College football Power Rankings for Week 3

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After a ho-hum weekend in college football — unless, of course, you’re a fan of say The Citadel, BYU, UCF or Arizona State — there will finally be some actual movement in the College Football Playoff race next week.

Two games could go a long way in separating the early contenders from the pretenders. Georgia hosts Notre Dame and Wisconsin hosts Michigan.

Though the Badgers and Wolverines had Saturday off, the Bulldogs and Fighting Irish were lopsided winners, along with almost everyone else in the top half of the polls.

Eight of the nine teams from the AP top 10 that played on Saturday won by 24 points or more. Florida, which won 29-21 at Kentucky, was the exception, and the Gators lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury.

Here are the ESPN Power Rankings after Week 3:

Clemson cleared the second week of what was supposed to be its most difficult stretch of the season with a 41-6 win at Syracuse. Now, the defending national champion needs only to make sure it doesn’t slip up against a lesser team because it’s clear there isn’t any team in the ACC that can challenge the Tigers. Clemson’s defense dominated the Orange, who had only 187 yards of offense, went 4-for-19 on third downs and 0-for-3 on fourth, and ran for only 57 yards in 27 attempts. The Tigers sacked quarterback Tommy DeVito six times. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw two more interceptions — he has five in three games after throwing only four last season — but also a career-high 395 yards with three touchdowns.

Up next: vs. Charlotte (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)


The Crimson Tide rolled past South Carolina 47-16 on the road by passing for 495 yards, the highest total in a single game in school history. Tua Tagovailoa passed for 444 yards with five touchdowns; he’s the first player in Alabama history to throw for 400 yards with five touchdowns in the same game. However, the Tide ran for only 77 yards on 24 attempts (3.2 yards per carry), which ended their 69-game streak of running for at least 100 yards, which was the second longest streak in the FBS. It’s the first time they failed to reach the century mark on the ground since gaining only 66 yards in a 14-13 win over Arkansas on Oct. 11, 2014. Army has the longest streak of 100-yard rushing performances at 141 games.

Up next: vs. Southern Miss (Saturday, TBD)


Through three games, Georgia’s offense looks just fine under new coordinator James Coley. The Bulldogs piled up 656 yards of offense — the fifth-highest total in school history — in a 55-0 shutout of Arkansas State on Saturday. Quarterback Jake Fromm completed 17 of 22 passes for 279 yards with three touchdowns in two-plus quarters, and seven different UGA players scored touchdowns. One concern: receiver Tyler Simmons (shoulder) was injured and didn’t return. Georgia was already without receivers Demetris Robertson and Kearis Jackson because of injuries.

Up next: vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, CBS)


After only three weeks, it’s getting difficult to imagine what else Jalen Hurts can do in Lincoln Riley’s offense. In the Sooners’ 48-14 win at UCLA on Saturday, Hurts had 439 yards from scrimmage — 289 passing and 150 rushing — with four total touchdowns. He became the first Big 12 quarterback to run for 100 yards in the first quarter and the first OU quarterback to pass for 200 yards and run for 100 in a first half. He is only the second OU quarterback with multiple games of 150 rushing yards or more; Jamelle Holieway had three such games. With Hurts under center, the Sooners have scored on 19 of 27 possessions this season, including 17 touchdowns.

Up next: vs. Texas Tech (Sept. 28, TBD)


5. LSU (3-0)

It’s easy to understand why the Tigers would have a bit of a hangover after last week’s big win at Texas, which is probably why they trailed FCS foe Northwestern State 7-3 after the first quarter Saturday. LSU finally blew the game open by scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions in the second half of a 65-14 win. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 373 yards with two touchdowns on 21-for-24 passing. It was his fourth 300-yard passing game, which is second most in LSU history. The Tigers’ defense was missing several key players, including linebackers Michael Divinity Jr. and K’Lavon Chaisson, and struggled to get off the field early.

Up next: at Vanderbilt (Saturday, TBD)


The Buckeyes continue to look like the Big Ten’s best chance at reaching the CFP after dismantling Indiana 51-10 on the road. Quarterback Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns and ran for one more, the third straight game he scored at least four touchdowns. That’s the longest streak for an OSU quarterback in the past 15 years. OSU’s defense pitched in with a safety and Damon Arnette‘s 96-yard interception return for a score, the fourth-longest such play in school history.

Up next: vs. Miami (Ohio) (Saturday, TBD)


The Fighting Irish gave Georgia’s defense something to think about heading into next week’s showdown at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. Notre Dame had five passing plays of more than 50 yards in Saturday’s 66-14 rout of New Mexico, its most in a game in the past 15 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Irish had a one-play touchdown drive and three more of two plays. Quarterback Ian Book completed 15 of 24 passes for 360 yards with six total touchdowns (one rushing). It was the most points the Irish scored in a game since they had 69 against Georgia Tech in 1977.

