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6 takeaways from the weekend in college football

Deseret News 9/27/2022 Trent Wood
Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez, right, scrambles away from Oklahoma linebacker David Ugwoegbu in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Norman, Okla. © Nate Billings, Associated Press Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez, right, scrambles away from Oklahoma linebacker David Ugwoegbu in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Norman, Okla.

One month in and the college football season continues to entertain.

Week 4 saw multiple Top 25 upsets, including Kansas State over Oklahoma, Texas A&M over Arkansas, Texas Tech over Texas and Middle Tennessee over Miami.

There wasn’t exactly chaos, as the national picture grew somewhat clearer, rather than more muddled, but the thrill of the sport was fully on display.

Here are six takeaways from the latest week in college football.

Big 12 membership can’t come soon enough for BYU

© Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

BYU bounced back against Wyoming, scoring a much-needed win after the loss to Oregon.

The Cougars are flawed to be sure, with a run defense that can leave a lot to be desired and a rushing attack that is a little bit too inconsistent, though the flashes of potential are interesting.

Jaren Hall is an elite quarterback and the Cougars should be the better team in most of their games going forward, including Thursday night against rival Utah State.

Odds are, BYU will start the season 4-1 before facing Notre Dame and Arkansas, in friendly confines no less.

What would make the 2022 season a success at this point? Is it New Year’s Six bowl or bust? Another 10-win season?

Would simply having the best record out of the four teams headed to the Big 12 next year be enough? Right now, Cincinnati and UCF are both 3-1, while Houston is 2-2.

Or is a top 25 ranking at the end of the year all that matters?

Kalani Sitake’s program is a good one and the odds are BYU will have another good season this year, with great still being a real possibility.

But independence has its flaws and with a loss on the resume the Cougars are kind of treading water right now, at least until they play Notre Dame and Arkansas. Win those games and the Cougars will have a shot at a NY6 bowl game. Lose even one of them and the goal has to shift to double-digit wins or something else.

It is enough to make you long for next season, when that won’t be the case. BYU will be contending for a conference title. Or at least trying to until the moment they are eliminated from the race.

This year, for the last time, there is just a lot of wait and see.

All the evidence says Utah is good. We’ll soon find out how good

© Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

Once again, for the third week in a row, Utah did exactly what a good team is supposed to do.

On the road against a conference opponent (one that is an absolute mess right now), the Utes handled their business, easily defeating ASU and improving to 3-1 on the year.

It wasn’t a perfect win, made worse by the loss of Brant Kuithe, but nonetheless Utah showed itself much much better than an at-best mediocre Pac-12 opponent, and that is being kind to the Sun Devils.

At this point in the year, it is difficult to argue that Utah isn’t a good team. We are about to find out exactly how good though.

Utah’s next four games — two at home, two on the road — are against teams that are a combined 14-2 overall, and the two losses are good ones — Oregon State to USC and Washington State to Oregon.

Utah travels to Pasadena and Pullman, but gets to host Oregon State and USC.

Make it through that stretch unbeaten the the Utes will be the favorite win the Pac-12 title and will be a realistic CFP contender.

Lose a game and Utah will still be good and could still play for and win the conference, but the CFP would be out of reach.

Win two and lose two and the Utes will have proven themselves a good Pac-12 team. No more, no less.

Win one and lost three and 2022 will have been a disappointing year for the Utes. A what if season.

The future doesn’t look all that bright for Utah State right now

© Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal via Associated Press

The Utah State Aggies might be getting better. In fact they probably are after losing to UNLV (3-1) by only 10 points, despite turning the ball over six times and committing 11 penalties.

The Aggies should’ve been blown out by the Rebels, but still had a chance to steal the win late in the game.

Of course, Utah State lost and is now 1-3 overall, with games remaining against BYU, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, Hawaii, San Jose State and Boise State.

Are there some wins available in that list? Absolutely. Colorado State looks awful, as does Hawaii, and Boise State is struggling in a big way.

But it is also very possible that USU starts the seasons 1-5, meaning if the Aggies hope to become bowl eligible they’d need to beat four of their last six opponents.

There is optimism that Utah State is headed in the right direction. Head coach Blake Anderson was pleased with his team’s effort level against UNLV, and believes his defense played the best it had all year.

