College Football Rankings 2015: Overview of Week 3 Standings for NCAA's Top 25

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2015

Alabama head coach Nick Saban gestures on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press

One advantage that football has over every other sport in this country is time. Teams only play one game each week, providing most of the analysis used for the upcoming matchup, making it impossible to make definitive statements after two weeks. 

All that can be said about college football and the top-25 rankings through two weeks in 2015 is Ohio State looks really good and Auburn should not be ranked despite two wins. 

Looking ahead to Saturday's games, the SEC has the two marquee matchups involving ranked teams, but that leaves a lot of room for off-the-radar upsets.

Here's a look at the rankings heading into the third full Saturday of action, followed by the top storylines to keep an eye on.

College Football Top 25 Rankings—Week 3
Pos.Coaches PollAP PollB/R Poll
1Ohio StateOhio StateOhio State
3TCUTCUMichigan State
4Michigan StateMichigan StateTCU
6Florida StateUSCUSC
8GeorgiaNotre DameNotre Dame
9ClemsonFlorida StateUCLA
10Notre DameUCLAGeorgia
13OregonLSUFlorida State
14LSUGeorgia TechTexas A&M
15AuburnMississippiGeorgia Tech
16Georgia TechOklahomaLSU
17OklahomaTexas A&MOklahoma
18Texas A&MAuburnAuburn
24NorthwesternWisconsinWest Virginia
25Oklahoma StateOklahoma StateNorthwestern
Source: USA Today/Bleacher Report

Upset Alert: Alabama (vs. Mississippi)

Mississippi announced itself as a national power last October with a 23-17 win over Alabama, so the Rebels aren't exactly David going against Goliath in Saturday's matchup. 

However, it's one thing to beat Alabama at home and another going into Bryant-Denny Stadium to knock off the Crimson Tide. Their last home loss was against Texas A&M three years ago in the midst of Johnny Manziel's Heisman-winning run. 

There is good news for the Rebels, who have looked phenomenal through two games with wins by a combined score of 149-24. Granted, those two wins over Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State aren't as good on paper as Alabama's Week 1 win over Wisconsin. 

Analytics love Ole Miss so far, with ESPN's Football Power Index ranking the Rebels No. 1 in the country thanks to a top-ranked offensive efficiency rating and a defensive efficiency rating tied for seventh.

Yet even with those numbers, the biggest reason to like Mississippi in this spot is simple: Quarterback Chad Kelly.

In last year's game, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace went 18-of-31 with 251 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That was the first time Alabama's secondary problems would cost it a game. 

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Kelly's best game through two weeks has already surpassed Wallace's best game in four years by QBR: 

There's also been little indication through two games that the Crimson Tide secondary is better this season. They did adjust late against Wisconsin, but quarterback Joel Stave had 149 yards and one touchdown in the first half. 

Alabama's key on offense will be running the ball, as ESPN Stats & Info noted the team is 70-3 since 2008 when averaging at least four yards per carry. Mississippi held the Tide to 3.8 yards per carry in last year's win.

Mississippi's offense looks like a more cohesive unit under Kelly than it did with the erratic Wallace. Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa will be the first major test to prove if the Rebels are a legitimate title threat, or if they just coasted against two easy opponents. 

Key Storyline: Notre Dame's D vs. Georgia Tech Rushing Attack

After the first week, Notre Dame looked like a playoff contender after dominating Texas behind an impressive performance from quarterback Malik Zaire.

Week 2 changed the Fighting Irish storyline, with Zaire suffering a season-ending ankle injury and the defense giving up 27 points on 416 yards against Virginia. Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer bailed the defense out with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller in the final minute to steal a win on the road. 

Now, the stakes are even higher this week with the first major test of Notre Dame's season arriving in the form of Georgia Tech and the most unstoppable rushing attack in the nation, per Kevin Trahan of USA Today:

There is also the question of what Kizer will do now that he's in charge of the offense for an entire game. It's one thing to play well in a relief role, but everyone is coming after him now. 

Matt Borcas of Grantland believes Kizer's final stat line from the Virginia game isn't wholly indicative of how he played:

While his stat line was perfectly adequate — 8-for-12 for 92 yards and two touchdowns, with a QBR of 75.1 — Kizer seemed flustered, indecisive, and occasionally overwhelmed when he came in to relieve Zaire. Of course, it’s only natural for an untested redshirt freshman to experience some growing pains, especially on the road, but there’s no denying the simple fact he’s a significant downgrade from Zaire.

It's also a difficult thing to ask a redshirt freshman with no appearances prior to last week to make his first start against one of the nation's best teams. 

This puts more pressure on Notre Dame's defense, which has been baffled by potent running teams recently. Navy has run for 667 yards in its last two games against the Irish, though they have found ways to win those games thanks in large part to 35 fourth-quarter points combined. 

The best Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly can do is create big plays early, force Georgia Tech out of its rhythm and make the Yellow Jackets throw more than they would like. 

It's a lot easier said than done. Don't expect Notre Dame's miracles to continue this week, even in the presence of Touchdown Jesus. 

Most Desperate Team: Auburn (at LSU)

At the risk of giving Saturday Night Live a sequel to its "What is Burn Notice?" skit, can anyone tell me what Auburn is right now?

Playing in the SEC is always going to curry favor with voters and some fans around the country, but there is no reason to think the Tigers are one of the nation's 25 best team through two games.

They held on for a win against an 0-2 Louisville team in Week 1 and needed a punter to botch a late kick to force overtime against Jacksonville State, which is an FCS school.

Will Muschamp is a terrific defensive coach, but the talent isn't on the roster for his expertise to make a difference. The Tigers have given up 44 points and 843 yards through two games.

The offense is erratic because junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson has made too many mistakes (five interceptions) and doesn't have the same running element that Nick Marshall brought the previous two seasons.

LSU cornerback Dwayne Thomas even admitted to's David Ching that he's expecting Johnson to make at least one mistake on Saturday:

We know that this guy, if we play our technique right, if we do the fundamentals and have our eyes in the right place, he should be able to throw us one -- if not, hand it to us. ... This quarterback has a great arm, but we don't know how accurate he is because we haven't seen him in person. With the tight coverage that we play, we're looking forward to him giving us a few.

Yet for all of Auburn's problems thus far, everything will be forgiven if the Tigers go into Baton Rouge and knock off their SEC rivals. 

LSU passed its first major test of the season, escaping with a 21-19 win over Mississippi State. Now, it will get to unleash star running back Leonard Fournette on an Auburn defense that's allowed 399 yards on the ground in two games. 

It's not often that a 2-0 team can feel like it has yet to win a game, but Auburn's early woes against inferior competition suggest the voters were too generous slotting it in the top 10 before the season began.  


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