Home FQ’s Week 3 College Football Tiers

FQ’s Week 3 College Football Tiers

by CJ Olson

Photo courtesy of Minnesota athletics

Special thanks to tiermaker.com for being a free, online tier maker.

For anyone that would like to participate and share with us their own personal tier list, the template to make it can be found here.

Each week, this tier list will be updated based on how they play each of their opponents. A loss does not necessarily mean a drop, and a win does not necessarily mean an increase. In some rare instances, the opposite might apply.

Note: teams are alphabetized in each tier, not ranked. This is a stratification exercise, not a ranking exercise.

Fair warning, there are some logos that show up too darkly or do not fit properly. We tried to find the best logo for each team possible.

To see past tier ratings, you can find the spreadsheet for each of them here.

Tier 1

Alabama, Georgia

Another close call for Oklahoma where it saw Adrian Martinez outplay Spencer Rattler is grounds to knock down a team that was already on watch.

Close to dropping to Tier 2: None, unless either lose convincingly

Tier 2

Cincinnati, Clemson, Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma (-1), Oregon

Ohio State let a Tulsa team stick around when it should’ve waltzed by.

Clemson also escaped with a win against a Georgia Tech team that lost to Tier 7 Northern Illinois. Make no mistake about it, Clemson is getting to stay in Tier 2 after that game because of Coach Dabo Swinney’s history and pedigree.

Ultimately talent won out for both Ohio State and Clemson, but both of these teams look nothing like the powerhouses of the last seven or eight-plus years.

Oregon’s win against Fresno State looks better and better.

Iowa continues to win convincingly with a lack of dynamic offense.

Cincinnati got over the first hurdle of a road test against Indiana, and will head to South Bend to face Notre Dame.

Close to rising to Tier 1: None for now; Oregon and Oklahoma are closest.

Close to dropping to Tier 3: Clemson and Ohio State, but especially Clemson. It has one more regular season game against a team currently in Tier 4 or better, NC State, for the rest of the season. Any more close calls and Clemson will be in Tier 3.

Tier 3

Arkansas (+1), BYU (+1), Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame (+1), Ole Miss, Penn State, Texas A&M (-1), Wisconsin

We’re sorry to Penn State. The Nittany Lions are right on the edge of Tiers 2 and 3, and might be a Tier 2 team.

But we’re not high enough on Sean Clifford to be willing to move the Nittany Lions up, so long as they continue to average 3.8 yards per carry on the ground.

Perhaps Clifford has turned a corner; he did look great against Auburn.

Between the Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 matchups vs. Indiana and at Iowa, we’ll know if Penn State deserves to be higher.

Arkansas and BYU continue to steadily rise in the rankings.

Notre Dame also finally handled a team that it should’ve.

Texas A&M, on the other hand, fell because it narrowly got by a Colorado team that was shutout at home, 30-0, against Minnesota.

This Saturday, the Aggies will have the perfect opportunity to separate themselves from the upstart Razorbacks.

If the winner of that game wins by more than a touchdown, they will be moved into Tier 2.

Close to rising to Tier 2: Winner of Arkansas/Texas A&M, Penn State

Close to dropping to Tier 4: BYU, loser of Notre Dame/Wisconsin

Tier 4

Appalachian State, Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Coastal Carolina, Fresno State, Iowa State, Liberty, Memphis (+1), Michigan State (+1), Minnesota (+1), Mississippi State, NC State, Oklahoma State (+1), TCU, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech (-1), West Virginia (+1)

Virginia Tech is the lone team to drop into Tier 4, but five teams have jumped from Tier 5 into the fourth tier.

Even though Oklahoma State has not looked particularly convincing in any of its games, a win over Boise State is still notable.

Appalachian State, Boise State, Coastal Carolina, Fresno State, Liberty, and Memphis are all Group of 5 teams that have been solid thus far, and a few of them are a couple good games away from a bump into the next tier.

