Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 10



Mississippi State was an unlikely spoiler in the College Football Playoff race, but all five of college football's unbeatens remained perfect.

No. 7 Texas A&M falls in huge upset

The Aggies were controversially ranked No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings ahead of undefeated Washington as well as fellow one-loss teams Louisville and Ohio State last week, and they did nothing to disprove those who claimed they were overrated.

Kevin Sumlin’s team traveled to Starkville, Miss., to take on 3-5 Mississippi State and quickly found themselves off on the wrong foot, falling behind 28-7 to start the game as Bulldog quarterback Nick Fitzgerald threw for two touchdowns and ran for one. Texas A&M fought back to pull within seven early in the fourth quarter behind two Christian Kirk touchdowns, including a 93-yard punt return at the end of the first half. This comeback came despite the Aggies losing starting quarterback Trevor Knight for the second half due to injury.

But Mississippi State embarked on a soul-crushing drive taking more than seven minutes off the clock, capped off by another Fitzgerald touchdown run with 3:08 left in the contest. The Aggies quickly marched down the field to make it a one-touchdown game with 1:33 left, but were unable to recover the onside kick, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock.

This loss crushes Texas A&M’s playoff hopes, as it fell to No. 10 in the AP poll following the upset. The Aggies have now dropped their last two SEC games after a blowout loss against Alabama two weeks ago. They will have to regroup and step up their level of play if they want to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl.

Alabama stifles LSU to secure road win

Since firing Les Miles and replacing him with interim head coach Ed Orgeron, No. 15 LSU had looked like a new team, averaging 41.7 points per game. But this rebirth met a harsh reality check Saturday against No. 1 Alabama at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

In a football game that was a throwback to the days before high-flying, explosive offenses, the Crimson Tide topped the Tigers 10-0. Defenses were on top all night, as Alabama held star running back Leonard Fournette to 35 yards and LSU had just 125 total yards. The Tigers did not run a play inside the Crimson Tide 30-yard line all game.

LSU’s defense held steady for much of the game, including a stop on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but surrendered a 21-yard touchdown scamper to Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts early in the fourth quarter for the first points of the night. Hurts was the Crimson Tide’s leading rusher with 114 yards.

The win in enemy territory solidified Alabama’s hold on the No. 1 ranking and allows it to look ahead to the Iron Bowl Nov. 26, when the Crimson Tide will face surging No. 8 Auburn with the SEC West title likely to be on the line. LSU dropped to No. 19 in the AP poll and faces another tough test next week at Arkansas, which just defeated then-No. 11 Florida 31-10.

Buckeyes obliterate Cornhuskers

Coming into this game, No. 9 Nebraska had played a relatively soft schedule, with its best win coming against a free-falling Oregon team. Nevertheless, the Cornhuskers only had one loss and commanded the nation’s attention for a prime-time showdown against another one-loss Big Ten team, No. 6 Ohio State.

Only one of the two teams showed up Saturday night at Ohio Stadium, as the Buckeyes destroyed Nebraska 62-3. Ohio State set the tone early on when cornerback Damon Webb returned an interception for a touchdown on the Cornhuskers' opening drive of the game. Nebraska had no answers for the Buckeyes defensively, letting star quarterback J.T. Barrett throw for 290 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cornhuskers lost quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to a scary head injury in the second quarter. Armstrong was taken to the hospital, but returned to the sideline in street clothes in the third quarter. But no matter who the Nebraska signal-caller was, it could get nothing going offensively. The Cornhuskers only completed 9-of-33 passes in the game and picked up just nine first downs.

This is a statement win for Ohio State following several weeks of close games, including a loss at Penn State. The Buckeyes look to be back on track for a showdown with No. 3 Michigan in the regular-season finale looming on the horizon for the Big Ten West division crown. That game could be a virtual College Football Playoff play-in game if the winner goes on to win the Big Ten championship the next week. Nebraska fell to No. 21 and will lick its wounds before another tough game against Minnesota to help determine who will win the Big Ten East.


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