College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 3

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 20, 2020

College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 3

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    Miami's Brevin Jordan
    Miami's Brevin JordanPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    There were only 10 AP Top 25 teams playing during Week 3 of the 2020 college football season, but that was more than enough for some moving and shaking in the Bleacher Report rankings.

    Miami picked up a huge road win over Louisville in the only ranked-on-ranked action of the weekend. Appalachian State was upset by Marshall. Louisiana erased a 14-0 deficit for an overtime victory over Georgia State. UCF's offense was in mid-season form in its opener at Georgia Tech. And let's just say Oklahoma State wasn't as impressive as Clemson and Notre Dame were.

    One B1G thing to note is that we have re-introduced the Big Ten to our Top 25 rankings. Ohio State and Co. won't start playing until five weeks from now, but now that they've unanimously voted to return to action and released the full eight-week regular-season schedule, it's time to put them back in the mix.

    Perhaps we'll be able to put the Pac-12 back in next week, too? Boise State eventually? Maybe?

    For now, B/R experts David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepard are only considering teams that have games scheduled. Each panel member submitted a ballot, with a first-place vote counting for 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.

         

    B/R Post-Week 3 Top 25

    1. Clemson (Last Week: 1)
    2. Alabama (2)
    3. Ohio State (NR)
    4. Georgia (3)
    5. Oklahoma (4)
    6. (tie) Florida (5)
    6. (tie) Notre Dame (6)
    8. Penn State (NR)
    9. LSU (9)
    10. Texas A&M (8)
    11. Texas (10)
    12. UCF (15)
    13. Miami (22)
    14. North Carolina (11)
    15. Auburn (12)
    16. Wisconsin (NR)
    17. Oklahoma State (7)
    18. Cincinnati (16)
    19. Tennessee (14)
    20. Minnesota (NR)
    21. Michigan (NR)
    22. Kentucky (17)
    23. Army (25)
    24. Louisiana (19)
    25. Memphis (23)

    Others receiving votes: Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Marshall

Who's Hot: UCF's Dillon Gabriel and Miami's D'Eriq King

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    UCF QB Dillon Gabriel
    UCF QB Dillon GabrielWillie J. Allen Jr./Associated Press

    Dillon Gabriel wasn't expected to play last season. It was supposed to be a battle between Brandon Wimbush and Darriel Mack Jr. for UCF's starting quarterback job. But the true freshman impressed in a Week 1 blowout of Florida A&M, earned the starting gig and ended up throwing for more yards (3,653) than any other freshman last season.

    If you thought he might be headed for a sophomore slump, think again.

    Gabriel threw for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-21 road win over Georgia Tech. He did lose a fumble and throw an interception, but that's a small price to pay for an afternoon with eight completions that went for more than 20 yardsagainst a GT secondary that held Florida State below 200 passing yards last week.

    Gabriel's favorite receiver from last season (Gabriel Davis) is now playing for the Buffalo Bills, but you wouldn't know it from this season-opening performance. Marlon Williams, Tre Nixon and Oklahoma transfer Jaylon Robinson each had a reception that went for 40 or more yards and combined for 353 of Gabriel's 417 yards. Suffice it to say, the Knights still have one of the most potent offenses in the nation.

    And in the marquee game of the night, Miami's D'Eriq King was impressive early and often.

    The visiting Hurricanes scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns against Louisville. The first came on an RPO on 3rd and 1 in the red zone. King read the linebacker's eyes, kept the ball and found Will Mallory for a 17-yard touchdown. And while King didn't account for the second touchdown, Jaylan Knighton wouldn't have been able to run that in from three yards out if King hadn't converted both a 3rd and 11 and a 3rd and 14 earlier in the 86-yard drive.

    When Knighton got wide open for a 75-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, it was because King leaned in as if he was going to run, luring in the safety before flipping it down the sideline for an easy score. And continuing the earlier trend of converting 3rd and long situations, he connected with Brevin Jordan for a 47-yard touchdown on 3rd and 12.

    King didn't run much in this one (nine rushing yards), but he threw for 325 yards and three scores in Miami's 47-34 victory. It's been a while since the Hurricanes had a playmaker like this at quarterback, and they look like an early contender because of this star.

Who's Not: Oklahoma State's Offense

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    Chuba Hubbard
    Chuba HubbardBrody Schmidt/Associated Press

    Oklahoma State got the win against Tulsa, but it was the furthest thing from pretty.

    The Cowboys were favored by three touchdowns.

    They only scored one.

    And even that didn't come until they were on their third-string quarterback in the fourth quarter.

    Starting QB Spencer Sanders left the game with an apparent ankle injury in the first quarter, and it should be noted that the offense looked fine on the first drive with him out there. They went 76 yards before settling for a field goal.

    Once he left the game, though, the Cowboys looked nothing like the elite offense we were anticipating.

    Chuba Hubbard was bottled up all afternoon long, snapping an 11-game streak of rushing for 100 or more yards. Hard to believe that could happen against a team that he annihilated for 256 yards and three touchdowns last season.

