College football's Week 3 results are in, and the power rankings have been calculated. Alabama, as expected, is still a unanimous No. 1, but where is Michigan after its near-loss to Akron? How far did Texas A&M drop after a close game with the nation's best?
Here are college football's Week 4 power rankings.
*The AP Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll—both via ESPN—Bleacher Report's Official Poll, Jeff Sagarin's power rankings and my own power rankings were all given equal weight. The average of every team's ranking in each poll was taken, and that average determined where the team was placed.
Average Rank: 150.5
New Mexico State made its strongest argument for worst in the FBS with a 42-21 loss to the UTEP Miners in Week 3. It's one thing to lose a game like that, but getting doubled up is not going to move you anywhere but down.
It has a loss at UCLA coming in Week 4, but things get considerably less difficult after that. The good news is that nothing UCLA does will make New Mexico State look worse. This is supposed to be a lopsided game.
Average Rank: 150
Massachusetts' 37-7 loss to Kansas State didn't do anything to hurt its ranking, but it also didn't help. The Minutemen have the ill fortune of facing Vanderbilt, Bowling Green and Miami (OH) over the next three games, which doesn't look good.
The Minutemen would completely change perceptions by winning just one of those games, even the one against Miami. Obviously, a win over Vanderbilt would rocket them into the top 100.
Average Rank: 149
The Florida International vs. Bethune-Cookman game should have been close. Cookman is a good FCS school with a lot to bring to the table, as FIU just found out in its 34-13 loss.
However, losing by three possessions really hurt the Golden Panthers' projection for the season. If they don't beat Southern Miss, they could easily go winless with this schedule.
Average Rank: 144.5
Eastern Michigan's 28-10 loss to Rutgers was expected, but its schedule doesn't truly let up at any point in the season. There are potential wins peppered throughout, but none of them will be a breeze.
Buffalo, Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Central Michigan are the most beatable teams, but all of those games (except Buffalo) are at the end of the year. That's a long time to wait to see if your team has improved.
Of course, there is the potential to end 2013 on a three-game win streak, and that would make the wait worthwhile.
Average Rank: 143.5
Idaho's 45-35 loss to Northern Illinois actually gave the Vandals' fanbase a lot of hope. If the Vandals are really just 10 points worse than the Huskies, then this season could be markedly better than 2012.
There is a brutal schedule ahead, but there are at least three wins waiting to happen if they play like they did against Jordan Lynch and company, albeit with a little better defense.
Average Rank: 137.5
Miami (OH) hit cruise control for Week 3 and enjoyed a bye. Cincinnati and Illinois are up next, and the Redhawks have to be expecting losses there. After that, though, Miami really gets to work on its ranking.
Central Michigan, Massachusetts and Akron are slated for October, and with a couple of wins Miami could rise up the rankings.
Average Rank: 129
Southern Miss put up a good fight against the Arkansas Razorbacks but still walked away with a 24-3 loss. As the season progresses, holding Arkansas to 24 points will look like an accomplishment.
However, if the Golden Eagles don't bring that kind of intensity to every game, there is not much hope on the schedule. Even if they do bring their best, wins are going to be hard to come by.
Average Rank: 128.5
In an unexpected turn of events, the South Florida Bulls suffered an 18-point loss to the Florida Atlantic Owls in Week 3—thus the bottom-10 ranking.
Every team has bad days, and Atlantic fans have to hope that's all Week 3 was. It may take a while for Willie Taggart to assess the damage, but the size of this loss was a shock.
The American Athletic Conference schedule isn't looking like a lot of fun this season, but Taggart could still get this under control before the end of the season.
Average Rank: 128
Akron put up a massive fight against the Michigan Wolverines in Week 3. The Zips were two yards short of pulling off the stunner, as Kyle Pohl's pass fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired. Akron put itself on the radar with that 28-24 loss, and if the Zips can repeat that performance in the future, then bowl eligibility is a possibility.
Michigan didn't look like it was expecting a battle in that game, so we have to take the final score with a grain of salt. The Zips are clearly not going to stay outside the top 100 if they keep playing like they did.
Average Rank: 126.5
New Mexico's 49-27 defeat at Pittsburgh was respectable. Though the Panthers appear to be a completely different team from last season, the Lobos' ability to hang with an automatic qualifying (AQ) team gives hope to their fans.
The next two games on the schedule are possible wins, and the Lobos have a bye in Week 4 to help them prepare. Don't expect much movement from them in the next edition, but they could be moving up steadily for the following two-week period.
Average Rank: 125.5
Western Michigan is off to an 0-3 start this season after a 38-17 loss to Northwestern in Week 3, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better on Sept. 21 against Iowa. However, Kent State is coming to town in Week 5, and that game is winnable.
With as terribly as Kent State's been playing, the Broncos might win that game even if Dri Archer is back for the Golden Flashes. Western Michigan will have opportunities to improve its rank before the end of the season, but not even the Massachusetts game is going to be easy.
Average Rank: 124.5
Tulane scored a 24-15 upset over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Sept. 12, and that was good enough to pull them up 20 spots in Sagarin's rankings and five in mine this week. That win put everyone on Tulane's schedule on official notice.
Louisiana Tech has been steadily dropping in the rankings this season, and Tulane's schedule is going to help it overtake the Bulldogs by the end of the season.
In the meantime, the loss to South Alabama still doesn't look good, and the upcoming games at Syracuse and at Louisiana-Monroe do not look favorable for the Green Wave.
Average Rank: 123.5
UNLV threw down a 31-21 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas to move from 140th (Sagarin's) and 111th (mine) to 138th and 109th, respectively, in the individual rankings.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, they still had a one-spot drop in the overall rankings. With Western Illinois, New Mexico and Hawaii lined up over the next four weeks, they'll move up these rankings...as long as they win.
