Fornelli 50 college football rankings: Respect Clemson as the nation's best team

At what point is it acceptable to start giving Clemson the same kind of respect we show Alabama? As I was watching Clemson beat Louisville 47-21 on Saturday night, I couldn't help but think to myself, "This is the best team in the country." Of course, I knew that when the rankings came out on Sunday that Alabama would still be No. 1. I knew this because Alabama was already No. 1, and it's seemingly illegal to not rank Alabama No. 1 if it was already there and didn't lose.

This all led to me wondering how much more Clemson needs to do before we give it the same kind of respect. This is a Clemson team that has gone 31-2 since the start of the 2015 season. Its only two losses in that time span were a one-point loss to Pittsburgh last year and a 5-point loss to Alabama in the 2015 title game. Alabama is also 31-2 in that same span with its two losses being a six-point loss to Ole Miss in 2015 and a four-point loss to Clemson in last year's title game.

Now, don't get me wrong, Alabama has been the premier program in college football over the last decade. I understand why it gets all the credit it does. But both Clemson and Alabama have won the same amount of national titles in the last four years, and it's Clemson who is your current champion.

So while I understood some of the doubt about the Tigers in the preseason -- losing Deshaun Watson isn't something you can just dismiss -- what we've seen so far erases those doubts. Kelly Bryant is incredibly talented, and Clemson's defense is the best unit in the country. Period.

No disrespect meant to Alabama, but it's time we start showing Clemson the respect it deserves and ranking it No. 1. My formula certainly agrees this week, but before we get to the Fornelli 50, here's a quick reminder on how it all works (full details here).

  1. My opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the rankings
  2. There is true equality to start as math doesn't play favorites
  3. Wins and losses mean more than anything
  4. The formula is in no way predictive, it's a meritocracy
  5. I won't share the formula, but it works

There, now that we've gotten all of that out of the way, let's find out who the best 50 teams in college football are so far this season.

