College Football Rankings 2017: Bleacher Report's Week 3 Top 25

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 10, 2017

Baker Mayfield tore Ohio State's secondary to shreds in a big road win.
Baker Mayfield tore Ohio State's secondary to shreds in a big road win.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There's a lot of college football left to be played in the next three months, but Oklahoma, Clemson, USC and Georgia made huge statements with Week 2 victories over ranked opponents. Each of those four teams climbed several spots in the new Bleacher Report Top 25, while Ohio State, Auburn, Stanford and Notre Dame dropped a few spots each for landing on the wrong end of those final scores.

Outside of those incredible games, though, it was a quiet week in the B/R Top 25, comprised of ballots from Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Greg Wallace.

Part of that can be attributed to Hurricane Irma, which necessitated cancellations for four of the teams in our previous poll. But the 13 teams that did get to play games against unranked opponents weren't messing around. Outside of Washington State's triple overtime win against Boise State, the narrowest margin of victory was Louisville's 12-point road win over North Carolina in which Lamar Jackson did his best Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson impersonation.

Here's our updated poll, followed by analysis on a couple of big movers, one team lurking just outside the Top 25, some context for the revenge on display in Week 2 and the biggest game to watch in Week 3:

  • 1. Alabama (Last week: 1)
  • 2. Oklahoma (6)
  • 3. Clemson (3)
  • 4. USC (7)
  • 5. Penn State (5)
  • 6. Oklahoma State (8)
  • 7. Washington (T-10)
  • 8. Florida State (4)
  • 9. Ohio State (2)
  • T-10. Michigan (9)
  • T-10. Wisconsin (13)
  • 12. LSU (14)
  • 13. Georgia (15)
  • 14. Stanford (T-10)
  • 15. Louisville (17)
  • 16. Virginia Tech (19)
  • 17. Miami (16)
  • 18. Auburn (12)
  • 19. West Virginia (21)
  • 20. Kansas State (18)
  • 21. Oregon (NR)
  • 22. Washington State (20)
  • T-23. South Carolina (NR)
  • T-23. TCU (NR)
  • 25. South Florida (T-22)

Others receiving votes: Maryland, Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, UCLA, Boise State, Notre Dame

Who's Hot: Georgia Bulldogs

Unless you've got a four-TV setup, AP No. 15 Georgia vs. No. 24 Notre Dame was the neglected game of a five-hour evening window that was nothing short of incredible. While you were probably watching Clemson vs. Auburn, Ohio State vs. Oklahoma and/or USC vs. Stanford, Georgia picked up a huge win with strong rushing, timely defense and one ridiculous Terry Godwin touchdown grab:

As far as the rushing goes, that's no surprise from the Bulldogs. From the moment we knew both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel would return as seniors, Georgia's running game became one of the most prominent units in the country. If anything, it's surprising the Dawgs only had 185 rushing yards and one TD against the Fighting Irish.

Even more impressive than Georgia's rushing was its rushing defense. Notre Dame ran for 422 yards and five touchdowns in a Week 1 rout of Temple. The Fighting Irish averaged 9.6 yards per carry against the Owls, but they didn't have a single rush go for more than eight yards against Georgia. Factoring in the three sacks that Brandon Wimbush took, Notre Dame finished the night with 37 carries for 55 yards.

Because Notre Dame couldn't do anything on the ground, it faced 3rd-and-a-mile situations over and over again, and it failed to convert on the majority of them. Notre Dame was 3-of-17 on third down, and two of those conversions were because of Georgia pass interference.

Long story short, Georgia brought back 10 defensive starters from last season and it's showing. This team is going to be a national factor. With all due respect to South Carolina and Tennessee, the Bulldogs are the clear favorite to win the SEC East, and they will enter Week 3 at No. 13 in our Top 25.

Who's Not: Auburn Tigers

Jarrett Stidham will be having nightmares about Clemson's defensive line.
Jarrett Stidham will be having nightmares about Clemson's defensive line.Mike Comer/Getty Images

Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham was supposed to be the savior for Auburn's offense, but he couldn't even save himself from Clemson's relentless pass rush.

Only one player in the country had more than two sacks in Week 1 (Ball State's Anthony Winbush had three), but that didn't stop Clemson's Austin Bryant from sacking Stidham four times Saturday night. Not too shabby for the fourth-most noteworthy defensive lineman on this roster. But Auburn's offensive line didn't have any better luck against anyone else, as Clemson finished the night with 11 sacks.

Stidham threw for 79 yards, but he lost 72 yards on sacks.

As a team, Auburn only had two offensive plays go for more than 10 yardsa 23-yard pass on the third play of the game and a 15-yard rush by Kamryn Pettway later on the same drive. The SEC Tigers had 54 yards of total offense on that first drive and had just 63 yards on the next 11 drives combined.

