The Athletic

Ranking every college football team after Week 3: Washington is back on the rise

What a difference a year makes in Seattle.

A year ago around this time, Washington was 1-2 with losses to FCS Montana and Michigan in which the Huskies scored a combined 17 points. On Saturday, the Huskies scored 39 points in a dominating win over a Michigan State team ranked No. 1. 11 in the AP Poll. And the match was not as close as the final score of 39-28. Washington had 503 total yards and averaged 9.9 yards per pass. With the win to move to 3-0, the Huskies entered the top 25 in this week’s edition of Athleticism 131.

Washington’s fall off a cliff under former head coach Jimmy Lake en route to a 4-8 record last season was stunning because it happened so quickly. It was a program that won 32 games from 2016 to 2018 under Chris Petersen. Recruitment has gone relatively well and it is one of the best funded programs in the West. But the offense had become anemic.

Enter Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix Jr. DeBoer won pretty much everywhere he went. He’s 82-9 as a head coach, including a 67-3 streak at NAIA Sioux Falls from 2005 to 2009. He helped turn Indiana and Fresno State around as an offensive coordinator, then returned to Fresno State and produced a 9-3 record. in his second season as head coach.

Penix was electric as an Indiana quarterback when healthy, but suffered multiple injuries. He reunited with DeBoer in Seattle, and Washington football is fun again. In three games, he completed 66% of his passes for 359.7 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

Everyone canceled the Pac-12 after Week 1, but we might have to re-evaluate that. Washington is the main reason.

Here is the latest edition of Athleticism 131.

The only change in this group is USC’s move to No. 8 after a 45-17 win over Fresno State. Trojans sound like the best-case scenario under Lincoln Riley right now. The offense is electric. The defense showed holes (81st in yards per game), but they’re fourth in the nation with 10 takeaways. The trip to Oregon State this week will be an interesting test.

Michigan is a dominant 3-0 but has faced three of the worst teams in the country. A home game against Maryland this week will be the first time we can really begin to assess the Wolverines.

Polls have come in to put Georgia at No. 1. 1, and their Week 1 win over Oregon looks even better now after the Ducks’ dominating win over BYU.

11-25

Rank Crew Registration Previous

11

3-0

13

12

3-0

25

13

2-1

21

14

3-0

20

15

2-1

15

16

2-1

16

17

2-1

18

18

2-1

11

19

2-1

19

20

3-0

49

21

3-0

22

22

2-1

26

23

2-1

24

24

3-0

27

25

3-0

29

Penn State’s 41-12 win at Auburn quickly changed the outlook for what’s possible for this team. Auburn may not be a good team, but the Nittany Lions were able to run for 245 yards against a good front. Oregon’s aforementioned 41-20 victory at BYU suddenly makes the Pac-12 much better now to go with USC, Washington and Utah, who beat San Diego State 35-7.

Texas, Wake Forest and Ole Miss also enter the top 25. The Longhorns avoided a hangover in Alabama and pulled away from UTSA in the second half, Wake Forest held off Liberty and Ole Miss beat Georgia Tech 42 -0.

Polls have Utah ahead of Florida and Baylor ahead of BYU, and the Coaches’ Poll has Michigan State ahead of Washington. Why? I have no idea. In these rankings, when two teams are close, the winner of the head-to-head takes the advantage, especially three weeks after the start of the season.

I saw a lot of comments about Minnesota’s standings last week. It barely moved in the rankings as it faced two of the worst teams in the country and an FCS team. It’s the same reasoning with Michigan and with Ole Miss. It is neither negative nor positive. Sometimes you get surprised if someone else has a more impressive victory. Minnesota was no. 39 in my pre-season ranking and still sits there now. Beat Michigan State and he’ll probably be in the top 25.

North Carolina’s win over Appalachia State continues to look better, and the Mountaineers’ Hail Mary win over Troy coupled with Texas A&M’s win over Miami was also a boost. Maryland’s 34-27 win over SMU was a solid showing.

Kansas and Syracuse! KU is in the top 35 after a 3-0 start with road wins over West Virginia and Houston. Syracuse is 3-0 with wins over Louisville and Purdue. It’s not hard to see a 5-0 Orange start going into the NC State game. Tulane takes the biggest leap this week, from No. 110 in the top 50 after a win over Kansas State to move to 3-0. Notre Dame’s close escape from Cal coupled with Marshall’s loss to Bowling Green brings both teams down. Arizona’s 31-28 win over North Dakota State was an impressive underdog, and the Wildcats are officially a pretty good team.

Several teams have slipped into this group with losses — Purdue, Texas Tech, Houston, UTSA and Auburn — but there isn’t much movement otherwise. Indiana barely escaped Western Kentucky and Rutgers barely escaped Temple, but both are 3-0. Wyoming’s 17-14 victory over the Air Force took the Cowboys to 3-1, with the loss to Illinois.

Vanderbilt’s comeback victory at Northern Illinois to improve to 3-1 is a real sign of progress for the program. Rice’s 33-21 win over Louisiana was one of the most surprising results of the weekend. Eastern Michigan won at Arizona State, becoming the first MAC school to win a regular season game against the Pac-12. Northwestern followed up Ireland’s win over Nebraska with losses to Duke and FCS Southern Illinois at home.

Southern Alabama let slip a win at UCLA with a field goal when time expired, and Troy let App State win on a Hail Mary. Difficult losses. San Diego State is now 1-2 with two blowout losses to Pac-12 teams. Very quickly, it no longer resembles the Aztecs of old.

(Top photo by Michael Penix and Kalen DeBoer: Joe Nicholson/USA Today)

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