The big stories from last Saturday: Clemson’s dominance and Mississippi State’s emergence.
I also feel somewhat vindicated after teams I said weren’t as good as others thought they were (Stanford, LSU, and Kansas State) fell. The SEC East, as I predicted, looks resurgent, and Vandy may make Alabama sweat a little (but not much) when the Tide visit Nashville this week.
Mississippi State-Georgia is this week’s premier cross-division SEC matchup.
Receiving consideration: Notre Dame (2-1), Memphis (2-0), Kentucky (3-0), Colorado (3-0), Minnesota (3-0), Wake Forest (3-0), Utah (3-0), Cal (3-0), Vanderbilt (3-0), and Tennessee (2-1).
25. San Diego State 3-0 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Stanford 20-17]—What an impressive win for the Aztecs! The Cardinal isn’t the team most thought they were, but still, Rocky Long has done a great job at SDSU.
24. Houston 2-0 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Rice 38-3]—Major Applewhite was a great hire here, and I think the Cougars should remain a strong program for a while.
23. TCU 3-0 [Last Week: NR, Defeated SMU 56-36]—Kenny Hill had a huge game in a potential trap matchup for the Horned Frogs.
22. Maryland 2-0 [Last Week: #25, DNP]—The Terrapins benefit from a number of teams falling. They resume their schedule against UCF this week.
21. South Florida 3-0 [Last Week: #23, Defeated Illinois 47-23]—Finally a game where the Bulls, led by QB Quinton Flowers, look like we expected to at the beginning of the season.
20. Washington State 3-0 [Last Week: #21, Defeated Oregon State 52-23]— Mike Leach is not going to be a coach for an elite program, but he has managed to once again make an irrelevant program highly relevant.
19. Louisville 2-1 [Last Week: #13, Lost to Clemson 47-21]— Well, that was ugly, but, frankly, the Tigers are among the teams that have really separated themselves. Lamar Jackson and company should still easily win 9+ games.
18. Oregon 3-0 [Last Week: #19, Defeated Wyoming 49-13]— Do not sleep on Willie Taggart’s Ducks. He’s a proven coach, and this team looks ready to roll.
17. Miami 1-0 [Last Week: #17, DNP]—The Hurricanes rejoin the college football world this week against Toledo.
16. Auburn 2-1 [Last Week: #15, Defeated Mercer 24-10]—We’ve seen Auburn go either way when they come to a crossroads. An ugly win provided a glimmer of hope as Jarrett Stidham looked efficient in the W.
15. Virginia Tech 3-0 [Last Week: #18, Defeated East Carolina 64-17]—Virginia Tech is a good gig, but, as seats get hotter around the country (Texas A&M, UCLA, Auburn, Tennessee, etc.), don’t be surprised when Justin Fuente’s name comes up.
14. Florida 1-1 [Last Week: #16, Defeated Tennessee 26-20]—A must-win for the Gators puts them on the path to being very competitive in a renewed SEC East.
13. Mississippi State 3-0 [Last Week: #NR, Defeated LSU 37-7]—The Bulldogs earn a dramatic rise into the top 25 after a complete rout of LSU. Nick Fitzgerald also tossed his name into the Heisman race.
12. Oklahoma State 3-0 [Last Week: Defeated Pittsburgh 59-21] —I firmly believe the Cowboys are better than this #12 spot. However, the 11 ahead of Oklahoma State did enough to stay, moving just a spot or two, where they were last week. Be patient, Cowboy fans, this team will rise.
11. Florida State 0-1 [Last Week #11, DNP]—The Seminoles hold steady but return to play this week against NC State.
10. Wisconsin 3-0 [Last Week: #10, Defeated BYU 40-6]—Without a doubt, the Big 10 looks head and shoulders above every other conference in 2017. The Badgers are for real.
9. Ohio State 2-1 [Last Week: #9, Defeated Army 38-7]—It seems like every year Urban Meyer has a playmaker emerge in a big way. J.K. Dobbins is very much on the scene.
8. Georgia 3-0 [Last Week: #8, Defeated Samford 42-14]—The SEC East looks better than it has in years, but the Dawgs look like the class of the division.
7. Washington 3-0 [Last Week: #7, Defeated Fresno State 48-16]—Honestly, I’m not seeing much on the schedule that could slow the march of the Huskies.
6. Michigan 3-0 [Last Week: #5, Defeated Air Force 29-13]—Michigan looks like a very strong team in 2017 but not a dominant one. The O is still lacking, and the D is just a hair below where I expected it to be.
5. Penn State 3-0 [Last Week: #6, Defeated Georgia State 56-0]— The Nittany Lions tick ahead of Big 10 foe Michigan. So far, they have been more dominant this season. This will get settled in a few weeks.
4. USC 3-0 [Last Week: #3, Defeated Texas 27-24]—There’s a lot to like about the Trojans, including the fact that they boast one of the nation’s best signal callers. That said, USC has really struggled in two games that should have been smooth sailing.
3. Oklahoma 3-0 [Last Week: #4, Defeated Tulane 56-14]—The Sooners lost significant talent after last season, and I had my doubts that they would pick up where last season left off. I was wrong. This team is for real.
2. Clemson 3-0 [Last Week: #2, Defeated Louisville 47-21]—The 2017 iteration of the Tigers may be even better than the national championship team. Dabo’s squad has likely gotten through the two toughest games of its schedule with relative ease.
1. Alabama 3-0 [Last Week: #1, Defeated Colorado State 41-23]—It wasn’t flawless, but the Tide will be at the top until someone knocks them off. QB Jalen Hurts led the team in rushing and passing.