It's time to figure out which teams really have something here

LSU-Mississippi State will not disappoint (0:33)

David Pollack will have his eye on Mississippi State's Larry Fitzgerald, a major dual-threat quarterback, that's expected to shine against LSU's defense. Pollack also looks to the Tigers' re-built offense and seeing what they can bring to the table. (0:33)

It's early.

No one wants to hear it, but it's true. Think about it: Two weeks into the college football season, what do we really know?

That Alabama deserves to be ranked No. 1? That defending champ Clemson remains the class of the ACC? That USC and Washington are primed to make a run out West? How about that the perennially overrated Big Ten still boasts four top-10 teams in Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State?

It's all so ... predictable.

At the risk of waxing poetic, knowing full well the danger of being overly dismissive, what we've seen the past two weeks is a lot of sound and fury, signifying mostly nothing.

Ohio State is not -- to borrow a Nick Saban phrase -- dead, buried and gone after losing at home to Oklahoma. Nor is Auburn, which, at the end of the day, lost a one-possession game on the road against a top-five team.

Conversely, no one should go casting their vote to make Lamar Jackson the first back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner since Archie Griffin just yet. If you didn't think Louisville's star quarterback would put up video-game numbers against objectively terrible defenses in Purdue and UNC, you weren't paying attention.

We're just getting started here.

Weeks 1 and 2 were essentially one long, run-on sentence in which the best you could hope for was one challenging opponent and one cupcake to learn from. Some didn't even try that. But now, as we get into the meat of the season, we'll start to see who the real contenders are.

Outside of Jackson and the Cardinals hosting Clemson, nowhere is that separation going to be more obvious than in the SEC, where, with a little luck, we'll begin to see who will challenge Alabama in the conference.

We won't bore you too much with No. 23 Tennessee's trip to No. 24 Florida other than to say that a) neither team deserves to be ranked in the top 25, and b) the losing team's head coach will wake up Sunday morning on the hot seat. But it has to be said that when you're in the SEC East, as they are, winning that perennially putrid division simply provides a path to face Alabama in the conference title game.

The real test will come, of all places, in Starkville, Mississippi, where unranked Mississippi State hosts the team that has spent the past decade building us up just to let us down: LSU.

Two weeks in, we essentially know nothing about these Fightin' Tigers.

Yes, the defense appears to be as suffocating as ever. And, yes, Ed Orgeron appears to have brought a new sense of energy to the building since replacing Les Miles. In terms of sheer talent, LSU's roster once again looks capable of standing side-by-side with Alabama.

But that offense -- the one that has long been the team's Achilles' heel, the one that seems to finally have an imaginative coordinator in Matt Canada -- has spent this season feasting on lesser competition in BYU and Chattanooga.

Mississippi State might not be a world-beater, but its defense will put Canada's creative play-calling to the test. Jeffery Simmons, Leo Lewis and that front seven should let us know whether Danny Etling is capable of running an offense that feeds off tempo, misdirection and taking plenty of shots downfield.

It won't be the be-all and end-all when it comes to LSU's hopes of unseating Alabama in the West, but it should be a good first step.

And right now, only a few weeks into the season, every meaningful step counts.

Week 3 stats quiz

Last-minute learning

USC is a team we expect to exhibit the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but as Ivan Maisel writes, second-year coach Clay Helton wanted a team that could line up and run the ball between the tackles.

Last year, Lamar Jackson had a coming-out party in a loss to Clemson. But David Hale points out that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is even better now.

Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver has always loved his hometown and being close to his family. For him, there has never been a question as to why he does this for Houston, Joel Anderson writes.

Emotions run hot when a team wins a game it isn't necessarily supposed to, and the celebrations for such victories can rub opponents the wrong way. Ryan McGee gives a brief (yet maddening) history of some of those events.