It's time for a new installment of Deadspin's college football rankings. As always, the teams are ranked according to the logic and values of college football, no matter how bizarre or contradictory they may be.
1. Clemson (4-0) Last week: 1.
The Tigers' 35-30 win over Florida State might be one of those big victories that gets less and less big as the rest of the opponent's season plays out. But the Top 25 Or So lives in the glorious present, where the Seminoles are still plausibly good, and where Clemson is clearly better.
2. LSU (4-0) Last week: 2
Suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson was un-suspended this week after a grand jury reduced the felony battery charges against him to a misdemeanor (the charges against linebacker Josh Johns were dropped outright). Before that, never-suspended quarterback Jarrett Lee threw three TD passes as the Other Tigers went to West Virginia and clobbered the Mountaineers, 47-21. This convinced some people who rank football to move LSU up in the polls, even though West Virginia was not ranked above LSU.
3. Oklahoma (3-0) Last week: 3
The Sooners, playing at home, fell behind Missouri early, 14-3. Oklahoma football is so used to grievous mismatches—their home winning streak is now 38 games—that the fact that they even trailed at all was newsworthy to the AP:
Only Texas Tech in 2006 had held a larger lead at Oklahoma during its best-in-the-nation home winning streak, and Baylor had been the only opponent to hold a lead in Norman since Mizzou led by one in the fourth quarter in its last visit in 2007.
Missouri lost, 38-28.
4. Baylor (3-0) Last week: 4
In the we-might-as-well-make-this-a-thing Robert Griffin III statistics watch, the Baylor quarterback had four incompletions and five touchdown passes as the Bears beat Rice, 56-31. With that, he now has more TDs than incompletions for the year.
5. Stanford (3-0) Last week: 5
Andrew Luck and the Cardinal took the weekend off to prepare for the beginning of the academic Autumn Quarter on Sept. 26.
6. (tie) Oklahoma State (4-0) Last week: 6
6. (tie) Texas (3-0) Last week: 6
8. Wisconsin (4-0) Last week: 8
The Badgers beat South Dakota, 59-10. Sloppy defense, Badgers! Wisconsin has cumulatively outscored its opponents 194-34.
9. Georgia Tech (4-0) Last week: unranked
A 35-28 home win against North Carolina wasn't especially impressive, by the Yellow Jackets' early-season standards. But it did help highlight those standards: 398.8 rushing yards per game, and 53.3 points. Georgia Tech is very, very good so far at what it does.
10. [Vacant] Last week: 10
Still not convinced there's a clear 10th-best team in the country.
11. South Carolina (4-0) Last week: 11
Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia threw four interceptions—maybe we can start charting his INTs against Robert Griffin III's INCs—and coach Steve Spurrier apologized to fans for "such a putrid offensive performance." But defensive end Melvin Ingram, our Heisman favorite, scored his third touchdown of the season on a fumble recovery (after a defensive teammate fumbled while running back a fumble recovery) and had two sacks as South Carolina's defense smothered Vanderbilt, 21-3. The Commodores ended up with 77 yards from scrimmage, while losing 79 yards on penalties.
12. Auburn (3-1) Last week: 12
The AP reported that "boos could be heard from the student section" as the reigning national champions, who last week suffered their first loss since 2009, played a lackluster opening half against winless Florida Atlantic. The Tigers went on to win 30-14. Hey, Alabama had a good first half. Maybe you should root for them if you're dissatisfied with the team you've got.
13. Boise State (3-0) Last week: 13
The Broncos beat Tulsa, 41-21, leaving coach Chris Petersen dissatisfied:
"I thought there were some really nice plays made in all three phases but I thought it was a lot of sloppy football," Petersen said. "There's no question we have a long way to go. No question. And we better get there in a hurry."
A long way to go? The Broncos were not playing for the national championship on Saturday. And they will not be playing for the national championship in January. Might as well live in the moment, Boise State.
14. Alabama (4-0) Last week: 14
Beat Arkansas, which is not Auburn, 38-14. The Razorbacks rushed for 17 yards. Total. Alabama's Trent Richardson had three separate carries longer than that.
15. Michigan (4-0) Last week: 15
Quarterback Denard Robinson lost the passing duel with San Diego State's Ryan Lindley, 253 yards to 93. But he outgained Lindley on the ground by 214 yards, rushing for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns while Lindley was credited with one carry for -14 yards. The Wolverines won, 28-7.
16. Navy (2-1) Last week: 16
The Mids took the week off, moving one week closer to playing Army.
17. South Florida (4-1) Last week: 9
The Bulls beat UTEP on Saturday, 52-24 in a game so lopsided that the losing coach said, "The score is that way because they were playing their guys quite a bit."
Maybe they should, in fact, have played their guys less. Five days later, on short turnaround, the Bulls faced their first legitimate opponent away from home, going to Pitt for a Thursday night game. Panthers back Ray Graham ran the ball 26 times for 226 yards, a nice 8.7 yards per carry, as Pitt won, 44-17.
18. Ohio State (3-1) Last week: 23
While Miami and USC both lost, the Buckeyes beat Colorado, 37-17, restoring their standing as the best wounded-outlaw program on the list.
19. Virginia Tech (4-0) Last week: 19
The Hokies continued their string of adequate victories over unimpressive opponents with a win over Marshall, 30-10.
20. Arkansas (3-1) Last week: 17
Punter Dylan Breeding was one Razorback who did put up better numbers than his Alabama counterpart, averaging 44.6 yards to 37.5 by the Crimson Tide's Cody Mandell. Unfortunately for Arkansas, four of Breeding's eight punts ended up in the hands of Alabama's Marquis Maze, who ran them back for a total of 125 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown.
21. West Virginia (3-1) Last week: 18
Quarterback Geno Smith went 38-for-65 for 463 yards, all school records, demonstrating that the Mountaineers are not bad at some things, even if they are nowhere near as good as LSU at football overall, which no one expected them to be.
22. Florida (4-0) Last week: unranked
Hey, how did Florida get to 4-0? Let's see... The Gators beat Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee, and now Kentucky. That's worth No. 22.
23. Texas A&M (2-1) Last week: 20
The Aggies led Oklahoma State 20-3 at halftime, then were outscored 27-9 in the second half—and those nine points included the Cowboys running the ball backwards for a safety to kill the clock on the final play of the game. So really it's more like Oklahoma State outscored the Aggies 29-7.
120. Maryland (1-2) Last week: 120
Coach Randy Edsall was brought in by Maryland/Under Armour to do things the football program had never done before. Mission accomplished! No other Maryland coach had ever lost to Temple. So the Owls came down to College Park and got more yards rushing—285—than their hosts had total yards. The AP's account of the 38-7 thrashing noted that it was "38-0 before the Terrapins got a meaningless touchdown" and that the Terps were "terrible on special teams, too." The wire service also described the latest entry in the Under Armour fashion parade as "unsightly." Edsall told the press that
this is a process we are in. It was not going to get changed overnight no matter how much I want it to.
As the Washington Post observed, Edsall is talking about rebuilding after he inherited a team that went 9-4 last year, including a bowl-game victory. By comparison, Ralph Friedgen—who was dumped for Edsall so unceremoniously that he now says he burned his Maryland diploma—inherited a 5-5 team and went 10-2 in his first season, including a trip to the Orange Bowl.