1. Alabama (3-0). The Tide, surprisingly, struggled a bit with Colorado State. It was 14 minutes before they scored and it was 17-6 well into the 3rd quarter, before the Tide eventually rolled 31-6. Undefeated Ole Miss will be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Ironically, the Tide are 36th in the nation in both points for and points against.
2. Oregon (3-0). Oregon had Week 4 to rest before they begin a stretch of 9 straight conference games to finish out the year. The Ducks take on Cal this week at home. Oregon is 2nd in points per game, 5th in points scored against, 2nd in rushing yards per game, and 18th in passing yards per game. While Alabama is the best in the country, Oregon may statistically be better (but they’ve played lighter competition).
3. Ohio State (4-0). The Buckeyes pass Clemson in my ranking this week after beating Florida A&M 76-0 with their backup QB. Starter Braxton Miller has now been cleared, and will play Saturday night when #23 Wisconsin comes to the Horseshoe in Columbus. How good will the Buckeyes be with their leader back on the field? Also, they’ve scored more points in each successive game (40, 42, 52, 76). If they can continue this trend, and score 77 or more against Wisconsin (don’t count on it), we’ll have some news Saturday night, and possibly a new #1 on Sunday.
4. Clemson (3-0). The Tigers drop from 3rd to 4th based on Ohio State’s performance combined with Clemson’s first half struggles against NC State. In fact, had a bad call not fallen in Clemson’s lap, it would have been 14-13 NC State, halfway through the 3rd quarter. This week, the Tigers host Wake Forest, who hasn’t won in Death Valley since 1998, and whose offense has struggled in 4 games so far. Clemson should beat the Deacons easily, before a potential trap game at Syracuse.
5. Texas A&M (3-1). While the Aggies have a few questions on defense, considering they’ve allowed 31 and 28 to Rice and Sam Houston State. However, the Aggie offense is undoubtedly one of the best 2 or 3 in the country, anchored by defending Heisman winner, QB Johnny Manziel. They now face back-to-back road games, at Arkansas and Ole Miss, with a bye week in between. They are lower in the polls than where I have them, but that is due to the loss to Alabama.
6. Stanford (3-0). Stanford jumps 3 spots to #6 in my ranking after beating a good Arizona State team 42-28, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated (The Cardinal led 29-0 at half and 39-7 after 3 quarters). Stanford outrushed the Sun Devils in that game 240-50. Stanford does have a difficult schedule for the next 6 games, playing a ranked opponent every other contest, culminating with a Thursday night showdown with Oregon on November 7. The Cardinal take on Washington State on the road this week.
7. Louisville (4-0). The Cardinals are a very tough team to rank, because they are undefeated but have achieved that record against very light opponents. Their toughest game, which was also their closest game, was against Kentucky, which they won 27-13. QB Teddy Bridgewater is certainly in the Heisman race. After a bye this week, they will travel to Temple on October 5. Their toughest matchups the rest of the way are probably a Thursday night game at home against Rutgers and a Friday night game at UConn (ask Michigan how tough that environment is).
8. Georgia (2-1). Georgia drops two spots to #8 after a close call against unheralded North Texas. That game was tied at 21 midway through the 3rd quarter, before the Bulldogs scored 24 straight points to win 45-21. Did Georgia have LSU on their minds? Or did the Mean Green of North Texas point out some weaknesses in Athens? If there are weaknesses, we’ll see them soon–LSU will be between the hedges on Saturday.
9. LSU (4-0). LSU showed enough against Auburn on Saturday to move up to #9 after a 35-21 win. The Tigers are now faced with their first of 3 big tests they will face this year when they travel to Georgia. Later, they will travel to Alabama and host Texas A&M in back-to-back games, with a week off in between, November 9 and 23. We’ll learn on Saturday how legitimate QB Zach Mettenberger is in big-game situations.
10. Florida State (3-0). The Seminoles did nothing wrong to fall from 8th to 10th this week, they were just passed by two impressive teams. In fact, the ‘Noles won 54-6 at home against Bethune-Cookman. This week they have a potential trap game at Boston College, who is playing better than most expected. They’ll have another potential trap game next week against a surprisingly good Maryland just before a bye and a trip to Clemson for what must be the ACC’s game of the year. These next three games will show us something about a very young but very talented team.