1. Alabama W 52-0 at Arkansas: This is actually getting a little bit old right now. This defense is ridiculously good, to the point it’s unfair. They’re the team that in pop warner all the other moms are afraid of their boys playing against because nothing will happen but hurt feelings and broken bodies. The fact that Arkansas pretty much quit helped their cause, but Alabama didn’t need much. They get Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss at home in the next two weeks. By the time the calendar turns to October, Alabama may not have even allowed 21 points on the season, total.
2. LSU– W 63-14 vs Idaho: LSUs litany of early season tests continued with a cakewalk over the Vandals of Idaho. Three games in, the Tigers have outscored opponents 145-31. That’s pretty much 50-10 every week. The schedule gets a bit tougher next week, as finally LSU leaves the confines of Tiger Stadium and heads to Auburn. But let’s be real here, Auburn doesn’t exactly promise to offer much of a challenge either. The October 6th date in Gainesville is the one the Tigers really have circled.
3. USC– L 21-14 at Stanford: Some would say the phrase, all style, no substance, accurately defines the USC football team, and Saturday nights loss at Stanford would seem to back that up. The Trojans were punched in the mouth, repeatedly, and could do absolutely nothing to punch back. After allowing just eight sacks all season in 2011, Matt Barkley went down five times at the hands of the Stanford defense while the Trojans only mustered 280 yards of offense. The absence of All-American center Khaled Holmes was perhaps a bit underrated, as the Stanford defense completely baffled Barkley, and in doing so pretty much derailed his Heisman campaign.
4. Oregon– W 63-14 vs Tennessee Tech: The Ducks continue to walk over inferior competition like they’re the only team on the field, and Saturday was no different. Things will get a bit more interesting next week though when a surprising Arizona team comes to Eugene. The Ducks however have won four straight over Arizona, averaging over 500 yards and 50 points a game in doing so.
5. Florida State– @ vs Wake Forest 52-0: I keep hearing that Florida State hasn’t played anybody and this makes them overhyped. I’m sorry, I’m not buying that, not one bit of it. You look around the country and you see mid major teams, even FCS teams, taking on BCS conference teams and giving them fits, if not beating them. Florida State has opened the season by outscoring opponents 176-3. I really don’t care who you’ve played, when you do that, you’re doing something. The Seminoles had struggled recently with Wake Forest, losing four of their last six meetings their former whipping boy. Order appeared to be restored with their shellacking issued Saturday afternoon. With Army and Duke at home in the next two weeks, Wake Forest should get their season back on track and put them in a position to return to a bowl game. For Florida State the biggest game of the year in the ACC will be next Saturday when defending conference champion Clemson pays a visit to Doak Campbell Stadium in Florida State’s biggest home game in almost ten years.
6. West Virginia– W 42-12 vs James Madison: With the struggles of Matt Barkley and Denard Robinson, Geno Smith suddenly finds himself a very strong candidate to be invited to New York at seasons end, and potentially hold up the Heisman trophy. The Mountaineers are serving notice to the Big 12 that they’re going to have a say in who wins the conference, and they might be having a say in who wins the national championship. Two home games against Maryland and Baylor await before they truly make their arrival in the Big 12 with a vist to Austin to play Texas.
7. Michigan State– L 20-3 vs #16 Notre Dame: Perhaps no team was more disappointing than the Spartans this weekend. The offense was absolutely anemic, and what was left as the last hope in the Big 10 was completely dominated at home by Notre Dame. The overall weakness of the Big Ten still means a Rose Bowl bid is still an attainable goal for Mark Dantonio’s squad, but dreams of anything bigger have been squashed. Andrew Maxwell has struggled mightily at quarterback, and you have to wonder if at some point the team gets handed over to redshirt freshmen Connor Cook, or highly touted true freshmen Tyler O’Connor. Michigan State’s defense is good enough alone to carry this team to a conference championship, but a little offense wouldn’t hurt. This will be particularly vital when Ohio State comes to visit in two weeks.
8. Georgia– W vs Florida Atlantic 56-20: The defense had its share of issues in the first half, much like it did in Georgia’s first two games against Buffalo and Missouri. However, it eventually settled down and began to play to the level Georgia fans expect. The offense was never a problem, and Georgia rolls into its second SEC game against Vanderbilt full of confidence. The Vanderbilt game marks the last that Georgia will be without Alex Ogletree and Baccari Rambo. Georgia should get through the suspension marred first quarter of the season without a blemish, and be ready to go for the seasons final eight games. By the way, for Florida Atlantic, they play at Alabama next week. Ouch.
