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SALT LAKE CITY — If there's one word to define the 2021 college football season, it's chaos.
Each week there's something new, and it feels like it somehow trumps the previous week's chaos. I'm not saying it's not fun — it most definitely is — but it's an up-and-down roller coaster ride of a season where anything at this point may be possible.
Just look at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide appeared to be the bona fide powerhouse of the sport for the second straight season (let's be real, this is a constant theme here), and suddenly it found itself on the losing end to an SEC team that started the season with promise but has been anything but perfect or efficient — yes, the same team that barely got by Colorado and then lost back-to-back games to Arkansas and Mississippi State.
And then there's Texas in the Red River rivalry game — what an incredible game. If you turned off the TV at halftime, you might have thought the Longhorns were back and ready to take what many (in Texas) believe to be their rightful spot at the top of college football. And then the collapse happened, and boy was it by epic proportions.
Oklahoma went from having essentially no hope (ESPN gave it a 7.7% chance with eight minutes left in the game) to a 33-yard rushing touchdown with 10 seconds left in regulation to cap off a 35-10 second-half comeback to change everything. It was the start of college football's latest round of chaos.
I was really looking forward to praising Bijan Robinson — there's still plenty to say — but now there's a QB controversy for an undefeated Oklahoma team that still doesn't fully look the part of a playoff team. But wins matter, and the Sooners got a big one Saturday.
With all that said, here's a brief explanations for some of my picks this week:
- Alabama is still a solid team, but there are some flaws — as was evident Saturday. The Crimson Tide, however, still have wins over Florida and Ole Miss, two teams still ranked, and has some of the best talent in the country. I dropped them to No. 5, even though Texas A&M was unranked at the time of the loss.
- Georgia remains consistent and true; and for that reason, there's nobody else worthy of the No. 1 spot in the country. While its win over Clemson has faded over time, the Bulldogs have only gotten better. Don't overthink this pick — even with Iowa beating Penn State this week.
- Iowa moves up to No. 2 with its win over Penn State, but Nittany Lions QB Sean Clifford exiting the game due to an undisclosed injury looms over the result. Clifford's exit was a game-changing situation, but Iowa still did what it needed to do to come out on top.
- I want to keep Penn State high in my rankings, even with a loss, but the Clifford news weighs heavily on my decision. Assuming he's out for some time, I've dropped Penn State to No. 9. But the Nittany Lions are easily a top 5 team if Clifford is back under center.
- Kentucky is making moves and is 6-0 for the first time in 70 years; and it's not like the Wildcats got a win over a no-name program over the weekend, either. Kentucky doubled up the score on an LSU team that's struggling, which may be fodder for a change in coaching regimes. I'm not ready to overreact to Kentucky being 6-0, so I'm taking a bit of a conservative approach and moving them to No. 13, which is up six from my ballot last week and up three from the consensus.
- BYU didn't do anything to help itself in its first loss of the season to a mediocre Boise State team. If anything, the Cougars have to be more frustrated they beat themselves more than the Broncos did. But the results are the results. The Cougars drop to No. 16 in my ballot and have the difficult challenge to travel to Waco, Texas, to take on a Baylor team that checks in at No. 25 in my ballot.
Checking in: Baylor, San Diego State, Texas A&M
Dropping out: Auburn, Clemson, Texas
In consideration: Air Force, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Houston, Liberty, Nevada, Texas, UTSA
If you can't see the poll below, click here.