Average Rank: 123
Memphis lost a 17-15 contest to Middle Tennessee on Sept. 14, and that dropped it a bit from 105th overall to here at 111th. The Tigers are going to have a rough ride through the AAC in their first season associated with the conference, but things will get better with time.
Memphis could win as few as two games this year, but there are still 10 games left to play. Improvement does not have to wait until next season.
Average Rank: 123
Central Michigan's 31-21 Week 3 loss came at the hands of the UNLV Rebels, and that damaged credibility for the Chippewas. Decline was expected after losing the No. 1 overall draft pick, though.
Central Michigan has an opportunity to bounce back against Toledo on Saturday. With a win there, the Chippewas could gain some momentum on the way up the charts. With a loss vs. the Rockets, they might have trouble winning another game until Nov. 16.
Average Rank: 122.5
UTSA lost to the Arizona Wildcats 38-13 in Week 3, but that didn't hurt the Roadrunners' ranking. The loss was expected, and holding Pac-12 hopeful Arizona to 38 was quite respectable.
They are sitting at 1-2 right now after battles with two potentially ranked teams, and the next bout is against in-state rival UTEP. That is a possible win that would move them up the ranks if they win.
Average Rank: 121
Old Dominion isn't doing as well as some would have hoped this season, as Taylor Heinicke's supporting cast simply isn't ready for FBS football. However, the Monarchs demolished Howard 76-19—as they should have—and face seven beatable opponents in the next nine games.
Pittsburgh and North Carolina are beatable teams, but the Monarchs, who already have two blowout losses, need to vastly improve their level of play to pull off an upset.
Average Rank: 120.5
Texas State had a bye during Week 3, so no new data was collected. On Saturday, a rough stretch of games kicks off for the Bobcats, including Texas Tech, Wyoming, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.
While the Bobcats shouldn't drop far in the rankings from losing any one of those games, there is also little hope of keeping their undefeated record.
Average Rank: 119
Louisiana Tech has had one of the biggest transitions in recent memory after losing Colby Cameron and two-thirds of its coaching staff. The 24-15 loss to the Tulane Green Wave on Sept. 12 was its biggest disappointment so far.
It's not that Tulane is a particularly bad opponent, but the 2012 edition of the Bulldogs would have decimated a team like that. With that loss as the gauge, it looks like the next win could be as late as Oct. 5 against UTEP.
Average Rank: 118.5
South Alabama's surprising 31-24 win over Western Kentucky has put it on the map as far as the rankings are concerned. While it's always a nice jump to unexpectedly beat an opponent, the performance against the Hilltoppers suggested actual fundamental improvement over last season for the Jaguars.
They systematically stopped Western Kentucky in the second half, outscoring it 21-3 for the seven-point win. That firmly established the Jaguars as a threat to almost everyone left on their schedule.
That was an excellent follow-up to the win over Tulane in Week 2.
Average Rank: 116
Army stood tall against the Stanford Cardinal but eventually walked away with the anticipated loss, though the score of 34-20 was a lot closer than most expected. The Black Knights' rushing attack proved to be almost more than Stanford could handle, and Army was just a couple of blown coverages from taking the game into overtime.
We will see how the Black Knights stack up the rest of the season, but this could be a surprisingly good year coming out of West Point.
Average Rank: 115.5
UTEP hung 42 points on the New Mexico State Aggies on Sept. 14, and that either means the Miners are better than expected, or the Aggies are worse. The in-state rivalry match against UTSA in Week 4 will tell us more, but UTEP gets the respect it has earned right here.
A simple (but not easy) win over UTSA could push it inside the top 100.
Average Rank: 112.5
Temple's last-second 30-29 loss to Fordham put things in perspective for Owls fans, and they cannot be happy with the way their schedule looks now. Steve Addazio was hired away from the program, and the stakes have never been higher for a match against the Idaho Vandals.
While Fordham looked like it could have possibly been the lone win of the season, Idaho has taken over at that spot for Temple. If the Owls cannot get by the Vandals, do not look anywhere near the top 100 for this team...it will not be there.
Average Rank: 110
Hawaii had a bye in Week 3. The Warriors are returning to the field on Saturday against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Nevada isn't looking terrible this season, but it's certainly looking like Cody Fajardo needs more than just himself to win games. Stefphon Jefferson will never be missed anywhere in his life as much as he's missed at Nevada.
Hawaii can make a statement in Week 4 if it scores a win, but it will not be easy.
Average Rank: 109.5
Florida Atlantic scored a 28-10 victory over the South Florida Bulls in Week 3. This wasn't good news for Bulls fans, but it definitely satisfied Owls fans.
The Middle Tennessee game on Saturday could go either way, but it will answer the main question surrounding Florida Atlantic: How good are the Owls, really?
A loss won't crush their chances at the postseason, but it would come close. They need five more wins, and two have to come from this lineup: Middle Tennessee, Rice, UAB, Marshall, Auburn and Tulane.
As you can see, the game against the Blue Raiders is basically a must-win.
Average Rank: 109
Middle Tennessee beat Memphis 17-15 on Saturday. It was a tough win that didn't inspire much confidence for a Blue Raiders postseason berth. However, unlike so many teams already listed on these rankings, the Blue Raiders did avoid a loss.
On Saturday, they face the Florida Atlantic Owls for win No. 3 (or loss No. 2). With their schedule, they can afford to lose that game. However, losing to Florida Atlantic certainly isn't going to help them into a bowl if they're 6-6 at the end of the year.
