With week one now in the books, there isn’t a tremendous amount of change in the rankings, as only three teams lost, and they all lost to other ranked teams (according to the AP Poll; two of the three lost to ranked teams in my previous ranking). However, some teams looked better than others in their openers, with many teams winning by wide margins over mismatched competition, and others playing a closer game than expected.
1. Florida State (1-0, Last Week: 1st)
The defending national champions proved they are human on Saturday, struggling to a 37-31 win over unranked Oklahoma State. The Cowboys proved they are better than anyone thought they were, and have a chance to be 7-1 heading into the gauntlet of their schedule. The ‘Noles are younger than they were last year, and it showed, with a bit of tentativeness on both sides of the ball. However, unlike most of their regular season wins a year ago, they had to survive a test. While they never trailed, they were able to win what turned into a very competitive game. That win should serve them well as they head into ACC play down the road. Before that happens with their conference opener at home against Clemson on September 20, they host The Citadel on Saturday then have a bye week.
2. Oregon (1-0, 3rd)
The Ducks looked strong in their 62-13 win over South Dakota. While many will say that they simply were a mismatch for their FCS opponent, and that is true, they still were very impressive in the victory, including a strong performance from potential Heisman candidate QB Marcus Mariota. While South Dakota isn’t necessarily known to be a football juggernaut, the Ducks’ performance was impressive enough that they pass Alabama in these rankings. We will find out whether Oregon was, in fact, as good as they looked against the Coyotes this Saturday when they host the biggest game of the early part of the season against fellow top five team Michigan State.
3. Alabama (1-0, 2nd)
We knew coming in that the Crimson Tide were a young but extremely talented football team. On Saturday, that youth showed itself in a 33-23 win over West Virginia, as the Tide allowed the Mountaineers, who were expected to be one of the two worst teams in the Big 12, to keep the game close. West Virginia stayed within three to 10 points for most of the game, and were within a possession of the lead as late as midway through the fourth quarter. Blake Sims was named the starting QB for the Tide before Saturday’s game, and the close game has some wondering whether Florida State transfer Jacob Coker will get a chance to start. If Nick Saban wants to try some things with both quarterbacks, the next two games will be a good time to experiment, as the Tide host Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss the next two Saturdays before beginning conference play.
4. Oklahoma (1-0, 4th)
The Sooners dominated from start to finish, as expected, in a 48-16 win over Louisiana Tech to open the season. Oklahoma led by 31 late in the second quarter before the Bulldogs had even scored a point, and led 41-3 after three quarters. Trevor Knight, who is expected by some to be a great quarterback, but by others to be a letdown, threw for 253 yards and a touchdown, and RB Keith Ford had 116 all-purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns. This week the Sooners travel to 0-1 Tulsa before hosting Tennessee in an SEC-Big 12 matchup and starting conference play at West Virginia, the team who gave Alabama such a stiff test.
5. Michigan State (1-0, 5th)
The Spartans defeated FCS foe Jacksonville State on Friday night by a 45-7 mark, leading by 21 after a quarter and 38 after a half to send a message that anyone wanting to win the Big Ten will have to come through East Lansing. QB Connor Cook was 12-for-13 for 285 yards and three touchdowns, playing only the first half due to the wide margin of the game, as well as concern over a potential leg injury after a hard hit. Cook should be fine to play this week, and the Spartans will need him to be just as flawless as he was on Friday, as they will travel to play Oregon in the school’s first regular season top 10 matchup since 1967.
6. Auburn (1-0, 6th)
Auburn and Arkansas were tied at 21 at the half on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, which was somewhat surprising as the Razorbacks were looking for their first SEC league win in two years against the defending conference champion Tigers. Then, lightning struck (literally). QB Nick Marshall had sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons, and promptly scored a rushing touchdown after coming in the game in the third quarter. After a pick six by Jermaine Whitehead, a lightning delay stalled any rhythm and momentum the Hogs may have had left, and Auburn took the victory. The Tigers will look to roll over the momentum into this week’s game against San Jose State, before a Thursday night showdown at Kansas State 12 days later.
