In a weekend slate that featured 23 ranked teams in action but not a single top-25 matchup, two of the four ranked teams that we identified last week as being most likely to lose ended up falling in Week 3.
There wasn’t a season-changing upset but losses by USC and Florida State could potentially bring them closer to future changes in leadership at the two historic programs, whenever such changes might happen, and UCF throttled arguably the best regular season opponent the Knights have played during their impressive three-season run.
Now that the dust has settled, here’s what we predict the college football AP Top 25 poll will look like in Week 4, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1.
This isn’t a personal ballot, this is how we predict the AP poll voters will vote.
Dropped out of rankings: No. 21 Maryland, No. 24 USC
After jumping out to a 20-0 lead over North Texas, the Mean Green clawed back and the Golden Bears held on for a 23-17 win. But they were able to limit North Texas’ Mason Fine to just 21-of-40 passing for 210 yards (5.3 yards per attempt) and a 23.9 QBR, which is another feather in the cap of a great secondary that played a big role in Cal’s win over Washington in Week 2.
24. Michigan State
Arizona State completed the home-and-home sweep over Michigan State, winning 10-7 in East Lansing after the Spartans’ game-tying field goal was waived off due to them having 12 players on the field. On the second attempt, Michigan State kicker Matt Coghlin’s kick was wide left (although Arizona State should’ve been penalized for having a player jump over Michigan State’s line, which is a 15-yard penalty), making him 0-for-3 on the day.
Michigan State moved the ball through the air with Brian Lewerke’s 24-of-38 passing for 291 yards and the Spartans’ defense held the Sun Devils to just 2.9 yards per attempt but the home team doesn’t have a win to show for it.
The Horned Frogs went to Purdue and won 34-13 behind the two-headed rushing attack of Darius Anderson (16 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns) and Sewo Olonilua (18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown) against a Boilermakers team that was without starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar. TCU held Purdue to just 4-for-15 on third down and only 23 rushing yards.
The Cavaliers tried to let Florida State back in the game with four significant penalties on the final drive in Charlottesville but thanks to a clock error in Virginia’s favor in the final seconds, the Seminoles weren’t lined up properly on the final play and they were stopped short of the end zone in the Cavaliers’ 31-24 win.
Wayne Taulapapa averaged just 2.9 yards per carry but he scored three touchdowns on the night.
The Huskies avoided becoming the third Pac-12 team to fall to Hawaii this season as they bounced back from their home loss to Cal with a 52-20 win over the Rainbow Warriors. Washington jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and quarterback Jacob Eason finished 18-of-25 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
20. Boise State
After Portland State hung around through the first quarter, Boise State pulled away to a 28-10 halftime lead behind quarterback Hank Bachmeier’s 238 passing yards and two touchdowns. While the Broncos still have to travel to BYU and Utah State, plus host Hawaii, they could be one of the sneakier candidates to go undefeated in the regular season this year.
19. Washington State
Washington State traded touchdowns with Houston in the first two and a half quarters before taking a 21-14 lead on Anthony Gordon’s 39-yard touchdown to Dezmon Patmon and it held on for a 31-24 win.
Gordon had another monster game statistically, completing 36-of-48 attempts for 440 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
In seemingly the most Iowa-Iowa State game possible, the Hawkeyes won by a weird 18-17 final score in Ames in a game that was twice delayed due to bad weather and culminated in Iowa State fumbling a punt return after two Cyclones ran into each other. It wasn’t a pretty game, if you hadn’t gathered that already, with quarterback Nate Stanley averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt on 35 throws and the Hawkeyes averaged just three yards per carry. But a win’s a win, especially on the road in a rivalry game.
17. Texas A&M
One week after losing at No. 1 Clemson, the Aggies laid the boom on Lamar 62-3 after producing at least two scoring drives in every quarter. Backup quarterback Zach Calzada actually threw for more touchdown passes than starter Kellen Mond, who completed 20-of-28 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown, while running back Isaiah Spiller ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries after replacing the injured Jashaun Corbin.
We placed UCF in the “don’t be surprised if they lose” category of our Week 3 upset meter but the Knights quickly proved that was a poor decision on our part as they jumped out to 28-7 lead after the first quarter.
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel was outstanding, completing 22-of-30 attempts for 347 yards and four touchdowns, repeatedly finding UCF receivers who had beaten Stanford’s secondary or placing the ball with pinpoint accuracy in places where only his receivers could catch the ball.
The country shouldn’t have needed this result to buy into UCF as a legitimately good team and program but the Knights rolling a Power Five opponent should add credibility for those college football fans who are still doubting them.
The Ducks jumped out to a three-score lead over Montana in the first half on Saturday night as quarterback Justin Herbert found Jacob Breeland twice in the first quarter for a touchdown, then Johnny Johnson III in the second quarter.
