NORMAN — The first preseason national championship contender has been upset. A couple more unbeatens are now among the beaten. Now that the season has reached the midway point, it seems the title chase has truly begun.
The first shake-up of the season produced significant changes to The Associated Press college football poll Sunday. The top four teams remained unchanged: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Ohio State.
But Stanford, which had been top-five all season, lost 27-20 at Utah and dropped eight spots to No. 13. The Cardinal’s Pac-12 and national title hopes took a serious hit, though they’ll be able to get right back in the conversation next week by beating No. 9 UCLA at home. And there’s still that big game against Oregon on Nov. 7.
The Cardinal have two problems: 1) Their rugged defense has been giving up big plays as both Washington and Utah have neutralized some of Stanford’s “Party in the Backfield” defensive front by attacking the perimeter. 2) Quarterback Kevin Hogan hasn’t taken a the big step many expected after his promising redshirt freshman season. Hogan is a good quarterback in a world with many great ones.
“This is a young quarterback that has a chance to be extremely good. So I don’t worry about his confidence,” Shaw said. “He’s going to bounce back.”
The story behind the story is the Pac-12 has a lot of good teams and is the only league that can make a serious claim to being the equal of the Southeastern Conference.
Though Stanford’s tumble puts just a little more shine on what was already shaping up as maybe the biggest football game in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
Florida State edged up a spot during its off week and will take a No. 5 ranking to Death Valley on Saturday for a top-five matchup against Clemson.