College football's Top 25 couldn't wait until the weekend to make some noise in the rankings.
Not that anything particularly dramatic has happened on the field heading into Saturday's slate. On Thursday, No. 21 South Florida steamrolled Temple behind two rushing touchdowns apiece from quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Darius Tice and a stellar defensive effort.
No. 23 Utah followed that act by narrowly escaping Tucson with a 30-24 win over Arizona, thanks in no small part to a late Wildcats fumble recovered by the Utes.
Of the remaining 23 teams ranked by the Associated Press, 22 will be in action on Sept. 23. No. 1 Alabama can look forward to another cakewalk, this time without leaving the SEC. USC will take a trip to the Bay Area to take on Cal, one week after the Trojans nearly tripped over themselves in avoiding a loss to Texas.
Just two dates on the Week 4 schedule pit Top 25 teams against one another. That figures to change as conference play grinds on and teams shuffle into and out of the polls.
Here are the AP rankings heading into Saturday of Week 8 along with matchups for each team.
Associated Press Top 25
- Alabama (45 first-place votes), 3-0, 1,504 points, at Vanderbilt
- Clemson (15), 3-0, 1,446 points, vs. Boston College
- Oklahoma (1), 3-0, 1,432 points, at Baylor
- Penn State, 3-0, 1,306 points, at Iowa
- USC, 3-0, 1,241 points, at California
- Oklahoma State, 3-0, 1,154 points, vs. No. 16 TCU
- Washington, 3-0, 1,141 points, at Colorado
- Michigan, 3-0, 1,081 points, at Purdue
- Wisconsin, 3-0, 1,031 points, N/A
- Ohio State, 2-1, 1,015 points, vs. UNLV
- Georgia, 3-0, 940 points, vs. No. 17 Mississippi State
- Florida State, 0-1, 922 points, vs. NC State
- Virginia Tech, 3-0, 730 points, vs. Old Dominion
- Miami, 1-0, 606 points, vs. Toledo
- Auburn, 2-1, 596 points, at Missouri
- TCU, 3-0, 553 points, at No. 6 Oklahoma State
- Mississippi State, 3-0, 532 points, at No. 11 Georgia
- Washington State, 3-0, 419 points, vs. Nevada
- Louisville, 2-1, 356 points, vs. Kent State
- Florida, 1-1, 308 points, vs. Kentucky
- South Florida, 3-0, 272 points, win vs. Temple 43-7
- San Diego State, 3-0, 201 points, at Air Force
- Utah, 3-0, 194 points, at Arizona
- Oregon, 3-0, 158 points, at Arizona State
- LSU, 2-1, 153 points, vs. Syracuse
The first of Saturday's Top 25 tiffs takes us to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where No. 6 Oklahoma State will welcome No. 16 TCU into Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys are gunning for their third straight win over the Horned Frogs and fifth in six tries since the club from Fort Worth joined the Big 12 in 2012.
The Pokes have been nothing if not prolific on offense so far this season. According to ESPN, OK State ranks among the top five nationally in total offense and points.
Mason Rudolph has led the way with his superlative play under center. The senior quarterback has thrown for 300 yards or more each time out, with 11 touchdown passes against just one interception. Last year, he torched Texas Christian for three total touchdowns in a 31-6 Cowboys win.
The Horned Frogs will need to slow down Rudolph in order to have a shot at a critical road victory. Gary Patterson's group looked great against Jackson State (63-0) and Arkansas (28-7) but softened a bit opposite SMU in Week 3 (56-36). A return to the form the team showed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in Week 2 would go a long way toward securing a win for TCU now and a spot in the national title race later.
No. 11 Georgia and No. 17 Mississippi State could both have a tough time getting a word in that particular conversation edgewise. The lower-ranked Bulldogs are all but doomed to get run out of the SEC West by Alabama. If the higher Bulldogs come out on top in the East, they will likely have to face that same Crimson Tide that washes over the SEC Championship Game year after year after year under Nick Saban.
Georgia has played just one game of any real football consequence this season. In Week 2, the Dawgs snuck past Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on a late field goal and fumble recovery.
Playing between the hedges should afford UGA all the home cooking it needs to build confidence against a quality opponent. That's particularly important for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who's completed nearly 60 percent of his passes while throwing just one pick alongside his five touchdown passes.
MSU, meanwhile, has a signal-caller of its own making a name for himself: Nick Fitzgerald. The 6'5" junior from Richmond Hill, Georgia, has tossed seven touchdown passes against one interception, putting him ahead of last season's 21-touchdown, 10-pick pace.
"[Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen] seems to always find really good quarterbacks, especially dual-threat guys," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, per Stats LLC (via ESPN.com). "He's known for developing those type of guys. He's done a good job with their overall program."
As important as poise in the pocket will be for these two teams, the winning side will likely be the one that is able to smash the other one in the mouth first, most frequently and most forcefully. Between senior Nick Chubbs, a rumbling running back, on offense and a string of imposing presences on defense, UGA appears to have the edge.
"They've got big, athletic guys on defense," Mullen said, per Stats LLC (via ESPN.com). "They can play in multiple fronts on the defensive line and play you with personnel that fits each of those fronts. They can play in 3-4 with 3-4 personnel, 4-3 with 4-3 personnel or nickel with nickel personnel with a five-star player at each of those positions. They're pretty darn good."
Hopefully the game lives up to the talent that will be on display on both sides.