Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
A heavy slate of Top 25 games brought surprises, showed the true colors of some teams and lived up to the hype on Saturday. Notre Dame was able to hang tough in a very hostile atmosphere in Athens and nearly pulled off a miracle against Georgia. Give the Irish some credit. They entered the game as a two touchdown underdog. We’ll get to some of the other ranked matchups in a moment.
Elsewhere several top teams had routine days against lesser opponents. Ohio State rallied to beat the Miami of Ohio Redhawks. OK, so really they trailed 5-0 after a field goal and a safety and scored 76 unanswered points, including 42 in the second quarter alone. LSU had a record-setting day against Vanderbilt, and Sam Ehlinger tore apart Oklahoma State to lead Texas to another win.
After four weeks the top of the SEC looks like a crowd while the top of the Big 12 looks even more like a two-horse race than it did a month ago. The Big Ten is doing some shuffling atop the standings, and the ACC is 13 other schools living in Clemson’s world. At least the Pac-12 looks the same.
A fun week of college football is in the books. Here are the weekend’s highs and lows.
The Good: Wisconsin. Maybe Michigan is overrated. Maybe there was more to be concerned about than just an unorthodox offense against Army. None of that mattered on Saturday. Wisconsin was determined to prove its back-to-back shutouts to open the season weren’t just flukes. The Badgers punched Michigan in the mouth again, and again, and again. Wisconsin scored the first 35 points of the game while surrendering its first points of the season to an opponent. After a disappointing season a year ago the Badgers now look like the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten West.
Honorable Mention: Auburn. The Tigers were underdogs on the road and jumped out to a 14-0 nothing lead in the first quarter to put Texas A&M away early. The Aggies made it somewhat interesting in the fourth quarter, but Auburn controlled the game from the start thanks to its dominance on the line of scrimmage. I’m eating some crow here. I thought the Tigers were looking at a 7-5 season with 6-6 potentially being on the table. That doesn’t look like it’s happening.
The Bad: Michigan. The Wolverines never got going and were pushed around by Wisconsin. Yes, the game was in Madison. It doesn’t matter. Michigan had two weeks to shrug off the near disaster against Army and get ready for the Badgers. Urban Meyer isn’t Michigan’s biggest problem anymore. Michigan is. Jim Harbaugh may never get over the hump in the Big Ten East.
Honorable Mention: Texas A&M. The Aggies fell behind early against a top ten opponent and the offense didn’t start rolling until the fourth quarter when Texas A&M was down by 18 and it was too late. That’s not a recipe for success. The Aggies blew a real opportunity at home. Alabama, Georgia and LSU are still on the schedule, too. Yikes.
The Ugly: Washington State. Where to even begin here? A top 20 team. Against an 0-3 team. With a 32-point lead in the third quarter. The starting quarterback threw nine touchdowns. And the Cougars lost. Washington State would’ve been a long shot to win the Pac-12 and make a playoff run, but with Washington, Oregon and Utah suffering losses already it might’ve been the Pac-12’s best chance for the national spotlight. UCLA scored exactly 14 points in each of its first three games. The Bruins scored 50 in the second half. That’s a mind-numbing loss from Wazzu.
Honorable Mention: Stanford. Let’s just kick the Pac-12 while it’s down. Stanford is reeling after a 21-6 loss to Oregon. The Cardinal was expected to take a step back, but this could turn into a serious free fall for David Shaw and Co.