Rankings based on who I would make favored over whom on a neutral field this Saturday.
1-Alabama: Bryce Young was the hero on a day when the defense couldn’t stop the run and the running game was limited to 3.3 yards per carry.
2-Georgia: After this Saturday’s trip to Vandy, UGA gets to the meat of its schedule with this five-game stretch: vs. Arkansas, at Auburn, vs. Kentucky, vs. Florida (Jacksonville) and vs. Missouri.
3-Florida: Without Anthony Richardson touching the field, the Gators had a 26-19 advantage over Alabama in first downs and a 440-331 advantage in total yards. It was the first time during Nick Saban’s dynastic tenure that an opponent ran for more than 200 yards and held the Crimson Tide to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
4-Oregon: The Ducks will pound Arizona at home in Week 4 before going to Palo Alto on Oct. 2.
5-Oklahoma: I’m cringing putting this team this high. OU has talent galore and a helluva coach, but it has already played two one-possession games (at home when favored by 53.5 combined points) against mediocre competition. If the Sooners don’t play better, they could lose any of the next four games: vs. WVU, at K-St., vs. Texas (Dallas) and vs. TCU.
6-Iowa: Defense has allowed only 30 points in three games, and it has faced two elite QBs in Brock Purdy and Dustin Crum.
7-Ole Miss: Matt Corral produced seven TDs — three passing, four rushing — in a 61-21 win over Tulane. The Lane Train has two weeks to scheme up ballplays for the Rebels’ Oct. 2 date with ‘Bama at Bryant-Denny.
8-Penn St.: The Nittany Lions should be 5-0 when they go to Iowa City on Oct. 9.
9-Cincinnati: The Bearcats struggled early and fell behind by double digits on the road against a team desperate for a win. Nevertheless, they recovered and ended up covering the spread and winning by double digits.
10-Texas A&M: Colorado losing 30-0 at home vs. Minnesota doesn’t bolster the Aggies’ strength of schedule.
11-Clemson: That’s an embarrassing home win over Ga. Tech by a 14-8 count. Remember, the Yellow Jackets lost at home to No. Illinois two weeks ago. DT Tyler Davis is out 7-8 weeks with a torn biceps tendon, and the offense needs to find a pulse ASAP.
12-Ohio St.: Like Clemson, Ohio St. doesn’t look like the juggernaut it’s been for most of the last decade.
13-Auburn: That turnover to start the second half was brutal, but the RB combo of Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter is going to be problematic for opponents. Speaking of foes, check out this looming murderer’s row after hosting Ga. St. in Week 4: at LSU, vs. UGA, at Arkansas, vs. Ole Miss and at Texas A&M.
14-Michigan: Three blowout wins so far. Rutgers comes to The Big House looking to avenge a triple-OT loss in Piscataway last year.
15-Arkansas: The Razorbacks are 3-0 both straight up and against the spread going into their annual date with Texas A&M in Jerry World. The Hogs are still searching for their first win over the Aggies since they joined the SEC in 2012.
16-Wisconsin: The Badgers are favored against Notre Dame for Saturday’s game in Chicago.
17-Fresno St.: Great win at UCLA. Jake Haener has a 10/1 TD-INT ratio. The Bulldogs also dominated the stats in their narrow loss at Oregon in Week 1.
18-BYU: Cougars just went 3-0 against Pac-12 foes. They still have four games left against Power-Five foes and a home date with Boise St.
19-North Carolina: After trailing at halftime, the Tar Heels cranked it up in the second half and hung 59 on UVA.
20-Kentucky: UK avoided a disaster against UT-Chattanooga. The ‘Cats are 6-1 in their last seven games against the Gamecocks, who host Mark Stoops’s club this weekend in Columbia.
21-UCLA: The Bruins’ defense couldn’t protect a 37-33 lead with 54 seconds remaining. They’re road favorites Saturday at Stanford, marking just their second such spot during Chip Kelly’s four-year tenure.
22-Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish’s resume took a hit with FSU and Toledo both losing by double digits at Wake Forest and vs. Colorado St., respectively.
23-Coastal Carolina: It wasn’t an A-plus effort from the Chanticleers at Buffalo, but they remained unbeaten nonetheless. Jamey Chadwell’s club returns home to face a pair of cupcakes in UMass and ULM in the next two weeks.
24-Iowa St.: The Cyclones cruised to an easy win at UNLV. They improved to 7-3-1 ATS in 11 games as road favorites on Matt Campbell’s watch. ISU is road ‘chalk’ again Saturday at Bayor.
25-Michigan St.: With a 38-17 win at Miami, Sparty is clearly the nation’s biggest surprise to date and Mel Tucker is an early contender for National Coach of the Year honors. Nebraska comes to East Lansing in Week 4.
