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College football conference power rankings

Notre Dame’s big win against Clemson established the Irish as the best team at the moment in the ACC, even though they’re in the conference for only one season. It appears the ACC front-runners are headed for a rematch in the league’s championship game, but there’s plenty of football left to be played.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 got its season started with wins from its only ranked teams, Oregon and USC, Big 12 favorites Oklahoma State and Iowa State pulled out big wins, Ohio State continued to dominate, and Florida established itself as the second-best team in the SEC.

ACC

It has been a while since a team other than Clemson sat atop the ACC power rankings, but here we are. Notre Dame’s stunning come-from-behind win in double overtime was a case study in the value of physicality and experience. The Irish dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and quarterback Ian Book turned in the game of his life with one remarkable play after another when Notre Dame needed it most.

Still, it’s fair to wonder if this was just an opening act, and the real ACC leaderboard will be determined by a rematch in Charlotte, North Carolina, in December. Certainly Clemson would argue that without Trevor Lawrence and a number of defensive starters, a rematch is warranted. But for this week at least, the Irish are the deserving No. 1 team.

Beyond that? It’s the typical ACC quagmire. Miami narrowly survived against NC State. Virginia Tech was embarrassed by Liberty. Boston College looked inconsistent against woeful Syracuse. It all adds up to a narrative that probably should’ve been obvious before the season ever kicked off: Clemson and Notre Dame are elite. Everyone else is, at best, a work in progress.

1. Notre Dame
2. Clemson
3. Miami
4. North Carolina
5. Wake Forest
6. Virginia Tech
7. Boston College
8. NC State
9. Pitt
10. Louisville
11. Virginia
12. Georgia Tech
13. Florida State
14. Duke
15. Syracuse

Big 12

There were several nail-biters in the Big 12 over the weekend.

Oklahoma State had to pull itself out of a 12-point halftime deficit and hold on late to squeak by Kansas State. Iowa State trailed by two touchdowns in the second half before rallying to overtake Baylor. And Texas’ defense held strong in a low-scoring affair with West Virginia.

As it stands, the race for the two spots in the Big 12 title game is still very much up for grabs. Iowa State and Oklahoma State are in the best position so far, but there’s plenty of football to be played.

1. Oklahoma State
2. Iowa State
3. Oklahoma
4. Texas
5. West Virginia
6. Kansas State
7. TCU
8. Texas Tech
9. Baylor
10. Kansas

Big Ten

Ohio State continues its dominance in the Big Ten through the first three weeks with quarterback Justin Fields playing nearly perfect football. The surprises, however, have been Indiana, which has defeated two ranked opponents in Penn State and Michigan, and Northwestern. Both teams are 3-0 to start the season and it’s the first time that both teams have started Big Ten play undefeated through the first three games.

This week wasn’t all positive, though, as Penn State lost its third game and Michigan dropped its second game in a row. Even though the conference has played only three games, there already has been quite a bit of separation within the conference.

1. Ohio State
2. Wisconsin
3. Indiana
4. Northwestern
5. Purdue
6. Iowa
7. Maryland
8. Michigan State
9. Michigan
10. Minnesota
11. Penn State
12. Rutgers
13. Nebraska
14. Illinois

Pac-12

If the Pac-12 expects to be part of the College Football Playoff discussion this season, the delayed start and the shortened schedule make it imperative for the conference’s preseason favorites to be the ones to challenge for inclusion.

It’s much more realistic for Oregon, which entered the season ranked No. 12, to convince the committee it is worthy of consideration than an upstart team that rises from outside of the top 25. From that standpoint, the Pac-12 had a decent opening week as Oregon and USC picked up key wins to start the year. USC needed a late comeback to get by Arizona State, but the Trojans will take it. Survive and advance.

1. Oregon
2. USC
3. Utah
4. Arizona State
5. Cal
6. Washington
7. Washington State
8. Colorado
9. Stanford
10. UCLA
11. Oregon State
12. Arizona

SEC

After what we saw on Saturday afternoon, there are no more questions about whether Florida is the second-best team in the SEC.

Georgia just wasn’t up to the task. The Bulldogs lost their starting quarterback before the season started, and while Stetson Bennett was a nice backup, he wasn’t the person to lead this team to the promised land. Injuries struck at exactly the wrong time and the defense, once thought to be the best in the conference, broke.

And to Florida’s credit, the Gators were right there to take advantage. In Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts, they possess one of the best quarterback-pass-catcher duos in all of college football. The defense has its issues, of course, but maybe it can be like LSU’s last season and get hot at the right time.

Who knows?

What we are pretty sure of is that barring a total collapse, we’re headed toward a meeting of Alabama and Florida in the SEC championship game in Atlanta on Dec. 19. There’s a lot of time between now and then, but it should be fun when it gets here.

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Texas A&M
4. Georgia
5. Auburn
6. Arkansas
7. Missouri
8. LSU
9. South Carolina
10. Ole Miss
11. Kentucky
12. Tennessee
13. Mississippi State
14. Vanderbilt

Group of 5/Independents

After 10 weeks, we have two teams from that group in the top 10 — No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 8 BYU. Both had convincing wins over the weekend, as Cincy dominated Houston and BYU blew by Boise State. Neither is showing signs of slowing down as they race toward a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Liberty had perhaps the wildest win of the weekend, watching a would-be blocked field goal return for a touchdown be thwarted by a Virginia Tech timeout. After getting another shot, Flames kicker Alex Barbir booted the 51-yarder through, and Liberty remains undefeated.

Everyone in our top 10 that played over the weekend — except the aforementioned Boise State — was victorious, and this week we welcome Appalachian State into the fray. The Mountaineers scored a three-touchdown win over Texas State and are off to a 5-1 start.

1. Cincinnati
2. BYU
3. Coastal Carolina
4. Liberty
5. Marshall
6. SMU
7. Boise State
8. Louisiana
9. Army
10. Appalachian State

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