Predicting the College Football AP Top 25 Poll for Week 3: LSU Rises, Washington Falls

After only one ranked team lost in Week 1, six top-25 teams fell over the weekend, including four to unranked opponents. Now that the dust has settled, we took a look at what we think the AP Top 25 poll will look like on Monday.

Here’s Stadium College Football Insider Brett McMurphy’s AP Top 25 ballot for Week 3.

Without further ado, here’s what we predict the college football AP poll will look like in Week 3, counting down from 25 to 1. This isn’t a personal ballot, this is a prediction of how we think the poll voters will vote.

Dropped out of rankings: No. 21 Syracuse, No. 23 Stanford, No. 25 Nebraska

 

25. Iowa State

The Cyclones were off in Week 2, allowing them to regroup after escaping Northern Iowa in triple overtime in Week 1 and before they host No. 20 Iowa in Week 3 for a game that sends ESPN’s College GameDay to Ames, Iowa for the first time.

 

24. USC

Despite a schedule that looked like USC could potentially be searching for its first win of the season well into September, if not October, if things went south from the jump, the Trojans are 2-0 after their 45-20 thrashing of No. 23 Stanford on Saturday. In his debut, freshman Kedon Slovis, who replaced the injured JT Daniels, completed 28-of-33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns – an incredibly promising sign for USC.

 

23. Washington

For the second year in a row, the Huskies lost to Cal. This time it was at home in a game that was delayed more than two hours due to weather. Washington led 10-0 in the second quarter and 10-3 at halftime but Cal rallied to win on Greg Thomas’ 17-yard field goal with eight seconds left. Jacob Eason’s play leveled out after a monster Week 1, completing 18-of-30 attempts for 162 yards and an interception against a talented Bears secondary.

 

22. Maryland

Some preseason win totals in Vegas suggested that Maryland might only win three or four games this season but the Terrapins are 2-0 after blowing out No. 21 Syracuse 63-20. Maryland’s 79-0 win over Howard in Week 1 made headlines but the Terps’ ability to put up 650 total yards of offense against a quality Power Five opponent shows that Maryland isn’t to be underestimated in Year One of the Mike Locksley era.

 

21. Boise State

A week after going to Tallahassee and beating Florida State 36-31, Boise State let Marshall hang around in the Broncos’ 14-7 win. Boise State’s freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier had a hand in both of the team’s touchdowns, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, than connecting with 47-yard touchdown pass to John Hightower.

 

20. Washington State

While Washington State’s two wins this season have come against New Mexico State and Northern Colorado, maybe it’s time to start considering that the Cougars can be a real contender in the Pac-12 North, given that Washington and Stanford have each suffered a conference loss and Oregon lost its Week 1 showdown against Auburn. Wazzu quarterback Anthony Gordon lit up the scoreboard again, completing 31-of-39 passes for 464 yards and four touchdowns.

 

19. Iowa

The Hawkeyes are 1-0 in Big Ten play after shutting out Rutgers 30-0 on Saturday. Iowa held Rutgers’ quarterbacks to 9-of-26 passing for 41 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was 16-of-28 for 236 yards and three touchdowns, while three different Hawkeyes running backs ran for more than 50 yards.

 

18. Michigan State

The Spartans’ defense was stout again, holding Western Michigan to 67 rushing yards on 27 carries and they picked off Broncos quarterback Jon Wassink twice. Brian Lewerk completed 23-of-32 passes for 314 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while running back Elijah Collins had a breakout performance with 17 carries for 192 yards.

 

17. UCF

The Knights’ offense continues to put up points, most recently scores 48 points in a 34-point win at Florida Atlantic on Saturday. Dillon Gabriel started under center for UCF and although he was just 7-of-19 passing, he threw for 245 yards and two scores, including a 74-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Killins Jr. and a 57-yarder to Jacob Harris.

 

16. Wisconsin

Get this: the Badgers have outscored their opponent 110-0 in two games this season and star running back Jonathan Taylor has scored eight total touchdowns. Taylor, who had eight receptions in each of the last two seasons, already has five this year, including three and a receiving touchdown on Saturday against Central Michigan, in addition to 19 carries for 102 yards and three scores on the ground. Quarterback Jack Coan threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the Badgers’ 61-0 win.

 

15. Oregon

The Ducks responded to their Week 1 loss to Auburn with a 77-6 thrashing of Nevada, which upset Purdue the previous week. Justin Herbert put up big numbers – 19-for-26 passing for 310 yards and five touchdowns – and even backup Tyler Shough made the most of limited snaps, completing 8-of-9 passes for 92 yards and two scores. Three different running backs reached the end zone.

 

14. Texas A&M

The best you can say about the Aggies’ trip to No. 1 Clemson in Week 2 was that they covered, thanks to a last-minute touchdown drive that cut the score to 24-10. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond’s final stat line appeared better than the Aggies’ passing offense looked for much of the game and their rushing attack couldn’t find room to operate, running for just 53 yards on 27 carries. Texas A&M has one of the toughest schedules in the country and Saturday was arguably the most difficult of its 12 regular season games.

 

13. Texas

There’s no shame in Texas losing at home to LSU in Week 2. Does it feel good waking up Sunday morning if you’re a Longhorns fan? Probably not. But the Tigers were a 6.5-point favorite on the road, LSU was ranked higher and it won by a touchdown, which is essentially what Vegas oddsmakers expected.

