College Football Fast Five and Power Rankings: Week Two

Fast Five:  Week Two Storylines

Mayfield, Oklahoma top Ohio State

A year after Ohio State beat Oklahoma in Norman, the Sooners returned the favor in Columbus with a 31-16 victory over the Buckeyes.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield led the Sooners to 28 second-half points, going 27-35 for the game with three touchdowns.  His Ohio State counterpart J.T. Barrett completed just 19 of his 35 attempts with an interception.  Mayfield outpassed Barrett 386 yards to 183.

The Sooners also controlled the ball well, possessing it for 35:17.  The result, despite a 3-3 halftime tie and a 17-13 game through three quarters, was a convincing Oklahoma win that moved them to second in the AP Poll.

Clemson defense stifles Auburn

In a battle of Tigers, Clemson’s offense totaled just 284 yards, but that was enough to beat Auburn 14-6 after an incredible defensive effort by the Tigers in orange and purple.

Clemson held Auburn to 117 total yards, including just 38 rushing yards in 42 attempts.  While Clemson’s own offense didn’t have their best night (284 yards), and while Clemson had two turnovers against none by Auburn, Clemson made enough plays to win–they were 9-for-16 on third down, and got two rushing touchdowns from QB Kelly Bryant, while Auburn’s failure to get touchdowns on two first-half red zone trips came back to haunt them.

Auburn was unable to return the favor for a 2011 loss at Clemson–their first as defending national champions–and their 2016 loss to Clemson in Auburn; Clemson passed their first big test in their title defense.

USC races past Stanford

USC dominated Stanford in every statistical category–the Trojans outgained the Cardinal 623-342, outpassed them 316-172, outrushed them 307-170, and had 28 first downs to Stanford’s 16–on their way to a 42-24 win.

Several Trojans had huge nights:  QB Sam Darnold was 21-26 for 316 yards and four touchdowns, with nine of those receptions for 121 yards on connections with Deontay Burnett, who scored twice, while Stephen Carr rushed for 119 yards on just 11 carries and Ronald Jones II ran for 116 with two touchdowns on 23 attempts.

If not for two pro-Cardinal factors, Stanford may have lost by more than 18.  Darnold did throw two interceptions–the only knock on an otherwise excellent game by the early-season Heisman candidate–and Bryce Love ran for 160 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

A week after struggling to top Western Michigan, the Trojans reasserted themselves as Pac-12 favorites by this commanding win over Stanford, who was coming off a 62-7 win over Rice in their opener.

Late turnover dooms Irish in slugfest

Neither team was particularly awe-inspiring in the first regular-season meeting between traditional powers Georgia and Notre Dame, but a late fumble recovery by the Bulldogs sealed a 20-19 win in South Bend.

It was a sloppy game by all accounts–the teams were a combined 7-35 on third down, totaled 20 penalties for 189 yards, and committed two turnovers each.  Irish QB Brandon Wimbush was 19-39 for 211 yards and rushed for the team’s only touchdown, as the Irish rushed for just 55 while settling for four field goals.  Georgia managed just 141 yards in the air, but 185 rushing yards helped lead them to the win.

After a back-and-forth game, Georgia took the lead with 3:39 left on a go-ahead field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship, a former walk-on who was just placed on scholarship this past week, before the fumble with 1:27 to play clinched the Georgia victory.

Hurricane Irma alters schedule

While the sports impact is a minor detail of Hurricane Irma, given its sheer magnitude and its impact on Florida and the southeast, the storm has affected college football’s schedule for both Week Two and Week Three.

Games in the state of Florida that were cancelled over the weekend include Memphis at Central Florida, Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State and Northern Colorado at Florida.  Miami’s game at Arkansas State and South Florida’s game at Connecticut were also cancelled due to travel concerns.  None of these games are expected to be made up (all are non-conference games except South Florida-Connecticut).

The Miami at Florida State game scheduled for this weekend has been postponed to Oct. 7, which was originally an open week for both teams.  As a result, Miami’s game against Georgia Tech that was originally scheduled for the following Thursday (Oct. 12) has been moved to Oct. 14.

Week Two Power Rankings

1. Alabama (2-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
After QB Jalen Hurts rushed for 154 yards in a 41-10 win over Fresno State, the Tide will face Colorado State; the Rams should be one of the best non-Power Five teams this season, but don’t expect them to be competitive in Tuscaloosa.

