BYU (4-0)

16. Wisconsin

17. SMU (4-0)

18. Tennessee (2-1)

19. Michigan 

20. Iowa State (3-1)

21. Louisiana (3-0)

22. Kansas State (3-1)

23. Virginia Tech (2-1)

24. Minnesota

25. USC

         

Analysis

Clemson, Alabama and Georgia will spend one more week in the top three, but one of those positions is expected to change hands at the weekend. 

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs meet Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium for what could be an early preview of the SEC Championship Game. 

Alabama fended off its first ranked challenger two weeks ago and followed up that win over Texas A&M with a shootout victory over Ole Miss. 

The Crimson Tide need to be sharper on defense to remain near the top of the rankings, though. They allowed 48 points and 647 total yards to Ole Miss. 

The good news for Alabama is its offense seems to be clicking with Mac Jones replacing Tua Tagovailoa under center. 

Nick Saban’s side put up 153 points in its first three games. Georgia has not scored at the same level, but it does own a 108-37 advantage over its opponents. 

North Carolina was the only ranked team in the same scoring range as Alabama in Week 6, after it lit up the Virginia Tech defense for 56 points. 

The Tar Heels vaulted from No. 8 to No. 5 over Ohio State, who has yet to take the field. Three of the top 15 teams that have not played yet did not move at all from Week 6 to Week 7. 

When the season ends, the Tar Heels likely won’t be as strong as the potential Big Ten champion, but they deserve credit for what they have accomplished in Mack Brown’s second season back. 

North Carolina should remain in the top five until the Buckeyes touch the gridiron for the first time since it has a fairly easy schedule in the

College Football Rankings 2020: Week 7 Polls, Schedule and Standings Predictions | Bleacher Report

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones looks for a receiver against Michigan during the second half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

John Raoux/Associated Press

One of the most anticipated games of the college football season will give us an insight into which team may be the best College Football Playoff contender out of the SEC.

No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game that should take over the national spotlight. This will also be the first time the the two teams have met in the regular season since 2015. 

The winner of the SEC showdown will be viewed as the top contender to Clemson in the Top 25 rankings and will gain a massive advantage in the playoff discussion. 

Although no other ranked programs face each other in the upcoming week, seven Top 25 sides have to go on the road, and some may have tougher challenges on their hands than expected. 

          

Week 7 Schedule

All Times ET.

Wednesday, October 14

Coastal Carolina at No. 21 Louisiana (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

       

Friday, October 16

No. 17 SMU at Tulane (6 p.m., ESPN)

No. 15 BYU at Houston (9 p.m., ESPN)

     

Saturday, October 17

No. 1 Clemson at Georgia Tech (Noon, ABC)

No. 8 Cincinnati at Tulsa (Noon, ESPN2)

Pittsburgh at No. 13 Miami (Noon, ACC Network)

No. 14 Auburn at South Carolina (Noon, ESPN)

Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame (2:30 p.m., NBC)

LSU at No. 10 Florida (3:30 p.m., ESPN)

No. 11 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (4 p.m., SEC Network)

No. 5 North Carolina at Florida State (7 p.m., ESPN)

No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama (8 p.m., CBS)

Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech (8 p.m., ACC Network)

            

Predictions

Alabama Handles Georgia At Home, Tests Clemson For No. 1 Spot

L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

Since the two best teams in the SEC last met in regular-season play, Alabama have taken wins over Georgia in the 2018 National Championship Game and SEC Championship Game the following season. 

Saturday’s clash is expected to be as close as the last two meetings, but the Crimson Tide could have the advantage on offense. 

Nick Saban’s side is coming off back-to-back 50-point performances against Texas A&M and Ole Miss, with Mac Jones throwing for over 400 passing yards in both victories. 

The high volume of passing plays in those games should have handed the quarterback plenty of confidence to deal from the pocket to Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and others. 

Waddle and Smith are over 300 receiving yards, while breakout star John Metchie hauled in 11 catches for 298 yards. 

