Sometime around Week 3 or 4, we start to get a flavor for the season — the speculations of June give way to the harsh realities of September. Hyped Labor Day games and body bags dim into memory as quality begins to emerge. Even better, we can actually look at resumes.
There’s not much more to say than, after 25% of the season, the team with the best CV to date has been the Penn State Nittany Lions. I regret to inform you that despite our fervent wishes, Auburn appears to be a very good club. Thank god they hired another doofus to coach that team. And Wisconsin is, for now, its usual seal-clubbing, ground-and-pound self. The Lions dispatched them both. More impressively, they only played a half of decent football in both games and still got it done against two of the nation’s Top 10 defenses. Was it always pretty? No. But with a solid passing attack, one of the most frenetic and talented defenses in the country, and the ability to stretch teams out before hitting them between the tackles, it’s just a really, really damned good team. It’s hard to argue against what they’ve done so far: earned their spot on the field, as opposed to potential or talent or preseason expectations.
Don’t worry. James Franklin will screw this up.
As usual, here is the blog poll, with a few remarks to follow. Usual caveats: The criteria are nebulous, far-ranging, and capricious — strength of schedule, bad and good coaching, injuries, exigent circumstances, home/away results, defense or lack thereof, offense or lack thereof, line play, power poll-ishness, can you cover a spread (Vegas is pretty smart about how good a team is), head-to-head where possible or prudent, and my own lying eyeballs.
2021 Blog Poll: Week 3
|NEXT UP||ULL, UNC, Iowa State, Maryland|
|Auburn, Florida, Memphis|
- Iowa is Penn State with a less explosive offense and better coaching. Nowhere near as talented, but they don’t make every game a cardiac event. The games are won up front, and Penn State, Iowa, Georgia have been the nation’s best.
- Georgia has looked great the last two weeks, but that Clemson game is becoming less impressive.
- Alabama has been soft up front, error-prone, never adjusted to a two-play scheme, went into a complete shell when it got the lead. Worse, it is among the nation’s least explosive teams; on Saturday, it appeared to be out of its depth as it was outcoached for 45 minutes by Dan Mullen and a very pedestrian (for Florida) Gator team. Recruited better than anyone for over a decade; time to get it together — on the field, on the sidelines, between their ears. Pete Golding can put guys in position, but they have to want to tackle. Surely, there are people on this roster who do? And you could say something similar about the offensive line, the running back corps, the wideouts... Really, pick a unit, any unit — it likely needs work. Bryce Young is an absolute godsend though. I doubt this road win looks amazing 6-7 games down the line; the Miami win has already been exposed for being the fairly shallow beatdown of another bad Diaz team that it was.
- Cincinnati didn’t let the Big 10 road environment get to them. After a rough opening 8 minutes, Bearcats beat the hell out of the Hoosiers the rest of the way. Such a great team. Ridder better be on the stage in New York.
- Oregon holds serve. The victory at OSU is still the best single W any team has in the country. And it’s arguable that fending off a very good Fresno State team may give it an even better resume than 3-4 teams above it. That coaching though...yikes.
- Ole Miss — No one trusts that defense quite yet, right? But we’re all rightly scared of the offense, correct? Now, flip that script for Texas A&M — Jimbo has taken this team back to 1996, and is happy as a clam. Offense is simply dreadful, but good luck scoring on them. Put Ole Miss and Aggie together, and you’d have a terrifying Gigachad football team.
- Much like Auburn, I regret to inform you that BYU is also good. Very, very good. After the road yips in its opening game, it has played lights out defense, run the ball effectively, and the passing game hasn’t missed much of a beat from last season. Kilani Sitake is going to get a great good job offer soon, no matter the fact that BYU is about to be a P5 team.
- Liberty and Coastal continue to be two of the few, 100% complete football teams in the nation. Fundamentally sound at every unit, explosive, well-coached, dynamic defenses, good quarterbacking, good depth, a great knack for making a play when they need it, and they both have a killer instinct that far too many teams lack — including a certain one located in West Central Alabama.
- There are some very decent one-loss teams out that that people are sleeping on: Fresno State is being played up as some sort of bad loss. It’s not. FSU had the nation’s No. 1 offense for generating explosive plays and a very good DL — they went against a bend-don’t-break secondary on a team that wants to win by running. That was a matchup loss. Both of these teams are good.
