2017 College Football Top 20 Rankings Week 3

Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

After Week 2 in College Football, only 1 team remains in my Top 20 with a loss. That team, Ohio State, ran up against one of the top quarterbacks in NCAAF this past weekend. I dig deep into why Ohio State remains in my Top 20 as well as discuss the rest of who I think are the best teams in college football.

2017 College Football Top 20 Rankings Week 3

1. Alabama Crimson Tide 2-0

The reason Alabama is so much better than any other team in college football is because coach Nick Saban understands that a football game lasts for 4 quarters. That’s why Bama remains a top of our 2017 College Football Top 20 rankings week 3. They almost never cover a giant spread, like 43 points against Fresno State in Week 2, while the Tide almost always covers at any spread at 10 points or less. The way Alabama methodically wore down a fantastic Florida State defense in a 24 to 7 win in Week 1 is still the most impressive thing I’ve seen so far this season.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions 2-0

I said before the season that Penn State was the best team in the Big Ten. There’s no reason to doubt that assertion at this point. The Nittany Lions rather easily handled a Pittsburgh squad 33 to 19 at home in Week 2. Penn State lost to Pitt last season. The win meant something to the Lions. One thing I noticed is that the defense could improve. That would make the Lions better than they are now.

3. Oklahoma Sooners 2-0

The Sooners win over Ohio State came down to quarterback play. We can talk all day about how Ohio State didn’t make the necessary adjustments. Tough to adjust your QB1 when there’s nobody backing him up that you can play.

Sooner QB Baker Mayfield was great. He threw 3 TD passes to go along with 386 yards. Most see Johnny Manziel in Mayfield. I see Drew Brees. He’s an unbelievable athlete like Brees. A year under a guy like Sean Payton in the NFL? Who knows? Maybe, that’s why New Orleans hasn’t resigned Brees.

4. Clemson Tigers 2-0

Clemson’s defense dominated in Week 2. Clemson held Auburn to 117 total yards. Auburn averaged .9 yards per rush against the Clemson D. Clemson’s quarterback Kelly Bryant also impressed. Although Bryant only threw for 181 yards, he rushed for 59 yards and 2 TDs.

Auburn drops out of my Top 20 because although the defense is great, the offense is a mess. QB Jarrett Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, isn’t any better than any of last season’s Auburn quarterbacks. Forget Clemson. Stidham only threw for 185 yards against Georgia State in Week 1.

5. USC Trojans 2-0

Okay, I’ve jumped USC up to the Top 5, ahead of Washington. Is everyone happy? I’ll admit, I didn’t think USC’s offense could hang 42 onto the Stanford Cardinal. USC made it look easy. It wasn’t easy in the first half, though. Stanford ended up with 24 points.

That’s where I think USC’s downfall could happen. The Trojans are a good football team. The defense allows too many points. If USC falters, it’s going to be because of the defense.

6. Washington Huskies 2-0

Washington blasted Montana 63 to 7. Since the Huskies were favored by -39, the win was to be expected. Washington get’s another pass this week when they battle Fresno State. Then, it’s a road game versus tough Colorado before beating up Oregon State, Cal, and ASU. The AP’s got Washington ranked 6th just like I do. At this point, they don’t deserve to be any higher, or any lower, than that.

7. Michigan Wolverines 2-0

Michigan was favored by 32.5 points versus the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Wolverines beat the Bearcats 36 to 14. It wasn’t a spectacular win. But, it was good enough for Michigan to remain in the Top 10. The Wolverines throw down against Air Force in Week 3. Air Force is a rushing team. The Falcons average 457 rushing yards per game. That should play into Michigan’s hands. Expect the Wolverines to be impressive again.

8. Oklahoma State Cowboys 2-0

The Cowboys might be the only team in the Big 12 capable of beating Oklahoma. Oklahoma State beat Tulsa 59 to 24 in Week 1. The Cowboys beat Texas-San Antonio 44 to 7 in Week 2. The key for Oklahoma State is QB Mason Rudolph. At 6′ 5″ and 235 lbs, Rudolph has NFL scouts salivating. He’s completing 72.6% of his passes. Rudolph is the real deal, which means Oklahoma State’s offense is one of the best in college football.

9. LSU Tigers 2-0

LSU’s D allowed Chattanooga to score 10 points in a 45 to 10 win in Week 2. Like Alabama, LSU is an SEC team that takes its foot off the gas pedal against inferior opponents. The Tigers allowed Chattanooga to score 3 points in the first quarter. Chattanooga scored 7 points in the final quarter. LSU only scored 3 points in the final quarter. That’s taking your foot off the gas pedal.

10. Wisconsin Badgers 2-0

Wisconsin wasn’t as impressive against Florida Atlantic as they should have been. The Badgers beat FAU 31 to 14. A win is a win, right? Not always. Wisconsin was favored by -34.5. That’s not the real reason to worry if your a Badgers’ fan. The real reason to worry is because QB Alex Hornibrook only completed 57.1% of his passes. The BYU Cougars might challenge the Badgers in Provo this Saturday.

