Almost no one expected the utter whoopin’ Louisville put on Florida State that shook up the college football landscape. Ohio State also made a strong statement against Oklahoma, while Alabama was fortunate to survive a trip to Oxford.
This week, conference play begins in earnest. The highest ranked matchup features Michigan State-Wisconsin, but clarity will really begin to take shape with contests in the PAC 12 and SEC. The Big 12, meanwhile, is reeling as it has only one team in the top 25: #18 Baylor.
Receiving Consideration: Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, TCU, UNC, Western Michigan, Boise State, Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Oregon
25. UCLA 2-1 [Defeated BYU, Last Week NA]—The Bruins have an overtime loss against a strong Texas A&M team, but they could become a PAC 12 frontrunner with a win this week against Stanford at home.
24. Arizona State 3-0 [Defeated UTSA, Last Week #24]—It is not impressive to narrowly beat UTSA, but the Sun Devils can look like a PAC 12 contender with a win against Cal.
23. Ole Miss 1-2 [Lost to Alabama, Last Week #17]—The Rebels begin their endeavor to prove they are better than their disappointing losses this week against Georgia. If this team was not the worst in college football at holding a lead, they would be our #1 team.
22. Cal 2-1 [Defeated Texas, Last Week NA]—Davis Webb is making Cal fans forget about Jared Goff. This week’s matchup against Arizona State is significant in the PAC 12 race.
21. Nebraska 3-0 [Defeated Oregon, Last Week NA]—Riley’s Conrhusker’s surprised me by beating the Ducks. Northwestern should not be a problem this week.
20. Arkansas 3-0 [Defeated Texas State, Last Week NA]—Arkansas has started off well, but they face their first test at a strong Texas A&M this week.
19. San Diego State [Defeated Northern Illinois, Last Week #22]—Donnell Pumphrey continues to be on a tear. The Aztecs get a bye while there team looks better for its win against Cal, which took down Texas.
18. Baylor 3-0 [Defeated Rice, Last Week NA]—Art Briles is clearly missed as this team has looked solid, but not the same. The Big 12 is wide open, though.
17. LSU 2-1 [Defeated Mississippi State, Last Week #18]–Many are referring to the game against Auburn and embattled coach Gus Malzahn as “The Buyout Bowl.” Both coaches are extremely unpopular with their fanbases and need a win to get this season on track.
16. Miami 3-0 [Defeated Appalachian State, Last Week #25]—The Hurricanes get a bye this week before Georgia Tech and Florida State matchups. Then, we will see what impact Mark Richt has had on this program.
15. Florida 3-0 [Defeated North Texas, Last Week #21]—Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee are all jumbled up at the top of the SEC East. We get some clarity this week.
14. Florida State 2-1 [Lost to Louisville, Last Week #2]—What do you do with a Seminoles team that was absolutely humiliated against Louisville? That loss might eliminate FSU from playoff consideration even if they win out.
13. Georgia 3-0 [Defeated Missouri, Last Week #14]—One can make the case that Ole Miss is the most challenging team on the schedule for the Dawgs. A win here could position Kirby Smart’s team for a big first season.
12. Tennessee 3-0 [Defeated Ohio, Last Week #13]—I am not sure I even think the Vols are the favorites against Florida, but this is a program heading into a tough stretch against Florida, at UGA, at Texas A&M, and against Alabama. We will learn a lot about this team over the next four weeks.
11. Wisconsin 3-0 [Defeated Georgia State, Last Week #12]—The Badgers squeaked by Georgia State, but the road ahead is the toughest in college football. They plat at Michigan State, at Michigan, against Ohio State, at Iowa, and against Nebraska over the next five games.
10. Washington 3-0 [Defeated Portland State, Last Week #16]—So far, the Huskies are winning games by an average of 38 points. I doubt that continues over the next three in contests at Arizona, against Stanford, and at Oregon.
9. Michigan State 2-0 [Defeated Notre Dame, Last Week #15]—This week’s contest against Wisconsin is a marquee matchup. A win should allow for a clear path through late October’s game against Michigan.
8. Texas A&M 3-0 [Defeated Auburn, Last Week #11]—The Aggies are not a great team, but they are good enough to contend for second place in the SEC West.
7. Stanford 2-0 [Defeated USC, Last Week #7]—Going into the season, I thought USC might have the talent to compete for a PAC 12 title. Boy was I wrong! The Cardinal easily dispatched of the Trojans. The next two weeks at UCLA and at Washington could put Stanford in great position for a playoff run… or end its hopes.
6. Michigan 3-0 [Defeated Colorado, Last Week #6]—Michigan scored their lowest output of the season against the Buffaloes… 45 points. The Wolverines may not be tested against Penn State this week, but the 10/1 game against Wisconsin should tell us more about this team.
5. Clemson 3-0 [Defeated South Carolina State, Last Week #5]—The Tigers took care of business against South Carolina State, and they will likely do so again when they play Georgia Tech on Thursday. Facing the Cardinals on 10/1, however, will be a major test.
4. Houston 3-0 [Defeated Cincinnati, Last Week #3]—It was not the most impressive win over the Bearcats, but the Cougars remain in control of their own destiny. Few would have thought, but the 11/17 contest against Louisville might be the most “playoff significant” game at the moment.
3. Ohio State 3-0 [Defeated Oklahoma, Last Week #4]—After a dominant performance over the Sooners, the Buckeyes leapfrog fellow bane of Norman, the Houston Cougars.
2. Louisville 3-0 [Defeated Florida State, Last Week #8]—Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino are certainly the most dynamic player-coach combo in college football this season, and they put on a clinic against the Seminoles. If they play as well down the stretch of the season as they are playing right now, it is tough to see how they could be beaten.
1. Alabama 3-0 [Defeated Ole Miss, Last Week: #1]—There’s something about the Rebels that brings out the worst in Alabama, but the Tide managed to roll once again.