Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) passes the ball against Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb. (Rebecca S. Gratz, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — As far as the games that featured Top 25 teams go, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in Week 3.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any, but it was a relatively chalk weekend for ranked teams, except for a group of teams locked into the middle of the consensus Associated Press Top 25 poll. Michigan State, BYU and Miami all found themselves on the losing end of their matchups; and outside of BYU, the other two have fallen out of my Top 25.
There’s still a lot to be learned about teams, but this week I did a bit of an overhaul of my rankings to slate teams better now that I’ve seen three games. Are they perfect? Probably not, but I’m sure many will be quick to point out my ballot’s flaws, so here we go …
Here’s the ballot I submitted to the Associated Press that will be counted toward the official consensus poll released later today.
There’s not much to say about a Georgia team that is a class above the rest in the country. The Bulldogs made quick work of South Carolina and got an extra boost in their perception after Oregon beat BYU at home — winning twice in a one-week period.
2. Ohio State
I still believe Ohio State is a more complete team than Alabama three weeks into the season. Can that change quickly? Sure, but for now I’m going with the Buckeyes. A 77-21 rout over Toledo doesn’t really say much other than C.J. Stroud and his offense can put points on the board at a high rate.
After a near-death experience against Texas in Week 2, Alabama got back to work and took it out on UL Monroe. Once again, there’s not much to learn from a 63-7 win other than the Crimson Tide covered, so congrats for that.
I’ve long believed it was a three-team race at the top of the Top 25, but I’m starting to see an opening for some other teams, and Michigan certainly fits the bill right now. The Wolverines still haven’t played anybody that can truly test them, but they’re doing fine work through three weeks of play. The offense is putting up points and the defense is limiting them — what more can you ask for here?
New coach, no problem. It seems the Sooners didn’t need a lot of time to rebuild after Lincoln Riley and several players left the program to go elsewhere. On Saturday, Oklahoma looked like a dangerous team that could be a contender faster than believed. Sure, it was a 49-14 win over a Nebraska team with an interim head coach, but it looked so easy for the Sooners on Saturday. For now, Oklahoma takes over Clemson in my No. 5 spot.
Also passing up Clemson is offensive juggernaut USC. Maybe it’s fitting that Lincoln Riley follows his previous team in the rankings, but there’s one thing certain: USC can score with an arsenal of weapons around Caleb Williams. Fresno State offered up a decent test against the Trojans, but nothing is stopping this train for the time being.
This isn’t necessarily a knock on Clemson but more about the teams above the Tigers. Clemson got a solid 48-20 win over a decent Louisiana Tech team, but I want to see how they do with a bigger challenge. Next week offers a great opportunity when Clemson meets up with Wake Forest. It’s time to see what the Tigers are made of this season.
8. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys move down one spot in my rankings this week. Just like Clemson, though, it’s more about the teams above them than what Oklahoma State is doing. A 63-7 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff was solid and the Cowboys will be just fine.
On the surface, a 31-0 win over Youngstown State doesn’t seem worthy of moving Kentucky up in my rankings from the week before. This is one course correction that I’m making from last week’s ballot. I think the Wildcats are a solid team and need to be up higher in my rankings — hence the No. 9 spot in my ballot. We’ll see if the praise stays.
The Utes stay put in my ballot after a 35-7 win over San Diego State. The game was far less close than the score shows, but there’s still questions about Utah’s slow starts. But once Utah’s offense gets moving, they’re hard to stop when all facets of the game are functioning. This is still shaky ground for the Utes, but so far they’re doing just enough to stay put; they’ve outscored opponents 108-14 over the last two weeks.
Checking in: Kansas, Oregon, Texas, Washington
Typing out Kansas is something I didn’t think possible, but here we are. The Jayhawks are 3-0 and have wins over West Virginia and Houston, so not a terrible resume thus far. Also, Oregon and Washington are 100% deserving after their big wins over the weekend. And Texas is a course correction after their absence in my ballot last week.
Dropping out: Appalachian State, Kansas State, Miami, Michigan State
It’s pains me tremendously to move Appalachian State out of my Top 25 because I really like what they’re doing. And despite an entertaining Hail Mary conversion, I feel like there are teams with undefeated records — namely Kansas and Washington — that likely deserve to be there more. App State will be back again.
In consideration: Appalachian State, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Florida State, Iowa State, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Syracuse, Tulane, Washington State, Wisconsin
There’s a lot of worthy teams to consider right now, but it’s hard to get them all in the Top 25. But these 12 teams have a great trajectory and I will continue to monitor their progress as the season develops.
If you can’t see my full ballot below, click here.
Want to create your own Top 25 ballot, go create one with the KSL.com College Football Top 25 Fan Poll.