11. Georgia Bulldogs 2-0

Georgia escaped against Notre Dame in Week 2. The Bulldogs pulled out a 20 to 19 win over the Irish. It wasn’t a mind-blowing win. Georgia did end up as a +5.5 road dog, though. To me, that’s a sign that this Bulldogs’ squad has more fire than previous Bulldog squads. If I’m a Georgia fan, I’m not high-fiving myself in front of my mirror just yet. Freshman QB Jake Fromm was 16 out of 29 for 141 yards. He completed only 55.2% of his passes.

12. Virginia Tech Hokies 2-0

Watch out for Virginia Tech in the ACC. The Hokies are now 2 and 0 after a classy 27 to 0 win over Delaware as a -41 favorite. The score could have been much worse. VA Tech was due for a let down after the excellent 31 to 24 win over top offensive squad West Virginia in Week 1. There’s room for the Hokies to improve on both sides of the ball. If they do, they might be the only team in the ACC that can stop the Clemson juggernaut.

13. Louisville Cardinals 2-0

The Cardinals defense isn’t all that great. That should be what spells disaster for Louisville versus Clemson in Week 3. But, I must admit, Lamar Jackson is a football player. The defending Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 771 yards and 5 TDs. He hasn’t thrown an interception. He’s also rushed 40 times for 239 yards, a 6 yard per carry average. He’s scored 3 rushing TDs. What’s crazy is that Jackson’s done this in 2 straight road games.

14. Ohio State Buckeyes 1-1

Ohio State is the only team that remains on my Top 20 with a loss. QB J.T. Barrett is a decent college quarterback. He’s not a great college quarterback. If Ohio State wants to win out, and they must to even sniff the College Football Playoff, they can’t design the offense around Barrett. He’s not that kind of QB. He never was.

The defense played Mayfield and the Sooners tough until it just wore down. There’s hope yet for the Buckeyes. Ohio State plays both Michigan and Penn State this season. That’s 2 Top 10 teams that Ohio State could beat to get back into the Top 10. But, to do that, the offensive philosophy must change. Stop relying so much on Barrett. Get the rushing attack going. Open things up for J.T.

15. Washington State Cougars 2-0

Washington State needed overtime to beat Boise State 47 to 44. It was still a huge win for the Cougars because they lost to Boise State last season. Washington State’s defense can be up or down. It just depends. When you’ve got a QB like Luke Falk, you’re never out of it. Falk is completing 78.1% of his passes. He’s the reason the Cougars beat the Broncos in Week 2.

16. UCLA Bruins

I had my doubts about the UCLA Bruins. I still do. But, the way they beat Hawaii 56 to 23 after the stunning 45 to 44 comeback win over Texas A&M in Week 1 speaks volumes. UCLA settled down and actually played good football on both offense and defense. The Bruins didn’t need QB Josh Rosen to pull rabbits out of his hat for the win. Speaking of Rosen, he’s now thrown for 820 and 9 TDs without a pick. He completed over 88% of his passes against the Warriors.

17. Kansas State Wildcats 2-0

K-State hasn’t faced anybody of note. Still, the way the Wildcats have won their first 2 games, by scoring 55 points in each, has been impressive. I’m not sure if Kansas State is good enough to challenge Oklahoma or Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Championship this season.  Big road wins over Vanderbilt and Texas in 2 of K-State’s next 3 games could change my mind.

18. Texas Christian Horned Frogs 2-0

When the Horned Frogs didn’t play in the Big 12, they used to dominate opponents via their defense. Although I’ve got Texas Christian ranked behind Kansas State, my gut tells me that TCU is the team to watch in the Big 12. TCU only allowed Arkansas to score 7 points in a fantastic 28 to 7 win over the Razorbacks in Week 2. Arkansas is tough to beat at home. The Arkansas offense has been lights out the past couple of seasons. For TCU’s defense to only allow 267 total yards of offense is impressive.

19. Miami Hurricanes 1-0

Because of Hurricane Irma, Miami’s next game is on Sep. 23. That’s a full 14 days from today’s date, Sep. 11. What it means is that Miami will have not played a football game for 21 straight days. That puts a lot of pressure on the Canes to stay good for a long time. Who knows if they’re capable of doing that? I have my doubts.

20. Tennessee Volunteers 2-0

I’m not a huge fan of the Tennessee Volunteers. In Week 1, it took overtime for Tennessee to beat Georgia Tech 42 to 41. The Vols got lucky. In Week 2, Tennessee beat up Indiana State 42 to 7. I’m giving the Vols the benefit of the doubt. If they can take down Florida in The Swamp in Week 3, I’ll move them up. If not, I’ll move them out of the Top 20 all together.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson


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