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We entered college football’s most hyped weekend ready to learn about a lot of teams. Some fall into the spotlight while others pass by. But the biggest lesson we learned is that Florida State is truly back to being one of the best teams in the country. After an overtime win at Clemson, the Seminoles climbed to No. 2 in this week’s edition of The Athletic 133.
Yes, it was ugly earlier. Yes, Clemson missed a chip-shot field goal late. But the fact that those things happened underscored how Clemson fell and how the Seminoles rose to take that spot, ending a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry. Clemson doesn’t have a Keon Coleman-esque player to make a play when the team needs it. Instead, it missed a field goal with a late-addition kicker and made an ill-advised wide receiver screen throw on third-and-1 in overtime.
Now Florida State sits at 4-0 with a blowout victory over LSU and a win over Clemson. The Seminoles have an argument to be No. 1. They have some of the best wins. They just sat at No. 2 for me because they had to flee Boston College last week. Georgia doesn’t have a big win but it’s not in real danger either.
On this exact date two years ago, Florida State dropped to 0-4 after a loss to Louisville, two weeks after a loss to FCS Jacksonville State. FSU can’t afford another coach in less than two years. It had to let Mike Norvell figure it out. Now it sits here as a national championship contender. The Seminoles found out. It’s a lesson in patience, roster building and believing in the people you have.
Here is this week’s edition of The Athletic 133.
There is quite a bit of change in this group. FSU jumps Texas because it has two top-ranked wins. Ohio State moved up to No. 4 after beating Notre Dame with one second to play. Washington continues to destroy everyone and looks like the best team in the country, but it won’t play a top-tier opponent until Oregon on Oct. 14.
Utah beat UCLA to move to 4-0 and Cam Rising has yet to play, so keep an eye on the Utes. Penn State outscored Iowa 31-0 and is also up. Michigan slipped to No. 8 not only because the Wolverines haven’t played anyone of note, but because they haven’t been spectacular either. They are 0-3-1 against the spread, and Saturday’s 31-7 win over Rutgers was a 10-point game deep in the third quarter. I don’t doubt the talent at Michigan. We’ve never seen it like we have in Washington. When we do, the rankings will react to it. Does it conflict with Georgia’s ranking? Maybe. But the two-time defending national champion has gotten the benefit of the doubt for now. All Michigan needs to do is win its games and it will be fine.
USC struggled in the fourth quarter with an Arizona State team that was shut out by Fresno State last week, so the Trojans fell. Oregon moved into the top 10 after a 42-6 win over Colorado, bringing the Buffs back to earth.
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Notre Dame just fell to No. 11, as the Irish were inches away from beating Ohio State. LSU needs a last-second field goal to beat Arkansas and stay at No. 12. Alabama overcame a rough first half against Ole Miss to win 24-10 and get back on track, climbing to No. 15. Washington State beat Oregon State 38-35 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score, and Wazzu moved up to No. 16.
Kansas is 4-0 for the second year in a row and moves into the top 25 after defeating BYU 38-27. Kansas State beat UCF 44-31 and also moved into the top 25. TCU looks like the TCU we’ve come to expect this season after a 34-17 win over SMU, and Colorado is now in the top 25 thanks to the win that was against TCU.
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Maryland is a quiet 4-0 after taking care of business at Michigan State and No. 26. UCLA really struggled in Utah, but the final score was only 14-7, so the Bruins just dropped to No. 27. Ole Miss and Clemson also fell out of the top 25 after their losses.
Kentucky, at No. 33, held his own against Vanderbilt and hosts Florida this coming weekend for a big matchup. Syracuse is 4-0 and No. 36 after defeating Army and finished undefeated in nonconference play for the first time since the Orange joined a conference in 1991. Fresno State is also 4-0 after taking care of Kent State and inches up to No. 37.
Iowa and Auburn dropped into the 40s after ugly offensive performances against Penn State and Texas A&M, respectively. No. 46 James Madison held on to beat Utah State, No. 47 Wyoming returns a blocked field goal in the final minutes to beat Appalachian State, and West Virginia beats Texas Tech to jump into the top 50.
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The No. 51 Ohio continued to do what it needed to do and beat Bowling Green 38-7. This team might have gone undefeated if Kurtis Rourke hadn’t gotten hurt in the opener against San Diego State. Georgia Tech jumps to No. 53 after a comfortable 30-16 win over Wake Forest. Fellow Atlanta resident Georgia State is 4-0 after a 30-17 win over Coastal Carolina to put the Sun Belt on notice and move up to No. 54. Marshall beat Virginia Tech 24-17 and looked like the better team from the start, and the Herd made a big jump to No. 55 because of this.
Texas Tech lost to West Virginia and lost quarterback Tyler Shough to a broken fibula. A Big 12 dark horse dropped very quickly, down to No. 60. Rutgers played Michigan hard for more than half and the Scarlet Knights looked to improve, moving up to No. 57. USF seems to have something under Alex Golesh, after a 42-29 win over Rice, and climbs to No. 69. Troy held on to defeat Western Kentucky 27-24 and move to No. 58. Boise State beat San Diego State 34-31 for a big road win in the Mountain West to climb to No. 64.
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Texas State continued to win but slipped a bit as Baylor continued to fall, and due to Texas State’s loss to UTSA. South Alabama, a week after beating Oklahoma State, lost to Central Michigan 34-30 and fell to No. 83. UNLV is 3-1 under Barry Odom after a comfortable 45-28 win over UTEP, moving up to No. 85.
Minnesota drops dramatically in these rankings to No. 90 after blowing a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead and losing to Northwestern in overtime. Indiana needed a missed field goal and four overtimes to escape Akron, dropping the Hoosiers to No. 91. Jacksonville State and RichRod are 3-1 and climb to No. 94 after a 21-0 thrashing of Eastern Michigan. Stanford played Arizona closely but lost 21-20, dropping to No. 96. Colorado State beat Middle Tennessee 31-23 and moved into the top 100.
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Virginia Tech and Virginia drop out of this group. The Hokies are 1-3 after the loss to Marshall. The fact that they were underdogs to begin with says a lot. Virginia rallied but lost to NC State on a last-second field goal to remain winless.
Hawaii continues to show improvement, defeating New Mexico State at home to climb to No. 115. UMass has been falling steadily since beating NMSU in Week 0, losing to New Mexico in overtime and dropping to No. 119. Arkansas State beats Southern Miss for Butch Jones’ first Sun Belt win against a non-ULM team and climbs to No. 123. That’s a win that could be a much-needed sign of progress this year.
UConn lost 41-7 to Duke and appears to have taken a huge step back this year, falling to No. 128. Sam Houston finally scored a touchdown, but only had 10 points in three games, dropping the Bearkats to No. 132. Buffalo remains at the bottom after a 45-38 loss at Louisiana.
(Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)