10/01 23:09 CDT AP Top 25 Takeaways: Bleak outlooks for Oklahoma, Wisconsin
AP Top 25 Takeaways: Bleak outlooks for Oklahoma, Wisconsin
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Can't hide problems when conference play starts.
The second month of the college football season often reveals issues that
nonconference play might have masked and which teams could be in for long
Things have quickly gotten bleak for No. 18 Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
The Sooners lost for the second straight week Saturday, this time in humbling
fashion to a TCU team that put up more than 600 yards.
"We're not very good, obviously, right now," first-year Oklahoma coach Brent
Venables said, stating in the obvious.
Wisconsin was hammered by Illinois, losing to the Illini at home for the first
time in 20 years and falling to 2-3.
"Something needs to change because that's not us," Badgers safety John Torchio
said. "That's not the Wisconsin football we all know."
After the departure of Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma fans were bitter but also
emboldened by the arrival of Venables, the former Clemson defensive coordinator.
Despite all Riley's success, 55-10 with two Heisman Trophy winners, he never
did get the defense right.
Venables would toughen up the Sooners in a way that Lincoln never did, OU fans
After Adrian Martinez and No. 25 Kansas State took apart the Oklahoma defense
last week, Max Duggan and TCU blew it up. The Horned Frogs and offensive
coordinator Garrett Riley --- Lincoln's little brother --- had scoring plays of
73, 67, 62 and 69 yards.
Oklahoma also heads into the Red River Rivalry against Texas next week with
questions at quarterback. Dillon Gabriel left the TCU game after taking a hard
hit to the head.
The Big 12 looks wide open, with unbeaten Kansas --- of all teams --- sitting
at the top at 2-0 with rival Kansas State. No. 9 Oklahoma State would probably
like a word in that discussion, too, after winning at No. 16 Baylor.
In 2020, Oklahoma lost its first two Big 12 games and went on to win the
conference. So don't count out the Sooners. But the last two weeks have been so
bad it's starting to feel like a reset season under a new regime.
The issues at Wisconsin seem more dire. It's one thing to get blown out by Ohio
State last week. It's a very different thing to get run out of Camp Randall
Stadium by former coach Bret Bielema's Illini.
When Bielema took over at Illinois, he tried to downplay the idea he would
build the program in Wisconsin's image, but that's pretty much what he's done.
Running back Chase Brown and the Illini mashed on offense and held the Badgers
to 2 yards rushing. Wisconsin had outrushed Illinois 391-26 in last season's
"I knew if we wanted to have a chance, we couldn't let them run the football on
us like we did a year ago," Bielema said.
Wisconsin won double-digit games in four of coach Paul Chryst's first five
seasons. No program in the country had a stronger identity and maxed out its
potential as well. The Badgers seemed to have lost their way, going 15-10 in
the last two-plus seasons.
If you think the Big 12 looks wide open, get a load of the Big Ten's West
Division, where five weeks into the season there are six 1-1 teams, and the
Badgers sitting at the bottom at 0-2.
No. 21 Minnesota was the flavor of the week in the West, but then the Gophers,
missing star running back Mohamed Ibrahim, were dumped at home by Purdue.
Who else is pushing Oklahoma and Wisconsin for most disappointing team in the
first half of this season?
Houston was billed as the class of the Group of Five, but the Cougars are now
2-3 after losing an overtime game to Tulane and its third-string quarterback on
No. 17 Texas A&M responded to the Appalachian State upset by beating Miami and
Arkansas, but the Aggies showed Saturday that things are far from fixed on the
offensive side of the ball.
Mississippi State thumped Texas A&M (3-2), sending the Aggies to No. 2 Alabama
next week with few answers on offense and a banged-up starting quarterback.
Alabama will also have the latter next week in Tuscaloosa: Heisman Trophy
winner Bryce Young left the Tide's victory at No. 20 Arkansas in the second
quarter with a sprained shoulder. Coach Nick Saban said the initial prognosis
is that the injury isn't too serious.
The Tide sputtered, then pulled away from the Razorbacks with Young on the
sideline. There is always another blue-chipper waiting to play for Saban and
Jalen Milroe flashed big-time ability in relief. But he is no Young.
Texas A&M upset Alabama last season, the highlight of a ho-hum 8-4 season. The
Aggies then won the offseason with a monster recruiting class and Jimbo Fisher
firing off verbal barbs at Saban in defense of his program.
Next week's game got circled on a lot of calendars because of the back and
forth between Fisher and his former boss. Now, TCU at Kansas will be hosting
ESPN's "College GameDay."
Like the Sooners and Badgers, the Aggies have been exposed and there is not a
lot of reason to believe things are going to get much better.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
No. 1 Georgia got all it could handle from Missouri, but wore down the Tigers
for a fourth-quarter comeback victory. The Bulldogs host Auburn next week.
After those Tigers blew a 17-point lead at home to LSU, the Bryan Harsin watch
is on high alert on The Plains. ... The first top-10 matchup in North Carolina
State history was a dud for the 10th-ranked Wolfpack, smothered by No. 5
Clemson. The Tigers don't look quite as imposing as they did a few years back,
but the Atlantic Coast Conference is absolutely theirs for the taking. ... UCLA
moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2013 by beating No. 15 Washington on
Friday night behind nifty performance by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. It was
the Bruins first victory against a top-15 team since 2015. ... With a chance to
assert itself as a possible threat in the ACC to Clemson, No. 23 Florida State
couldn't handle No. 22 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have beaten the Seminoles
three straight season. ... No. 12 Utah has been rolling since leaving
Gainesville with a frustrating loss in the season opener. With every passing
week, the Utes are going regret letting that game slip even more. ... In the
annals of baffling Pitt losses add this: Georgia Tech, days after firing its
coach, 26, No. 24 Pitt 21. ... Salute to a couple of teams that don't win
often: FIU beat New Mexico State for its victory against an FBS team in three
years. UConn beat Fresno State for its victory against an FBS opponent not
named UMass since 2017.
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