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College Football: The State of the Current Top 10 (Week 3)

The third week of the 2023 College Football season is approaching and with the official College Football Playoff rankings not being released until after week 9, every weeks rankings are crucial. The current teams in the Top 10 are analyzed and examined.

1. Georgia (2-0)

Image featuring Georgia Quarterback Carson Beck. Image courtesy of Georgia Athletics.

The Bulldogs have a chance to make history of being only the second team in college football history to win three consecutive national championships (Minnesota did in 1934-1936), respectively.

So far, Georgia have played highly-favorable matchups against Ball State and UT-Martin, which the Bulldogs outscored both teams 93-10 across consecutive weeks.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Carson Beck is under center after former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett declared for the 2023 NFL draft. Beck has completed 72.1 percent of his passes along with 3 touchdowns as the Bulldogs prepare to face their stiffest competition yet when Spencer Rattler and the South Carolina Gamecocks visit Athens this weekend.

The Gamecocks come into week 3 with a 1-1 record after defeating Furman and losing handily to Drake Maye and North Carolina in the season opener. It’s going to be difficult for Rattler to lead the offense down the field with a suspect offensive line that allowed nine sacks against the Tar Heels. If Rattler can’t be protected against a strong Georgia front, the Gamecocks won’t have a chance to be the team that beats the Bulldogs in the regular season for the first time since 2020.

Georgia is favorited by 27.5 points in the matchup and they have a very manageable schedule after with games against UAB (Sep 23), Auburn (Sep 30), Kentucky (Oct 7) and Vanderbilt (Oct 14) in the coming weeks.

2. Michigan (2-0)

Image featuring Michigan Quarterback J.J McCarthy. Image courtesy of Michigan Athletics.

No Harbaugh, no problem. The Wolverines are without head coach Jim Harbaugh for the first three games of the season and even though they’ve played lowly teams such as East Carolina and UNLV, the Wolverines look poised to win their third straight Big-10 title along with three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances.

Quarterback J.J McCarthy is having a solid campaign thus far by ranking fourth in the nation in pass efficiency (202.49), respectively. The Wolverines backfield is one of the nations best with 2022 First-Team All-Big Ten senior running back Blake Corum (6.1 yards per carry in 2023, coming off ACL injury in 2022) and 2022 Big Ten Championship MVP junior halfback Donovan Edwards who is due for a breakout game, likely this week.

Michigan will host Bowling Green this Saturday as they aim to improve to 3-0 on the season. The Wolverine defense has only allowed 10 points across two games and will be facing Bowling Green quarterback Connor Bazelak, who passed for only 71 yards and threw three interceptions in a loss against Liberty in week 1. The Michigan defense should thrive this weekend.

The Wolverines, like Georgia, have a manageable schedule ahead of them with matchups against Bowling Green, Rutgers and a struggling Nebraska team before they battle powerhouses Penn State and Ohio State to close out the season. Can the current Big-Ten champions run the table and finally win a playoff game?

3. Florida State (2-0)

Image featuring Florida State Quarterback Jordan Travis. Image courtesy of Florida State Athletics.

The Seminoles are arguably the most impressive looking team so far heading into week 3. They kicked off the season with a dominating 45-24 victory over then No.5 LSU. This is the highest Florida State has been ranked since 2015, when Jameis Winston was under center.

Quarterback Jordan Travis has blossomed into one of the best pass throwers in the country and a potential heisman candidate. Travis against LSU tossed for 342 yards along with 4 touchdowns and rushed for 38 yards and a rushing touchdown. The Louisville transfer has weapons on offense such as the 6-foot-7 deep threat Johnny Wilson and Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman (4 touchdowns with 14.2 yards per catch in 2023), respectively.

The Seminoles have a date against Boston College in week 3, a team that gave up 27 points in a loss against Northern Illinois and 28 in a win against Holy Cross. Florida State has simply too much firepower for the Eagles to handle.

Florida State hasn’t competed in College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014, but that could change this year. Dabo Swinney and Clemson have dominated the ACC for the better part of a decade, as the Tigers have won the Atlantic Coast Conference 7 out of the last 8 seasons, but they have taken a giant step back this season.

The Seminoles haven’t beaten the Tigers since 2014, as the two teams collide on Sep 23rd in Death Valley which will obviously have ACC championship game implications.

4. Texas (2-0)

Image featuring Texas Quarterback Quinn Ewers. Image courtesy of Texas Athletics.

The Longhorns made an immense jump in the AP Poll rankings this week after a decisive 34-24 road victory over Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide (previously #11).

Quarterback Quinn Ewers led the Longhorns into Tuscaloosa and handed the Crimson Tide their first non-conference home loss since 2007, respectively. The Ohio State transfer tossed for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 63.2 percent of his passes. Ewers looked poised, calm and collected while playing in a hostile environment at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Defensively, the Longhorns contained dual-threat Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe by holding him to only 2.9 yards per rush and sacked him five times throughout the matchup. As the season approaches week 3, the Longhorns arguably have the most impressive victory so far this season.

