Here is a look at this week’s AP Top 25 and observations after Week 3 and heading into conference play.
No. 1 Alabama (3-0)
Alabama looks like a Top 5 team through the first three games, but maybe not yet a #1, given the performance of other teams. But with wins over USC and Ole Miss, at least they played formidable opponents.
Next Game: Kent State
No. 2 Ohio State (3-0)
Ohio State is right where they want to be. While prestige of being #1 is nice, it also puts a target on your back. #2 Ohio State, after snoozers against Tulsa and Bowling Green to open the season, pounded Oklahoma 45-24 on the road before they open Big Ten play. They have the talent, experience and the marquee schedule to take over #1 at any point.
Next: Bye, then Rutgers on Oct. 1
No. 3 Louisville (3-0)
How does a team move from #10 to #3? Blow out and totally embarrass a #2 team, as the Cardinals did against Florida State. They have the hottest QB in the country in Lamar Jackson right now and a chip on their shoulder. They cannot stumbe at Marshall next week before a faceoff with national runner up Clemson on October 1st. Two wins and we might have to consider Louisville for the top spot soon.
Next: at Marshall
No. 4 Michigan (3-0)
Michigan did not look like a #4 team against Colorado. Quarterback Wilton Speight is still a question mark against legitimate competition. The Wolverines have a ton of talent on the roster, so maybe they just need to get warmed up for some big games. Penn State visits the Big House this week.
Next Game: Penn State
No. 5 Clemson (3-0)
With a Match Up Quality and Balance of “F” this weekend against SC State, the Tigers should be downgraded for that alone! They battled Auburn in a close 19-13 win on the opening weekend, but also struggled against Troy at home last week. They have DeShaun Watson, but the jury is still out on how good of a team this really is.
Next Game: at Georgia Tech (Thursday) then Louiville on Oct. 1st
No. 6 Houston (3-0)
Want to get in the Big 12 – then just win! Houston is making its case with a great win against Oklahoma and a dismantling of fellow Big 12 pledge Cincinnati this weekend. Houston can go undefeated going into a showdown with #3 Louisville on 11/17 with the winner a possible #1 by that point. They can beat any team in the Big 12 right now.
Next Game: at Texas State
No. 7 Stanford (2-0)
Take Christian McCaffrey out of the game and see what the Cardinal have left? Hard to make a case for this team to be ranked any higher without someone else stumbling. That said, they have been solid, although not dominant, so far in wins over K-State and USC.
Next Game: at UCLA
No. 8 Michigan State (2-0)
The Spartans jumped from #12 to #8 this week – over Washington and Wisconsin – based on their performance over Notre Dame. The Badgers will not be happy with the downgrade when they tee off next weekend.
Next: vs. No. 11 Wisconsin
No. 9 Washington (3-0)
The Huskies can score – that is, against unproven competition. After three 40+ scoring games against Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State, Arizona will provide a better gauge of how good the Huskies are.
Next Game: at Arizona
No. 10 Texas A&M (3-0)
Trevor Knight has looked good for the Aggies so far. With wins over UCLA and Auburn already, Texas A&M is a legitimate contender in the SEC West bracket. They will be tested against Arkansas next weekend, but look for the Aggies to keep rolling.
Next Game: vs. No. 17 Arkansas at Arlington, Texas
No. 11. Wisconsin (3-0)
After a big win at Lambeau versus LSU and then a blowout against Akron, the Badgers looked very beatable against Georgia State last week. The jury is out on if this Badgers team is a legit Top 10 contender. Next week will show with a road trip to Michigan State.
Next Game: at No. 8 Michigan State
No. 12 Georgia (3-0)
Georgia posted a solid win versus then #22 UNC on opening weekend and then squeaked by Nicholls State by 2 points. Last week they held off a pesky Missouri team 28-27. New QB Jacob Eason looks like a future star, but he now faces some bigger challengers with the heart of the SEC scheduling coming up.
Next Game: at No. 23 Mississippi
No. 13 Florida State (2-1)
Hype? Yeah, probably a lot of that! After beating up on a depleted Charleston Southern team, the Seminoles were thoroughly embarrassed by Louisville. They were flat and lost in the stunning loss – and stunning might not do it justice! They need to pick up the pieces as they head to Tampa to face USF this week. Another letdown and they are toast in the College Playoff picture.
Next Game: at South Florida
No. 14 Tennessee (3-0)
Beating Virginia Tech before 150,000 people at Bristol last week was nice, but the Volunteers have looked sluggish through three games – including a near defeat against App State. At least they get Florida at home with a chance to make their case in the SEC race.
Next Game: No. 19 Florida
No. 15 Miami (3-0)
Miami annihilated an App State team that almost beat Tennessee. Their run defense is yielding about 1.5 yards a carry (impressive even against easier competition). That run defense will now have to face Georgia Tech’s triple option attack to prove how good they really are.
Next Game: at Georgia Tech, Oct. 1
No. 16 Baylor (3-0)
The jury is out on Baylor after their customary patsy opening slate. With so much turnover in Waco this offseason, the Bears will get exposed against an inconsistent Oklahoma State team this week.
Next Game: Oklahoma State
No. 17 Arkansas (3-0)
They struggled against Louisiana Tech but then held off TCU. Write off the Texas State game and now we get to see if the Hogs are finally “for real” in a neutral field game or they were the beneficiaries of an early upset bounce.
Next Game: No. 10 Texas A&M
No. 18 LSU (2-1)
The Tigers were slow out of the gates this year and paid the price against Wisconsin. They may have the best back in college football this year in Leonard Fournette, but do they have enough around him? They cannot stumble against the other reeling Tigers from the SEC.
Next Game: at Auburn
No. 19 Florida (3-0)
The Gators are warmed up. They have done as expected – unless you expected more out of Kentucky two weeks ago. They face their first real team this week on the road at a not yet impressive Tennessee team.
Next Game: at No. 14 Tennessee
No. 20 Nebraska (3-0)
The Huskers are off to their usual start – not too shabby, not too flashy. They have some time to right the ship still before facing a stiffer test – it won’t be this week. So, with some Top 25 matchups this weekend, look for the Huskers to benefit from the fall of others.
Next Game: at Northwestern
No. 21 Texas (2-1)
Texas’s offense has shown it can finally put up some points. But, the defense has also shown that it can give up some points too. If they can stop anyone, Texas has a chance to make a run in the Big 12, but this is hardly a championship caliber team.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State, Oct. 1
No. 22 San Diego State (3-0)
The Aztecs have won 13 straight games. They may be the frontrunner in the Mountain West race this season. With the Power 5 beating up on themselves, don’t be surprised to see the Aztecs move up to the top 15 soon.
Next Game: at South Alabama, Oct. 1
No. 23 Mississippi (1-2)
Give the Rebels credit for scheduling – they lost by 11 to Florida State and 5 to Alabama. That was the toughest 1-2 of anyone in the country and they showed they can hang with the best. Close is good enough for only so long though, so let’s see the Rebels pull one of these games out down the stretch before we christen them as a contender.
Next Game: No. 12 Georgia
No. 24 Utah (3-0)
Utah might be the darkhorse in the PAC-12 race. They have the balance to upend the heavyweights and probably deserve more respect than they receive. Knocking off USC will be a good start.
Next Game: USC
No. 25 Oklahoma (1-2)
This is reputation more than anything. While Ole Miss hung with Florida State and Alabama, Oklahoma was not so lucky against Houston and Ohio State –at home. Not that either is a slouch, but a Top 5 team needs to step up in a big game at least once.
Next Game: at TCU, Oct. 1