Week 3 College Football Power Rankings: LSU Proves It Belongs Among the Elite

Equipped with its new-look offense, LSU proved that it is taking serious inquiries only and the Tigers make a jump in this week's power rankings.
By Scooby Axson ,

Anyone who watched LSU beat Texas on the road in front of nearly 100,000 fans knows it's the kind of currency you can’t buy with the College Football Playoff committee, unless Texas continues to be competitive and the Tigers somehow run through the SEC West.

With a tough schedule still ahead, LSU may have to prove it can get past Alabama to make the playoff, something the Tigers haven’t been able to do since 2011.

But with Joe Burrow running the new spread offense to perfection, LSU has set itself up for another title run. There is no doubt about it—the Tigers are for real and a force to be reckoned with from here on out.

Now to the rankings:

1. Clemson (2–0, 1–0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Texas A&M 24–10
Next week: at Syracuse

About the only drama this game had was whether Clemson was going to cover its 18-point spread in Vegas. It didn’t. The Tigers won a school-record 17th straight game as Trevor Lawrence threw for 268 yards and a score. After averaging more than eight yards a carry last week against Georgia Tech, Clemson met a stiffer test, going for 121 yards on 33 carries (3.7 ypc).

2. Alabama (2–0)

Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat New Mexico State 62–10
Next week: at South Carolina

Nick Saban said that Alabama should play 12 Power 5 teams each year. Agreed.

3. Oklahoma (2–0)

Previous ranking: 3
This week: Beat South Dakota 70–14
Next week: at UCLA

4. LSU (2–0)

Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Texas 45–31
Next week: vs. Northwestern State

If there were disbelievers in the LSU offensive system before Saturday, those skeptics don’t have much to say these days. Joe Burrow lit up the Texas defense for 471 yards and four touchdowns. It was LSU’s first-ever non-conference road win over a team ranked in the AP top 10. The teams combined for 39 points, 350 yards and 19 first downs in the fourth quarter alone.

5. Ohio State (2–0)

Previous ranking: 4
This week: Beat Cincinnati 42–0
Next week: at Indiana

Justin Fields continued the stellar start to his Ohio State career, scoring four total touchdowns and accounting for 266 yards. J.K. Dobbins ran for 141 yards and two scores as Ohio State extended its winning streak against in-state opponents to 42 straight games. Cincinnati has not beaten the Buckeyes since 1897, a losing streak now stretched to 12 games.

6. Georgia (2–0, 1–0 SEC)

Previous ranking: 5
This week: Beat Murray State 63–10
Next week: vs. Arkansas State

7. Notre Dame (1–0)

Previous ranking: 9
This week: Off
Next week: vs. New Mexico

8. Auburn (2–0)

Previous ranking: 8
This week: Beat Tulane 24–6
Next week: vs. Kent State

Bo Nix followed up his game-winning performance against Oregon by throwing for 207 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers shook off another slow offensive start by shutting down the Green Wave. JaTarvious Whitlow had 121 all-purpose yards, but also lost two fumbles. More offensive woes could be ahead as both of Auburn’s starting wide receivers were injured during the game.

9. Michigan (2–0)

Previous ranking: 6
This week: Beat Army 24–21 (2OT)
Next week: Off; next game Sept. 21 at Wisconsin

The Butterfinger Invitational was not for those who like sound, fundamental football. Michigan continues to have problems holding onto the ball. The Wolverines lost only three fumbles all of last year but have already coughed it up five times in 2019. The sloppiness led to constant boos from the Big House faithful as the Wolverines needed a red-zone interception and an overtime fumble recovery to secure the victory.

10. Florida (2–0)

Previous ranking: 13
This week: Beat Tennessee-Martin 45–0
Next week: at Kentucky

11. Utah (2–0)

Previous ranking: 14
This week: Beat Northern Illinois 35–17
Next week: vs. Idaho State

Zack Moss inched closer to the school record for career rushing yards, finishing with 80 yards on 18 carries. The senior running back needs just 302 more yards to set the mark. Tyler Huntley had 214 passing yards and a touchdown, while defensive end Bradley Anae paced the defense by recording three of Utah’s four sacks.

12. UCF (2–0)

Previous ranking: 15
This week: Beat Florida Atlantic 48–14
Next week: vs. Stanford

UCF continues to pile on the points against all foes and has now scored in 35 straight quarters. Freshman Dillon Gabriel made his first career start and completed only seven of his 19 passes, but those throws went for 245 yards with two touchdowns. Five different players scored rushing touchdowns as the Knights ran for 312 yards on 47 carries.

13. Penn State (2–0)

Previous ranking: 16
This week: Beat Buffalo 45–13
Next week: vs. Pittsburgh

The Nittany Lions were actually losing this game at halftime but put the Bulls away with a pick-six after the break. Sean Clifford threw for 279 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Though it scored 45 points, Penn State only held the ball for 17:28 and ran just 46 plays. After running wild last week to the tune of 331 yards against Idaho, the Lions could muster only 78 yards on the ground in Week 2.

