Top 25 takeaways: What Ohio State's win means

Clemson, down to its third quarterback after the transfer of Kelly Bryant and injury to Trevor Lawrence, found a way to beat Syracuse thanks to RB Travis Etienne, QB Chase Brice and a stifling defense.

No. 1 Alabama 56, Louisiana 14

The result in itself wasn't surprising as No. 1 Alabama dominated Louisiana at home 56-14. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa kept himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation with two more touchdowns and no interceptions, and true freshman Jaylen Waddle continued to make a name for himself with three touchdowns (two receiving, one punt return). But the most important development was the fact that backup quarterback Jalen Hurts took the field for the fifth time this season, removing the possibility once and for all of him sitting and taking a redshirt. Hurts continuing on with the team provides coach Nick Saban a valuable safety net in the event of an injury of Tagovailoa, not to mention a potential weapon on offense, especially in short-yardage situations. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 2 Georgia 38, Tennessee 12

Georgia is two weeks away from a road showdown at LSU, and will take both positives and negatives away from Saturday's win over Tennessee. After struggling at times with Missouri's up-tempo attack last week, Georgia played sharper on defense, especially the front seven, in holding Tennessee scoreless for two-and-a-half quarters. Linebackers Natrez Patrick, Monty Rice and D'Andre Walker flew around the field to prevent big plays and harass quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and Tennessee's other ball carriers. But the offense must make strides next week against Vanderbilt after an underwhelming performance, especially up front until the decisive drive in the fourth quarter. Georgia didn't consistently protect quarterback Jake Fromm, who never truly got the vertical passing game going. Despite a Tennessee rally, the outcome never seemed in doubt Saturday, but Georgia's inability to truly pull away should leave coach Kirby Smart and his staff a bit unsettled. Georgia also can't expect to put the ball on the ground so much and not pay the price. The Bulldogs haven't seen a defense resembling LSU's in overall speed and talent, and they'll need to improve before visiting Tiger Stadium on Oct. 13. -- Adam Rittenberg

No. 3 Clemson 27, Syracuse 23

The Tigers have Travis Etienne and their ground game to thank for pulling off the comeback win over Syracuse. With Trevor Lawrence injured and Kelly Bryant no longer on the team, the worst-case scenario nearly came true for the Tigers, who trailed for most of the game. But on the decisive game-winning drive, Chase Brice made one clutch fourth-down throw and another long run that allowed Etienne to punch in the game-winning score. This was far from a pretty game. Clemson had three costly turnovers and could not find a rhythm for much of it. Just the way it did at Texas A&M, Clemson found a way to survive another day, but there is no sugarcoating this fact: Losing Lawrence long term is not a prospect anybody at Clemson wants to face. -- Andrea Adelson

No. 4 Ohio State 27, No. 9 Penn State 26

Ohio State's defense once again gave up big plays in its 27-26 win over Penn State. The Buckeyes gave up the longest passing play in program history when Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler caught a 93-yard pass for a touchdown. The defense allowed Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to account for 461 yards in the game with two touchdowns. That being said, Ohio State plays Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska next on its schedule, which are a combined 9-9 on the season. Those games should give Ohio State an opportunity to right the ship before games against Michigan State and Michigan to finish the season. -- Tom VanHaaren

This is becoming all too familiar for Penn State against Ohio State. For the second straight season, the Nittany Lions were unable to hold on to a double-digit lead against the Buckeyes, and this one is likely to sting even more. Penn State blew a 26-14 lead in the fourth quarter in a nauseating 27-26 home loss and likely blew any chance to win the Big Ten championship, particularly when you survey the Buckeyes' remaining schedule. Trace McSorley was fantastic for the Nittany Lions and gave them every chance to win the game, but there will be a ton of questions in Happy Valley about that final fourth-down call. Moreover, this is the kind of loss that could linger for a Penn State team that simply was unable to finish the game when it had all the momentum. -- Chris Low

No. 5 LSU 45, Ole Miss 16

The Tigers took care of business at home, beating an overmatched Ole Miss team easily to win the Magnolia Bowl and improve to 5-0. Most impressive was the play of quarterback Joe Burrow, who showed great touch with his passes, throwing for three touchdowns. Coach Ed Orgeron's squad is playing with more and more confidence these days, but it can't afford to overlook a trip to Florida next Saturday with a home date against No. 2 Georgia the following weekend. -- Scarborough

No. 6 Oklahoma 66, Baylor 33

After getting benched for the first series for being late to a practice, Kyler Murray responded with one of the greatest quarterbacking performances in OU history. Murray completed 17 of 21 passes for 432 yards and six touchdowns to shatter Jason White's single-game school passing efficiency record (348.0 to 303.3). He also rushed for 45 yards and another touchdown. OU's win -- coupled with Texas' victory at Kansas State -- sets up arguably the biggest Red River Showdown since 2008, when Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy squared off in a classic shootout. Not since 2012 have the Sooners and Longhorns entered the game both ranked in the top 20. -- Jake Trotter

