Published Monday, September 19, 2011 AT 1:18 AM / Updated at 4:47 PM
Sam McKewon’s Top 25, Week 3
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

My Associated Press top 25 for week three features a little bit of shakeup near the top the list thanks to Oklahoma’s gritty win at Florida State. The Seminoles still lack that great presence at quarterback to get over the top — and, yes, I say that knowing Christian Ponder was taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

LSU stays on top thanks to two solid wins — vs. Oregon and at Mississippi State on Thursday night — to OU’s one win. The Tigers head right back on the road at West Virginia next week.

Nebraska, No. 9 overall in the AP poll, moves up to No. 11 in my rankings. I liked the Huskers’ third-quarter grit in a 51-38 win over Washington.

Several newcomers make their way onto the list at the bottom of the top 25, including a service academy. Always good to see Navy running that wingbone triple option to perfection.

1. LSU: Loved the grit, speed and power of the Tigers’ defense in the second half in Starkville. LSU is really feeling it on that side of the ball right now.

2. Oklahoma: Ryan Broyles is Oklahoma’s second-best receiver. How do I know? Because it’s Kenny Stills that burned Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship, and Stills who burned FSU Saturday night. The real star of the game was OU’s ultra-aggressive defense. The Sooners are playing the run like a kid riding his bike downhill.

3. Alabama: Hosts Arkansas next week. I’ll be in some car to Laramie about then, sigh. The Tide’s running angry right now. Do they even need a passing game?

4. Boise State: Let Toledo hang around for a cup of coffee before Kellen Moore broke off the Rockets on his usual performance. This team isn’t coming close to losing this year. Not. Close.

5. Stanford: Andrew Luck skewering Arizona and Mike Stoops’ defense is the best after midnight show around. He’ll have a legion of fans in Kansas City here real soon, too.

6. Wisconsin: Smothered Northern Illinois 49-7 at Chicago’s Solider Field. The Badgers look like Nebraska once did in the 1970s. And they probably could’ve beaten the Bears on Sunday, the way those jokers blocked for Jay Cutler.

7. Arkansas: Only beat Troy 38-24, but the game was never seriously in doubt, considering the Razorbacks raced out to a 31-7 lead.

8. Texas A&M: Outgained Idaho 517-187 in a 37-7 win. Ryan Tannehill completed passes to nine different receivers.

9. Oregon: The Ducks punched around Missouri State 56-7. Creighton and Wichita State are next on the schedule.

10. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys had to wait three hours through a lightning storm to start their game vs. Tulsa. And it was a 9 p.m. start. On Fox Sports Net. Get used it, OSU fans, if you move to the Pac-Pick Your Number

11. Nebraska: Rose Bowl 2012? Isn’t that just weird to think about?

12. Florida: In a word: Speed. The Gators are going to be a tough, tough out after beating Tennessee 33-23. LSU and Alabama are warned.

13. Virginia Tech: Unimpressive in a 26-7 win over Arkansas State.

14. Florida State: Have to see more offense from these ‘Noles. Even before he got hurt, E.J. Manuel wasn’t exactly providing it against the Sooners.

15. South Florida: That win over Notre Dame, lucky as it may have been, looks pretty good today.

16. South Carolina: Snuck by Navy 24-21. But, to the Gamecocks’ credit, they probably don’t win a game like this three years ago.

17. Baylor: Lightning-shortened game was called in third quarter with Baylor leading 49-0 over Stephen F. Austin. Just as the Bears have a real chance to compete in the Big 12, it could dissolve.

18. USC: Beat Syracuse 38-17. The Trojans are going to be a sneaky ten-win team, you watch.

19. West Virginia: Beat Maryland 37-31 in a track meet. Hosts LSU next week in what will be a epic southern party of beads and flaming couches.

20. Clemson: Any team that overcomes a 14-0 deficit at high noon to whip Auburn 38-24 deserves a little credit, I think. Good-looking offense. Same old Clemson on defense.

