With the return of Big Ten football, we get a more diverse and overall talented college football top 25 ranking for Week 3. The return of the second most talented conference in college football means we get a new team at number two, with three total teams in the top 10, and five total representatives. Along with the inclusion of the Big Ten this week, we saw some impressive and not-so-impressive performance from teams in the top 25 last week. How do the teams stack up this week?
College Football Top 25 Rankings – Week 3
1. Clemson Tigers
Clemson did nothing to affect their ranking as the top team in the nation after routing The Citadel 49-0 behind a dominant 8-for-9, 168 yard, and three-touchdown performance by expected number one pick Trevor Lawrence. Clemson will continue to be ranked as the best team in the nation until another team can prove otherwise. Judging by their schedule, that won’t be until the College Football Playoffs.
Last Week: #1 (No Move)
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes were omitted from last week’s rankings because the Big Ten was not expected to participate in the 2020 season at the time. However, a recent vote has changed the future and the Buckeyes are expected to take the field on October 24th. The Buckeyes played a great game against Clemson last season in the college football playoffs, and many will tell you they should’ve won if not for poor officiating.
Last Week: Unranked (+24)
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
While Alabama didn’t play a poor game to move down a spot, the addition of Ohio State to the list inadvertently moves them out of the second spot. The biggest separation between the two teams is their talent on offense. More specifically, the person playing quarterback. Alabama does not have a set starting quarterback for the season while Ohio State has Heisman candidate Justin Fields behind center.
Last Week: #2 (-1)
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Like Alabama, Oklahoma didn’t do anything to affect their ranking, but they still fall one spot. Oklahoma is at the pinnacle of the Big-12 and it would take a catastrophe for the program if they missed the College Football Playoffs. True sophomore Spencer Rattler looks as good as the hype, and the defense played much better than you’d expect in their first game. A competent defense could mean everything to a team that has been unable to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
Last Week: #3 (-1)
5. LSU Tigers
The SEC doesn’t play its first game until next weekend, so LSU still remains the conference undisputed champion. However, the team underwent great turnover this off-season, and they will look drastically different than they did last year. Can Myles Brennan come close to filling the void left by Joe Burrow? Can Terrace Marshall become the team’s true WR1? We’re left asking these questions and more, and won’t know until the team takes the field for the first time.
Last Week: #4 (-1)
6. Penn State Nittany Lions
Since James Franklin took over as the Penn State head coach, the team has been one of the most consistently good teams in the nation, but they’ve never been able to break into that “elite” tier. The team will have a dominant pass rush this year with the edge duo of Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh, and their offense is returning almost all their starters.
Last Week: Unranked (+20)
7. Florida Gators
Like with LSU, we don’t know what we’ll get from Florida until they take the field. However, the Gators — for the first time since Tim Tebow — have arguably the best quarterback in the conference. If the defense can recover from the players they lost to the NFL, they could compete for the SEC title.
Last Week: #5 (-2)
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers
I was hesitant to place Minnesota so highly, but with the report that Gopher’s receiver Rashod Bateman is attempting to return to the team, I’m all in. Head Coach P.J. Fleck has the team “rowing the boat” and they were one of the biggest surprises of the season last year. Tanner Morgan is a smooth QB who takes care of the football and he’ll be throwing to arguably the best receiver in the nation. Minnesota is also as competitive as it gets in the trenches, expect some ugly games.
Last Week: Unranked (+18)
9. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia already lost expected starting quarterback Jamie Newman as he opted out of the season. Now reports have surfaced that USC transfer J.T. Daniels will not start in their first game against Arkansas. Georgia currently has a lot of questions on offense, with the only sure thing being WR George Pickens, who might be the most talented pass catcher in the country. Expect the defense to be the strength of the team.
Last Week: #6 (-3)
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame technically falls in the college football top 25 rankings for Week 3, but Irish fans should look at their ranking as an improvement. They moved over Oklahoma State this week, as Notre Dame dominated South Florida 52-0. Ian Book displayed his ability as a threat both in the air and on the ground. The Irish defense has been lights out so far this season.
Last Week: #8 (-2)
11. Texas Longhorns
Texas routed UTEP in their season opener but didn’t have a Week 3 match-up. They take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders next weekend. However Texas Tech was barely able to defeat the Houston Baptist Huskies last week 35-33, so don’t expect a competitive match. This is exactly the kind of schedule Texas needed to build some momentum before they take on Oklahoma on October 10th.
Last Week: #9 (-2)
12. Auburn Tigers
Auburn has maybe the most to answer of any SEC hopefuls. They have to replace their three best defenders, and that’s never an easy task. We may see a shift in philosophy as the Tigers seem better suited to win shoot-outs than tough out low scoring affairs. Whatever the game-plan, the Tigers’ success depends on the performance of sophomore QB Bo Nix.