No. 8 Notre Dame 38, No. 7 Stanford 17

On the pregame flip charts distributed in the Notre Dame Stadium press box, Ian Book's name was still listed second in the QB slot, but with an "or" alongside teammate Brandon Wimbush. You can remove that "or" now. Book led the Irish to a 38-17 victory over Stanford in a top-10 showdown, with 278 yards passing, 47 yards rushing and four TD passes. He managed to both match the considerable South Bend hype that preceded his first start and win over those still wondering if he was ready to seize the role of "guy who can lead Notre Dame to the College Football Playoff." His teammates never had a doubt. Said Miles Boykin after a 144-yard, one-TD receiving night: "Ian was ready for this. We knew he would be. Was tonight a statement to the rest of the country? I don't know. But I hope so." -- Ryan McGee

In the early going at Notre Dame, it appeared that Stanford's MIA superstar was finally ready to get his season -- and Heisman campaign -- in gear. But as the Cardinal return home after a 38-17 loss to Notre Dame, questions about Bryce Love's struggles only grow louder. Love started the contest looking like a 2017 reboot, carrying the ball on four of the team's first five plays and breaking off a 39-yard TD run that tied the game 7-7 late in the first quarter. Then he vanished. Again. The defending Heisman runner-up finished the night with 73 yards and left the stadium with a limp and bags of ice in the pockets of his sweatpants. Immediately following the game, head coach David Shaw said, "I have no Bryce Love updates." Stay tuned. -- McGee

No. 10 Auburn 24, Southern Miss 13

Auburn was able to hold off Southern Miss after a weather delay of 2 hours, 44 minutes, but the Tigers are still waiting for their offense to light up. Auburn's defense snagged an interception and helped the Tigers overcome a fourth-quarter fumble, but the Tigers' offensive line struggled throughout the game. Auburn, which entered the game No. 8 in the SEC in scoring offense, was just 5-of-16 on third downs and held to a field goal in the fourth quarter. Auburn is still trying to get the running game going, and it needs to happen quickly, as the Tigers head to Mississippi State on Saturday. -- Heather Dinich

No. 11 Washington 35, No. 20 BYU 7

The 11th-ranked Huskies could move back into the top 10 for the first time since their season-opening loss to Auburn, and Saturday's shellacking of BYU showed they might be ready for it now. Washington put together its best showing of the season, an all-around effort that featured a near-perfect game from quarterback Jake Browning and a defense that kept the Cougars out of the end zone until the final minute of the game. Next week at UCLA should be a mere tune-up for a grueling four-game stretch that includes three ranked teams (Oregon, California and Stanford) and undefeated Colorado. -- Joel Anderson

It's hard to believe these are the same Cougars that throttled then-No. 6 Wisconsin on the road two weeks ago. BYU kept it close early but was ultimately undone by penalties, fumbles and an inability to generate any sort of pass rush against Browning. The Cougars went from down 14 late in the second quarter to trailing by five touchdowns at the end of the third, an unraveling that left no doubt they're not quite ready for a New Year's Six bowl game. On the bright side, BYU likely won't face another team as talented or deep as Washington the rest of the season. -- Anderson

No. 12 West Virginia 42, No. 25 Texas Tech 34

The Mountaineers started fast, but they have to finish better. They emerged from Lubbock unscathed, with Big 12 title contention still intact, but going scoreless on offense in the second half was a bit troubling. Dana Holgorsen and Jake Spavital want to see a more mature team in how it handles success. Holgorsen wasn't happy with how his offense finished each of the past two games, and when the games get tougher, it's going to be more important to finish strong. -- Sam Khan Jr.

The way the Red Raiders started was horrid, but they finished strong. This is a good team that wasn't able to put four good quarters together against a top-15 team. Texas Tech has to start quicker than it did Saturday. But progress in the Red Raiders' defense is encouraging: They haven't allowed a second-half point in conference play yet. What's concerning? The health of quarterback Alan Bowman, who left the game with an injury. His status is uncertain. If he can't go in Texas Tech's next game, the play of Jett Duffey -- who finished Saturday's game and led four scoring drives in the second half -- is encouraging for Kliff Kingsbury & Co. -- Khan Jr.

No. 13 UCF 45, Pitt 14

The nation's longest winning streak continues, as UCF thoroughly thumped Pitt for its 17th straight victory. While a win over Pitt likely does little to convince wary voters that this team is a real playoff threat, the style points were clearly there. QB McKenzie Milton bolstered his Heisman candidacy, too, accounting for six touchdowns. It's the third Power 5 team UCF has played during the winning streak, and Milton has accounted for 10 touchdowns and no turnovers. -- David M. Hale

No. 14 Michigan 20, Northwestern 17

The Wolverines spotted Northwestern 17 points in a sluggish start and needed all but four minutes of the fourth quarter to catch up. The defense held the Wildcats to under 30 yards of total offense in the second half to allow for the largest comeback in the Jim Harbaugh era. At this point, Michigan's offense is settling into an identity, but not one that inspires a lot of confidence for the tough road ahead. The Wolverines have talented playmakers who can put up big numbers when things are going well. They do not have anyone or any part of the playbook that performs with enough consistency to be reliable when the wheels aren't greased. Four ranked opponents remain on the schedule, and any or all of them could cause problems for Michigan even if the defense remains dominant. -- Dan Murphy