2. Oklahoma (2-0, LW: 6th, AP: 2nd)
The Sooners have the most impressive win so far after their convincing win at Ohio State.  They begin a stretch of three ranked opponents in four games on October 21, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t enter that stretch at 6-0.

3. USC (2-0, LW: 4th, AP: 4th)
The win over Stanford was a defensive improvement for the Trojans, who had looked sluggish against Western Michigan.  While they’ll be heavy favorites in the coming weeks, the next three teams they face can each score a lot of points if that defense doesn’t continue improving.

4. Penn State (2-0, LW: 3rd, AP: 5th)
The Nittany Lions avenged last year’s loss to Pittsburgh with a 33-14 win.  Looking ahead, their two biggest games (and the only two they won’t be favored in) are back-to-back, against Michigan and Ohio State the last two weekends in October.

5. Oklahoma State (2-0, LW: 5th, AP: 9th)
A 44-7 win at South Alabama isn’t impressive on paper, but give the Cowboys credit for agreeing to play the Jaguars, who were hosting their biggest home game ever, on the road.  This week they travel to Pittsburgh, who they beat last year in a 45-38 track meet.

6. Clemson (2-0, LW: 9th, AP: 3rd)
I still have questions about Clemson’s offense, but they answered a lot of questions about their defense in holding Auburn to 117 yards.  That said, the defense isn’t out of the woods–this week the Tigers travel to Louisville and face defending Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.

7. Michigan (2-0, LW: 7th, AP: 7th)
On one hand, the Wolverines looked unconvincing at times against Cincinnati, even in a 36-14 win.  On the other hand, they have two games they should win easily and a bye week before facing Michigan State on Oct. 7.

8. Washington (2-0, LW: 12th, AP: 6th)
The Huskies have been quietly solid, outscoring their first two opponents 93-21, although their toughest opponent so far was Rutgers.  This week they finish their non-conference slate with Fresno State, before a Pac-12 Championship Game rematch with Colorado to open league play.

9. Wisconsin (2-0, LW: 11th, AP: 10th)
The Badgers, who beat Florida Atlantic 31-14 over the weekend and travel to BYU this weekend, have the easiest schedule of any top 10 team–they will face one team that is currently ranked the entire season (Nov. 18 vs. Michigan).

10. Florida State (0-1, LW: 10th, AP: 11th)
Hurricane Irma has compromised the Seminoles’ schedule; they will resume play Sep. 23 against N.C. State after a 21-day layoff.

Worth a Mention:  Duke (2-0)
Northwestern was ranked 23rd in these rankings last week, reason being that they were an experienced team from a Power Five league that I thought could be a sleeper in the Big Ten West.  Then they met Duke:  the Blue Devils outgained the Wildcats a staggering 538-191, held the Wildcats to 22 rushing yards, and gained 34 first downs to Northwestern’s 15 while possessing the ball for 41:18.  I don’t have the Blue Devils ranked, but I’m surprised they didn’t get any AP Poll votes (they did get three votes in the Coaches’ Poll).

11. Ohio State (1-1, LW: 2nd, AP: 8th)
12. Georgia (2-0, LW: 13th, AP: 13th)
13. Auburn (1-1, LW: 8th, AP: 15th)
14. Miami (1-0, LW: 14th, AP: 17th)
15. LSU (2-0, LW: 16th, AP: 12th)

16. Kansas State (2-0, LW: 17th, AP: 18th)
17. Virginia Tech (2-0, LW: 18th, AP: 16th)
18. Utah (2-0, LW: 20th, AP: unranked)
19. Florida (0-1, LW: 19th, AP: 24th)
20. Stanford (1-1, LW: 15th, AP: 19th)

21. Louisville (2-0, LW: 21st, AP: 14th)
22. South Florida (2-0, LW: 22nd, AP: 22nd)
23. Tennessee (2-0, LW: 24th, AP: 23rd)
24. UCLA (2-0, LW: 25th, AP: 25th)
25. TCU (2-0, LW: unranked, AP: 20th)

Also Ranked in AP Poll:  Washington State (2-0, AP: 21st)

Fell from Rankings:  Northwestern (1-1, LW: 23rd)

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Twitter Picks for College Football Week Two

Game of the Week
#5 Oklahoma (1-0) at #2 Ohio State (1-0)
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Betting Favorite:  Ohio State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma- 6th, Ohio State- 2nd

 