21. Texas: So shoot me. UT’s well ahead of where I’d thought it’d be, which is at 1-2. Easy 49-20 win at UCLA.

22. Michigan: Ho-hum 31-3 win over Eastern Michigan. That’s what you call a “Brady Hoke” kind of win.

23. Notre Dame: So shoot me again. The Fighting Irish have played three quality teams, lost two heartbreakers, and beat the other, Michigan State 31-13. I don’t care. ND’s a top 25 team based on performance.

24. Navy: Gotta love that triple option attack.

25. Houston: Trailed Louisiana Tech 34-7, and came all the way back for a 35-34 win. But that 38-34 win over UCLA looks worse now.


TCU: Futzed around with Louisiana-Monroe for much too long before pulling away.

Michigan State: And the Spartans don’t get back in until they win a big one. They’ll have a few chances.

Ohio State: The offense is blech.

Auburn: The defense is blech.

Mississippi State: What would you call the Bulldogs’ second-half game plan vs. LSU? Zero yards and a chunk of grass?


Illinois: No. 27 behind TCU. Nice 17-14 win over Arizona State.

Miami (Fla.): In the conversation.

Georgia Tech: Racked up more than 700 total yards on Turner Gill’s Kansas defense.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.


  1. Old Timer says:

    To have a 2 loss team in the top 25 after 3 games is nuts. ND does not belong as demonstrated by all the other ballots. Crazy pick Sam and undeserved. Close only counts in horseshoes.

  2. Marv says:

    Are you freaking serious!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Why do people give Notre Dame so much credit. A loss is a loss. If it is only about the strenght of schedule I expect you to drop Boise State a few spots each week once their GPAC schedule starts.

  3. Marv says:

    I’m coming to terms with Sam’s out of this world Notre Dame ranking. I’ve got to believe that Sam is doing this for the Shock Jock effect and is looking for page hits and twitter followers. It won’t be long and he’ll be pimping his ballot on twitter and asking people to go to and start voting- good or bad for him. He knows the game and getting a large amount of bad votes results in angry fans who go to to see his reasoning. Not to mention, the more people comment on this page, the more they come back to see how others are responding….All counting towards his goal of page hits. Good job Sam, you ruined your credibility as an AP voter in exchange for a few page hits and twitter followers.

    1. Sam McKewon Sam McKewon says:

      I take my rankings pretty seriously, to be honest. Thanks for the feedback, however.

  4. Reed says:

    In the words of Bill Parcell’s “you are who you are and your record is who you are” ND is 1-2 with only a couple of “tough” opponents left in their now traditionally soft schedule, even Lou Hotz’s agrees with that, if they work their way back to 4-2 or 5-2 then maybe they should be considered under .500 after 3 games should eliminate the Irish until they prove they aren’t who they are.

    1. nick says:

      Anyone who says Notre Dame’s schedule is soft is either A) uninformed or B) a notre dame hater.

      How about you check last years SOS with college football teams and get educated.

  5. Every week it’s a beauty contest for College Football. Obviously most of us are only concerned about how the Huskers are looking in this contest. In my firm opinion the Huskers are no where as pretty as the polls say. The Husker defense is down right horrible! I had to check and see if Carl Pelini was still the Defensive Coordinator. The way this defense is playing I thought maybe Bo re-hired Kevin Cosgrove to replace his brother. The 2011 Husker defense is playing almost as bad as the 2007 Cosgrove coached defense did. If things do not change and change quickly you can bet any amount of money the Huskers will not be anywhere near the top 25 by December 1st.

    So far the Huskers are still in the Beauty Contest because the other contestants they have faced are simply uglier. But I see some pretty good looking teams in the Big 10 especially Wisconsin and Michigan. Right now the Badgers make the Huskers look dog ugly! The Beauty Contest will continue and the Huskers will look pretty for at least one more week to the pollsters. However, unless Bo and Carl can quickly find a way to doll this defense up the Huskers Big 10 debut will be a very disappointing one!

