The most anticipated game of the year lived up to the hype last weekend: Alabama took down Texas A&M 49-42. If the Crimson Tide weren’t the clear-cut number-one team in the country before that game, they are now. Meanwhile, the Aggies drop to number nine in the rankings.
Now that conference play starts, the games will get more difficult and losses for the top teams will become more likely. That means the games will be more exciting, and the power rankings could start seeing some changes.
1. Alabama (2-0, Last week’s ranking: 1)
The Crimson Tide cemented their place atop the rankings with their 49-42 win over Texas A&M last weekend. Quarterback AJ McCarron had another smart, mistake-free game to lead Alabama’s offense. The defense doesn’t usually give up 42 points, but there won’t be another offense on the schedule with the kind of weapons Texas A&M has. The Tide could be the wire-to-wire number one team this year.
2. Oregon (3-0, Last week’s ranking: 2)
This team is fast. Not only did the Ducks score a lot of touchdowns in their 59-14 win over Tennessee, many of them were wide open. Teams might be able to beat them, but no defense is as fast as the Ducks. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 456 yards against the Volunteers, and if he continues to put up similar stats, it will be hard for Oregon to lose.
3. Ohio State (3-0, Last week’s ranking: 3)
Even without starting quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes continue to beat up weaker teams. Kenny Guiton filled in for Miller and threw four touchdowns to lead a 52-34 win over California. Ohio State is ranked 13th in rushing yards per game, so the running backs can also help the offense in case either quarterback struggles in the future. The Buckeyes should add to their FBS-leading 15-game win streak against Florida A&M on Saturday.
4. Clemson (3-0, Last week’s ranking: 10)
Clemson’s 26-14 win over North Carolina State wasn’t impressive, but quarterback Tajh Boyd added to his stats with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That will help his Heisman campaign. The Tigers’ ACC schedule is not too challenging, with the exception of their matchup against Florida State on Oct. 19, so expect Clemson to remain high in the rankings.
5. Stanford (2-0, Last week’s ranking: 5)
Stanford won’t score 60 points a game like Oregon, and QB Kevin Hogan won’t put up Heisman-worthy stats. But this team will continue to win because it doesn’t make many mistakes. Hogan only threw 18 passes against Army last Saturday, but three of them were for touchdowns. The Cardinal’s game against Arizona State on Saturday will be the start of a tough Pac-12 schedule, so Stanford will have to prove it can continue winning.
6. LSU (3-0, Last week’s ranking: 9)
LSU easily beat Kent State 45-13, and will now start SEC play against Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers should win that game, but they’ll face Georgia next weekend. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is playing great, and hasn’t thrown an interception yet. The Tigers will need that kind of play from him later in the season, when they travel to Alabama and host Texas A&M in November.
7. Louisville (3-0, Last week’s ranking: 7)
Louisville’s win over Kentucky last weekend was the first average game for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Don’t expect many more of them. With the easiest schedule among top 10 teams, Bridgewater and the Cardinals should have no problem putting up big numbers. On the flipside, though, an upset loss would knock Louisville clear out of the top 10.
8. Florida State (2-0, Last week’s ranking: 10)
The most impressive part of quarterback Jameis Winston’s start to the 2013 season is that he only has five incompletions in his first two games as a Seminole. Combine his play with a defense that has only given up 20 points in its first two games, and you get a team that can stay in the top 10 the entire season.
9. Texas A&M (2-1, Last week’s ranking: 6)
The loss to Alabama was disappointing, but the Aggies shouldn’t feel too bad: quarterback Johnny Manziel was excellent, wide receiver Mike Evans had 279 receiving yards, and the toughest game of the their season is now over. Other top 10 teams will have to lose for Texas A&M to have a chance at the national championship game, but the Aggies will be in a BCS bowl game.
10. Georgia (1-1, Last week’s ranking: 8)
The Bulldogs haven’t played since their Sept. 7 win over South Carolina, but they should easily beat North Texas on Saturday. A Sept. 28 matchup against LSU looms after that. If the Bulldogs can with that game, they’ll have a much better chance of playing in a marquee bowl game.
How would you rank the top college teams in the country? Who should be in the top 10 heading into week four? Let us know in the comments section below!
Photo: Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers congratulates Jarvis Landry #80 following a touchdown against the UAB Blazers during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)