Playoff Picture - Week 3
by Aaron Lynn and Jonny Gaunt
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Aaron: Bear with me, but remember that quote from Iron Man 2 where Ivan Vanco says "if you could make god bleed, people would cease to believe in him?" Florida didn't beat Alabama but at made them "bleed." At the end of the day, it's another big win for Bama and that win streak continues on.
Jonny: The Tide might actually be human after all. If not for a missed PAT by the Gators, this game was going to overtime. Yet, Alabama survived, although there is renewed hope from the other teams in the SEC.
#2 Georgia Bulldogs
Aaron: Following their win against Clemson, the Bulldogs have coasted to wins over UAB and South Carolina. Stetson Bennett stepped up at quarterback for an injured JT Daniels in Week 2 and looked solid, so the quarterback situation will be interesting to monitor in future weeks. Georgia has one more tune up against Vanderbilt in Week 4 before facing Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, and Florida in the next four weeks.
Jonny: Georgia continues to overwhelm inferior teams. The offense continues to be solid in these games, but will Daniels be able to step up when it matters?
#3 Oregon Ducks
Aaron: "Help me Oregon, you're my only hope." -The PAC-12.
Jonny: Oregon is now the flag bearer for the PAC-12 after a rough weekend for the conference. The Ducks are solid all around and will prepare for the UCLA Bruins on October 23rd.
#4 Oklahoma Sooners
Aaron: The Sooners had some rocky moments in the non-conference but are now 3-0 including a win over former conference rival Nebraska last week. Spencer Rattler will need to step up for the Sooners to succeed, but can also rely on a strong defense. OU fans should hope their team doesn't overlook West Virginia who is coming off a big win over Virginia Tech and would love to play spoiler in Week 4.
Jonny: In an emotional reunion with Nebraska, the Sooner defense was the story. Rattler and the offense leave much to be desired in consistency, but the defense showed it can carry the team.
#5 Iowa Hawkeyes
Aaron: The Hawkeyes could be poised for one of their best seasons ever, and has a extremely tough defense. The Hawkeyes have not allowed a team to score more than 25 points in their last 24 games. If Iowa takes care of business, you're looking at a major clash against Penn State from Kinnick on October 9th. (Hello, Gameday?)
Jonny: If QB Petras can continue to improve and keep the Hawkeyes offense balanced, they are capable of achieving more than Iowa has in decades.
#6 Penn State Nittany Lions
Aaron: That win over Auburn was a statement win for James Franklin and the program. The defense is no joke and I thought the game plan against the Tigers was excellent. Penn State continues to give the ball to Dotson whenever possible, and that's a good thing. There's challenging road trips to Iowa City and Columbus in October.
Jonny: In a frenzied home match against Auburn, QB Sean Clifford finally stepped up and showed he is capable of taking the Lion offense to the next level and could perhaps guide Penn State to win the Big Ten East.
#7 Texas A&M Aggies
Aaron: I know "defense wins championships" but in today's college football world you do need some offense and I'm worried the Aggies don't have what it takes to win tough games against Arkansas from JerryWorld this week and against Alabama two weeks after that. Zach Calzada will need to step up in a big way after being thrust into the starting QB role due to injury.
Jonny: The Aggies have extreme talent on both sides of the ball, yet they have rarely showed any explosiveness this season against mostly poor opponents. There is a lot to be concerned about as the schedule toughens.
#8 Cincinnati Bearcats
Aaron: Step 1: Beat Indiana. Check. Step 2 is get rested and healthy before a showdown against Notre Dame in South Bend. And somewhere among those steps is to root for all of the other American teams (and Indiana) to have great seasons so their wins are all meaningful.
Jonny: The trip to Bloomington had been circled on the Bearcats' schedule for a year. After a slow start for the offense, the Bearcats rallied for an impressive victory against a better-than-their-record Hoosier team.
#9 Clemson Tigers
Aaron: Clemson has scored just 17 points in their two games against FBS opponents. That's... *checks notes* bad. D.J. Uiagalelei simply must be better and needs help around him. Clemson now travels to NC State who will be hungry for an upset. Unless something crazy happens, the Playoff hopes of the ACC die with another Clemson loss.
