We bow down earlier than our new overlords, the Sun Belt Conference. Who knew, proper? A league that not way back was thought-about the very backside of the FBS barrel instantly is toast of the game, scoring a trio of seismic upsets on a Saturday that appeared sleepy coming in and become a furniture-on-the-lawn rager.
(As this chaotic great thing about a sport so usually does.)
Often known as the Fun Belt, the league morphed into the Stun Belt on Saturday, scoring wins over three established powers.
Score one for realignment savvy, with the Sun Belt choosing off Marshall and others from Conference USA—after which fast-tracking their membership for this season. The Thundering Herd (2-0) paid off on that wager instantly by surprising Notre Dame, pushing the Fighting Irish season to the precipice after solely two video games. Marcus Freeman is now 0-3 because the coach of the Irish, and whereas the primary two losses have been comprehensible, this was not. It’s the worst Notre Dame loss for the reason that Charlie Weis Era, a minimum of.
Score one other for conserving the convention’s most profitable program within the fold. Redoubtable Appalachian State, winners of a minimum of 9 video games in every of the previous seven seasons, adopted by beautiful Texas A&M and cementing the Aggies’ standing as probably the most overrated program in America. A&M was ranked within the preseason high 10 regardless of coming off an 8–4 season, and has misplaced its previous three video games in opposition to FBS opponents going again to final season.
And rating one for Georgia Southern, which employed Clay Helton on the rebound from USC and was rewarded with a wild 45-42 victory at Nebraska. Scott Frost is historical past in Lincoln, this seals it. It’s only a matter of when, with the discount in half of his buyout on Oct. 1 looming massive.
Per a launch from the league, it’s the first Group of 5 convention to attain a number of victories in opposition to high 10 opponents on the identical day since September 2003.
There are main points in any respect of these heavyweight colleges, however give The Belt a championship belt for these Buster Douglas moments. It’s tougher than ever for groups outdoors the “gated group,” to make use of ACC commissioner Jim Phillips’ apt phrase, to compete equally with these inside. What the Herd, Mountaineers and Eagles did on the identical day was monumental. And, as an added bonus, every of them pocketed a seven-figure examine for what was alleged to be a loss. That’s the final word win-win.
This was an incredible day nationally for underdogs, and a humbling day for the “Power 2” conferences of the SEC and Big Ten allegedly separating themselves from the remainder of the game. Alabama was extraordinarily lucky to beat Texas, needing late heroics from reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, an early harm to Texas QB Quinn Ewers and a few curious officiating calls to win by some extent. Tennessee additionally benefited from a QB harm to carry off Pittsburgh in extra time. Washington State, maybe probably the most endangered member of the endangered Pac-12, went into Madison and upset Wisconsin. Iowa State ended its six-game dropping streak in opposition to rival Iowa. Missouri was annihilated at Kansas State, Northwestern was soundly overwhelmed at residence by Duke, Vanderbilt was no match at residence for Wake Forest, and Nebraska did its factor as properly.
Let’s get on to a critically reconstructed SI Top Ten with this caveat: preseason rankings are largely out of the window. If your staff hasn’t performed anybody to this point (hi there, Michigan and Oklahoma), do not anticipate me to rank it.
1. Georgia (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Samford, 33-0.
Next sport: At South Carolina (Saturday).
Georgia coach Kirby Smart continued his spot-on Nick Saban imitation by pouncing on an FCS opponent for a half—it was 30-0 within the second quarter between the hedges—earlier than placing the sport on ice. The Bulldogs’ offensive evolution right into a passing pressure continued on this sport, with 43 passes and simply 32 runs. Quarterback Stetson Bennett had his second-straight 300-yard passing sport, and fourth in his previous 5, relationship again to final season. As for the rebuilt Georgia protection? Three factors allowed in two video games.
2. Arkansas (2-0)
Last sport: Beat South Carolina, 44-30.
Next sport: Missouri State, in Bobby Petrino’s return to Fayetteville (Saturday).
Should the Razorbacks be this excessive in our rankings? Well, think about: has any staff had two higher wins to this point? Arkansas handed Cincinnati its first regular-season loss since 2019 in Week 1, then simply dealt with an improved Gamecocks squad. The Hogs haven’t but trailed this season, and led many of the approach Saturday by double digits. Running again Raheim Sanders had his second straight 100-yard dashing sport.
