The SEC was brought back down to earth this week and now has just seven teams in the top 25 - and Auburn barely escaped what would have been one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Arkansas, which we had dubbed overrated, couldn't avoid the upset at home against Toledo. PP loves when we are validated. Michigan State notched the best win of the young season by knocking off Oregon and even managed to steal two first-place votes from Ohio State. In other news, voters are really having to reach to find teams to fill out the bottom few spots in the poll.
1. Ohio State Last Week: 1)
It wasn't exactly a banner day for the Buckeyes, and it has to be a bit concerning that they led Hawaii just 17-0 entering the fourth quarter. Even more concerning, perhaps, is that Urban Meyer has admitted a bit of indecision regarding his quarterback situation. Ohio State is still light years more talented than all of its remaining opponents not named Michigan State, but controversy under center could make this season a little more interesting for the No. 1 team.
2. Alabama (Last Week: 2)
It was a dominant performance by the Tide against Middle Tennessee, and it seems Jake Coker made further progress toward being the no-doubt starting quarterback for Alabama. Ole Miss travels to Tuscaloosa this week, and I think Bama takes care of business.
3. TCU (Last Week: 3)
The Frogs got well against Stephen F. Austin and will look to continue getting the offense back on track against Chad Morris' SMU squad. It was a bit surprising that Michigan State didn't ascend to No. 3 this week.
4. Michigan State (Last Week: 5)
I could have seen voters jumping on the big win train and sliding the Spartans above TCU as well as Baylor. In fact, two of them evidently believe Michigan State is the nation's No. 1 team. After Ohio State's struggles Saturday, that may not be totally far-fetched.
5. Baylor (Last Week: 4)
It's fair to wonder about the Bears' defense that has allowed SMU and some guy named Lamar to each hang around for a half of football, but that offense is firing on all cylinders with new quarterback Seth Russell. Baylor will continue to run up huge margins of victory for the time being against a cake schedule.
6. USC (Last Week: 8)
Southern Cal blasted another overmatched opponent with Cody Kessler topping 400 yards through the air. Stanford comes to town this week, but I don't see the Cardinal putting up much of a fight against the USC buzzsaw.
7. Georgia (Last Week: 10)
Not exactly a convincing win over lowly Vanderbilt, and Greyson Lambert is doing nothing to stifle my doubts about the Bulldogs. Georgia is not a top-10 team, plain and simple. They should take care of flailing South Carolina this weekend, but it may be closer than expected as the Gamecocks usually play Georgia tough even when there is no reason to think they will.
8. Notre Dame (Last Week: 9)
We warned last week that the Irish could ill afford to overlook Virginia, and that proved to be true as the Irish needed a long touchdown with 12 seconds left to avoid a costly loss to the Cavaliers. It's easy to use Malik Zaire's injury as a crutch, but Notre Dame trailed at the half led just 19-14 when he left the game, so that excuse hardly holds water. DeShone Kizer looked pretty good in relief of Zaire (who is out for the season), but now it seems the Irish downfall I felt would have happened with Zaire will be expedited.
9. Florida State (Last Week: 11)
FSU was tied 7-7 with South Florida at the half but avoided a close finish thanks to Dalvin Cook's 266-yard rushing performance. I've wondered whether Florida State is a top-10 team at this juncture, and this result doesn't exactly legitimize that type of ranking.
10. UCLA (Last Week: 13)
UCLA took care of UNLV and leap-frogged Clemson because apparently that win is cooler than the Tigers' similarly-margined victory because ... it was on the road? UCLA is definitely worthy of a high ranking at this point, but that type of shake-up in the polls is puzzling.
11. Clemson (Last Week: 12)
The Tigers started slow, but four second-quarter touchdowns helped the them turn a tight contest with App State into a laugher by halftime. Defensive depth is a concern right now, the running game is bordering on inept, and special teams continues to be problematic. My confidence in Clemson at this point is based more on issues I see with its upcoming opponents than anything special the Tigers are doing. The first 11-15 guys on defense look great, and the passing game has been good enough, but there are no more Woffords and App States on the schedule.