26-LSU: The Tigers will be looking to avenge a season-opening loss from 2020 when they visit Starkville.
27-Mississippi St.: The Bulldogs had 26 first downs compared to 12 by Memphis. The Tigers had 246 yards of total offense compared to MSU’s 468. And that punt return for a TD happened when the ball should’ve been dead and Memphis had two #4’s on the field, which is a penalty. AND that play was reviewed and incomprehensibly upheld? What?!
28-Memphis: Calvin Austin is The Truth. Really interesting under-the-radar game at home vs. unbeaten UTSA, which catches the Tigers in a vintage flat spot.
29-West Virginia: Things got a little hairy late against Va. Tech after it appeared as if WVU was going to coast into the win column. Fortunately for Neal Brown and the Mountaineers, the defense bowed up on the Hokies deep in the red zone. Now they get Oklahoma in Norman when the Sooners appear to be vulnerable. WVU, a 16.5-point underdog, is 3-0 ATS with a pair of outright wins in its last three games as a double-digit ‘dog.
30-Va. Tech: The Hokies host Richmond before an open date that precedes a home game vs. Notre Dame on Oct. 9.
31-Oklahoma St.: Jaylen Warren’s 218 rushing yards and two TDs sparked the Cowboys to a 21-20 win at Boise St. The Cowboys host Kansas St. and Baylor, respectively, in the next two weeks. Mike Gundy’s bunch has an excellent chance to be 5-0 with two weeks to prepare for an Oct. 16 trip to Austin.
32-Maryland: Terrapins were fortunate to survive last Friday’s win at Illinois on a walk-off field goal. If they can top Kent St. at home on Saturday, they’ll be undefeated for a Friday night home game vs. Iowa on Oct. 1. That’ll be the biggest game in College Park since…. a long-ass time ago.
33-TCU: Frogs are looking to avenge a 41-38 home loss to SMU in 2019 when the Mustangs come across town on Saturday.
34-USC: QB Kedon Slovis’s X-rays and MRI on his neck came back negative, but he might have to fight off Jaxson Dart at practice this week to remain the starting QB.
35-Missouri: Tigers are short favorites Saturday at Boston College.
36-Texas: Longhorns pulled off improbable late fourth quarter rally to force overtime at Texas Tech and win in the extra session last year. The Red Raiders bring a 3-0 record (albeit against cupcake competition) to Austin this weekend.
37-Arizona St.: After losing 27-17 at BYU, the Sun Devils open Pac-12 play vs. Colorado.
38-North Carolina St.: Perfect time to host Clemson, right?
39-Boston College: It’s not an ACC game, but Saturday at home vs. Missouri feels like a big swing game for BC’s season (and my huge ‘over’ seven wins wager).
40-Boise St.: The Broncos have allowed double-digit leads to get away in both losses at UCF and vs. Oklahoma St.
41-Liberty: Friday’s game at the Carrier Dome looks a lot tougher today than it did a few weeks ago. The Flames won 38-21 at The ‘Cuse last season.
42-Kansas St.: K-St. is 31-11 ATS in 42 games as a road underdog since November of 2009. The Wildcats are +6 Saturday in Stillwater.
43-San Diego St.: BYU isn’t the only team undefeated against the Pac-12.
44-Minnesota: Texas A&M won 10-7 at Colorado. One week later, the Gophers won 30-0 in Boulder. I should probably have PJ Fleck’s bunch a bit higher, but that home loss to the Buckeyes isn’t aging well.
45-Appalachian St.: Revenge spot at home Thursday night vs. Marshall, which beat the Mountaineers 17-7 last year.
46-Stanford: After that piss-poor showing in Arlington vs. K-St., the Cardinal have bounced back nicely with a pair of dominant victories at USC and at Vandy. Now it’s back at home on The Farm for only the second time since November of 2019. UCLA is favored at Stanford, but the Cardinal is 5-2 both SU and ATS in seven games as a home underdog during Davis Shaw’s 11-year tenure.
47-Wake Forest: Three-TD assbeatings over the semmies aren’t what they used to be, are they?
48-Army: So glad I only took Army -21 in the first half this past week against the deplorable UConn Huskies, who rallied for a backdoor cover as 34-point underdogs.
49-Utah: One of the nation’s biggest disappointments to date.
50-Rutgers: Two players suspended on Tuesday ahead of a trip to The Big House is not what Schiano had in mind.
Best of the Rest: Indiana, San Jose St., Louisiana, Western Ky., Western Michigan, Purdue, UCF, Louisville and Nebraska.