A wild week in college football leads to AP Poll shakeups

Kentucky and Oklahoma’s losses capped a week of upsets


Courtesy of the Lexington Herald Leader

Kentucky’s loss to Ole Miss was one of many ranked losses.

Dylan Tynes, Staff Writer

As the year moves into October, the college football season finally settles into its routine of high-stakes conference matchups in which every week matters. Naturally, the first day of the month brought with it a lot of turmoil in the sport, with ten ranked teams losing, mostly in the second half of the AP poll. Viewers at Wake Forest can be forgiven for missing the news from around the league, however, since they were preoccupied with the Demon Deacons’ big 31-21 win over Florida State. If that was you, here’s a little of what you missed. 

In the highest-billed matchup of the day, No. 5 Clemson took down tenth-ranked NC State in a slow but competitive game. Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was efficient in an effort that saw Clemson maintain a lead for most of the game. Uiagalelei showcased his size and running ability in the effort, frustrating the Wolfpack defense throughout the game. With 209 yards through the air and 73 on the ground, the dynamic Uiagalelei continues to shine in keeping the Tigers offense unpredictable. NC State, for their part, looked like a top-25 team, but their offense has real flaws that can be exploited by another solid team.

No. 2 Alabama had a brief scare in its game against No. 12 Arkansas after reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young left the game with a throwing shoulder injury. The Razorbacks built momentum from that point as Alabama’s offense became stunted—Arkansas cashed in 16 unanswered points in the third quarter. They quickly moved within five of the Crimson Tide. 

Alabama was fortunate to be able to fall back on star running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who exploded for 206 yards on the ground and two scores to lead the Tide to a 49-26 win. Gibbs accomplished this with just 18 carries as the fatigued Razorback defense let him rumble into the secondary more and more in the home stretch.

First-ranked Georgia did not fare as well, trailing most of their contest against down-and-out Missouri. While the Bulldogs managed to prevail 26-22 in the end, it took a significant second-half comeback to do it after the Tigers went into halftime with a 16-6 lead. 

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV did enough to win but only after starting slowly, as he finished 24-43 with 312 yards. Missouri capitalized on Georgia’s turnovers and miscues to keep it close, which could become a recurrent problem for the Bulldogs as they look to repeat as national champions. Despite coming away with the win, Georgia gave teams everywhere hope that they can be toppled from the No. 1 spot. 

No. 17 TCU provided perhaps the greatest shock to the college football world in Week Five by handing Oklahoma a 55-24 loss that felt even less competitive than the score indicates. The Horned Frogs averaged just under nine yards per play in a performance featuring four different 60-yard plays for touchdowns. One of these highlights came from quarterback Max Duggan’s extraordinary 67-yard run for a score. He and running back Kendre Miller combined for 252 rushing yards on the day. 

The Sooners saw quarterback Dillon Gabriel exit the game after a scary hit to the head in the second quarter, but Oklahoma was down by a large margin before the hit. The defender who brought the hit was ejected, however, following a scuffle between the teams. The Horned Frogs are now 4-0 on the season and are headed into an improbable ranked matchup with Kansas next week.

The No. 19 Jayhawks, for their part, took down Iowa State 14-11 in a slog of a game that somehow involved an accidental two-point conversion by the Cyclones. Iowa State struggled to establish any run game, and Kansas survived a scoreless second half to win. 

It was not pretty at all, but the Jayhawks improved to an astounding 5-0 to reach their win total from the past three seasons combined. The meat of their schedule still lies ahead, but Kansas has quickly become one of the premier stories of the college football season as they host their first College Gameday next week versus TCU. 

No. 7 Kentucky became the highest-ranked team to fall on Saturday after a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss, 22-19. The Wildcats squandered opportunities late, as their last three possessions ended within Ole Miss territory and produced no points. Quarterback Will Levis fumbled in each of the last two possessions, including one after a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not called for targeting. Levis endured constant pressure throughout the game, and Ole Miss even managed to wrangle him down in his own endzone for a safety in the second quarter.

Kentucky missed a field goal and an extra point as well, but Ole Miss ultimately took care of business, led by 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground from running back Quinshon Judkins. The Rebels walk away with a top-10 win in their first real test of the season.

On Friday night, No. 18 UCLA prevailed over No. 21 Washington 40-32 in an exciting battle of unbeatens out west. The Bruins jumped out to a solid lead early, leading 33-10 shortly after halftime. Washington was taking damage from both ground and air, as UCLA running back gave them 124 rushing yards and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson produced three scores through 315 passing yards.

 But Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. kept things interesting, finishing with 345 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in a losing effort. He helped the Huskies generate 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins managed to hang on. Both these teams played well, but UCLA established itself early and made fewer mistakes, turning a few heads in the process of improving to 5-0 on the year. 

As the season grinds on, more of the questions around college football will begin to find answers. Next week features a number of intriguing matchups, including TCU-Kansas in a battle of Big 12 upstarts, Tennessee-LSU in a cross-divisional SEC matchup, and Utah-UCLA in a game that could go a long way in determining who wins the Pac-12 South. These games just scratch the surface of what lies ahead next week and beyond in a college football season that is just beginning to heat up.