Alabama also has a stable of running backs to rely on, led by Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. Even if the former is out of the game for a few plays, the Crimson Tide could threaten the Bulldogs with the latter, Trey Sanders or one of the wide receivers on a gimmick running play.

Georgia’s offense has displayed the ability to pull away from teams while its defense takes over. It beat Auburn and Tennessee by a combined 71-27.

While Kirby Smart’s team deserves credit

College Football Stars Putting Up Absurd Numbers in 2020 | Bleacher Report

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Several weeks into the college football season, the stars of 2020 are separating themselves from the rest of the pack, just like the championship contenders.

    With the Big Ten and Pac-12 set to join the fray soon, other big names will begin to surge to the top of the stat sheets. But for now, it’s an early season dominated by SEC, Big 12 and ACC playmakers.

    In some cases, like for Clemson quarterback and Heisman Trophy front-runner Trevor Lawrence, it’s expected. Other surprises are playing their way into superstardom, and some elite players are still having big seasons for teams off to subpar starts.

    A few sets of teammates are on here, too, but that’s just the way the stats are shaking out so far this season.

    With eligibility essentially out the door this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to be exciting to see which guys play their way into the top end of the conversation for the NFL draft. For others, it’s about building their reputation on the college gridiron. Plenty of guys on this list have national championship hopes remaining this year, as well.

    Let’s take a look at some college football stars putting up ridiculous numbers in the early season.

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Georgia is the nation’s top defensive unit, full of difference-making playmakers who don’t pile up the stats but just embarrass opponents in the box scores. Alabama has a slew of former elite prospects all over its defense. LSU and Florida are off to awful starts but are known as mass producers of defensive talent.

    But the best defensive player in the SEC hails from unheralded Missouri.

    That would be hard-hitting linebacker Nick Bolton, who was a first-team All-SEC selection a year ago as a sophomore and is off to yet another dominating start.

    After a relatively quiet 25 tackles through his first two games, he was still third nationally in that category entering Saturday’s massive showdown against defending national champion LSU. What did he do in such a big game? He had one of the best performances of his collegiate career.

    The 6’0″, 232-pound Texas native finished the game with 11 tackles and three pass deflections against the Bayou Bengals. 

    With the game on the line and the Tigers needing a miracle goal-line stand to pull off the win, Bolton and crew got it. He was playing with an injury, but he helped get a stop on first down. On third down, he anticipated a quick throw to Terrace Marshall Jr. and batted the pass to the ground.

    Mizzou got another deflection on fourth down and secured an unbelievable 45-41 upset. Bolton personified the grit of the team playing despite an undisclosed injury, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Dave Matter.

    “I’m going through a little pain here and there,” he told Matter. “But pain’s only temporary. Wins are forever.”

    Bolton is a winner and a stat-hog, to boot.

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Messenger: New report finds old culprit in education disparities in St. Louis funding and division | Tony Messenger

This is not just another report to sit on the shelf examining how white students tend to score better on standardized tests than Black students. This is a report that, perhaps for the first time in St. Louis, or at least since the Spainhower Commission study in the 1960s, examines the root causes of that disparity. They are: funding, created by an over-reliance on property taxes; and the divisions created by having 29 separate school districts spread over St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, the areas the report examined.

“The right diagnosis is essential for the right treatment,” says Karishma Furtado, one of the report’s authors. Three numbers from the report help tell the story of education disparity in St. Louis. When comparing majority white vs. majority Black school districts, white districts receive $1,698 more per student; the best funded white district spends $8,412 more per child than the best funded black district; and 82% of funding for white school districts comes from local sources, compared with 58% for majority Black districts. That last number means Black districts are more likely to be hurt when state funding dries up or is cut. 