Jonny: This may be the worst Clemson has looked on offense since Dabo Swinney took over as head coach. If not for the heroics of the defense, the Tigers would have lost to an ACC bottom feeder (Georgia Tech) at home.
#10 Ohio State Buckeyes
Aaron: Don't let the 21-point victory fool you, Ohio State fans watched the contest against Tulsa nervously for almost the entire game. The defense was exposed by Minnesota and Oregon who rushed at will, and Tulsa threw for over 400 yards. The offense is still inconsistent and it appears freshman QB C.J. Stroud maybe losing confidence. A game against Akron may be much needed, but there are some serious issues in Columbus.
Jonny: Despite significant coaching changes, the Buckeyes defense still was porous as ever. Only this time Stroud struggled as well, leaving the game in the hands of talented freshman running back Trevyon Henderson.
#11 Florida Gators
Aaron: I'm still not sure Florida will be able to take the East over Georgia, but, on behalf of all college football fans everywhere, thank you for showing that Alabama can be beat. Even though Emory Jones took all the snaps in that game, don't be surprised if the quarterback situation continues to be a topic of conversation. Expect the onslaught of run to continue, either way.
Jonny: Moral victories don't exist, but the near miss by the Gators in their shot at the defending champ gives them a goal to rematch the Tide in the SEC Title game. With their manageable schedule and improving offense, a rematch certainly could be in the cards.
#12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Aaron: Yes, Notre Dame is 3-0, but it turns out that win against Florida State now means almost nothing (in terms of resume significance) and the Fighting Irish didn't wow me against Purdue and nearly lost to Toledo. However, if Notre Dame can rattle off back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Cincinnati, they'll prove my doubts wrong.
Jonny: Notre Dame looked better than they have the first two weeks against a Purdue team, but the level of competition increases significantly this weekend in Chicago against Wisconsin, the site of Gameday.
#14 Iowa State Cyclones
Aaron: I'll be honest, I've given up on Iowa State, at least in terms of Playoff contention. I'm sure Jonny would disagree with me, however, and to be fair it's quite possible they win the remainder of their games before a showdown at Oklahoma. I don't love the six road trips in nine games that the Cyclones must navigate.
Jonny: Iowa State dominated another inferior opponent as they prepare to compete for the Big 12 crown with the Oklahoma Sooners.
Jonny's Week 3 Top 25
1. Alabama (3-0)
2. Georgia (3-0)
3. Oregon (3-0)
4. Iowa (3-0)
5. Penn State (3-0)
6. Oklahoma (3-0)
7. Cincinnati (3-0)
8. Texas A&M (3-0)
9. Clemson (2-1)
10. Ohio State (2-1)
11. Notre Dame (3-0)
12. Florida (2-1)
13. Iowa State (2-1)
14. North Carolina (2-1)
15. Mississippi (3-0)
16. BYU (3-0)
17. Wisconsin (1-1)
18. Arkansas (3-0)
19. Michigan (3-0)
20. Coastal Carolina (3-0)
21. UCLA (2-1)
22. Auburn (2-1)
23. Fresno State (3-1)
24. Virginia Tech (2-1)
25. Kansas State (3-0)
On the Verge
#13 Mississippi - The Rebels have a bye week before they face Alabama (and take on Arkansas the week after). If Ole Miss can beat the Tide, there's no doubt they are a major Playoff contender. I don't see that happening, although the offense led by Matt Corral under head coach Lane Kiffin is absolutely electric.
#15 BYU - BYU plays enough Power 5 opponents that, if the Cougars can manage an undefeated season, could through a huge wrench into the Playoff and NY6 picture. That's a big "if", although the Cougars' 3 wins are all against the PAC-12.
#16 Arkansas - Was a dominant win over Texas a sign of Arkansas' strength or Texas' weaknesses? Probably a little of both, but the Razorbacks can prove that they are the biggest surprise in the country with big SEC wins.
#17 Coastal Carolina - There's just not enough quality opponents on this schedule to really make a case for a Playoff bid. Still, there's a chance that Coastal can run the table which will still make for an interesting discussion.