14. Penn State
Maybe it’s a good thing that the Penn State-Pittsburgh rivalry is taking a temporary (indefinite?) hiatus after the Nittany Lions’ 17-10 win, which will be remembered by the questionable decision from Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi’s decision to kick a field goal from Penn State’s 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter rather than going for the end zone on 4th & Goal. Pitt, which had two 1,000-yard rushers last season, only managed one yard per carry on 25 attempts and the two sides were a combined 9-of-29 on third down.
Noah Cain and Devyn Ford scored the Nittany Lions’ touchdowns.
The Badgers had a bye week in advance of their home date with Michigan. Wisconsin outscored South Florida and Central Michigan 110-0 in the first two weeks.
The Longhorns didn’t have any issues with Rice in their first game after losing to LSU. Texas won 48-13 on Saturday, holding the Owls scoreless for the first three quarters while quarterback Sam Ehlinger connected on 23-of-27 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns.
The Utes shut out Idaho State 31-0 as Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley nearly had as many passing touchdowns (3) as incompletions (4) in a 15-of-19 passing, 282-yard performance. Running back Zach Moss needed just 10 carries to crack the 100-yard mark and wide receiver Bryan Thompson scored on both of his receptions, totaling 105 yards.
The Wolverines had a much-needed bye week to regroup after they survived a scare against Army in Week 2 and before they travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to face a Badgers team in Week 4 that hasn’t allowed their first two opponents to score a single point.
After having their 31-game winning streak over the Kentucky Wildcats broken last season, the Gators avoided a losing streak to their SEC East foes by winning 29-21 in Lexington. Quarterback Feleipe Franks was carted off the field with an injury but backup Kyle Trask performed admirably in his stead, completing 9-of-13 passes for 126 yards, plus a rushing touchdown. Kentucky missed a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter and Josh Hammond sealed the victory with a 76-yard touchdown run in the final minute.
The Tigers had three 100-yard rushers in their 55-16 win over Kent State, including backup quarterback Joey Gatewood. Starting quarterback Bo Nix only needed to throw the ball 16 times, while Auburn ran the ball 62 times for 467 (!) yards and six touchdowns.
7. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish coasted in their home opener, beating New Mexico 66-14 behind Ian Book’s five touchdown passes. Notre Dame exploded for 31 points in the second quarter, including three scores in the final three and a half minutes. Next up is a much bigger test at No. 3 Georgia.
6. Ohio State
Well that was anticlimactic. After we warned of the unpredictable and competitive nature of recent Ohio State at Indiana games, the Buckeyes boat-raced the Hoosiers 51-10, shutting them out after halftime.
Quarterback Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and the backfield duo of J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague III each ran for over 100 yards – 193 and 108, respectively – while Ohio State’s defense limited Indiana to just 42 rushing yards on 31 carries.
Another week, another monster game from Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The Sooners traveled west and beat UCLA 48-14 thanks to Hurts’ 439 total yards and four total touchdowns, including runs of 30 and 52 yards on the opening drive of the game.
After trailing 7-3 through the first quarter, LSU pulled away from Coach O’s alma mater, Northwestern State, in a 65-14 win. Quarterback Joe Burrow reaffirmed that he could have a say in the Heisman race with an uber-efficient performance through the air – 21-of-24 for 373 yards (15.5 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns. Five receivers had at least 50 receiving yards.
The Bulldogs pitched a shut out, beating Arkansas State 55-0 with two quarterbacks who recorded a QBR over 96 – Jake Fromm was 17-of-22 for 279 yards and three touchdowns while backup Stetson Bennett was 9-of-10 for 109 yards – and a widespread rushing attack that saw 10 players record a carry for a combined 268 yards and four touchdowns.
South Carolina kept things interesting for a half against Alabama, allowing a halftime full of discussion about whether the replay official should’ve reviewed Rico Dowdle’s potential touchdown run at the end of the first half and questioning why Will Muschamp didn’t call a timeout to allow the official enough time to review the play. But it ultimately didn’t matter in Alabama’s 47-23 win, which saw quarterback Tua Tagovailoa play into the fourth quarter, allowing him to throw for 444 yards and five touchdowns.
DeVonta Smith was the biggest recipient of Tagovailoa’s career day as he hauled in eight catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Much was made in the last week or so about Syracuse’s ability to play Clemson tough the last two seasons. While that wasn’t incorrect, it’s also misleading because in both games, including the Orange’s win over the Tigers in 2017, Clemson’s starting quarterback was knocked out of the game in the first half.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence stayed upright and he was 22-of-39 passing for 395 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the road as the Tigers won decisively 41-6.