    1. Mike says:

      Everyone needs to relax about th Huskers! Beauty contest, maybe. But other than Wisconsin, they are no really “good looking teams” in the big 10. MIchigan? Are you serious? They are some jump balls away from losing to ND. Should Sam have ND rated? No, but Michigan is better than average team, not a good team. ND is a good team, with a very good offense(forget they are 1-2). Finally, the defense has been disappointing I agree. But they are not as bad as Florida Frenchie makes then out to be. Washington was a very impressive offensive team. Price, Polk and those receivers are the real deal…Just relax Husker fans, the secondary is very young and D-line will come together. Wisconsin will be a very tough test, but NU should win the rest of their games. The schedule set’s up well for Huskers. Take it one game at a time and enjoy the season and stop being so negative!

      1. Drew Meyer says:

        I couldn’t agree more Mike! Well said.

    2. Drew Meyer says:

      If you have been paying attention to the blogs over the past few years, this is the same story that happened the past few years. People complained about the defense after the first 3 or 4 games because they were “under-performing” according to the standards that you are basing off of the end of the previous season. The Huskers defense will be fine. They are having a slow start just as they have had in the past few years, and they are very young in the secondary. BUT they are very well coached and they are getting some great experience in these first few games. They will get their act together. Once Dennard gets back, we will have more talent and leadership back there and it will help things. I know a defense is more than one player, but his presence will be felt after a few games.

      I have seen this happen so many times, and people just get over critical and blab their mouths off (or fingers since they typed it) about how “horrible” the defense is. It is a new year and we cannot expect exactly what happened in previous years. But at the end of this year, people will be singing a completely different tune and praising the defense for their performances. And I will probably have to put up with reading this in the blogs next year as well.

      The Huskers will be fine. They will more than likely have 2 loses this season, which is very good. We have some of the most talented freshman in the country this year so the future looks very bright. GBR!

  6. Beano Cook, Lou Holtz and Regis Philbin says:

    I think you have Notre Dame ranked too high.

  7. Ted says:

    I’m not a ND fan, but the ranking is fair. ND has played 3 top 25 teams, lost two of them in the final minutes of the game and beat the other soundly. Like McKewon said, its the perfomance on the field. Honestly though, I don’t think you really know how good a team is until at least 5 games into the season. I am a Husker fan, and I think Nebraska is ranked too high. If they don’t fix their problems on defense, they are going to have a rough introduction into the Big 10 conference.

  8. Stephen Johnson says:

    Sam, I understand your logic with Notre Dame. While they are not my favorite team, quite the opposite, I think you have to give them credit for their performance. The current system gives team lots of credit for beating nothing teams, but no credit if they lose to a good team in a close match. Never made sense to me. Of course you are betting on the come. When they win out the rest of their games those two losses will look different in the rear view mirror. It they start losing to lesser teams, then will be the time to re-evaluate.

  9. ron frost says:

    Sam what are u smoking?!

  10. Really says:

    ND, this is why I pay little attention to the AP poll. Ridiculous, Ron Powlus for Heisman. Please tell me you dont get a vote in that too.

  11. Ted says:

    BTW Sam..if you’d rather stay home and watch the Alabama/Arkansas game instead of head to Laramie, I’ll be glad to take your press pass!! I’ll take notes for you on the NU/Wyoming game…….

  12. Matt Svoboda says:


    Based on performance they lost to two “pretty good teams” and beat another pretty good team. They are 1-2 against tems belonging in the 20-25 range and yet you put ND in at 23. That is why people think you are nuts. You are. based n performance there is no way ranking ND is justified. They even lost one of those at home.

  13. Marv says:

    Just checking back in to make sure it wasn’t a typo and I see Sam still has ND ranked. Absolutely crazy.

  14. Ted says:

    Everyone is complaining that Sam ranked ND #23 @ 1-2. Be thankful ND isn’t 3-0, he’d have them ranked #1 along with every other Poll in the country!

  15. Huskerguy21 says:

    Come on why take it so personally! Geez come on it’s only week 3. I’m not anotre dame fan but, they are nd so they get the benefit of the doubt. I dont think they’re good but we all know if they go 10-2 to finish they’ll be top 15 and 7-5 they will be ranked still., it’s early relax a like sheesh.