AP Top 25 Takeaways: Clemson, OU, USC Assert Themselves
On the first separation Saturday of the season, No. 3 Clemson, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 Southern California asserted themselves, and one thing was settled: Lamar Jackson, still awesome.
Four games pitting ranked teams, including a top-five matchup in Columbus, Ohio, shook up the early season rankings and mad a few long-term playoff statements. But before those main events under the lights, the first Heisman Trophy statement of the season was made by the guy who already has one.
The Top 25 thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from week two of the college football season:
1. Sure, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was great in taking down No. 2 Ohio State at the Horsehoe, but the defensive effort might have been even more significant. The perception — and reality of late — of a lack of defense in the Big 12 is a potential stumbling block to the playoff. The Sooners helped push back against that narrative, which helps the whole conference.
2. The Ohio State offense was supposed to be different with new coordinator Kevin Wilson. It’s not. What changes next? The quarterback?
3. Clemson’s defensive front might be the most dominant single unit in college football this season, similar to the way Alabama’s was the last couple of season. The Tigers had 11 sacks against Auburn .
4. USC broke a three-game losing streak to Stanford in a rivalry that has typified the Trojans struggle to get back to elite status since the end of the Pete Carroll-era. Too often the Cardinal have been the tougher team. This time, Sam Darnold and USC took a punch and responded with a flurry.
5. They called the Dawgs in Notre Dame Stadium and Georgia’s defense responded . The 15th-ranked Bulldogs are the one team in the SEC East with a chance to be a threat to the best of the West.
6. It would have been a nice mental-health win for the Fighting Irish and their fans, a way to put 4-8 in the rearview mirror. Instead it was another close loss, just like so many in 2016.
7. This felt different though for the Fighting Irish. They won’t see another defense like Georgia’s until Miami in November. If Notre Dame’s defense can do what it did against Georgia consistently, the Irish and coach Brian Kelly should be OK.
8. Quarterback controversy at Texas? Freshman Sam Ehlinger sure looked good as the Longhorns rolled San Jose State with Shane Buechele nursing a sore shoulder.
9. Some folks thought Jackson would have tough time making another run at the Heisman because it would be so difficult for the Louisville quarterback to match or even top his incredible numbers from 2016. Through two games, Jackson is averaging 505 total yards and has accounted for eight touchdowns.
10. On Saturday against North Carolina, Jackson ran for three scores and threw three touchdown passes . The Cardinals still don’t protect Jackson as well as they need to and that’ll be a problem next week at home against Clemson. But Jackson’s brilliance is undeniable. No one who cast a Heisman vote for him last year should feel any buyer’s remorse.
12. Pitt tried to play keep-away from No. 4 Penn State and limit opportunities for Saquon Barkley and the Nittany Lions’ explosive offense. Barkley showed he doesn’t need a lot of touches to do a lot of damage: 18 for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead does a great job of getting Barkley fortuitous matches in the passing game.
14. The Penn State and Pitt staffs do not care for each other. So Penn State coach James Franklin couldn’t help but take a dig at the Panthers after getting revenge for last year’s loss at Pitt.
15. Oregon did not score in the second half — and beat Nebraska 42-35 . The Ducks’ defense is better but still not good. That offense, though, with Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman, will likely cause some problems in the Pac-12.
16. Freeman is out to remind folks that he was fairly mentioned in the same category with running backs Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook before injuries hit last year.
17. Who had Iowa-Iowa State as the game of the day?
18. No. 8 Michigan needs better play out of quarterback Wilton Speight. The offensive issues certainly weren’t all quarterback-related against Cincinnati , but his limitations combined with inexperience on the line and at receiver means will be a frequent problem for Michigan.
19. However, Michigan defense points allowed: 17. Michigan defense points scored: 21.
20. FAU was the only FBS school from the state of Florida to play Saturday. The rest either canceled their games or, in the case of FIU, moved it outside the state and played Friday. The Owls lost to No. 9 Wisconsin, which was no surprise, but coach Lane Kiffin sounded as if his players would have rather not made this trip .
21. Jackson wasn’t the only ACC quarterback to impress Saturday. Duke’s Daniel Jones had 413 total yards and accounted for four touchdowns in a surprisingly dominant 41-17 victory against Northwestern . In a Coastal Division with lots of QB questions, Jones could be a player that keeps the Blue Devils in the race,
22. Arkansas fans want coach Bret Bielema to be on the hot seat, especially after No. 23 TCU handled the Razorbacks pretty easily . The reality is, with a contract that runs through 2020 and an athletic director who supports him, Bielema is probably safe barring some kind of 2- or 3-win meltdown.
23. TCU might be interesting to watch in the Big 12. Gary Patterson’s defense malfunctioned last year, but it looked like old times for the Frogs against the Hogs. The schedule does TCU no favors, with road games against No. 11 Oklahoma State in a couple weeks and Oklahoma down the line. But with Bob Stoops gone, there is no better coach in the Big 12 than Patterson.
24. Another coach with a contract extension through 2020 who is not quite as secure as Bielema is Boston College’s Steve Addazio. The school isn’t rushing to pay off Addazio, but with a new athletic director and plans to start putting money into facilities, patience at BC will not be in high supply. Getting pounded at home by Wake Forest is an ominous sign.
25. No. 1 Alabama got some work for its five-star backup quarterback Tua Tagovaiola in a blow out of Fresno State. Don’t you dare call it a quarterback competition, though. Tide starter Jalen Hurts went 14 for 18 for 128 yards and a touchdown and ran for 154 yards and two scores. Definitely, not a quarterback competition in Tuscaloosa.
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