Week three of my college football top 25 sees limited movement inside the top 20 as this week there wasn’t too much that happened that was unexpected. We’re settling into the season, ladies and gentlemen. Now, we have another great ten weeks of regular season ball ahead. You can check out my previous top 25 installments at the links below:
This week, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral set an SEC record, scoring seven touchdowns (three passing, four rushings). Alabama quarterback Bryce Young tied an Alabama record, set previously by Mac Jones, for the most touchdown passes in a player’s first three starts.
Now, let’s get into what you need to know.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 5 Must-Watch Candidates next week
- Kansas State Wildcats (3-0; W Nevada 38-17)
- Rutgers Scarlett Knights (3-0; W Delaware 45-13)
- Fresno State Bulldogs (3-1; W @ 19. UCLA 40-37)
- Memphis Tigers (3-0; W Mississippi State 31-29)
- Maryland Terrapins (3-0; W @ Illinois 20-17)
Both Fresno State and Rutgers appear on this list for the second time this season, anticipating big weeks ahead. The Scarlett Knights are going on the road to take on Michigan, a game with huge implications. As for the Bulldogs will host UNLV on Friday night and look to continue to build on the momentum they’ve collected. Fresno State went down to the wire with Oregon and now has taken down UCLA. They are a formidable Mountain West team.
This week, Kansas State has to travel to Oklahoma State, another big divisional game where we will learn a lot about both teams. If Kansas State wins this game, I think it’s clear that they are one of the top 25 schools in the country. They’ve relied heavily on their running attack, especially with quarterback Skylar Thompson temporarily out with a knee injury.
Maryland has been surprisingly strong this year, one of the more underrated teams in the country. They’ve handled their business against some formidable teams, including West Virginia. This week, they have Kent State to show where the ceiling is of the group.
5 schools who are noticably abscent
- North Carolina Tar Heels (2-1; W Virginia 59-39)
- Miami Hurricanes (1-2; L 24. Michigan State 38-17)
- Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1; L @ 25. BYU 27-17)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0; W @ Boise State 21-20)
- Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1; L @ West Virginia 27-21)
The North Carolina Tar Heels, nationally ranked on the AP and the Coaches poll, is not ranked here. The Virginia Tech loss still looms as an ugly reminder of the team’s lack of skill position players. They’ve scored 59 points each of the last two weeks, which is the hope for the remainder of the season. However, I want to see more from the defense, which surrendered 39 to the Cavaliers.
Virginia Tech entered the week ranked 15th on the AP poll, unranked here. Their loss to West Virginia, a solid team in their way, displays why I left them unranked. I didn’t think the North Carolina win was impressive as they left too many opportunities on the field. The same happened against the Mountaineers, and the Hokies struggled.
Miami doesn’t have it together as a team this year. It’s sad to see. They pulled a couple of phenomenal transfers (Charleston Rambo in particular), and the offense is still sputtering. The defense is struggling. They are not playing like a top-25 team, and the writing is on the wall for head coach Manny Diaz.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 25-21
25. BYU Cougars (3-0; W Arizona State 27-17) +1
24. Michigan State Spartans (3-0; W Miami 38-17) +2
23. Auburn Tigers (2-1; L @ 5. Penn State 28-20) -1
22. Michigan Wolverines (3-0; W Northern Illinois 63-10) +4
21. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0; W Georgia Southern 45-10) +5
BYU has won every game so far this season, all in action against the PAC-12. As they get into some of their lower competition, we should see some larger margins. But they have playmakers across their offense, and the defense is playing stout.
Michigan debuted’s in the top 25 this season after a strong running game made the forefront against Northern Illinois. This is a team that generally the Wolverines struggle with at this point of the season. However, they stepped up and played a phenomenal game on both sides of the ball. Michigan has proven that they are a top 25 team, even if they lose to Penn State and Ohio State.
Arkansas makes their debut as well after the Texas win didn’t seem to slow them down. The offense is incredibly exciting. Between quarterback KJ Jefferson’s dual-threat ability and Treylon Burks, the offense alone would be formidable. They have a huge game this week against Texas A&M and a chance to make a huge statement. I think it’s a close game.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 20-16
20. Kentucky Wildcats (3-0; W Tennessee-Chatanooga 28-23) +1
19. UCLA Bruins (2-1; L Fresno State 40-37) -4
18. Liberty Flames (3-0; W Old Dominion 45-17) +2
17. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-0; W @ Buffalo 28-25) +1
16. USC Trojans (2-1; W Washington State 45-14) +1
Kentucky survived a tough matchup with Tennessee-Chattanooga this week, which brings the team’s focus into question. I think it’s clear that they were looking ahead to next week’s game, a home game against South Carolina. They pulled out the win, and Will Levis was the hero – again.
