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SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since 2014, Clemson has two losses during the regular season.
The Tigers have found it difficult to replace an NFL quarterback and running back, and have all but guaranteed a spot outside of this year's playoff competition, breaking a six-year streak of an appearance in the playoff. And though NC State is a good team and worthy of a win over Clemson, the story is about the Tigers' fall from the top.
All dynasties come to an end eventually, and Clemson is in for a fight this season. As a result, I dropped the Tigers to No. 17 in my ballot this week — nine spots from its previous spot at No. 8. Clemson has one of the worst scoring offenses in the country, with an average of 21.8 points per game, and has struggled to generate any momentum in the passing or ground game.
Clemson certainly still has the athletes to compete with anybody in the country, but it's not all coming together this season for the Dabo Swinney-led program.
In the Big 12, preseason favorite Oklahoma has looked anything but the powerhouse it was expected to be. Fans even chanted for a new quarterback despite the team staying undefeated this week with a last-second field goal to beat West Virginia 16-13.
Spencer Rattler averages 253.7 passing yards and a 74.7% completion percentage, but the Sooners have yet to have a statement victory despite a 4-0 start to the season. Wins over Nebraska and West Virginia are fine, but it's nothing spectacular this year. And while it's not fair to fault the Sooners for their schedule, it's the last couple games that leaves more to be desired if they're a legit playoff team.
For now, they move down to No. 7 in my ballot. Still knocking on the door but more needing to be done in the coming weeks to give me confidence they have the talent to win (or even make) a playoff game.
Here's a look at some of the other teams ranked in my ballot this week:
- At this point in the season, Alabama and Georgia are in a class of their own. Both programs scored over 60 points this week, with Georgia's coming against SEC foe Vanderbilt. Until proven otherwise, these two teams look to be a step above their next closest competitors.
- Notre Dame is a confusing team. One second they barely beating a bad Florida State team and the next they're blowing out Wisconsin in Week 4 of play. The Fighting Irish managed 31 points in an explosive fourth quarter after a three quarters where points came at a premium for either program. I have Notre Dame at No. 9 this week, but it's a cautious spot for my liking.
- Arkansas is apparently legit. Sure, it came against a Texas A&M program that hasn't looked stellar this season, but it's still a win. The Razorbacks now hold the Texas recruiting pitch in their back pocket with wins over Texas and Texas A&M in the same year — not a bad spot to be in to promote the program. The real test comes next week on the road against Georgia.
- BYU opened up its game against South Florida hot and reeled off a quick 21 unanswered points. And then the game came to a relative screeching halt as South Florida decided to control the clock and keep BYU's offense off the field — not a bad strategy. The final score may not show it, but the game was never really in doubt. If the Cougars can overcome a multitude of injuries, there's not questioning they could be one of the top programs in the country.
- A lot of changes took place at the bottom of my ballot, so welcome to the newcomers. I previously had Oklahoma State in my ballot a couple weeks ago but decided to replace them with other teams. Maybe they make the conference race interesting and steal one over Oklahoma later this year. Or maybe Baylor is back to its winning ways. Time will tell.
- Texas is back ... in my ballot. The Longhorns hung 70 points on a previously undefeated Texas Tech team. I don't want to be suckered into believing they might be good, but Arkansas is showing they're actually legit this season and Texas' loss wasn't as bad as it seemed — at least so far. The season is still young.
- Iowa State is out and in need of some answers. North Carolina sold us a fraudulent bill of goods. Really USC, what is going on? Hey Virginia Tech, you won, but really did you? It's Week 4 and Wisconsin has one win on the season. Better luck next time.
Checking in: Auburn, Baylor, NC State, Oklahoma State, Texas
Dropping out: Iowa State, North Carolina, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
In consideration: Arizona State, Boston College, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, SMU, UTSA, Wake Forest
If you can't see the poll below, click here.