Big Game Guarantee
#14 Stanford (1-0) at #6 USC (1-0)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Betting Favorite:  USC by 6
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Stanford- 15th, USC- 4th

 

Upset of the Week
#13 Auburn (1-0) at #3 Clemson (1-0)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Betting Favorite:  Clemson by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Auburn- 8th, Clemson- 9th

 

Closer Than the Experts Think
Pittsburgh (1-0) at #4 Penn State (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Betting Favorite:  Penn State by 22
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Pittsburgh- unranked, Penn State- 3rd

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think
Indiana (0-1) at Virginia (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Betting Favorite:  Indiana by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Bad Spread Game
#15 Georgia (1-0) at #24 Notre Dame (1-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Betting Favorite:  Notre Dame by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Georgia- 13th, Notre Dame- unranked

 

Group of Five Game of the Week
Western Michigan (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Betting Favorite:  Michigan State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Is This Futbol?
Wake Forest (1-0) at Boston College (1-0)
Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET, ACCN
Betting Favorite:  Boston College by 1
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Is This Basketball?
South Carolina (1-0) at Missouri (1-0)
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Betting Favorite:  Missouri by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Toilet Bowl
Minnesota (1-0) at Oregon State (1-1)
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET, FS1
Betting Favorite:  Oregon State by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  The Holy War
Utah (1-0) at BYU (0-1)
Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Betting Favorite:  Utah by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Utah- 20th, BYU- unranked

 

NFL Game of the Week
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Betting Favorite:  Dallas by 4

 

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record: 5-6
College Overall Record: 5-6
NFL Game of the Week: 0-0

Game of the Week: 1-0
Big Game Guarantee: 0-1
Upset of the Week: 0-1
Closer Than the Experts Think: 0-1
Not Closer Than the Experts Think: 0-1
Overhyped/Bad Spread Game: 1-0
Group of Five Game of the Week: 1-0
Is This Futbol?: 1-0
Is This Basketball?: 1-0
Toilet Bowl: 0-1
Miscellaneous: 0-1

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

 

College Football: Week Eight Power Rankings and Week Nine Twitter Picks

Power Rankings for Week Eight

Week eight saw top-ranked Alabama continue their domination over the SEC with a 33-14 win over #6 Texas A&M, the stunning upset of Penn State over Ohio State in a very happy Happy Valley, and many of the rest of the College Football Playoff contenders either having the weekend off or dominating a lesser team as expected.

After Penn State’s upset win, they enter these rankings for the first time since 2014.  LSU, Virginia Tech, and Colorado each re-enter the rankings this week after big conference wins, including LSU’s over Ole Miss and Virginia Tech’s over Miami.

As a result, the Rebels and Hurricanes have fallen from the rankings this week, along with Houston, after their upset loss at SMU, and Arkansas, after their 56-3 drubbing at the hands of Auburn.  Auburn is this week’s biggest mover, rising nine spots.

The next game for all nine remaining undefeated teams is on the road (although two of those are next week due to byes), with four of them facing ranked opponents.

1. Alabama (8-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
2. Clemson (7-0, 3rd, 3rd)
3. Michigan (7-0, 4th, 2nd)
4. Washington (7-0, 5th, 4th)
5. Louisville (6-1, 7th, 5th)

6. Ohio State (6-1, 2nd, 6th)
7. Baylor (6-0, 8th, 8th)
8. Nebraska (7-0, 9th, 7th)
9. Wisconsin (5-2, 10th, 11th)
10. Texas A&M (6-1, 6th, 9th)

11. Florida State (5-2, 11th, 12th)
12. Oklahoma (5-2, 12th, 16th)
13. Boise State (7-0, 13th, 13th)
14. Florida (5-1, 14th, 14th)
15. Auburn (5-2, 24th, 15th)

16. North Carolina (6-2, 15th, 21st)
17. West Virginia (6-0, 17th, 10th)
18. Tennessee (5-2, 18th, 18th)
19. Utah (6-1, 25th, 17th)
20. LSU (5-2, unranked, 19th)

21. Western Michigan (8-0, 21st, 20th)
22. Navy (5-1, 22nd, 22nd)
23. Penn State (5-2, unranked, 24th)
24. Virginia Tech (5-2, unranked, 25th)
25. Colorado (6-2, unranked, 23rd)

Fell from Rankings:  Houston (6-2, Last Week: 16th), Arkansas (5-3, 19th), Ole Miss (3-4, 20th), Miami (4-3, 23rd)