The Fornelli 50
Clemson 3-0: The Tigers were the best team in college football last season, and they've been the best one so far this year, too. (Last week: 3)
Oklahoma 3-0: The Sooners aren't far behind Clemson, but I guess the math just hates watching games on PPV. (1)
Penn State 3-0: We're going to get a much better idea of who this Penn State team is on the road against Iowa this week. (4)
Alabama 3-0: Alabama was never in danger against Colorado State, but it wasn't its typical dominant self, either. (2)
Oklahoma State 3-0: The Cowboys gave Pitt a beating it won't forget anytime soon. (8)
UCF 1-0: The Knights are still here because they haven't played a second game yet, and the math still loves that first game. (5)
Mississippi State 3-0: You can file the Bulldogs 37-7 win over LSU on Saturday into the "Did Not See That Coming" file. CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA. (23)
USC 3-0: A week after looking impressive against Stanford, the Trojans looked iffy again against Texas. And Stanford lost to San Diego State. Hmmm. (6)
Wisconsin 3-0: Wisconsin just did what Wisconsin does against BYU on Saturday. (9)
Minnesota 3-0: They're rowing the boat at a nice pace so far in Minneapolis. (11)
Michigan 3-0: Michigan has had 10 offensive possessions in the red zone this season. It has scored one touchdown. That's awful. (7)
Duke 3-0: Daniel Jones might be the best QB in the country that you've never heard of. (13)
Houston 2-0: The offense that struggled against Arizona showed up against Rice. Of course, Rice is Rice. (22)
Wake Forest 3-0: We live in a world where the ACC has four 3-0 teams, and Wake Forest and Duke are two of them. (18)
Washington 3-0: Washington keeps winning, but it just doesn't look like the same team that I saw last year. (20)
Oregon 3-0: With Stanford's struggles, it looks like the Ducks will be Washington's biggest threat in the Pac-12 North this year. (28)
TCU 3-0: The Horned Frogs have a huge test with a road trip to Oklahoma State this week. (17)
Virginia Tech 3-0: I'm guessing the Hokies got caught looking past East Carolina on Saturday, which is why they fell behind 17-7 early. (32)
Vanderbilt 3-0: Vanderbilt has allowed only 13 points through its first three games this season. (31)
Maryland 2-0: The Terps took a week off and still moved up a spot. D.J. Durkin's just that good. (21)
Memphis 2-0: A huge win over UCLA for the Tigers helps establish Memphis as a candidate for the coveted Group of Five spot. (38)
Iowa 3-0: Iowa has been Iowa so far this season. It ain't pretty, but it gets the job done. (25)
Eastern Michigan 2-0: Your weekly reminder that EMU's QB is named Brogan Roback. (26)
Michigan State 2-0: Sparty can make a statement with a win over Notre Dame this week. (27)
San Diego State 3-0: Did you realize that San Diego State is 25-6 since the start of the 2015 season? And it just beat Stanford. (41)
Texas Tech 2-0: It looks like it's going to be another "first team to 50 wins" kind of season in Lubbock. And I'm fine with that. (40)
Washington State 3-0: The Cougs didn't have any trouble with Oregon State this week. Nobody ever does. (47)
Georgia 3-0: Wins over Samford tend to hurt your stock in these rankings, but Georgia still looks like the team to beat in the SEC East. (16)
South Florida 3-0: After a sloppy start, USF finally started looking like itself against Illinois on Friday night. Need to see more of that. (46)
Navy 2-0: Navy had the weekend off, and it gets Cincinnati this week. (30)
UTSA 2-0: It's very early, but this Roadrunners team looks like a contender in the C-USA West. (15)
California 3-0: Cal has a defense! Justin Wilcox must be some wizard because I do not even recognize this Bears defense. (45)
Colorado 3-0: We probably shouldn't take too much from wins over Colorado State, Texas State, and Northern Colorado. Now if the Buffs beat Washington... (19)
Utah 3-0: The Utes will open Pac-12 play with a road trip to Arizona this week. (48)
Toledo 3-0: Toledo's 54-51 win over Tulsa on Saturday was the most exciting game nobody saw this weekend. (42)
Kentucky 3-0: I love living in a world in which we have to consider both Vandy and Kentucky as contenders in the SEC East at this point. (50)
Notre Dame 2-1: When Notre Dame can run the ball, it's pretty good. When it can't, it's not. (Not Ranked)
Purdue 2-1: I know Missouri isn't good, but Purdue -- PURDUE! -- just went on the road and beat it by 32. What a time to be alive. (NR)
Ohio State 2-1: Ohio State worked out some of the kinks against Army, and will get another chance to straighten things out against UNLV. (NR)
Miami 1-0: A win over Bethune-Cookman wasn't enough to rank Miami last week, but now that there aren't 50 other undefeated teams left, the Canes squeeze in. (NR)
South Carolina 2-1: The loss to Kentucky hurt enough, but losing Deebo Samuel for the season is a devastating blow on top of it. (10)
Louisville 2-1: Can't blame Louisville for losing to Clemson, but the Cardinals have struggled against good teams a lot lately. (12)
West Virginia 2-1: The Mountaineers open Big 12 play with a road trip to Kansas this week. I bet they win. (NR)
UCLA 2-1: I hope you didn't think the comeback against Texas A&M solved all of UCLA's problems. (14)
Arizona 2-1: I created the damn formula, and even I was surprised to see Arizona show up here. (NR)
Boise State 2-1: It has to kill Kansas fans to see Montell Cozart balling out on the blue turf. (NR)
Kansas State 2-1: In years past, there would be shame in losing to Vanderbilt. That's not the case anymore. (24)
Northwestern 2-1: The Wildcats are ranked this week, but they look shaky. Luckily they have a week off before they have to head to Madison to play Wisconsin. (NR)
SMU 2-1: TCU took the Iron Skillet and beat SMU over the head with it. (29)
Iowa State 2-1: The Cyclones sneak past Syracuse for No. 50 thanks to Iowa boosting its schedule strength just enough. (NR)

No longer ranked: LSU (33), Air Force (34), Coastal Carolina (35), Tennessee (36), Illinois (37), Army (39), Ole Miss (43), Central Michigan (44), Old Dominion (49)

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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