No. 16 Miami 47, North Carolina 10

The turnover chain became the overriding story in Miami's 47-10 victory over North Carolina, as the Hurricanes forced six turnovers and scored three times on defense. But there are two takeaways that cannot be overlooked: N'Kosi Perry got his first career start and showed off the dazzling passing ability that coach Mark Richt has raved about since signing the quarterback last year. Perry showed a comfort in the offense a week ago against FIU, and that continued in his first start. He did throw a few interceptions, but for the most part, you can see why Richt has been so high on Perry. His passing ability makes Miami a far different team on offense. Secondly, starting middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman sprained his ankle, and although Richt didn't sound too concerned, his status is one to watch with Florida State looming next week. Miami safety Jaquan Johnson has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and the Hurricanes can't afford to be without their best two players on defense as the season moves forward. -- Adelson

No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10

Kentucky's first game as a Top 25 team in the AP poll since 2007 ensured it will be back in the rankings for another week. Not only that, but the Wildcats are increasingly looking like the second-best team in the SEC East -- they're at least the team best-positioned team to challenge Georgia in the division. That said, it feels too early to buy Kentucky as a serious threat to the Bulldogs. What's not too early to consider is that this might end up as the best Wildcats team in over three decades. A win at Texas A&M next week, however, would really get the hype train into gear because that would make Kentucky 5-0 with winnable games against Vanderbilt and Missouri to follow before it hosts Georgia on Nov. 3. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 18 Texas 19, Kansas State 14

Finally. After losing five straight games in the Little Apple, Texas was able to scrape together enough offense without offensive coordinator Tim Beck to win at K-State for the first time since 2002. Beck, who was hospitalized and treated for an infection, is expected to return Sunday. Texas didn't turn the ball over, but it had 10 penalties for 104 yards and failed to score in the second half. Texas has now won four straight games since losing its season opener to Maryland, the program's longest winning streak since 2013. -- Heather Dinich

No. 19 Oregon 42, No. 24 Cal 24

The Ducks got the bounce-back win they needed following last week's heartbreaking collapse against Stanford. QB Justin Herbert didn't have his best game of the season, but it's clear at this stage he's the Pac-12's best quarterback and a main reason why the Ducks should feel capable of winning every game left on their schedule. There is no game bigger than next week, when rival Washington heads to Eugene in what promises to be one of the most pivotal games in the Pac-12 this season. -- Bonagura

Cal found its way into the Top 25 thanks in part to a sloppy win against a BYU team that went on to pull an upset at Wisconsin. That win in Provo was encouraging, but Cal entered the rankings more because it hadn't lost than anything it had shown over the first three games of the season. The loss to Oregon further indicates what has already been assumed of the Golden Bears: They won't be a team Pac-12 opponents look forward to playing, but they're not ready to be a major factor in the Pac-12 North. With that in mind, Cal is now set to play the conference's three worst teams over the next three weeks -- at Arizona, home against UCLA and at Oregon State -- and will expect to be 6-1 when it hosts Washington on Oct. 27. -- Bonagura

No. 21 Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 20

Michigan State did exactly what it needed to -- avoid an upset. The Spartans got off to a slow start and allowed the Chippewas back into the game into the fourth quarter, but the 11-point deficit was too much to overcome. Michigan State's stifling run defense held the Chippewas to 63 rushing yards -- including five in the first half -- and two scoreless quarters. While Michigan State's defense earned the spotlight and forced two turnovers, quarterback Brian Lewerke accounted for two of the team's four rushing touchdowns. Michigan State hosts Northwestern on Saturday before what will be a season-defining stretch in October with back-to-back games against Penn State and Michigan. -- Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech 31, No. 22 Duke 14

The good news came well before kickoff for the Blue Devils. QB Daniel Jones, just three weeks removed from a broken clavicle, was ready to return. Turns out, it didn't matter much. The offense never found a rhythm, Virginia Tech's defense utterly clamped down on the ground game, and Jones was forced to do virtually everything. This might be par for the course in the ACC, which has seen its share of Top-25 teams lose shortly after arrival in the rankings, but for Duke, there's still a very winnable slate ahead. -- Hale

Florida 13, No. 23 Mississippi State 6

Well, that didn't go as expected. Mississippi State welcomed former coach Dan Mullen back to Starkville aiming to make a statement that he chose the wrong team. Turns out, Mullen might've known what he was doing. For the second straight week, the Bulldogs' offense looked completely overmatched -- Nick Fitzgerald is completing just 47 percent of his throws and averaging 4.2 yards per pass in those games -- and the Bulldogs failed to find the end zone even once against the Gators. Once considered a legit contender in the SEC West, it might be time to stick a fork in Mississippi State. -- Hale