Average Rank: 108
Western Kentucky's 31-24 loss to South Alabama showed some major weaknesses. Namely, South Alabama is far better at halftime adjustments than it is. While one loss can't completely erase a season-opening win over the Kentucky Wildcats, it's a bad sign for the rest of the season.
A win over Morgan State on Saturday will not affect the Hilltoppers' ranking, but a loss would drop them considerably, as losses in back-to-back weeks would definitely make the win over Kentucky in Week 1 a distant memory.
Average Rank: 107.5
Buffalo took the Stony Brook Seawolves to five overtimes Saturday and came away with a solid 26-23 win. Stony Brook is an excellent FCS opponent, and any team out of a non-AQ conference would have a tough time winning that game. (So would quite a few of the AQ teams this season.)
Buffalo's schedule is still difficult, but a gutsy win like that in five overtimes has definitely prepared this team to go the distance, if it's ever required of it again.
Average Rank: 107
UAB had a bye week last weekend, and the Blazers face off against the Northwestern State Demons in what should be an entertaining match. Northwestern State won just four games last season, and they lost to Cincinnati 66-9 in Week 3.
If the Blazers can't win this game, there is no reason to have them in the top 100, and they may drop close to the bottom of the rankings altogether. That being said, the Blazers should walk away with a win.
Average Rank: 104
Air Force lost its second straight conference game 42-20 against Boise State in Week 3, and the Falcons are taking on the underrated Wyoming Cowboys in Week 4. While the Falcons are one of the best rushing programs in the country, fans have to wonder about their postseason prospects at the moment.
There are still a lot of potential wins on the schedule, but the more losses they pile up, the less likely a bowl appearance is.
Average Rank: 102.5
Kent State's rushing duo of Dri Archer and Trayion Durham lit up scoreboards across the country last season. Archer was injured after just three carries in the season opener, and he was held to one reception (zero carries) against LSU in Week 3.
If the Golden Flashes don't put on some kind of show in Week 4 against the Penn State Nittany Lions, then fans may just have to deal with disappointment for 2013. They don't have to beat Penn State to give people hope, but they have to remain competitive for most of the game and churn out some serious rushing yards.
Average Rank: 102
Troy lost a 41-34 heartbreaker to the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Friday, but it was still a close game with a Sun Belt powerhouse. For that, Troy didn't lose any respect.
The next two games, against Mississippi State and Duke, Troy can expect losses but not too far of a drop in the rankings. Those are two solid programs that should win easily. The next opportunity to improve on its ranking will come against South Alabama on Oct. 5.
Until then, the Trojans can only move up if they score an upset or two in the next couple of bouts.
Average Rank: 97
With the way Wake Forest has played this season, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks should have done better than a 21-19 victory over the Demon Deacons. However, they weren't punished for not winning big enough.
It's just a warning to Kolton Browning. He has to find his groove quickly, or this season could easily turn sour on him.
Granted, even at his best, the Baylor game this Saturday would still be a loss, but that Tulane game on Sept. 28 has to be a win. If not, then the Warhawks are unlikely to reach their preseason projection for the No. 70 range.
The Warhawks cemented themselves as a legitimate threat against Wake Forest, but they didn't play like a top-half team (or a BCS buster). Although, there's plenty of football left to play.
Average Rank: 95.5
Wake Forest benefited from not playing as badly as some of the teams below it, but the Demon Deacons were put on notice by ULM on Saturday. While Wake was competitive with the Warhawks, the fact is that the ACC schedule has many more difficult games than that in store for them.
The rushing defense has to show up in Week 4, as Army hosts the Demon Deacons in a game where everyone's pride is on the line. Both teams are coming off back-to-back losses, and someone is walking away a winner.
If it's Wake, expect a slight bump in the rankings. If not, "Look out below!"
Average Rank: 95
San Diego State did not play in Week 3, and the Aztecs have been preparing for their showdown with the Oregon State Beavers. While this game is a possible win for San Diego State, it's not expected.
Since that's the case, don't expect a big drop if the Aztecs lose. After Oregon State, though, the schedule gets considerably easier, as they begin the hunt for the Mountain West Conference title.
Average Rank: 94.5
North Texas got an excellent 34-27 win over the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday, and that confirmed suspicion that the Mean Green may actually be improved this season. The close game with Ohio the week before indicated that may be the case, but it was circumstantial at best considering how early in the season that game happened.
The Week 4 bout with the Georgia Bulldogs is going to be a loss (which won't hurt the Green), but after that there aren't any guaranteed losses on the schedule. North Texas may be the most improved team of 2013 when the dust settles.
Average Rank: 93
Purdue couldn't hold off the Notre Dame comeback Saturday, and the Boilermakers finally succumbed to the Irish 31-24 by giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter. Purdue historically plays Notre Dame tougher than any other opponent, so the rise in the rankings wasn't huge.
However, this has put Purdue in the group of teams to watch for confirmation. If the Boilermakers have indeed grown up this quickly, they are on the way to a top-50 finish. The Wisconsin game this Saturday will tell CFB observers what they need to know.
If it's a win, don't be surprised to see a 10-spot jump in one week.
Average Rank: 92.5
Colorado State beat Cal Poly 34-17 to rebound from back-to-back losses against Colorado and Tulsa. This week's match against Alabama on Saturday has an interesting side note, as Jim McElwain, the Rams' head coach, used to be the Tide's offensive coordinator.
After that tidbit of information, though, the game gets less interesting by the minute. Even with the added advantage of knowing his opponent, Colorado State is simply years away from competing with a No. 1 team in the country.
Don't look for CSU to drop in the rankings after the loss. Few teams would be expected to beat the Tide.
Average Rank: 91
A close victory could still allow them to drop in the rankings. If everything goes as a No. 87 vs. No. 111 game should, there will be no danger. This game is at Memphis, so it's already going to be a little closer than expected...unless Arkansas State rolls on offense.