The Longhorns face a red-hot Wyoming team that recently defeated Texas Tech in a 35-33 double-overtime thriller back in week 1. The Cowboys return 10 starters from last year on defense which includes junior linebacker Easton Gibbs. Gibbs recorded 121 tackles and three sacks in 2022, so he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with for the Texas offensive line. Wyoming offensively is run-heavy, as they have more rushing attempts (83) than passing attempts (50) so far this season. If Texas can slow down the Cowboys rushing attack and put the ball in Wyoming quarterback Andrew Peasley’s hands, the Longhorns should improve to 3-0.

Texas now has to carry the pressure of being the fourth-ranked team in the country, their highest ranking since the end of the 2009 season (#2). The Longhorns have prominent matchups against No.18 Oklahoma, No.15 Kansas State and Kansas just to name a few. Is Texas back?

5. USC (3-0)

Image featuring USC Quarterback Caleb Williams. Image courtesy of USC Athletics.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is looking to make history as the second player in college football history to win consecutive heisman trophies since former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin did it in 1974-1975, respectively.

Williams currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns (12), ranks fourth in completion percentage (78%) and first in pass efficiency (240.50), respectively. In three games so far, the Trojans have posted over 50 points in each matchup. The Oklahoma Sooner transfer has picked up right where he left off in 2022.

The biggest question for USC is their defense and generating stops. The Trojans are heading into their bye week for this week, but after the bye they have games against prolific offenses such as Shedeur Sanders and Colorado, Sam Hartman and Notre Dame, Cameron Rising and Utah (if healthy), Michael Penix Jr. and Washington, Bo Nix and Oregon and promising freshman quarterback Dante Moore and UCLA.

The Pac-12 is possibly the best conference in College Football this year, as the conference currently has eight teams in the top 25. Lincoln Riley and the offense is electric, but the defense has been hindering their chances at the College Football Playoff for the past two seasons.

6. Ohio State (2-0)

Image featuring Ohio State Quarterback Kyle McCord #6. Image courtesy of Ohio State Athletics.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day officially named junior Kyle McCord as the Buckeyes starting quarterback for the rest of the season. McCord was entangled in a quarterback battle with redshirt freshman quarterback Devin Brown, even though McCord took the bulk of the snaps in victories against Indiana and Youngstown State.

McCord will now have the responsibility to lead the Buckeyes after the departure of two-time heisman finalist quarterback C.J Stroud. The Buckeye offense had a less than stellar showing in the season opener against Indiana, as the offense went 2/12 on 3rd down efficiency while McCord threw an interception and no touchdowns.

The offense improved in the next game against Youngstown State, as McCord threw for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. Ohio State is coming off back-to-back losses to Michigan over the past two seasons as they look to win the Big-10 championship for the first time since 2020.

Western Kentucky will pay a visit to Ohio State in week 3 as they are also 2-0 after defeating South Florida and Houston Christian. The Hilltoppers posted 41 and 52 points in both victories, respectively, but it’s unlikely they will be able to do that against a highly talented Buckeyes defense. This matchup should be focused on developing McCord and getting him more comfortable in the offense.

Ohio State’s schedule is brutal as they have upcoming battles against Notre Dame, Penn State and division rival Michigan to close out the season. Can Day lead the Buckeyes to the national championship for the first time since 2015?

7. Penn State (2-0)

Image featuring Penn State halfback Kaytron Allen (#13) and Nicholas Singleton (#10). Image courtesy of Penn State Athletics

Penn State head coach James Franklin is looking to lead the Nittany Lions to their first ever College Football Playoff appearance in his 9th season at the helm. Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar, who stands at 6-foot-5 243 pounds, leads the offense after the departure of former Penn State pass thrower Sean Clifford.

In Allar’s two starts against Delaware and West Virginia this season, he’s tossed for 8 touchdowns while completing 78.1 percent of his passes. The Penn State offense as a whole accounted for 101 points across the two matchups and only allowed 22 points defensively.

The Nittany Lions rushing attack averages 230 yards per game and is led by sophomore halfbacks Kaytron Allen (5.3 yards per carry in 2023) and Nicholas Singleton (2022 Big-Ten Freshman of the Year). Granted, the competition isn’t exactly up-to-par, but that will change as the Nittany Lions start conference play that includes games against Michigan and Ohio State.

Penn State will begin conference play in the Big-Ten by facing Illinois on the road this weekend. Illinois’s defense has taken a dramatic step back from what it was in 2022. Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels tossed for 277 yards, two touchdowns and posted 34 points in the win over the Illini in week 2, which is the most points the Illinois defense has given up in a game since 2021. The Nittany Lions should have a highly productive day offensively.

Allar has a good amount of in-game experience, as he played in nine games in 2022 coming off the bench, but can Allar withstand the pressure as the magnitude of the games get bigger?

8. Washington (2-0)

Image featuring Washington Quarterback Michael Penix. Jr. Image courtesy of Washington Huskies Athletics.

