Meet the new poll. Same as the old poll.
That’s the storyline after the second Associated Press poll surfaced on Tuesday afternoon, and all of the top seven teams remained unchanged from the preseason poll.
Of course, there wasn’t much reason for voters to do anything but carbon copy their earlier entries — the only top 25 team that lost was Oregon, and the Ducks looked good in racing out to an early edge over Auburn. Tigers’ freshman Bo Nix showed he was more than ready for the spotlight, however, playing the role of hero in leading Auburn to a score in the final seconds at Jerry World.
With its victory, Auburn jumped up a few rungs on the ladder, and the Tigers now hold the No. 10 spot in the poll. Florida, which didn’t score many style points in a win over Miami, slipped three spots to No. 11, and the only other marked decline for a winning team was for Iowa State, which needed triple OT to beat Northern Iowa. The Cyclones slipped four spots to No. 25.
• Jalen Hurts sure didn’t miss a beat when he went from an NFL franchise (Alabama) to a major college program (Oklahoma). Hurts unveiled improved abilities as a passer, all to go with his already stellar rushing instincts.
But Hurts also got plenty of help making the transition from an offensive line at Oklahoma that had its way during a 49-31 victory over Houston. In fact, as it says in this column by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen was mighty impressed — and that’s coming from a coach who has considered Oklahoma to be a thorn in his side for years.
“The O-line’s better than I thought,” Holgorsen said. “They’re going to be pretty good.”
Also, Hurts’ former teammates were happy to hear of his success. Sunday night, many Alabama team members were watching, but not to scout the Sooners. They were simply watching their former teammate.
• Speaking of Alabama, it might not have the same push upfront it’s had in recent seasons, even though the offense should be just as potent.
Tuscaloosa News columnist Cecil Hurt said after the Tide’s 42-3 victory, “… when watching the replay of the Duke game, there were not a lot of instances where the running back hit the hole with authority and moved forward. Too often, the Alabama backs seemed to meander through downtown Atlanta like I-85.”
But don’t exactly go crying the Tide a river just yet. Alabama opened as an eight-touchdown favorite over New Mexico State for this Saturday’s contest.
• As anyone who’s ever laid down a wager can tell you, the SEC gets plenty of preferential treatment when it comes to oddsmaking, but is the conference truly something special or simply top-heavy?
Missouri’s loss at Wyoming helps make the latter case. The Tigers fell behind, then tried to rally in Laramie, only to wind up on the wrong end of a 37-31 decision that leads many to think it might be a long year in Columbia.
“Am I allowed to use expletives?” Tigers senior linebacker and co-captain Cale Garrett said when asked to describe his emotions after the loss.
• So, what do we make of quarterback Ian Book and Notre Dame, putting the labor in Labor Day through the first half at Louisville, yet still emerging with a comfortable 18-point win?
Are the Irish ready for another playoff run?
Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune said that it wasn’t just Book’s shaky play that should worry Notre Dame fans.
No matter who Book becomes over the next 11 games, it won’t be enough to coax a playoff run — of even a New Year’s Six berth — if the Irish run defense can’t transform quickly and dramatically.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• If Lee Corso is en route to Austin, there must be a big game in the offings. College GameDay has made the Red River Rivalry with Oklahoma an integral part of its lineup, but trips to Austin have been few and far between. In fact, it’s been since 2009 since the ESPN crew has been on-site, but a matchup between the ninth-ranked Longhorns and No. 6 LSU was enough to force those plans.
Sure, Texas has a Heisman longshot in quarterback Sam Ehlinger, but the real issue for the Longhorns behind the stocky signal-caller, where injuries have taken a tremendous toll (see audio below). If Keaontay Ingram gets nicked up, LSU could be in an advantageous position. But remember this, Texas coach Tom Herman has been best when leading underdogs and the atmosphere in Austin should be electric.