 

Twitter Picks for Week Nine

Game of the Week

#3 Clemson (7-0) at #12 Florida State (5-2)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Clemson by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Clemson- 2nd, Florida State- 11th

 

Big Game Guarantee

#4 Washington (7-0) at #17 Utah (6-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, FS1
Favorite:  Washington by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Washington- 4th, Utah- 19th

 

Upset of the Week

#10 West Virginia (6-0) at Oklahoma State ()
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  West Virginia by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  West Virginia- 17th, Oklahoma State- unranked

 

Closer Than the Experts Think

#2 Michigan (7-0) at Michigan State ()
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Michigan by 24
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Michigan- 3rd, Michigan State- unranked

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think

#8 Baylor (6-0) at Texas (3-4)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Baylor by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Baylor- 7th, Texas- unranked

 

Overhyped Game

Miami (4-3) at Notre Dame (2-5)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Miami by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Group of Five Game of the Week

#13 Boise State (7-0) at Wyoming (5-2)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, CBSSN
Favorite:  Boise State by 14
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Boise State- 13th, Wyoming- unranked

 

Is This Futbol?

#7 Nebraska (7-0) at #11 Wisconsin (5-2)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Wisconsin by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Nebraska- 8th, Wisconsin- 9th

 

Is This Basketball?

Texas Tech (3-4) at TCU (4-3)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  TCU by 9
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Toilet Bowl

Stanford (4-3) at Arizona (2-5)
Saturday, 11:00 pm ET, FS1
Favorite:  Stanford by 6
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

#14 Florida (5-1) at Georgia (4-3)
at Jacksonville, Fla. (EverBank Field)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Florida by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Florida- 14th, Georgia- unranked

 

NFL Game of the Week

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Sunday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Cowboys by 4

 

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record:  52-42-1
Last Week:  7-4-1
College Overall Record: 50-38
NFL Game of the Week: 2-4-1

Game of the Week:  4-4
Big Game Guarantee:  3-5
Upset of the Week:  3-5
Closer Than the Experts Think:  3-5
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  7-1
Overhyped/Bad Spread Game:  4-4
Group of Five Game of the Week:  6-2
Is This Futbol?:  6-2
Is This Basketball?:  7-1
Toilet Bowl:  4-4
Miscellaneous:  3-5

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

Twitter Picks for College Football Week Five

Game of the Week

#3 Louisville (4-0) at #5 Clemson (4-0)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Louisville by 2
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Louisville- 2nd, Clemson- 3rd

 

Big Game Guarantee

#7 Stanford (3-0) at #10 Washington (4-0)
Friday, 9:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Washington by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Stanford- 8th, Washington- 12th

 

Upset of the Week

Missouri (2-2) at LSU (2-2)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, SECN
Favorite:  LSU by 13
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Closer Than the Experts Think

North Carolina (3-1) at #12 Florida State (3-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Florida State by 11
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  North Carolina- 18th, Florida State- 10th

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think

#11 Tennessee (4-0) at #25 Georgia (3-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Tennessee by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Tennessee- 9th, Georgia- unranked

 

Overhyped Game

Arizona State (4-0) at USC (1-3)
Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  USC by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Group of Five Game of the Week

Navy (3-0) at Air Force (3-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBSSN
Favorite:  Air Force by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Is This Futbol?

#8 Wisconsin (4-0) at #4 Michigan (4-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Michigan by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Wisconsin- 6th, Michigan- 4th

 

Is This Basketball?

Oklahoma (1-2) at #21 TCU (3-1)
Saturday, 5:00 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  TCU by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma- 19th, TCU- 24th

 

Toilet Bowl

Kansas (1-2) at Texas Tech (2-1)
Thursday, 8:30 pm ET, FS1
Favorite:  Texas Tech by 29
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  House Divided

Wake Forest (4-0) at NC State (2-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, RSN
Favorite:  NC State by 11
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

NFL Game of the Week

New York Giants (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-0)
Monday, 8:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Vikings by 5

 

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record:  23-24
Last Week:  8-4
College Overall Record: 22-22
NFL Game of the Week: 1-2

Game of the Week:  2-2
Big Game Guarantee:  2-2
Upset of the Week:  0-4
Closer Than the Experts Think:  1-3
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  3-1
Overhyped Game:  2-2
Group of Five Game of the Week:  4-0
Is This Futbol?:  2-2
Is This Basketball?:  3-1
Toilet Bowl:  1-3
Miscellaneous:  2-2

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

College Football Power Rankings for Week Four

While Saturday was an entertaining day of college football, and there are repercussions for some in this week’s rankings, it doesn’t compare to this week.