The Huskies have one of the premier quarterbacks in the country with senior Michael Penix Jr. under center. In 2022, the Indiana transfer passed for 4,641 yards (a career high and led the nation), 31 touchdowns (a career high), and led the Huskies to an 11-2 overall record with a win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix Jr. is back for Washington along with second-year head coach Kalen Deboer. Deboer won the 2022 AP Pac-12 Coach of the Year award due to leading the Huskies to their first winning campaign since having consecutive losing seasons from 2020-2021 under former head coach Jimmy Lake.

Alongside Penix Jr. on offense are junior wideouts Rome Odunze and Jalen Mcmillan. Odunze was elected to the 2022 Pac-12 First-Team after posting 1,145 receptions yards and 8 touchdowns. McMillan had 1,098 reception yards along with 9 touchdowns in 2022. The duo of Odunze and McMillan is arguably the best pass catching pair in the country.

Washington is currently 2-0 with decisive victories over Boise State and Tulsa, and will face their stiffest competition to date, the Michigan State Spartans on the road this weekend.

Penix Jr. and the Huskies are 16.5 point favorites in the matchup, as the Spartans will be without head coach Mel Tucker, who was suspended after being accused in a sexual assault allegation. Interim head coach Harlon Bennett will take the reins on the sideline in Tucker’s absence, as he must come up with a game-plan to slow down the Huskies high-powered offense which is unlikely.

The Huskies haven’t won the Pac-12 conference since 2018, when former head coach Chris Peterson was the lead man. In order for the Huskies to win the final Pac-12 conference championship, they need to power through the likes of Oregon, USC, Utah, Oregon State and newly ranked Washington State.

The schedule is tough for the Huskies and they will need Penix Jr. to play heisman-like every single week.

9. Notre Dame (3-0)

Image featuring Notre Dame running back Audric Estime. Image courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics.

Head coach Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame are coming off a disappointing first year of marriage in 2022. The Fighting Irish had playoff hopes until they started the season 0-2 and were upset by the likes of Marshall and Stanford throughout the year. Former Notre Dame and current Arizona State quarterback Drew Pyne didn’t necessarily change life in South Bend after starting 10 games for the Irish last season.

Former Notre Dame and current Alabama backup quarterback Tyler Buchner started the other two games, but suffered a left shoulder injury that sidelined him for the majority of the 2022 campaign. Notre Dame needed a competent quarterback to put them over the edge and that player was former Wake Forest pass thrower Sam Hartman.

Hartman finished his five seasons at Wake Forest as the all-time passing touchdowns leader (110) in the ACC and the second most passing yards in conference history (12,967), respectively. The pairing of Hartman and Notre Dame have worked, as they currently sit at 3-0 after definitive victories over Navy, NC State, and Tennessee State. Hartman so far in 2023 has thrown for 731 yards, 10 touchdowns with no interceptions.

In the backfield, the Fighting Irish have junior halfback Audric Estime, who currently leads the nation in total rushing yardage (345) along with four touchdowns. The Notre Dame rushing attack averages 194 yards per game which makes the offense that much more dangerous.

The Fighting Irish’s next matchup in week 3 is against Central Michigan, a game they are highly favorited in. After Central Michigan is perhaps Notre Dame’s biggest test which is when Ohio State visits South Bend the following weekend. The Irish also have games against Duke, USC and Clemson in the coming weeks. Can Freeman lead Notre Dame to their third appearance in the College Football Playoff?

10. Alabama (1-1)

Image featuring Alabama Quarterback Jalen Milroe. Image courtesy of Alabama Athletics.

The Crimson Tide entered week 2 ranked No. 3 and dropped to No. 10 after suffering a 34-24 home loss to the Texas Longhorns last weekend. Alabama struggled in every facet of the game against Texas, especially at the quarterback position.

Sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe was chosen as former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young’s successor after having won the starting quarterback job against freshman Ty Simpson and Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. Milroe is credited for his 6-foot-2 220Ib build and the ability to be an effective dual-threat quarterback.

Milroe struggled mightily against the Longhorn defense, as he was sacked five times and rushed for only 2.9 yards per attempt. The Crimson Tide quarterback struggled to make reads, held the ball too long and it seemed like his first instinct was to run out of the pocket, even when the protection was solid.

The Alabama defense failed to sack Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, as he scorched the Crimson Tide secondary by passing for over 349 yards and three touchdowns, respectively.

The Crimson Tide don’t look like the team of old, but they still have a chance to participate in the College Football Playoff for the eighth time out of ten years of the playoffs existence.

The Tide must win the remainder of their games if they want to have a chance in the four-team tournament. It starts in week 3 when the Crimson Tide travel to take on South Florida this weekend for the first time since 2003. If Milroe remains the starter, this matchup should be centered around improving his intermediate passing since it’s one of his weak points.

Nick Saban’s squad have dates against Ole Miss, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn and potentially Georgia if they make it to the SEC championship game. If the Tide can win all those games, they will likely have a spot in the playoff, but the flaws need to be patched up, mainly under center.

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