Three of this week’s ranked matchups went to the higher team in the poll, while Oklahoma stole the show with its two-touchdown romp over Ohio State in the Columbus. Clemson staved off an Auburn upset bid, but the Tigers have little time to bask in the win as their trip to Louisville will be the focal point of the college football world Saturday night.
1. Alabama (Last Week: 1)
The Tide handled Louisiana-Monroe as expected and should hang onto the top spot for a while, if not the duration of the season. I’m just not seeing true threats on the schedule. I suppose the Iron Bowl on the road will be their toughest test? You have to think Auburn will improve to some degree, but I don’t think you’re doubting Alabama in that one. LSU or Tennessee at home? Don’t hold your breath.
2. Oklahoma (Last Week: 5)
Baker Mayfield planted his flag - literally and figuratively - at the Horseshoe on Saturday night and established the Sooners as a true Playoff contender. Tough Big XII tests still remain, but a thorough road defeat of the Buckeyes is a solid bullet point on the resume. I probably wouldn’t have slotted the Sooners above Clemson, but you knew it was coming.
3. Clemson (Last Week: 3)
The Tigers turned in perhaps the best defensive performance of Brent Venables’ tenure (Saying something!) in holding Auburn to a paltry 117 total yards of total offense, including virtually nothing in the second half. The offense still has some kinks to work out, but Kelly Bryant showed the ability to perform well on a big stage. Clemson has perhaps its biggest test of the season Saturday night when it travels to Louisville to face the Cardinals in primetime.
4. USC (Last Week: 6)
The Trojans put to bed some of the doubts that emerged after their lackluster performance in the opening week with a dominant win over Stanford in which they outgained the Cardinal by nearly 300 yards. Sam Darnold shook off his two interceptions and threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns. USC may have found its groove with Texas coming to town for a likely beatdown this week.
5. Penn State (Last Week: 5)
Penn State didn’t roll over Pitt the way the 33-14 final score might suggest, but the Nittany Lions took care of business against their in-state rivals. Not surprising to see them jumped by a couple of teams that notched more significant wins. They get a gimme against Georgia State this week before an always interesting trip to Iowa.
6. Washington (Last Week: 7)
The Huskies finish up their three-game cakewalk to open the season as Fresno State travels to Seattle then travel to Colorado to open Pac 12 play.
7. Michigan (Last Week: 8)
The Wolverines still feel like a weak link in the top 10 as it took them far too long to put away lowly Cincinnati in Week 2.
8. Ohio State (Last Week: 2)
The concerns brought about by Indiana’s passing attack in the opening week were validated as Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma shredded the Buckeyes in an ugly 31-16 loss. J.T. Barrett continues to look like a shell of his former self, and Ohio State may now need to run the table in Big Ten play to feel comfortable about a chance at the Playoff. That seems like a tough task if they can’t make improvements ASAP.
9. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 11)
Really should be ahead of Ohio State and Michigan in my opinion. The Cowboys can make statements the next two weeks, as they travel to Pitt and host TCU. Mason Rudolph is averaging better than 300 yards passing per game, and there’s no reason to expect that to stop.
10. Wisconsin (Last Week: 9)
The Badgers have an interesting trip to BYU this week, although the Cougars don’t appear to be as formidable as years past. Sconny gets a bye week after that before a stretch of nine straight Big Ten games.
11. Florida State (Last Week: 10)
It’s been a bizarre start to the season for the Seminoles, as they will now have a second straight game cancelled or postponed due to a hurricane since their season-opening loss to Alabama. It’s hard to break in a new quarterback when you never actually get to take the field.
12. LSU (Last Week: 12)
Coach O and the boys have a tricky road trip to Mississippi State this week where we will learn a lot about both teams. If the Tigers are going to be a player in the SEC West, that’s a game they need to get.
13. Georgia (Last Week: 15)
It’s nice to see the voters not overreact to a win over Notre Dame the way they have before. Remember when Texas was “back” last year because it beat the Irish, and then it ended up just being a 5-7 team beating a 4-8 team? We still don’t know much about the Bulldogs, especially with Jake Fromm under center, and we may not have a great idea until a few games into SEC play.
14. Louisville (Last Week: 17)
Lamar Jackson has started out 2017 on a tear and is averaging 500 total yards and four touchdowns a game. This week the Cardinals take on a Clemson defense that is yet to allow a single touchdown this season. Something’s gotta give in what may prove to be the most important ACC Atlantic game of the season.
15. Auburn (Last Week: 13)
Auburn didn’t take too hard a hit in the poll after its close, albeit ugly, loss in Death Valley. The Tigers’ defense certainly looked the part, but they need to take a long hard look at what they are doing offensively if they want to be a factor in the SEC this season. Upcoming games against Mercer and Missouri should give them a chance to rebuild some confidence on that side of the ball.
16. Virginia Tech (Last Week: 18)
The Hokies didn’t overwhelm Delaware the way they might have hoped, but they still pitched a shutout. They have two more warm-up games before Clemson comes to town.
17. Miami (Last Week: 16)
The Hurricanes are in the same boat as Florida State and will miss a second straight game due to weather.
18. Kansas State (Last Week: 19)
K-State has posted 55 points in back-to-back games, but a trip to face a stout Vanderbilt defense should provide a much stiffer test and give us a better look at the Wildcats.
19. Stanford (Last Week: 14)
Normally reliable on defense, Stanford allowed an embarrassing 623 yards of offense to Southern Cal on Saturday night. The Cardinal will have to bounce back quickly from that disaster if they want to have a chance to reassert themselves as a force in the Pac 12. Their remaining schedule certainly doesn’t lack for high-powered offenses...
20. TCU (Last Week: 23)
Lost in the shuffle of the higher-profile matchups of the weekend was TCU’s impressive three-touchdown win at Arkansas. If the Frogs can get by Chad Morris’ SMU squad this weekend, a huge road test awaits at Oklahoma State the following Saturday.
21. Washington State (Last Week: 20)
Fortune was on the Cougars’ side late Saturday night as an ill-advised throw that led to a pick-six helped Wazzu erase a 21-point fourth quarter deficit against Boise State en route to a triple-overtime victory. They shouldn’t see as much resistance in a home date with Oregon State.
22. South Florida (Last Week: 21)
You would think you could chalk USF’s home date with Illinois this week as an easy win, but the Bulls have not been quite the force we expected so far. We’ll see if they can get rolling.
23. Tennessee (Last Week: 25)
The only game outside of Clemson-Louisville that pits top-25 teams against each other is a Tennessee-Florida matchup that could be an early SEC East eliminator, considering neither team has looked great thus far.
24. Florida (Last Week: 22)
This will be the Gators’ first game with a full roster after a cancellation last week. Can they find a quarterback that can help them contend in the East?
25. UCLA (Last Week: NR)
The Bruins make their first appearance in the poll with an awkward 11 a.m. road game looming against Memphis - which has picked off a top-25 team at home each of the past two seasons.