The Pac-12 has been no stranger to the AP Top 25 this season as it entered the week with eight teams ranked. As such, it became just the second conference to ever achieve that mark (SEC, 23 times). All eight of those teams will likely remain in the new poll when it’s released Sunday, but none looked as impressive as No. 8 Washington in Week 3.
While we saw mostly underwhelming performances from the top 10 teams, the Huskies stood out in a 41-7 road victory over Michigan State. Michael Penix Jr. threw for over 350 yards and four touchdowns in the first half as Washington took a 35-0 lead into the locker room. The only other college QBs to pull off that feat since 2015 are Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, LSU’s Joe Burrow (twice) and some guy named Patrick Mahomes, who played for Texas Tech and did it three times.
Penix has now led the Huskies to a 3-0 start, and they’ve won each game by at least 33 points.
Compare that to teams like Georgia, which couldn’t bury South Carolina, or a Florida State team that flirted with defeat against a Boston College team that lost to Northern Illinois this season. Alabama responded to its 10-point loss to Texas by struggling to beat South Florida.
There’s a solid argument to be made that the Huskies should climb this week, but there’s one thing working against them: ranked teams went 22-2. The only two teams to lose (Tennessee, Kansas State) were already behind the Huskies. Lackluster or not, it’s hard to see voters punishing teams much for winning.
As a result, it’s hard to imagine we’ll see significant changes in this week’s poll. Here’s our best guess as to what we’ll see when the new AP Top 25 is released on Sunday.
1. Georgia (Last week — 1): Georgia faced its first real test of the season, and while it passed, it was more of a C-student performance. South Carolina led 14-3 at halftime, but UGA took total control in the second half thanks to another strong defensive performance.
2. Michigan (2): Michigan continued its early-season trend of playing at seemingly three-quarter speed against Bowling Green. It was only a 14-6 game at halftime, but the Wolverines scored 17 points in the third quarter to wrap things up quickly. Still, there’s plenty to nitpick in the performance. J.J. McCarthy threw three interceptions during the regular season in 2021. He matched that total in this game alone
3. Florida State (3): It wasn’t exactly the kind of performance anybody expected, but Florida State escaped by the skin of its teeth in Chestnut Hill. Jordan Travis banged up his left shoulder and Keon Coleman didn’t catch a pass, but Boston College beat itself just enough (18 penalties for 131 yards!) for the Seminoles to escape.
4. Texas (4): The Longhorns completed a 31-10 victory over Wyoming that was tenuous for far too long. Texas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter after struggling to put away the Cowboys.
5. USC (5): The Trojans had the weekend off. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded seeing one of the teams ahead of them stumble or a Pac-12 rival lose a game it shouldn’t, but alas, we can’t always get what we want.
6. Ohio State (6): Clearly the only thing the Buckeyes offense had to do to get clicking was name a starter. Kyle McCord was let loose from the QB battle and threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns as Ohio State blew the doors off Western Kentucky, 63-10. Still, with nobody in the top five losing, it’s hard to envision the Buckeyes moving up.
7. Penn State (7): The Penn State defense was phenomenal Saturday forcing five Illinois turnovers. That helped the Nittany Lions overcome a pretty meh performance offensively. Drew Allar completed only 16 of 33 passes for 208 yards and no touchdowns. Still, a road win in conference play is a road win in conference play.
8. Washington (8): If there’s any team that could creep up a spot or two in the top 10 this week, I would bet on it being Washington. The Huskies looked unstoppable in a 41-7 win over Michigan State. Actually, scratch that. Washington stopped itself. It had a 35-0 lead at halftime and coasted in the second half. The Huskies are 3-0 and have won every game by at least five scores.
9. Notre Dame (9): The Notre Dame offense continues to cruise. The Fighting Irish put up 41 points and 578 yards of offense in an easy 41-17 win over Central Michigan. Sam Hartman threw three more touchdowns, while Audric Estime rushed for 176 yards and the Irish scored at least 40 points for the fourth time in four games.
