Picking the conference champs after Week 3

Clemson shines in first road test (0:50)

Going to Louisville and challenging the defending Heisman Trophy winner, Kelly Bryant and the No. 3 Clemson Tigers deliver a strong performance. (0:50)

With Week 3 of the college football season in the books, is it time to adjust your preseason predictions?

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay take a look at each of the Power 5 conferences and agree on only the ACC and SEC, where Clemson and Alabama are already proving to be very hard to stop.


Mel Kiper: Clemson

The Clemson offense hasn't completely sold me yet, but the Tigers' defense is just too good. I had hoped Louisville would put up a bigger fight on Saturday night, but Lamar Jackson didn't get a lot of help from his offense. Clemson is too solid on defense to give up many points, even if the offense has some growing pains. And it gets Georgia Tech and Florida State at home toward the end of the season (when the offense will have had more games together). The Tigers' toughest game could be at Virginia Tech at the end of this month.

Todd McShay: Clemson

I was really impressed with Saturday night's 47-21 win over Louisville, especially coming off a physical game the previous week against Auburn. Kelly Bryant's passing efficiency has been very promising. And that defense is quite formidable. I like Virginia Tech as a sleeper behind Bud Foster's stout defense.

Big 12

Kiper: Oklahoma State

This came down to Bedlam for me, and we could get two Bedlam games this season. Seriously. The first matchup is Nov. 4, and the teams will meet in the first (new) Big 12 title game in Arlington, Texas, in December if they're 1-2 in the Big 12 standings, which is a strong possibility. The Sooners have the better road win this season, but this comes down to the schedule -- OU has to play at OSU. And I think the Cowboys have the better offensive weapons -- that receiving corps is loaded. Both quarterbacks are fantastic, and I'll be watching on Nov. 4 (and potentially on Dec. 2).

McShay: Oklahoma

The Sooners are the most complete team in the Big 12 and Baker Mayfield (my No. 9-ranked QB coming into the season) has had a terrific start. Oklahoma's defense is playing to its talent level.

Big Ten

Kiper: Ohio State

I'm sticking with my preseason pick, though this is the toughest conference to predict because Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin all look like legitimate contenders. I do think the Badgers will take the Big Ten West, so let's focus on the East. Ohio State gets Penn State at home, Michigan on the road and doesn't have to face the Badgers. Michigan has to travel to Penn State and Wisconsin and plays Ohio State at home. Penn State gets Michigan at home but has Ohio State on the road (and doesn't face Wisconsin). So the schedule favors the Buckeyes slightly. And they have enough talent to beat any team in the country if they're on.

McShay: Penn State

Behind Saquon Barkley's running and an improved defense, Penn State is my pick here. Trace McSorley is underrated and keeps improving. I like his mobility and playmaking skills. You can't count out Ohio State, and I'd take Michigan as a potential sleeper if Wilton Speight were playing better.


Kiper: Washington

The Pac-12 is another tough one. There are still seven undefeated teams. The Huskies haven't really been tested yet but will get a tough game at Colorado this weekend. They get UCLA, Oregon and Washington State all at home, however, which means I'm sticking with another preseason pick here. Washington has the most NFL talent in the conference.

McShay: USC

Sam Darnold is simply a special player. He's my top-ranked QB and just finds a way to get the job done, making some spectacular throws along the way. This Trojans team is much more physical under Clay Helton than the past couple of seasons. Oregon and Washington are two teams to keep an eye on.


Kiper: Alabama

Unlike picking the Big Ten and Pac-12, this one's easy. I don't see any offense in the SEC that will worry Bama. Not Auburn, not LSU, not Tennessee, not Texas A&M. Mississippi State is intriguing after it routed LSU on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have to play at Vanderbilt this weekend, and the Commodores have a stout defense. Still, Alabama might have played its toughest game of the season in Week 1, and it shut down Florida State.

McShay: Alabama

Jalen Hurts is the key for Alabama. At some point, the Crimson Tide will need him to deliver as a passer. He's the biggest question mark for this team. Remember that Bo Scarbrough will likely get turned loose later this season, and he's a beast at RB. That secondary is loaded with talent as well.

Prospects on the rise

Kiper: QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph made my recent Big Board at No. 25, but he could move up a few spots in my next update after he and the Cowboys rolled over Pitt on the road. He was 23-of-32 passing for 497 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.

Everyone knows he has a good arm, but he showed one of his underrated skills against the Panthers: buying time in the pocket. That shows off his athleticism -- Rudolph is not a stiff pocket passer. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, he sees the field well and has good mechanics. Rudolph also doesn't make many mistakes -- he had only four interceptions on 448 attempts last season. The game against Pitt was start No. 31 for him at Oklahoma State, and he has continued to improve throughout his career. Rudolph could have entered the draft after last season and been picked near the end of Day 2, but he's in the first-round discussion for 2018.

McShay: WR Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech

Phillips broke the school's single-game record with 14 receptions, to go along with 189 yards and three scores. He was the No. 3 wideout last year, but has emerged as a strong No. 1 target for redshirt freshman QB Josh Jackson.

Almost famous

Kiper: WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

The former walk-on was tremendous in the Tigers' upset win over UCLA, with nine catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns. That follows a 2016 season in which he had 95 receptions for 1,434 yards and 14 TDs. He is impressive in the clutch, can adjust to poorly thrown balls and tracks the ball well. And he's great after the catch. Miller never slowed down against the Bruins. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, he doesn't have great size, but he has a decent wingspan. If Miller tests well at the Senior Bowl and combine, he could be a Day 2 pick next year. He's Memphis' best receiving talent since Isaac Bruce, who was picked in the second round in 1994.

McShay: QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond

It was only against Howard, but I was impressed by what I saw from Lauletta on Saturday. He was 24-of-27 for 290 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs in the win. The 89 percent completion percentage was the highest by a Division I player (FBS or FCS) with at least six touchdowns and no interceptions since 2012 (when USC's Matt Barkley completed 95 percent of his passes in a six-TD performance against Colorado),