The week started with Notre Dame, who lost to Duke on Saturday, firing offensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, and LSU, after a narrow loss at Auburn, fired head coach Les Miles (114-34 and a national champion at LSU, but that’s another discussion for another day).

This weekend will be wild, with Louisville traveling to Clemson for a top five matchup, and two more top ten matchups of Wisconsin-Michigan and Stanford-Washington.

As we head into this crazy weekend as the calendar turns to the second month of college football, here are the updated power rankings:

1. Alabama (4-0, Last Week:  1st, AP Poll:  1st)
Last Week:  def. Kent State, 48-0
This Week:  vs. Kentucky
The Crimson Tide dominated coach Nick Saban’s alma mater of Kent State on Saturday, coming off of their win over Ole Miss, and heading into the resumption of SEC play against Kentucky.  After this week it will be tougher for the Tide, as they face three straight ranked opponents before traveling to LSU.

2. Louisville (4-0, 2nd, 3rd)
Last Week:  def. Marshall, 59-28
This Week:  at #5 Clemson
Louisville’s offense continued to roll against Marshall, a week ahead of this Saturday’s showdown in Death Valley against Clemson, which will be the toughest defense the electric Cardinals offense has faced.  Quarterback Lamar Jackson has accounted for an unthinkable 25 touchdowns in four games, including 12 on the ground (no other player at any position has more than seven rushing TDs), with 526 rushing yards ranking him sixth in the nation… as a quarterback.

3. Clemson (4-0, 3rd, 5th)
Last Week:  def. Georgia Tech, 26-7
This Week:  vs. #3 Louisville
The Tigers have had their share of issues early in the season, but with Auburn being their toughest game thus far, they’ve been able to work on some things.  They won a little more comfortably at Georgia Tech than in previous weeks (besides the 59-0 South Carolina State game), but now face likely their toughest test all year against Louisville.  The Tigers should have some help at home in one of the nation’s best atmospheres, but they are home underdogs for the first time since 2013.

4. Michigan (4-0, 4th, 4th)
Last Week:  def. Penn State, 49-10
This Week:  vs. #8 Wisconsin
The Wolverines dominated Penn State, and have won each game by 17 or more, with three of their four wins by 37 or more.  This week, however, will be tougher when Wisconsin, fresh off their road win over Michigan State, comes to Ann Arbor.  Michigan needs to take advantage of this test, because it is the only one of their three remaining games against ranked opponents that will come at home.

5. Ohio State (3-0, 5th, 2nd)
Last Week:  idle
This Week:  vs. Rutgers
The Buckeyes got to enjoy football with the rest of us this past weekend, and will host Rutgers this week as they open Big Ten play.  Their conference slate features road tests with Wisconsin (Oct. 15) and Michigan State (Nov. 19), and home games against Nebraska (Nov. 5) and Michigan (Nov. 26).

6. Wisconsin (4-0, 10th, 8th)
Last Week:  def. #8 Michigan State, 30-6
This Week:  at #4 Michigan
While the Badgers’ win over LSU doesn’t look as strong now as it did at the time, the Badgers have a new signature win anyway, after a 24-point victory at Michigan State.  That game was week one of a five-game gauntlet, which continues this week at #4 Michigan, before continuing over their next four weeks (idle, Ohio State, at Iowa, Nebraska).  It will be very difficult for the Badgers to get through this stretch undefeated, but if they can it gets much easier in November as the race for the College Football Playoff heats up.

7. Houston (4-0, 6th, 6th)
Last Week:  def. Texas State, 64-3
This Week:  vs. Connecticut
Last year, with quarterback Greg Ward Jr. out injured, Houston suffered their only loss of the season at Connecticut.  This year, Ward will be in the lineup as his Cougars face the Huskies on Thursday night.  If revenge is on the minds of the Cougars, it could be a long night for Connecticut.

8. Stanford (3-0, 7th, 7th)
Last Week:  def. UCLA, 22-13
This Week:  at #10 Washington
The Cardinal scored late to take a 16-13 lead on UCLA, before scoring on a fumble return on the last play to win by nine.  While the Cardinal survived the trip to Pasadena, they will have to play better if they want to stay unbeaten this weekend, as they travel to Washington on Friday.  The Huskies, coached by former Boise State coach Chris Peterson, are a trendy team off to a good start, and could be quite the threat to the Cardinal’s playoff hopes.

