The Associated Press released its top 25 poll after Week 3 on Sunday. Ole Miss made a huge jump, taking the No. 4 spot after a win over Alabama. The Crimson Tide dropped all the way to No. 12, while Ohio State remained at the top. Here are three thoughts on the latest poll:
1. The Pac-12 race looks like it will come down to the wire
Stanford looked horrible in an opening-week loss to Northwestern. But USC couldn’t stop the Cardinal on Saturday night, and Stanford re-entered the top 25 at No. 21. Meanwhile, UCLA survived a scare against BYU and moved into the top 10 at No. 9. Oregon, whose only loss came to No. 2 Michigan State, is lurking at No. 13. The teams are not too far from one another in the poll, and it could remain that way for at least a few weeks. Is UCLA really the best team in the West? Will Stanford’s resurgence on offense last? No. 16 Arizona and No. 18 Utah are also very much in the mix. There will likely be plenty of shuffling throughout the season amongst the best teams in the Pac-12, which raises the possibility they could cannibalize themselves out the College Football Playoff.
2. The Big Ten is tops...for now
The Buckeyes kept their No. 1 ranking in the poll despite an uneven effort against Northern Illinois. Ohio State looked like it could lose for the first time since last year's Week 2 defeat to Virginia Tech, but its grasp on the No. 1 spot remains strong after the Buckeyes held on for a 20–13 victory over the Huskies. Michigan State moved up to No. 2 in the poll, which could set up a one vs. two matchup if the rankings hold until Nov. 21, when the Buckeyes and Spartans could end up battling for a spot in the playoff. The rest of the Big Ten only placed two teams in the poll. Northwestern moved up to No. 17, aided by its win over Duke on Saturday and Stanford’s win over the Trojans. Wisconsin is hanging on to a spot in the top 25 at No. 22.
3. The big losses meant big drops
Alabama and USC both fell far in Sunday's poll. The Trojans now find themselves at No. 19, behind the likes of Arizona, Northwestern and Utah. At No. 12, the Crimson Tide are behind Clemson and Florida State. It’s possible the drops are an overcorrection for the upset losses—Stanford and Ole Miss could prove to be much better teams than their perceptions entering the weekend. But the losses also revealed some serious weaknesses for the Crimson Tide and Trojans. In Tuscaloosa, turnovers ruined Alabama's chances against the Rebels, and the Tide will need to find consistency under center. In Los Angeles, Cody Kessler still looks outstanding, but if the Trojans struggled with Stanford's offense, they could have a difficult time slowing down other teams in the conference.
Here is the complete top 25:
1. Ohio State
3. Ole Miss
6. Notre Dame
10. Florida State
14. Texas A&M
20. Georgia Tech
24. Oklahoma State