College football's Marty McFly Rankings Week 3: And then there was one team from Florida left

College football's Marty McFly Rankings Week 3: And then there was one team from Florida left

In the race to get back, Miami can’t overcome Texas A&M, and the Pac-12 has a new entrant

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Florida State’s Camren McDonald celebrates with fans after a win over the Louisville Cardinals
Florida State’s Camren McDonald celebrates with fans after a win over the Louisville Cardinals
Image: Getty Images

Merriam-Webster has four different entries for “back,” but none of them apply to college football teams. So it’s left up to people like me to determine what “back” actually is. Being back to Miami is not the same as being back to Washington. Also, can you get back if you never technically got anywhere?

Here at the Marty McFly rankings, we use a scientific formula along the same lines of Doc Brown’s DeLorean — aka don’t think about it too much or it’ll ruin the whole thing — to determine who is back and by how much.

For example, Miami didn’t look terrible against Texas A&M if you go off of their past few non-conference games against ranked opponents. However, this is the U we’re talking about, and their standard is vastly higher than “Didn’t get run off the field.” Also, the Aggies’ loss to Appalachian State — who needed a Hail Mary to beat Troy on Saturday — and Miami coach Mario Cristobal’s apprehensive approach has to be a part of the evaluation.

Teams that are back don’t play for field goals, or let opponents get off the mat, and that’s why the Hurricanes dropped out of the McFly rankings. While the goal posts might not shift on the field, they do here, and since I have enough teams to round out a top five, and enough words to show up in the Google search as something that’s not a cheap aggregate, the Canes can go back to Coral Gables and think about what they’ve done — or get lost in the beautiful campus and not give a shit. Dealer’s choice.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled listicle.

Advertisement

2 / 7

5. No. 22 Texas Longhorns

5. No. 22 Texas Longhorns

Texas Longhorns
Image: Getty Images

Prepare yourself to see how long Texas can remain in the McFly zone off of a close loss to Alabama and injury losses. It was enough to overlook an oddly close game with UTSA. With less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Road Runners were still in the game after a field goal cut the Longhorns’ lead to 24-20.

A pick-six and a Bijan Robinson score ended any hopes of an upset, and UT got out relatively unscathed save for dropping a spot in the AP Poll. However, the defense yielded more yards to the Road Runners (408) than they did to the Tide the week prior (374), and lost the time of possession battle by 13 minutes. Hudson Card is going to be asked to lead the offense for a few more weeks until Quinn Ewers returns, and in theory, will face better programs than UTSA before the all-important Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma.

Advertisement

3 / 7

4. No. 18 Washington Huskies

4. No. 18 Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies football
Image: AP

I know, I know, I know. You’re saying, “Sean, the Huskies were never a college football dynasty.” They did split a national championship in 1991, and U-Dub smashing a No 11-ranked Michigan State team, 39-28, is enough to count as a return to form. (Sparty scored two late TDs to make the final look a lot better than it was.)

Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has a 10-1 TD-int ratio, and the Huskies have a favorable Pac-12 schedule free of No. 7 USC and No. 13 Utah. The toughest regular season test remaining is a visit to rival Oregon.

Sorry, I feel like I have to further justify UW as a program worthy of being back. May I present to you their 2016 season when they made the College Football Playoff, the only Pac-12 team other than the Ducks to earn a CFP bid. I’m not sure if that helps or hurts my cause, but I’m just going to pretend that it helps.

Advertisement

4 / 7

3. Florida State Seminoles

3. Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles defeat Louisville Cardinals
Image: Getty Images

Still unranked in the AP Poll despite being a mainstay in the McFly Rankings, Florida State came extremely close to losing a Friday night showcase in Louisville, 35-31. After starter Jordan Travis left the game due to injury, the ’Noles had to rally behind backup QB Tate Rodemaker, receiver Johnny Wilson, and running backs Treshaun Ward and Trey Benson.

The two backs combined for 196 yards on 20 carries, and Wilson added 149 yards on seven catches, including the game-winner at the 7:54-minute mark in the final quarter. The game should’ve been less worrisome as Florida State’s next drive ended with a missed field goal at the Cardinal’s 18-yard line, forcing the defense to get a stop to seal the win.

Travis’ status is up in the air for this week’s matchup against Boston College. Even though the Eagles are 1-2 and 16.5-point dogs on the road, the Seminoles have already proven themselves susceptible to any opponent.

Advertisement

5 / 7

2. No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers

2. No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers celebrate win
Image: Getty Images

Josh Heupel’s squad continued to gain momentum after Week 2’s OT win over Pitt with a 63-6 beat down of Akron. The pace of play for the Vols has been able to overwhelm lesser opponents with ease, and even looked effective against the Panthers for half a game. One could say that this week’s game against rival Florida is the largest contest thus far for Tennessee, and that would be the case if Florida didn’t spend the past couple of weeks regressing.

Regardless of how inept the Gators looked against South Florida — Anthony Richardson, what the fuck, man — the Vols fans I know will continue to roll their eyes until UT shows up in conference play. Florida is trending downward, and what’d I say about good programs letting an opponent off the mat? Yeah, they don’t do that. Hendon Hooker has been dynamic in leading the Tennessee offense, and, with a win, he’ll be in line for bouquets similar to what Richardson received after beating Utah only three weeks ago. This is the afternoon game on CBS, and it’ll be the first time since 2016 that the longtime SEC foes will face off as ranked opponents.

Advertisement

6 / 7

1. No. 7 USC Trojans

1. No. 7 USC Trojans

USC Trojans football team continues to win
Image: Getty Images

Another week, another win for USC. Continuing his Heisman pursuit, Caleb Williams accounted for four scores against Fresno State in a 45-17 win. The defense continued its opportunistic play, forcing two turnovers. The Trojans have yet to give the ball away this year, garnering a 10-0 turnover margin, which speaks to Lincoln Riley and Williams really being in lockstep with one another, and a defense that’s making the most of its opportunities. This piece is meant to be largely facetious as getting back is rarely, if ever, a one-year process, but USC is leaps ahead of the rest of this list.

The only legitimate concern is the defense. Its 380 yards allowed per game ranks 82nd in the country, and they’re going to concede a lot more than their current 20 points per game if the 5.6 yards per play isn’t improved.

Corvallis has been the site of massive USC upsets before, and Oregon State’s offense is humming this year en route to a 3-0 record. The Beavers are tallying 45 points and 468 yards per outing albeit against easy competition. That said, their confidence hasn’t taken an L yet. USC will find itself in a close game eventually, and it will need to get a stop via downs, not turnover. When that happens, and what will happen, has yet to be seen.

Advertisement

7 / 7