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We entered this much-hyped college football weekend ready to learn about a lot of teams. Some flailed in the spotlight while others came through. 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 move up to No. 2 in this week’s edition of The Athletic 133.
Yes, it was ugly early. Yes, Clemson missed a chip-shot field goal late. But the fact those things happened highlighted how Clemson has fallen and how the Seminoles have risen to take that place, ending a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry. Clemson didn’t have a Keon Coleman-esque player who made a play when the team needed it most. 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 against LSU and a win at Clemson. The Seminoles have an argument to be No. 1. They have some of the best wins. They only sit at No. 2 for me because they needed to escape Boston College last week. Georgia doesn’t have the big wins but it also hasn’t been in real danger.
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 couldn’t afford to buy out 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 have figured it 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.
Quite a bit of change in this group. FSU jumps Texas because it has two top-level wins. Ohio State moves up to No. 4 after beating Notre Dame with one second to play. Washington continues to wreck everyone and look like the best team in the country, but it won’t play a top-level opponent until Oregon on Oct. 14.
Utah beat UCLA to move to 4-0 and Cam Rising hasn’t even played yet, so look out for the Utes. Penn State overwhelmed Iowa 31-0 and slides up as well. Michigan slips to No. 8 not just because the Wolverines haven’t played anyone noteworthy, but because they haven’t been all that impressive, either. They are 0-3-1 against the spread, and that 31-7 win against Rutgers on Saturday was a 10-point game deep into the third quarter. I don’t doubt the talent on Michigan. We just haven’t seen it yet like we have with Washington. When we do, the rankings will react to it. Is this contradictory to the Georgia ranking? Maybe. But the two-time defending national champions get that benefit of the doubt for now. All Michigan has to do is win its games and it’ll be fine.
USC battled into the fourth quarter with an Arizona State team that Fresno State shut out last week, so the Trojans tumble. Oregon moves into the top 10 after a 42-6 win against Colorado, bringing the Buffs back down to earth.
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Notre Dame only falls to No. 11, since the Irish were a few inches away from beating Ohio State. LSU needed a last-second field goal to beat Arkansas and stays at No. 12. Alabama got through a brutal first half against Ole Miss to win 24-10 and sort of get back on track, moving up to No. 15. Washington State beat Oregon State 38-35 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score, and Wazzu moves up to No. 16.
Kansas is 4-0 for the second consecutive year and moves into the top 25 after beating BYU 38-27. Kansas State beat UCF 44-31 and also moves into the top 25. TCU looks like the TCU we expected this season after a 34-17 win against SMU, and Colorado hangs in the top 25 for now because of that victory over TCU.
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Maryland is quietly 4-0 after taking care of business at Michigan State and is No. 26. UCLA really struggled at Utah, but it was just a 14-7 final score, so the Bruins only drop to No. 27. Ole Miss and Clemson also fall out of the top 25 after their losses.
Kentucky, at No. 33, handled itself against Vanderbilt and hosts Florida this upcoming weekend for a big matchup. Syracuse is 4-0 and No. 36 after beating Army and finishes 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 drop 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 returned a block field goal in the final minutes to beat Appalachian State, and West Virginia beat Texas Tech to jump into the top 50.
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No. 51 Ohio continues to do what it needs to and beat Bowling Green 38-7. This team might be undefeated if Kurtis Rourke didn’t get hurt in the opener against San Diego State. Georgia Tech jumps up to No. 53 after a comfortable 30-16 win at Wake Forest. Fellow Atlanta resident Georgia State is 4-0 after a 30-17 win at 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 make a big jump to No. 55 because of it.
Texas Tech lost to West Virginia and lost quarterback Tyler Shough to a broken fibula. A Big 12 dark horse has turned downward very fast, down to No. 60. Rutgers played Michigan tough for more than a half and the Scarlet Knights do look improved, inching up to No. 57. USF seems to have something under Alex Golesh, after a 42-29 win against Rice, and moves up to No. 69. Troy held on to beat Western Kentucky 27-24 and moves to No. 58. Boise State beat San Diego State 34-31 for a big Mountain West road win to move up to No. 64.
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Texas State continues to win but slip a little because Baylor continues to fall, and because of Texas State’s loss to UTSA. South Alabama, one week after blowing out Oklahoma State, lost 34-30 to Central Michigan in a stunner and dropped to No. 83. UNLV is 3-1 under Barry Odom after a comfortable 45-28 win against UTEP, moving up to No. 85.
Minnesota slides dramatically down 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, so the Hoosiers drop to No. 91. Jacksonville State and RichRod are 3-1 and move up to No. 94 after a 21-0 thumping of Eastern Michigan. Stanford played Arizona close but lost 21-20, dropping to No. 96. Colorado State beat Middle Tennessee 31-23 and moves into the top 100.
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Virginia Tech and Virginia drop to this group. The Hokies are 1-3 after a loss to Marshall. The fact 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, beating New Mexico State at home to move up to No. 115. UMass continues to fall since beating NMSU in Week 0, losing to New Mexico in overtime and dropping to No. 119. Arkansas State beat Southern Miss for Butch Jones’ first Sun Belt win over a team that isn’t ULM and moves up to No. 123. That’s a win that could be a needed sign of progress this year.
UConn lost 41-7 to Duke and appears to have taken a massive step back this year, falling to No. 128. Sam Houston finally scored a touchdown, but has just 10 points through three games, so the Bearkats drop to No. 132. Buffalo remains at the bottom after a 45-38 loss to Louisiana.
(Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)