The college football season rarely follows the script that is late out during the summer, and the 2012 season is no exception, as upsets and injuries have already played a key role in shaping the rankings. Preseason Top 10 members USC and Arkansas each suffered surprising upsets in the first three weeks of the season, allowing several teams to climb the rankings to fill the void.
Perennial Big 12 powerhouse Texas has gotten off to a great start in 2012, and QB David Ash has quieted any whispers of a quarterback controversy in Austin with his exceptional play. They figure to contend for the conference title with both Oklahoma and West Virginia, as the Mountaineers have also climbed into the Top 10 behind the standout play of QB Geno Smith. The Pac-12 is again firmly in the control of Oregon, but Stanford has already upset Matt Barkley and the Trojans, and the Cardinal should not be dismissed simply because Andrew Luck is gone. The Clemson Tigers were without Sammy Watkins for the first two weeks of the season, but the offense performed without missing a beat, and the Tigers look like the biggest challengers to powerful Florida State in the always entertaining ACC race. Perhaps most surprisingly, Notre Dame survived its brutal opening schedule, and the Fighting Irish may have turned the corner in the third year under head coach Brian Kelly.
Of course, there are plenty of teams in the Top 10 that have solidified their standing at the top of college football. Current No. 1 Alabama has looked downright dominant so far, including a 52-0 thrashing of Arkansas in Week Three, and LSU has looked nearly as good at No. 2. Oregon, Florida State, Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina also got through the opening three weeks of the year unscathed, setting up huge games in their respective conferences later in the season. The season is far from over, but there have already been monumental shifts in the race to secure BCS tickets at the end of the year.