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2021 Post-Week Four CFB Roundup


Devin Leary, NC State

Reactions & Thoughts

The ACC Is An Absolute Mess: Clemson has ruled the Atlantic Coast Conference with an iron fist the past half-decade, with six straight conference titles to their name. A month into the season, their grip on the league appears to be the flimsiest it has been in years, with a loss to NC State dropping them to 2-2. The Tigers still do have a manageable schedule the rest of the way and they have a track record, but it's shocking how terrible the offense has looked over the season's first month. It's not helpful that Will Shipley, who has been their best offensive piece so far this season, is projected to miss significant time with injury, likely 3-4 weeks. With Clemson down, you would think somebody else could step up and fill the void left by the Tigers, but there's no obvious candidate. UNC lost again this weekend, Miami doesn't look good, and the current highest-ranked team, NC State, lost by two touchdowns to a mediocre Mississippi State team previously. How wacky are things right now? 4-0 Wake Forest and Boston College are probably two of the favorites to take the conference crown, and there's absolutely nobody on the Coastal side of things that inspires any confidence.

Arkansas Is The Real Deal: Possibly no team in college football had a better weekend overall than the undefeated Arkansas Razorbacks. They shut down Texas A&M, holding the Aggies to just 272 yards, while doing just enough offensively to come out on top. They also watched another one of their signature wins, Texas, go over and drop 70 points on Texas Tech, an indication that the Razorbacks have one of the best resumes in the sport right now. It will be interesting to see how Arkansas transitions from being an underdog to one of the favorites in the SEC. They go on the road and meet up with a true National Title favorite in Georgia, and are doing so with a hobbled K.J. Jefferson at quarterback. A win there would help them go from a great story to a legitimate and serious Playoff contender.

Oklahoma Continues To Underwhelm: Although they finished off September a perfect 4-0, Oklahoma's start to 2021 has been anything but impressive. They had another close call over the weekend, barely holding off West Virginia in a 16-13 win. Quarterback Spencer Rattler entered the season as the prohibitive Heisman favorite but has been so bad that Sooner fans began chanting for the team's backup, freshman Caleb Williams. To be fair to Rattler, he is not the only reason the Sooners have been so underwhelming so far over the fall. The offensive line has not been getting the usual push that has made Oklahoma teams so difficult to handle in the past, and the receiver corps has been surprisingly quiet. I still think there's time to figure things out, but the easy part of the schedule is over. The Sooners go on the road to Kansas State this next Saturday. The Wildcats might have lost to Oklahoma State this past weekend, but this is a program that has beaten OU in two consecutive seasons.

It's All Iowa In The Big Ten West: Iowa didn't have a dominant showing this Saturday, beating a bad Colorado State team by ten points at home. However, they still came out as winners with what happened in the rest of the division. Wisconsin's offensive woes continued in a neutral site loss to Notre Dame, dropping them to sub-.500 as they enter the season's second month. It seems like the right time for the program to start seriously questioning Graham Mertz and his status as starting QB, as he threw three interceptions in the loss. Aside from them, Nebraska lost to Michigan State in a thriller, neither Purdue or Illinois looked inspiring, and Minnesota was shocked by a terrible Bowling Green team. There's absolutely nobody in the division that comes anywhere close to the level of the Hawkeyes, and all indication points to them rolling to a Big Ten West Title. With that being said, Iowa is on sneaky upset alert upcoming, as they get Maryland on a Friday night. The Terrapins are a tough team, and the Hawkeyes could be looking ahead to the Penn State game.

Speaking Of Minnesota: Anybody that regularly reads this site should know that I'm a huge Minnesota Gopher fan, so Saturday's loss to Bowling Green hit very close to home. It was the largest upset of the weekend, as the Gophers entered as 31 favorites playing in their homecoming game, a perfect opportunity to figure things out before they jump into the thick of conference play. But wow, this was about as disastrous of a performance as you could imagine. The offense looked dreadful, for a couple different reasons. For one, the play-calling has been atrocious all season long and Mike Sanford Jr. has no business continuing to be the offensive coordinator. Every college football fan believes they can call a better game than their OC, but Sanford's ultra-conservative approach regularly put the Gophers in third and longs where everybody in the stadium knew they were going have to throw the football. Additionally, the offensive line play was shockingly bad. They were out-classed not just by a MAC team, but a really bad one at that. It also didn't help that wide out Chris Autman-Bell left with a nagging injury that has followed him all season, but Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson have been tremendous this season, so the offensive staff shouldn't use that as an excuse. Head coach P.J. Fleck has done a really good job with this program, but playing down to weak competition absolutely needs to stop. There's zero reason this deep in his tenure this team should be struggling with a Bowling Green team that hasn't won more than four games in a season since 2015.

