My AP Top 25 ballot for Week 3:
4. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
16. Texas A&M
17. Penn State
19. Michigan State
20. North Carolina
22. Arizona State
24. Central Florida
25. Boise State
New to the poll:
USC: Spanked Stanford something fierce, scoring 42 of the last 45 points, and taking the foot off the gas pedal in the process. The Trojans have the talent, and they might have the offensive coordinator (Graham Harrell) to unlock it.
North Carolina: Has beaten two Power Five teams — South Carolina and Miami, both teams I think are pretty good — to start the season. Mack Brown can still coach.
Maryland: Humiliated Syracuse 63-20. The Orange are pretenders, clearly, but the Terrapins, under new coach Mike Locksley, have an offense that lights up the scoreboard.
Central Florida: I have them lower than others. Stanford visits this week. We’ll see how that goes.
Out of the poll:
Washington: Lost 20-19 to Cal at home after a long rain delay. The Huskies will be back in this poll eventually. But that’s not a good loss.
Nebraska: In the first half, when someone asked what I thought of Nebraska’s 17-0 lead, I said “eh.” I knew it’d tighten. If NU can’t run the ball downhill with their backs, it’s going to be an interesting season on offense.
Miami (Florida): This is still an eight- or nine-win team if coach Manny Diaz can keep their heads up. But the Hurricanes are 0-2.
Stanford: Didn’t look remotely qualified to stay in the poll after that beatdown in the Coliseum.
» It’s funny. I always get questions about my Nos. 21-25, but never the Top 10. I spend more time judging the very best teams than I do the 21-40, which are often a jumble. As such, I really like my Top 10. I rewarded LSU and Ohio State for impressive performances over the weekend and jettisoned Michigan out despite beating Army 24-21. UM fans shouldn’t be pleased.
» I have Oregon higher than every other voter. Happily so. If you watched the Ducks’ loss to Auburn, you know how good Oregon’s offense is and will be. Dropping 77 points on a Nevada team that beat Purdue is proof.