There wasn’t as much college football drama as last week, and most of the top teams escaped unscathed. However, there was still movement in our top 25 college football rankings. Who rose, who fell, and who joined the fray for the first time?
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Despite Bryce Young throwing three touchdowns to two interceptions, Alabama dispatched UL-Monroe 63-7. Six different rushers generated 30+ yards on the ground, Will Anderson Jr. added a pick-six to his résumé, and Brian Branch returned a punt 68 yards for a score.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
C.J. Stroud had more touchdowns (4) than incompletions (2), Marvin Harrison Jr. exploded for six catches, 102 yards, and two scores, and that was all at halftime, with Ohio State leading 42-14 over Toledo. Similar to most of the top teams, the Buckeyes needed little effort to push the Rockets aside. Wisconsin is next up, which should offer a more rigid defense for OSU to sharpen their fangs.
3. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia cruised to a 48-7 victory in Week 3. Was it over an FCS school? Maybe a Group of Five program? No, it was on the road against SEC opponent South Carolina. Stetson Bennett continued his — dare I say — Heisman-contending campaign, and the defense held once projected first-round pick Spencer Rattler to zero touchdowns, two picks, and 4.7 yards per attempt.
4. Michigan Wolverines
In his first game as the unquestioned starter, J.J. McCarthy didn’t need to do much. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 214 yards, but RB Blake Corum punched in five TDs on just 12 rushes. Michigan‘s defense also did its job, holding UConn to zero points and just 110 yards of offense.
5. North Carolina State Wolfpack
NC State continues to roll, but questions surrounding the offense remain. Devin Leary completed just 15 of 23 for 121 yards, and WR Thayer Thomas threw the Wolfpack’s only passing touchdown. RB Demie Sumo-Karngbaye is the gift that keeps on giving after picking up where Zonovan Knight left off. He produced 147 yards and two scores on 18 touches. Nevertheless, the defense has been the brightest spot, not allowing over 400 yards or 20 points this season.
6. USC Trojans (Last week: 7)
Despite both programs remaining undefeated, I’ve seen enough from USC to put them above Clemson. The defense is opportunistic — a nice change of pace from Trojan defenses in recent years. But the offensive side of the ball is what should every other team worried. Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley have picked up right where they left off — if not even better. Both Travis Dye and Austin Jones had 100+ yards and a score on just over 10 carries each.
With the defense holding up their end and the running game complementing the passing attack, USC is a force to be reckoned with.
7. Clemson Tigers (Last week: 6)
Plays were left on the field for Clemson’s offense, but they still sent Louisiana Tech home with a 48-20 loss. D.J. Uiagalelei completed just over 50% of his passes for 7.6 yards per attempt and two scores. But RB Will Shipley was the star of the show, running for 139 yards and two TDs on only 12 carries. Oh, and this is still a national championship-caliber defensive unit.
8. Oklahoma Sooners
Nebraska’s downward slide continued against Oklahoma, with the Sooners outscoring the Cornhuskers 49-14. Eric Gray recorded 113 yards and two TDs on 11 carries, and Dillon Gabriel continued his two-plus TD, zero-INT streak this season. Oklahoma has faced little resistance so far this year. But they can’t get complacent, with Kansas State and TCU on tap leading up to their Red River Showdown against Texas.
9. Kentucky Wildcats
Will Levis threw two picks, and La’Vell Wright lost a fumble, but outside of the turnovers — which I know isn’t a throwaway statement –, Kentucky handled business against Youngstown State. Levis had the longest run of the day by either team (24 yards) and averaged 10.8 yards per pass. Meanwhile, Dane Key caught six passes for 90 yards and a score. Northern Illinois may not prove to be a difficult task in Week 4, but Ole Miss will bring a challenge in Week 5.
10. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last week: 11)
Oklahoma State dropped 42 points on FCS-level Arkansas-Pine Bluff … with 11 minutes remaining in the SECOND quarter. So, yea, everything is well in Stillwater. However, they will undergo their first real test of 2022 against defending Big 12 champion Baylor next week.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last week: 14)
The Golden Gophers continue to crush the competition, holding Colorado to 10 of 24 passing for 90 yards. And on the other side of the ball, Mohamed Ibrahim took 22 attempts for 203 yards and three touchdowns, tying Darrell Thompson for the most rushing scores in a career in Minnesota history (40). Fresh off a 49-7 victory, Minnesota will visit Michigan State in Week 4.
12. Ole Miss Rebels (Last week: 15)
Jaxson Dart completed 10 of 16 passes for 207 yards and an interception … and Ole Miss still defeated Georgia Tech 42-0. That’s because Zach Evans (18-134-2), Quinshon Judkins (19-98-2), and Ulysses Bentley IV (8-27-2) dominated on the ground. Additionally, the defense stunted Jeff Sims and Co., conceding only 13 first downs and 214 total yards. The Rebels haven’t been tested quite yet, so it will be interesting how they perform against Kentucky in Week 5.
13. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last week: 16)
North Carolina had the week off, and it was a much-needed one following two straight close calls against Group of Five programs. But they will be in every game as long as freshman phenoms QB Drake Maye and RB Omarion Hampton are in the backfield.
