NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 3
The Alabama Crimson Tide put their hold on the No. 1 spot in the rankings on lockdown with its win over Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday. UCLA also made an emphatic statement with its 41-21 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln.
With all the action in the third week of college football completed, let's take a look at how the polls could look when they are released on Monday along with a brief analysis of each team's most recent play.
25: Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Cornhuskers took a 21-3 lead over the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, and it appeared that they had the game in the bag. But 38 unanswered points by the Bruins buried Nebraska in a game that ended up being a runaway for UCLA.
Even though Nebraska is still 2-1 on the year, there isn't much optimism surrounding this team, especially after the Cornhuskers struggled mightily in Week 1 against Wyoming, squeaking out a 37-34 win.
Nebraska faces South Dakota State next week in a game during which the Huskers will surely look to gain some confidence after a shaky start to the year.
24: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield exacted his revenge on TCU—a school that passed over Mayfield on the recruiting trail last year, per Nicholas Crimarco of Rant Sports—with a 20-10 win over the Horned Frogs on Thursday.
That upset win moved the Red Raiders to 3-0 on the season, making it seem as though head coach Kliff Kingsbury is poised to make a run at a Big 12 title in his first season in Lubbock.
Mayfield has 996 yards passing and eight touchdowns on the year, but he did throw his first three interceptions against the Horned Frogs.
The Red Raiders face Texas State in Week 4, a game that should be an easy win.
23: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
After losing in Week 2 to Michigan, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish needed a 21-point fourth quarter to bury the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 3.
Notre Dame struggled against Purdue, but ultimately won the game 31-24. Tommy Rees completed 20-of-33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
The Irish defense certainly hasn't lived up to the hype it got in the preseason, but against Purdue, Notre Dame limited its opponent to just 294 yards of total offense.
The Fighting Irish clearly have some kinks to workout unless they want to see a major step back from last season.
They face Michigan State in Week 4, in what will surely be a tough game.
22: Ole Miss Rebels
The Ole Miss Rebels furthered Texas' woes on Saturday, walking out of Austin with a 44-23 win and a 3-0 record.
The Rebels showed their ability to eat up yards on the ground against Texas' weak rush defense with 272 yards in the game, including 164 from running back Jeff Scott.
Top-ranked Alabama awaits the Rebels in Week 5, as Ole Miss has a bye in Week 4.
21: Baylor Bears
The Bears had a bye in Week 2, but nevertheless, Baylor has looked like one of the Big 12's best teams in the early-going.
In the first two games, the Bears put up 139 points and gave up just 16.
Granted, the Bears faced Wofford and Buffalo in their first two games and haven't faced any steep competition, but to look that good that early is still impressive.
Baylor faces Louisiana-Monroe in Week 4.
20: Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State put itself on the map on Saturday with a huge and controversial 32-20 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers at home.
The Sun Devils blew out Sacramento State in Week 1, 55-0, with the primary reason for the blowout being Sun Devils' passing attack, which ranked 10th in the country heading into the game against the Badgers.
Week 4 will be a huge opportunity for the Sun Devils, as they get set to take on Stanford.
19: Florida Gators
After losing to Miami in Week 2, the Gators had Week 3 off to make adjustments.
Now, they've got the Tennessee Volunteers coming up in Week 4.
Tennessee got ravaged by Oregon by a score of 59-14 in Week 3, so the Gators will look to pounce on a potentially vulnerable Volunteers squad.
The game will also be at Florida, so the Vols won't have their 100,000-strong crowd to support them.
The key for the Gators to get back on track in Week 4 will come down to Jeff Driskel and whether he can recover from a disastrous performance against the Hurricanes.
18: Washington Huskies
The Washington Huskies delivered Illinois their first loss of the season on Saturday, moving the Huskies record to 2-0.
Washington beat Boise State handily in Week 1, 38-6, so the Huskies have quietly put themselves among the elite teams in the Pac-12 so far this season.
