Florida State remains on top of the XN Sports college football rankings and can cement its hold on the top spot this weekend with a victory over Clemson in one of the biggest regular-season games on the ACC slate.
The Seminoles are coming off a bye and should be ready for the Tigers, who opened with a loss at Georgia. Last season, Florida State rocked Clemson, 51-14, in Death Valley and that victory was the beginning of a march that did not stop until the Seminoles outlasted Auburn for the national championship.
Auburn visits Kansas State on Thursday in the other marquee matchup of the week and the game will likely hinge on whether or not the Wildcats can keep the Tigers’ vaunted rushing attack under control.
No team slipped out of the XN Sports Top 25 this week but Virginia Tech and UNC are in danger of falling out. The Hokies have to rebound from a loss to East Carolina and the Tar Heel have to avoid another loss to that same Pirates squad this week.
25. Virginia Tech (2-1) – The Hokies slip six spots after losing to East Carolina. Virginia Tech tied the game, 21-21, with a TD with 1:20 to go but couldn’t hold and ECU QB Shane Carden ran in for the game winning score with 16 seconds to play. Last game: Lost to East Carolina, 28-21. Next game: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech.
24. UNC (2-0) – The Tar Heels appear to be better defensively than last season but the Pirates will put them to the test. Last season ECU routed North Carolina, rolling up over 600 yards of offense in a 55-31 victory in Chapel Hill. Last game: Beat San Diego State, 31-27, Next game: Saturday at East Carolina.
23. Penn State (3-0) – Things just keep going Penn State’s way so far this season. Last week the NCAA announced it will allow the Nittany Lions to compete in this year’s postseason and that all scholarships will return in 2015. Then they rallied for a win at Rutgers on Saturday night and on Sunday three-star athlete Daiquan Kelly from New Jersey announced on Twitter on that he has changed his verbal commitment from Syracuse to Penn State. The No. 32 athlete in the class of 2015 according to Rivals, Kelly held offers from Michigan State, Rutgers and Virginia among others. Last Game: Beat Rutgers, 13-10. Next game: vs. Massachusetts.
22. BYU (3-0) – QB Taysom Hill continues to impress. Hill completed 21 of 34 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 26 times for 160 yards and a score against Houston and became one of only 14 quarterbacks in FBS history to reach the 2,000 rushing/4,000 passing yards plateau before their senior seasons. Last game: Beat Houston, 33-25, Next game: Saturday vs. Virginia.
21. Clemson (1-1) – The Tigers have never beaten the number-one ranked team in football. The highest ranked team Clemson has ever defeated is No. 3. It knocked off third-ranked Florida State in 2003 and No. 3 Virginia Tech in the ACC title game in 2011. Last game: Beat South Carolina State, 73-7. Next game: Saturday vs. Florida State.
20. Wisconsin (1-1) The Badgers won their 19th straight home opener last time out and are coming off an early bye. Wisconsin is in the midst of a three-game home stand and hosts South Florida before opening Big Ten play at Northwestern. Last game: Beat Western Illinois, 37-3 Next game: Saturday vs. Bowling Green
19. Missouri (3-0) – QB Maty Mauk threw four more TD passes against UCF and is tied for tops in the nation with 12 in three games. Mauk and the Tigers get one more tune-up when they host the Hoosiers before SEC wars with South Carolina and Georgia. Last game: Beat UCF, 38-10. Next game: Saturday vs. Indiana.
18. Stanford (2-1) – Kevin Hogan threw four touchdown passes and the Cardinal defense allowed just 207 yards to the Black Knights while posting its second shutout of the season. Last game: Beat Army, 35-0. Next game: Sept. 27 at Washington.
17. Kansas State (2-0) – Coming off a lackluster performance against the Cyclones, the Wildcats will have to be at their best to have a shot against the Tigers. Kansas State has lost six straight games with nonconference Top 25 opponents including a 23-13 setback in the 2007 season-opener. Last game: Beat Iowa State, 32-28 Next game: Thursday vs. Auburn
16. USC (2-1) – The Trojans fell in a classic trap game. A week after winning at Stanford they flew east to Boston College and got gashed, allowing 452 rushing yards in the loss. USC led 17-6 early but never put BC away and paid for it. Last game: Lost at Boston College, 37-31. Next game: Sept. 27 vs. Oregon State.
15. UCLA (3-0) – It looks like the Bruins can breathe a sigh of relief as star QB Brett Hundley’s injury is a slight hyper extension of his left (Non-throwing) elbow and he should be ready to go at the end of the week. Jerry Neuheisel came off the bench after Hundley’s injury and threw for two touchdowns and directed three scoring drives in the second half to rally the Bruins from a 10-3 halftime deficit. Neuheisel, whose father Rick was a QB at UCLA and coach there, completed 23-of-30 passes for 178 yards, two scores and no interceptions. Last game: Beat Texas, 20-17, (in Arlington, Texas). Next game: Sept. 25 vs. Arizona State.
