The Other College Football Top 25: Arkansas offends, Penn State ascends

25. THIS WEEK’S REMINDER THAT WE AMERICANS ARE SOME OF THE STRANGEST PEOPLE ON EARTH. One week after Akron’s players burned an oar in pregame in an attempt to addle Western Michigan, and three weeks after Indiana’s players won the traditional spittoon by beating Michigan State and then took turns spitting in it per ritual, Auburn got another helping of motivation for its 56-3 mauling of Arkansas because Arkansas held its usual, informal, pregame, midfield meeting while standing on the Auburn logo, which left some Auburn players with hurt feelings and added motivation. Whew.

24. THE THIRD-BEST STAT FROM OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH. In its 66-59 loss to Oklahoma, Texas Tech converted 20 of 25 third downs, so that some football-novice visitor in the stands probably thought, Sometimes, they don’t even make it.

23. NO. 9 BAYLOR (6-0) AT TEXAS (3-4). Baylor isn’t getting any respect, while Texas isn’t getting out of its mire of whether it will replace its coach. It looks like a grand festival of grievance.

22. A POSTGAME CHAT. On Saturday night, a losing Arizona State Coach Todd Graham accused Washington State Coach Mike Leach of being “chicken—-” when Leach had told the media about his belief that Arizona State had been a signals-stealer. Actually, if you say such things out loud, it might be a problem, but “chicken—-” is probably the wrong word, as it’s probably something north of “chicken—-.”

21. A PAIR OF FREEFALLS. Only seven programs have made the two-year-old College Football Playoff, and two of them, Oregon and Michigan State, stand 2-5 each, 0-4 in their conferences. Oregon is last in its division, and Michigan State is ahead of only Rutgers, but only because Rutgers has played one more conference game, so is 0-5. Bloody mercy.

20. THAT OLD MOUNT UNION, JUST KEEPS ROLLING . . . It returned only nine starters from its 12th Division III national championship team, yet it’s 7-0 with 52 points allowed and its closest game a 38-21 win at Ohio Northern, which should have received a special medal of excellence in a postgame ceremony, acknowledging its three touchdowns.

19. SYRACUSE! With the 28-20 win at Boston College on Eric Dungey’s 32-for-38 passing, the Orange pulled even at 4-4, something nobody expected, mostly because nobody looked.

18. MY COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES OREDIGGERS. We went into St. George, Utah, where nobody exceeds 500 yards, and got 582 in our 62-27 win over Dixie State that pushed us to 6-2 and helped make a mighty four-team logjam atop the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. We win all tiebreakers, though, on account of having the coolest nickname.

17. LOOK AT THE UTES. While observing the most overlooked 7-1 team in the country, a matter owing heavily to age-old Eastern bias, remember that on Oct. 1, Utah had six plays inside the 10-yard line inside the final two minutes at California, but lost, 28-23, ending at the 1. Remember that Cal Coach Sonny Dykes trusted a defense no one else trusted, thus called none of his timeouts, and that this whole sport is just bewilderingly nuts.

16. THE SECOND-BEST STAT FROM OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH. Texas Tech ran 109 plays, 10 more than it ran in its opener against Stephen F. Austin, and more than double the total Rutgers ran (54) in games against Ohio State and Michigan. Its statisticians were treated for cramps and listed as probable for this week’s game at TCU.

15. NO. 2 MICHIGAN (7-0) AT MICHIGAN STATE (2-5). Michigan fans have to just hope against hope their team can find some incentive.

14. THE ALABAMA AND LSU BYE WEEKS BEFORE THEIR NOV. 5 MEETING IN BATON ROUGE. You know your rivalry has gotten bruising when people notice your bye weeks.

13. THE COOL SEAT OF JAMES FRANKLIN. Penn State’s coach, with his fresh pinnacle, has been there so interminably long (three seasons) that it bears reminding that, before that, he went 24-15 across three seasons at Vanderbilt, yet did not win national coach of the year. That’s probably because the feat so far exceeded mere coaching and belongs in mentions alongside Galileo, Copernicus, da Vinci.

12. NO. 7 NEBRASKA (7-0) AT NO. 11 WISCONSIN (5-2). Even as people continue to slight Nebraska as the most disbelieved 7-0 team in the land, it still has not forfeited this game at Madison, but it’s widely presumed it’s because nobody would turn down a trip to Madison.

11. U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY. One fine machine.

10. THAT WEST VIRGINIA DEFENSE. It has been so superb in holding Texas Tech — Texas Tech! — to 17 points and TCU to 10 that the Big 12 presidents have convened and voted it out of the league for the violation of a phalanx of conference bylaws that prohibit the play of attentive defense.

9. NO. 3 CLEMSON (7-0) AT NO. 12 FLORIDA STATE (5-2). Clemson could win, and save the Atlantic Coast Conference from becoming quite a source of chaos and piqued arguments. But that is no reason to root against Clemson, whose coach and quarterback are very nice people.

8. THE BEST STAT FROM OKLAHOMA-TEXAS TECH. They each got 854 total yards, and you just wonder why, even with a score that wasn’t tied, they couldn’t just go to overtime and settle it.

7. LET’S PLAY “COUNT THE FIRST DOWNS.” That’s what one does at Michigan, with Wisconsin having gotten eight, Rutgers mustering two and now Illinois hoarding six, meaning the last three Wolverines opponents have gotten 38 percent of the first downs Texas Tech got (42) in a loss to Oklahoma. The great lists Michigan No. 1 in yards-per-play defense at 3.67, the only team under 4, but if you watch carefully, it’s really closer to 0.01.

6. COUNTDOWN TO THE APPLE CUP. That would be 32 days away in Pullman, Wash., where Washington (7-0, 4-0 in the Pacific-12) will play Washington State (5-2, 4-0) with potential national implications amid the wheat and legumes of the Palouse. Glory might just be.

5. NO. 4 WASHINGTON (7-0) AT NO. 17 UTAH (7-1). Then again, let’s play them one at a time.

4. THE DEPARTURE OF EDDIE JACKSON. The senior safety’s Alabama career has ended with his fractured leg against Texas A&M, but before he left, he scored on two punt returns and one interception return this year, and embodied something you see in this Alabama era, where you keep looking around the field and thinking, What a football player.

3. THE BRILLIANCE OF LAMAR JACKSON. The Louisville quarterback who has accounted for 34 touchdowns already (16 rushing, 18 passing) is the Heisman Trophy front-runner for a school that has not won one, and with a candidacy that will remind us that former Louisville quarterback John Unitas never finished in the top 10 of the voting, and had to wait for the NFL championship game of 1958 to make a historic trip to New York, and did leave there with a trophy.

2. THE RETURN OF LEONARD FOURNETTE. The LSU back’s stunning Saturday night (284 rushing yards), and his stunning bull-over of Ole Miss’ Deontay Anderson, helped prompt this statement from LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron (formerly of Ole Miss, Southern California and the New Orleans Saints): “I’ve never been a part of a player like Leonard, to be honest with you.” You could say that upon hearing that, LSU fired Les Miles again, but that would be gratuitous.

1. QUOTE OF THE WEEK. When Penn State safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md., Wise High School) broke clean and forged one of the plays of the year, his blocked field goal that plucked Ohio State from the unbeaten list, he saw teammate Grant Haley scoop it up for the touchdown and said: “I felt so good. You don’t understand. I wanted to cry.” Making a play is one skill, and describing it, still another.

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