Scott Hamilton: Fun and games for most of Top 25

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Former Winston-Salem Journal columnist and ESPN Triad host Scott Hamilton is one of 61
voters in the Associated Press college football poll. Here’s how his Week 3 ballot shook out.

Staring contest: More than half of my ballot didn’t budge. Thirteen teams maintained last
week’s position, including No. 1 Alabama. I also had a tough time gauging the teams that had
games canceled because of Hurricane Irma, so I chose to leave them in place until they can
provide a larger sample size. The other teams that didn’t move were primarily because they
didn’t impress enough in defeats of overmatched opponents.

Rock, paper, scissors: Oklahoma’s 31-16 win at then-No. 2 Ohio State created some
shuffling at the top of my ballot. The Sooners jumped up three spots to No. 3 while Clemson
is now ranked second by virtue of its 14-16 win over Auburn. I had Southern Cal third on last
week’s ballot and the Trojans picked up a big win by beating Stanford, 42-24. But the
Sooners had the most impressive win so far this season and Clemson’s defense — which
rolled up 11 sacks — was awesome.

Tag: Washington and Penn State looked impressive in wins over Montana and Pittsburgh,
respectively. Yet both the No. 5 Huskies and No. 6 Nittany Lions would be on the outside
looking in if the four-team College Football Playoff field were announced today. Of course the
release of the first of six CFP rankings is still several weeks away.

I spy: UCLA is on my ballot at No. 24 after beating Hawaii, 56-23, a win during which
quarterback Josh Rosen completed 22 of 25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns.

Kick the can: Notre Dame wasn’t on my preseason ballot before breaking through at No.
24 last week. However, the Irish are again absent after losing to Georgia, 20-19, in South
Bend, Ind.

Keep away: Lamar Jackson has to be the most underrated returning Heisman Trophy
winner in history. Yet all the Louisville quarterback has done is account for more than 1,000
yards and eight touchdowns as the Cardinals have started 2-0. Jackson, a junior, completed
25 of 39 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns during Louisville’s 47-35 win at North
Carolina. He also ran for 139 yards and three touchdowns against the Tar Heels and has only
one turnover so far this season.

Toy chest: The Pac-12 is the alpha conference, with newbie UCLA giving the league six
teams on my ballot. There are five teams each from the ACC and SEC, while the Big Ten and
Big 12 have four teams each. Still it’s tough to quantify which league is actually the best at
this point. The Pac-12 has two teams breathing rare air in No. 4 USC and No. 5 Washington,
yet the other four squads barely make the cut and are bundled between 20 and 24. All of the
ACC teams are ranked 18th or better, though there is a huge gap between No. 2 Clemson
and its league brethren that are in the middle of the rankings. And all four of the Big Ten
teams are top-10 squads. That indicates the top of that conference is really, really strong, but
the rest of the league leaves something to be desired. South Florida, at No. 15, remains the
only Group of 5 team to crack the list.
This week’s rankings (preseason ranking):
1. Alabama (1)
2. Clemson (4)
3. Oklahoma (6)
4. Southern Cal (3)
5. Washington (5)
6. Penn State (8)
7. Michigan (7)
8. Oklahoma State (9)
9. Ohio State (2)
10. Wisconsin (10)
11. LSU (11)
12. Georgia (15)
13. Florida State (13)
14. Louisville (14)
15. Virginia Tech (16)
16. Kansas State (20)
17. Auburn (12)
18. Miami (18)
19. South Florida (19)
20. Stanford (14)
21. Washington State (21)
22. Colorado (22)
23. TCU (23)
24. UCLA (NR)
25. Florida (25)
You can follow Scott Hamilton on Twitter: @ScottH_Sports