College Football 2023: B/R’s Top 25 Rankings After Week 30 of 4
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Next week, college football fans across the country will be treated to a terrific slate of action between ranked opponents. This week didn’t feature that, but still didn’t disappoint.
It could have been dubbed Squirming Saturday.
After No. 3 Florida State sweated out a trip to Chestnut Hill and needed help from a late Boston College penalty to survive 31-29 on the heels of next week’s game against Clemson, it set the tone for a bizarre day.
No. 11 Tennessee and 15th-ranked Kansas State both went down. Top-ranked Georgia trailed by 11 at halftime to South Carolina at home before winning by 10. Alabama had a one-score lead on hapless South Florida deep in the fourth quarter. Wyoming battled Texas all night in a close one.
On and on, top teams around the country either lost or limped.
Bleacher Report College Football experts Morgan Moriarty, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepard tried to make sense of it all and handed out rankings this way:
6. Penn State
7. Notre Dame
8. Florida State
T-14. Ole Miss
T-14. Ohio State
T-16. Oregon State
20. Washington State
21. North Carolina
Who’s Hot: Washington Huskies and Their Able Stable of Stars1 of 4
AP Photo/Al Goldis
If it’s possible for a top-10 team to be flying a smidgen under the radar, the Washington Huskies seem to be doing it.
You can’t listen to a college football show without hearing Deion Sanders’ name, and the buzz around USC goes beyond Caleb Williams’ Heisman hype. With Bo Nix back for another season in Eugene, the Oregon Ducks are thick in the national picture, too.
But you’d better not sleep on coach Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies. They are electrifying on offense, and so far, they’ve vanquishing everybody in their way. U-Dub made its way across the country to Michigan State on Saturday and sped past the Spartans.
The Huskies ran the Spartans out of their own stadium, 41-7. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is writing his own lengthy Heisman Trophy candidacy script right now and added more highlights with 473 passing yards and four touchdowns. He’s up to 1,332 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick for the year now.
Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan may be the nation’s top wide receiver tandem, but the Huskies have weapons out the wazoo and showed that again Saturday. Ja’Lynn Polk had some sick catches on his way to five grabs for 118 yards and a score. Tight end Jack Westover added three touchdowns.
Oh by the way, the defense showed some spark, too, only allowing one late score. While Michigan State has plenty of offensive issues, this is the second decent opponent the Huskies have handled this year. They also dominated Boise State.
The Pac-12 is deep and strong this year, but it’s possible Washington is the best of the bunch.
Who’s Not: Tennessee, and Maybe Alabama, too2 of 4
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
Last year, the famed Third Saturday in October showdown between Tennessee and Alabama provided college football with its game of the year.
This season, the only fans who may care about that game are those from the Vols and Crimson Tide. It doesn’t appear—if the early season is any indication—that the tilt in Tuscaloosa will have conference or national ramifications.
If it does, both teams will need to play a lot better.
The No. 11-ranked Vols went to Florida a slight favorite Saturday, were blown off the field in the first half by the Gators, failed on three pivotal second-half fourth downs and committed costly penalties on their way to a 29-16 loss. The setback was shocking only to those who don’t follow this series; Tennessee hasn’t won in the Swamp in 20 years.
While maligned UT quarterback Joe Milton III had his ups and downs, there were many things to blame for a lackluster loss. A defense that had carried the Vols allowed seven third-down conversions in the first eight attempts as Florida built an insurmountable lead, and the offensive line was porous.
Alabama, meanwhile, had its own gloomy day in the Sunshine State. The quarterback issues continued dramatically as Tyler Buchner replaced Jalen Milroe, was subsequently benched for Ty Simpson, and the Tide had to sneak in a tack-on TD late in the fourth to win 17-3 against a South Florida team that went 1-11 a season ago.
A rushing game that must carry the Tide throw these quarterback woes didn’t materialize until the fourth quarter, and new coordinator Tommy Rees is devoid of answers. It didn’t hurt the Tide on Saturday, but failure to sustain drives will tax the defense against good opponents.
There are many more questions than answers for two rival teams that finished in the nation’s top six a season ago. It’s already time to be concerned about 2023 for both programs.
Fun Fact: Mavis’ Game-Winner vs. Kansas State Was Also An SEC Record3 of 4
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There are many miles remaining in this college football season, but with every rotation of Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis’ SEC-record 61-yard game-winning field goal against Kansas State on Saturday, the Wildcats’ championship flex lost its strength.
When it split the uprights and Missouri celebrated a 30-27 upset of the 15th-ranked, defending Big 12 champion Wildcats by storming the field in CoMo, it felt like more than just an upset. K-State failed to look like a contender against a mid-tier SEC team.
The game’s top takeaway was Kansas State fading as the Big 12’s top team and Texas rightfully getting all the love as the top team in that conference before heading to the SEC next year.
But Mevis’ booming boot is the biggest story. In the rich history of the SEC, nobody has ever made a field goal that long, and as soon as it left his foot, it was pure and true.
The most surprising thing, though, is the longer the kick, the more accurate Mevis seems to be. This is the same guy who’d entered the game having missed two chip-shot field goals this year and an extra point last week. Move him back, though, and he’s money.
In a wide-open SEC, maybe Mizzou is worth watching. After two sputtering showings to start the season, the Tigers got a great effort from quarterback Brady Cook and got the ball in the hands of electrifying sophomore receiver Luther Burden III.
But the Mevis Magic was marvelous. It was cool that the record-breaking kick also was a game-winner over a ranked opponent.
Looking Ahead: So Much to Love, Led by Buckeyes-Irish in South Bend4 of 4
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Everything we’ve seen so far during the young college football season was enough to stimulate our appetite, but the main courses really start next weekend as a near-full slate of conference matchups pepper the schedule.
Week 4 provides a heaping helping of six showdowns between teams that entered this week ranked, headlined by sixth-ranked Ohio State’s return trip to No. 9 Notre Dame in a marquee early-season matchup.
While the Fighting Irish have thrived with graduate transfer Sam Hartman under center, the Buckeyes are trying to find their way with Kyle McCord in the post-CJ Stroud era. This is a massive game to see which of these proud programs belong in the national picture.
The Pac-12 remains firmly in the spotlight as there are three games between ranked opponents. Deion Sanders’ upstart No. 18-ranked Colorado Buffaloes team makes their first difficult road trip of the season to Eugene to face No. 13 Oregon. No. 24 UCLA freshman quarterback Dante Moore will try to knock off a 12th-ranked Utah team on the road, as the Utes hope to return Cam Rising.
In the Battle of Those Left Behind, 2024’s only conference remainders following the realignment shuffle—No. 16 Oregon State and No. 12 Washington State—meet in Pullman.
Then there’s a huge tilt to determine ACC supremacy as third-ranked Florida State travels to Clemson.
Lane Kiffin gets another shot at his old boss, Nick Saban, as Ole Miss takes on Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and Iowa will head to Penn State to take on a Nittany Lions team that sneakily may be the best in the Big Ten.
There’s a lot to love about next Saturday’s slate.
All stats courtesy of CFBStats and Sports Reference unless otherwise noted. Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.