Every week is worse than the last for Clemson, who has dropped two games in September and is suddenly sent packing from the college football playoff race.
The Tigers’ 27-21 loss to NC State in double overtime is the latest blow to a team that can do nothing on offense and is facing major questions for the first time in a decade.
These two defeats open the way for the other team to win the ACC and a surprise team to reach the playoffs. Clemson has reached the national semi-finals in six straight seasons and claimed the last six conference championships.
But it’s been a year like that: Clemson is one of the top preseason contenders to struggle out of the gate, although only one of the group — including Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma — is already out of contention. has gone.
Here are the rest of Saturday’s winners and losers:
The Razorbacks are the legendary state champions of Texas, beating the Longhorns and now Texas A&M, behind an opportunistic passing game—an 85-yard touchdown and one in 48 yards—with 197 yards on the ground. This offensive balance, along with the Aggies’ continuing issues at quarterback with starter Haynes King, gave Arkansas their first 4–0 start of the program since 2003 and equaled coach Sam Pittman’s record 7–7 in his second season. Gave. The change he has made with the Razorbacks is notable given the state of the program coming out of unsuccessful tenures by Brett Bellema and Chad Morris.
Down 13-10 in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin, Notre Dame scored 31 unanswered points, on special teams and on defense to remain unbeaten in a crucial date with Cincinnati in October. Driven by a non-offensive score, the bounce in the fourth quarter included a very strong play by backup quarterback Drew Paine, who replaced an injured Jack Coen and threw for 68 yards and a touchdown. This creates some intrigue, with an early gesture from a passerby Brian Kelly when the Irish meet the Bearcats.
The Mustangs should be ranked in this week’s Granthshala Sports AFCA Coaches Poll after beating rival TCU 42-34 for the program’s second consecutive win in the Iron Skillet Series. SMU was able to overcome three interceptions by quarterback Tanner Mordecai by getting two scores at 350 yards and 6.7 yards per carry.
Now 4-0 after topping Missouri in overtime, the Eagles stayed on the course under second-year coach Jeff Hafley, despite losing potential All-Conference quarterback Phil Jurkovec to an arm injury earlier this month. has given. This led to a re-imagining of the offense: Boston College has gone from leaning on Jarkovec to a heavy emphasis on driving the ball behind a very strong offensive front. The Eagles covered 275 yards in Missouri’s second loss of the season.
It’s too early to say with full confidence that Texas has found the definitive answer in Casey Thompson at quarterback, given that his two-game stretch has come against Rice and Texas Tech. Still, the offense has hit a high gear behind Thompson, who went 303 yards through the air and had six combined touchdowns en route 70-35 of the Red Raiders’ Longhorns. His production has made things easier for star running back Bijan Robinson, who has 264 yards in just 31 carries in the last two games.
In the biggest regular-season letdown in recent Big Ten history, a 14–10 loss at home to Bowling Green around Minnesota replaced Big Ten West contender and coach PJ Fleck among the top contenders for the inauguration in Southern California. Got the place. One of the worst teams in the country since 2016, the Falcons dropped 12 out of 13 against the FBS competition, with losses against giants such as South Alabama and Akron, the latter to finish the previous season. There was a decline of 28 points. The Gophers had just 59 yards against a surprisingly effective bowling green secondary.
There is a difference between having a pushover, which is common ground for Vanderbilts, and being in a position where the only source of drama against Georgia stems from whether the Commodores will score more yards than the Bulldogs. It was close: Vanderbilt finished with 77 yards in a 62-0 loss.
What was meant to be a magical season—everything from coach through to quarterback and defense seemed to be in place for Iowa State—has gone off the rails before the end of September, leaving Baylor, who ended the Cyclones 31- 29 after the defeat. The possibility of factoring in the playoff debate. ISU has been removed from that conversation within a month, representing the first real disappointment of Matt Campbell’s six seasons as head coach.
Losing to Arkansas doesn’t take the Aggies out of the mix for the national semifinals, but starting with Alabama in week two, it makes the road ahead obscenely difficult. There are some major issues on offense: A&M has scored a combined 20 points in eight quarters against the Colorado and Razorbacks. Backup quarterback Zach Calzada has completed 51.8 percent of his attempts at just 5.8 yards per throw since replacing King at the start of the win against the Buffalos.
FSU is now 0-4 and on pace the program’s worst finish since 1974, after going 31-7 in a 31-23 loss to Louisville. Mackenzie Milton threw 248 yards and a touchdown, but was outplayed by Malik Cunningham of Louisville, who had 264 yards through the air, another 56 on the ground, and four combined touchdowns. Outside of Massachusetts, on October 23, there is no clear victory over FSU’s schedule.
Two unbeaten teams are leading up to October: Wake Forest, which beat Virginia on Friday night, and Boston College. Both teams deserve heavy attention in the top 25. But where does the ACC stand in the playoff debate when Clemson has already been dropped from consideration, North Carolina has already suffered a loss and Miami (Fla.) is again a major disappointment? The only good news is that there is finally some parity in terms of determining the conference champion, if that means anything.
Follow college reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg