Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Oklahoma leapfrogs Clemson as Penn State, Oregon climb college football rankings

College football offered a smorgasbord for fans in Week 3 given the wide range of results, scores and highlights that were featured in Saturday’s games. While this week reminded fans why they love the sport, it’s also the week that creates headaches for AP Top 25 voters as they try to fill out the latest college football rankings, which will be released Sunday.

What kind of boost should Oregon get after its dominant win against a highly ranked BYU team? Should Michigan State fall all the way from No. 11 to unranked after a loss against Washington? Arkansas avoided an upset against Missouri State, but did the Razorbacks look like a top-10 team as Bobby Petrino’s team pushed them to the brink in his return to campus? Should Florida be relegated after being taken to the wire by a South Florida team that has been one of the nation’s worst over the past two-plus seasons? Perhaps most interesting: Which unranked teams should be in the top 25, and should absolutely incredible Hail Mary finishes be a bonus point when it comes to ranking the best teams in the country?

Fortunately, there are some calls that will be easy, and we feel confident predicting them here in our weekly projection of the updated college football rankings. Penn State will be one of the most notable players after its win at Auburn, not only for scoring one of the program’s biggest non-conference wins since joining the Big Ten, but also because of the form it showed in the victory. Given Saturday’s events, it appears the Nittany Lions are much closer to Ohio State and Michigan still in the top four after dominating wins, then the rest of the Big Ten pack.

Oregon and Washington also offered some positive headlines for the Pac-12 with non-conference wins as they boosted the league’s profile with wins against opponents ranked among the top 12 teams in last week’s rankings. The Ducks will be somewhat limited by their one loss (despite coming in at No. 1 Georgia), while the Huskies’ ceiling is limited only by the fact that they weren’t ranked in any polls as a top 25 team heading into the weekend.

Here’s what we think the new AP Top 25 will look like on Sunday when the new college football rankings are released.

1. Georgia (Last week — 1): It took more than 11 quarters of action before Georgia finally allowed an opponent to reach the end zone, but it happened. However, the Bulldogs showed no signs of being anything other than the best team in the country in a dominant win over South Carolina.

2. Alabama (2): An early offensive explosion was predictable, but the way the Crimson Tide poured it out in a 63-7 win against ULM suggests there was plenty of motivation stemming from the narrow win against Texas.

3. Ohio State (3): It was good to see both Jackson Smith-Nigba and Julian Fleming back healthy for an Ohio State offense that was relentless and methodical through all four quarters in a 77-21 win against Toledo. It was also a good game to put CJ Stroud back in the Heisman Trophy spotlight with 367 yards and five touchdowns on 22 of 27 passing.

4. Michigan (4): Cade McNamara’s injury ended up being the biggest headline since the Wolverines’ 59-0 victory over UConn as yet another lesser opponent offered little resistance to the reigning Big Ten champions. Next up is the conference opener against Maryland, which should provide a decent test for Michigan’s defense, but won’t exactly be a popular upset pick given the way Jim Harbaugh’s team operates on both sides of the ball.

5. Oklahoma (6): Last week we saw less than 100 voting points separate Oklahoma from Clemson, so we predict a slight uptick after the Sooners’ impressive 49-14 win at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers may have been a wild card in terms of expectations following the firing of Scott Frost, but a well-rounded road win would be impressive against any Power Five opponent. Oklahoma took an early lead and went the rest of the way, allowing just one touchdown on Nebraska’s first drive of the game and another in garbage time after the contest was decided.

6. Clemson (5): The Tigers have a defense that is strong enough to win the ACC, but until the offense gets a little more explosive and consistent, it will be hard to consider Clemson one of the top teams in the country. A 48-20 win against Louisiana Tech only draws more attention to those offensive issues that could cost the Tigers a spot in the rankings.

7. USC (7): Thumping Fresno State won’t do much for AP voters, but the performance raised an important question about this team’s ceiling in coach Lincoln Riley’s first year. As long as the offense — with over 40 points in all three games — is at this level, is there anyone on the schedule who can outplay the Trojans?

8. Oklahoma State (8): No big changes for the Cowboys after a 63-7 win against FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

9. Kentucky (9): A 31-0 shutout of Youngstown State puts the spotlight back on a Kentucky defense that was a key part of last week’s win at Florida and has allowed fewer than 17 points in all three wins so far this season.