- Wyoming has been the quiet toast of a MWC that seems to have rebounded a bit this year. Boise has had two tough losses, but they’re still good. SJSU, Nevada are still up there. Utah State has rebounded. Colo. State is playing worlds better. But the Cowboys look potent. Bohl finally has an offense.
- When you have a forgiving early schedule, do you know what you do with it? You kick everyone’s brains in. That’s exactly what Michigan, UTSA, and Army have done. All have looked great doing it...but, Army, we need to work on playing a full 60 minutes. This is the best Michigan has literally ever looked under Jim Harbaugh.
- Michigan State, Arkansas ranked. What a world. And they’re doing it the same way: exploiting mistakes, winning the LOS, just enough competent QB play, and a stout running game. You can also add Maryland to this mix, the Terps have been very good early, but I still don’t trust that defense. The Hogs and Spartans are ahead for now.
- Clemson is 2-1 and has looked progressively worse with each D1 team its faced. I know transitive football isn’t great. But it can be instructive: Northern Illinois, 63-10 losers yesterday to Michigan, went to Atlanta and smacked around the Beeeees. That same GT team then shut down Clemson in Clemson. A lack of depth, coaching turnover, and a few recruiting misses are starting to catch up. This team isn’t done losing, especially not with an offensive line that makes 2021 Alabama look like...well, 2020 Alabama. And not in an ACC that is going to prioritize points.
- You know who else you can say that about? Oklahoma — except their defense is bad too. Get ready to see a whole lot of zone in B12 season play. The Sooners can’t platoon backs, and Spencer Rattler has been dreadful trying to work around zones.
- Notre Dame just continues to Notre Dame — grimly, tastefully winning games.
I’m willing to entertain a lot of options for No. 1 this week. I just think Auburn/Wisconsin is the best body of work early in the season. Who do YOU have as No. 1, and tell us why below.
This poll is closed
Penn State is as good a team as any in the country
Iowa — like Penn State, except they don’t screw around and have a bunch of white guys
Oregon — FSU is a good team and that Ohio State win is hard to top.
Georgia — Shutting down Sakerlina, UAB, Clemson is far more impressive than anything other squads have done.
Alabama — Hey, Miami was ranked No. 13 at the time! And that Florida game may also turn out to be a preview of the SECCG. Not every team can be the 2020 Crimson Tide
Michigan — I’m highly impressed by smoking MAC teams at home with our 85 blue chip players
Clemson — Simple Jack is gonna’ get it turned around!
Oklahoma — Sure, it’s an ugly undefeated, but it IS undefeated!
Ole Miss — LANE TRAIN COMIN’ THRU, BB. WHOOT WHOOT
Aggie — God help us if we need to score 17 points in a game, but good luck getting to 17.
Cincinnati / Liberty / BYU / Coastal — I’m just here for the chaos. Everyone kind of sucks this year. Why not a midmajor?
Notre Dame — I couldn’t tell you why either.
Other / No one / Everyone kind of sucks.
- ASU and VT are still ranked...albeit barely. Both teams lost for one reason and one reason alone: piss-poor road coaching. The Sun Devils committed 16 penalties and had 4 TOs in Mormonland. When they weren’t tripping over themselves, they looked good. VT woke up far too late against a West Virginia team that always plays out of its mind in Morgantown. That lack of preparation and focus was 100% on Justin Fuente.
- A lot of teams are on the outside, and I need to see some quality wins from: Iowa State, UNC, ULL, Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Texas. Memphis, SMU, Wake Forest, Houston, LSU all qualify. Once conference play starts, we’ll know who’s a poseur and who’s legit.
- Finally, a quick word about one of these teams on the outside.
Mercy, Mike Leach is not long for this (SEC) world. Remember on Saturday in our Viewing Guide when I told you that Memphis has one of the worst passing defenses in the country? The Tigers shut down the Bulldogs offense, and showed you in one single play the difference between opening the freezer and finding a delicious chocolate pudding pop and a half-melted turdsicle.
Sure, the SEC admitted that it screwed up this call nine ways from Sunday. But well-coached teams play to the whistle. And this awareness would wind up becoming the deciding score.
the Calvin Austin III punt return with Miss St radio broadcast overlaid. we now have "12 men on the field" added to the conspiracy pic.twitter.com/xr4GwHkLuR— Jeb Hill (@memphistigerjeb) September 19, 2021