The Huskies finish up their non-conference schedule in Week 4 against Idaho State and, therefore, should be poised to enter Pac-12 play at 3-0.
17: Northwestern Wildcats
Pat Fitzgerald is slowly but surely creating a Big Ten powerhouse in Chicago.
The Wildcats easily dispatched of Western Michigan on Saturday, 38-17, behind 158 yards rushing from Treyvon Green.
Northwestern ends its non-conference slate against the Maine Black Bears of the FCS in Week 4, and that means the Wildcats should be 4-0 heading into Big Ten play.
However, the Wildcats get Ohio State at home to start the conference season. That game is sure to be a good barometer of how good Fitzgerald's squad truly is.
16: Miami Hurricanes
The Miami Hurricanes had a bye in Week 3 after beating the Florida Gators in Week 2.
But that win over the Gators has people believing that this Miami team, led by running back Duke Johnson, is for real.
Behind Johnson's 245 yards rushing, the Hurricanes are 2-0 heading into Week 4 against Savannah State.
The Hurricanes don't start ACC play until Week 5 against Georgia Tech.
15: South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks took care of Vanderbilt on Saturday, 35-25, giving South Carolina a bounce-back win after falling to Georgia in Week 2.
Now, South Carolina has a chance to really get itself back on solid footing in Week 4 when it plays UCF.
Connor Shaw showed tons of improvement from his team's first two games, and he was vital in the team's win over the Commodores on Saturday, racking up 284 yards passing and three touchdowns.
South Carolina now stands at 2-1 this season with easily-winnable games in their next five contests.
14: UCLA Bruins
Following the tragic death of walk-on Nick Pasquale, the UCLA Bruins scored an emotional and emphatic win over Nebraska on Saturday, beating the Huskers 41-21.
Quarterback Brett Hundley led the Bruins, who at one point trailed 21-3 in the game, with 294 yards passing and three scores.
UCLA is looking impressive through its first two games and has winnable games in their next three matchups.
The next big game for UCLA is on Oct. 19, when the Bruins travel to Stanford.
13: Michigan Wolverines
In what could have been a hangover effect from the Wolverines' Week 2 win over Notre Dame, Michigan nearly fell to the Akron Zips on Saturday, as it took a four-down goal line stand on Saturday for the Wolverines to hold on for a 28-24 win.
Devin Gardner, in particular, struggled against Akron, throwing three interceptions and completing just 16-of-30 passing attempts.
However, a win is a win, and Michigan is undefeated this season at 3-0.
They face UConn in Week 4.
12: Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M fell in College Station to the country's best team on Saturday by a score of 42-35.
Despite the loss, Johnny Manziel and the Aggies still looked good, despite falling behind by as many as 21 points in the game against Alabama.
Manziel racked up 464 yards passing and another 98 yards rushing.
However, pollsters aren't too friendly to a team that loses. Expect the Aggies to drop a bit this week.
11: Oklahoma Sooners
With starting quarterback Trevor Knight sidelined with a bruised knee, Blake Bell got the nod on Saturday. And the "Belldozer" looked impressive against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, throwing for 413 yards and four touchdowns.
He also moved the offense in a way that the Sooners hadn't been able to do so under Knight thus far.
Now, with a trip to Notre Dame on Oklahoma's schedule in Week 4, Bob Stoops has a choice to make as to whether he should stick with Bell or implement Knight back at quarterback.
The Sooners will also be looking for revenge in Week 4 after losing to Notre Dame in 2012, 30-13, in Norman.
10: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State beat up on Lamar in Week 3, winning by a score of 59-3. J.W. Walsh kept his hold on the starting quarterback job as well, throwing for 181 yards and a score.
The Cowboys travel to West Virginia to start Big 12 play in Week 4, in what will surely be a great barometer of where Oklahoma State's defense is. Through the first three weeks, the Cowboys have only allowed 13.67 points per game.
