CFA Top 30: Alabama Gets Rolled, Georgia At The Top

Wow.

What a Saturday it was in college football, and it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s just break it down from the top and start with the end of the day and Texas A&M’s mind-blowing win over No. 1 Alabama.

If you thought Alabama was going to wipe the field with Texas A&M, raise your hand? Yeah, me too. The Aggies entered the game reeling from back-to-back losses and did not appear to be a team that was about to give Nick Saban’s Tide a fight in prime time. But fight they did. Instead of the lackluster crew that lost 26-22 on this same Kyle Field turf to Mississippi State a week ago, we got the Fightin’ Texas Aggies of lore. For one week at least, they lived up to the preseason promise that had them ranked in the Top 10, taking down Saban’s No. 1 Crimson Tide in a 41-38 thriller.

The game ended Alabama’s streak of 100 consecutive wins against unranked opponents, a record for the AP poll dating back to 1936. It also marked the first time in 25 tries that a former Saban assistant managed to beat the master, with Jimbo Fisher finally notching a win for Saban’s impressive coaching tree.

The Aggies’ upset win became the story of the day several hours after the Red River Rivalry concluded, and the Ags’ past and future rival, the Texas Longhorns, made history against the Oklahoma Sooners. Unfortunately, it was the wrong kind of history for the Longhorns as Texas blew a 21-point lead, setting Oklahoma up for a historic comeback in the rivalry.

Full disclosure here — I am a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and this is the kind of loss that makes the alumni squirm. While it’s too early to cast any judgment on the Steve Sarkisian area, it’s also true that it felt like more of the same for the Longhorns’ faithful. And it’s just a reality that every week provides a checkpoint in the career arc of a coach, and both the big wins and the big losses live on forever. For a while, it looked like Texas would be celebrating its first really big win under Sarkisian with the ‘Horns leading 28-7 in the first quarter and 38-20 at halftime.

The second half, however, was a different story. The Sooners adjusted on defense and contained the Texas offensive attack after halftime. Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley also made the decision to go with true freshman Caleb Williams at quarterback over preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler, whose two first-half turnovers led to Texas points. It was too early to throw in the towel, so it was a gutsy call for Riley to make, knowing if Williams was successful, he’d have a quarterback controversy on his hands. Those situations can tear a team apart — or pull it together — and Williams was sensational pairing with running back Kennedy Brooks to lead the Sooners’ offense to 32 points in the game’s final 16 minutes. It was enough to rally OU to a 55-48 victory, and the biggest comeback in the history of the series. And maybe enough to quell that controversy; it’s hard to imagine Riley not giving Williams the start against TCU back in front of a home crowd in Norman next Saturday.

As big as the win was for Riley and Oklahoma, it was, perhaps, even a bigger loss for Texas. For the most part, a coach’s tenure is judged by how his team performs in a handful of games, and the biggest games against the biggest rivals matter the most. So far, Texas has lost in ugly fashion in its two biggest games of the season – both against historic rivals, including a 40-21 loss at Arkansas a few weeks ago. These are the games by which Sark and his staff will be judged, and so far, the results have been historic. Unfortunately, it’s been the wrong kind of history for Texas, and the next few weeks against Oklahoma State (5-0), Baylor (5-1) and Iowa State (3-2) will help determine whether the ‘Horns can rebound in Year One of the Sarkisian era and salvage a respectable finish.

The College Football America Top 30

With Alabama’s loss, the only candidate for the No. 1 spot is Georgia which manhandled a ranked Auburn team, 34-10, on the road. It marks the first time that Georgia has been ranked No. 1 in our rankings, and only the fifth team overall to reach the pole position including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and LSU.

Some will argue that Alabama should drop more than a single spot, but you can’t convince me that Alabama wouldn’t still beat the likes of Oklahoma, Ohio State and Iowa, who fill the Nos. 3-5 slots. Ditto for the rest of Alabama’s SEC schedule, and keep in mind, only two of Saban’s previous 14 Alabama squads finished undefeated, and yet, he still has six national championship trophies in that span. No, until there’s further evidence of vulnerability — and A&M exposed some weaknesses for sure — the Crimson Tide are still in the Top 2 here.

Michigan, Penn State, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Notre Dame round out the Top 10. At the bottom of the Top 30, Tennessee is the only newcomer to our rankings, moving up from No. 34 and taking the place of our previous No. 25 BYU, which lost at home to Boise State and falls to No. 40 this week.

1. Georgia (6-0)

2. Alabama (5-1)

3. Oklahoma (6-0)

4. Ohio State (5-1)

5. Iowa (6-0)

6. Michigan (6-0)

7. Penn State (5-1)

8. Cincinnati (5-0)

9. Kentucky (6-0)

10. Notre Dame (5-1)

11. Oklahoma State (5-0)

12. Michigan State (6-0)

13. Auburn (4-2)

14. Florida (4-2)

15. Texas A&M (4-2)

16. Oregon (4-1)

17. NC State (4-1)

18. Clemson (3-2)

19. Iowa State (3-2)

20. Baylor (5-1)

21. Boston College (4-1)

22. Arizona State (5-1)

23. Ole Miss (4-1)

24. Wake Forest (6-0)

25. Arkansas (4-2)

26. Texas (4-2)

27. Stanford (3-3)

28. Mississippi St. (3-2)

29. Wisconsin (2-3)

30. Tennessee (4-2)

Published by Kendall Webb

Kendall Webb is a sports writer and photographer based in Middle Tennessee. He is a graduate of Kilgore College (A.A., 1992), the University of Texas at Austin (B.J., 1995) and Middle Tennessee State University (B.S., 2000), and is currently a master's candidate (A.L.M.) in Harvard University's extension studies program with a major in journalism.

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