The Week 3 schedule didn’t appear to be promising on paper, but it ended up being a fantastic weekend of college football.
Florida’s Hail Mary to beat Tennessee was the highlight of the week, but Saturday also included two impressive beatdowns from Clemson and Mississippi State, an incredible overtime finish with Texas and USC, and a surprising upset as Stanford lost to San Diego State.
Here are the six teams who just missed the cut this week for our rankings: TCU (3-0) Washington State (3-0), Miami (1-0), Oregon (3-0), San Diego State (3-0), South Florida (3-0).
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.
The Big 10
14. Mississippi State (NR)
The Bulldogs had the best performance of any team in college football last week. Dan Mullen’s team was a 7.5-point underdog, and they destroyed LSU 37-7 in Starkville. While Pick City called for the outright upset, and it wasn’t a total shock the Mississippi State won the game, it was very surprising how easily they dominated the Tigers. Nick Fitzgerald and the Bulldog offense were impressive, and the defense was spectacular in shutting down the LSU offense. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs as they travel to Georgia and Auburn in the next two weeks, but they look like the second best team in the SEC West so far this season. — Cole Frederick
13. Florida State (13)
Florida State has had two week off thanks to Hurricane Irma, which might benefit them as they are preparing freshman quarterback James Blackmon for his first career start Saturday against N.C. State.
12. Virginia Tech (14)
The Hokies improved to 3-0 on the season after blasting East Carolina 64-17 on the road for their first 3-0 start since 2011. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson continues to impress as he threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns on the day. Wide receiver Cam Phillips had a program record 14 catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns. The Hokies look to stay focused at home this week against Old Dominion before they welcome No. 2 Clemson to Blacksburg on Sept. 30 for a primetime showdown. — Lance Barton
11. Wisconsin (11)
Wisconsin finally put together a complete game as they easily handled BYU 40-6 on the road last week. They have the week off before a pivotal Big 10 West meeting with Northwestern next week.
10. Georgia (10)
Georgia’s 42-14 win over Samford served as a tune-up game before the Bulldogs welcome the other SEC Bulldogs on Saturday against Mississippi State.
9. Ohio State (9)
It was hard to gain anything from Ohio State’s 38-7 dismantling of Army, and they have another easy win over UNLV this Saturday to work on the offense.
8. Michigan (6)
The Wolverines were sluggish for the second straight week in a 29-13 win over Air Force, and the offense hasn’t looked good all season. Saturday’s contest at an improved Purdue team could be another challenging game if Michigan continues to struggle on offense.
7. Washington (8)
The Huskies haven’t been tested yet, but Saturday’s road game at Colorado could be a tricky spot.
6. USC (4)
A week after dominating Stanford, the Trojans were nearly upset by Texas at home. Sam Darnold did enough to lead USC to a 27-24 win, and the Trojans hit the road for a contest against a Cal team that is surprisingly 3-0.
5. Oklahoma State (5)
The Cowboys’ offense has put up video game numbers through the first three weeks of the season, and quarterback Mason Rudolph looks like a Heisman contender. It has been an impressive display of offensive firepower so far, but they have yet to play a quality opponent. That will change this week as they host a much-improved TCU team, and the Horned Frogs already notched an impressive victory on the road at Arkansas. TCU’s defense is one of the better defenses in the Big 12, so this matchup will be a good test for this Oklahoma State offense. — TJ Daugherty
Week 4 College Football Playoff Field
4. Penn State (5)
Penn State cruised to an easy 56-0 win over Georgia State, and the Nittany Lions will face their toughest test of the young season this Saturday as they travel to Iowa.
3. Oklahoma (3)
The Sooners were sloppy early against Tulane, but they still managed to cruise to a 56-14 victory. They open conference play this week against a struggling Baylor team.
2. Clemson (2) — three first place votes
Clemson’s 47-21 blowout win at Louisville served as a reminder to the college football world that the Tigers are here to stay under Dabo Swinney. They have the best defense in the country, and quarterback Kelly Bryant continues to improve. They look like the best team in the country right now, and they are the team to beat in the ACC. — Cole Frederick
1. Alabama (1) — four first place votes
Alabama took care of business Saturday against its second straight Mountain West opponent in a 41-23 win over Colorado State. Jalen Hurts accounted for over 350 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. The defense left some room for nitpicking by the Crimson Tide faithful, but frankly there’s not much to take away from this game. Alabama won’t have a legitimate test until their brutal stretch in November that includes LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. Until then, we should hold back any extreme takes on the Tide barring a key injury or an upset.