It’s easy to know that Louisville is going to move up in the top-10 of the AP Top 25, but how dramatic will the shift be after the Cardinals dominated Florida State in the biggest win since the joining the ACC? Florida State will certainly slide, but one certainty for the poll after Week 3 will be an ascension of Lamar Jackson’s red-hot Cardinals.
What’s uncertain will be the reaction from the AP voters for North Dakota State, a team that toppled another FBS opponent (the first win against a ranked team in program history) with its victory at Iowa. The Bison ran the ball right at Iowa all game with pristine execution at all levels. The AP asks its voters to judge all of Division I, and that includes FCS. Saturday’s 23-21 win was a great look at how the five-time national champions stack up against Power Five competition in 2016.
But will they be ranked on Sunday? I’m going to guess no. Even with a win against Iowa, the Bison will likely still fall short of the top 25 in Jeff Sagarin’s rankings of all Division I teams (FBS and FCS). Heading into Week 3, North Dakota State was ranked No. 67, a few spots behind the likes of South Carolina and Northwestern. The dramatic and impressive win at Iowa will get North Dakota State plenty of votes, but I’m guessing that ultimately they fall short of the top25.
Here’s how we think the rankings will look, as off 10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Teams in action will be updated as the evening action concludes.
1. Alabama (Previous AP Top 25 ranking — 1): The Crimson Tide are not perfect, but Alabama’s defense is good enough to score on its own. The “mental mistakes” that Nick Saban says plague his program in these spots were overcome in the second half of a wild back-and-forth between the two SEC West powers. Defense and ground game leading the way, Bama remains No. 1.
2. Ohio State (3)*: The Buckeyes are in action in a rain-delayed contest at Oklahoma.
3. Michigan (4): Michigan got a scare from Colorado at the Big House but ultimately outlasted its visitors, scoring the final 21 points in a 45-28 win. This Michigan team hasn’t relented in the fourth quarter of any contest this season and on Saturday it might have paid off.
4. Louisville (10): Jackson has 18 touchdowns on the season. Even Michael Vick is impressed. Cardinals move up just inside the top five and maybe, just maybe, one spot ahead of the defending ACC champions.
5. Clemson (5): The Tigers slide to No. 2 in the ACC in the eyes of the media while maintaining their position in the national pecking order. A 59-0 win against South Carolina State ends the streak of disappointing offensive performances as Clemson gets tuned up to host those red-hot Cardinals on Oct. 1 in Death Valley.
6. Houston (6): Greg Ward Jr. and the Cougars’ defense contributed to four quick fourth-quarter scores in an impressive finish on the road at Cincinnati. The final score (40-16) doesn’t properly represent the game but it does keep voters’ opinions of the Cougars unchanged.
7. Stanford (7): Stanford didn’t play to its own standard, but Christian McCaffrey’s all-purpose performance kept the Cardinal moving and the defense showed up. Beating USC starts the Pac-12 title and playoff chase for David Shaw’s group with a huge game at UCLA next week, followed by a trip to Seattle to face Washington.
8. Washington (8): The Huskies are steady after beating FCS foe Portland State.
9. Texas (11)*: Texas plays at Cal on Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET kickoff)
10. Michigan State (12): Sparty outplayed Notre Dame as a road underdog, answering any doubts of a drop-off following the loss of Connor Cook. Tyler O’Conner was efficient as the leader of the Spartans’ offense, which overwhelmed the Irish early and poured it on late.
11. Florida State (2): I’m convinced the Seminoles can’t fall farther than No. 15 after a loss to a top-10 team, even if that loss came by a historic margin. Florida State shouldn’t panic since there’s only one more team on its schedule with a quarterback comparable to Jackson, but it now has zero margin for victory for the next 10 weeks and has to beat Clemson in order to have a shot at the College Football Playoff.
12. Wisconsin (9): Even without Corey Clement in the lineup, struggling against Cure Bowl participant Georgia State isn’t a good look for the voters. Sitting Clement was likely a decision made with the schedule in mind as the Badgers prepare for the most brutal stretch a Big Ten could draw: at Michigan State (Sept. 24), at Michigan (Oct. 1), Ohio State (Oct. 15), at Iowa (Oct. 22).
13. Texas A&M (17): The Aggies took care of business against Auburn. Run defense was one place where Texas A&M struggled last season, but Tigers couldn’t get anything going against John Chavis’ group on Saturday night. Good win for Texas A&M, a team looking more and more dangerous to Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss in the SEC West.
14. Ole Miss (19): The Rebels have already established a reputation that they can’t hold leads in the second half. It’s an unfair tag to apply to a team just three games into the season, but blown leads on huge stages against Florida State and Alabama have given the casual fan enough info to pass judgement the rest of the season. AP voters are a bit better than the casual fan, offering a nod to the Rebels for the impressive showing against the Tide.
15. Tennessee (15): The Vols, if nothing else through three games, are opportunistic. When things break Tennessee’s way, Josh Dobbs and Co. have done a good job capitalizing, whether it be good field position or a particularly favorable matchup advantage. A 28-19 victory against Ohio keeps Tennessee in the same vicinity.
16. Georgia (16): The Bulldogs gutted out a win on the road in conference play with a freshman quarterback. That’s impressive, and even though things didn’t look great along the way a 3-0 start to 2016 keeps Georgia in the mix.
17. LSU (20): LSU got right in a solid win against Mississippi State. Danny Etling is the man for now, we think, but as long as the ball is moving forward in the hands of Leonard Fournette LSU fans should feel good.
18. Baylor (21): Baylor’s offense might not be as unstoppable as we expected, but there was way more attention on Art Briles being in the stands than on Seth Russell’s slow start. Instead we talked about Briles, Rice’s marching band taunting Baylor and … lasers.
19. Nebraska (NR): A late field goal helped Nebraska ice a huge win for Mike Riley against Oregon. The ranked win should be enough to move the Cornhuskers into the top-25 themselves as Nebraska turns its attention to the Big Ten West race.
20. Oklahoma (14)*: The Sooners got a late start in Norman against Ohio State but are already well behind.
21. Florida (23): The Gators won but likely have suffered a major setback if Luke Del Rio’s injury is serious.
22. Arkansas (24): The Razorbacks took care of business against Texas State in a 42-3 win and cover. The game was so out of hand, the threat of oncoming rain had both coaches agreeing to a 10-minute fourth quarter.
23. Miami (25): The Hurricanes heard about a potential upset all week and then silenced Kidd Brewer Stadium with quick touchdown drives that created a deficit Appalachian State wasn’t going to overcome. Making matters worse for ASU was losing star running back Marcus Cox with a lower-body injury during the game. Brad Kaaya had himself a stat-padding performance (374 yards, three touchdowns) but also got a little banged up. Luckily, the Hurricanes are off next week, so he’ll have a chance to get right before starting the ACC schedule at Georgia Tech on Oct. 1.
24. San Diego State (NR): Get to know Donnel Pumphrey. He’s one of the most talented players in college football, and he’s shredding all of your records.
25. Iowa (13): North Dakota State out-Iowa’d Iowa, and now the Hawkeyes can likely say goodbye to any playoff hopes. Iowa still has arguably the best team in the Big Ten West but it’s hard to imagine the selection committee allowing just the fourth ranked team to ever lose to an FCS opponent to make it in over another Power Five conference champion.
Dropped out: Notre Dame (18), Oregon (22)
New additions: San Diego State, Nebraska
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Louisville is real, North Dakota State may be in