However, they did allow 35 points to UTSA in Week 2.
The Cowboys were picked to win the Big 12 in the conference's preseason poll, and up through this point in the year, they've earned that honor.
9: Georgia Bulldogs
The Georgia Bulldogs had Week 3 off following its Week 2 win over South Carolina.
Quarterback Aaron Murray has looked good in his team's first two games, throwing for 632 yards and four touchdowns. He's also completing over 71 percent of his passes.
The Bulldogs face North Texas in Week 4, a tune-up game before the LSU Tigers, who they face in Week 5.
8: Florida State Seminoles
Florida State moved to 2-0 on Saturday with a dominating 62-7 win over Nevada.
Quarterback Jameis Winston racked up three total touchdowns and 214 yards passing on just 18 passing attempts.
After a brilliant start to the season, the Seminoles face Bethune-Cookman, Boston College and Maryland in their next three games, all of which should be wins for Florida State.
The game that's circled on every Florida State fan's calendar is on Oct. 19, when the Seminoles face Clemson.
7: LSU Tigers
The LSU Tigers blew out Kent State on Saturday, 45-13, to advance to 3-0 on the season. LSU also has wins against TCU and UAB to its credit.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger had another impressive outing against Kent State, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-18 passing attempts.
LSU plays host to Auburn in Week 4. Then, in Week 5, the Tigers hit the road to face the Georgia Bulldogs, a game that will surely have a huge impact in the SEC title race.
6: Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal never really pulled away from Army on Saturday, but nevertheless, they left with a 34-20 win.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for three touchdowns on 188 yards passing, while running back Tyler Gaffney ran for 132 yards on 20 attempts.
Week 4 will be a challenge for Stanford, as they face the Arizona State Sun Devils.
5: Louisville Cardinals
The Louisville Cardinals got off to a slow start against in-state rival Kentucky on Saturday, but Teddy Bridgewater and company pulled away in the second half for a 27-13 win.
Bridgewater tossed for 250 yards and a score in the game.
Louisville is now 3-0 on the season and face an easy opponent in FIU in Week 4. The Cardinals have an easy schedule the rest of the way with no ranked teams left on its slate.
4: Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes moved to 3-0 on Saturday, but it wasn't easy. The California Golden Bears were a pesky team for the Buckeyes to shake, but Ohio State eventually left with a 52-34 win.
Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller missed the game with a knee injury, so that meant senior backup Kenny Guiton was given the nod. He performed well against Cal, putting up 276 yards and four touchdowns.
Fans have to be worried about Miller's injury, and pollsters surely won't look favorably on the Buckeyes without their star player. But, for now, the Buckeyes are undefeated.
3: Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers had Week 3 off, but they will be back in action this Thursday against North Carolina State.
The defining win for Clemson this season came in Week 1, when the Tigers upended Georgia at home 38-35.
Tajh Boyd is also one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy, as he's thrown for 439 yards and three touchdowns through his team's first two games.
After the game against N.C. State, the Tigers face Wake Forest.
2: Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks' 59-14 win over the Tennessee Volunteers all but proved that the Ducks don't plan on slowing down under new head coach Mark Helfrich.
Oregon has accumulated 184 points this season while holding its three opponents to 27 points.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been particularly impressive so far in his sophomore season. He threw for 456 yards with four touchdowns on Saturday.
The Ducks start off Pac-12 play at California on Sep. 28, as they have Week 4 off.
1: Alabama Crimson Tide
In probably the most anticipated game of the entire season, the Alabama Crimson Tide dispatched of reigning Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies, 42-35.
With wins over Virginia Tech and the Aggies, the Crimson Tide have a solid hold on the top spot in the country.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron bounced back from a rough outing against the Hokies in Week 1 by passing for 334 yards and four scores against Texas A&M.
Alabama returns home in Week 4 to face Colorado State, which should be a easy win. Then, in Week 5, the Crimson Tide face Ole Miss, a rising power in the SEC.