Fundamentally, says David Dwight, executive director of Forward Through Ferguson, the report shows that the way the state of Missouri funds schools is broken, highlighted by the rare occasion in which the Legislature fully funds the foundation formula that determines how much local schools get from the state. And because the schools are funded with property taxes, and majority Black districts are in communities with lower tax bases, the disparity is cooked into the system.

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AP College Football Poll 2020: Complete Week 7 Rankings Revealed | Bleacher Report

Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) runs past Mississippi linebacker MoMo Sanogo (46) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Alabama won 63-48. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

A high-scoring week of college football was entertaining for fans and likely agony for plenty of coaches.

Two Top 10 teams suffered losses Saturday, while two other Top 10 squads allowed over 40 points in uneasy wins. Meanwhile, Clemson and Georgia impressed with big wins over quality opponents, helping create a little more clarity in the rankings as the unusual season progresses. 

Here is a look at the latest changes to the Associated Press poll.

       

Top 25

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Georgia

4. Notre Dame

5. North Carolina

6. Ohio State

7. Oklahoma State

8. Cincinnati

9. Penn State

10. Florida

11. Texas A&M

12. Oregon

13. Miami (Florida)

14. Auburn

15. BYU

16. Wisconsin

17. SMU

18. Tennessee

19. Michigan

20. Iowa State

21. Louisiana-Lafayette

22. Kansas State

23. Virginia Tech

24. Minnesota

25. USC

        

Clemson hasn’t faced too many tough conference tests in recent years, but Miami was expected to present a legitimate challenge in Week 6. The Tigers responded with a relatively easy 42-17 victory.

Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence was excellent with 292 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Travis Etienne turned heads with 149 rushing yards, 73 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“I can talk superlatives on Trevor Lawrence all day, but Travis Etienne is the guy,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said after the game. “He’s as good of a college football player as there is in college football.”

Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King found some room on the ground but was held to just 121 yards on 12-of-28 passing, adding two interceptions with no passing touchdowns. Clemson showed its upside on both offense and defense and proved it should be the No. 1 team in the country.

Miami dropped from No. 7 to No. 13 after the loss.

Georgia also flexed its muscle on both sides of the ball, earning a 44-21 win over Tennessee. Though the game was close at halftime, the Bulldogs had 27 unanswered points in the second half and provided basically no room for Tennessee to move the ball.

It sets up an exciting showdown next Saturday against No. 2 Alabama, which had some trouble in its 63-48 win over Ole Miss.

Led by former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss was impressive offensively but miserable defensively in a record-breaking performance:

The Crimson Tide still survived the upset bid thanks to a five-touchdown day from running back Najee Harris, who also had 206 rushing yards on 23 carries.

Fellow SEC contender Florida also had a high-scoring battle Saturday, although Texas A&M

Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal: Career Stats, Prediction for 2020 Men’s Final | Bleacher Report

Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Nobody is more dominant at Roland Garros than Rafael Nadal. He’s won 12 French Open championships, four more than anybody else. And at 34, the Spaniard isn’t slowing down, having won the tournament each of the previous three years.

On Sunday, Nadal could potentially make it four in a row and win his 20th career Grand Slam title. But it’s never an easy task when he has to take on Novak Djokovic.

It’s not much of a surprise that Djokovic and Nadal, the top two seeds in the tournament, are in the men’s singles final at the French Open, which is set to take place at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday on NBC. Djokovic has 17 career Grand Slam titles and is always a contender at major tournaments, even though he only has one French Open victory (2016).

But that’s mainly because of Nadal’s dominance at the tournament. He’s won the French Open eight of the past 10 years and has a 99-2 career record at Roland Garros, per ATPTour.com. His only two losses came in the fourth round in 2009 to Robin Soderling and the quarterfinals in 2015 against Djokovic, whose 74 career wins at Roland Garros rank second behind Nadal.

When Djokovic won the French Open in 2016, Nadal withdrew from the tournament prior to his third-round match due to a wrist injury.