Close to rising to Tier 3: Fresno State, Iowa State, Texas

Close to dropping to Tier 5: Auburn, Boise State, NC State

Tier 5

Air Force, Army, Baylor, Boston College, East Carolina (+1), Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech (+1), Indiana, Kansas State (+1), Kentucky (-1), Louisiana, Louisiana Tech (+1), Louisville, LSU, Marshall (-1), Maryland, Miami (-1), Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada (-1), Oregon State, Purdue, Rutgers, San Diego State, San Jose State, SMU, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas Tech (+1), Tulane (-1), UAB (+1), UCF (-1), Utah (-1), Utah State, UTSA, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington (+1), Western Kentucky, Wyoming (+1)

East Carolina made a heck of a comeback against Marshall to win 42-38, earning it a spot in Tier 5.

Likewise, Marshall completely collapsed down the stretch, knocking it out of Tier 4.

On the other hand, Louisiana Tech lost to SMU, 39-37, on a last-second Hail Mary. But to nearly pull off the upset as 12.5-point underdogs was reason enough to bump the Bulldogs up.

After their most recent contests, AAC compatriots Tulane and UCF both lost some of our confidence to move up a tier.

Close to rising to Tier 4: Indiana, Kansas State, UTSA, Washington

Close to dropping to Tier 6: Louisiana Tech, Nebraska, Rutgers, Wyoming 

Tier 6

Buffalo (+1), California (-1), Central Michigan, Colorado (-2), Colorado State (+2), Duke (+1), Hawaii, Houston, Illinois (+1), Kent State, Miami University, Middle Tennessee State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh (-1), Troy, Tulsa, Western Michigan (+1)

Colorado has dropped two tiers. After keeping it very close with Texas A&M, it looked like the Buffaloes were worthy of a Tier 4 spots.

But with a 30-0 loss to Minnesota, it was pretty clear that it deserved nothing to do with Tier 4.

The Buffaloes are averaging 14 points per game, but only 3.5 points per game against FBS opponents.

Colorado State, on the other hand, is rocketing in the right direction after its impressive 22-6 win over Toledo. That’s a win against a Toledo team that took Notre Dame to the wire.

Will the Rams stay on that path? That’s something we’ll be paying attention to as they travel to Iowa. They don’t need to win to avoid dropping back into the cellar; they just need to avoid getting blanked.

California only beat Sacramento State by 12 points, 42-30. That’s too close for our liking, so the Golden Bears were adjusted accordingly.

Close to rising to Tier 5: Houston, Pittsburgh

Close to dropping to Tier 7: Buffalo, Colorado, Colorado State

Tier 7

Ball State (-1), Charlotte, Eastern Michigan, Florida International (-1), Florida State (-1), Georgia Southern, Georgia State, New Mexico, North Texas (-1), Northern Illinois (-1), South Alabama (-1), South Carolina (-1), South Florida, Southern Miss, Temple, Toledo (-1), UTEP, Washington State (-1)

After sticking with SMU for a lot of their game, North Texas went and got dominated by UAB, losing 40-6.

Much like the Mean Green, Ball State also suffered a brutal loss to Wyoming, 45-12.

By this part of the tier list, there’s not a whole lot of positive things happening to talk about.

Close to rising to Tier 6: Florida State, Northern Illinois, South Carolina, Washington State

Close to dropping to Tier 8: Southern Miss, Temple, UTEP

Tier 8

Akron, Arizona (-2), Arkansas State (-2), Bowling Green, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana Monroe, Massachusetts, Navy, New Mexico State, Ohio, Old Dominion (-1), Rice, Texas State (-1), UNLV, Vanderbilt

A tier that started the season with just nine teams has already expanded to 16.

This certainly would be a fun thought experiment to consider who’d win this gross amalgamation of a 16-team super league.

Arizona looked like it might hold down the fort as a Tier 6, ‘below average but not cellar dweller,’ team, but by losing 21-19 to FCS opponent Northern Arizona, the Wildcats have found their new home for the time being.

Arkansas State plummets to Tier 8 after allowing 52 points to Washington. You’d have to combine their previous four games — dating back to Nov. 28, 2020 — to find 52 total points scored by Washington.

Close to rising to Tier 7: Maybe Navy, Ohio, maybe Old Dominion.

Bottom three, ranked from 128th to 130th: Still Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Mexico State