Top 25 takeaways: Clemson dominates Florida State

Clemson has left a strong final impression on the College Football Playoff committee before the first rankings on Tuesday. Meanwhile, West Virginia gets back on track and Wisconsin’s season goes from bad to worse.

No. 2 Clemson 59, Florida State 10

The Tigers beat down rival Florida State so badly, Trevor Lawrence passed for a career-high 314 yards and did not even finish the third quarter. Clemson proved itself to be better in every single way, not only as the more talented team playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but the better coached and more disciplined team as well. But what truly was remarkable was seeing just how far apart these two programs have grown over the past two seasons. It was only three seasons ago that the Atlantic Division hung in the balance between these two teams. Now, Clemson has won four straight in the series but not as decisively as it did on Saturday — the 49-point defeat tying for the worst loss in Florida State history. So where is the most difficult test left on the schedule? Certainly not next week, when the Tigers host Louisville, a team that also is in shambles without Lamar Jackson. Perhaps at Boston College on Nov. 10. But as of right now, it is hard to imagine a scenario that does not feature Clemson in the playoff. — Andrea Adelson

No. 13 West Virginia 58, Baylor 14

Welcome back, Will Grier. And welcome back to the West Virginia offense. Less than two weeks after Grier threw for just 100 yards during a 30-14 loss to Iowa State, he and the Mountaineers torched the Baylor defense to the tune of a 58-14 final score. It took just three plays and 50 seconds before Grier found Greg Jennings Jr. for a 53-yard touchdown. Four times West Virginia would score on drives that lasted less than one minute. Meanwhile, Baylor’s offense was turned inside out as quarterback Charlie Brewer couldn’t handle the blitz and threw three interceptions. So long as the West Virginia keeps playing like this and Grier and Co. put pointing points on the board, the Mountaineers will have something to say about the Big 12 race with a month of November that will feature games against both Texas and Oklahoma. — Alex Scarborough

Northwestern 31, No. 20 Wisconsin 17

A Badgers season that began with legitimate CFP aspirations and, at worst, another Big Ten West division title is now circling the drain. Wisconsin clearly missed 30-game starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook against Northwestern, as sophomore Jack Coan lost a fumble near Wisconsin’s end zone and contributed to another on an exchange with Jonathan Taylor. Hornibrook, under-appreciated in Madison like predecessor Joel Stave, could have helped Saturday but Wisconsin’s problems go beyond him. Taylor lost two fumbles and had his streak of eight straight 100-yard rushing performances end (stretching back to last season). A perennial top-five defense has taken a few steps back after some key personnel losses, as Wisconsin allowed 182 rushing yards to a Northwestern team that came in with the 127th-ranked run offense (last in the Big Ten). The Badgers also showed a surprising lack of discipline, committing five penalties, including a pass interference foul that led to Northwestern’s second touchdown and a roughing-the-punter foul that led to Northwestern’s third touchdown. — Adam Rittenberg

No. 23 Utah 41, UCLA 10

Prior to this season, Utah had only scored 40 points in eight Pac-12 games since joining the conference in 2011. Following its 41-10 win against UCLA Friday night, the Utes have now scored at least 40 in four straight conference games. The book on the Utes for the last few seasons is that if they can ever find a consistent offense, they’ll be able compete for a conference title because the defense has been good enough for years. At this point, the Utes are the clear favorite in the Pac-12 South and are playing their best football in roughly a decade. — Kyle Bonagura

Georgia Southern 34, No. 25 Appalachian State 14

Having attained its first AP national ranking in school history earlier in the week, Appalachian State now faces the prospects of not even winning its own division in the Sun Belt Conference after a 34-14 loss Thursday at Georgia Southern. One of the biggest questions for the Mountaineers going forward will be the health of quarterback Zac Thomas, who was knocked out of the game on the opening series. His two backups combined to throw four interceptions, and Appalachian State was already without star running back Jalin Moore, who’s out for the season after breaking his ankle earlier this month. — Chris Low

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