Average Rank: 90
The Fresno State at Colorado game, scheduled for Week 3, was postponed due to flooding. Also, the Buffaloes' first bye week is underway, with no contest slated for Saturday. This means the Buffaloes have a full three weeks spanning the Central Arkansas win and the Sept. 28 bout with Oregon State.
If anyone can pull off an upset over the Beavers, it's going to be the team that had three weeks of rest and two solid weeks of scheme time. Ultimately, that's still going to be an expected loss, so Colorado's ranking should remain relatively constant for the entire month of September.
Average Rank: 89
Nevada had a terrible performance against Florida State that ended in a 62-7 loss. Granted, a lot of teams are going to look like that against the Seminoles, but more was expected from Cody Fajardo and his supporting cast.
Nevada is hosting Hawaii on Saturday, and that will give us more information about the Wolf Pack's offense and the Warriors defense.
Average Rank: 88
In Week 3, Boston College was blown out 35-7 by the USC Trojans, who were admittedly playing in rage mode after a humiliating loss to the Washington State Cougars. The Eagles have a bye this weekend, and they'll come back Sept. 28 against the Florida State Seminoles.
Their rank is safe until that game, and a loss probably won't hurt them that much. It's expected against a team that good.
Average Rank: 87.5
Kansas dropped a 23-14 match with the Rice Owls on Saturday, and the Jayhawks are hosting the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this Saturday. While this game could go either way, especially if the Bulldogs find their offense, Kansas desperately needs this win.
Louisiana Tech was just beaten by Tulane. If the 'Hawks want to show progress, they'll need to win some Big 12 matches.
Average Rank: 85
Kentucky has been a bit of a mixed bag this season, but that's still better than last year, which got head coach Joker Phillips fired. Mark Stoops led the season off with a loss to Western Kentucky, then a win over the Miami (OH) Redhawks.
In Week 3, he lost to Louisville, but it was only a 27-13 loss. That's a good defensive performance against Teddy Bridgewater, although the offense looked helpless.
Kentucky's next three games are against Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. It would be a miracle if the Wildcats scored more than one win, and it will take at least 60 minutes of a gigantic effort for them to take down the Florida Gators.
Average Rank: 84
Connecticut has started the season off 0-2, and its most recent defeat was 32-21 by the Maryland Terrapins. The Huskies are not looking good at this point, but a huge upset over the Michigan Wolverines in Week 4 would erase most of the embarrassment of the first two weeks.
That's more than just a tall order, but this is the first chance of the season for UConn to right the ship completely.
Average Rank: 80.5
SMU had a bye for Week 3, so it remains relatively unmoved in the rankings. The Mustangs take on Texas A&M on Saturday, so they had better have been practicing hard for those 14 days. After that comes TCU, but the Mustangs just need to focus on containing Johnny Manziel for the moment.
Average Rank: 78.5
Marshall's Week 3 loss was 34-31 to the Ohio Bobcats. After big wins over the Miami Redhawks and Gardner-Webb, the Thundering Herd were set back a bit, but there's an opportunity Saturday against Virginia Tech to make that loss disappear (in spirit, not actually disappear).
Virginia Tech just held Shane Carden and Vintavious Cooper in check for 60 minutes, but Rakeem Cato could prove himself greatly against the defense that disrupted Alabama and East Carolina.
This should be a tight game, regardless of the outcome.
Average Rank: 77.5
Cal lost to Ohio State 52-34, and it was technically the only game the Pac-12 lost to the Big Ten in Week 3. (More on that on the Wisconsin slide.) The Golden Bears are off to a rocky start, losing to two ranked teams from the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for the Bears, things are going to get worse before they get better, as they travel to Oregon to face the Ducks in Week 5. At least they get a bye this week to help prepare for that game.
Average Rank: 76.5
Iowa State just lost its second straight in-state battle in Week 3, this time a 27-21 contest against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Cyclones did not fare well against FCS Northern Iowa on opening weekend, either.
This week is a bye for them, and they can use it to regroup and get ready for Tulsa and Texas. Two wins there would go a long way toward putting them back in the Big 12 conversation.
Average Rank: 76
Tulsa dropped a 51-20 decision to the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 3. True, that was an expected loss, but the margin was a little unsettling. However, the Sooners are looking better than anticipated, so it's nothing to fret over.
Tulsa joins Iowa State in its bye week, and they'll meet Sept. 26 in Tulsa to settle the argument about which team belongs ahead of the other.
Average Rank: 75.5
Ohio just beat Marshall 34-31 on Saturday, and the Bobcats are off to a 2-1 start, with their only loss coming to the Louisville Cardinals. They draw Austin Peay this week, and that should be a solid win that holds their spot in the rankings.
Of course, if other teams lose games they shouldn't, then they could move up by default.
Average Rank: 75.5
Ball State became North Texas' campaign button in Week 3 with a 34-27 loss to the Mean Green. The Cardinals now have a chance to regroup against the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Saturday, and this is a must-win for them.
They already lost a game most expected them to win. They cannot afford to lose any more of those.
Average Rank: 75
Louisiana-Lafayette destroyed Nicholls State 70-7 on Saturday, and the Ragin' Cajuns are heading into the meat of their schedule. This is excellent news for fans, because teams like Arkansas and Kansas State aren't coming around until next season (unless the Ragin' Cajuns are paired with an AQ team in the postseason).
The next foe is Akron, and the Cajuns have to hit the road for that battle. If the Michigan game taught them anything, it's that they need to respect the Zips. Terry Bowden is working on that team, and there's no telling who they can overthrow this season.
Average Rank: 73
Houston has been struggling with its offense ever since losing Case Keenum from under center, and Rice's defense should be able to keep it contained.
