Tim Tebow on what will make the CFP expansion great
Two words: home games. Tim Tebow explains why the expansion of the college football playoffs now opens the doors for teams to host playoff games in their own stadium and that makes for a great environment.
Sports Seriously, USA TODAY
Coming under heavy scrutiny since the start of last season, No. 5 Clemson’s foul brought in a 51-45 win against No. 16 Wake Forest, which could be a major turning point as the Tigers try to get back to the top of the ACC and the College Football Play-off.
The face of Clemson’s struggle on offense, junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei threw 371 yards and five touchdowns to keep up with Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, who finished with 337 yards and a school record of six scores.
Asked to lead the Tigers to an unmissable victory, this offense yielded a second 500m game in a row – the first since 2020 – and a resounding answer to the questions and doubts that have been raging for more than a year.
Uiagalelei’s performance was his best since his freshman year, when he had two excellent starts replacing an injured Trevor Lawrence. Sophomore running back Will Shipley ran for 104 yards and a touchdown, his seventh.
Speaking of a shift in the conversation, Clemson can now run into more trouble on defense than on offense after failing to control Hartman and the Demon Deacons.
TOP 25 OVERVIEW: Results and results of the biggest matches in week 4
An inexperienced and flimsy secondary is the Tigers’ weakest link after giving up at least 250 passing yards for the third game in a row. Wake is the third team to hit at least four touchdowns without an interception against Dabo Swinney-coached Clemson and the second team to score six, joining Ohio State in the 2021 Sugar Bowl.
Even a talent-packed defensive front was largely kept in check by Wake’s experienced offensive line, although this group didn’t show up until late in the fourth quarter and into overtime.
Next week, Clemson pits against No. 11 North Carolina State, who has a powerful passing game of his own behind quarterback Devin Leary. If the offense delivers another strong performance and the defense rebounds against an elite opponent, the Tigers have earned a place among the top four teams in the country.
Clemson, Wake Forest and others make the selection for this week’s winners and losers list:
This is a team and program that is rapidly emerging in the SEC East. No. 12 Tennessee reversed years of rivalry futility, beating No. 22 Florida 38-33, giving the Volunteers even more wind in what will be a breakthrough second season under coach Josh Heupel. His work with Hendon Hooker is what really stands out: After failing to get off the ground at Virginia Tech, he has thrown 39 touchdowns and just three interceptions since his arrival in Knoxville, including 349 yards and two scores against the Gators. Tennessee had surpassed Florida only once since 2005.
If it wasn’t an outright upset, the Wisconsin defense had to test No. 3 Buckeyes and quarterback CJ Stroud. There may be a team capable of doing just that – just won’t be the Badgers, who only forced a point halfway through the third quarter. Stroud had 281 passing yards, TreVeyon Henderson ran for 121 yards, tight end Cade Stover had two touchdowns and the Buckeyes stormed to a 28-0 lead and romp over Wisconsin 52-21. This violation is terrifying.
The best story in college football continues: Kansas remained unbeaten by beating Duke 35-27 behind another scorching hot Saturday from quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has worked his way into the early Heisman Trophy fight. Daniels completed 19 of 23 throws for 324 yards, ran a team-leading 83 yards and had five touchdowns, giving him 15 scores and only one turnover on the year. The Jayhawks have been picked to improve in coach Lance Leipold’s second year, but still take the top four wins. They are now on their way to bowling eligibility and Leipold is becoming one of the most popular coaches on the market.
Facing a very early SEC elimination and playoff race, A&M saved an acceptable September by barely sneaking past No. 10 Arkansas 23-21. It was easy to imagine what would have happened with a second loss, starting with louder calls for Jimbo Fisher to hand over pre-play duties for his sputtering offense. While the offense is still in neutral, the Aggies were sparked by a turn for quarterback Max Johnson, who has done well protecting the football and playing with his legs. A&M also has one of the best backs in the SEC at Devon Achane, who had 159 yards against the tough defense of the Razorbacks.
The Fighting Irish begin to get the ship back on track after a rocky start under coach Marcus Freeman. Like Clemson, a stumbling block led to a major win: Notre Dame won 576 yards, 287 on the ground, beating North Carolina 45-32 for a second straight win after losing to Ohio State and Marshall to open the year. Behind a great game plan from coordinator Tommy Rees, quarterback Drew Pyne threw 289 yards and three scores.