Last Week: 10 (-2)
13. Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers lost their top running back and receiver last season, but Nakia Watson is a fun rusher that will be the focal point of the Badgers rushing attack. Expect Wisconsin to continue dominating teams on the ground while playing strong defense. They’re good enough to compete with good teams but not good enough to consistently beat any.
Last Week: Unranked (+13)
14. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State won this week, but it was an ugly win. They were dominated in the trenches by Tulsa, of all teams. The score of the game was a pathetic 16-7, but in the defense of the Cowboys, they lost starting quarterback Spender Sanders after just two pass attempts. Sanders is vital to the success of OSU, and if he’s forced to miss games it would be cataclysmic for the Cowboys in a short season.
Last Week: #7 (-7)
15. Texas A&M Aggies
Some analysts still believe Kellen Mond could be the quarterback to lead Texas A&M to its first competitive season in years. After back to back brutal schedules, Mond and the Aggies are in a good position to be a surprise team in the SEC. However, they still simply don’t have the talent to compete with teams like Alabama and LSU.
Last Week: 11 (-4)
16. UNC Tarheels
The Tarheels came out flat in the first half against Syracuse, and they have a game coming up against a Boston College team that surprised a lot of people this weekend. After the trip to Boston, they take on Virginia Tech. Life won’t be easy for sophomore quarterback Sam Howell. However, UNC is the favorite to face Clemson in the ACC championship for a reason. The explosive offense is one of the best in the country, and Mack Brown has completely turned the program around.
Last Week: 12 (-4)
17. Memphis Tigers
Memphis didn’t have a game this weekend, but they should be concerned. UCF played a great game, and the Knights are a threat to Memphis in the AAC. Memphis also has a huge game on October 3rd when they take on the dangerous passing attack of SMU. Will Memphis remain the top Group of Five team?
Last Week: 13 (-4)
18. Cincinnati Bearcats
Similar to Memphis, the Bearcats should be keeping a close eye on UCF. The Knights could be looking towards a return to the top. Cincinnati is currently the favorite to challenge Memphis, but they can’t overlook any of the other top teams in the conference. Expect the AAC to be one of the most hotly contested conferences in the country.
Last Week: 14 (-4)
19. Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh might have the best defensive line in the nation, and that’s without star defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman. Kenny Pickett has taken massive strides as a passer, and Paris Ford has an argument as the best safety in the nation. The team is exciting and could be the second-best team in the ACC.
Last Week: 15 (-4)
20. UCF Knights
UCF dominated an improved Georgia Tech team 49-21 this weekend. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel was sensational throwing for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, and rushing for another 30. The secondary is talented, but I do have some questions about the team’s ability to rush the passer. Can the Knights return to the top of the AAC?
Last Week: 16 (-4)
21. Michigan Wolverines
I’m very low on Michigan going into the season. Their expected starting quarterback has opted out of the season and is seeking a transfer. Their new projected starter, Joe Milton, completed less than 50% of his passes in high school. They also lost their top cover corner to an opt-out and their top pass rusher is still deciding on his future this season. It’s unlikely Michigan competes in the Big Ten in 2020.
Last Week: Unranked (+4)
22. Mississippi State Bulldogs
As is the same for the rest of the conference, Mississippi State is a bit of an enigma for the season. They upgraded at quarterback and head coach, which means the team should be improved. The Bulldogs will be one of the top offenses in the nation under Mike Leach, and running back Kylin Hill should be featured as both a great rusher and receiver.
Last Week: 17 (-5)
23. Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech still won’t play its first game until next weekend. Questions at quarterback keep them low on the list but expect that defense to be nasty. They lost their top cornerback, but their secondary is always one of the best in the nation. Expect a Jermaine Waller coming out party, as he develops into one of the best cover corners in college football.
Last Week: 18 (-5)
24. Baylor Bears
Can Dave Aranda continue to build on the foundation set by Matt Rhule at Baylor? That will be the biggest storyline for the Bears season. Their ceiling is severely limited after losing a number of starters from last season, as well as possessing a below-average starting quarterback. Don’t expect the same magic we saw from the Big-12 runner up’s last year.
Last Week: 20(-4)
25. Miami Hurricanes
D’Eriq King and company had a dominant performance on offense. The explosive Louisville offense did some damage against the Hurricanes secondary, but The U was able to hold out and put more points on the board. I’m still a doubter, but it’s good to see Miami 2-0 to start the season as they move into our college football top 25 rankings for Week 3. Brevin Jordan could be the best tight end in the nation.
Last Week: Unranked (+1)