14. Texas (1–1)

Previous ranking: 10
This week: Lost to LSU 45–38
Next week: vs. Rice

Finally, the talk about Texas being back can cease for a bit. The defense that broke in nine new starters was torched all game as LSU averaged 8.4 yards per play and converted half of its third down attempts. Sam Ehlinger kept them in the game, throwing for 401 yards and four touchdowns and was also the team’s leading rusher with 60 yards.

15. Iowa (2–0, 1–0 Big Ten)

Previous ranking: 17
This week: Beat Rutgers 30–0
Next week: at Iowa State

Iowa stifled the Scarlet Knights all day, forcing three turnovers and holding Rutgers to 2 of 14 on third down. Nate Stanley threw three touchdown passes, including two to Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Rutgers’s two quarterbacks completed only nine of their 26 pass attempts for 41 yards and threw two interceptions. A stat that will get you beat every time: Rutgers had more punts (10), than first downs (5).

16. Wisconsin (2–0)

Previous ranking: 18
This week: Beat Central Michigan 61–0
Next week: Off; next game Sept. 21 vs. Michigan

Opponents are still looking for their first points against Wisconsin after another shutout. Central Michigan could manage only three first downs and averaged 1.3 yards on its 45 plays from scrimmage. Jonathan Taylor went over 100 yards again and scored three rushing touchdowns and one through the air. Wisconsin had 37 first downs and 599 yards of offense.

17. Oregon (1–1)

Previous ranking: 19
This week: Beat Nevada 77–6
Next week: vs. Montana

Whatever frustrations Oregon had in its last-minute loss to Auburn, it surely took out on Nevada. It seemed that whoever put on a uniform for Oregon scored a touchdown with 11 different players finding the end zone. Justin Herbert continued his NFL audition, throwing for five touchdowns and 310 yards. The 77 points tied a record for the most points scored at Autzen Stadium.

18. Michigan State (2–0)

Previous ranking: 21
This week: Beat Western Michigan 51–17
Next week: vs. Arizona State

At least Michigan State’s offensive performance wasn’t as ugly as those uniforms it sported on Saturday. Mark Dantonio tied the school record from most victories as a head coach, while Brian Lewerke threw for 314 yard and three touchdowns. Elijah Collins steadied the running game with 192 yards. After allowing negative-72 yards rushing against Tulsa, the Spartans were stout again, surrendering 67 yards against WMU.

19. Texas A&M (1–1)

Previous ranking: 12
This week: Lost to Clemson 24–10
Next week: vs. Lamar

About the only encouraging thing about A&M’s loss to Clemson was that it wasn’t blown off the field. The defense played well in spurts to give the Aggies a chance if their offense could ever get going. That never happened, though, and it just shows that Clemson is a cut above anyone on its schedule.

20. Memphis (2–0)

Previous ranking: 24
This week: Beat Southern 55–24
Next week: at South Alabama

21. Iowa State (1–0)

Previous ranking: 23
This week: Off
Next week: vs. Iowa

22. Boise State (2–0)

Previous ranking: 25
This week: Beat Marshall 14–7
Next week: vs. Portland State

After holding Florida State to zero points in the second half in its opening game, the Boise State defense came up big again, limiting Marshall to zero yards after halftime as the Thundering Herd had the ball for less than seven minutes, while running only 16 plays. Hank Bachmeier threw for 282 yards and a score, and George Holani ran for 103 yards taking over for an injured Robert Mahone.

23. Maryland (2–0)

Previous ranking: —
This week: Beat Syracuse 63–20
Next week: at Temple

Maybe it’s the Terrapins who need to be looked at as a sleeper in the Big Ten. Josh Jackson’s 296 yards and three touchdowns were part of another offensive explosion as Maryland ran up and down the field against Syracuse. The Terps had 650 yards of offense and converted 11 of their 15 third downs. Maryland had four backs rush for over 60 yards each and put the game away early by scoring a touchdown on seven of their first eight possessions.

24. USC (2–0, 1–0 Pac-12)

Previous ranking: —
This week: Beat Stanford 45–20
Next week: at BYU

Add Kedon Slovis’s name to the list of true freshman quarterbacks making an impact this season. Slovis, subbing in for an injured J.T. Daniels, threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, breaking a school record for a true freshman in his first career start. After spotting Stanford a 17–3, the Trojans scored 42 of the game’s next 45 points to avenge last year’s loss.

25. Washington (1–1, 0–1 Pac–12)

Previous ranking: 11
This week: Lost to Cal 20–19
Next week: vs. Hawaii

A lightning storm delayed this game for the better part of 2.5 hours, and when the scoreboard hit triple zeros after Greg Thomas kicked a 17-yard field goal with eight seconds left to give Cal a second straight win over Washington, it was almost 4:30 a.m. ET. Cal’s victory also snapped the Huskies 14-game home winning streak and further damaged the Pac-12’s playoff aspirations.

By conference: Big Ten (7), SEC (6), Pac-12 (4), Big 12 (3), AAC (2), ACC (1), Mountain West (1), Independent (1).

Dropped Out: Nebraska, Stanford.

Almost famous: Virginia, Mississippi State, Colorado, North Carolina, Boston College, Washington State.

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