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  • An odd day in the Big Ten left room for a few new teams to find their way onto Top 10, while there are a couple teams with losses sticking around.
By Andy Staples
September 16, 2018

Yes, there are teams with losses in the Top 10 (Plus One) after week three. Come at me.

We’ve reached the EVERYONE STINKS, NOBODY HAS PLAYED ANYBODY portion of the season early this year, but this was bound to happen sometime. It’s almost as if large groups of 18- to 22-year-olds tend to act in an inconsistent manner from week to week. 

1. Alabama (3–­0)
Last game: Beat Ole Miss, 62­–7
Next game: Saturday vs. Texas A&M

It’s completely normal to see Alabama decimating its opponents. What feels so different is that the Crimson Tide are dispatching their foes with such panache. Alabama probably could have scored 100 on Ole Miss. Eventually, Tua Tagovailoa will need to play in a second half. Maybe even next week.

2. Ohio State (3–0)
Last game: Beat TCU, 40–28
Next game: Saturday vs. Tulane

The TCU game exposed a few weaknesses in the Buckeyes’ defense, and Nick Bosa’s injury seems like something that could linger. Still, Ohio State also showed its ability to explode offensively against a good defense. It’s good the Buckeyes have proven they can win a game like this, because there’s a very good chance they’ll play a similarly back-and-forth affair on Sept. 29 in State College. 

3. LSU (3–0)
Last game: Beat Auburn 22–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech

Look, I’m not sure I believe in LSU’s offense, either. But I do believe that LSU now has the best win of any team so far this season (at Auburn) and another decent non-conference win (Miami). So the Tigers get ranked high until someone beats them. That said, it has been fun to watch Ed Orgeron punch a hole in the offseason narrative that he was on the hot seat. He never was. It’s just that when people write hot seat columns, they feel the need to include a coach from every conference. And if this keeps up, Orgeron’s critics might have to admit the guy knows what he’s doing.

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4. Georgia (3–0)
Last game: Beat Middle Tennessee, 49–7
Next game: Saturday at Missouri

The Bulldogs may very well be headed toward a matchup of undefeated teams in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama, but the Bulldogs still need to be challenged a little more. They’ll get a challenge next week against Missouri and Drew Lock, who may be the first quarterback off the board in the next NFL draft.

5. Clemson (3–0)
Last game: Beat Georgia Southern, 38–7
Next game: Saturday at Georgia Tech

The Tigers didn’t need quarterback Kelly Bryant to finish off Georgia Southern, so Bryant didn’t come back after sustaining a chest bruise in the second quarter. Don’t read too much into this. Bryant still probably gives Clemson the best chance to win, but more experience for Trevor Lawrence can’t hurt.

6. Oklahoma (3–0)
Last game: Beat Iowa State, 37–27
Next game: Saturday vs. Army

It’s not a massive warning sign that Oklahoma had to sweat out a win against Iowa State in Ames. After all, the Cyclones did beat the Oklahoma team that won the Big 12 and made the College Football Playoff last year. Still, the fact that Oklahoma allowed Iowa State backup quarterback Zeb Noland to average 10 yards an attempt while throwing for 360 yards makes us wonder if this isn’t the same old Oklahoma defense—which could become a problem later.

7. Oklahoma State (3–0)
Last game: Beat Boise State, 44–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Texas Tech

The Cowboys come surging into the top 10 thanks to a convincing win against a very good Boise State team. Oklahoma State was brutally efficient, averaging 6.5 yards a play while running only 65 plays. After watching the Cowboys’ offense do that to Boise State’s defense, it’s scary to think what Oklahoma State could do to Big 12 defenses.

8. Notre Dame (3–0)
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt, 22–17
Next game: Saturday at Wake Forest

The Fighting Irish are still here thanks to the strength of their win against Michigan. The offense provided more reasons to worry against Vanderbilt, while the defense continued to inspire confidence. “We're trying to find our identity on offense,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “I think we're a good defense. We're not a great defense yet. We've got some things to clean up, but, boy, I really, really like our football team and the way they competed today.”

9. Auburn (2–1)
Last game: Lost to LSU, 22–21
Next game: Saturday vs. Arkansas

A second head-scratching loss to LSU in two years is a concern, but here’s the (sort of) good news. This is a better LSU team than the one that beat eventual SEC West champ Auburn last year, so this loss doesn’t mean Auburn can’t turn things around. Also, Auburn has the second-best win of the season (the Tigers’ win against Washington on Sept. 1), so it still belongs on this list. 

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10. Washington (2–1)
Last game: Beat Utah, 21–7
Next game: Saturday vs. Arizona State

The Huskies won one of their toughest Pac-12 games in Salt Lake City with a lot of help from the Utes, who shot themselves in the foot so many times they don’t have any toes remaining. But that’s still a big win. Next week, Washington gets to welcome Herm Edwards to the Pac-12.

Plus One: Akron (2–0)
Last game: Beat Northwestern, 39–34
Next game: Saturday at Iowa State

The Zips beat a Big Ten team for the first time since 1894, and they did it by overcoming an 18-point deficit. The MAC is flying the flag extra high for this one. 

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