10. Alabama (10): A 17-3 win over South Florida isn’t going to do much to soothe any fears Alabama fans might’ve had following last week’s loss to Texas. Ty Buchner started the game, but he didn’t finish it as Ty Simpson replaced him. A win is a win, but the Crimson Tide look far from Crimson Tide-like.
11. Oregon (13): The Ducks absolutely dominated Hawaii, 55-10, behind 247 yards passing and three touchdowns by Bo Nox. Oregon led 24-0 after the first quarter and never looked back.
12. LSU (14): LSU was the LSU we expected to see coming out of the preseason as it dominated Mississippi State, 41-14, on the road. Jayden Daniels threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 64 yards and another two scores. Defensively, the Tigers held Mississippi State to 201 yards of offense.
13. Utah (12): The Utes played another game without Cam Rising, and it didn’t matter much as they won easily at home, 31-7 over Weber State. Nate Johnson threw for 193 yards and ran for 71 while scoring two touchdowns.
14. Oregon State (16): It wasn’t a great day for D.J. Uiagalelei as he finished with two touchdowns but threw two interceptions. It didn’t matter much, though, as the Beavers still dispatched San Diego State easily in a 26-9 win.
15. Ole Miss (17): The Rebels scored 24 fourth-quarter points to wipe the floor with Georgia Tech, 48-23.
16. Colorado (18): Colorado is more than a three-touchdown favorite against Colorado State.
17. Oklahoma (19): A week after looking a bit ordinary in a 28-11 win over SMU, the Sooners got back to blasting teams on offense this week, beating Tulsa, 66-17. It’s the second time across three games that the Sooners have scored at least 65 points. Dillon Gabriel threw for 421 yards and five touchdowns.
18. North Carolina (20): There aren’t a lot of teams in the country with two nonconference wins over Power Five opponents, but North Carolina is one of them after beating Minnesota, 31-13. It’ll be interesting to see what that’s worth to the pollsters. Wherever they wind up, this was an impressive performance on both sides of the ball by the Tar Heels.
19. Duke (21): Duke smoked Northwestern in the Academic Bowl, 38-14. Riley Leonard was unstoppable, and we’re now all forced to ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: Is Duke a football school? Will the AP voters give them the same respect they do in the basketball poll?
20. Miami (22): Miami failed to cover the 54-point spread Thursday night against Bethune-Cookman, but I don’t anticipate voters punishing them for only winning 48-7. Nor do I expect UM will get a boost for it.
21. Tennessee (11): The Vols did not survive their trip to The Swamp unscathed, losing 29-16. It wasn’t a terrible performance, but things gout out of hand for in the second quarter, and they never recovered. Considering nearly everybody else won, Tennessee is looking at a considerable drop, but they should remain ranked. Florida could pop into the poll as its only loss this season was to then-No. 7 Utah, but that is hardly a sure thing.
22. Washington State (23): Washington State did what it was supposed to do in beating Northern Colorado, 64-21. It makes me think we’ll have at least one more week of eight Pac-12 teams in the AP Top 25.
23. UCLA (24): The Bruins cruised to a 59-7 win over NC Central. It’s enough to keep them in the poll, but not a win you’d expect them to be rewarded for.
24. Clemson (NR): Clemson’s punishment for losing to Duke could end this week. After all, Duke is now 3-0, and Clemson has bounced back with blowout wins over Charleston Southern and FAU. That combined with Clemson’s brand helping it sneak onto the back end of some ballots in those coin flip situations could be enough to bring the Tigers back.
25. Missouri (NR): The Tigers could make their poll debut this weekend after pulling off the upset of Kansas State. They’re 3-0 on the season after this win. Brady Cook threw for 356 yards, and Lurther Burden caught seven passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Projected to drop out: Kansas State (15), Iowa (25)