Top 10 college football coach rankings heading into Week 3. Tom Herman and Nick Saban continue to lead the nation, while Charlie Strong has made a huge jump.
10. Chris Petersen, Washington (7 – Last Week)
There’s still a ton to prove in 2016, and the Huskies have yet to face an opponent of significance. But you have to like how Washington has handled itself as a heavy favorite so far. The team was all business in routs of Rutgers and Idaho to rise to No. 8 in the AP, its highest ranking in 15 years. There’s one more tune-up against Portland State for QB Jake Browning and that nasty D before U-Dub gets a chance to validate its ranking in Pac-12 play.
9. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (3)
Fisher and the Seminoles own one of the best wins of the first two weeks this college football season, erasing a 22-point deficit to defeat No. 11 Ole Miss on Labor Day. And they did so with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Deondre Francois, at the controls of the offense. Florida State has a second massive test of the year this Saturday in Louisville, where Bobby Petrino is manufacturing his own case for 2016 Coach of the Year with a 2-0 start and ascent into the AP top 10.
8. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh (NR)
Narduzzi’s Panthers own Pennsylvania, at least for the moment. Pitt held off instate rival Penn State, 42-39, in a wild renewal of a rivalry that had been on ice since 2000. On an afternoon when Narduzzi’s calling card, his D, sprung second-half leaks, the offense lugged more of the weight behind 341 rushing yards and three Nathan Peterman touchdown passes. Pitt can take another big step under Narduzzi this week, when it travels to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State.
7. Urban Meyer, Ohio State (4)
The Buckeyes have rolled through Bowling Green and Tulsa by a combined score of 125-13, setting the stage for this week’s monster showdown at Oklahoma. Meyer and his staff have so far done a nice job of preparing the underclassmen, like RB Mike Weber and DBs Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, for primetime roles. If Ohio State’s early success continues in Norman, Meyer’s Coach of the Year stock will skyrocket by the close of Week 3.
6. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (5)
Harbaugh has the Wolverines rockin’ and rollin’ heading into this week’s game against 2-0 Colorado. His players are operating with a killer instincts, not always a given when the opponents are Hawaii and UCF. But halfhearted efforts, common among ranked teams at this time of year, are wholly unacceptable in Harbaugh’s world. He’s got the defense playing up to expectations and QB Wilton Speight throwing darts to TE Jake Butt and receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson.
5. Bobby Petrino, Louisville (NR)
Petrino and the Cardinals have made some waves with early blowouts of Charlotte and Syracuse. Those waves will reach tsunami proportions if Louisville upends No. 2 Florida State this weekend. Petrino’s offensive acumen is being channeled this month through QB Lamar Jackson, an unstoppable whiz kid who’s already accounted for 13 touchdowns. Petrino is on the verge of giving the ACC a third contender for national notoriety, a huge deal to put on a Coach of the Year resume.
4. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin (6)
The ninth-ranked Badgers are already soaring past modest preseason expectations. They opened the college football season with a statement upset of LSU and then avoided a trap with a 54-10 blowout of upset-minded Akron. And Chryst is doing it with a first-time starting quarterback, Bart Houston, and without trusted defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. A balanced offense and a stifling D. Yup, sounds like a recipe for serious contention in the Big Ten West.
3. Charlie Strong, Texas (NR)
Ahh, the oddity of Strong after two weeks—an early contender for Coach of the Year who also happens to still be on the, albeit considerably cooler, hot seat. The Horns are a different team than Strong’s first two editions, ringing up 91 points behind Sterlin Gilbert’s up-tempo attack. Confidence is climbing in Austin, where contributions are flowing in from all over the roster. Upcoming games at Cal, at Oklahoma State and versus Oklahoma will go a long way to determining on which Strong’s name belongs.
2. Nick Saban, Alabama (2)
No one has a more impressive win through two weeks than Saban, whose Tide embarrassed USC in Week 1, 52-6. The defense is predictably nasty, yielding just 3.4 yards per play, and the coach is showing a willingness to step outside of his comfort zone by giving the ball to true freshman QB Jalen Hurts. Now, Saban gets an opportunity to exorcise some recent demons against Ole Miss, which has taken the last games of this series.
1. Tom Herman, Houston (1)
Herman has the Cougars at No. 6 nationally, well within College Football Playoff contention, after opening the year with a seismic upset of defending Big 12 champ Oklahoma. Houston coasted against Lamar in Week 2, but was forced to do so without star QB Greg Ward Jr., who rested his sore shoulder. The Cougs are going to need their playmaking senior this Thursday against Cincy, which will be looking to make its own statement in front of a national audience.