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College Football Power Rankings: Georgia, Iowa take top spots with defense; Alabama stays in contention

Written by on October 11, 2021

Meet the new Dawgs, same as the old Dawgs. Well, not quite, but Georgia is the new No. 1 in the College Football Power Rankings and beyond. And as far as old, the Bulldogs shot up to No. 1 in AP Top 25 in the regular season for the first time since 1982.

Not only did previous No. 1 Alabama lose, but Georgia earned its ranking, blowing out Auburn. It’s UGA’s national championship to lose now. Six weeks in, coach Kirby Smart’s bunch has been the most impressive, consistent team out there.

In a season now marked by backup quarterbacks, it’s amazing what Georgia has accomplished. Stetson Bennett IV is looking more and more like he’s going to be the permanent guy. He was trusted with more throws downfield against the Tigers. Start wrapping your mind around a championship team quarterbacked by “The Rush Chairman.”

You should be reminded that LSU won championships with quarterbacks named Matt Mauck and Matt Flynn. This is not rocket science, but it is molecular genetics. That was the major of Ohio State game manager Craig Krenzel when the Buckeyes won it all in 2002.  

Elsewhere, Penn State’s offense sagged when it had to go to backup Ta’Quan Roberson. Oklahoma, though, wouldn’t have beaten Texas without backup Caleb Williams.  

Georgia’s defense makes it all go, obviously. Smart’s D can control a game and set up the offense with good field position. At least that’s what is happening so far.

Alabama drops to No. 3, but its goals are still out there. It can win out and still get to the College Football Playoff. First, some tinkering has to be done with the defense that was pushed around all night by Texas A&M.

If it weren’t for that pesky Big Ten Championship Game, No. 2 Iowa might have the easiest road to the CFP. It doesn’t play a currently-ranked team the rest of the regular season. The defense rivals Georgia’s now with 20 takeaways in six games. In the last full season (2019), 83 teams didn’t have 20 takeaways the entire year.

Biggest Movers








The Dawgs ascend to No. 1 on the strength of the nation’s best defense. Georgia actually gave up a touchdown — its second by the opposing offense season — but otherwise, the Dawgs have become the best, most consistent team in the country. Auburn’s Bo Nix may have been the best QB that Georgia faces in the regular season. 1 6-0



Sixteen interceptions ties the most by any team through six games in the last 25 years. There were four more Saturday against Penn State, making it 10 in the last two games alone. Spencer Petras was terrible, then he won the game with a 44-yard toss to Nico Ragaini. The Hawkeyes are starting to have the look of a playoff team. On a personal note, thanks to the Iowa students for not swallowing me whole during their field storming. 1 6-0



It’s really hard to outgain an opponent by 143 yards, block a punt, score 38 points on the road and still lose. No, the sky is not falling, but it was a weird result. The Crimson Tide were beaten by a backup QB. There were too many holes in the defense too often. Bama can still win the SEC West. It cannot, though, lose the SEC Championship Game and get in the College Football Playoff. 2 5-1



It’s completely rational to think of Cincinnati as a playoff team after Saturday’s results. The Bearcats showed no Notre Dame hangover after destroying Temple. Luke Fickell’s biggest challenge may be holding his team’s attention down the stretch. They’re one of the four best in the country and should remain that way if aren’t derailed by the many temptations of Cincinnati. 5-0



Welcome to a delicious, confusing, incredibly interesting quarterback controversy. Lincoln Riley would not commit to a starter next week after Williams led the biggest comeback by OU in Red River history. How do you not go with him? The five-star freshman completed 15 of 24 for 211 yards and two touchdowns. 1 6-0



Bye. Devastating news during the bye when tailback CJ Verdell was lost for the season. Injuries have been a depressing theme for the Ducks. Cal comes to Autzen on Friday night. 1 4-1



The Wildcats stomping LSU might (eventually) mean the end of Ed Orgeron. Kentucky dominated. Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke each ran for 100 yards. Will Levis threw three touchdown passes on only 17 tosses. Might as well throw Mark Stoops’ name in the USC search. 4 6-0


Penn State

The overriding question now becomes the health of quarterback Sean Clifford. With him, the Nittany Lions can still win the Big Ten East. They looked that good before Clifford went down in the second quarter at Iowa. No offense, but third-year freshman Ta’Quan Roberson isn’t ready yet. Literally, there was no offense when he came in. 3 5-1


Ohio State

C.J. Stroud threw for five touchdowns for the second straight game. Ohio State scored on nine straight possessions. The Oregon loss seems like a month ago. Actually, it was five weeks ago. All is well with the Buckeyes. Maryland, not so much. The Terps gave up a combined 117 points in eight days to Iowa and Ohio State. 1 5-1



Jim Harbaugh called a 32-29 decision over Nebraska “a Clint Eastwood win.” I don’t know if that means he’s coaching like a 91-year-old or the Wolverines are feeling lucky, punk. Regardless, another Adrian Martinez fumble by the Nebraska quarterback set up Jake Moody for the game-winning field goal with 84 seconds left. 1 6-0


