On the heels of a truly thrilling Saturday in college football last week that was punctuated by Texas upending Alabama, Week 3 looked like a lackluster slate that could feature a lot of Top 25 teams in the college football rankings blowing out inferior competition. Instead, we got a slate of games where ranked teams looked completely disinterested in playing this week.
Whether it was Georgia, Alabama or Florida State flirting with disaster, Kansas State getting upset by Missouri, Tennessee continuing its futility in Gainesville, or even teams like Michigan and Texas just going through the motions, it was an ugly display from numerous teams in the Top 25, even teams near the top of the rankings.
With the dust now settled, though, let’s take a look at what those performances could mean for the AP Top 25 college football rankings in Week 4 when they come out on Sunday with our projected rankings.
Dropped out of Top 25 rankings: Tennessee (11), Iowa (25)
Projected AP Top 25 college football rankings after Week 3: No. 25-21
25. Clemson Tigers
It was the right call after Clemson struggled for a half against Charleston Southern to drop the Tigers out of the Top 25. But even though it was only against FAU, it feels more like Cade Klubnik and Garrett Riley might’ve started clicking after halftime of last week. Dabo Swinney’s team put an absolute hurting on the Owls this week, going up by five scores in a shutout before halftime and cruising to a win. That raises the drama levels for next week as they host Florida State.
24. Kansas State Wildcats
Will Howard and the Kansas State offense weren’t overly impressive on Saturday in the eventual walk-off loss to Missouri, but that was against one of the more underrated Power-Five defenses in college football. The bigger concern for Chris Kleiman’s team might well be their own defense that allowed a suspect Mizzou offense to move the ball consistently. That’ll have to be cleaned up if they want to have a bid to repeat as Big 12 champs.
23. Missouri Tigers
Am I still dubious of Missouri’s offense under Brady Cook whenever the Tigers get into SEC play? Absolutely. But what Mizzou did on Saturday was wholly impressive. Going against a well-coached and tricky offense to defend, the Tigers defense more than held its own, even if giving up 27 points might not seem like it. More importantly, though, Cook and the offense took advantage of a defense where they could, particularly with Luther Burden III and now move to 3-0 with a Top 25 win to their credit.
22. UCLA Bruins
Welcoming NC Central to Los Angeles was not going to be a difficult task for UCLA in any world. In fact, Chip Kelly took this opportunity to get a look at Collin Schlee and let some of his guys down the depth chart play some more in the 59-7 win. On the heels of beating up on San Diego State on the road last week, however, the Bruins look like they are set to cause all kinds of trouble for other top teams in the Pac-12.
21. Washington State Cougars
Not that we expected anything different when facing Northern Colorado, but Washington State looked fully deserving of a Top 25 ranking in their Week 3 win. Cam Ward was dynamite with 327 yards and five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in the first half before he got to take a seat as the Cougs sailed into the dock and a 64-21 victory. They’ll be tested further soon enough (Oregon State looms large next week), but it’s been a hot start in Pullman that has demanded our attention.