14. Tennessee Volunteers (Last week: 17)
63-6. Akron gave their all, but they were simply no match for Tennessee. The speedy Jalin Hyatt took over at receiver, hauling in five passes for 166 yards and two scores. There isn’t much else to take away from this contest, yet with Florida on the horizon, the Vols have to stay on their game to stay undefeated in the SEC.
15. Arkansas Razorbacks (Last week: 18)
It was almost an upset for Missouri State after going up 17-0 early, but Arkansas came back 38-27. All the talk is about KJ Jefferson, and rightfully so, but Raheim Sanders is an absolute game-changer. He needed just 24 touches to record 242 touches and two TDs. Still, both backfield-mates lost fumbles, so they will need to improve ball security for the rest of the year.
16. Oregon State Beavers (Last week: 19)
I didn’t have Oregon State scoring 68 points in a game this year, but here we are. And although it was against an FCS program, Montana State contended for the title last year. No Beaver rushed for over 65 yards, but five barrelled into the end zone.
Chance Nolan practically walked the offense downfield each drive, completing 19 of 25 attempts for 276 yards and four TDs. The secondary is one of the best in the Pac-12, and Rejzohn Wright is one of the best corners in the conference — if not the nation.
17. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Last week: 20)
Sam Hartman’s return raises Wake Forest’s floor and ceiling, but their performance on the ground against Liberty is a concern. They couldn’t get anything going — literally. The Demon Deacons averaged 0.8 yards per carry. Zero. Point. Eight. That can’t happen again if they want to remain competitive.
18. Florida Gators (Last week: 21)
What is wrong with Anthony Richardson? He has all the physical talent in the world, and he has put up back-to-back stinkers. The latest was his worst, as it came against South Florida. He completed just over 50% of his passes for 112 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks. The Gators‘ rushing attack led the team to victory, taking 30 attempts for 217 yards and three scores. It was a true by-committee approach, with no rusher earning over eight carries.
19. Utah Utes (Last week: 22)
Midway through the third quarter, San Diego State completed just 3 of 10 passes. The Aztecs aren’t known for their aerial assault, but credit to the Utes‘ suffocating defense. Cameron Rising also kept the ball moving against a stout SDSU secondary, throwing four TDs en route to 35 points through three quarters.
20. Pittsburgh Panthers (Last week: 23)
Kedon Slovis took the field for warmups, but ultimately, it was third-stringer Nate Yarnell that started against Western Michigan. He only threw 12 passes but connected on nine for 179 yards and one TD. Israel Abanikanda took over on the ground, rushing for 133 yards and a score of his own. Regardless, the Panthers will go as far as Slovis takes them. And if he doesn’t suit up for another game or two, Pitt could slip in the rankings.
21. Baylor Bears (Last week: 24)
After falling to BYU last week, Baylor bounced back with a 42-7 win over Texas State. It was an expected victory, but a win is a win is a win. While Blake Shapen has yet to take the passing game to new heights, true freshman Richard Reese gave the rushing attack new life. He generated 156 yards and three TDs on 19 attempts, even taking his lone catch for 17 yards. Still, 4 of 11 on third down won’t cut it against stiffer competition later on.
22. Florida State Seminoles (Last week: Unranked)
Hello, Florida State, welcome to the top 25! It may have taken me a few weeks to warm up to you, but now? I’m doing the tomahawk chop right alongside you! This team has grit, and Jordan Travis looks like a legitimate 2023 NFL Draft prospect. After outlasting LSU last week and knocking off my ACC dark horse Louisville in Week 3, there is no more ignoring the Seminoles.
Jared Verse exited with an alarming leg injury, and any time missed from the star edge rusher could be difficult for FSU to overcome. Treshaun Ward is as elusive as they come with the ball in his hands, and 6’7″ Johnny Wilson is a mismatch nightmare for defenses.
23. Miami Hurricanes (Last week: 12)
Week 3 saw Miami suffer a demoralizing 17-9 loss to Texas A&M. Still, the Aggies were a top-10 ranked team just last week. There is talent littered throughout the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Henry Parrish Jr. (16-85) and Jaylan Knighton (14-77) were productive on the ground, but Tyler Van Dyke must elevate the passing game for the Hurricanes to stay in the top 25 long term.
24. Washington Huskies (Last week: unranked)
As with Florida State, it’s time to start putting some respect on Washington’s name. This isn’t the same Huskies from years past. The offense actually has some legs — figuratively and literally — with Michael Penix under center. He threw four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards against a stout Michigan State defense, with three TDs and 153 yards going to freshman Ja’Lynn Polk.
25. BYU Cougars (Last week: 10)
Although BYU lost to an Oregon team many wrote off after Week 1, they were down their top two receivers and two defensive linemen. It wasn’t ideal circumstances, but Jaren Hall and Co. showed heart through the end. I’m not taking the Cougars off the top 25 just yet, but another loss would do their odds in until other teams falter ahead of them.
Teams on the outside looking in
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Washington State Cougars
- Michigan State Spartans
- Texas Longhorns
- Marshall Thundering Herd