Georgia is approaching 2014 Florida State levels of sleepwalking. Michigan is 0-for-3 in the "playing to projections" department. Ohio State has looked like full-on Ohio State once in three games. Alabama's offense stinks out loud. It's hard to completely trust Texas or Florida State yet. Oklahoma and Washington have looked great against mostly bad teams. USC hasn't had a chance to prove that its defense has improved.
Three weeks into the 2023 season, it's almost impossible to know whom to trust. Some of the most typically reliable teams have yet to shift out of third gear, and per Total QBR, Washington's, Texas A&M's, Miami's and Duke's quarterbacks rank higher than any of Ohio State's, Michigan's, Georgia's or Alabama's. Meanwhile, Syracuse has looked awesome, Rutgers has looked good, and Auburn is the only remaining unbeaten Iron Bowl team.
It's been weird. Weird is good. But on the off chance that normalcy returns soon, let's both commemorate and rank the 39 remaining unbeaten teams. (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 have terrible opinions and overreact. For instance, I'm really overreacting to what Washington has done so far this year.)
1. Washington (3-0)
SP+ and FPI rankings: 8th and 11th, respectively
SP+ strength of schedule to date: 74th
Odds of reaching 12-0, per SP+: 5.5%
What they did in Week 3: def. Michigan State 41-7
Why they're ranked here: Honestly, I'm going with my gut here, and my gut's wrong quite frequently. But Washington has played two SP+ top-60 teams so far -- not amazing, but more than most at this stage of the season -- and exceeded projections by more than 20 points in both games. Michael Penix Jr. is posting downright disgusting stats (444 passing yards per game, 11.5 yards per dropback), and we're still learning about the team's ceiling, especially on defense. I don't know how long this will last, but the Huskies have been the best team of 2023.
SP+ top 10 if preseason projections were removed*:— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) September 17, 2023
2 Ohio State
4 Notre Dame
9 Ole Miss
* I don't remove them because priors are extremely predictive. But I like checking in on this list sometimes.