College football poll: CFP, Heisman, other picks from FOX staff after three weeks


Here at FOX Sports, we really love college football.

And we’re not just talking about those who are in the thick of it on a daily basis. From NBA writers to graphic designers, from editors to programmers and everyone in between, we’re all fans of the sport.

That’s where the idea for this feature came into play. We surveyed the FOX Sports staff for their thoughts, predictions and favorite moments so far.

Roughly a quarter of the way through the season, a couple of themes have emerged: We really like Georgia (who doesn’t?), we’re excited about C.J. Stroud and we absolutely adore the weekly circus that is Appalachian State.

We’ll check in later in the season for an update and to see if things change. Here are the results so far.

What are your top four College Football Playoff picks in order after three weeks?

Note: We awarded five points for a first-place vote, four points for second place, three for third place and two for fourth place.

1. Georgia (89 points)
2. Ohio State (61)
3. Alabama (59)
4. Oklahoma (15)

Also receiving votes: Michigan (14), USC (6), Clemson (6).

“For me, Georgia can occupy all four spots. As much as I’m a proponent of the 12-team playoff and can’t wait to see it in action, this is not a season for which we need it. This season could be decided under the rules and regulations of the old-school Bowl Alliance as even AP voters couldn’t mess up who the best team in the country and national champion is after Week 3 — U-G-A.” RJ Young, College Football Analyst

“The Bulldogs look like the most dominant team in the country. And Alabama should’ve lost at Texas two weeks ago, but until somebody beats them …” Ralph Vacchiano, NFC East reporter

“There are three elite programs and a half-dozen gunning for that fourth spot. Oklahoma and Michigan are strong contenders, but USC’s schedule is more favorable for a CFP run.” Bryan Fischer, College Football Writer

Georgia & the Stetson Bennett experience

The No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs crushed South Carolina, 48-7, as Stetson Bennett threw for 284 yards. RJ Young reacts to the game.

Who are your top three Heisman candidates in order?

Note: We awarded five points for a first-place vote, four for second place, three for third.

1. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (76 points)
2. Caleb Williams, QB, USC (41)
3. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (40)

Also receiving votes: Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia (34); Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (7); Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (6); Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma (4); Will Anderson, LB, Alabama (4); Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia (4).

“It is hard to list Young second given that he’s the incumbent and is just so creative and poised in clutch situations, but the precision from Stroud despite the turnover at receiver is undeniable.” Rob Rang, NFL Draft analyst

“These past muster, but keep your eye on Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed for over 200 yards against Colorado and has put together 12-straight 100-yard rushing performances dating back to 2019.” — RJ Young 

“Laugh if you want, but Stetson Bennett keeps making impressive plays, and he’s quarterbacking a team that looks invincible through three weeks. That’s a recipe for Heisman success. David Helman, Dallas Cowboys reporter

“[Georgia tight end Brock] Bowers is easily the best position player around right now.” — Bryan Fischer

Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud DOMINATES Toledo

C.J. Stroud put on a clinic against the Toledo Rockets, passing for 367 yards and five touchdowns.

What is the most surprising team so far?

The pick: Kansas Jayhawks

Also receiving votes: Oklahoma, Washington, Michigan, Kentucky, Clemson, USC and Notre Dame (in a bad way).

“The ‘basketball’ schools! Sorry if that offends you, Mark Stoops. That being said: North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and Indiana are a combined 18-0 on the season! Now that’s something nobody could have seen coming.” John Fanta, College Basketball Writer

“Kansas! But, as Nate Diaz famously said, ‘I’m not surprised.’ I’ve been way ahead on Lance Leipold turning around KU — dating back to May 2021 when he was hired — and he’s got the Jayhawks off to their first 3-0 start since 2009.” — RJ Young

“It’s not that Kansas has taken a step forward under Lance Leipold, it’s that they’re legitimately a tough out with an explosive offense and real belief around Lawrence that something special is brewing with the Jayhawks.” — Bryan Fischer  

“Notre Dame, for all the wrong reasons. The Fighting Irish started the season as the No. 5 team in the country and were competitive against Ohio State. Then they lost their home opener to Marshall and were a nail-biter Hail Mary away from going to overtime against Cal. This is not what we expected out of Marcus Freeman’s team, but there’s still time to turn the season around.” Laken Litman, College Football Writer

The secret to Lance Leipold’s success

Joel Klatt praises the Kansas Jayhawks’ 3-0 start and explains how Lance Leipold’s program rebuild is starting to pay dividends.

Who is the most surprising player so far? 

The pick: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Also receiving votes: Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma; Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia; Blake Corum, RB, Michigan; Drake Maye, QB, UNC; Spencer Sanders, QB, Oklahoma State.

