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Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Sinn's AP Poll: Week 3

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Week 2 of the college football season inexplicably turned in one of the better slates of games in recent memory. A week that was supposedly lacking in marquee matchups began with an upset in one of the few ranked clashes of the week with Oregon's 35-28 defeat of No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus and continued to surprise up through BYU's toppling of 21st-ranked Utah in the Holy War in one of the final games of the night.

In between there were a bevy of upsets (sorry, Texas, Florida State and USC) and near-upsets (exhale, Notre Dame, Miami and Texas A&M) that were entertaining from start to finish. With all of the surprising results that came out of Saturday, my Week 3 poll featured some significant changes from the previous iteration. Here is the final product.

1. Alabama (2-0)

2. Georgia (2-0)

3. Oklahoma (2-0)

4. Clemson (1-1)

5. Oregon (2-0)

6. Cincinnati (2-0)

7. Florida (2-0)

8. Iowa (2-0)

9. Penn State (2-0)

10. Notre Dame (2-0)

11. Ohio State (1-1)

12. Texas A&M (2-0)

13. Coastal Carolina (2-0)

14. Iowa State (1-1)

15. Kansas State (2-0)

16. UCLA (2-0)

17. Mississippi (2-0)

18. Virginia Tech (2-0)

19. Wisconsin (1-1)

20. Arkansas (2-0)

21. Auburn (2-0)

22. BYU (2-0)

23. North Carolina (1-1)

24. Miami Florida (1-1)

25. Fresno State (2-1)

I dropped Notre Dame, which I watched in person play Toledo on Saturday, four spots following the 32-29 Irish victory over the Rockets. It's very clear at this point that the Blue and Gold have problems on offense (a leaky line beset by injuries) and defense (a penchant for giving up big plays) that will hamper its aspirations significantly if they don't get fixed. At least on the offensive line, I don't see an obvious solution, so Brian Kelly, Tommy Rees and Co. are going to have to get creative. Don't sleep on the possibility Notre Dame gets pushed by Purdue on Saturday in South Bend.

The other team that really stuck out to me Saturday was Ohio State. The Buckeyes have gotten the benefit of the doubt so far because they've been so dominant in the Big Ten for so long, but it's looking more and more like this is a 2017 or 2018-level Ohio State team (ones that could lose big in a Big Ten game on the right night) than a 2019 or 2020 Buckeyes team (ones that rolled through the conference schedule barely breaking a sweat). Concerns about the Buckeyes at linebacker have proven well-founded as they were almost entirely unable to set an edge against the Ducks on Saturday and their defense just looks confused at times. They're inexperienced and will almost certainly improve, but it's unclear whether they have the personnel to run through conference play unscathed this season. At the very least, a Big Ten title game matchup against Iowa, which looks to be the real deal after another convincing win over Iowa State (so much for the Cyclones' chances at the Playoff), would be a slugfest.

More ominously, Michigan appears to have a ton of lightning-quick playmakers on offense and finally the requisite commitment to getting them the ball in space. The Wolverines plowed through Washington in the Big House on Saturday. Could this finally be the year the Maize and Blue break through against their rivals (probably not). I'm still waiting to see more from Michigan before I slide it into the top 25. 

Ohio State's deficiencies are obvious enough that, despite Oregon's victory over the Buckeyes, I'm still not entirely sold on the Ducks. At lot of pollsters slid them into the No. 4 slot ahead of Clemson, but we already saw the Tigers hang right with Georgia, a team that is far better than Ohio State, it appears. I'd like Clemson in a hypothetical matchup against Oregon (not so hypothetical if both teams keep winning) as the Tigers have far more speed on defense and wouldn't let CJ Verdell run wild. At the same time, losses for the Buckeyes and Tigers have already created a potential nightmare scenario for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee in which it might have to decide between a bevy of one-loss conference champions. Is it too early to talk about the Playoff? Never.

Dylan's Bold Prediction, Week 3: Michigan State 23, No. 24 Miami 20

The Spartans have quietly rebuilt their roster with a flurry of transfers and seem to be heading in the right direction in Year 2 under coach Mel Tucker. Payton Thorne is a true dual threat at quarterback and the Spartan defense is much improved. Meanwhile, Miami has gotten blasted by Alabama and barely squeaked by against Appalachian State. Look for Michigan State to announce its return to the national conversation with a big road win.

Last week: Arkansas 27, No. 14 Texas 23

I tried to tell you about the Longhorns. Every year, without fail, they're ranked higher than they should be and every year they suffer a debilitating loss to a supposedly inferior team. USC is the same way and suffered in the same manner against Stanford, which was enough to send coach Clay Helton packing.

Season record: 2-0 


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