9. Tennessee (4-0, 9th, 11th)
Last Week:  def. #19 Florida, 38-28
This Week:  at #25 Georgia
It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, when the Volunteers played Florida on Saturday.  Okay, that was too easy, but it really was a tale of two halves, as Florida led the Vols 21-3 at the half, before Tennessee outscored the Gators 35-7 in the second half on their way to a win that should give them the inside track in the SEC East.  Tennessee, who faces Georgia on Saturday in Athens, held Florida to 106 rushing yards in the win.

10. Florida State (3-1, 12th, 12th)
Last Week:  def. South Florida, 55-35
This Week:  vs. North Carolina
The Seminoles rebounded from their 63-20 loss at Louisville, using 38 first-half points on their way to a 20-point win at South Florida.  Dalvin Cook leads the Seminoles with 495 rushing yards, and should have a good day on Saturday when the ‘Noles face a North Carolina team that ranks 120th in rushing defense.  This week starts a stretch of seven straight conference games before Florida State’s regular season finale against Florida.

11. Baylor (4-0, 13th, 13th)
12. Washington (4-0, 15th, 10th)
13. Nebraska (4-0, 14th, 15th)
14. Miami (3-0, 16th, 14th)
15. Ole Miss (2-2, 22nd, 16th)

16. Texas A&M (4-0, 20th, 9th)
17. Michigan State (2-1, 8th, 17th)
18. North Carolina (3-1, 19th, unranked)
19. Oklahoma (1-2, 21st, unranked)
20. Boise State (3-0, 23rd, 24th)

21. Iowa (3-1, 24th, unranked)
22. Utah (4-0, unranked, 18th)
23. San Diego State (3-0, unranked, 19th)
24. TCU (3-1, unranked, 21st)
25. Virginia Tech (3-1, unranked, unranked)

Also Ranked in AP Poll:  Arkansas (3-1, 20th), Texas (2-1, 22nd), Florida (3-1, 23rd), Georgia (3-1, 25th)

Fell from Rankings:  LSU (2-2, LW: 11th), Georgia (3-1, 17th), Oklahoma State (2-2, 18th), Arkansas (3-1, 25th)

Twitter Picks for College Football Week Four

Game of the Week

#11 Wisconsin (3-0) at #8 Michigan State (2-0)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, BTN
Favorite:  Michigan State by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Wisconsin- 10th, Michigan State- 8th

 

Big Game Guarantee

#12 Georgia (3-0) at #23 Ole Miss (1-2)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Ole Miss by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Georgia- 17th, Ole Miss- 22nd

 

Upset of the Week

Pittsburgh (2-1) at North Carolina (2-1)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPNU
Favorite:  North Carolina by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Pittsburgh- unranked, North Carolina- 19th

 

Closer Than the Experts Think

Kent State (1-2) at #1 Alabama (3-0)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, SECN
Favorite:  Alabama by 44
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Kent State- unranked, Alabama- 1st

 

Not Closer Than the Experts Think

#7 Stanford (2-0) at UCLA (2-1)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Stanford by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Stanford- 7th, UCLA- unranked

 

Overhyped Game

#17 Arkansas (3-0) vs. #10 Texas A&M (3-0)
Saturday, 9:00 pm ET, ESPN
at Arlington, Tex. (AT&T Stadium)
Favorite:  Texas A&M by 6
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Arkansas- 25th, Texas A&M- 20th

 

Group of Five Game of the Week

East Carolina (2-1) at Virginia Tech (2-1)
Saturday, 12:30 pm ET, ACCN
Favorite:  Virginia Tech by 12
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Is This Futbol?

#19 Florida (3-0) at #14 Tennessee (3-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Tennessee by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Florida- unranked (P.S. they’re the first team out), Tennessee- 9th

 

Is This Basketball?