Djokovic leads the all-time series against Nadal 29-26, which includes victories in 10 of their past 13 meetings. They’ve only played each other once in 2020, a match that Djokovic won 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) at the ATP Cup on Jan. 12. And although Djokovic won their last meeting at Roland Garros in 2015, Nadal won the six previous French Open matchups between the two.

Djokovic may be one of only two men to own a Roland Garros victory against Nadal, but they’ve never played this late in the tournament. And when the French Open reaches this point, Nadal has been unbeatable. He’s 13-0 in semifinal matchups (after beating Diego Schwartzman on Friday) and 12-0 in the finals. The ATP Tour also broke down Nadal’s dominance in a recent tweet:

Djokovic should give Nadal a competitive match, but don’t expect Nadal’s Roland Garros dominance to come to an end. The prediction here is that Nadal claims the French Open title and moves into a tie with Roger Federer for the most all-time Grand Slam championships with 20.

While Nadal has breezed through this year’s tournament without losing a set, Djokovic has been tested. In the semifinals, Djokovic held on for a 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. And the 33-year-old Serb needs to

College Football Rankings: B/R’s Top 25 After Week 6 | Bleacher Report

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Texas A&M stunned Florida, Missouri clipped LSU and the Red River Rivalry needed four overtimes to find a winner. And that all happened in the noon window alone.

    It was a wild Saturday across college football in Week 6, which featured a top-10 clash between No. 1 Clemson and No. 7 Miami. Alabama survived a fight with Ole Miss in prime time, as well.

    The five-man panel of B/R expertsDavid Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller and Brad Shepardeach submitted a ballot for Week 6. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.

               

    B/R Week 6 Top 25

    1. Clemson (Last week: 2)
    2. Georgia (3)
    3. Alabama (1)
    4. Ohio State (4)
    5. Notre Dame (6)
    6. North Carolina (12)
    7. Penn State (8)
    8. Oregon (9)
    9. Oklahoma State (10)
    10. Cincinnati (11)
    T-11. Texas A&M
    T-11. Wisconsin (13)
    13. Florida (5)
    14. Miami (7)
    15. BYU (16)
    16. SMU (18)
    17. Tennessee (14)
    18. Auburn (17)
    T-19. Michigan (19)
    T-19. Minnesota (20)
    21. Louisiana (22)
    22. Iowa State (NR)
    23. West Virginia (24)
    24. Coastal Carolina (T-25)
    25. USC (23)

    Others receiving votes: Marshall, Virginia Tech, UAB, NC State

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Challenge: Passed.

    Relative to Clemson, the ACC isn’t spectacular. From a national perspective, only Miami and Notre Dame had much of a realistic chance to take down the five-time reigning conference champs. They breezed through their first test Saturday night.

    Trevor Lawrence accounted for four touchdowns, and Travis Etienne ran for two as well. Miami has a solid defense, but Clemson simply had too much firepower for the Hurricanes to handle. That, in all seriousness, was entirely unsurprising.

    Next on the schedule for Clemson is Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Boston College. Barring a shocker, Clemson will advance through that slate unscathed. The biggest test is Nov. 7 at Notre Dame.

    Thanks to Saturday’s win, Dabo Swinney’s team is basically a win in South Bend and in the ACC Championship Game from the College Football Playoff.

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    Sam Craft/Associated Press

    During the opener, Ole Miss amassed 613 yards in a 51-35 loss to the Gators. The numbers looked better against South Carolina (329 yards and 24 points) but it felt a lot worse—and would’ve been if the Gamecocks had showed any urgency on offense.

    Texas A&M took full advantage of Florida’s troubling trend.

    Kellen Mond completed 25-of-35 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Caleb Chapman for 151 yards and two scores. Isaiah Spiller rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns, and the Aggies converted a ridiculous 12 of their 15 third-down attempts.

    Florida forced and recovered a late fumble that resulted in a go-ahead score, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. Still, the Gators basically had no answers for Texas A&M in the second half and lost an 11-point lead in the second half.

    Even if Florida had stolen a win in