UCLA lost a close one to Fresno State, but the Bulldogs have played exceptionally well all season. It isn’t very reassuring, certainly, but the season isn’t over for the Bruins.
Coastal Carolina struggled against Buffalo on the road but pulled out the win. Buffalo isn’t a pushover this year, so I don’t think it’s particularly damaging. The Chanticleers struggled with execution, though, and had to learn on their defense more than they usually do. It was a good challenge for the team to overcome, and they pulled out the win.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 15-11
15. Iowa State Cyclones (2-1; W @ UNLV 48-3) +1
14. Wisconsin Badgers (1-1; BYE) -1
13. Florida Gators (2-1; L 1. Alabama 31-29) +1
12. Ole Miss Rebels (3-0; Tulane 61-21)
11. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-1; W Tulsa 41-20) -1
Ole Miss had a huge game against Tulane, the school that gave Oklahoma problems in week one. Quarterback Matt Corral continues to make his case to the NFL, throwing for 7 touchdowns and lifting his season total to 13. The defense looks improved from last season as well, which gives Rebel’s fans hope in the daunting SEC West.
The Florida Gators went toe-to-toe this week with Alabama, a very difficult feat. They battled back after falling behind 21-3 with a solid offensive attack using a variety of schemes. Florida is an interesting study as we get further into the season with the versatility they can run on both sides of the football.
Ohio State struggled tremendously with Tulsa, pulling away only late in the game. The experience of the quarterback position and the lack of defense has come front and center for the Buckeyes. It’s not a lack of talent across the board, the talent is immeasurable. The experience is what’s hurting the Buckeyes and it is something that they will have to grow through.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0) +1
Last week: W Purdue (27-13)
The Notre Dame defense played their best game of the season, holding Purdue to 13 points while collecting two interceptions from backup Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell. They held the Purdue offense to just 2.2 yards per attempt on the ground and forced the Boilermakers offense to attempt 54 passes once they fell behind and couldn’t run the football.
Jack Coan has brought a new part to the Notre Dame offense that Ian Book couldn’t and that’s the deep ball/vertical ability. His ability to stretch the field with his arm and get the ball to his playmakers has lifted the Fighting Irish offense to another level of threat that teams have to prepare for. Add Kyren Williams on the ground and his explosive ability, and this offense can go to very high levels in 2021.
9. Cincinnati Bearcats (3-0)
Last week: W @ Indiana (38-24)
This game was a game that revealed so much about this Cincinnati team and helps us understand just how good they are this year. Everything was going wrong for Cincinnati in the first half. The offense was struggling, the defense had no answer for Indiana’s run game, and the game appeared to be getting out of hand. However, Cincinnati fought back, didn’t lose focus, and finished very strong.
Desmond Ridder doesn’t look like a first-round NFL Draft pick, as some analysts have him projected. His consistency is one of the biggest problems to his game and it’s the reason that they fell behind here. However, he’s a very good college quarterback and his leadership ability took center stage as they battled back.
8. Oregon Ducks (3-0)
Last week: W Stoney Brook (48-7)
The Oregon Ducks have become one of the countries top-four teams on the AP poll following a road win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, I’m still not completely sold on the ability of the Ducks to get the job done later in the season. The PAC-12 famously beats each other up and struggles with consistency. It’s been this case over the last five years. Oregon themselves have been eliminated from the playoff hunt before with an untimely loss to an unranked conference opponent.
Oregon has phenomenal team speed. They have a recipe for success. However, that recipe for success requires solid play in the trenches, something that they struggled with against Fresno State. They have to be cautious about how far they will reach out this year, and make sure they don’t start looking ahead through an easy game.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0)
Last week: W Kent State (30-7)
Iowa is ranked higher on the AP poll after handling Indiana and Iowa State with ease this season, both ranked teams when they played. The reason that they played well has to do with their phenomenal defense, lead by the secondary, but also for giving their offense short fields to capitalize on quickly – if the defense wasn’t scoring themselves. Against Kent State, the defense didn’t collect an interception for the first time this season but got their turnover through a fumble recovery.
The focus of the team this week was running back Tyler Goodson who rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Spencer Petras appears to be the game manager that the team needs on offense to compete for a conference title. Iowa has a solid team this year and now we need to see them continue to take care of business when the going gets tough against Penn State on October 9th and Wisconsin on October 30th.