Oklahoma State (2-1) at #16 Baylor (3-0)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  Baylor by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma State- 18th, Baylor- 13th

 

Toilet Bowl 

South Carolina (2-1) at Kentucky (1-2)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, SECN
Favorite:  Kentucky by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked

 

Miscellaneous:  Game Most Likely To Be Won By Tigers, Volume II

#18 LSU (2-1) at Auburn (1-2)
Saturday, 6:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  LSU by 4
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  LSU- 11th, Auburn- unranked

 

NFL Game of the Week

Houston Texans (2-0) at New England Patriots (2-0)
Thursday, 8:25 pm ET, CBS/NFLN
Favorite:  even

 

For what it’s worth…

Overall Record:  15-20
Last Week:  4-8
College Overall Record: 15-18
NFL Game of the Week: 0-2

Game of the Week:  2-1
Big Game Guarantee:  1-2
Upset of the Week:  0-3
Closer Than the Experts Think:  1-2
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  2-1
Overhyped Game:  1-2
Group of Five Game of the Week:  3-0
Is This Futbol?:  1-2
Is This Basketball?:  2-1
Toilet Bowl:  0-3
Miscellaneous:  2-1

For an explanation of the categories for Twitter Picks, click here.

College Football Power Rankings for Week Three

After a mundane week two, college football impressed the masses once again in week three, and as a result, this week’s rankings have a new look.  Sure, the number one team is the same (at least for now), but huge strides were made this week by a trio of Midwestern teams who each had big wins over ranked opponents (okay, I guess saying Louisville is a Midwestern team is a stretch).

Here are this week’s rankings:

1. Alabama (3-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
Last Week:  def. #19 Ole Miss, 48-43
This Week:  vs. Kent State
The Crimson Tide finally bested their recent nemesis, beating Ole Miss for the first time since 2013, but it wasn’t easy, as Alabama had to rally from a 24-3 deficit, using a 45-6 run to make the Rebels the first Power Five team in 10 seasons to blow multiple 21-point leads in a season.  At the 2:47 mark of the second quarter, Ole Miss had a 93.1% win probability (for an explanation of win probability, click here), giving tangible evidence of the strength of Alabama’s comeback.  Quarterback Jaylen Hurts threw for 158 yards, but also ran for 146 on 18 attempts.  The Crimson Tide host Nick Saban’s alma mater this week, the Golden Flashes of Kent State.

2. Louisville (3-0, 9th, 3rd)
Last Week:  def. #2 Florida State, 63-20
This Week:  at Marshall
The Cardinals dismantled Florida State, rushing for 314 yards in a 43-point win over the second-ranked Seminoles, who tied the third-largest loss of all time by a top two-ranked team in the AP Poll era.  Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for five touchdowns, with four on the ground, and 362 all-purpose yards, including 146 rushing, as Louisville outgained Florida State 530-284.  Louisville is now a consensus playoff team, but if they want to get there at the end of the season it won’t be easy, with a pair of top six teams remaining on the schedule, and both on the road (Oct. 1 at Clemson, Nov. 17 at Houston).

3. Clemson (3-0, 3rd, 5th)
Last Week:  def. South Carolina State, 59-0
This Week:  Thursday at Georgia Tech
After a couple of lackluster wins, Clemson shifted to another gear in a rout of South Carolina State that was so bad, the second half of the game was shortened by six minutes.  The Tigers outgained the Bulldogs, 555-102, a stat so lopsided I groaned out loud when I read it.  Yes, the opponent was a middling FCS team, but after the less-than-convincing wins the Tigers had the first two weeks, they certainly played better in this domination.  The Tigers have a short week to prepare for Georgia Tech on the road, a game that they historically struggle with.

4. Michigan (3-0, 4th, 4th)
Last Week:  def. Colorado, 45-28
This Week:  vs. Penn State
The Wolverines trailed 21-7 after a quarter to upstart Colorado, but came back to beat the Buffaloes by 17.  Jabril Peppers, who is listed as a linebacker, had nine tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and also gained 204 all-purpose yards, including a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 55-yard kickoff return.  Michigan will now play nine straight conference games in the Big Ten, starting this week with a home game against Penn State, with a game against Wisconsin in Ann Arbor looming next week.

5. Ohio State (3-0, 21st, 2nd)
Last Week:  def. #14 Oklahoma, 45-24
This Week:  idle
Coming into the season, I knew the Buckeyes were talented and had the potential to reload, even with the loss of so much of their core from last year’s team, but I doubted that such a young team could win the tough games on the road, like Saturday’s test at Oklahoma.  I was wrong.  The Buckeyes were beyond convincing, winning by a three-touchdown margin over one of the preseason favorites to make the Playoff, with quarterback J.T. Barrett throwing for four touchdowns.  Like Michigan, the men of the scarlet and gray now face nine consecutive conference games, starting Saturday with Rutgers coming to Columbus.

