SI's Top 10: Texas A&M's Win Disrupts CFB Rankings
The Crimson Tide falls in rankings after their loss in College Station. Plus, where do Iowa and Penn State land following their matchup?
Earlier this week at his radio show, Alabama coach Nick Saban was describing his team’s clash in College Station, Texas, against Texas A&M.
“This is a little bit of a trap game for us,” he said, in a somewhat stunning piece of honesty.
It made sense. This had all the makings of a typical “trap game,” one in which a highly-ranked, streaking squad faced a downtrodden, unranked opponent. The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide, fresh off a beatdown of Ole Miss in a hyped affair last week, was playing a two-loss Aggies team that had last lost at home to Mississippi State.
And in Aggieland, it will live forever as just that: The Trap Game.
Texas A&M violently shook the landscape of the Top 10 as well as all of college football on Saturday, slaying the top-ranked Tide, 41–38, in a stunning upset at Kyle Field. What’s more, the Aggies (4–2) did it with a backup quarterback. QB Zach Calzada threw for 285 yards and three scores, the defense smothered the Tide in the first half, special teams returned a kickoff for a touchdown and kicker Seth Small booted a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
Small’s kick ended plenty of streaks. Saban, for the first time in his coaching career, lost to a former assistant coach. He’s now 24–1. Alabama lost to an unranked team for the first time in 100 consecutive games. And an AP No. 1-ranked team lost to an unranked foe for the first time since 2008.
“Everyone needs to remember how they feel and not forget it,” Saban remarked after the game.
The Trap Game capped an eventful day of football and helped remake our Top 10. Oklahoma needed a wild comeback led by its backup true freshman quarterback to beat Texas. Lane Kiffin’s Rebels barely survived the Bounce Back Bowl against Arkansas, 52–51, after the Hogs failed on a potential game-winning 2-point play.
Unbeatens BYU and Penn State fell. SMU, UTSA and Wake Forest, both undefeated still, survived. Michigan State continued its season-opening jaunt, and Kentucky—Kentucky!—is 6–0.
To the Top 10, we go…
The Oldest Rivalry in the Deep South, as Auburn-Georgia is known, often produces some wild and crazy upsets. Not so much this year. The Bulldogs not only fired up that five-star defense of theirs, but Stetson Bennett, not a law firm but a backup quarterback, threw for 231 yards and ran for another 44, scoring two touchdowns.
Kirk Ferentz did his best Kirk Ferentz and Iowa punted its way to a comeback victory in the most Ferentizian of ways. The Hawkeyes played mean defense (and got four turnovers), won the field position battle and hogged the ball for 10 more minutes than the Nittany Lions.
The Bearcats handled the excitement of last week’s road win at Notre Dame quite well, crushing the Owls in a way you’d expect any CFP contender to. Temple had 11 drives that ended in seven punts, two failed fourth downs, an interception and a 55-field goal that hit the crossbar and bounced in. So what we’re saying is, Luke Fickell’s defense played well. And so did the offense (UC had 542 yards).
In one of the most memorable chapters of the Red River Rivalry, the Sooners stunned Texas by storming back from massive deficits behind, of all people, a true freshman quarterback. Caleb Williams replaced Spencer Rattler, a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, and led OU to what seemed like an improbable victory. Oklahoma trailed 28–7 in the first quarter, 35–17 in the second quarter and 41–23 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Coach Lincoln Riley’s team scored 25 unanswered points in a nine-minute span beginning with 1:04 left in the third, roaring to a win on a 33-yard touchdown jaunt from tailback Kennedy Brooks with three seconds left.
Last game: beat Nebraska 32–29
Next game: vs. Northwestern on Oct. 23
Speaking of trap games, here’s one where the trapper, the Huskers, failed to secure the trappee, the Wolverines. Nebraska used a 22-point third-quarter to soar back into this one, but kicker Jake Moody made field goals of 31 yards (to tie) and 39 yards (to win). The first field goal came after a Nebraska go-ahead touchdown and the latter came after a lost fumble from NU quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Last game: lost to Texas A&M 41–38
Next game: at Mississippi State
God bless the good people of Starkville, who will be hosting next weekend angry Nick Saban and his ticked-off Tide. Despite what you want to believe, Alabama still has an obvious path to the College Football Playoff. But it doesn’t happen, of course, without winning out. That includes beating presumed SEC East champion Georgia in the championship game in December.
Last game: lost to Iowa 23–20
Next game: vs. Illinois on Oct. 23
In a true insult-to-injury situation, the Nittany Lions lost quarterback Sean Clifford during this affair in Kinnick Stadium. With its starter out, Penn State could move the ball little, and the Hawkeyes stormed back for a field-storming win. Penn State’s road to the CFP took a major detour. Still left on the schedules are opponents named Ohio State and Michigan.
Mel Tucker, in his second season at the helm, has taken the Spartans from Big Ten basement dweller to legitimate conference title contender. His running back, Kenneth Walker, ran for 233 yards on Greg Schiano’s guys. Sparty’s defense continued its assault on opposing offenses. The unit has allowed more than 21 points just once this year.
The Wildcats are 6–0 for the first time since 1950. Who’d a thunk that a mid-October meeting between Kentucky and Georgia would settle things in the SEC East. Yet, here we are. The titanic clash arrives next weekend in Athens. Coach Mark Stoops is a defensive whiz whose team has given up 10, 28, 23, 10, 13 and 21 points in six games this season.
Last game: Beat Arkansas State 52–20
Next game: at App State on Oct. 20
QB Grayson McCall and the Chanticleers might not crack the four-team playoff, but coach Jamey Chadwell has his squad rolling to a second straight double-digit win season. Coastal’s offense, a spread triple option attack, is fun to watch and is confounding its competition. The Chants have scored at least 49 points in five of six games.
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