Michigan State

Pencil in Mel Tucker as a coach of the year candidate. The Spartans turned it over seven times last year in a loss to Rutgers. On Saturday, rushing leader Kenneth Walker III posted the longest scoring play in Michigan State history against the Scarlet Knights (94 yards). For only the fifth time in FBS history, a team had a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver. 2 6-0


Notre Dame

Quarterback play is an issue, but Jack Coan came off the bench — after being benched — to lead a rally back from 29-21 at Virginia Tech. The last time ND lost consecutive games remains the end of the 2016 season. Now that Alabama has lost, Notre Dame has the longest winning streak against unranked teams, 36. 5-1


Oklahoma State

Bye. Are the Cowboys the least talked about undefeated team in FBS? Heck, there’s more hype surrounding Coastal Carolina than Oklahoma State. The Pokes certainly aren’t a complete team. Spencer Sanders certainly needs to improve his game, but his team remains on the playoff periphery. It hurt that Texas blew it against Oklahoma. That won’t lessen passion this week in Austin. The Cowboys have won seven of the last 11 meetings against the Horns. 2 5-0



Bye. Florida-LSU looked like one of the bigger SEC games at the beginning of the season. Now, the Gators try to regain their mojo, while the Tigers try to save their coach. Tiger Stadium should be in full throat. COVID-19 restrictions (vaccination or negative test requirement) have been removed. 3 4-2


Coastal Carolina

Grayson McCall for Heisman? It’s time we start considering a trip to New York for Coastal’s quarterback. In a 32-point win over Arkansas, McCall threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns. That makes him the most accurate (79.8%) and most efficient passer in the country. If it holds up, his current 234.28 rating would be an FBS record. 3 6-0


Wake Forest

Is it time to call Wake the best team in the ACC? All hail receiver A.T. Perry, who caught three TDs, including the game-winner in overtime to beat Syracuse. The Demon Deacons are the only ACC team at 4-0 in the league, 1.5 games ahead of both NC State and Clemson. This is Wake’s first 6-0 start since 1944. A lot of shouldas and couldas from Syracuse, which rushed for 354 yards. 7 6-0



An under-the-radar upset. A 2-3 Boise team walked into Provo and handed the Cougars their first loss. Back-to-back fumbles helped the Broncos take a 20-10 halftime lead. Boise became the first Mountain West team to win a nonconference game against a top-10 opponent on the road since 2005. 7 5-1


Texas A&M

It took a while and much ridicule but Jimbo Fisher backed up his “beat his ass” comment from the summer. It didn’t make much sense. The Aggies used a backup QB (Zach Calzada) and pushed Alabama around. The 41 points were the most suffered by Bama in a loss since … the last time Bama lost (48-45 to Auburn in 2019). Not a bad night’s work for Jimbo, now making $9.5 million per year. NR 4-2


Ole Miss

Oh, our bad, this game was the one that needed popcorn. The Lane Train had to survive a last-minute scare from Arkansas to win by a point. Matt Corral cut his interceptions from six to none since the last meeting. In a game that featured 1,287 yards, the Rebels were just a little bit better. NR 4-1


NC State

Bye. The Wolfpack finds themselves 1.5 games behind Wake Forest in the ACC Atlantic with road games coming up against Boston College and Miami. Zonovan Knight is fifth in the ACC in all-purpose yards. 4-1



Bye. Has Dabo Swinney righted the ship? The offense still has to prove itself with road games coming up against Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Clemson is dead last (14th) in ACC offense and fourth-worst among Power Five schools. 3-2



The Mustangs got a surprisingly tough game from Navy. Tanner Mordecai (nation-leading 26 TD passes) was held to only two scores, but his final TD throw was the game winner with 8:19 left. SMU rebounded from a two-TD deficit in the first half to remain one of two undefeateds in the AAC. The other is ranked No. 4. 6-0



Sometimes, Sam Pittman looks like he walked into the stadium and slapped on a headset. That’s the charm of the Razorbacks. The Legend of Sam grew even bigger Saturday when he went for two trying to close out Ole Miss. It didn’t work but not for lack of coaching. The Hogs scored 50-plus points in the SEC for the first time since 2016. 7 4-2


Arizona State

Time to crown the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South? That was quite a performance against Stanford on Friday night. The defense stuffed the Stanford rushing attack (13 yards). Meanwhile, Herm Edwards had a Herm Edwards night overseeing a 255-yard rushing attack. 5-1


San Diego State

In his second go-round with the Aztecs, Brady Hoke has SDSU rolling. In their first game as a ranked team in two years, they blew out New Mexico, 31-7. San Diego State is off to its second 5-0 start in 46 years. The other was in 2017. Hoke is 22-16 at San Diego State, 65-60 elsewhere. NR 5-0

Out: Texas, Auburn, Pittsburgh


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