Beating previously undefeated Iowa State 31-24 cements Baylor’s No. 17 place among the top teams in the Big 12 and sheds some light on the conference race heading into October. The win also saw a rebound from freshman starting quarterback Blake Shapen, who struggled in the Bears’ loss to Brigham Young and last week’s win against Texas State, but hit on 19 of 26 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns against the Cyclones. ISU came in on Saturday, allowing quarterbacks to complete just 51.4% of their throws and give up just 5.2 yards per attempt.
The Kansas State graduate transfer quarterback had one of the best games of his career leading the Wildcats to a 41-34 win against No. 6 Oklahoma. Far too cautious during his first three starts – avoiding turnovers but overly conservative as a passer – Martinez played loose against the Sooners, finishing with 234 passing yards, 148 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Late in the fourth quarter, his 55-yard run to convert a key third deficit sealed the win. After a miserable four years in Nebraska, Martinez has a chance to write a positive end to his college career.
Forget Kansas. Is James Madison the season’s success story? In the first year of the Bowl Subdivision program, the longtime Championship Subdivision power went undefeated by scoring the final 29 points of the game to shock Appalachian State down road 32-28. Once behind 28-3, the Dukes gained some momentum with a score of 75 yards towards the end of the second quarter, then scored twice on a short field in the second half to upset a large group of five.
The Big 12 is up for grabs after the Sooners’ sloppy loss at Kansas State. While the offense was able to move the ball against the Wildcats, a number of drives were stalled due to early penalties, mostly false starts that put the Sooners behind the chains. After a boring non-conference slate, Oklahoma heads out opening month like a mystery. Are the Sooners the best team in the conference? Will the defense level up under Brent Venables? For Oklahoma, the defeat removes all room for error with conference games ahead against Texas, No. 8 Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Mario Cristobal’s honeymoon is over, and soon. After losing a winable game to Texas A&M last Saturday, No. 25 Miami suffered a 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee that confirms the Hurricanes’ place among the biggest disappointments in the Bowl Subdivision. With his team already relegated to non-factor status, Cristobal must deal with another big situation early in his freshman year: Tyler Van Dyke was drawn in the third quarter after completing only half of his throws with two interceptions. Taking a step back after a huge freshman season reflects badly on the new staff.
The Razorbacks missed an emotional come-from-behind victory by inches. Under 23-21 with less than two minutes left, Arkansas rose for the leading field goal from 42 yards from sophomore Cam Little, one of the best young kickers in the country. But Little’s kick was pushed to the right and barely touched the top of the right stile before bouncing back into the end zone. The loss drains some juice from next weekend’s matchup with No. 1 Alabama.
Steve Sarkisian can empathize with Cristobal’s thud from a debut. His was even worse: Texas failed to reach a bowling match in one of the worst seasons in recent program history. How much better is Sarkisian’s second year? The No. 19 Longhorns lost 37-34 in overtime at Texas Tech, undone by a series of regulatory errors and a crucial overtime fumble from star-running Bijan Robinson, and clearly haven’t built on this month’s morale-building loss against Alabama. Rather than competing for a spot in the New Year’s Six, the Longhorns seem like an afterthought in the Big 12.
After taking advantage of the transfer portal to fuel an unexpectedly successful 2021 season, Mel Tucker has clearly failed to pull off another rebuild and keep Michigan State in the mix for a New Year’s Six -come. Pushed around Washington last weekend, the Spartans were humiliated in a 34-7 loss to Minnesota, which should give the Gophers some Top 25 consideration.
Count this as one of the worst losses of the season: Missouri missed a 26-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation and then fumbled away the likely game-winning touchdown in the first overtime to lose 17-14 to an Auburn team seemingly playing the series under controversial coach Bryan Harsin. Instead, the nature of the ugly loss will put Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz on a hot seat as the Tigers head for a losing finish.
Worst team in the country? At the very least, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Florida International, and the state of New Mexico have a company at the bottom. New Colorado State coach Jay Norvell, who has been left in a dire situation by his predecessor, will clearly need some time to bring the Rams back into focus after losing 41-10 at home to Sacramento State.