Average Rank: 72.5
Houston is going to settle the Rice-Houston debate head-on in Week 4, and the Cougars will be fresh off a bye week. If Rice expects to come into anything less than a raging war at the line of scrimmage, the Owls are in for a shock.
Houston is 2-0 so far, and you can bet that it isn't interested in giving up that momentum easily. Fans in the stands could get much more of a football game than they paid for this Saturday.
Average Rank: 70.5
A well-planned strategy against the Falcons' rushing attack is necessary, but quarterback Brett Smith will gladly oblige if this becomes a shootout or a game-winning drive situation.
This is Wyoming's first shot at completely legitimizing itself in this area of the rankings. The victory over Idaho was less than convincing, though it was lopsided.
Average Rank: 69.5
Duke lost 38-14 to Georgia Tech in Week 3, and the Blue Devils aren't going to be the last team that the Yellow Jackets catch off-guard. Duke has Jamison Crowder with no Sean Renfree, and if you didn't believe that this was going to be a rocky season, believe it now.
The next game is against the Pittsburgh Panthers, and it could go either way. It won't make or break Duke's season, but it will set the tone...that is, unless the Yellow Jackets have already set it.
Average Rank: 69
Virginia had a bye week to help it recuperate from the shellacking that Oregon handed it in Week 2. The Cavaliers will have their next chance to rise in the rankings Saturday against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets.
Average Rank: 67.5
Bowling Green had the play of the week against the Indiana Hoosiers, but the Falcons couldn't turn that into a win. They lost 42-10, and you can see their lone touchdown in the featured video.
Bowling Green is still one of the better teams from the Mid-American Conference, but Indiana has simply gotten that much better since last season. The Falcons will regroup against Murray State on Saturday, and they'll carry a little momentum into the middle of the season.
Average Rank: 66
Pittsburgh scored its first win of the season in Week 3 with a 49-27 victory over New Mexico. Now, the Panthers face Duke in their first in-conference ACC game. It's at Duke, so it will be difficult, but the Panthers can come away with this win.
If they expect to get into a bowl, Duke is exactly the level of team they need to beat, because Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Miami aren't going to be easier games.
Average Rank: 65.5
Toledo beat Eastern Washington 33-21 on Sept. 14. The Rockets now line up to face Central Michigan in Week 4. While this game can't do much for the Rockets, the Chippewas stand to gain a lot of respect with an upset.
Toledo had better be prepared accordingly. If it doesn't expect a fight, it might figure it out a little too late.
Average Rank: 63
Both sides of the ball will get a good workout against the San Jose State Spartans on Saturday, and we'll all know a lot more about Minnesota from that matchup.
Average Rank: 62.5
NC State is coming off a bye week, and the Wolfpack are hosting the Clemson Tigers on Thursday, Sept. 19. You can bet that Clemson's locker room is filled with chatter about what NC State did to Florida State last season, as it ruined the Seminoles' national championship run far sooner than expected.
NC State can vaunt itself near the Top 25 with a win of this magnitude, and it's a risk-free game. It isn't expected to win, so it isn't going to hurt the Wolfpack's reputation to lose. Always fear an opponent with nothing to lose.
Average Rank: 61
East Carolina lost 15-10 to Virginia Tech. It was the close game that some anticipated, but the score was far lower than expected. Shane Carden and Vintavious Cooper couldn't get an attack working, but the Pirates held strong on defense.
This game cemented the Pirates as a Conference USA contender for the season. It will be surprising if they aren't at least divisional champions. This week the Pirates have a bye.
Average Rank: 60
San Jose State had a bye for Week 3, and therefore didn't move much in the rankings. On Saturday, the Spartans take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. If David Fales has a big game, San Jose State could very well walk away with a win.
Average Rank: 55
West Virginia beat Georgia State 41-7 in Week 3, and the Mountaineers are on the road against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. If the Mountaineers play up to their potential, they should be able to top Maryland.
If not, then Maryland might just pull off an upset and get a couple of Top 25 votes.
Average Rank: 51.5
The next few matches are all the Bearcats' to lose, starting with the Miami Redhawks on Saturday.
Average Rank: 50
Mississippi State cemented its spot in the SEC West with its 24-20 loss to the Auburn Tigers. That dropped the Bulldogs a bit in the rankings. The Troy Trojans come to town in Week 4, and that should be a win for Mississippi State, as long as they recognize Troy as a legitimate threat.
Average Rank: 49.333
Rutgers beat Eastern Michigan 28-10 in Week 3, and the Scarlet Knights have an important match at home against the Arkansas Razorbacks coming up on Saturday. If the Knights are going to make up for that overtime loss to Fresno State, a win over an SEC West contender is definitely the right way to go about it.
Average Rank: 48.5
Oregon State has done everything in its power to make up for the season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, including a monumental 51-48 overtime victory over the Utah Utes in Week 3.
On Saturday, the Beavers meet the San Diego State Aztecs. This won't be an easy win, but look for the Beavers to solidify their ranking at the Aztecs' expense.
Average Rank: 48.333
Navy has quietly started 2013 off 2-0 against Indiana and Delaware. Yes, it's understandable that the Delaware victory was quiet, but that Indiana victory is looking better with each passing week.
The Midshipmen have a bye week for the Week 4 slot, and they will come back from it to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Average Rank: 48
North Carolina sat out of the Sept. 14 rotation, and the Tar Heels got to watch exactly what Georgia Tech did to the Duke Blue Devils that day. Hopefully, they paid close attention, or UNC is about to drop in the rankings after it Saturday bout with the Yellow Jackets.