7. Georgia (1-0, 8th)
Georgia defeated Clemson handily Saturday in Athens, winning 45-21, although the game was closer than the score would indicate. The game was tied at 21 at halftime, and 24-21 in favor of the Bulldogs heading to the fourth quarter. Then, Georgia RB Todd Gurley took over, and the Dawgs scored 21 unanswered points (and it was almost 28). The display of the Georgia offense was done against a good Clemson defense, and the overall team performance was impressive enough that Georgia got two first place votes in the AP Poll. Now, while Georgia’s next opponent, South Carolina, recovers from their tough loss to Texas A&M and plays a good East Carolina offense, the Bulldogs will have a bye week this weekend, giving them extra time to plan on how to beat the sketchy Gamecocks defense.
8. UCLA (1-0, 7th)
UCLA survived a scare from an upstart Virginia team, winning 28-20 on the road in Charlottesville. The Bruins jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter, with all three touchdowns coming on defensive scores. Yet the Bruins defense, which many think is among the nation’s best, allowed the Cavaliers offense, which was supposed to be one of the ACC’s worst, to cut the gap to 21-17 in the third. QB Brett Hundley’s touchdown run late in the third would give UCLA a 28-17 lead, which would be enough, as the Cavaliers only added a late field goal. Virginia did give the Bruins a scare, however, reaching the red zone in the final minutes with a chance to tie the game. That Hundley touchdown run was the only offensive points for the Bruins, giving them something big to work on as they prepare to host Memphis on Saturday, with a showdown against Texas looming.
9. LSU (1-0, 12rh)
Saturday’s best game was the LSU-Wisconsin matchup in the Advocare Texas Kickoff in Houston. And for two and a half quarters, it was no contest. Wisconsin led the Tigers, 24-7, midway through the third, and 24-13 going to the fourth after a pair of field goals. In the fourth quarter, LSU came alive on both sides of the ball, as the Badgers offense struggled to get even a first down, and the Tigers offense, using offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system, scored two touchdowns to take the 28-24 victory. In all, LSU scored 21 unanswered points in the game’s final 22 minutes to pull out an hard-earned, gutsy win to open the season. Now, as they recover from a physical game against the Badgers, they will host FCS team Sam Houston State and Sun Belt team UL Monroe over the next two weeks before beginning conference play.
10. Texas A&M (1-0, unranked)
In the preseason, the Aggies were ranked 21st by the AP, and were not ranked in these rankings, as many tried to figure out how the offense would look without the likes of first round draft picks Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans. Any questions that lingered into their opener with South Carolina on Thursday night were quickly answered, as QB Kenny Hill took over the game. Hill was 44-for-60, throwing for 511 yards and three touchdowns, breaking Manziel’s school record for passing yards in a single game. While some have already coined the term “Kenny Football”, referencing Manziel’s nickname “Johnny Football”, although Hill said Tuesday he would prefer “Kenny Trill”. The Aggies host Lamar and Rice the next two weeks, and with a favorable schedule could find themselves undefeated heading into back-to-back games with Ole Miss and Alabama in mid-October.
Rest of Top 25:
11. Baylor (1-0, 11th) 12. Ohio State (1-0, 10th) 13. Stanford (1-0, 13th) 14. Ole Miss (1-0, 15th) 15. Notre Dame (1-0, 18th)
16. Arizona State (1-0, 19th) 17. Texas (1-0, 20th) 18. USC (1-0, 22nd) 19. Iowa (1-0, 16th) 20. Penn State (1-0, 23rd)
21. Wisconsin (0-1, 14th) 22. Duke (1-0, 21st) 23. Clemson (0-1, 17th) 24. South Carolina (0-1, 9th) 25. Louisville (1-0, unranked)