6. Houston (3-0, 5th, 6th)
Last Week:  def. Cincinnati, 40-16
This Week:  at Texas State
On the surface, with Houston beating Cincinnati by 24 and outgaining the Bearcats 506-307, it might look like the Cougars cruised to a win.  However, after Cincinnati scored on the opening play of the fourth quarter, the Bearcats led 16-12, before Houston rattled off 28 straight points.  Quarterback Greg Ward didn’t play his best game, but his two rushing touchdowns in the fourth aided Houston’s strong finish.  With the Bearcats now behind them on the schedule, the Cougars will likely not face another serious test until November 17, when Louisville comes to Space City.

7. Stanford (2-0, 6th, 7th)
Last Week:  def. USC, 27-10
This Week:  at UCLA
Nothing stands out statistically in Stanford’s 17-point win over USC; the Cardinal were not necessarily dominant (although they did clearly have the best player on the field), but slowly tightened their grasp on the game.  Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey accounted for 238 all-purpose yards, including 165 on the ground, and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).  The Cardinal travel to the Rose Bowl on Saturday to meet UCLA, who they have beat in eight straight meetings.

8. Michigan State (2-0, 18th, 8th)
Last Week:  def. #18 Notre Dame, 36-28
This Week:  vs. #11 Wisconsin
The Spartans turned a close game at halftime into a 36-7 lead in South Bend, before a late Notre Dame rally nearly ruined the Spartans’ celebration plans.  The win was in typical Michigan State fashion, with the Spartans possessing the ball for 37:57 of the 60 minute game, with Gerald Holmes rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns, and L.J. Scott rushing for 98 more and a touchdown.  11th-ranked Wisconsin comes to East Lansing on Saturday in a contest that could serve as an early-season Playoff elimination game.

9. Tennessee (3-0, 7th, 14th)
Last Week:  def. Ohio, 28-19
This Week:  vs. #19 Florida
While Tennessee does have the dominant Battle of Bristol win over Virginia Tech under their belt, their other two wins are not as impressive, including Saturday’s game with Ohio, which was a 21-19 game entering the fourth.  The win over Appalachian State does not look as impressive now either, after the Mountaineers’ 45-10 home loss to Miami, but the Volunteers are still a very talented team, and remember:  Tennessee is still a program who is learning how to win.  We will know more about whether or not the SEC East will have to come through Knoxville after Saturday’s game, when #19 Florida comes to visit, starting a string of four consecutive ranked opponents for the Vols.

10. Wisconsin (3-0, 11th, 11th)
Last Week:  def. Georgia State, 23-17
This Week:  at #8 Michigan State
The Badgers survived a valiant upset bid from Georgia State, who took a 17-13 lead with 11:36 to play before Wisconsin came back to win by six, led by backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who replaced starter Bart Houston in the third with the Badger offense struggling.  While the score raised some eyebrows in concern for Wisconsin, one stat raises eyebrows the other way:  The Badgers held Georgia State to just 33 rushing yards.  The Badgers will, plain and simple, have to play better starting this week, as they begin a brutal three game stretch in Big Ten play:  Saturday at Michigan State, Oct. 1 at Michigan, Oct. 15 vs. Ohio State.

11. LSU (2-1, 12th, 18th)
12. Florida State (2-1, 2nd, 13th)
13. Baylor (3-0, 13th, 16th)
14. Nebraska (3-0, 17th, 20th)
15. Washington (3-0, 20th, 9th)

16. Miami (3-0, unranked, 15th)
17. Georgia (3-0, 15th, 12th)
18. Oklahoma State (2-1, 25th, unranked)
19. North Carolina (2-1, 22nd, unranked)
20. Texas A&M (3-0, unranked, 10th)

21. Oklahoma (1-2, 10th, 25th)
22. Ole Miss (1-2, 14th, 23rd)
23. Boise State (2-0, 24th, unranked)
24. Iowa (2-1, 8th, unranked)
25. Arkansas (3-0, unranked, 17th)

Fell from Rankings:  Texas (2-1, Last Week: 16th), Notre Dame (1-2, 19th), Oregon (2-1, 23rd)

Also ranked in AP Poll:  Florida (3-0, 19th), San Diego State (3-0, 22nd), Utah (3-0, 24th)