Oregon is the obvious No. 2, with more playmakers than Alabama but lacking heft along both fronts.
Oregon struggled early in its first away test, leading Washington State by only four points at the half. The Ducks won easily, 51-26, but flew back to Eugene as possibly the second best team its state.
Oregon State's Beavers scored a wild win at Arizona, 38-35, to improve to 3-0. Mike Riley's team moved up to No. 14 in the AP poll and boasts the much better portfolio.
Oregon State has two wins over ranked opponents: Wisconsin and UCLA.
Oregon State let a 17-0 lead slip away in Tucson before grabbing it back with 1 minute 9 seconds left on a nine-yard scoring pass from Sean Mannion to tight end Connor Hamlett.
"We are just growing immensely as a team," receiver Markus Wheaton, who had 10 catches for 166 yards, said of the team that finished 3-9 last year.
If Oregon State is truly back, we offer a program reminder that this year's Civil War is Nov. 24 in Corvallis.
Florida State struggled Saturday at South Florida but might have the best chance to go undefeated. The trouble ahead is at Miami and Virginia Tech and the season-ender at home against Florida.
LSU continues to baffle. The Tigers entered the season with perhaps more returning talent than anyone. Two straight subpar performances, though, are seemingly no way to prepare for this week's showdown at Florida.
LSU obviously didn't take Towson seriously.
"I think we were viewed as a little high school team," Towson defensive end Frank Beltre said after the game. "They called us Towsen, Towson State. They called us everything but what we are."
Towson's resiliency forced LSU to keep its starters in the game until the end, and that still didn't stop the visitors from marching down field for a touchdown like some power-formation team from the SEC East.
The Southeastern Conference still has half the teams in this week's top 10.
No. 5 Georgia struggled to hold off Tennessee in Athens and allowed the Volunteers 478 total yards. No. 6 South Carolina spotted crummy Kentucky a 17-7 lead before outscoring the Wildcats 31-0 in the second half.
Georgia plays at South Carolina in a big bake-off in the SEC East.
Florida sits at No. 10 and is well rested as it awaits LSU.
No. 7 Kansas State, cuddly as can be, still must be considered a longshot contender.
It's hard to take seriously a team that gives up 63 points at home … and still wins.
Notre Dame, Texas?
The ninth-ranked Irish have the schedule strength to make a run to the top, with defining games left against Miami, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC.
Texas is 4-0 but lucky to get out of Stillwater, 41-36, on Saturday. The Longhorns are getting better offensively as sophomore David Ash continues to mature. His signature moment so far was Saturday's fourth-down pass to D.J. Grant on Texas' game-winning drive.
Texas' defense, though, has not lived up to expectations. The Longhorns finished No. 11 nationally last year but are No. 63 this week after Oklahoma State gouged the unit for 576 yards.
"Lord knows we didn't do everything right," Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.
The Lord's Prayer may be in order this week: West Virginia coming to town.