Maybe this was just a statement that Clemson's defense is unbelievable. After all, the Tigers only allowed 120 yards to Kent State last week, and they haven't surrendered a touchdown yet in eight quarters. But it was also a statement that Auburn's offense remains a work in progress after some equally disappointing showings late in the 2016 season against Georgia and Alabama.

With games against Mercer, Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the next four weeks, the Auburn Tigers have some time to figure things out before the schedule takes a turn for the worse. However, they'll be starting that attempted turnaround at No. 17 in our Top 25, five spots down from where they were last week.

Fun Fact: Revenge Is a Dish Best Served in Week 2

Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley got their revenge on Pittsburgh.
Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley got their revenge on Pittsburgh.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In the final College Football Playoff rankings of the 2016 season, Penn State was No. 5, Oklahoma was No. 7 and USC was No. 9. For all three teams, it was close, but no cigar, leaving each of them to dwell on that particular loss that cost them a chance to play for the national championship.

As luck would have it, the Nittany Lions, Sooners and Trojans all drew Week 2 opponents that they lost to in 2016, and they made sure those teams won't be the reason they're watching the CFP from home this year.

Penn State started the day with a 33-14 win over Pittsburgh, making up for last year's 42-39 mishap. PSU's terrific trifecta of Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki were responsible for all of the touchdowns. But the most noteworthy score came after the game when head coach James Franklin threw some shade at Pittsburgh:

Oklahoma entered its road game against Ohio State on an 11-game winning streak. Its last loss was a 45-24 beatdown courtesy of the Buckeyes. This time around, though, Baker Mayfield was flawless. The two-time (soon-to-be three-time) Heisman finalist completed 77.1 percent of his pass attempts for 386 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in Oklahoma's 31-16 win. There will be better stat lines this season, but given the stakes and the opponent, that will probably stick as the most impressive individual performance of 2017. The Sooners jumped from No. 6 to No. 2 in our poll.

Not to be outdone, Sam Darnold put on a show to help USC pay back Stanford for last year's 27-10 loss. This particular Heisman candidate did throw two interceptions, but he completed 21 of his other 24 pass attempts for 316 yards and four touchdowns. It was one heck of a bounce-back from his zero-TD performance in the opener against Western Michigan. The 42-24 win over the Cardinal bumped the Trojans back up to No. 4 after dipping to No. 7 last week.

Keep an Eye on: UCLA Bruins

Josh Rosen's last 4.5 quarters have been ridiculous.
Josh Rosen's last 4.5 quarters have been ridiculous.Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Josh Rosen and company officially put the college football nation on notice by coming back from a 44-10 deficit in Week 1's Sunday night special, and the Bruins kept that offensive freight train rolling with a 56-23 win over Hawaii.

How's this for absurd? In the 68 minutes from the start of the comeback against Texas A&M through the end of Rosen's day against Hawaii, he completed 46 of 58 passes for 695 yards and nine touchdowns while UCLA outscored its opposition 91-14.

Rosen entered the year in the conversation for the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018, and he would certainly be in the top five of any Heisman ballot submitted today.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they drew the short end of the Pac-12 scheduling stick. They play at Stanford in Week 4, at Washington in Week 9 and at USC in Week 12, which puts their chances of winning the conference somewhere between slim and none. But they might be able to win one of those games, and they might be a Top 25 team for the upcoming game against Stanford, provided they can take care of business against Memphis next Saturday.

What to Watch for: Clemson at Louisville

Clemson shut down Jarrett Stidham. Lamar Jackson won't be as easy.
Clemson shut down Jarrett Stidham. Lamar Jackson won't be as easy.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

If you strained your remote-control thumb whilst trying to keep up with all the ranked team versus ranked team action during Week 2's evening window, the good news is you'll have some time to recover. With Miami vs. Florida State getting moved to October because of Hurricanes Irma and Jose, Week 3's only* marquee game is a rematch of what was one of the most exciting matchups of the 2016 season.

When Clemson and Louisville last squared off, Lamar Jackson threw for 295 yards and rushed for 162 more, scoring three touchdowns. However, it wasn't quite enough to overcome the five touchdowns thrown by Deshaun Watson in a 42-36 victory for the Tigers in Death Valley.

Will things be different this time in Louisville with no Watson, or will this be the game when people take Kelly Bryant seriously as a potential CFP QB?

One thing we know is that Jackson is ready to rumble. The reigning Heisman winner threw for at least 375 yards and rushed for at least 100 in each of his first two games against Purdue and North Carolina. All told, he already has accounted for 1,010 yards of total offense. But he certainly wasn't padding his stats in blowouts. Louisville desperately needed all of those yards to make up for a defense that can't stop anyone right now.

*Honorable mention to AP No. 22 Tennessee at No. 25 Florida, but Florida's Week 2 game was canceled and its offense was a nightmare in Week 1. That might not actually be an interesting game.

         

Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of Sports Reference and CFBStats.com and recruiting data courtesy of Scout.

Kerry Miller covers college football and college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.