9. Oklahoma– Bye
10. Ohio State– W 35-28 vs California: The Buckeyes squandered a double digit lead, but still managed to rally late and overcome a stubborn California team Saturday. Braxton Miller is the real deal, and the Buckeyes are quickly erasing the stench from last years 6-7 season. If not for the NCAA troubles, this would be a team peeking into the national championship picture. California played gamely, but lost for the second time in three games, both by just seven points. With a trip to USC next week, Jeff Tedford’s team may be in serious trouble. With a 12-13 record the last two years, there may be some whispers that Tedford’s time in Berkley has run its course.
11. Clemson– W 41-7 vs Furman: The Tigers managed to accomplish their first goal of the season, get to the Florida State game without a loss. Next up for Clemson will be eight straight ACC games, beginning with the huge showdown against Florida State. The offensive firepower from Clemson is unquestioned, but Florida State’s defense is a different animal. Andre Ellington has been averaging six yards per carry, but don’t expect that to continue next week.
12. Texas– W at Ole Miss 66-31: Texas entered the year expecting to ride their defense to a return to prominence, but Saturday night it was the offense that took control. The Longhorns racked up 676 yards while David Ash threw four touchdown passes, as many as he threw all of last season. While the defense allowed Ole Miss almost 400 yards, most were rather empty yards as the game itself was decided early in the first half. Texas gets a week off, then in succession will take on the three biggest threats to their Big 12 title hopes with Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas looming. Ole Miss suffered their first loss of the season, and the defense is the culprit. Offensively the Rebels are solid, but the defense may in fact be even worse than it was a year ago when it allowed over 400 yards of total offense per game, including 225 a game on the ground. They allowed 350 to Texas Saturday night, which remarkably, would have only been the third highest total put out against them a year ago.
13. Kansas State– W 35-21 vs North Texas: Perhaps Kansas State was looking ahead to next week, and who can blame them. After having outscored Missouri State and Miami 103-22 in their first two games, one can understand why Kansas State may have been peeking around the corner to their trip to Norman, Oklahoma next week. Collin Klein completed 15 of his 20 passes against North Texas, and he’s completed 72% of his passes on the year while also rushing for 210 yards and four scores this season. Geno Smith and Landry Jones may grab the headlines in the Big 12, but Klein is serving notice he belongs in that group. He gets a chance to really prove it next week.
14. South Carolina– W vs UAB 49-6: Can you really lose six starters on defense and come back even better? South Carolina seems to think so. They’ve allowed just two offensive touchdowns in three games, and just 29 points total. That said, they haven’t been tested by a decent offense yet, but that is about to change. Missouri will be in Columbia, South Carolina’s Columbia, next week and they’ll bring the best offense that South Carolina will have seen thus far. Connor Shaw re-injured his shoulder, and obviously concerns are rising about his availability. Dylan Thompson though has given Gamecock fans reason to not worry too much about Shaw’s absence. On just five completions Thompson threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns against UAB.
15. Virginia Tech– L 35-17 at Pittsburgh: I had no real reason to pick against the Hokies last Saturday, just a gut feeling based on historically lethargic performances against weaker opponents on the road. The Hokies didn’t disappoint. Can we please stop with the Cam Newton comparisons for Logan Thomas? In two games against FBS teams, the Hokies have scored 37 points, total, and Thomas played poorly in both games. He went just 14/31 against Pittsburgh with three interceptions. Granted, the running game didn’t help him any, only able to get 59 yards on 26 carries, but if Thomas were as good as some delusional people make him out to be, he’d find a way to make something out of it. For Pittsburgh, freshmen Rushel Shell proved the perfect compliment to Ray Graham, and proved to be as good as advertised, piling up 157 yards against the vaunted Hokies defense. Pittsburgh needs to look no further than the 2010 Hokies for inspiration on how to overcome an 0-2 start with a loss to an FCS school and still salvage your season.
16. Notre Dame– W 20-3 at #7 Michigan State: While Stanfords win over USC was extremely impressive, the most impressive of the day may very well belong to the Fighting Irish. The Irish still have offensive problems, though Michigan State’s defense will make most anyone look offensively challenged, but their defense was outstanding. They limited the Spartans to only 237 yards of offense, and just 50 on the ground. It’s doubtful they will be able to shut down Michigan in the same fashion next week, so they’re going to need the offense to stop up, especially quarterback Everett Golson.
17. Louisville– W 39-34 vs North Carolina: For the third straight game the Cardinals scored at least 32 points, but this time the defense showed some holes previously unseen. Despite holding a 32-7 halftime lead, Louisville was forced to hang on for dear life as Bryn Renner threw five touchdowns to go with his 363 yards as North Carolina’s furious second half comeback nearly was completed. Even still, one bad defensive half out of the seasons first three games is about all Louisville fans can complain about right now. If you don’t know who Teddy Bridgewater is, make yourself aware.
