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College football top 10 to look different after Saturday upsets

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Will week 3 in college football be remembered as having an impact on the national championship picture? That is entirely possible because history repeated itself from 2014 and an odds-on favorite to make football’s Final Four will likely lose some support when polls come out.

For the second year in a row, #15 Mississippi took down #2 Alabama; this time on the Crimson Tide’s home field. The Rebels’ 43-37 upset in Tuscaloosa is their second consecutive win over Alabama and only their 11th in the series that has seen these two teams play 60 times.

Alabama could not survive five turnovers as the Rebels turned those into 31 points. Certainly not something one would expect from an elite program playing at home.

“It’s probably a surprise to a lot of people,” said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze. “I don’t think it’s a surprise to the people in our locker room.”

It was only last year when Ole Miss took down the Tide in Oxford, Miss., threatening Alabama’s position in the college football playoffs. After qualifying in 2014, Coach Nick Saban and his team find themselves in a similar position of needing to win the rest of their games and hope for two scenarios to develop.

First is for the other teams in front of them to stumble. The other is for poll voters to deploy the SEC super-conference hype to vault them over teams who also keep winning.

Watch your backs Baylor, TCU and Michigan State.

Alabama was hoping to gain ground on #1 Ohio State after the Buckeyes were absolutely terrible against the spirited Northern Illinois Huskies. Ohio State won the game, 20-13, but it was precisely the type of performance that gives poll voters an excuse to look elsewhere for a #1.

Coach Urban Meyer has three quality quarterbacks on his roster. With Braxton Miller now a wide receiver, both Cardale Jones (remember him from January’s Sugar Bowl, Alabama?) and J.T. Barrett are seeing action.

While it is a shame that one of those two talented players may have to stand on the sideline with Meyer, it was suggested that the Buckeyes are underperforming under the current scenario.

“There might be some truth to that,” Meyer said after the game. “Not that I’m going to call armchair (analysts) and ask them what they think, but I do believe in game reps.”

When polls come out, Ohio State will remain Number 1, but how far will ‘Bama fall? Number 3 TCU beat SMU, but gave up 37 points while doing it. #4 Michigan State handled Air Force, 35-21 at home.

#5 Baylor was off, which brings us to Florida State. The Seminoles are ranked #6 in the coaches’ poll (#9 in the writers’ poll).

Was their 14-0 win at Boston College ugly enough to keep them from sliding in ahead of Alabama. Prediction here is the Tide will slip only to Number 5.

The rest of the top 10 rankings are up for grabs after Saturday’s games. Another team set to fall is #7 Southern California (#6 in the writers’ poll), who lost at home to Stanford, 41-31.

Will week 3 be the one that re-arranged the deck, or is an Ohio State-Alabama re-match in the cards?

All we can say for sure is if Alabama loses again, it won’t be to Auburn.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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