The month of September in college football is one giant information-gathering exercise. By the end of four weeks or so, we think we've begun to figure out who's good, who's bad and whom we can trust to play at a certain level, good or bad.
Then October comes along and immediately renders a lot of those assumptions incorrect.
Lane Kiffin's Ole Miss attack put 48 points on Alabama last year and had averaged 53 points through three games this year. The Rebels visited Tuscaloosa on Saturday and found themselves down 28-0 at halftime.
Florida nearly beat Alabama in Week 3, then followed with a strong and easy performance against a potentially solid Tennessee team. There was legitimate reason to think of the Gators as a top-five-caliber team. On Saturday, they lost to a Kentucky team that almost lost to Chattanooga two weeks ago.
Iowa had shown genuine offensive upside during a six-game winning streak to end 2020 but was averaging only 4.6 yards per play during a 4-0 start this year. Same old "lean on defense and turnovers and do the bare minimum on O" Iowa, then? Nope, the Hawkeyes gained 453 yards, their second-highest total in 22 games, while indeed dominating with defense and turnovers in a 51-14 humiliation of previously unbeaten Maryland.
We had already seen more ranked teams lose in four weeks than at any time in the AP poll era, and in Week 5 nine more lost, including four of the top 10. This season is only getting more unpredictable. So let's step back and talk about the teams, units and players we can trust, and the ones on which we're still coming around. It's a Big Ten-heavy list, but with five of the top 11 teams in the AP poll, it's a Big Ten-heavy sport at the moment.