Up next: at Georgia (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, CBS)


8. Utah (3-0)

The Utes closed out their nonconference schedule with a 31-0 shutout of FCS program Idaho State on Saturday. Tyler Huntley threw for 282 yards on 15-for-19 passing with three touchdowns. Bryan Thompson, who has battled injuries throughout his career, caught two of them, including an 82-yarder. The Bengals had only 115 yards of offense, including 36 yards rushing on 25 attempts. There’s still room for improvement, though, as Utah had 11 penalties for 105 yards.

Up next: at USC (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, FS1)


The Tigers returned to their roots in their final pre-SEC tune-up, running for 467 yards in a 55-16 rout of Kent State on Saturday to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2014. Auburn had three 100-yard rushers: JaTarvious Whitlow ran for 135 yards with two touchdowns, backup quarterback Joey Gatewood had 102 yards with two scores and Shaun Shivers ran 12 times for 102. It was Auburn’s highest rushing total since it had 543 yards against Arkansas in 2016. Star defensive tackle Derrick Brown left the game in the first quarter because he wasn’t feeling well; the Tigers still had five sacks without him.

Up next: at Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)


The Longhorns bounced back from their first loss of the season by beating Rice 48-13 on the road. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger was very good again, completing 23 of 27 passes for 279 yards with three touchdowns. He went to the sideline with the Longhorns leading 38-0 in the third quarter. The Longhorns didn’t give up a point until the fourth quarter and limited the Owls to only 266 yards of offense, including 87 rushing. Center Zach Shackelford reinjured his right foot and didn’t return, and linebacker Joseph Ossai injured his shoulder. Both will have MRIs on Sunday. Star receiver Collin Johnson missed the game because of a hamstring injury.

Up next: vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)


The Badgers played nearly mistake-free football in their first two games against South Florida and Central Michigan. Wisconsin has posted consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2013, leads the FBS in total defense (107.5 yards per game) and had only five penalties in its first two games. Last season, Wisconsin’s defense gave up 444 yards of offense, including 320 rushing, in a 38-13 loss at Michigan.

Up next: vs. Michigan (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)


12. UCF (3-0)

The Knights made quite a statement as the best team from a Group of 5 league by dismantling Stanford 45-27 at home on Saturday. In his second career start, freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 347 yards with four touchdowns. The Knights did much of their damage in the first half. They had 413 yards by halftime; the most the Cardinal had allowed in the first half since at least 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. UCF’s 31-point halftime lead was the third biggest by a Group of 5 team over a Power 5 opponent in the past 10 years.

Up next: at Pittsburgh (Saturday, TBD)


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When Feleipe Franks was carted off late in the third quarter, Florida trailed 21-10. But backup Kyle Trask rallied the Gators to a crucial win.

The Gators rallied from an 11-point deficit by scoring 19 consecutive points in a 29-21 win at Kentucky to avoid losing to the Wildcats for the second straight season (after beating them 31 straight times). But the victory was costly for the Gators, who lost starting quarterback Feleipe Franks to a right leg injury. Franks, who started 24 games and was MVP in last season’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, was hurt while scrambling on a fourth-and-1 play. Coach Dan Mullen said Franks would miss the rest of the season. Backup Kyle Trask led the comeback, throwing for 126 yards on 9-for-13 passing and running for a 4-yard touchdown that put UF ahead with 4:11 left.

Up next: vs. Tennessee (Saturday, TBD)


The Wolverines had an extra week to fix their struggling offense after last week’s closer-than-expected overtime win over Army at home. Heading into Saturday, Michigan ranked 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (32 points per game) and ninth in total offense (396.5 yards). It’s not the start new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis envisioned. It probably won’t get any easier against Wisconsin, which has posted back-to-back shutouts and has allowed only 20.5 rushing yards per game.

Up next: at Wisconsin (Saturday, noon ET, Fox)


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Justin Herbert dissects the Montana defense with five touchdown throws in Oregon’s big win.

15. Oregon (2-1)

Oregon’s prized offseason acquisition, former Penn State receiver Juwan Johnson, has yet to play for the Ducks because of a nagging calf injury. It hasn’t bothered quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw five more touchdowns in a 35-3 win over FCS program Montana on Saturday night. It was his second straight game with at least four touchdown passes. Herbert’s first two scoring passes went to tight end Jacob Breeland and the next two to receiver Johnny Johnson III. Johnson and tight end Cam McCormick (ankle) might be back for next week’s Pac-12 opener at Stanford.

Up next: at Stanford (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)


16. Iowa (3-0)

The 67th meeting between Iowa and Iowa State featured just about everything: hail, lightning, students storming the field during a second weather delay that lasted nearly 2½ hours, a rainbow over Jack Trice Stadium — and another Hawkeyes victory. The Hawkeyes overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half of an 18-17 win at Iowa State to keep the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth straight year. Quarterback Nate Stanley completed 22 of 35 passes for 201 yards and made plays when Iowa needed him most.