18. Tennessee– L 37-20 vs #22 Florida: So all the talk about all the experience returning for Tennessee and how this year was the team that was going to mark the return of Tennessee football looks a bit premature. The simple fact of the matter is Tennessee just isn’t as good as they used to be, and whether that’s coaching or the players remains to be seen. We’ll likely find out soon though. This was a must win game for Tennessee, and this was Tennessee’s best chance to get back into contention for an SEC East title. Unless they find a way to win games in Athens and Columbia, those dreams appear to be dashed. I don’t think Dooley can survive another five loss season, and with those two aforementioned games, as well as a trip to Mississippi State and a visit from Alabama, five losses could be a very real possibility.
19. Boise State– W 39-12 vs Miami Ohio: Boise bounced back from the season opening loss two weeks ago against Michigan State, but it’s clear that with Kellen Moore no longer at the helm, it’s not the same Broncos offense. Defensively, they’re still extremely stout, despite only having two starters back from the 2011 team. Boise has lost more than once in a season just two times in the past ten years, but next Thursday night’s visit from BYU could mark the first time that’s happened since 2007.
20. TCU– W 20-6 at Kansas- The Horned Frogs didn’t light up the scoreboards and blow Kansas completely out of the water, but they were convincing enough. Four turnovers were costly for TCU, as the 20 points weren’t very indicative of the nearly 500 yards of offense they racked up. The schedule sets itself up for TCU so that they face the Big 12s chief contenders in their final five games of the season, meaning a run to 7-0 and potential top ten ranking seems very reasonable. After allowing 43.8 points per game a year ago, and few than 24 only once, Kansas has allowed just 20 per game in their first three games this season. This marked improvement might every well leave them flirting with bowl eligibility before the season is over.
21. Mississippi State– W 30-24 at Troy: Mississippi State didn’t play their best game of the year, but it was good enough to beat a team from what has become the pesky Sunbelt Conference. Tyler Russell was off most of the night, and the defense was nothing short of atrocious for the Bulldogs, but four Troy turnovers enabled the Bulldogs to get out of Troy with a 3-0 record. With South Alabama and Kentucky their next two games, Mississippi State should be 5-0 before Tennessee visits, and well on their way to a third straight bowl game.
22. Florida– W 37-20 at #18 Tennessee: The defense came to play, and the running game came alive for the Gators, who once again reminded Tennessee that they’re still a second rate program in the SEC East. The 20 points scored by Tennessee were the most scored against Florida on the young season, but the Gators defense dominated the second half. Offensively, there 37 points were more than they’ve scored in any SEC game against a team not named Kentucky or Vanderbilt since putting 41 on Georgia in 2009. Speaking of Kentucky, they get the Wildcats at home next weekend, so Florida should be at 4-0 when they host LSU and find out just how good they really are.
23. Georgia Tech– W 56-20 vs Virginia: If there were questions about the offense after the Virginia Tech game, they seem to have been answered in the past two weeks. Tech has scored 115 points in the last two games as they’ve bounced back quite nicely from the season opening loss to the Hokies. Defensively the Jackets have been solid as well, allowing less than 15 points per game through their first three games. Miami comes to Bobby Dodd stadium next week, and while the Hurricanes are struggling this year, they’ve had Tech’s number the past three seasons, holding Georgia Tech to just 34 points in the three games combined. Mike London’s Virginia squad looked completely overmatched by Georgia Tech, and its becoming more and more apparent that they were fortunate to be 8-5 a year ago. Going to TCU next week doesn’t inspire much hope either.
24. UCLA– W 37-6 vs Houston: There’s a team in Los Angeles that is 3-0, and hasn’t scored less than 36 points in a game this season. And they don’t wear maroon and gold. UCLA is off to a quick start under Jim Mora, and by avoiding Oregon from the north division this year, is in a position to repeat as the representative of the Pac 12 South in the Pac 12 championship game. The Bruins are playing well in all phases of the game, and should be 5-0 before traveling to California on the first weekend of October.
25. South Florida– L 23-13 vs Rutgers: The troubles with home conference games continued for Skip Holtz and South Florida as the Bulls offense couldn’t get anything going against Rutgers and saw their Big East title hopes take a huge early hit. The Bulls had no answer for the ball hawking Rutgers secondary, or running back Jawan Jamison. They should get back on track with a win against Ball State this week, but what could have been a huge showdown with Florida State in two weeks suddenly goes from a must see game, to a feared blowout.