12. Oregon (Last Week: 7)
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Ducks against Michigan State, but they are far from out of the playoff race. The problem is that realistic playoff hopes hinge on having no more than one loss, and while Oregon plays in the decidedly weaker half of the Pac 12, it will still be difficult for them to go undefeated the rest of the season. I would actually still have Oregon in the top 10 if I were voting, as I was much more impressed with the Ducks than any of the teams ranked 7-9.
13. LSU (Last Week: 14)
LSU was arguably outplayed by Mississippi State on the road, but you have to give the Tigers credit for pulling out the win, especially after their "warm-up game" was cancelled last week. It's going to be up to Leonard Fournette to decide how successful the Tigers can be this season, and he was a workhorse Saturday and should continue to get 30-ish carries per game.
14. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 15)
I said it at the beginning of the season, and I will continue to say it: Georgia Tech is Clemson's toughest opponent this season. The Jackets are averaging 8.5 yards per carry, and while that has been amassed against weak competition, it doesn't change the fact that Georgia Tech knows what it's doing on offense. I expected the Jackets to win at Notre Dame when Malik Zaire was healthy, and now that he's out, I'm taking Georgia Tech to beat Notre Dame handily this weekend. Mark it down, Kraken.
15. Ole Miss (Last Week: 17)
Swag had another great performance in a blowout win, and the Ole Miss offense is really humming heading into a Saturday night matchup with Alabama. A win there would vault Ole Miss well into top 10, and deservedly so.
16. Oklahoma (Last Week: 19)
Down 14 on the road nearly halfway through the fourth quarter, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners mounted an improbable comeback to stun Tennessee in overtime in Knoxville. Oklahoma struggled mightily for the majority of the game, but credit where it's due, winning in that scenario is not easy. It's easy to see these teams going in different directions after this game, where Oklahoma should be able to string some wins together and Tennessee - despite it not effecting their chances to win the SEC East - having trouble recovering mentally and emotionally from such a turn of events.
17. Texas A&M (Last Week: 16)
It seems Kyle Allen performed well enough against Ball State to quell any talk of a quarterback controversy, despite the undeniable talent of backup Kyler Murray. Expect the Aggies to win home contests against Arkansas and Mississippi State before hosting Alabama.
18. Auburn (Last Week: 6)
The Tigers make about as big a drop as you'll ever see by a winning team in the rankings after needing a touchdown in the final minute to force overtime with FCS opponent Jacksonville State in an eventual victory. You would be justified in arguing that Auburn shouldn't be ranked at all, but I think LSU will take care of that this week as it's hard to have any faith in Auburn at all right now. Even at 2-0, the Tigers have to be seriously concerned about where they stand, especially with the struggles Jeremy Johnson has had at quarterback.
19. BYU (Last Week: NR)
After another dramatic win (including another desperation chuck from America's favorite backup quarterback, Tanner Mangum) - this time over No. 20 Boise State - the Cougars have earned a spot in the rankings. They get a shot at UCLA this week, and an upset win there would signal that it's time to take BYU very seriously.
20. Arizona (Last Week: 22)
The Wildcats performed more like a top-25 team this week after we gave them a pass for their lackluster effort against UTSA in Week 1. Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson are one of the best quarterback-running back duos in the nation, and I still believe the Wildcats are a threat in the Pac 12 South.
21. Utah (Last Week: 24)
The Utes are still overrated after another less-than-impressive home win against rival Utah State. Starting quarterback Travis Wilson sprained his shoulder in the game and should be back soon, but I don't see the Utes being a top-25 teams at season's end, especially with the Pac 12 South gauntlet on the horizon.
22. Missouri (Last Week: 21)
Here's a reference point for you: Southern Cal beat Arkansas State 55-6 in Week 1; Missouri had to come from behind to beat Arkansas State 27-20 in Week 2. No further comment.
23. Northwestern (Last Week: NR)
Why not? I don't necessarily think the Wildcats are one of the best 25 teams in the country, but at least they have a quality win over Stanford. Somebody has to be the third best team in the Big Ten.
24. Wisconsin (Last Week: NR)
When your one loss is to Alabama, I guess you can make a case that you belong in the top 25. The Badgers did what they should have against putrid Miami (Ohio) in a 58-0 win.
25. Oklahoma State (Last Week: NR)
The Cowboys have notched earth-shattering wins over Central Michigan and Central Arkansas, so, yeah, let's put them in the poll. I would just as soon have Temple or Toledo in this spot.