Upon further review …
- Notre Dame is worthy of a top-10 ranking, if not better. All it took to confirm that was for bull-headed coach Brian Kelly to make the switch at QB to the better player — Ian Book — and the Irish looked like a different team offensively at Wake Forest on Saturday. Kid was so good he got the Demon Deacons DC fired on Sunday. For those holding out hope for a three-loss, middling-bowl season, sorry, the Brandon Wimbush Experiment finally, mercifully, is now over.
- Penn State may contend for a playoff spot just yet. After almost ruining their chances in Week 1, the Lions have gone all “Alabama” ever since, outscoring their next three opponents by a combined 177-40, including a mind-boggling 42-0 stretch run at Illinois on Friday night after falling behind 28-24 in the third quarter. Frankly, prefer Miles Sanders as a feature RB over Saquan Barkley … because he doesn’t disappear for any stretches, never mind long ones.
- There are no “outliers” capable of beating the system to claim a berth in the national semifinals. Both my picks shared a week ago — Virginia Tech and Mississippi State — were solid choices, and both went down in flames, the Bulldogs at SEC rival Kentucky and the Hokies at Old Dominion, an FCS-level outfit that entered the game 0-3. Things got so bad with Tech that star DE Trevon Hill got dismissed from the team Sunday.
- The ACC is the goofiest conference in the country anymore. You never know what you’re going to get, even with pied-piper Clemson still leading the way. Boston College earns a ranking for the first time in 10 years, then loses — bad — at previously winless Purdue. Syracuse is 4-0, N.C. State is 3-0 and we already mentioned Virginia Tech. Did you know 4-0 Duke smoked the same Army squad that just took then-No. 6 Oklahoma to OT?
- Oregon QB Justin Herbert is the real deal — every bit as much as Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Plus, he’s 6-foot-6, 240.
- West Virginia QB Will Grier remains my guy for the Heisman. These 5-TD passing games are getting routine.
For the fourth straight week, my two schools went a combined 1-1. How positively “meh” of them.
With Illinois, still waiting for Lovie Smith to walk out the door — by his choice or not. At this point, excusing the players’ inexperience is not an option anymore. Nor is pointing at their lack of talent. That ain’t the issue. Coaching is. Game-day coaching.
Exhibit A: Friday night, at home, against then-No. 10 Penn State, the Illini are keeping pace behind the tag-team running of Mike Epstein and Reggie Corbin. They’re down 21-17 at half. Epstein, coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, has 72 yards on 12 carries. Has a couple receptions, too. First possession in the second half, he gets a break and before OC Rod Smith can get him back in there, Illinois manages to pull off a 75-yard drive to take a three-point lead. Fair enough.
But then the kid doesn’t see the field the rest of the third quarter, even as the wheels start coming off faster than you can “three-and-out” while the Lions catch fire. By the time Smith goes back to him, it’s too late. Damage done.
The Illini had no “feel” for using him against South Florida a week earlier, either, which resulted in them blowing a 19-6 lead in the fourth.
Can we stop rejoicing over M.J. Rivers II play at QB, too? Great, we get it, he’s a freshman. Can’t expect too much. Yeah, but we can expect him to feel pressure once in a while, and this guy can’t even sense the sharks circling a step away and the blood swirling all over.
Temple? Yo, take the win and just keep running Ryquell Armstead. Enough said.
This upcoming weekend may be the best for big-time matchups thus far, and could serve as the “yay” or “nay” final say for several teams with playoff hopes.
No. 4 Ohio State travels to No. 9 Penn State in the featured, prime-time contest Saturday night, but it ain’t the only one with major implications. No. 7 Stanford visits No. 8 Notre Dame the same night (and time) as well. No. 12 West Virginia has to go on the road at No. 25 Texas Tech, which just dismantled then-No. 15 Oklahoma State on its own field, and No. 11 Washington hosts No. 20 Brigham Young, which already dropped then-No. 6 Wisconsin at its place this season, in the other biggies.