While the teams at the top of the rankings struggled to assert themselves, Ole Miss stole the show Saturday with an upset win in Tuscaloosa and skyrocketed up the rankings. Talk about an underwhelming bunch in that top 10. Very few teams have managed to look impressive in each of the season's first three weeks, so we're left wondering—is anybody any good?
1. Ohio State (Last Week: 1)
Frankly didn't look like a No. 1 team, and honestly hasn't yet this season. If dropping defending champ Florida State from the top spot after less than convincing wins last season was kosher, the same should hold true for the Buckeyes at this point.
2. Michigan State (Last Week: 4)
The Spartans led Air Force by four touchdowns in the third quarter but were outgained in the game by more than 100 yards. Hard to get a read on this team, but they are being heavily rewarded for a close win over Oregon—a team that we don't really have a true reference point for.
T3. Ole Miss (Last Week: 15)
We've seen this movie before—Ole Miss upsets Alabama and makes an astronomical leap in the polls. It didn't pan out last season, but wins in Tuscaloosa are few and far between and should be rewarded. You could make a real case for Ole Miss at No. 1 and I think a top-5 ranking at the least is justified.
T3. TCU (Last Week: 3)
The Frogs got a pretty good scare from Chad Morris' surprisingly competitive SMU bunch, as TCU led the Mustangs by just five points in the fourth quarter before pulling away. Must have been the Keystone Light. A trip to Texas Tech suddenly looks less like a guaranteed blowout after Kliff and the boys handled reeling Arkansas (and trash-talked Bret Bielema, to boot) and TCU has looked vulnerable multiple times already this season.
5. Baylor (Last Week: 5)
Baylor may have gained a leg up simply by not playing this past week while other highly ranked teams looked less than stellar.
6. Notre Dame (Last Week: 8)
I was dead wrong about this game. I expected a comfortable win for Georgia Tech, and instead Notre Dame beat the brakes off the Jackets. Clemson will likely have its hands full with the Irish, but keep in mind that Notre Dame was not nearly as impressive in its road game as it has been in its home contests. I still don't totally buy into Notre Dame as a national title contender, but their resume warrants a high ranking at this juncture.
7. Georgia (Last Week: 7)
Leave it to South Carolina to make Greyson Lambert look like Johnny Unitas. The transfer quarterback set an NCAA single-game record for completion percentage (min. 20 attempts) in a 52-20 win over the hapless Gamecocks and now it's full speed ahead on the Georgia hype train. Don't count me among the believers in the Bulldogs though.
8. LSU (Last Week: 13)
Leonard Fournette ran roughshod over a floundering Auburn team that apparently thinks this is a good way to tackle somebody. Auburn is really, really bad. Wow. Anyway, LSU has established itself as a contender in the SEC West and has a bona fide Heisman candidate in Fournette. I don't have a problem with the Tigers in the top 10 right now based on the small sample we have. I reckon they have a little something for Syracuse.
9. UCLA (Last Week: 10)
UCLA managed to avoid a Hail Mary finish and squeak out a home win over BYU. It wasn't a particularly impressive performance by the Bruins, who needed a late touchdown to secure the victory. Quarterback Josh Rosen threw for just 106 yards and was picked off three times, so we can hush all that premature Heisman talk. As we said at the start of the season, you can return all the starters you want, but when you have a freshman under center, you're walking a fine line.
10. Florida State (Last Week: 9)
The Seminoles came away with perhaps the least aesthetically pleasing win of the weekend as they housed a fumble to finally put away BC 14-0. The two teams combined for just 412 yards from scrimmage and probably served to damage the ACC quite a bit from a national perspective (as if it weren't already looked down upon enough). We at Poll Problems don't see Florida State as a top-10 team three games into the season.
11. Clemson (Last Week: 11)
Clemson fans should feel a little better about the Tigers' narrow escape on Thursday night after watching the rest of the nation's "top" teams this weekend, as hardly any of them looked like world beaters. That said, the Tigers still have their concerns (*scans special teams efficiency statistics* *refills beverage*), and they have two weeks to iron them out before Notre Dame comes calling in a season-defining game for Clemson.
12. Alabama (Last Week: 2)
Honestly, it's incredible the Tide still had a chance to win a game in which it lost the turnover battle 5-0, but it couldn't overcome the Rebels' big plays (including whatever this was) in the second half and dropped a heart-breaker at home. I'm actually surprised the voters dropped Alabama this far because ... you know ... Alabama. There is certainly a quarterback issue to work out here, but Bama is far from done.
13. Oregon (Last Week: 12)
We will know a little more about the Ducks after this week, but a home date with consistently overrated Utah isn't exactly my preferred barometer.
14. Texas A&M (Last Week: 17)
The Aggies didn't throttle Nevada, but we are still high on what they bring to the table and would probably have them ranked above one-loss Alabama and Oregon. They shouldn't have a problem at Arkansas this weekend with the way the Hogs are playing.
15. Oklahoma (Last Week: 16)
The Sooners put on an offensive clinic against Tulsa, but everybody seems to be ignoring the 600+ yards they allowed to the Golden Hurricane. That doesn't exactly bode well for late-season dates with Baylor and TCU...
16. Arizona (Last Week: 20)
They have essentially played nobody to this point, but I'm doubling down on my belief in Arizona and taking the Wildcats to knock off UCLA Saturday night.
17. Northwestern (Last Week: 23)
Do we have a darkhorse contender in the Big Ten? The Wildcats "upset" unranked Duke on the road to move to 3-0 with a couple solid non-conference wins (That win over Stanford all of a sudden carries plenty of clout). I don't necessarily think this is one of the 20 best teams in the country, but, hey, why not reward accomplishments for the time being?
18. Utah (Last Week: 21)
I've got a feeling the charade ends this week when the Utes travel to Oregon. They'll still be ranked afterwards though. Mark my words.
19. USC (Last Week: 6)
Stanford gained 240 yards and scored six points against Northwestern. They had 474 and 41 against Southern Cal. We fell for the Trojans and got burned. Won't happen again.
20. Georgia Tech
Again, I couldn't have been more wrong here. Georgia Tech looked out of sorts from the get-go and Notre Dame played excellent. I still think the Jackets will have better days this season and expect them to emerge from the ACC Coastal, but they'll have to bounce back quickly against a Duke team that will also be in the hunt for that division.
So, Stanford beat USC on the road ... Stanford's only loss is on the road to a team ranked above USC ... and Stanford is ranked below USC. Got it.
Take a look at this schedule, and tell me Sconny couldn't be mediocre all season and still go 10-2. Big Ten, baby.
BYU was fortunate to come away with wins the first two weeks, but its luck ran out against UCLA, as you could argue the Cougars outplayed the Bruins in a one-point loss. You have to wonder how good BYU might be had starting quarterback Taysom Hill not gone down in the season opener. I would argue the Cougars should still be in the top 20 regardless.
24. Oklahoma State
Hard to assess the Cowboys at this point, so we'll reserve judgment until they travel to Texas this weekend.