Only a month into the season, though, it might be too little too late for the Aggies. At least as far as 2022 is concerned.

Who are the contenders? Pretenders?

© Jay LaPrete, Associated Press

It is still too early to definitively say which teams will be playing in the College Football Playoff at the end of the year.

There are more than two months of games remaining and there will be plenty of upsets along the way. Highly ranked teams will be exposed and lower ranked teams will prove their value.

But things are clearer now than they were a week ago. At least a couple of tiers have begun to emerge.

At the top, all by itself, is Georgia. The defending national champions haven’t missed a beat, despite losing a record number of players to the NFL.

The Bulldogs have been simply dominant and it is likely that the only real challenge this season, before the SEC championship game, will be at home against Tennessee on Nov. 5.

Maybe Florida threatens them. Or perhaps Kentucky. But right now Georgia appears to be a shoe-in for the CFP.

Beneath Georgia, in an altogether different tier, are Alabama and Ohio State.

Both have wins under their belts that in hindsight weren’t all that impressive — Alabama against Texas and Ohio State against Notre Dame — but the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes have too much talent (perhaps more importantly are too big of brands) to not be considered contenders to make the CFP.

After that is a third tier and it is a big one. There’s Michigan, Clemson, USC, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, NC State and that is just the beginning of the list. Realistically, any undefeated or one-loss Power Five program remains a threat to make the CFP right now, and none of the teams in that group appear to be destined to do so over one another.

This is why rankings should wait until after Week 5 or later

© Gary McCullough, Associated Press

Preseason polls aren’t going anywhere. They are a long-standing part of college football — college sports in general — and pique interest when competition has yet to start.

They are not going away. It is as simple as that.

But it would be nice if they didn’t exist. It would be nicer still if polls and rankings didn’t come out until at least a month into the season.

Look no further than the current AP poll.

Right now, there are 15 undefeated Power Five schools in the rankings, with another four that are receiving votes. Outside of the teams at the very top is there a good argument for Kentucky and Tennessee to be ranked No. 7 and No. 8, while Minnesota and Florida State are ranked No. 21 and No. 23? Why is Michigan at No. 4, while Kansas is unranked?

Let’s take Kentucky and Minnesota. The Wildcats have beaten one Power Five team, Florida (2-2), two Group of Five teams and an FCS team. The Golden Gophers, meanwhile, have defeated two Power Five teams (Colorado and Michigan State) and two Group of Five teams. Why is Kentucky ranked 14 spots ahead of Minnesota?

Michigan has one win over a Power Five opponent this year, against Maryland. Kansas has defeated West Virginia and Duke, plus one of the best Group of Five teams in the country in Houston.

Florida State has wins over LSU, Louisville and Boston College. Tennessee has beaten Florida and Pitt.

At the end of the year, Michigan will probably end up being better than Kansas. Kentucky and Tennessee may well have better year’s than Minnesota and FSU.

But wouldn’t it be nice if that needed to be proven and wasn’t just assumed?

Is this Jay Hill’s best team at Weber State?

© Weber State Athletics

Leaving the FBS ranks behind, the 2022 Weber State Wildcats are off to one of the best starts in program history.

For the first time since 1998, Weber State is 4-0 to start the season (this excludes the pandemic shortened 2020 spring season. The Wildcats started 5-0 that year, before losing to Southern Illinois in the first round of the FCS playoffs).

The Wildcats boast a historic win over Utah State, plus wins over Western Oregon, Utah Tech and most recently, UC Davis.

Weber State is now ranked No. 7 in the country, has won 21 of its last 23 road games against conference opponents and will have a case to being one of the best teams in the country if it can win the Big Sky this season.

Currently, four Big Sky programs, in addition to Weber State, are ranked including Montana (No. 3), Montana State (No. 4), Sacramento State (No. 5) and Eastern Washington (No. 20).

Weber State plays Eastern Washington on Oct. 8, Montana State on Oct. 22, Montana on Oct. 29 and Sacramento State on Nov. 5.

For as poised as BYU and Utah appear to be to have memorable seasons, Weber State might end up being the in-state program with the most memorable year of all.

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