Ranking college football’s 33 unbeaten teams: Blue bloods, easy paths and stunners
- Bill Connelly is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
Week 3 of the college football season did little to disrupt the sport’s on-field hierarchy. The top eight teams in the AP poll won their games by an average score of 57-12, and the only two ranked teams that lost (BYU and Miami) did so on the road against other ranked teams (Oregon and Texas A&M). In that way, this was about as orderly a weekend as you’ll see.
Why did it feel so wild, then? Because of everything else. Teams on the rebound, such as Penn State, Washington, Oregon and LSU, dropped hints that those rebounds have picked up speed. Lots of games finished far away from the spread (Tulane upsetting Kansas State and UNLV blowing out North Texas, for example). And … well … certain teams just kept not losing.
Maybe the single wildest tidbit of this young season: Kansas, Duke, Rutgers, Indiana, Syracuse and Tulane all remain unbeaten. In football! Some of them have yet to score particularly impressive wins, but (a) some have, and (b) who cares??? Kansas, Duke, Rutgers, Indiana, Syracuse and Tulane are a combined 18-0!!! Only 25% of the FBS remains blemish-free after three weeks, and that group includes a number of underdog tales.
We celebrate these things while we can. Let’s both commemorate and rank the remaining unbeatens. (What criteria am I using for this? A combination of computer rankings and my own opinions. I tend to adhere mostly to what the numbers say, but I reserve the right to overreact to things.)
33. Coastal Carolina (3-0)
SP+ and FPI rankings: 70th and 92nd, respectively
SP+ strength of schedule to date: 118th
Odds of reaching 12-0, per SP+: 1.1%
What they did in Week 3: defeated Buffalo 38-26
Why they’re still unbeaten: The offense is still efficient. The Chanticleers are averaging 35.7 points per game and 6.8 yards per play, and they averaged 9.5 yards per play in their win over Buffalo. The reason Coastal won by only 12? Four lost fumbles.
Why they’re ranked here: The defense is giving up too many big plays (it is 93rd in defensive SP+), and while the Buffalo win was a nice step forward, Coastal was lucky to beat Gardner-Webb in Week 2. And while it survived 31-27, that’s a pretty hefty point deduction right there.
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