College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 10
Thank goodness Memphis and SMU capped off Week 10 with a Bluff City bang, as the hometown Tigers handed the Mustangs their first loss of the season in a 54-48 barn-burner.
SMU and Appalachian State both went down as the Group of Five juggernauts took a few major body blows.
Other than that, there wasn't a whole lot of exceptional college football this weekend.
Georgia and Florida renewed their rivalry in Jacksonville, with the Bulldogs winning their third in a row over the Gators thanks to quarterback Jake Fromm and a talented defense getting back on track. Utah and Oregon both overcame early-game sputters to hold serve.
And on a week when the top three teams in the nation were off and Clemson played Wofford, the sport salvaged a little bit of excitement on a slate filled with cupcakes.
Bleacher Report's panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller and Brad Shepard—each submitted a ballot for B/R's Top 25 and tried to sift through the aftermath. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
1. LSU (Last week: T-1)
2. Alabama (T-1)
3. Ohio State (3)
4. Clemson (4)
5. Penn State (5)
6. Georgia (T-7)
7. Oregon (T-7)
8. Oklahoma (10)
9. Utah (14)
10. Florida (6)
11. Minnesota (11)
12. Auburn (9)
13. Baylor (12)
14. Michigan (13)
15. Notre Dame (16)
16. Cincinnati (19)
17. Memphis (24)
18. Wisconsin (18)
19. Iowa (21)
20. Kansas State (T-25)
21. Wake Forest (23)
22. Indiana (T-25)
23. Boise State (20)
24. SMU (15)
25. San Diego State (22)
Others receiving votes: Navy
Who's Hot: Utah Utes
For a while Saturday afternoon, it looked like the No. 9 Utah Utes would stumble against Washington and end their slim playoff chances.
Instead, an out-of-comfort-zone surge should have impressed any of the voters watching.
A team known for its Pac-12-leading defense was punched in the mouth by an explosive-but-inconsistent Washington team. But instead of folding, the Utes continued to keep pace with the Oregon Ducks as the conference's best.
They scored 30 of the next 37 points after falling behind 14-3 and got all-world performances by senior quarterback Tyler Huntley and rugged running back Zack Moss to pull ahead 33-21.
After scoring a receiving touchdown earlier in the game, Moss wouldn't be denied on a 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line with less than five minutes to go that finally put the game out of reach. He powered over the overmatched Huskies front seven and into the end zone.
Yes, Washington quarterback Jacob Eason marched his team right back with a big drive to close the gap, but it wasn't enough to come back against Utah.
With UCLA, Arizona and Colorado remaining on the schedule, things look manageable for the Utes leading up to the conference championship game.
Utah is used to winning slugfests in games where the defense controls everything from the outset. That wasn't the case Saturday, so it's notable that the Utes proved they can light up the scoreboard when needed, too.
If Huntley and Moss stay healthy, which they were unable to do a season ago, the Utes are lined up for an exciting conclusion to the season.
Who's Not: Florida Gators
Florida entered Saturday's rivalry against Georgia in the game formerly known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ranked higher than the Bulldogs and playing better recently. Although the Bulldogs were favored, the Gators had a prime opportunity to break the recent stranglehold UGA has had over them.
Instead, the Gators' strengths failed them in a 24-17 loss that marked the third consecutive defeat at the hands of Kirby Smart's Bulldogs.
Georgia hasn't won many style points with its play recently, but the Bulldogs returned to what they expected they'd be Saturday.
Florida is supposed to have one of the best secondaries in the nation, but a Georgia offense that has sputtered lately torched the Gators' defensive backs. C.J. Henderson had an especially embarrassing game, repeatedly getting burned by Miami transfer receiver Lawrence Cager.
Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm finished with 279 passing yards and a pair of scoring tosses to get his 30th win as a starter.
With Florida needing a stop late after closing the gap to a touchdown, Fromm found transfer tight end Eli Wolf for a big gain on 3rd-and-7 to ice the game.
The Gators couldn't get off the field on defense, which is a major black mark against the secondary. Fromm was 10-of-13 for eight first downs on third down.
While Florida quarterback Kyle Trask went 21-of-33 for 257 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, he occasionally looked like a backup for the first time since he replaced Feleipe Franks. The Gators didn't into the red zone until late in the fourth quarter, and the team struggled with consistency for much of the game.
It was not a good look for the Gators in their biggest game of the year.
Fun Fact: Travis Etienne's Big Day Etches His Name in Clemson Lore
On a largely blah day in college football, Clemson running back Travis Etienne predictably pummeled FCS foe Wofford and its second-tier defenders.
There was nothing surprising about that.
But among all of the stars head coach Dabo Swinney has recruited to Clemson in recent years, Etienne doesn't get enough publicity.
He's going to go down as the best running back in program history, which is saying something.
With Saturday's huge first half—he didn't play that much more against the Terriers—he broke James Davis' school record with 48 rushing touchdowns. He also tied C.J. Spiller's school record of 51 total touchdowns, and he's only in his junior season.
Etienne is only the sixth player in Clemson history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, according to the ACC Network, and he was the first ACC player in 15 years to rush for 200 or more yards in the first half of a game.
Etienne's 86-yard touchdown scamper against Wofford was his third 80-plus-yard rushing score of his career, which tied him with Chris Thompson for the most in the ACC over the past 15 years, according to ESPN.
Barring injury, Etienne is going to shatter all of those school records. With so many elite playmakers during the Tigers' salad days recently, the junior running back may be the best of all of them.
That's how good he is, and Saturday's predictable big day was only the latest in a long line of highlights.
What to Watch For: CFB's Clash of the Titans and Another Undefeated Showdown
If you're undefeated this time of year, you're doing something right.
However, we know at least two undefeated teams will lose their first game next weekend.
That's because a matching set of undefeated showdowns will adorn a stupendous Saturday of college football, including the battle everybody wants to see: No. 1 LSU against No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
If Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is back from his ankle injury as expected, two of the nation's top offenses (Bama is the second-ranked scoring offense; LSU is fourth) will go at each other. Perhaps the top two Heisman Trophy candidates (Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow) will battle, too.
Expect a lot of points and a lot of fun.
The loser of that game will still have a legit chance to make the College Football Playoff. But with all of Nick Saban's history in Baton Rouge and the division-title storylines, this game means a lot to everybody involved.
It isn't the only clash of teams with spotless slates, either.
In Minneapolis, two of college football's most surprising unbeatens will play.
Penn State is a blue blood that had a disappointing 2018 season, but head coach James Franklin has the No. 5 Nittany Lions among the nation's best behind a dynamic defense and first-year starting quarterback Sean Clifford.
Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck has his No. 13 Golden Gophers unbeaten, too, although their schedule has been a relative cakewalk to date.
This is a major show-me game for both programs, and the winner may be Ohio State's biggest competition in the Big Ten.
Perhaps the best thing? All four teams will be well-rested and prepared for one another, as each had a bye this week.
That should make for a fun football Saturday.