14. Arizona State (3-0) – The Sun Devils get a bye at an opportune time as quarterback Taylor Kelly will miss at least one to two games with a foot injury he suffered against Colorado. The injury to Kelly comes as Arizona State is prepping to face UCLA, USC and Stanford over its next three games. Mike Bercovici is expected to start in place of Kelly, who is one of seven Sun Devil quarterbacks to pass for more than 6,000 career yards. Last Game: Beat Colorado, 38-24 Next game: Sept. 25 vs. UCLA.
13. Georgia (1-1) — Curious play calls and a porous secondary won’t keep the Bulldogs from winning this week but if Georgia wants to salvage its season it will need to ride Todd Gurley and fix its defense. Last game: Lost to South Carolina, 38-35, Next game: Saturday vs. Troy.
12. South Carolina (2-1) – The ol’ ball coach rallied the troops for a season-saving win over Georgia and added to his personal record book in the process. The victory pushed Spurrier into a tie for second place all time with Georgia great Vince Dooley with 201 victories as an SEC coach. Spurrier also broke a tie with Auburn’s Shug Jordan to become the career leader with 16 victories against Georgia. Last game: Beat Georgia, 38-35. Next game: Saturday at Vanderbilt.
11. Michigan State (1-1) – The Spartans are rested and should be an angry bunch as they come off their loss at Oregon. Michigan State scored just three points in the second half against the Ducks so look for QB Connor Cook and the offense to take things out on the Eagles. Last game: Lost to Oregon, 46-27, Next game: Saturday vs. Eastern Michigan
10. Ole Miss (3-0) – QB Bo Wallace completed his first 14 passes of the game and finished 23-of-28 for 316 yards and four touchdowns. The Rebels finished with 554 total yards and Wallace moved into second in Ole Miss history with 49 career passing touchdowns. Last game: Beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 56-15. Next game: Sept. 27 vs. Memphis.
9. Notre Dame (3-0) – The Irish trailed for the first time this season against the Boilermakers and scored the final 20 points of the game to pull away. An off week comes at a good time with some key injuries hampering Notre Dame on both sides of the ball. Last game: Beat Purdue, 30-14. Next game: Sept. 27 at Syracuse.
8. Texas A&M (3-0). Kenny Hill threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns for the Aggies, who are 3-0 for the first time since 2010. The Mustangs are the last non SEC team on the schedule for A&M, which has five games remaining against ranked teams. Last game: Beat Rice, 38-10 Next game: Saturday at SMU.
7. LSU (3-0) – The Tigers have posted consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1985 and haven’t allowed a score since Wisconsin scored a TD early in the third quarter of the season opener. Last game: Beat Louisiana-Monroe, 31-0 Next game: Saturday vs. Mississippi State.
6. Baylor (3-0) – Bryce Petty will get some time to rest his achy back with the Bears off until Sept. 27. Petty played against Buffalo after missing one game and helped Baylor rack up 669 yards of offense despite missing four receivers. Last game: Beat Buffalo, 63-21 Next game: Sept. 27 at Iowa State.
5. Alabama (3-0) – The Crimson Tide have rolled in their last two games by a combined 93-12 but now will be getting into the meat of their schedule with seven straight games against SEC teams. It’s crucial Alabama get off to a good start in conference with a showdown at Ole Miss and visit to Arkansas looming. Last game: Beat Southern Miss, 52-12. Next game: Saturday vs. Florida.
4. Oklahoma (3-0) – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops announced Monday that the Sooners will be without leading rusher Keith Ford this weekend. Stoops said Monday that Ford will be out a minimum of two to three weeks after suffering a slight fracture in a non-weight bearing bone in his ankle late in Oklahoma’s win over Tennessee. Ford has rushed for 194 yards and five touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He is also the team’s third-leading receiver with 100 yards receiving. Last game: Beat Tennessee, 34-10. Next game: Saturday at West Virginia.
3. Auburn (2-0) – Auburn will take its rugged rushing attack to Manhattan and dare the Wildcats to stop it. The Tigers have rushed for 660 yards in two games with nine TDs and a gaudy 6.7 yards per rush average. Cameron Artis-Payne leads the team with 293 yards and Corey Grant (176) and quarterback Nick Marshall are also dangerous run threats. Last game: Beat San Jose State, 59-13 Next game: Thursday at Kansas State
2. Oregon (3-0) — The Ducks leave Eugene for the first time this season to face the Cougars in their Pac-12 opener. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota continues to pile up the stats as he became the fourth Oregon quarterback to pass for more than 7,000 yards. He has tossed a school-record 71 touchdowns, with at least one TD pass in all 29 games he’s played in. Last game: Beat Wyoming, 48-14 Next game: Saturday at Washington State.
1. Florida State (2-0) – The Seminoles are coming off a bye and will be well rested which could spell trouble for the Tigers. Florida State is 3-1 against Clemson since coach Jimbo Fisher took over and last season the Seminoles routed the Tigers 51-14 in Death Valley and used it as a springboard to a national championship. Last game: Beat The Citadel, 37-12 Next game: Saturday vs. Clemson
Dropped out: None
Close but not quite: