Six weeks into the college football season and seven teams have clearly separated themselves at this point.
Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, Michigan, Louisville, and Texas A&M.
That would be how I would rank them if I was voting this morning. Reasonable minds can disagree on the order of the rankings, but those are the best seven teams in the country right now.
And I'd probably throw Tennessee in there as the eighth team with wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and Georgia, and an overtime loss at Texas A&M.
Here now are my five winners and losers from this week.
1. TEXAS A&M
The Aggies won the game of the weekend, edging Tennessee 45-38 in double overtime after nearly coughing up a 21 point lead. But figuring out a way, any way, to beat the Vols this year is impressive. Now A&M gets a bye week to prepare for what should be the de facto SEC West championship game in two weeks at no. 1 Alabama.
The Huskies took out all their frustrations from a 12-game losing streak against Oregon in one night, beating the Ducks the way the Ducks beat teams. Washington racked up 70 points on 682 yards and likely sent Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to the unemployment line at year's end. With wins against Stanford and Oregon under its belt, Washington is in control in the PAC-12 North and a legitimate contender for a playoff berth.
3. VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies handled Hurricane Matthew and no. 17 North Carolina in Chapel Hill Saturday. Playing in wind and driving rain, Bud Foster's Virginia Tech defense suffocated UNC's explosive attack, forcing four turnovers and limiting the Tar Heels to just 131 total yards. Meanwhile, Jerod Evans threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Hokies racked up 34 points and announced themselves as a contender in the ACC's Coastal division.
Purdue 34, Illinois 31 in overtime. Why is that final score relevant? Because it's just the third Big Ten win for embattled Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell (two have come against Illinois). Hazell's team isn't good, but this win will cool his seat at least temporarily.
5. MARK STOOPS
Another guy who did himself a favor Saturday is Stoops. In a battle of two SEC coaches that may be running out of time to turn their respective programs around, Stoops and Kentucky edged Vanderbilt and Derek Mason thanks to a goalline stand in the closing seconds. The Wildcats have now won three of four games after an 0-2 start to the season and sit at 2-1 in the SEC. With winnable games against Mississippi State and at Missouri the next two weeks, and a "gimme" win against Austin Peay still on the schedule, UK has a real shot to finish .500 in the SEC and with the required six wins to reach a bowl game.
No one lost more Saturday than Houston. The Cougars entered the day ranked sixth in the country and fully capable of crashing the College Football Playoff party. But Tom Herman's team struggled from the start against Navy and trailed by two scores most of the second half in a 46-40 defeat that not only ends their playoff chances, but could cost them a division title in the American if Navy keeps winning. The loss also takes a ton of the shine off the November 18th matchup between Houston and Louisville, which may hurt the Cardinals' chances of reaching the playoff as well.
While games were being played in hurricane conditions at North Carolina and N.C. State it was sunny and calm in Gainesville, Florida. Yet for some reason an important SEC inter-divisional game between LSU and Florida wasn't played. I won't criticize the decision to move the game from Saturday with a potent hurricane like Matthew barreling down last week, but the game had to get played. Play it Sunday like Georgia and South Carolina agreed to, or even Monday. But you have to play the game. It's too important to the SEC race (and the mental health of Tennessee fans everywhere) not to. The league's commissioner Greg Sankey seems to agree, saying Saturday the conference will do everything it can to make sure the game is played. While that's reassuring, it will take a significant reshuffling of both teams' schedules to make it happen now when it should've still been played this weekend.
When Michigan kicked the extra point for its 78th point Saturday Rutgers had 10 yards. Total. I don't care what level of football you're playing at that's a smackdown. The Wolverines are really good, but the Scarlet Knights are just totally inept. I hope the New York tv market is tuning into a ton of Big Ten Network programming because it's hard to see what else Rutgers brought to the table in expansion.
Oh how the PAC-12 might have fallen. At the same time Oregon was getting boat raced by Washington, no. 15 Stanford was losing at home to Washington State 42-16. The Cardinal have serious quarterback issues and are finding out that Christian McCaffrey can't win games all by himself. Most people's preseason pick to win the PAC-12 is now just 1-2 in league play after getting swept by the Washington schools.
5. MIAMI (FL)
The series defined by "wide right" and "wide left" now can add "blocked kick" to its legend. The Hurricanes blowing a 13-3 lead against rival Florida State only to score what seemed to be the game-tying touchdown in the final minute. That's when the Seminoles blocked the extra point to beat Miami for the seventh straight year and salvage what has been a disappointing start to the year for a preseason top five team.