6. Texas A&M Aggies (3-0) -1
Last week: W New Mexico (34-0)
Starting quarterback Hayes King is out for the foreseeable future, so the New Mexico game was well-timed to help introduce Zach Calzada to the starting role. Calzada has an excellent defense on the other side of the ball, so all he really has to do is manage the game for the Aggies to be a serious threat. He did so well, throwing for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Lobos.
Will this be enough to contend with Alabama this season? Probably not. The Aggies have yet to seriously threaten Alabama during a game in the Jimbo Fisher era. However, if this defense continues to play lights-out, they’ve allowed 17 points this season, they have a chance to push for a New Year Six bowl appearance.
This week’s matchup with Arkansas (ranked 21st on here) will be a true test for the Aggies defense. Plus, the road ahead is full of challenges. On top of Alabama and Arkansas, they have 23rd ranked Auburn, 12th ranked Ole Miss, and a road game against LSU left to play. It’s going to be a challenge, as usual.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 5. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0) +1
Last week: W (23) Auburn (28-20)
The question that I had after Penn State’s week one win over Wisconsin was if quarterback Sean Clifford could be enough of a game manager to lead this offense and get the ball to playmakers in big games. In this awesome game, he has several solid playmakers, most notably wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who can make things happen this awesome game, Clifford completed 28 of his 32 pass attempts for 280 yards and two scores. He managed the game extremely well.
Don’t get it twisted – the Auburn offense is explosive and they can score points. They scored 60 in each of their two opening games. Quarterback Bo Nix looks much more comfortable now that he’s outside of the Gus Malzahn scheme. The fact that Penn State’s defense held them to 20 was a feat – it may be the lowest Auburn scores in a game all year. Penn State’s defense is very good this year.
I like Penn State, but we have to see them beat Michigan and Ohio State this year before we can consider them a top-four team.
4. Clemson Tigers (3-0) -1
Last week: W Georgia Tech (14-8)
While the Clemson defense is one of the most substantial units in the country, is the offense among the weakest? The Tigers offense has struggled tremendously with execution all season long, prompting questions to be raised by fans and analysts alike. Who is this Clemson team this year?
The close game with Georgia Tech highlighted both points – the stout Clemson defense and the struggling Clemson offense. The security is good enough to help win games for their transgression, and Clemson has a weak ACC division this year. The conference as a whole is currently just 22-12 while playing outside of conference play, including a terrible 3-8 record against power five opponents.
The offensive concerns have dropped Clemson down a spot in the rankings this week.
3. Oklahoma Sooners (3-0) +1
Last week: W Nebraska (23-16)
Oklahoma took on a very talented but inconsistent Nebraska team this past week and collected another close win. The lack of dominance shown by Oklahoma so far this season is concerning, as they now have very tight wins over Nebraska (23-16) and Tulane (40-35) as part of their 3-0 record. Much of the problem has been consistency and execution on offense, led by second-season starting quarterback Spencer Rattler.
What’s particularly problematic with the Oklahoma team, on their slow start, is that if things didn’t go their way, they could be 1-2. Nebraska kicker Connor Culp missed two field goals, and backup kicker Kelen Meyer had an extra point blocked that Oklahoma returned for a two-point conversion. If those three kicks go through, Oklahoma loses this game.
Results matter, though, and Oklahoma has time to gather the offense this season. They have a lot of talent across the board. They’ll get it together.
2. Georgia Bulldogs (3-0)
Last week: W South Carolina (40-13)
The Georgia Bulldogs have now allowed a total of 23 points this season through the first three games. They have a formidable team. It was good to see the offense this week clicking under quarterback JT Daniels, who had struggled tremendously against the Clemson Tigers in week one.
The question that keeps them from moving ahead of Alabama is simple: what does Georgia have that’s better than Alabama? Bryce Young looks like a potential first overall pick in 2023. The offense is loaded with playmakers. Can Georgia match the speed? As of now, I’m leaning with no.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 1. Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0)
Last week: W @ (13) Florida (31-29)
Alabama had quite the challenge this week against the Florida Gators, who threw everything that they had at them in The Swamp this past Saturday. Bryce Young stood out as a tremendously advanced passer despite his lack of age and experience and got his first road start out of the way. He was sensational in this performance, tying the Alabama record for most touchdown passes thrown through the first three starts (10 – held by Mac Jones).
The defense, however, showed signs of susceptibility. The Gators’ offense was able to move up and down the field on them all through the second half. Alabama didn’t seem to have an answer, only getting a stop on a two-point conversion try that ultimately sealed the win.
The Gators dominated almost every team category, but the Crimson Tide pulled out the win. That’s what they do best!