1. Oregon (2-0, Last Week: 2nd)
The Ducks looked impressive in the second half of Saturday’s game against Michigan State, turning a 27-18 deficit early in the third quarter into a 46-27 win with 28 unanswered points. The game was the biggest of the year so far in college football, and with the Ducks winning it so convincingly, they deserve to take the top spot. No one has ever scored 46 or more points on anyone currently on the Michigan State defensive roster, as it hasn’t happened since the January 1, 2011 in the Capital One Bowl against Alabama. This week. Wyoming will come to Autzen Stadium. While the Coyotes are coached by Craig Bohl, who led North Dakota State to FCS titles the last three years, the difference in talent level should lead to the Ducks having no problem earning a comfortable victory.
2. Florida State (2-0, 1st)
The same was said about Florida State’s matchup with The Citadel this past week, but the Seminoles only defeated the FCS opponent 37-12. For a team that beat every opponent except two by 27 or more last year, including a pair of blowouts over top 10 opponents, that score was a mild surprise. Florida State was the preseason number one in both these rankings and both polls, as many thought they would be just as good this year, but the 25-point margin against The Citadel proved that this team is absolutely not invincible. The ‘Noles have a bye this weekend, as does Clemson, as the two teams prepare to play each other in a top 25 showdown next week.
3. Alabama (2-0, 3rd)
Everything went well for the Crimson Tide in a 41-0 victory over Florida Atlantic, to the point that when there was a lightning delay midway through the fourth quarter, the teams and officials quickly agreed to call it a day. Both quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jacob Coker looked good for Alabama, although Sims averaged 16.3 yards per completion while throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns before Coker relieved him once the outcome had been decided. Coach Nick Saban insists there is no quarterback controversy for the team, and I will agree that Sims has earned the job, at least until he does anything to give it away (which I don’t expect to happen). The Tide host Southern Miss this weekend in their final tuneup before hosting Florida to begin SEC play next week.
4. Oklahoma (2-0, 4th)
The Oklahoma-Tulsa game was a clear mismatch, which is unfortunate for the Golden Hurricane since the game was on network television in most of the country as part of the ABC regional package. The Sooners began the beatdown with an opening minute touchdown, then continued to a 31-0 lead midway through the second quarter, eventually winning 52-7. And the game was on the road, at Tulsa. As the Sooners continue to prepare for conference play and their goal of winning a Big 12 title, this week they play their final non-conference game, which is their toughest yet, as they host the Tennessee Volunteers out of the SEC. If anyone is skeptical about if the Sooners deserve this ranking, the team will be playing in primetime on ABC, for all to see.
5. Auburn (2-0, 6th)
After the Auburn-San Jose State game was tied midway through the opening quarter, the Tigers exploded offensively, scoring 28 unanswered points and eventually putting up 59 for the game in a 59-13 thrashing of the Spartans. After the win, and the aforementioned Florida State-The Citadel game, the Tigers have passed Florida State for first in the ESPN Football Power Index. For the rest of the season, Auburn faces a brutal road schedule, in which the easiest of their five road games is at Mississippi State. After a bye this week, that tough schedule will begin with a Thursday night game next week at Kansas State, who is in the top 20 in the AP Poll (although I disagree).
6. Georgia (1-0, 7th)
A week after their season-opening win over Clemson, the Georgia Bulldogs took a week to rest, and with good reason. The team started their season with a matchup against a top 20 opponent in Clemson, and the Tigers’ quick offense and tough defense. This week, after the bye, they will travel to Columbia to play South Carolina, in a game that was supposed to be between a pair of top 10 teams, until Texas A&M’s beatdown of the South Carolina secondary sent the Gamecocks back to 24th in the AP Poll. Nevertheless, this game will go a long way towards deciding the SEC East Division title, as it has the last several seasons, and who will be playing in Atlanta on the first Saturday in December. Should RB Todd Gurley have a good game, it would vault him into the conversation as one of the two or three favorites to win the Heisman (but it’s very early).