Stanford– W 21-14 vs USC: What do good fundamentals, toughness, and a great defense get you? A fourth consecutive victory over USC and a message to the rest of the conference that you were more than just Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck. Stanford gets a week off before a Thursday trip to Seattle to play Washington, a team they’ve outscored 106-21 in the last two meetings.
Arizona State– L 24-20 at Missouri: The Sun Devils nearly overcame a slow start and almost erased a fourth quarter deficit on the road against Missouri in what could have been a very early defning win for Todd Graham. Instead, the Sun Devils dropped to 2-1. After converting just 2/13 third down conversions and turning the ball over four times, the offense that looked so explsoive against Illinois the week prior seemed much more grounded. While expectations weren’t overly high in Tempe, the 2-0 start elevated them perhaps a bit much. Now more tempered, the Sun Devils will being their conference slate with a big home game against Utah. Arizona State hasn’t won a bowl game since 2005, and if that trend is to change, they’re going to need to win a couple games they probably shouldn’t. They blew that opportunity against Missouri, but get another one Satuday night. Missouri on the other hand absolutely had to come away with a victory after getting beat by 21 points at home the week prior. Two tough road games now await the Tigers with South Carolina and Central Florida on the horizon. A loss to Arizona State could have potentially been crippling to Missouri’s quest for an 8th straight winning season. While it’s still not going to be easy, a 1-2 start would have certainly spelled the end of that. With South Carolina on the road this week, Missouri gets another chance to make a good impression on the SEC. But don’t bet on it.
Nebraska– W 42-13 vs Arkansas State: Nebraska recovered nicely against Arkansas State in the first of three consecutive home games the Huskers will play. The big story of course is the health of Bo Pelini who was taken in an ambulance from the stadium. While his presence, or lack of it, may not make a difference against Idaho State this week, in two weeks when Wisconsin visits Lincoln in a game Nebraska circled from day one this year, it’s going to take on much, much more importance.
Baylor– W 48-23 vs Sam Houston State: Despite trailing at the half, Baylor cruised in the second half for their second win in as many games. Despite no Kenall Wright or Robert Griffin III, the Bears have still scored 107 points in their first two games. Friday night’s trip to Monroe to take Louisiana Monroe may actually be their stiffest test to date.
Arizona– W 56-0 vs South Carolina State: Rich Rodriguez has gotten Arizona off to a 3-0 start that is among the more surprising in the country. After winning with defense over Toledo, the Wildcats have put 114 points on the board in their last two games. The Wildcats though may be brought back to earth this week as they travel to Eugene, where they’ve lost 8 of 9 to Oregon.
Rutgers– W 23-13 at #25 South Florida: The offense has’t exactly been pretty for Kyle Flood’s team, but Jawan Jamison is doing just enough carrying the football to enable a nasty defense to lead Rutgers to a 3-0 start. The Scarlet Knights have allowed just 25 points in three games. Linebacker Khaseem Greene, as well as corner backs Logan Ryan and Brandon Jones helped completely baffle potential Big East Player of the Year B.J. Daniels in last Thursday nights victory. Next up is a trip to SEC country where they’re getting an Arkansas squad that nobody has a clue what to make of at the moment. If Rutgers can get a victory there, there’s no reason they aren’t 9-0 before making a trip to Cincinnati to begin a three game stretch with Big East favorites to end the season.
Northwestern– W 22-13 vs Boston College: Quick, how many bowl eligible teams in the Big Ten are currently unbeaten. If you said two, you’re correct. But if you know which two, points for you. Northwestern joins Minnesota in the ranks of the 3-0 crowd, but their three wins have been a bit more impressive. They’ve beaten a Big East, SEC, and ACC team along the way, and while none of the three have been pretty, anyone in Evanston will tell you they’re thrilled to be 3-0. The schedule doesn’t get any tougher over the next month either, so there is a very good chance Northwestern sneaks up to 7-0 before the schedule picks back up.
Arkansas– L 52-0 vs #1 Alabama: Does it get any worse than this? Losing at home to Louisiana Monroe, then getting beat 52-0, also at home? I guess it does when accusations start flying around that the team essentially quit. If so, that bodes terribly for the Razorbacks, as they welcome in Rutgers next week before embarking on back to back road games against Texas A&M and Auburn. The possibility that Arkansas starts off 1-5 has suddenly become very real, and I don’t think there’s a Falcon fan alive bothered by this.