Don't Forget About SMU: Most of the attention in the American Athletic Conference and Group of Five in general has been focused on Cincinnati, and for good reason. The Bearcats look like a serious threat to crash the CFB Playoff conversation and have a golden opportunity upcoming when they meet up with Notre Dame. However, SMU showed this weekend that the Bearcats aren't the only AAC team that deserves your attention. The Mustangs went into Fort Worth and beat former Southwest Conference rival TCU 42-34, improving to 4-0 in the process. It's the type of victory that might not get a ton of national attention, but shows once again just how far the program has come under Sonny Dykes. With an explosive offense, led by former Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai, the Mustangs are going to be a tough out for anyone the rest of the way. With how light the schedule is in over the coming weeks, SMU has a legit chance to be 9-0 when they enter a stretch of games that includes Memphis, Cincinnati, and UCF.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Helmet Sticker: Jeff Sims, QB, Georgia Tech

Jeff Sims has dealt with injuries for most of the young 2021 campaign, but his Week Four performance showed just how good he can be when fully healthy. Not only was the second-year quarterback efficient through the air, going 10-13 with a touchdown, but he ran all over North Carolina. He finished with 128 yards and three touchdowns, averaging nearly 13 yards per rush, as Georgia Tech pulled off a pretty major upset over the Tar Heels. With a healthy Sims now paired with Jahmyr Gibbs in the GT backfield, the Yellow Jacket offense will be fascinating over the rest of the season.

Defensive Helmet Sticker: Jacub Panasiuk, DL, Michigan State

Jacub Panasiuk was crucial in Michigan State finding a way to hold off Nebraska in East Lansing. The veteran defensive linemen recorded seven total tackles and also led the team with a pair of sacks. His strip sack of Adrian Martinez in the fourth quarter was key in helping the Spartans stave off the Cornhuskers, with the game going into overtime. According to PFF, Panasiuk finished with 14 pressures on 39 rushes, earning him the site's Defensive Player of the Week.

Team of the Week: NC State Wolfpack

The 2021 Clemson Tigers clearly aren't as strong as past editions, but NC State's win over the ACC's Goliath was still huge for the program. It was the first time the Wolfpack have beaten the Tigers since 2011, and they managed to do so by holding off Clemson in overtime. It was a real coming out party for several Wolfpack players, most notably QB Devin Leary and wide out Emeka Emezie. Leary, who missed most of 2020, had four touchdowns against a tremendous Tiger defense, while Emezie finished with 14 receptions. The next step for NC State is proving they can be consistent and keep it all rolling. In the past, when the Wolfpack have gotten a big win, they've struggled to follow it up. This team has the chance to be a serious ACC Title threat, particularly with how the conference is shaping up.

"Small-School" Team of the Week: Bowling Green Falcons

A painful homecoming loss for Minnesota was a program-changing victory for Bowling Green. The Falcons had managed just 12 wins over the last three seasons and are fresh off a winless 2020 campaign. However, they went into Huntington Bank Stadium and outplayed the Gophers for the entire four quarters. It wasn't merely a couple fluke plays that went Bowling Green's way; they looked better prepared and more physical at the line. This doesn't make the Falcons a serious MAC contender just yet, but it does indicate they could be a bowl contender earlier than expected.

Top 25

Current Rank                Previous Rank

1. Alabama Crimson Tide    (1)

2. Georgia Bulldogs    (2)

3. Oregon Ducks    (4)

4. Oklahoma Sooners    (3)

5. Cincinnati Bearcats    (5)

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish    (7)

7. Iowa Hawkeyes    (6)

8. Penn State Nittany Lions    (9)

9. Ohio State Buckeyes    (10)

10. Arkansas Razorbacks    (18)

11. Florida Gators     (12)

12. Ole Miss Rebels    (15)

13. Texas A&M Aggies    (8)

14. BYU Cougars    (20)

15. Michigan Wolverines (22)

16. USC Trojans (19)

17. Michigan State Spartans    (25)

18. Arizona State Sun Devils    (23)

19. Oklahoma State Cowboys    (NR)

20. Fresno State Bulldogs    (NR)

21. Baylor Bears (NR)

22. Clemson Tigers (11)

23. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers    (NR)

24. Iowa State Cyclones    (13)

25. Wake Forest Demon Deacons    (NR)

Just Missed: Boston College Eagles, Kentucky Wildcats, UCLA Bruins, SMU Mustangs, NC State Wolfpack, Auburn Tigers, Maryland Terrapins, San Diego State Aztecs

Dropped Out: UNC Tar Heels (14), Liberty Flames (16), TCU Horned Frogs (17), Wisconsin Badgers (21), Kansas State Wildcats (24)

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