Few sports offer the kind of weekly drama that college football does. With only 12 regular season matchups for each school, every game has significant importance, and much can change with just one result. One loss can devastate a team’s bowl chances, and one win can change the narrative surrounding a head coach.
Which teams got the most significant wins this past weekend? Let’s rank the top five.
1. Texas Wins 34-24 at Alabama
Not only was this the best win of the past weekend, but Texas may have notched the best win of the season. The Longhorns are the obvious choice for No. 1 on this list. The victory in Tuscaloosa launched Texas to No. 4 in the Top 25, behind only Georgia, Michigan, and Florida State. For years, Texas has been hyped but fell short in big games. Steve Sarkisian and the 2023 Longhorns changed that on Saturday, battling back from a second-half deficit to take control and impressively vanquish Alabama.
2. Miami Blasts Aggies 48-33
Texas A&M entered Saturday’s game at Miami with positive momentum and cautious optimism. Both teams went 7-5 in 2022, but the programs were in different places. Jimbo Fisher is under immense pressure thanks to mediocre results and a gigantic contract. Mario Cristobal is beloved in the Miami community, and there is a belief he can get things going. Saturday’s second half between these teams completely changes the narrative surrounding both programs. After falling behind 17-7, Miami stormed back, and despite 115 penalty yards, the Hurricanes prevailed 48-33. Fisher has turned the offense over to Bobby Petrino, which had positive early results, but now the defense appears broken. Fisher might be out of scapegoats in College Station. If Cristobal’s Hurricanes get a version of Tyler Van Dyke that looks like what he did on Saturday night, Miami could be a threat to win ten games in 2023.
3. Ole Miss Wins at Tulane 37-20
A victory at an American Athletic Conference foe will not immediately stand out. Also, Tulane starting quarterback Michael Pratt did not play against the Rebels. That acknowledged this was a critical and impressive win for Ole Miss. The Rebels jumped to No. 17 in the rankings and are now 2-0 heading into a game against Georgia Tech. Ole Miss was 1-13 on third down, outgained the Green Wave by 21 yards, and only ran for 2.5 yards per carry. Despite those struggles, they won by 17 points on a ranked opponent’s home field. This was critical because Ole Miss will play Alabama and LSU after the Georgia Tech game.
4. Washington State Beats Wisconsin
The Washington State Cougars have had a rough couple of months off the field. The PAC-12 has dissolved around them, leaving them without a seat at the table. Only Washington State and Oregon State remain in the league, and the Mountain West seems like their eventual destination. After all of the off-the-field tumult, it had to be therapeutic to control the Wisconsin Badgers in a 31-22 victory. The Badgers lost three fumbles, and Washington State held them to just 3.1 yards per rush attempt. The victory moved WSU into the Top 25, and Wazzu should improve to 3-0 next week with Northern Colorado on deck. After that, a game against fellow ranked opponent Oregon State.
5. Kansas Dispatches Illinois
No. 5 on this list goes back to Friday night and off the beaten path. The Kansas Jayhawks blasted Illinois in the first half, taking a 28-7 lead into the locker room. KU held on for a comfortable 34-23 win, a significant victory to establish themselves as more than just an early 2022 flash-in-the-pan. This score was no fluke. Kansas outgained Illinois 539-341 and ran for six yards per carry. If Jalon Daniels stays healthy, Kansas is dangerous. The Jayhawks are now receiving votes in the Top 25 poll and play Nevada and BYU next. They could be ranked on September 30 when traveling to Texas.
- Utah scores two touchdowns late to survive at Baylor. The Utes are now 2-0 without quarterback Cam Rising. If he can get back on the field, Utah is still firmly in the mix in a very strong PAC-12.
- Oregon prevails 38-30 at Texas Tech. Despite a lack of big plays in the passing game, Oregon came on strong late and beat a desperate Red Raiders team in Lubbock. The Ducks deserve credit for scheduling a non-conference road game and coming out of it at 2-0.
- Colorado wins Deion Sanders‘s home debut over Nebraska as they wax Nebraska 36-14. The offense struggled against a stout Nebraska defense but figured things out late in the first half and cruised to a comfortable win. That’s a 2-0 start for the Buffaloes under “Coach Prime.”
- Iowa is not on pace to score enough points per game to keep Brian Ferentz employed as the offensive coordinator, but they did suffocate the Cyclones and won the Cy-Hawk Trophy over Iowa State, 20-13. The win gets Iowa to No. 25 in the rankings.
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