Average Rank: 47.333
The Terrapins face West Virginia on Saturday, and the outcome of that game will set the tone for Maryland's hype heading into the following battle with the Florida State Seminoles. For now, they are just inside the top 50.
Average Rank: 46
Utah just took the Oregon State Beavers to overtime, though it did end in a 51-48 loss. That didn't hurt them too much, as it was a great battle between two teams in the upper half of the rankings.
Utah's next bout is season-defining, and it's at BYU on Saturday. The Cougars are carrying some serious momentum into this game, too, so Utah had better be prepared.
Average Rank: 43.5
Texas is here for the moment, immediately following a 44-23 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels. The reason it's "for the moment" is simply that Texas has not looked competitive in either of its games against AQ opponents, ranked or otherwise.
No offense to Longhorns fans, but if the next game isn't a win vs. Kansas State, there is almost zero chance of a Big 12 title. If the following Iowa State game isn't a win, then the 'Horns need to be concerned about even making a bowl.
Average Rank: 42.5
Here's a little tidbit of information to scare anyone who considers Vanderbilt a perennial also-ran in the SEC: The Commodores have been competitive in every conference game so far this year, and they are missing their star quarterback and running back from the past couple of seasons.
After that gut-wrenching 35-25 loss to South Carolina, the Commodores get to face Massachusetts and UAB before taking on the Missouri Tigers. Expect them to stay right around here for the next couple of weeks before that Missouri game tells us more about where they truly belong.
Average Rank: 41.75
After the 24-3 win over Southern Miss in Week 3, Arkansas has won three-quarters of the number of games it won in the entire 2012 season. The Razorbacks have a tough upcoming schedule, beginning on the road against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
That Rutgers game is one the easier matchups, as it is followed by six ranked teams out of Arkansas' final eight opponents, with Auburn knocking on the door of the Top 25. (That would make a seventh.)
Average Rank: 41.333
Utah State pummeled Weber State 70-6 on Sept. 14, and the Aggies face a wounded USC Trojans squad in Week 4. As well as USC played against Boston College, there is a big difference between the Eagles and the Aggies.
Chuckie Keeton could score one of the biggest wins of his season on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Average Rank: 37.2
Northern Illinois beat Idaho 45-35 on Sept. 21, putting it in the same region of the rankings it was before the game kicked off. The Huskies take on Eastern Illinois in Week 4, and that will allow them to fine-tune their offense in preparation for the Purdue battle the following week.
Average Rank: 36.5
Kansas State's Week 3 yielded a productive 37-7 win over the Massachusetts Minutemen. The Wildcats need every win they can get, because they led the season off with a loss to the reigning FCS national champion North Dakota State Bison.
This upcoming match with the Texas Longhorns on Saturday will define both teams' season. If Kansas State can knock down the Longhorns, it is well on the way to earning its respect back.
Average Rank: 35.5
USC's 35-7 win over Boston College moved it back up the rankings a bit, but nowhere near where it was in the preseason edition (No. 25). The Trojans have joined Texas in the "painted themselves into a corner" club by losing to the Washington State Cougars.
In Week 4, the Trojans are hosting Utah State in what could be an embarrassing loss at home to an MWC contender. (At least it's a contender, and not an also-ran, but that's little consolation to the fanbase.)
Average Rank: 35
Penn State lost to UCF 34-31 on Sept. 14, but that shouldn't concern the Nittany Lions one bit. Blake Bortles (QB, UCF) is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country, and he's one of the best in the AAC.
Penn State has Christian Hackenberg, a true freshman, under center, and it will take him a while to get up to speed at the collegiate level. The fact that he's competing with seniors at his position should tell you how good he is.
Look for Penn State to fluctuate around this area of the rankings all season but ultimately settle here as well. The Lions take on Kent State in Week 4.
Average Rank: 34.4
Speaking of the Fresno State Bulldogs, their Week 3 game was postponed due to flooding in Colorado (discussed in the Colorado slide). Now that they have had an extra week of rest before their matchup against Boise State, they should have the Broncos a little more nervous.
Fresno should be exceptionally polished this week with all that extra practice time.
Average Rank: 33.4
Virginia Tech's defense has been the story of the program so far this season, and the most recent 15-10 victory—over the East Carolina Pirates—was another defensive masterpiece. Shane Carden is at least one of the best signal-callers in C-USA.
Virginia Tech has a chance to prove that it can take down a stellar quarterback again on Saturday against the Marshall Thundering Herd. Rakeem Cato isn't going to be any easier to stop than Carden was...or AJ McCarron.
Virginia Tech is under the radar because of that season-opening loss to Alabama, but it is slowly rebuilding a Top 25 reputation.
Average Rank: 32.5
BYU had a bye week, which it earned by taking the Texas Longhorns down a peg back in Week 2. The Cougars are back and ready for action against in-state rival Utah on Saturday.
Kyle Van Noy will be the difference in this game. If he plays well, the Cougars are going to be just fine for the next edition of this piece.
Average Rank: 32.25
Auburn got a 24-20 win over Mississippi State in Week 3 and has already done better in 2013 than it did in 2012, when it went 0-8 in conference play. On Saturday, the Tigers take on LSU in Death Valley...at night.
This is almost surely a loss for Auburn, but it is the team to watch in the SEC West. Auburn is going to ruin someone's season before it's over, and Alabama fans definitely hope it's LSU's.
Average Rank: 32.2
Michigan State found its offense against Youngstown State, finishing on top 55-17. Whether that translates to good offense against ranked FBS teams remains to be seen, at least until Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Michigan State isn't ranked, because none of its wins has been impressive. A win over Notre Dame would likely push them into the Top 25.