Up next: vs. Middle Tennessee (Sept. 28, TBD)


The Cougars pulled away from Houston in the second half of a 31-24 win at Houston on Friday night, and senior Anthony Gordon had another big night throwing the ball. Gordon completed 36 of 48 passes for 440 yards with three touchdowns, making him only the third FBS player in the past 15 years to throw for at least 400 yards with three touchdowns in his team’s first three games. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (2016) and Graham Harrell (2007) were the others. It was the 40th time in Mike Leach’s 91 games at Washington State that the Cougars had at least 400 passing yards, which is the highest total in the FBS during that span, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

Up next: vs. UCLA (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)


The Nittany Lions couldn’t score in the first half against Buffalo last week and couldn’t score against Pittsburgh in the second half on Saturday. Penn State scored only once after halftime — Noah Cain‘s 13-yard touchdown with 5:50 to go in the third quarter — but it was enough for a 17-10 victory in its 100th game against Pitt. PSU’s defense gave up only 24 rushing yards in 25 attempts and had a huge goal-line stand from the PSU 1 with less than six minutes to go. The Nittany Lions didn’t have a turnover with only three penalties.

Up next: at Maryland (Sept. 27, 8 p.m. ET, FS1)


The good news: The Aggies bounced back from an ugly offensive performance at Clemson last week and routed FCS foe Lamar 62-3 at home Saturday. Freshman Isaiah Spiller ran for more than 100 yards for the second time this season, finishing with 116 yards and two scores. He’ll have to carry much of the load after the Aggies lost Jashaun Corbin to a season-ending hamstring injury last week. The bad news: The Aggies still weren’t great in the red zone. They ran 11 plays inside Lamar’s 20-yard line in the first quarter and settled for two field goals and one touchdown. They’ll have to be better during SEC play.

Up next: vs. Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)


The Huskies bounced back from their bitter loss to Cal in their Pac-12 opener by jumping on Hawaii early in a 52-20 victory on Saturday. Quarterback Jacob Eason played much better than a week ago, completing 18 of 25 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns. The Georgia transfer has also found a favorite target — tight end Hunter Bryant, who had five catches for 115 yards with one touchdown. The Huskies play at BYU next week, a trip that looks more difficult now after the Cougars beat traditional bluebloods (Tennessee and USC) in back-to-back games.

Up next: at BYU (Saturday, TBD)


After a slow start against FCS foe Portland State, the Broncos pulled away for a 45-10 victory on the blue turf Saturday night. Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw for 238 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on 16-for-25 passing. John Hightower returned a kickoff 98 yards for another score. The Broncos played without both of their starting offensive tackles: left tackle Ezra Cleveland was wearing a protective boot on his right foot, and right tackle John Ojukwu is sidelined because of a right leg injury. It’s unclear whether they’ll be back for Friday night’s Mountain West Conference opener.

Up next: vs. Air Force (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)


The Cavaliers survived a 31-24 victory over Florida State to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Virginia trailed for much of the game but scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind. After taking a seven-point lead, the Cavaliers inexplicably had four 15-yard penalties to keep FSU’s hopes alive in the final minutes. Virginia had nine penalties for 97 yards and threw two interceptions. Still, the Cavaliers look like the second-best team in a league that desperately needs somebody to challenge Clemson.

Up next: vs. Old Dominion (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)


The Sun Devils were very fortunate to hang on for a 10-7 win at Michigan State on Saturday, after the Spartans’ 42-yard field goal attempt with six seconds left was wiped out because they had 12 men on the field. The Spartans missed a 47-yard attempt on the next play. ASU still has a long way to go on offense, after struggling for the second week in a row, but its defense is stout in Herm Edwards’ second season. The Sun Devils have given up only three touchdowns in three games — and none of their opponents have scored in the first three quarters.

Up next: vs. Colorado (Saturday, TBD)


Are the Demon Deacons in the top three in the ACC’s pecking order? Wake Forest survived a 38-35 victory over better-than-you-think Utah State, rolled Rice 41-21 on the road and then put the brakes on North Carolina’s turnaround with a 24-18 win Friday night. The Demon Deacons jumped out to a 21-0 lead against the Tar Heels and then held on for dear life in the fourth quarter. Dave Clawson’s team faces a very difficult stretch in November, when it plays at Virginia Tech, Clemson and Syracuse.

Up next: vs. Elon (Saturday, noon, ACC Network)


The Wildcats aren’t flashy on offense, but they’re learning how to win again under first-year coach Chris Klieman, who knows an awful lot about winning. Klieman, who guided his North Dakota State teams to four FCS national championships, has the Wildcats way ahead of schedule after a 31-24 victory at Mississippi State on Saturday. It was Kansas State’s first road win over a Power 5 nonconference opponent since 2011. Kansas State will have an extra week to prepare for its Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State on the road on Sept. 28.

Up next: at Oklahoma State (Sept. 28, TBD)

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