With a month of football in the rearview, opinions are taking shape. Rankings are finding a rhythm. A familiar hierarchy is being established as more results come in and conference play hits its stride.
Each week, we take inventory of the wins, losses and chaos. And each week, we try to react appropriately to the unscripted nature of the season. We underrate, overrate and properly rate the best we can, though there are hits and misses along the way.
Today, we're evaluating teams that are overhyped. There's no sugarcoating the exercise.
More specifically, we asked Bleacher Report readers to tell us which teams they believe are overrated; where the buzz and output don't align.
In the 12-plus months we have been doing these stories, I'm not sure we've ever had responses as passionate as these. We cherish and appreciate all of them.
Now, let's dive in.
Response: Clemson…not top five so far
This was one of the most popular suggestions from a plethora of commenters, and there's certainly a basis for the argument.
That isn't to say Clemson isn't incredibly talented. The Tigers have athletes all over the field. But if you want to pick holes in the team and its season, you can.
The offense, which has struggled at times, looked alive against Wake Forest on Saturday. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei delivered arguably the best game of his career, and the Tigers needed every bit of it. In that same game, however, the defense looked overmatched.
There's no question Clemson is ranked as high as it is—No. 5 in the Associated Press poll—because of its recent run of success. When you look at the teams it has beaten—Georgia Tech, Furman, Louisiana Tech and Wake Forest—that says plenty.
But Dabo Swinney and Co. are not the only ones who get this kind of treatment. Heck, that's how the sport works. You'll read about others momentarily.
With this specific group, it does feel like it might be a matter of time. If the offense can duplicate Saturday's effort continuously, then I could be very wrong.
If not, @darthhusker could be spot on.
Fight On, Fight Off
If Clemson wasn't the most popular response, USC might have been.
Yes, the Trojans are plenty polarizing. After dominating through its first three games, Lincoln Riley's crew had to win ugly against Oregon State.
Winning ugly isn't necessarily bad. In this instance, showing that USC can rely on more than quarterback Caleb Williams was necessary.
The defense leads the nation in interceptions, and it came up big when it had to. Whether that turnover "luck" can hold up through the entire season is another question entirely.
Now, back to the idea that USC is overrated. I've said for months that the hype and expectations were likely too high for this team. That the offense has looked as good as it has this quickly hasn't exactly cooled the hysteria.
If we're comparing USC to Georgia or Alabama—and no one should be doing that as of now—then the Trojans are overvalued. But if you're a sensible fan of the sport who has reasonable expectations for a team that has been average for quite some time, you should be encouraged by what you're seeing and nothing more.
Are we overhyping USC? Of course. We've been doing it since the day a new coach was hired.
Still, it's a heck of a way to start.
Response: Ohio State with its cupcake schedule as usual.
Well, @UnderYourSkin. You've done it. You've lived up to your name and gotten under mine.
Now, full disclosure. I picked Ohio State to win the national championship before the season began. I prefer to be right versus wrong, so it wouldn't be a bad thing if the Buckeyes won a lot of football games.
With that said, I call it like I see it. And at the moment, I don't quite understand this one.
Let's start with the "cupcake" thing. Ohio State scheduled and played Notre Dame. While the Irish might not be the team we thought they were before the season began, it doesn't matter.
When big programs across the country were paying for Week 1 wins against inferior teams, Ohio State was actually playing a meaningful game.
Sure, there have been a few cupcakes since. But what team hasn't scheduled those? Georgia has played Samford and Kent State. Alabama has played Utah State and Louisiana-Monroe.
This is what all good teams do. They pay millions of dollars and schedule teams they will beat. If we single them out for doing so—and I'm here for it—let's be consistent about it.
Oh, and Ohio State just beat Wisconsin 52-21. That should account for something as well, yes? We'll figure out whether the Buckeyes are title-worthy in time, though right now it feels like they are right on track.
Rocky (Start) Top
Response: The Tennessee Volunteers. Man, that defense is raggedy as all get out. If you can man them up in the secondary and spy the QB run, it's a wrap for them. They were lucky to beat Florida.
First, I want to thank you, @Awill62. You gave us more than a single word and full sentence. The vast majority of these responses rarely stretch that far.
Second, thanks for injecting meaningful football discussion into the conversation. Whether you agree or not, at least their thoughts are backed by football evidence.
Now, let's talk about Tennessee. The defense certainly isn't the strength of the team, though "raggedy" seems excessive. The Vols rank 34th in scoring defense, which is solid. If that holds up, this team will be a problem.
Offensively, we can certainly talk about how we'd slow this unit down. (Getting a pass rush would probably be a much better way to limit its big plays. But spying the quarterback is a fine idea as well.)
As for the expectations, the Volunteers are greatly surpassing what I thought of them. The offense ranks fourth in scoring. Quarterback Hendon Hooker, who has yet to throw an interception, has been particularly impressive.
Their stock is up for good reason. This group has been a great deal of fun to watch, and with games against Alabama and Georgia still to come, there will be plenty of time to recalibrate if necessary.
Ann Arbor Exaggeration
Response: Michigan barely beat Maryland, which was their first test of the season!
This one makes some sense. Michigan played three cupcakes before facing capable Maryland at home, and it never looked quite right Saturday. The reality as we enter Week 5 is that we just don't know how good this team is.
Still, there is a ton to like. Blake Corum, who ran for 243 yards against the Terps, is a star at running back. J.J. McCarthy is a young quarterback with tremendous upside. Wideout Ronnie Bell is a big-play machine. And they are not alone.
Maryland showed that the Michigan defensive line still has a ways to go. Considering who it lost to the draft, including the No. 2 pick in Aidan Hutchinson, that is not a surprise.
If you want to scream from the rooftops that the Wolverines are overrated, now is the time. Beating Maryland 34-27 in your only meaningful game is not enough for a team in the Top Five.
After playing at Iowa and at Indiana, Michigan will welcome Penn State. That will give us a bit of intel about this team. A matchup at Ohio State on Nov. 26 will as well.
Clearly the Wolverines are talented. Are they worthy of the No. 4 spot in the country? Stay tuned.