By the time Wisconsin committed its fifth turnover in a 17-7 loss to Northwestern, college football’s contending class looked a lot less convincing. Yes, the Badgers are the only team we truly managed to cross off Saturday in what we’ll call Week 12. But other supposed top-tier teams had their struggles.
No. 3 Ohio State got into a back-and-forth barnburner with … No. 9 Indiana. The Hoosiers are good. But 491 yards passing against the modern-day DBU? Eh. The Buckeyes secondary has some real issues, which we’ll address more in-depth below.
The No. 6 Florida Gators were tied with Vanderbilt deep into the second quarter. The final score, 38-17, looks convincing, but a defense that allowed 406 yards of offense to a unit that ranked 111th in yards per play entering the week doesn’t inspire confidence. Florida ranks just 86th nationally in yards allowed per play.
The No. 11 Oregon Ducks played their third game, surviving by three points at home vs. UCLA, and for the third straight week there just wasn’t anything that jumped off the page. Joe Morehead’s new offense is clicking nicely, but an inexperienced defense surrendered 35 points to a UCLA team playing with its backup QB and other backups due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Injuries keep piling up, too.
Clemson? It didn’t even get to play because of a last-minute COVID-19 cancellation with Florida State. The Tigers were far from alone. No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 12 Miami sat out this weekend as well.
OK, so not everyone struggled — Alabama beat Kentucky by 60 — but with the initial College Football Playoff rankings set to be released Tuesday, things are a lot less clear at the top than many expected. Alabama is going to be No. 1. Notre Dame, which is not without its questions, will be No. 2. Everyone else? It’s a mystery. One thing is for sure: There isn’t a clear-cut, slam-dunk favorite this year. 2020 wouldn’t allow for that.