Speaking of the next few Razorback opponents, Auburn needed a missed field goal to survive the same Lousiana Monroe squad in overtime, and cannot be feeling good about themselves as they get ready to take on LSU. Texas A&M on the other hand got an easy 48-3 win over SMU after the disapponting blown lead the week prior against Florida. But while Auburn was struggling with a Sun Belt opponent, Kentucky was just simply losing to one, falling 32-31 to Western Kentucky at home.
The lack of offense nearly caught up with Wisconsin again, needing to survive a missed Utah State field goal in the closing seconds to avoid falling to 1-2. For the Aggies, it was nearly a second straight win over a high profile opponent. Penn State finally got of schnide with an easy victory over a very disappointing Navy team, while Indiana had a chance to join the unlikely due of Northwestern and Minnesota at 3-0, but allowed Ball State to gain 44 yards in the games final 49 seconds to kick a 42 yard field goal to win 41-39.
We know Oklahoma State can score, they’ve scored 188 points in three games, but can they stop anyone? They better hope they figure something out during their off week before hosting Texas. In Lubbock, it’s the same old story at Texas Tech, play a weak non conference schedule, pad the offensive stats, and sit at 3-0, having outscored foes by an average of 50-10. They too get a week off before taking on a suprising 3-0 Iowa State team. The Cyclones are only giving up 10 points per game, and have victories over Tulsa and Iowa to their credit.
Disappointment continues to abound in the ACC, as Boston College, North Carolina, and Maryland all lost to out of conference teams over the weekend. Two such losses came to Big East teams, including Maryland’s 24-21 defeat at the hands of Connecticut. The good news though is that Duke and Miami both won, over North Carolina Central and Bethune Cookman.
No Jordan Wynn, no problem for Utah who bounced back very well from their shocking defeat at Utah State by upending BYU on homecoming. It’s not going to be much easier for BYU either as they travel to take on Boise State on the road, and the Broncos are 64-2 at home since 2001. In terms of though the division one program that has most embarrassed itself, that honory easily goes to Colorado who allowed over 500 yards of offense to Fresno State, in the FIRST HALF. The Buffaloes fell to 0-3 after the 69-14 flop, and have allowed 34 or more points in 11 of their last 13 road games. The Colorado game with Washington State this weekend might officially be the worst ever football game between two teams in a BCS conference. Just be lucky neither of these teams plays New Mexico this year. The Lobos lost 49-0 to Texas Tech, and in their two games against FBS teams have been outscored 94-0. It was the fifth time in nine games they’ve been shut out AND allowed at least 42 points.
Southern Miss was expected to be the strongest competition for Central Florida (2-1) in the eastern division of Conference USA, but a second straight poor offensive showing by the Golden Eagles leaves them at 0-2 following a 24-14 lost at home to East Carolina. The joke that has become the Memphis Tigers continues to just get more humorous. A home loss to Middle Tennessee State dropped them to 0-3, and a fourth straight double digit loss season seems a foregone conclusion. Remember when Houston was 12-0 last season? Neither do we. They lost their third straight to open the season when UCLA pummelled them 37-6.
Toledo may only have returned eight starters, but at 2-1 following their 27-15 win over Bowling Green, folks in the MAC might start taking them pretty seriously. That overtime loss to Arizona to start the year looks better and better by the week. Ohio keeps their BCS dreams afloat after beating Marshall 27-24. No, it wasn’t super impressive, but it was a win, and that’s what they need to keep doing. Congratulations are also in order to Terry Bowden, who’s Akron team gave him his first win at the FBS level in 15 years. He gets his first SEC game in that same time frame next week in Knoxville, and that one could get ugly.
It’s probably not easy to find them on television, but if you can, you need to watch Louisiana Tech. Back to back 56 point showings by the offense and the Bulldogs are 2-0. If they can somehow get a couple wins on the road against Illinois and Virginia in the coming two weeks, they could make a run for an unbeaten season. In addition to Utah State and Lousiana Tech impressing, the WAC, which is on its last legs as a fledgling conference has a third team who has shown up and some damage. Remember when Stanford “only” beat San Jose State 20-17? Well, that Stanford team is better than we thought, and so too is perhaps the San Jose State squad. A 40-20 victory over Colorado State has the Spartans at 2-1 with a critical non conference game against San Diego State looming.
And one last shout out to the Sun Belt. Troy gave Mississippi State everything they wanted, ULM clearly did the same with Auburn, Western Kentucky upset Kentucky, and Florida Atlantic made the Georgia defense sweat in the first half in solid showings against the SEC. But it didn’t stop there. Florida International was not a pushover in their loss to Central Florida, and North Texas had Kansas State fans pacing back and forth until well into the 4th quarter. Not a bad day at all.
New Top 25
4. Florida State
5. West Virginia
8. Ohio State