Average Rank: 30.4
UCF's 34-31 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions has put the Knights on the radar for the rankings, and they are hitting their bye week in a full 3-0 stride. After the bye, they host the South Carolina Gamecocks, where a win would likely launch them into the upper reaches of the polls.
Average Rank: 30.25
TCU's 20-10 loss to Texas Tech was a surprise, but it was a hard-fought game where little went wrong. There was a completely uncalled fumble that could have changed the outcome of the game, but the Horned Frogs can at least rest easy knowing that it could have been worse (Wisconsin *cough-cough*).
The Frogs have two losses to overcome, but if they're as good as they have looked, especially on defense, then they will be where they belong at the end of the season. Both losses have come to teams that are in the Week 4 AP Poll, so that's going to help them when it matters most.
TCU has a bye for this week, and that will help it regroup before the SMU battle on Sept. 28.
Average Rank: 29.8
Arizona is a silent undefeated team, mostly because its opponents have been of lower quality than some other perfect squads' foes. Most recently, the Wildcats topped UTSA 38-13, and that was their strongest enemy to date.
They are consistently winning the games they are supposed to win, and they are in a bye week now before hitting the road to challenge the Washington Huskies. That game will expose Arizona as either legit or smoke and mirrors.
Average Rank: 28.8
Georgia Tech is another team trying to fly under the radar yet receiving votes for various Top 25 polls. The Yellow Jackets beat Duke 38-14 in Week 3, and they have a confirmation game against Bryn Renner and the UNC Tar Heels on Saturday.
That game will set the mood for the following Virginia Tech game that comes just five days later.
Average Rank: 28.6
Nebraska led UCLA 21-3 in Week 3, but the wheels came off in third quarter. To spare Nebraska fans the pain of reliving that scenario, it is sufficient to say that UCLA won the game. (UCLA fans, your slide is coming.)
Nebraska is easily a Big Ten contender, and there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the Bruins' victory. Honestly, it isn't enough to talk to your players about continuing success at halftime.
You have to anticipate your opponent's adjustments to what happened in the first half and stop it from doing whatever that is. Nebraska learned this the hard way, but it was still not a conference loss.
The Rose Bowl is still possible, and it could theoretically be against UCLA in a rematch of epic proportions. This week, the focus is on South Dakota State. A win here would at least hold the Cornhuskers' place in the rankings for a while.
Average Rank: 25.6
Texas Tech closes out the AP Top 25, and that's based on the 20-10 performance against the TCU Horned Frogs in Week 3. For some voters, it's tough to give the Red Raiders the Top 25 nod, because they've seen this stellar defense before.
Tommy Tuberville built a solid foundation at the school, and Texas Tech handed West Virginia its first loss of the 2012 season. If the new coaching staff has the Red Raiders over the next hump, it will show before the season is over.
For now, they simply need to concentrate on beating Texas State, Kansas and Iowa State in that order to hold their place (or better) in the Top 25.
Average Rank: 23.2
The only team that has ever been robbed harder than Wisconsin was in Week 3 is the 1990 Missouri Tigers, and the 2013 Badgers have a good shot at claiming a tie, depending on your point of view.
Joel Stave surrendered to center the ball for the game-winning field goal against Arizona State, but it was indeterminate whether he actually downed the ball. Stave didn't realize that his action was considered questionable. (Here is an excellent breakdown from USA Today.)
What happened next was surreal. A game clock was winding down, a defense was jumping on a ball it thought was fumbled, the refs were holding Wisconsin from snapping the ball and absolute chaos erupted when the final buzzer went off.
Wisconsin lost 32-30 on the scoreboard. The Badgers are still high in the rankings because, win or lose, that game was incredibly competitive, proving their value as a top-tier team.
The rest of the argument will be played on football fields over the next nine games.
Average Rank: 22.2
Ole Miss overcame a 23-14 deficit to beat the Texas Longhorns 44-23. It was a back-and-forth game in which adjustments reigned supreme, and Hugh Freeze won the head-to-head halftime adjustment battle by a long shot.
In Week 4, the Rebels have a bye week heading into the epic battle against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Ole Miss isn't going to win the SEC, but it could easily spoil someone's national championship run if that team isn't 100 percent prepared.
That team could be Alabama in two weeks. No matter what happens, though, Ole Miss will be ranked at that game's kickoff.
Average Rank: 21.8
Notre Dame played yet another tight game against the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 3. (What else is new, right?) That game did not do much to help the Irish in the rankings, but at least it didn't cost them their spot in the Top 25 completely.
Notre Dame's next game is against Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans looked vastly improved on offense against Youngstown State, but that may not mean a thing when they kick off against the Irish.
Average Rank: 20.6
Arizona State went from trailing Wisconsin 14-3 to leading 32-24 with 8:50 left in the game. Wisconsin came within two points of the Sun Devils at the 3:53 mark. The Sun Devils would hold onto that lead for the rest of the game, though the refs would rob the Badgers of a last-second field-goal attempt (as discussed on the Wisconsin slide).
The Sun Devils survived, but there will be tougher games, starting with Stanford on Saturday. If they win that match, look for the Devils in the Top 10.
Average Rank: 19.2
Washington dropped a 34-24 bomb on Illinois to claim one of the Pac-12's victories over the Big Ten in Week 3. The Huskies are looking good so far this season with wins over Boise State and the Illini.
Next up are Idaho State and Arizona: Two must-win games if the Huskies want a shot at the Pac-12. After those games come Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State in rapid succession. If the Huskies aren't in the Top 25 at the end of September, they aren't finishing the season there.
Average Rank: 18.2
Baylor's bye week has ended, and the extra prep time for Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday should help the Bears. After the first two games the Bears won, it's difficult to predict anything other than a complete blowout in Week 4.
