LOUISVILLE, Ky, (WDRB) — They say every game matters in college football. (Wink.) Three weeks into the season I’m confident looking directly past October and November and telling you this:
There are nine teams battling for four spots in the national playoff — Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Texas and Utah.
I’ll give you everybody else -- and we're only a quarter through the season.
The Bottom Five, that’s where the fun — and the headlines — are. There’s always a Moe, Larry, Curly moment.
1. Clemson (3-0) — Make it 13 straight victories by at least two touchdowns with an average winning margin 34.5 during that streak for Dabo Swinney University. The Tigers are favored by 41 (correction, not 64 1/2) this week against Charlotte.
Who thinks Clemson could beat the Miami Dolphins?
2. Alabama (3-0) — This Saturday is the noon (EDT) kickoff that got Nick Saban howling. With Southern Miss in town and the weather forecast calling for 90 degrees and mostly sunny skies in Tuscaloosa, this will be a legitimate test for how much fear Saban has put in Bama students for not leaving early.
And for Bama’s smart phone location services tracking capabilities.
3. Oklahoma (3-0) — Quarterback Jalen Hurts ranks eighth in the nation in rushing at 124 yards per game while averaging 32 yards more than any other quarterback. Hurts is also a Top 15 passer.
4. Georgia (3-0) — The Bulldogs have five backs over 100 yards with four averaging better than six yards per carry. Notre Dame visits Athens Saturday night. Las Vegas does not believe the Fighting Irish are ready. The line opened at 12 1/2 and quickly moved to 13 1/2.
5. Rest of the SEC West (14-4) — Louisiana State deserves to be in the top two because the Tigers’ win at Texas has been the most impressive victory of the season. But they started slowly against Northwestern State. Auburn and Texas A&M play an elimination game in College Station Saturday. Who is Will Wade recruiting these days?
5. Maryland (2-1) — The national media lapsed into its typical overreaction while writing love letters to Maryland coach Mike Locksley after the Terps walloped Syracuse during week two. Then came Saturday’s trip to always dangerous Temple, and Maryland became Oh, Maryland again, ensuring a one-week stay in the Top 25.
4. Indiana (2-1) — Purdue showed that Ohio State can be beaten last season. Iowa drilled the Buckeyes in 2017. Michigan State delivered in 2015. Nebraska did the deed in 2011. Wisconsin in 2010. The Hoosiers are no closer to beating the Buckeyes than Jim Harbaugh is. Block and tackle somebody.
3. ACC Football — This is how dangerous the situation is for the ACC: Some wise guys are already suggesting that if Clemson suffers an upset in conference play it will knock the Tigers out of the national playoff. Could be. Who’s the second-best team in the league? There are only two other unbeaten teams — Virginia and Wake Forest.
2. Chip Kelly — Did you see the pictures of the vast pockets of empty seats at the Rose Bowl Saturday? Did you notice that Oklahoma fans appeared to outnumber UCLA fans? Have you read the stuff that Los Angeles media members have written about Kelly and his dull 0-3 team?
Chip Kelly has lost his fastball. His team will be a 17 1/2-point underdog against Mike Leach and Washington State Saturday. In what universe should a team from Pullman, Washington be favored by more than two touchdowns against a team from Hollywood?
1. Willie Taggart — The Seminoles are on local minds this week because Scott Satterfield takes Louisville to Tallahassee for the annual game between the programs Saturday. FSU lost another game it should have won last Saturday at Virginia but the strongest SOS came in this news:
Last week Taggart recruited former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt to fix the FSU defense. Officially Leavitt’s job is defensive analyst. Feel free to translate that to Taggart is throwing a Hail Mary while searching for somebody who can improve a defense that ranks 120th nationally while giving up 488 yards per game.
FSU lost its home opener against Boise State. The Seminoles needed overtime to defeat Louisiana Monroe in their second home game.
If Louisville and Scott Satterfield roll into Tallahassee and win as an eight-point underdog during Satterfield's first season of a rebuild at Louisville, will that be the knockout blow for Taggart?
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