Welcome back, college football fans! Week 8 has come and gone, and though it looked to be one of the lighter-on-intrigue weekends of the year, it still managed to provide a great deal of excitement in the end.
As always, I'm Holly, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I was born the day of the 2010 Music City Bowl, and just like that game, I've been responsible for rule changes too. All I'm saying is, if a wine store keeps dog treats behind the counter, they should expect me to let myself back there the next time I'm in.
Anyways, on to the games, and the major, overriding storyline that's on all of our minds as the season progresses:
MAKING THE AMERICAN GREAT
You can tout the strengths of the SEC, Big Ten or Pac-12 all you want, but for my money, the true story of the 2015 is the rise of The American Conference, which currently boasts three still-undefeated, ranked teams in Memphis, Houston and Temple.
Those three are getting well-deserved attention, and one of them is very likely to get the "Group of Five" major bowl bid, but let's not sleep on looming power Cincinnati, who polished off actual respectable football opponent Connecticut 37-13 Saturday to climb back to 4-3.
Hey. Hey, human. What are you typing up there? That doesn't look like what I'm dictating. That's not a picture of me. Stick to the script, pal. You wanna peddle your propaganda in my timeslot, there better be some cheese in my bowl later.
You just can't train humans these days. I swear.
WINTER IS COMING
We're a long way off from knowing the final rankings, and we all know that plenty can - and likely will - happen late. With #3 Utah's loss to USC, though, we're now looking at an AP top 4 of Ohio State, Baylor, Clemson and LSU, and to me, that's the first we've truly felt like there's a plausible playoff field ahead of us.
Except, you know... Ohio State still has to play Michigan State and Michigan.
Baylor still has to play arch-not-rival TCU.
Clemson still has to play Florida State. What a time to be alive.
Oh, and LSU's on a collision course with Alabama in what should be a ground-shaker of a game.
Don't get caught looking ahead. Just keep your eyes straight ahead. Everything is fine. Everything is fine.
WHERE DID THE SWAGGER GO, MIAMI
No, we all understand the last one, though. It had to happen.
I'D ASK YOU TO TAKE ME OUT FOR A WALK, MIKE RILEY, BUT I'M INCREASINGLY CONCERNED THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO HOLD A LEAD
MY FACE WHEN WE'RE WATCHING MIZZOU WITH THE BALL
I'd say it's like watching grass grow, but at least I can eat grass when I'm feeling sick. Which is how you make me feel.
IS TEXAS BACK?
Maybe it's a fluke. Maybe we shouldn't infer much from Texas pulling out a 23-9 win over a struggling Kansas State team in a downpour. Maybe there's still a rough road back to respectability for one of the nation's richest programs.
Two straight wins is something, though, and when you realize that the Longhorns' next two games are against Iowa State and Kansas, and what looked a few weeks ago to be a lost season - with rumblings of a hot seat for head coach Charlie Strong - might take on a whole new tenor. This could be a bowl team, and with a season-ending trip to Waco to face the #2 Baylor Bears, the potential for playoff spoilage is real.
On behalf my client, Art Briles, I say: come and take it.
(C'mon, Art Briles having a dog for an agent wouldn't really surprise you, would it?)
IN WHICH WE COME TO TERMS WITH THE INCREASINGLY REAL POSSIBILITY OF A CLEMSON-PITT ACC TITLE GAME
I'm not saying it's going to happen. I'm just saying that it's out there and we must face the possibility. I'm storing mouthfuls of food behind the couch just in case.
SHORT LEGS, TALL ORDER OF THE WEEK: DOROLAND DORCEUS, MEMPHIS
Memphis's offense is one of the most potent in the nation this year, and most of the credit goes to QB Paxton Lynch. It's not undeserved, as Lynch has looked terrific all season and is one of the best pro prospects in the game. But let's throw some credit to Dorceus, the 5'10 sophomore running back, who piled on for 150 yards and two TDs in the Tigers' 66-42 win over Tulsa Friday night.
WE LOOK AHEAD
Much like the weekend that was, Week 9 looks a bit thin on paper. There's intriguing matchups between Notre Dame and Temple, Stanford and Washington State, and there's always the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Still, it's a sleeper weekend.
We try not to get caught looking ahead, but the following week looks monstrous, anchored by games with major playoff implications such as TCU-Oklahoma State, Florida State-Clemson, and that massive matchup between undefeated LSU and Angry One-Loss Bama.
Spend time with your families on Sundays. Or tell them you'll see them in February. Things are about to get real.