College Football Power Rankings: LSU joins Alabama in top two, Oklahoma State enters

How many teams have a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff? John Kincade of CBS Sports Radio asked me that very question Sunday. I told him four. I wasn't being flippant. Obviously, it is a four-team playoff.

But after three weeks, it is my humble opinion Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State have separated themselves from the field. That statement does not ignore the fact that LSU deserves to be ranked No. 2 this week in my College Football Power Rankings. It is one of the biggest movers this week after stunning Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

No coach in the nation deserved a big win more than Ed Orgeron. There is a faction of LSU fans who literally can't wait for him to fail. It looks like it's going to take a while. Coach O is now 9-1 since last year's loss to Troy. The Tigers are also establishing themselves as perhaps Alabama's biggest challenger in the SEC West.

That brings us back around to two possibilities in this week's Power Rankings: It's absolutely possible for four teams to separate themselves and one other team to accomplish more (schedule-wise) than any in the country.

Elsewhere, it's a hard pass on these 10 teams who deserve some sort of honorable mention but are not included this week:

  • BYU beat its highest-ranked team (No. 7  Wisconsin) since 2009.
  • Boston College is 3-0 with perhaps the nation's best running back in A.J. Dillon
  • Kentucky is 3-0 for only the 11th time since 1950.
  • Syracuse -- Whose house?
  • North Texas coach Seth Litrell got himself a job with the Arkansas win. Maybe Texas Tech?
  • Troy's Neal Brown did as well after beating Scott Frost and sending Nebraska to its first 0-2 start in 61 years.
  • San Diego State knocked off a Pac-12 team (Arizona State) for the third time in the last 15 games.
  • South Florida is playing so well that it's worth asking: Does Charlie Strong and not Josh Heupel (UCF) have the best team in the Sunshine State? Strong is now 13-2 since leaving Texas.
  • Missouri remains unbeaten ahead of its SEC East battle on Saturday with expected division winner Georgia. 

Let's take a look at the latest Power Rankings.

Biggest Movers
13 Oklahoma State
16 Wisconsin
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Alabama At least The Grove was still hopping after the game. Nick Saban still seems to be punishing Ole Miss for ever employing Hugh Freeze. After the Rebels went ahead 7-0, the Tide scored 62 consecutive points. --13-0
2 LSU How do you not rank the Tigers No. 2? They've beaten two top 10 teams (Miami, Auburn) in the first three weeks of the season away from Baton Rouge. The legend of Joe Burrow grows. 99-3
3 Clemson We've seen the future, and it looks like a Nickelback guitarist. OK, that's another way of saying Trevor Lawrence thrived against Georgia Southern after Kelly Bryant left in the first half with an upper-body injury. 113-0
4 Ohio State Dear Urban: Take your time. Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray are the top two Heisman Trophy contenders after Week 3. Haskins is also Ohio State's best quarterback in years. Bucks have the nation's second-longest win streak (eight). 212-1
5 Georgia Justin Fields has three incompletions and two touchdown passes this season in backing up 2017 freshman All-America Jake Fromm. Kirby Smart continues to balance an emerging quarterback situation and an emerging dynasty. 111-2
6 Oklahoma There was a disturbing pattern again with Mike Stoops' defense vs. Iowa State: too many missed tackles, too many defensive backs not turning around to find the ball. Other than that, the Sooners might have the best player in the country again (Kyler Murray). 112-1
7 Auburn This is what Gus Malzahn gets for part of his $49 million -- plenty of criticism after blowing a 21-10 lead at home to LSU. Until further notice, this one will really hurts. An SEC West loss at home. For the time being, these Tigers don't control their division destiny. 47-5
8 Notre Dame Are the Irish playoff contenders? Technically. For now, it's an incomplete team offensively that has won its three games by seven, eight and five points after slipping by Vanderbilt. --12-0
9 Stanford We didn't learn much in a 20-point win over UC Davis. Bryce Love was rested to heal injuries. The schedule gets much tougher with consecutive games at Oregon and Notre Dame before a return home against Utah. 18-4
10 West Virginia The Mountaineers are that guy at the street corner holding a sign, "Need a game. Anything helps." The cancellation of the NC State game impacts Will Grier's Heisman chances. Kansas State next. 18-3
11 Washington It dawned on me Saturday. Had the Huskies lost at Utah, the Pac-12 would have been all but out of the playoff race. UW turned in an admirable defensive performance in winning 21-7. 410-3
12 Virginia Tech The East Carolina game was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. The Hokies should be 3-0 headed to suddenly formidable Duke on Sept 29. --6-6
13 Oklahoma State Fifth-year senior Taylor Cornelius accounted for three touchdowns in an impressive win over Boise State. Yup, the Cowboys go from unranked to top 15 here. 136-6
14 UCF Another Florence cancellation. A net win for North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who didn't have to put his record on the line against the, uh, defending national champs. 112-0
15 Penn State Trace McSorley accounted for five total touchdowns vs. Kent State. He also became the program's career leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. 29-3
16 Oregon Justin Herbert and the Ducks move on after a surprisingly close win over San Jose State. Oregon finally plays someone this week with Stanford coming to town. 28-4
17 Mississippi State The SEC's most under-the-radar team and the state of Mississippi's best team. (Let that sink in, Rebs.) Nick Fitzgerald accounts for 350 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette. 28-4
18 Miami (FL) The nation's No. 4 defense allowed the Canes to pull away from Toledo in the second half. If Miami keeps winning that LSU loss looks better and better. 47-5
19 Michigan Shea Patterson may have posted his most complete game as a Wolverine. He misfired on only 4-of-18 passes against SMU. 410-2
20 Colorado Playing only its eighth all-time game against an FCS opponent, the Buffs rolled against New Hampshire. Is it too early to consider CU a contender in the Pac-12 South? 45-7
21 Texas A&M No let down after Clemson and before Alabama. Traevon Williams broke out for 128 rushing yards against Louisiana-Monroe. 48-4
22 TCU Talked to Gary Patterson on the field after Ohio State. He wasn't despondent. GP took plenty of positives from playing the Buckeyes even up -- or better -- for most of the game. 86-6
23 Wisconsin In what was mostly a down day for the Big Ten, this game defined it. The Badgers let BYU hang around too long and paid for it losing 24-21. Wisco hadn't lost a nonconference home game since 2003. 167-5
24 Boise State I thought the Broncos would go undefeated. Now they're in a dogfight with UCF for the New Year's Six berth. Oklahoma State didn't exactly smother Brett Rypien (380 yards, three touchdowns). 810-3
25 Arizona State San Diego State essentially won by targeting Sun Devils receiver Frank Darby near the Aztecs' goal line with time running out. If not for head-to-head contact, Darby likely catches the ball and Arizona State sends the game into overtime. That makes it possible to commit pass interference or targeting to save a big play with time running out. 57-5
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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