10. Arkansas (10): There may not be an obvious candidate to overtake the Razorbacks in the rankings, but some voters will reject Arkansas because they need 21 points in the fourth quarter to avoid Bobby Petrino’s upset bid at Missouri State. The 38-27 win is enough to avoid a complete collapse in the rankings, for now, as Arkansas’ attention turns to Texas A&M on the road in Week 4.

11. Tennessee (15): An undefeated record and a road win against a ranked opponent give the Volunteers a profile that will make them candidates to be promoted after some shakeup. The 57-point win against Akron is just the decoration of what’s already in store when it comes to Tennessee’s buzz heading into the SEC on CBS Game of the Week against Florida next week.

12. Penn State (22): The final rankings will be a combination of several different spots in the 60-plus AP Top 25 polls, but ultimately our thinking is that this is a 3-0 team with two road wins against Power Five opponents. Add in the big SEC on the CBS stage and the one-sided nature of the 41-12 victory at Auburn, and the Nittany Lions are likely to be one of the most significant movers in the rankings.

13. Washington (PR): It feels like Michael Penix and Washington were able to provide all the offense Huskies fans expected last season in just three games and have the same level of success against a top team like Michigan State as they did against Kent State and Portland State suggest , that this is one of the best teams in the Pac-12.

14. Utah (14): Utah took care of business against San Diego State, blowing a three-touchdown lead into the half and coasting to a comfortable victory. The loss to Florida remains a burden that lowers the Utes’ ranking ceiling, but the field product is otherwise still strong enough to hold their position in the polls.

15. NC State (16): The Wolfpack defense held Texas Tech in check in an impressive 27-14 home win to improve to 3-0.

16. Oregon (25): Bo Nix and the Ducks quickly found their footing after a tough season-opening loss to Georgia. According to Matt Prem of 247Sports, Oregon’s first-team offense has scored on 13 straight drives after being held without a touchdown against the Bulldogs in the opener. It was seven straight in the win against Eastern Washington and six straight to start in a 41-20 win against BYU.

17. BYU (12): The Cougars were underachieved at wide receiver and along the defensive line, but that doesn’t excuse the ease with which Oregon was able to move the ball in the Ducks’ 21-point victory. BYU’s drop in the rankings was limited thanks to its win over Baylor, and the Bears should hang close to their previous spot after a 35-point win against Texas State.

18. Texas A&M (24): The quarterback change from Haynes King to Max Johnson didn’t result in dramatically different results on offense, but the Aggies’ defense stepped up in a 17-9 win against Miami. The key to the game was how Texas A&M forced field goals when Miami had scoring opportunities, a habit that will be even more necessary with upcoming games against Arkansas and Mississippi State.

19. Baylor (17): The halftime score was much more concerning than the final, but a slow start after overtime on the road at BYU isn’t enough of a red flag to cause major changes in the standings. The final result seems in sync with pregame expectations, and that’s all that matters to some voters.

20. Ole Miss (20): AP voters won’t make much of an adjustment after a 42-0 win at Georgia Tech, but the result should raise eyebrows in the SEC as the Rebels appear to be rounding into form as a truly dangerous team heading into conference play.

21. Texas (21): Texas trailed 17-7 with 9:38 left in the first half, only to outscore UTSA 34-3 the rest of the game to improve to 2-1. Next up is West Virginia before the schedule gets a lot tougher. Bijan Robinson ran for a 78-yard touchdown as part of his 183 rushing yards and three scores on the night.

22. Wake Forest (19): There have been plenty of near misses for ranked teams and not all of them will be treated equally, but a 37-36 win against Liberty will get some reactions from voters who may have already been a little short on the Demon Deacons.

23. Pittsburgh (23): Under their third quarterback, Pitt was able to maintain its ranked status with a 34-13 win against Western Michigan.

24. Miami (13): The Hurricanes’ offense failed to reach the end zone against Texas A&M, and though Miami never got out of the game. the lack of success in the passing attack made it difficult for Miami to really threaten an upset against Texas A&M. Based on the opponent, setup and point spread, it wasn’t a bad loss, but voters will have a hard time arguing for a top 15 or even top 20 on their ballots, with Miami’s only wins coming against Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss.

25. Florida (18): While Florida’s near upset at the hands of USF will send it down the rankings, a win over Utah still carries enough weight early in the season to keep the Gators in the top 25.

Projected to drop: Michigan State (No. 11)

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