1. Alabama (2-0). The Tide’s 49-42 win at Texas A&M proved what we already knew was probably the case: this is the best team in the country. However, there is some room for improvement on defense, as they gave up 42 points and 628 yards to the Aggies offense. The Tide have an easy test this week against Colorado State, but next week play undefeated Ole Miss, who will have two weeks to prepare for their biggest contest in years.
2. Oregon (3-0). The Ducks have the best offenses in the country, particularly in the speed category, and one of the best defenses, ranking 2nd in points scored and 4th in points allowed. They are coming off a 59-14 drubbing of Tennessee, and now play Pac-12 teams the rest of the way. That sounds easy, but it does include three games against ranked opponents. This week they will be hosting a Cal team coming off a loss Saturday to Ohio State (how’s that for two tough games back-to-back for Cal).
3. Clemson (2-0). The Tigers had Saturday off to prepare for an early game this week, as they travel to NC State for a Thursday night game. I can’t decide if this might be Dave Doeren’s coming out party for the Wolfpack (if they at least keep it close) or if this will be Clemson’s time to shine in conference play. Since 1998, Clemson is just 2-9 in Thursday night conference games, and one of those wins was part of a 11-2 season last year. Nevertheless, most of what we know about Clemson comes from the win over Georgia, but that says a lot.
4. Ohio State (3-0). One of my “closer than the experts think” games for last week ended up as a blowout, as the Buckeyes beat Cal, 52-34. Although QB Braxton Miller did not play for Ohio State, backup Kenny Guiton was impressive. Now, Miller is listed as probable for Saturday as the Buckeyes host Florida A&M. Even if he can’t play against the Rattlers, he should be good to go when the Buckeyes open Big 10 play with Wisconsin and Northwestern back-to-back.
5. Texas A&M (2-1). Usually win a team loses, they drop in the polls and power rankings. This is an exception. The Aggies lost to Alabama 49-42 on Saturday, but played very well in the game. Anyone who stays within a touchdown of this Alabama team is really good. The fact that the Aggies dropped 3 spots in one poll and 4 in the other is ridiculous; this is the team that gave Alabama a scare, folks! They should be able to get through SMU and Arkansas at home before an open week and a date at #21 Ole Miss.
6. Georgia (1-1). The Bulldogs had Saturday off, so its only appropriate that they stay put at #6. Like I said last week, I’m hesitant to put a one-loss team so high (in fact, they’re 9th in one poll and 10th in the other), but the loss was to my #3 team, and the Bulldogs turned around made a good South Carolina team look pretty bad. North Texas visits Athens on Saturday, a good test run for anything Georgia wants to try before hosting LSU on Sept. 28.
7. Louisville (3-0). Louisville beat Kentucky 27-13 on Saturday; not an overwhelming win over the Wildcats, but the Cardinals took care of business. Louisville has what is likely the easiest schedule of any of the national championship contenders, and they have one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater. They’ve also only allowed 27 points, total, in their first 3 games. FIU comes to town on Saturday, which will be followed by an open week.
8. Florida State (2-0). The new team in this week’s top 10 is Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles. They gave Nevada a beating, 62-7, after trailing 7-3 midway through the 2nd quarter. Freshman QB Jameis Winston has a load of potential, and is currently piloting an offense that is 5th in points per game, while the defense is 8th in points per game. On Saturday, Bethune-Cookman will be in Tallahassee, before next week the ‘Noles travel to Boston College in a potential trap game.
9. Stanford (2-0). Stanford is 5th in both polls, but I’m not as impressed with the Cardinal as the pollsters are. What we’ve seen so far is a 34-13 win over San Jose State, and a 34-20 win at Army, in a game that was even closer than the score would indicate. Army got more first downs than Stanford, and the Cardinal only outgained the Black Knights by 55 yards. Stanford was outrushed, 284-203. They also had 2 turnovers to Army’s 1, and Army held the ball nearly 8 minutes more than Stanford. This is a good team, but it’s not a top 5 team. We’ll find out a lot on Saturday, when Stanford hosts #23 Arizona State on national TV.
10. LSU (3-0). The Tigers are 6th and 7th in the two major polls, but I don’t know that they should be that high. Their body of work so far is games against TCU, UAB, and Kent State. TCU is an impressive win, but they’re out of the polls now after a loss to Texas Tech last Thursday. QB Zach Mettenberger has had good numbers, but there are still doubts in my mind after some of his struggles last year. LSU will play Auburn at home in the battle of the Tigers this week, before a trip to Georgia on Sept. 28. After that, we will know much more about this team.
Fell from Rankings: Michigan (3-0). A game way to close for comfort against Akron showed this Wolverine team may not be as good as we thought. They do have the advantage of a pretty easy schedule until November.