A week after a sense of stasis atop the college football polls, chaos returned in full force Saturday.
Three undefeated teams, highlighted by No. 2 Penn State, saw their chances of a playoff berth dashed or greatly diminished. The result was a new-look Top 25 that will satisfy those who believe the SEC is college football’s best conference and potentially anger certain people in the state of Wisconsin.
Alabama remains undaunted as the nation’s clear No. 1 and is now followed by fellow SEC member Georgia, which received two first-place votes. One-loss Ohio State leapfrogged undefeated Wisconsin after taking down Penn State, and Notre Dame now rounds out the Top Five.
Here is a look at how the entire Top 25 played out:
3. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
7. Penn State
11. Oklahoma State
13. Virginia Tech
14. Iowa State
20. North Carolina State
21. Mississippi State
24. Michigan State
25. Washington State
The Buckeyes rallied from a 35-20 deficit entering the fourth quarter, with quarterback JT Barrett having the performance of a lifetime and clearly establishing himself in the Heisman race. Barrett threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns on 33-of-38 passing, including completions on his final 16 attempts. He also added 95 yards on 17 carries.
“I think I’ve had him for five years. I’ve seen it ever since he’s been playing for us,” Meyer told reporters. “I heard about this J.T. Barrett guy, and he came on as a redshirt freshman. And he wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t this or that. But he’s tough as a lion and he has an incredible skill to lead others.”
The Buckeyes held Saquon Barkley, the overwhelming Heisman favorite entering this weekend, to 44 yards on 21 carries. Barkley returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and had a 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter but was bottled up entirely in the second half.
“They were blitzing, bringing pressures,” Barkley said after the game, per Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Adding an extra guy, adding extra hats in the run game. Scheme-wise, that’s really all I saw. Their D-line made plays. Like I said, it’s a talented group. I’ve got to find a way to break tackles, to fight for extra yards, and make plays.”