AP Top 25 Takeaways: Notre Dame dominance; Penn St surgery

The big games ended up being big blowouts.

No. 2 Penn State and No. 13 Notre Dame helped pare down the College Football Playoff contenders with huge home victories Saturday night. Feel free to scratch Southern California and Michigan off the list.

Earlier in the day, it was more pain for Florida State and Texas. Tom Herman was as close as he has been in his first season to getting that breakthrough victory with the Longhorns. For Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a season that started with so much hope is really starting to spiral.

Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from week seven of the college football season:

1. It can be difficult for some fans to admit that Notre Dame is good, but it is probably time to admit that Notre Dame is really good.

2. Also, coach Brian Kelly deserves credit for an offseason overhaul of his coaching staff and orchestrating a culture change in his program. This, too, can be hard for many to admit.

3. Add Irish running back Josh Adams to the Heisman Trophy watch.

4. This is also true: No. 16 North Carolina State comes to South Bend, Indiana, next week and Bradley Chubb and that Wolfpack defense will be a tougher challenge than USC’s banged up D.

5. Penn State’s surgical dissection of Michigan’s defense — and make no mistake, that is very good defense — can be offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s resume tape when teams start looking for new head coaches in about a month.

6. We’re probably not talking enough about Penn State’s defense, led by linebacker Jason Cabinda. The Nittany Lions had seven sacks against Michigan.

7. Jim Harbaugh is going to take a lot of shots this season because Michigan is probably on its way to losing another game or two. When you draw as much attention to yourself as Harbaugh does the critics are waiting to pounce. Realistically, a reset of sorts for Michigan should have been expected this season. In fact, it was by some. Long-term there is no reason yet to doubt Harbaugh.

8. And if Harbaugh beats Ohio State at the end of the season, all will be forgiven.

9. The Pac-12’s playoff hopes are very close to being down to No. 12 Washington running the table and hoping for the best.

10. After watching No. 9 Oklahoma escape at Kansas State and No. 10 Oklahoma State slip by Texas, the Big 12 also looks primed for a couple of more significant upsets that will only hurt the conference’s playoff chances.

11. The “two SEC teams (Alabama and Georgia) and Notre Dame in the playoff” scenario that leaves three Power Five conferences out got a little more real Saturday.

12. It was reasonable to cut Florida State some slack for its 2-3 start because of the injury to Deondre Francois, rescheduled games, difficult opponents and some bad luck. Now the Seminoles are 2-4 after losing at home to Louisville and the slack is gone .

13. According to 247 Sports’ composite recruiting rankings, Florida State’s last four signing classes have ranked fourth, third, third and third nationally. The Seminoles are now 0-3 at home for the first time since 1974, and freshman quarterback notwithstanding, that should not happen. Bowl eligibility is no lock for Florida State, which only has 11 games after having the Louisiana-Monroe game in September canceled by a hurricane .

14. Figure FSU coach Jimbo Fisher will be making some staff changes after this season, though he was not having a fan telling him that after the game .

15. Lamar Jackson is probably not winning the Heisman Trophy, but voters should not forget about him as Louisville finishes out its season away from the spotlight. Try finding five better players than Jackson.

16. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw maybe the worst game-ending interception in the history of overtime college football to end the Longhorns’ 13-10 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma State. The television shot of Ehlinger’s mother in the stands reacting to her son’s ill-advised throw was enough to break any parents’ heart.

17. The Longhorns lost 10 one-score games under Charlie Strong in three seasons, including five last year. Seems weird to say this at Texas, but Herman needs to teach these Longhorns how to win.

18. Teams that have now surprisingly won two straight games, both in conference: Boston College, Rutgers and UConn.

19. Not to be outdone, Iowa State has won three straight games for the first time since 2011 and why don’t you just go ahead of give Matt Campbell that Big 12 coach of the year award right now. The Cyclones could very well be ranked come Sunday for the first time since 2005.

20. The big game in the Big 12 next week: No. 4 TCU at Iowa State, of course.

21. Arizona and Arizona State, picked to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 South standings and maybe fire their coaches, are a combined 6-1.

22. Coming into this weekend, three quarterbacks were averaging at least 10 yards per completion: Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and UCF McKenzie Milton. Milton, a 5-foot-11, 177-pound sophomore, had another huge game Saturday, keeping the 20th-ranked Knights unbeaten against Navy .

23. With San Diego State taking a second straight loss, and no undefeated teams left in the other Group of Five conferences, the American Athletic Conference is looking good with UCF and No. 16 USF to put its champion in a New Year’s Six bowl.

24. Syracuse ran 93 plays against No. 8 Miami, but the Hurricanes again did just enough to get the job done again. Coach Mark Richt is right. Miami is not dominant, but the ‘Canes are unbeaten and if you had to pick between the two you will take the latter every time.

25. Tennessee scored a touchdown for the first time in a month and apparently forgot how to celebrate . Everything else in the Vols’ game against No. 1 Alabama went pretty much exactly as expected .


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


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