    Star wide receiver Tylan Wallace didn't even make a reception in the first half. His absence was so unexpected and inexplicable that sideline reporter Kris Budden noted at one point during a Tulsa possession that Wallace seemed fine and was still wearing his helmet. It was as if Oklahoma State just forgot that it had one of the best route runners in the nation at its disposal.

    The Cowboys corrected that error and he finished with 94 yards. Wallace also drew multiple defensive pass interference flags. But the Cowboys had just 138 passing yards, which was their worst output through the air since a 132-yard dud in October 2014.

    Tulsa really should have won this game, but the Golden Hurricane shot themselves in the foot over and over again with bad/dumb penalties and wasted timeouts. They were ready for Oklahoma State on defense, but their offense looked like it hadn't practiced since last December.

Fun Fact: Complete First-Half Domination by the ACC's Co-Juggernauts

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    Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
    Clemson QB Trevor LawrenceGerald Herbert/Associated Press

    It was expected to be a light week of work for Clemson and Notre Dame, but those two co-favorites to win the ACC made things look absurdly easy in shutout victories.

    Last year, the Fighting Irish had a 52-0 victory over Bowling Green in which Ian Book had five passing touchdowns in the first half. They switched things up a bit for this 52-0 win over South Florida, instead rushing for five touchdowns in the first halfand then added a sixth in the fourth quarter for good measure.

    Coming into the season, that rushing attack was probably the biggest question mark for Notre Dame. With Tony Jones Jr. out of the picture, Book was the only player on the roster who rushed for more than 180 yards last year. But Kyren Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns last week. Against South Florida, it was C'Bo Flemister leading the way with 127 yards on just 13 carries. They ran for 281 yards as a team and looked solid on the ground.

    Even more impressive was the defense. The Fighting Irish didn't force any turnovers in the game, but they only allowed one first down and 60 total yards in the first half.

    But Clemson's 49-0 desolation of The Citadel was even more ridiculous.

    In the first 24 minutes and 30 seconds, Clemson ran 30 offensive plays and scored 49 points. (One of those touchdowns came on a fumble recovery by linebacker James Skalski.) Trevor Lawrence didn't play long, but he was outrageously efficient. He completed 8-of-9 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns for a nice little passer efficiency rating of 355.69. Both the 44-yard pass to Amari Rodgers and the 54-yard strike to Frank Ladson Jr. were absolutely gorgeous. Lawrence also had a two-yard rushing touchdown.

    By the time back-up QB D.J. Uiagalelei ran in the touchdown that put Clemson ahead by 49 points, the disparity in total yards was: Clemson 293, The Citadel 4.

    The Tigers took their foot off the gas at that point. The Citadel actually out-gained Clemson 158-112 over the final 35 minutes. But like Notre Dame's blowout of South Florida, this thing was over before halftime.

What to Watch for in Week 4: Welcome, SEC

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    Alabama HC Nick Saban
    Alabama HC Nick SabanButch Dill/Associated Press

    No. 2 Alabama at Missouri (7 p.m. ET)
    No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas (4 p.m. ET)
    No. 5 Florida at Ole Miss (noon ET)
    Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (3:30 p.m. ET)
    No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn (noon ET)
    Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M (7:30 p.m. ET)
    No. 15 Tennessee at South Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET)

    At long last, the SEC season gets underway.

    With the projected seven best teams each facing one of the projected seven worst teams in the conference, it certainly isn't the best slate we'll see from the SEC this season. But it will be nice to have more than half of the AP Top 25 in action for a change.

    Moreover, even a far-from-the-best week of SEC football still has the potential to be awesome. College Football Playoff contenders Alabama, Georgia and Florida shouldn't have much trouble, but they all open the season on the road. LSU has to break in a ton of new starters against what will be a new-look Mississippi State. And Kentucky at Auburn may well be the best game in the entire month of September.

             

    No. 22 Army at No. 13 Cincinnati (3:30 p.m. ET)

    Army made mincemeat of its first two opponents, rushing for a combined total of 776 yards and 10 touchdowns in blowout wins over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe. Cincinnati followed suit with five rushing touchdowns in its season-opening 55-20 victory over Austin Peay.

    Oh, yes. There will be much rushing.

    If Army wins this ground game, an undefeated season becomes a strong possibility. The next-most difficult game remaining on the schedule is probably the road trip to Tulane in mid-November, which shouldn't be that much of a challenge for a Top 25 type of team.

    Conversely, if Cincinnati wins, the Bearcats might still have a shot at the College Football Playoff in spite of the Big Ten's scheduled return to action. At any rate, it would be much more of a resume-building nonconference win than anything UCF managed in its previous undefeated regular seasons.

    Either way, this is a colossal Group of Five battle.

             

    Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma (noon ET)

    Kansas State pulled off a shocking upset of Oklahoma last year, but a road win here would be even more unbelievable, considering the Wildcats lost to Arkansas State to open their season.

    But this is still a noteworthy game because it's your first opportunity to watch Oklahoma's phenom quarterback Spencer Rattlerunless you actually paid the $54.99 for that pay-per-view game against Missouri State. He didn't even play in the second half, and he still had 290 yards and four touchdowns in his debut against the Bears.