“I expected [Penix] to be good, but he arguably should be a top-five Heisman candidate at this point. He was brilliant against Michigan State.” — Rob Rang

“We knew [Penix] was talented. That’s not surprising. But a 397-yard performance and four touchdowns against Michigan State? Eye-opening.” — John Fanta

“Drake Maye, UNC. The freshman leads the country in TD passes and is completing 74% of his passes. The Tar Heels’ offense hasn’t skipped a beat after losing Sam Howell and might actually be better with Maye.” — Bryan Fischer

“Surprise might not be the best word, because we know [Dillon] Gabriel is a good player. But I’m not sure I was expecting the Sooners’ offense to look that good against Nebraska.” — David Helman

Who has been the best coach so far?

The pick: Kirby Smart, Georgia

Also receiving votes: Lincoln Riley, USC; Lance Leipold, Kansas; Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss; James Franklin, Penn State; Nick Saban, Alabama; Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; Dan Lanning, Oregon; Mark Stoops, Kentucky.

“Smart looks every bit like he’ll be running it back at Georgia after securing the program’s first national title in over 40 years.” — RJ Young

“Kirby Smart. To lose that many NFL draft picks and still be rolling up competition has been impressive.” — Rob Rang

“Lance Leipold from Kansas — he has the Jayhawks at 3-0 and atop the Big 12 standings, albeit early.” — Laken Litman 

“Penn State’s James Franklin. The Nittany Lions play hard and smart, and they’ll be tough to beat in the Big Ten, even against more talented teams.” — Ralph Vacchiano

“Every answer to ‘best coach’ is always Nick Saban.” — Bryan Fischer

What has been the best game this season? 

The pick: Alabama 20, Texas 19

Also receiving votes: Marshall’s upset of Notre Dame, Pitt’s win over West Virginia, Florida State’s win over LSU, Houston’s 3OT win over UTSA, Florida’s win over Utah and literally every Appalachian State game.

“Before a record-breaking 105,000-plus crowd at Darrell K Royal Stadium. I’d been shoveling coal into the furnace on the locomotive that reads ‘Texas Is Back’ for eight months, and the Longhorns have made your man look good.” — RJ Young

“Texas really might have knocked off No. 1 Alabama if it hadn’t been for reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Longhorns’ coach Steve Sarkisian referred to him as Houdini and for good reason, as the Bama QB made two incredible plays in the fourth quarter to clinch a Crimson Tide win. This included his falling back touchdown throw and then evading a sack and sprinting for a 20-yard gain.” — Laken Litman

“That stage. That atmosphere. Those brands. It was a phenomenal watch and finish.” — John Fanta

Highlights: Alabama edges Texas

Check out highlights from the Alabama Crimson Tide’s thrilling 20-19 victory over the Texas Longhorns in Austin, Texas.

What has been the wildest moment so far this season?

The pick: Appalachian State’s Hail Mary win over Troy

“Is it cheating to just say Appalachian State’s entire season? Losing 63-61 in the opener was arguably their least-insane game so far. That’s what happens when you knock of Texas A&M and beat Troy on a Hail Mary in a one-week span.” — David Helman

“The Mountaineers had no right to win that game, and not only did they in the waning moments of the game in Boone, but quarterback Chase Brice was also found helping fans down from stadium seats so they might rush the field.” — RJ Young

“On top of being one of the craziest Hail Mary attempts we’ve seen, the lead-up of an intentional safety and squib kick to set it all up make for a finish that was truly incredible to see.” — Bryan Fischer

Also receiving votes: Appalachian State beating Texas A&M, Herm Edwards appearing to be fired on the field after Arizona State’s loss.

Appalachian State’s IMPOSSIBLE HAIL MARY

The Appalachian State Mountaineers pick up a gritty 32-28 victory against the Troy Trojans, thanks to Chase Brice’s 53-yard TD pass to Christian Horn as time expired.

Honorable mention: D-III Trinity beating Wheaton on a blocked PAT in overtime.

“My son plays at Trinity.” Ric Bucher, NBA Writer.

What’s the best conference?

The pick: SEC

Also receiving votes: Big Ten, Big 12

“Is there an answer other than the SEC? They have five teams in the top 11 and eight in the top 25.” — Laken Litman

“There may be some statistics out there that suggest otherwise, but in terms of raw talent and likelihood of playing for it all, the SEC reigns supreme.” — Rob Rang

“The Big Ten East went 20-1 through the first three weeks of the season. It’s the first time a B1G division has begun the season with six out of seven teams undefeated.” — RJ Young

“The top of the SEC and Big Ten are better, but no league is as tough top-to-bottom as the Big 12 has been so far. Kansas is no longer a pushover, Iowa State is one of five undefeated programs and both Bedlam teams are threats to make the CFP.” — Bryan Fischer


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