2016 Post-Week Three College Football Playoff Power Rankings
|J.T. Barrett, Ohio State|
1 Alabama Crimson Tide 3-0 (1-0 SEC)
Despite falling down 24-3 early on, Alabama recovered to avoid falling to Ole Miss for the third consecutive season. The offense continues to have its ups-and-downs, but dropped 48 in this one behind the arm of QB Jalen Hurts and their dynamic rushing attack. Defensively, the Tide surrendered more yardage in the air than they should have, considering their talent in the defensive backfield. That will have to be shored up certainly, but outside of Ole Miss, there isn't an SEC team that has that type of dangerous passing game. Overall, the Tide added another strong victory to their resume, and proved that despite their youth, they were very resilient. They are still searching for their signature win, but this one was enough to keep Alabama on top of the rankings for now.
2 Ohio State Buckeyes 3-0 (0-0 Big Ten)
Perhaps no team increased their stock this week quite as much as Ohio State (perhaps even more than Louisville). The Buckeyes came out and dominated Oklahoma without much trouble. While the Sooners aren't the team we though they were preseason, it was still a statement victory for the Buckeyes, who appear to be the favorite in the Big Ten right now. Quarterback J.T. Barrett throttled a poor Oklahoma secondary, and the ground game continues to flourish. However, the biggest statement was the defense, which flew all over the field in this one. What is most impressive about Ohio State is that they have dominated in their first three games despite their massive inexperience. They are breaking in new starters throughout their offense and defense, and have still looked unstoppable. They should only get better as the season wears on.
3 Clemson Tigers 3-0 (0-0 ACC)
After two underwhelming showings against Auburn and Troy, Clemson responded this past week by blowing South Carolina State out of the water, 59-0. The offense had struggled with turnovers early on this season, but looked cool, calm and collected against their FCS opponent. This win certainly didn't answer a whole lot, but it gave Clemson some much needed momentum as they looked ahead towards the start of ACC play. Deshaun Watson and the rest of the Tigers will get a sneaky (and undefeated) Georgia Tech team this Thursday. Weekday games have long been trap games for high-ranked teams, and the Tigers must avoid a letdown early on in the conference slate, particularly with their Louisville matchup on the horizon.
4 Louisville Cardinals 3-0 (1-0 ACC)
Entering this week, Louisville had dominated inferior opponents behind Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson, but could they do it against second-ranked Florida State? The Cardinals certainly answered that question, and then some. Behind Jackson's five scores (four on the ground), Louisville blew out the Seminoles 63-20. Not only does this game push Louisville to the top of the ACC, it also puts them in the Playoff mix. One caution: over the years, quarterbacks that have gotten off to hot starts in the first month have traditionally slipped up afterwards (see "September Heisman"). Jackson has put on a show, but he must continue it over the course of the season if the Cardinals, who still have Clemson and Houston on their schedule, hope to make it to the Playoff.
Four More in the Hunt
5 Michigan Wolverines 3-0 (0-0 Big Ten)
The Wolverines got their toughest test of the new season to this point in Colorado, and as expected, it was their closest game. After blowing the doors off UCF and Hawaii, Michigan looked pretty sloppy through much of this game and needed a strong fourth quarter to win 45-28. Colorado is a solid football team, but the Wolverines are going to get much tougher opponents in the Big Ten, particularly the East Division, where Ohio State and Michigan State look very good. They still have refinements to make as they look ahead to the Big Ten slate.
6 Houston Cougars 3-0 (1-0 AAC)
After rolling to victories in their first two games, Houston got an interesting challenge in Week Three. In a Thursday night game against Cincinnati, the Cougars got all they could handle, going down early in the fourth quarter in a game where they made plenty of mistakes. However, Greg Ward Jr. and the rest of the offense turned it on and UH coasted to their first conference win of the season. What is really great is that Houston gets a long stretch of relatively soft games before their huge date with Louisville, which could very well be a Playoff play-in game. Oklahoma's loss this past week hurts their resume slightly, but Houston is still firmly entrenched in the Playoff hunt.
7 Stanford Cardinal 2-0 (1-0 Pac-12)
Methodical and efficient as always, Stanford didn't have much troubles with the struggling USC Trojans this past week, rolling to a 27-10 win. Christian McCaffrey had a big day, rushing all over a Trojans' D that looked lost trying to defend the Cardinal's versatility. The Heisman candidate has 298 yards after two games and will continue to break open games. An interesting road trip to dangerous UCLA awaits this week, before a game against Washington that could very well decide the Pac-12 North.
8 Washington Huskies 3-0 (0-0 Pac-12)
Usually, a 3-0 team averaging nearly 50.0 points a game and dominating opponents will be getting a ton of hype in the polls, but I'm still cautious before I pick the Huskies to roll to a Pac-12 crown. The Huskies have been wonderful so far this season, but they have played Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. One is currently FCS (Portland State), one is transitioning back to FCS (Idaho) and one is among the nation's worst Power Five teams (Rutgers). Quarterback Jake Browning has been terrific, and the ball-hawking defense has been even better. However, the Huskies still on the fringes of the Playoff hunt for me until they beat anybody of substance.
Others in the Mix
Michigan State Spartans
Texas A&M Aggies
Florida State Seminoles
West Virginia Mountaineers