7. LSU (2-0, 9th)
The headline on the ESPN.com recap of the Tigers game with Sam Houston State used the word “overwhelms” in describing what the Tigers did to the Bearkats (that spelling not a typo, by the way), and the word fits. Les Miles’ squad dominated, leading by 35 at halftime, on their way to a 56-0 shutout. QB Anthony Jennings and WR Travin Dural connected for three touchdowns in the first half, and RB Leonard Fournette got some attention (both good and bad) for striking the Heisman pose after his first collegiate touchdown. This week, the early season slate of games that are, or at least should be, an easy test continues, as the Tigers host UL-Monroe, one week before a home bout with Mississippi State opens up conference play.
8. Texas A&M (2-0, 10th)
Saturday against Lamar, the Aggies picked up where they had left off against South Carolina the week before, scorching the Cardinals for a 73-3 rout, and there was no letting up, as they scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Often in these types of games, the field goal kicked by the losing side is late, once the game is out of hand and the highly ranked opponent has let off the gas, but in this game, Lamar’s field goal made the score 7-3 in the first, and the Aggies responded with 66 unanswered points. QB Kenny Hill continued the good work, throwing for 283 yards and four touchdowns. The Aggies early season easy streak (after the South Carolina game, anyway) continues with Rice this week, followed by a trip to SMU, where coach June Jones unexpectedly resigned this week.
9. Notre Dame (2-0, 15th)
Notre Dame and Michigan ended (at least for now) one of the game’s historic rivalries with a domination, which is rare in the usually competitive series, as the Irish beat the Wolverines by a 31-0 score, dominating every facet of the game. Notre Dame became the first team to shut out Michigan since 1984, ending a NCAA-record 365-game streak. In what should have been a good quarterback matchup, Notre Dame’s Everett Golson certainly outplayed Michigan’s Devin Gardner, throwing for more yards, more yards per completion, and three touchdowns while Gardner threw three interceptions. Speaking of the rivalry, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said, “We’re going in two different directions,” a statement which appears to also be true on the football field, with Michigan having now lost 11 straight road games against ranked opponents. This week, the Irish head to Indianapolis for a neutral-site game against Purdue, followed by a bye before the Irish hit the meat of their schedule.
10. USC (2-0, 18th)
USC went to Palo Alto and ended the nation’s longest home winning streak* with a 13-10 win against the Stanford Cardinal. This is after in my “College Football Picks” post for last week said that there were “bad vibes” around the Trojans team, and that I didn’t think the team was “quite ready” for such a big win this early in the Steve Sarkisian era. The Trojans proved me wrong, holding Stanford to 10 points despite allowing them inside the 30-yard line nine times, and being outgained by 112 total yards. Additionally, Stanford had the ball 7:34 longer than the Trojans, but Sarkisian’s bunch just found a way to win. Javorius Allen rushed for 154 yards on 23 carries, individually racking up over half the team’s yards. This week the Trojans hit the road again, traveling across the country to face Boston College, before next week starting a stretch of nine straight conference games before finishing with Notre Dame in November.
11. Baylor (2-0, 11th), 12. Michigan State (1-1, 5th), 13. Ole Miss (2-0, 14th), 14. UCLA (2-0, 8th), 15. Arizona State (2-0, 16th)
16. Virginia Tech (2-0, unranked), 17. Stanford (1-1, 13th), 18. Penn State^ (2-0, 20th), 19. Wisconsin (1-1, 21st), 20. Clemson (1-1, 23rd)
21. South Carolina (1-1, 24th), 22. Ohio State (1-1, 12th), 23. Louisville (2-0, 25th), 24. Duke (2-0, 22nd), 25. BYU (2-0, unranked)
Fell from rankings: Texas (1-1, 17th), Iowa (1-1, 19th)
*Note: in Week One, South Carolina’s loss to Texas A&M ended the nation’s longest home winning streak at 18 games. Last week, Stanford’s loss to USC and Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech ended the longest two home winning streaks at 17 and 15 games, respectively. Fresno State now inherits the distinction, with a 13-game streak, and the 0-2 Bulldogs will host Nebraska this week, putting that mark in jeopardy as well.
^Note: Penn State, due to the NCAA lightening the sanctions against them for the Sandusky scandal, is now bowl eligible. The original four-year bowl ban for the 2012-15 seasons was ended on Monday, effective immediately.