Stanford: The Cardinal exceeded all expectations in Saturday night’s 21-14 win over USC. Not only did they prove they could move on without Andrew Luck, they all but debunked the theory that USC would be a serious threat to Alabama and LSU for the national title. Trojans hot-shot QB Matt Barkley completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, had no touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, Stanford ran all over the Trojans front seven for 202 yards.
Florida State: Wake Forest and the Seminoles were both undefeated heading into last Saturday’s game. Florida State proved in a big way that it could be the team to beat in the ACC with its 52-0 win. The Seminoles (3-0) ran for 385 yards on 45 carries and scored four touchdowns. It won’t be that easy the rest of the way, but Florida State’s win last Saturday bought back memories of the Bobby Bowden Seminoles teams of the 1990s. The only other undefeated team in the ACC is Clemson (3-0). With Virginia Tech already with a loss, the Seminoles have a golden opportunity to return to national prominence.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights (3-0) are off to a great start, with two of their first three wins coming on the road. Their latest victory was a 23-13 triumph over South Florida. Rutgers defense was masterful, picking off South Florida QB BJ Daniels three times and limiting the Bulls to 337 yards of total offense. They’ll still have to deal with Cincinnati and Louisville later in the season. But if they continue to thrive on the road, a Big East title could be in the cards.
Notre Dame: Could it be that the Fighting Irish are back? Notre Dame’s defense all but shut out Michigan State in its 20-3 win on Saturday. The Spartans gained just 50 net yards on 25 carries. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson wasn’t exactly stellar, completing 14 of 32 passes for 178 yards and a TD, but he was effective enough to move the ball. Notre Dame’s rushing attack (34-122, 1 TD) wasn’t dominant either, but it was adequate. Just enough to keep the Spartans stout front seven honest. The return of suspended RB Cierre wood was a welcomed sight as he ran for 56 yards on 10 carries, although 26 of them came on one run.
Florida: The Gators offense was in full control in its 37-20 win at No. 23 Tennessee. The Gators could end up being the only threat to Alabama and LSU. Florida gained 555 total yards. Three Florida rushers –Mike Gillislee (115) , Trey Burton (91), Jeff Driskel (81)– gained 81 or more yards on the ground. Driskel was also efficient passing the ball, completing 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
USC: The Trojans were supposed to be the team that challenges Alabama and LSU. They aren’t completely out of the national title picture, but things just got a lot tougher. Matt Barkley (20-41) didn’t play like a first-round draft pick. The rest of the Trojans offense was sluggish, too. With road games against Arizona and UCLA and home contests with Oregon and Notre Dame, the Trojans could be out of the BCS title picture long before the final poll.
Auburn: The Tigers won, but they needed a field goal in overtime to pull out a 31-28 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers are a long way from the Cam Newton era.
Virginia Tech: Losing at Pittsburgh 35-17 was a tough pill to swallow for Hokies fans. Virginia Tech’s national title hopes have all but been dashed. Even an undefeated ACC season isn’t likely to put the Hokies in the national championship, especially with Clemson, Miami and Florida State still on the schedule.