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updated: 9/30/2017 7:25 PM

AP Top 25 Takeaways: Rock bottom for Jones; Year of the RB

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  • Tennessee head coach Butch Jones walks the sidelines in the final minutes of a 41-0 loss to Georgia in an NCAA college football game against Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

    Tennessee head coach Butch Jones walks the sidelines in the final minutes of a 41-0 loss to Georgia in an NCAA college football game against Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) takes the opening kick off 98 yards for a touchdown against Indiana during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.

    Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) takes the opening kick off 98 yards for a touchdown against Indiana during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.
    Associated Press

  • Stanford running back Bryce Love celebrates after scoring on a rushing touchdown against Arizona State during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Stanford, Calif.

    Stanford running back Bryce Love celebrates after scoring on a rushing touchdown against Arizona State during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Stanford, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
 

The end may be near in Tennessee. It is certainly much closer after Saturday.

The college football weekend ramped up Friday night with Southern California becoming the third preseason top-10 team to lose before Oct. 1. On Saturday, things got very negative in Knoxville, Tennessee, for Butch Jones. And Penn State's Saquon Barkley wasn't the only running back making a Heisman Trophy statement this week.

Takeaways, thoughts and takedowns from Week 5 of the college football season.

1. As the fans poured out of Neyland Stadium and Georgia's fourth-string tailback scored a touchdown , what came to mind was this: When is Tennessee's off week? Because that would be an opportune time to fire Butch Jones.

2. Jones said after the Volunteers' first shutout loss since 1994 that it was "gut-check" time for Tennessee. Too late.

3. Maybe athletic director John Currie, a confident guy who is unlikely to shy away from making a drastic move, does not go the in-season coaching change route. Maybe he gives Jones the opportunity to turn things around against an SEC East schedule with plenty of chances for victories. Anything is possible.

4. But this very much felt like a point-of-no-return game for Jones and Tennessee. The Vols are off next Saturday, by the way.

5. Jacob Eason returned to action for No. 7 Georgia, but there should be no quarterback controversy. Jake Fromm is the Bulldogs' guy.

6. The year of the quarterback has turned into the year of the running back.

7. If you put together a Heisman Trophy ballot right now: Barkley and Stanford's Bryce Love would have to be in the top three.

8. Barkley ran for 56 yards against Indiana and still was the star of the show with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a touchdown pass and a silly one-handed catch .

9. Love, meanwhile, has surpassed 1,000 yards rushing before October with 301 against Arizona State.

10. The last Pac-12 running back to reach 1,000 yards in five games was USC's Marcus Allen in his Heisman Trophy season of 1981.

12. Love is averaging 11 yards per carry. Just hand it to him every time.

12. Florida State slogged through another day of growing pains for quarterback James Blackman to beat Wake Forest in a game that brought back memories of the end of the Bobby Bowden era for the Seminoles.

13. No. 14 Miami, which looked very good Friday night in dispatching Duke, is at Florida State next Saturday. The 'Noles have won seven straight against the 'Canes.

14. If not now, Miami, then when?

15. Quite a bit of chatter among college football Twitter about how USC's loss at Washington State exposed the Trojans as overrated. The logic of this is flawed.

16. For all the time fans spend killing teams because "They ain't played nobody," USC has played four Power Five teams to start the season (Stanford, Texas, Cal and Washington State) - all of which look to be somewhere between pretty good and very good.

17. The Trojans and Sam Darnold certainly have not lived up to their hype so far, but to a certain degree this is what happens to college football teams when they play competitive opponents every week instead of FCS teams and the soft underbelly of the Group of Five.

18. Final word on USC. Depth along the lines was a concern coming into this season, especially with 12 straight weeks of games. It's hard to see the Trojans not stumbling again, but they are still the most talented team in the Pac-12 South and maybe in the whole conference.

19 Florida lost quarterback Luke Del Rio for the season with a shoulder injury, but maybe found an offense identity with a running game featuring freshman Malik Davis and an offensive line that has underachieved before today's outburst against Vanderbilt .

20. Coming into the season, Wisconsin appeared to have maybe the easiest schedule of any preseason top-10 team. It might be even easier than expected. Other than maybe Iowa, the rest of the Big Ten West looks way behind the Badgers. And their cross-division games are Maryland and Indiana, along with Michigan.

21. Coach trending up: SMU's Chad Morris. He took over a dead program and three years later the Mustangs are 4-1 and legitimate contenders in a difficult American Athletic Conference West.

22. Morris is a Texas A&M alum and a longtime, well-respected high school coach in the state. Just so you know.

23. Coach trending down: North Carolina's season is getting uglier each week as injuries and lopsided losses start to pile up. It's not fair to blame Larry Fedora, but a possible 3-9/4-8 finish makes it unlikely he will have many suitors come silly season.

24. No. 18 USF ran its streak of 30-point games to 22, one behind an FBS record held by Oregon.

25. The race for the New Year's Six bowl spot that goes to the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five conferences could be a fascinating competition between South Florida, which doesn't have much in the way of quality nonconference victories, and No. 19 San Diego State, which has beaten Stanford and Arizona State.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More AP college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@APTop25

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