Well, my preseason No. 1, Alabama, has dropped in my rankings – not because the Tide lost or look shaky, but because Clemson has just been that impressive.

Give credit to Dabo Swinney.

For about the last, oh, decade, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have been the top two coaches in college football – and perhaps they still are. Swinney, though, has made a mighty good case for a Big Three. The guy is 3-1 in his last four games against Saban and Meyer and looks well on his way to playing for a third national title.

In short, Swinney is good. Really good. And this week’s rankings reflect that.

1) Clemson (3-0)

The Tigers held Gus Malzahn and Auburn without a touchdown and limited Lamar Jackson and Louisville to one touchdown through three quarters. That, my friends, is absurd. Comparing Kelly Bryant to Deshaun Watson after three starts is somewhere between premature and preposterous, but know this: the defense is championship-caliber. Best of luck to Boston College (1-2) this weekend.

2) Alabama (3-0)

Remain calm, Tide fans. Your team may still be the most talented in college football, but if we’re splitting hairs, glorified scrimmages against Fresno State and Colorado State count – and by “count,” I mean “count against you.” Look for Bama to roll this weekend at Vandy – and probably every weekend until the playoff. With the SEC once again looking like Nick Saban and the Nobodies, the Tide should once again have all of fall to prepare for their annual coronation in Atlanta.

3) Oklahoma (3-0)

Although legitimate questions remain about just how good Ohio State actually is, the Week 2 win in Columbus did wonders for Oklahoma – and the Big 12 in general. The Sooners, who play at 0-3 Baylor this Saturday and against Iowa State (2-1) next Saturday, should stroll into the Red River Rivalry a perfect 5-0.

4) Penn State (3-0)

The competition has been nothing to write home about, but the defense is allowing 4.7 points per game and has a pair of shutouts on the young season. We’ll learn more about Penn State this Saturday night in Iowa City, but for now, this is the best team in the Big Ten – and it ain’t close.


5) USC (3-0)

I still have my doubts about the Trojans, but to me, their double-overtime thriller said more about Texas than USC. The athletes are there, and so is Sam Darnold. When the ball is in his hands, you just expect something good to happen – and so far, it has. Cal (3-0) should provide a good test this Saturday.

6) Michigan (3-0)

Frankly, there are several teams I could put here, but I’m going with Michigan for two reasons: one, they have the best win (Florida) of all the other candidates, and two, Oklahoma State plays in the Big 12. I’m on board with Oklahoma, but two Big 12 teams in the top six? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Tony Meale is a Chicago-based author, journalist, and content creator who uses words to inform, educate, entertain, and inspire. A Cincinnati native, he has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Louis University and a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He began his career as a high school sports reporter before writing and publishing 2012’s “The Chosen Ones: The Team That Beat LeBron,” a behind-the-scenes look at the greatest sports story never told. He’s been creating written and spoken content ever since.

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