3. USC (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Stanford, 41-28.
Next sport: Fresno State (Saturday).
The Lincoln Riley scoring machine stored rolling in Palo Alto, racking up 28 first-half factors. Quarterback Caleb Williams was once more razor sharp, finishing 13 of 15 passes for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns within the first half alone. Defensively, the Trojans continued to be opportunistic—after 4 takeaways and three defensive scores in opposition to Rice, they’d three extra takeaways within the first half in opposition to Stanford.
4. Ohio State (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Arkansas State, 45-12.
Next sport: Toledo (Saturday).
The Buckeyes drop within the rankings as a result of their win in opposition to Notre Dame was devalued by the Fighting Irish flop in opposition to Marshall. The Thundering Herd scored extra on the Irish than Ohio State did, in spite of everything. Playing once more with out high receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Buckeyes nonetheless acquired their passing sport untracked in opposition to the Red Wolves. CJ Stroud threw for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Marvin Harrison Jr. had seven catches for 184 yards and three TDs.
5. BYU (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Baylor, 26-20 (2OT).
Next sport: At Oregon (Saturday).
The Cougars overcame receiver absences and kicker debacles to beat the Bears in a sport that was well-played till it frayed on the edges late. Quarterback Jaren Hall threw for 261 yards and a landing, and the BYU protection stored Baylor out of the top zone within the second extra time to solidify the victory. (It helped that the Bears went Uber-conservative within the latter phases of regulation and the overtimes.) If BYU can win in Eugene, the potential path to 6-0 and internet hosting Arkansas in mid-October is manageable.
6. Kentucky (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Florida, 26-16.
Next sport: Youngstown State (Saturday).
For the primary time in 45 years, the Wildcats have overwhelmed Florida in consecutive seasons. This time, they did it with out most of their operating again depth chart—most notably star Chris Rodriguez, who’s being withheld from competitors amid an eligibility inquiry. And the Wildcats did it on the highway. And they did it by making Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson’s Week 1 hype evaporate. Kentucky has mastered the power to win video games like this below Mark Stoops. Sorry, John Calipari, however is that this changing into a legit football college?
7. Alabama (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Texas, 20-19.
Next sport: Louisiana-Monroe (Saturday).
Winning is basically all that issues in school football—however wow did the Crimson Tide make a large number of their sport in opposition to the Longhorns. Alabama had 15 penalties, and possibly might have been referred to as for a few different ones which may have altered the result. But give credit score to Young for reversing a game-long battle with some sensible fourth-quarter possessions to drag the sport out of the fireplace. Here is the issue with Alabama’s physique of labor up to now: that opening rout of Utah State? Well, the Aggies adopted it with a blowout loss to FCS Weber State.
8. Texas (1-1)
Last sport: Lost to Alabama, 20-19.
Next sport: UTSA in a possible entice sport (Saturday).
Is Texas again? Let’s not go there but. But as crushing because the loss to Alabama was, program progress appeared tangible. Texas was aggressive on the line of scrimmage, particularly on the defensive facet, and had playmakers at receiver to complement operating again Bijan Robinson. If Ewers returns briefly order from the shoulder harm that knocked him out early in opposition to Alabama, coach Steve Sarkisian has some stuff to work with.
9. Tennessee (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Pittsburgh, 34-27.
Next sport: Akron (Saturday).
The Volunteers eked out the win in extra time at Pitt, thanks partially to an harm to beginning Panthers quarterback Kedon Slovis and backup Nick Patti being hobbled as properly. Hendon Hooker and Cedric Tillman hooked up 9 occasions for 162 yards and a landing to energy the Tennessee offense.
10. Penn State (2-0)
Last sport: Beat Ohio, 46-10.
Next sport: At Auburn (Saturday).
The Nittany Lions’ highway win in opposition to Purdue on Sept. 1 pays early dividends right here, definitely weighing extra closely than beating the Bobcats on Saturday. Running again Nicholas Singleton, a part of a gifted freshman tandem at that place, ran for 179 yards in opposition to Ohio. Penn State followers preserve wishing for somebody to beat out sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford, however he is off to a great begin.
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