Average Rank: 18
Florida is yet another team that enjoyed a bye week early in the season, and the Gators have been stewing over the Miami loss for almost 14 days. They host an equally wounded Tennessee team, so that's definitely a battle to keep an eye on.
Average Rank: 17.4
Michigan dropped in the rankings a few spots simply by allowing the Akron Zips (currently No. 117 on this list) to come within a few yards of victory. The Wolverines won that game 28-24, but it was not pretty.
They had better be far more prepared for the Week 4 game against Connecticut, or the Wolverines won't be undefeated anymore.
Average Rank: 16.2
The Miami Hurricanes had a bye in Week 3, and they probably reveled in their recent win over the Florida Gators for at least one of the two weeks. Now that they're back, they will host Savannah State before heading off to South Florida.
Both those games are likely wins that won't help the Hurricanes move up the rankings unless teams in front of them lose.
Average Rank: 13.8
UCLA battled back from trailing the Nebraksa Cornhuskers 21-3 to beat them 41-21 in Nebraska's home stadium. The Bruins created their own adversity and responded with 38 unanswered points.
They might be the No. 13 team here, but the second-half edition of UCLA is easily Top 5 material. Next up is a placeholder game against the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday.
Average Rank: 11.8
Oklahoma defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 51-20 on Sept. 14, and the Sooners essentially didn't harm themselves in the rankings game. Oklahoma has Week 4 off before seeking revenge against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The next two weeks will be spent in preparation, and Bob Stoops will be using last year's lopsided loss as a powerful motivator.
Average Rank: 9.8
Louisville beat Kentucky 27-13, creating some doubt as to Teddy Bridgewater's ability to contend with the best in the country. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's still a better win than Notre Dame's over Purdue last season, so it shouldn't keep the Cardinals out of the title discussion at all.
What they really need to focus on is the schedule in front of them. If they win all their regular-season games, they might sneak into the BCS National Championship Game.
Average Rank: 8.2
Florida State razed the Nevada Wolf Pack 62-7 on Sept. 14, and the Seminoles are hosting Bethune-Cookman on Saturday. They are going to stay right here, because no number of points against Cookman will prove that they are better than this.
That is, unless a top-tier team decides to drop a game. That's an ever-present possibility in this sport.
Average Rank: 8
Texas A&M dropped a seven-point decision to Alabama in an epic battle that was reminiscent of the 2012 West Virginia vs. Baylor game more than it was the 2011 'Bama vs. LSU bout. The Aggies may have lost the game, but did they really prove that they weren't worthy of an elite ranking? No.
They are here, and they'll be here again next week after defeating SMU on Saturday.
Average Rank: 7.6
Much like Texas A&M, Georgia's only loss is to an elite team that's currently undefeated. The Bulldogs had an off week after defeating South Carolina, and they host an underrated North Texas squad on Saturday.
The Mean Green aren't so underrated that Georgia would move up with a win, but the Bulldogs should be aware that this isn't the same pushover North Texas as in recent years.
Average Rank: 6.2
LSU destroyed Kent State 45-13 in Week 3, and the Tigers have an intense battle against Auburn lying in wait for Saturday. There are plenty of marquee games in lights on LSU's schedule, but this is one that the Tigers could be looking past, focusing on the Georgia match.
If that's the case, Auburn could be the newest SEC addition to the Top 25 on Sunday morning.
Average Rank: 6
Stanford's 34-20 win over Army may not have impressed anyone, but those people need to keep in mind that the Black Knights don't run an offense that's encountered that often in the college football world.
A select few teams run it, and they've run it for decades (for the most part). It's difficult to defend your house against an unknown assailant as opposed to something your security system would recognize.
Stanford's Saturday bout with Arizona State will tell us much more about both teams, and Stanford should enter with the edge (at least home-field advantage).
Average Rank: 6
Clemson kicks off the Week 4 festivities against NC State on Thursday in a game that at least some will tune in to just to see if the Wolfpack can upset a national title hopeful for a second year in a row.
The Tigers have plenty of big games to worry about this season, but the biggest mistake they could make is not worrying about the most important one at all times: the next one.
Average Rank: 5.6
Out of all the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten games in Week 3, the Ohio State Buckeyes were the only victorious team not from the West Coast. The Buckeyes beat California 52-34 in Cal's backyard.
The Buckeyes get a relative break against the Florida A&M Rattlers on Saturday before hosting an extremely ticked off Wisconsin Badgers squad on the 28th.
Average Rank: 2
Oregon's 59-14 smackdown of the Tennessee Volunteers led to an Autzen-sized set of chants: "S-E-C" and "We Want 'Bama" specifically. The Oregon Ducks are right below 'Bama in the rankings, but that doesn't mean that they aren't the No. 1 team in the nation.
It means that the Ducks haven't won three of the last four titles, and they haven't faced a team as good as Texas A&M. Had Oregon taken on Stanford before 'Bama played A&M, these ranks would probably be flipped.
It wouldn't matter. As long as these two remain undefeated, it's going to be nearly impossible for anyone else to jump over them and stop the Goliath vs. Goliath match from happening.
Nothing's going to happen in Week 4, that's for sure. Oregon has a bye week, and there's little reason to believe that Stanford would jump Oregon with a win over Arizona State.
Average Rank: 1
Alabama's 49-42 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies proved two things:
1. The Tide are right to be at No. 1 for the moment.
2. Alabama is not invincible.
Alabama is No. 1, and there are only 10 teams (including the SEC East champion) standing between the Tide and the national title game. The odds will be in 'Bama's favor for almost every one of those games.
However, odds don't decide games, people do. The Week 4 opponent is Colorado State, led by the Tide's old offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain. He's a man with the knowledge necessary to create some great plays that attack Nick Saban's defense at its weak points.