CBS Sports graphic

The preliminaries are over. Or nearly over. Three weeks into the season -- four if you count Week 0 -- it's time to look ahead to conference play.

Georgia broke the seal on the SEC season by shooting a giant warning flare into the air in its evisceration of South Carolina. Ohio State has issued several alerts, scoring 20 touchdowns in the nonconference slate before kicking off Big Ten play this week. Michigan has 22 touchdowns -- tied for No. 2 nationally -- but hasn't played a Power Five opponent yet.

USC plays perhaps the biggest Pac-12 game to date traveling to surprising Oregon State this week. ESPN's "College GameDay" has chosen Florida-Tennessee much to the disgust of Kansas, which is hosting Duke with both teams off to 3-0 starts (the Jayhawks for the first time in 13 years). The Gators, after beating then-top 10 Utah in Week 1, failed their first SEC test losing to Kentucky. Josh Heupel has done his job, molding the SEC's highest-scoring offense at Tennessee going into its conference opener.

Arkansas and rehabilitated 13 Texas A&M play one of those prove-it games in Jerry World. The Aggies have won nine of the last 10. To the winner goes the honor of "deciding" Alabama's fate beginning in October. The Crimson Tide play at the Razorbacks on Oct. 1 and host the Aggies on Oct. 8.

It may seem like the season just started, but it's actually a quarter complete.

  • Appalachian State is on track for a New Year's Six bowl.
  • Notre Dame has gone from top 10 to unranked.
  • Auburn's Bryan Harsin may be the third Power Five coach fired in September (Nebraska's Scott Frost, Arizona State's Herm Edwards).
  • Oklahoma looks like a more complete team under Brent Venables.
  • Alabama looks vulnerable but it may be an 11-2 vulnerable.

We ain't seen nothin' yet. 

Biggest Movers
10 Oregon
14 Miami (FL)
1 Georgia The defense came within 53 seconds of pitching its fifth shutout in the last 14 games. Pick your Heisman Trophy favorite after a rout of South Carolina: Stetson Bennett or Brock Bowers. -- 4-0
2 Alabama Well, the Texas mess was cleaned up nicely, wasn't it? In the first 6 minutes against Louisiana-Monroe, the Crimson Tide scored on a touchdown pass, pick six and blocked punt. -- 3-1
3 Ohio State C.J. Stroud has thrown the most touchdowns (11) without an interception this season. Marvin Harrison Jr. is an emerging star in his own right after grabbing six balls for 102 yards against Toledo. Wisconsin is next to open the Big Ten schedule. -- 4-0
4 Michigan The Honesty Award goes to RB Blake Corum (five TDs vs. UConn). After completing nonconference play 3-0 against punching bags, Corum said, "I don't know how good we are." -- 4-0
5 USC Lincoln Riley is at his best with a balanced offense. Two USC running backs achieved 100-yard games for the first time since 2018. Caleb Williams threw for two more TDs against Fresno State. -- 4-0
6 Oklahoma Nebraska scored first and last. In between, Oklahoma scored 49 straight. The defense is much improved under Brent Venables. -- 4-0
7 Kentucky Mark Stoops beat his hometown school in his first outing since becoming the Wildcats' winningest coach. Kentucky enjoyed a shot of Kavosiey (Smoke, two TDs) in a shutout of Youngstown State, Kentucky's first in 13 years! 1 4-0
8 Oklahoma State The Cowboys cruised through the nonconference slate by a combined 87 points. Big 12 Championship Game rematch against Baylor on Oct. 1 to start the conference season. That snuck up on us quickly. 1 2-2
9 Utah Mark your calendars. The USC game is five weeks away. The Utes are back to humming with a four-touchdown win over San Diego State. 1 4-0
10 Clemson Two consecutive good games for the D.J. Uiagalelei. After the Miami loss, time to consider the Tigers back atop of the ACC? 2 2-2
11 Baylor The Bears rebounded nicely from the BYU heartbreak with an easy win over Texas State. Now comes the hard part: Iowa State and Oklahoma State back-to-back to start the Big 12 season. 2 1-3
12 NC State The Wolfpack had four takeaways and four sacks against what was the nation's leading passing offense (Texas Tech). 2 3-1
13 Texas A&M We now have some definition of what the Aggies can be. Max Johnson was effective enough. The defense is legit after shutting down Miami. Now onto what might be a season-defining game against Arkansas. 6 3-1
14 Tennessee Great week for Josh Heupel. Got a raise, an extension and an easy win over Akron. Florida is next for a top-25 showdown. 6 3-1
15 Arkansas Bobby Petrino is the gift that just keeps taking away. A monstrous upset almost followed a decade-old scandal as the Razorbacks had to overcome a 10-point Missouri State lead. -- 2-2
16 Oregon (Almost) all is forgiven after a rout of BYU. Good Bo Nix showed up missing only five of 18 throws. And. No. Interceptions. The Ducks are now 4-11 against top-15 opponents. NR 4-0
17 Appalachian State The most entertaining team in America. Consider App State lost late to North Carolina (63-61), smothered Texas A&M and won on the last play of the game with a Hail Mary against Troy. Net point differential in those three games: +5. 1 2-2
18 BYU The Cougars had won the last five in a row against the Pac-12. A New Year's Six berth still a possibility with games left against Notre Dame, Arkansas and Stanford. 7 3-1
19 Ole Miss Lane Kiffin declares himself a ground-and-pound guy (316 yards rushing). Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins becomes stapled to the hot seat after being shut out by the Rebels. 3 3-1
20 Washington The reunion of Michael Penix Jr. and Kaelen DeBoer is the biggest since The Eagles. Penix picked apart Michigan State with four touchdowns. NR 4-0
21 Miami (FL) The loss of receiver Xavier Restrepo showed. Tyler Van Dyke had his second-lowest completion mark as a starter (51.2%) against Texas A&M. 14 4-0
22 Florida USF botched a game-tying field goal in The Swamp with 23 seconds left. Anthony Richardson threw two more interceptions and has no passing TDs on the season. That's no way to go into the Tennessee game. -- 3-1
23 Pittsburgh Someone tell me why Pitt scheduled a game at Western Michigan after playing West Virginia and Tennessee. Third-string QB Nate Yarnell had to play because of injuries. Things worked out in a three-touchdown win. 2 1-3
24 Texas Steve Sarkisian tried to play hide the sausage with the media regarding his starting quarterback. Hudson Card did OK. Bijan Robinson did great (183 yards rushing) against UTSA. NR 4-0
25 Wake Forest Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons survived what would have been a potential game-winning two-pointer from Liberty. Hartman threw for 325 yards and three scores. NR 3-1

Out: Michigan State, Texas Tech, Marshall