So no, barring a 12-1 season that culminates in a Big 12 Championship, Texas isn’t a playoff contender this season but that doesn’t mean it’s not a very good football team.

 

12. Penn State

The Nittany Lions were another top-25 team that looked like it might be on upset alert after Buffalo took a 10-7 lead into halftime in State College. But Penn State struck quickly, reclaiming in the lead on John Reid’s pick-six and quarterback Sean Clifford found Pat Freiermuth for two touchdowns in the third quarter. Clifford finished 16-of-22 for 279 yards and four touchdowns, plus a 58-yard scamper, making him the team’s leading rusher.

 

11. Utah

The Utes didn’t distance themselves from Northern Illinois until the second half as the Huskies took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter and trailed just 21-17 at halftime. Quarterback Tyler Huntley was an efficient 14-of-19 passing for 214 passing yards and one touchdown, with 38 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Utah’s defense held Northern Illinois to 67 rushing yards on 25 carries with 31 of those yards coming on two attempts.

 

10. Michigan

If we’re being honest, Michigan probably should’ve lost to Army on Saturday, or at the very least, the Wolverines are lucky they didn’t lose. Army kicker Cole Talley missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired that would’ve given the Black Knights a walk-off win. In the third quarter, Kelvin Hopkins Jr. threw an interception on 3rd & Goal at the Michigan 5-yard line. Michigan averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, which is less than desirable when the Wolverines ran the ball 45 times to 31 pass attempts. The preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Championship looked far from a College Football playoff contender in Week 2.

 

9. Florida

After an ugly win over Miami in Week 0, the Gators looked dominant against a significantly inferior UT Martin team, winning 45-0. Quarterback Feleipe Franks completed 25-of-27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns and even though Florida’s leading rusher had just 51 yards, the Gators spread out their carries and rushed for 231 yards, 6.1 yards per carry and three touchdowns as a team.

 

8. Auburn

The Tigers made sure that Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan had a long night as he completed just 10-of-33 pass attempts for 103 yards (an average of 3.1 yards per attempt) and an interception. Auburn’s true freshman quarterback Bo Nix, who was the hero in the Tigers’ Week 1 win over Oregon, was slightly better, going 19-of-37 for 207 yards and one touchdown. It took Auburn until the second quarter and it led just 14-6 at halftime but a win’s a win.

 

7. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish enjoyed an early-season bye week after their maybe-too-close-for-comfort, 35-17 win at Louisville in Week 1. They’re back in action in Week 3, when they host New Mexico in South Bend.

 

6. Ohio State

I’m not sure anyone outside of Cincinnati thought the Bearcats could win outright against the Buckeyes in Columbus but in Cincinnati Coach Luke Fickell’s return to the Horseshoe, Ohio State made sure the game wasn’t even competitive in a 42-0 win. OK, so Cincinnati isn’t this year’s UCF but the Bearcats might be one of the five-to-10 best Group of Five teams in the country and they couldn’t slow down the three-headed rushing attack of J.K. Dobbins (17 carries for 141 yards, two touchdowns), Master Teague III (11 carries for 60 yards) and Justin Fields (nine carries for 42 yards, two touchdowns).

 

5. Oklahoma

Through two weeks, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts nearly has as many passing touchdowns (six) as incompletions (seven). His offensive numbers weren’t as outrageous as his 500-plus yards of total offense and six total touchdowns against Houston, but he still threw for three touchdowns and recorded more than 300 yards of total offense, including 259 yards through the air. That trend will likely continue with a trip to 0-2 UCLA in Week 3.

 

4. LSU

The Tigers haven’t seen single-game passing numbers like the ones that quarterback Joe Burrow put up in Austin in nearly 20 years. 471 yards. Four touchdowns. We weren’t sure anyone in the state of Louisiana was legally allowed to do that outside of Drew Brees. An early road win at Auburn fueled LSU’s improved 2018 and the Tigers’ road win over a top-10 Texas team could be a similar milestone this fall.

 

3. Georgia

After Georgia was locked in a 7-7 tie with Murray State through the first quarter, the Bulldogs pulled away so quickly – outscoring the Racers 35-0 in the second quarter – that backup quarterback Stetson Bennett recorded more passing attempts than starter Jake Fromm, who was an uber-efficient 10-of-11 passing for 166 yards and one touchdown for an average of 15.1 yards per attempt. Five different Georgia back had at least 30 rushing yards, while averaging at least six yards per carry.

 

2. Alabama

One week after putting up a scoreless first quarter against Duke, the Crimson Tide scored on its first offensive play of the game – a 75-yard catch-and-run after a screen pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Henry Ruggs III that was officially ruled a run since it was a backwards pass. After Alabama forced New Mexico State into a 3-and-out, Jaylen Waddle returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown, only to have it called back. Alabama nearly covered the 55-point spread in a 62-10 win.

 

1. Clemson

The Tigers would’ve won – and covered – against Texas A&M were it not for Jimbo Fisher calling a timeout to set up the Aggies’ play call on 4th & Goal, setting up their first and only touchdown of the game in the closing seconds. It was a statement win in which the Tigers’ defense harassed Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, Trevor Lawrence showed how dangerous he can be on the ground when extending plays or keeping a read option on the goal line and Tee Higgins is back to his old ways of making ridiculous catches against tight coverage.

 

MORE: Contextualizing LSU’s Passing Renaissance Under Joe Burrow