While the opening weekend of college football wasn’t necessarily the greatest weekend of college football we’ve ever seen, it still had its fair share of big games, and big moments. Ohio State dominated the second half to avenge last year’s only loss against Virginia Tech, Alabama cruised to a win over Wisconsin, and in addition to a few other notable games, many others played games against lesser opponents, with some teams winning so big their starters got the second half off, and others struggled to get the win. After one week, here is the updated top 25.
1. Ohio State (1-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st*)
The defending national champions started quickly against Virginia Tech, leading 14-0 after a quarter, hit a rough patch, trailing 17-14 at half, and finished strong, winning 42-24, to put away the only team to beat them a year ago, doing so on the road. Cardale Jones started at quarterback, winning the competition against J.T. Barrett, at least for now, but it is former Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller, now playing receiver, who could be their biggest weapon, as he gained 140 all-purpose yards, with two touchdowns, both from over 50 yards. The schedule lightens up for the Buckeyes now, who host Hawaii on Saturday, and likely won’t see a ranked opponent until November.
2. Alabama (1-0, 3rd, 2nd)
The Crimson Tide rolled over what should be a good Wisconsin team, 38-17, on a neutral field in Dallas. Jake Coker was the winner of the quarterback competition, and played well, going 15-for-21 for 213 yards and a touchdown, although Cooper Bateman also got into the game in the fourth quarter once the outcome was not in doubt. The star of the win, though, was Derrick Henry, who ran for 147 yards and three scores. The Tide get a lighter test this week against Middle Tennessee State, before diving into the SEC hard next week when they host Ole Miss.
3. TCU (1-0, 2nd, 3rd)
The Horned Frogs drop a spot, both here and in the AP Poll, after beating Minnesota on the road 23-17. However, while the game was closer than expected, I wouldn’t read too much into the drop in ranking, as it had more to do with Alabama’s dominance of a ranked Wisconsin team than TCU’s close win on the road. Trevone Boykin threw for 246 yards in the win, and also ran for 92 yards, making him the game’s leading rusher. The Horned Frogs play FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin this week and in-state rival SMU next week before beginning Big 12 conference play.
4. Clemson (1-0, 5th, 12th)
Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson looked good Saturday, going 18-for-22 for 194 yards and two touchdowns, as Clemson cruised to a 49-10 win over in-state FCS opponent Wofford. However, the Tigers did lose one of their starting receivers, Mike Williams, for the season with a small fracture in his neck after he dove into the base of the goalpost during a touchdown reception. The loss of Williams hurts, but the Tigers should have enough receiving depth to be fine against Appalachian State on Saturday in their last game before hitting a scheduling gauntlet of Louisville on the road, and Notre Dame and Georgia Tech at home.
5. Oregon (1-0, 4th, 7th)
The Ducks’ offense picked up right where it had left off in 2014, even without Marcus Mariota, as new quarterback Vernon Adams threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns, and Royce Freeman ran for 180 yards and three scores, with the offense totaling 61 points and 731 yards. The problem on Saturday was the defense, which allowed 42 to FCS foe Eastern Washington, who gained 549 yards in the game. While Oregon’s next opponent, Michigan State, is known for strong defenses, their offense can hold its own, so when the Ducks go to East Lansing this week, their defense will have to improve if they want to avoid their first non-conference regular season loss since 2011.
6. Baylor (1-0, 6th, 4th)
The Bears stormed to a 56-21 win over in-state rival SMU, as their defense got better over the course of the game. After allowing 14 in the first quarter, after which Baylor lead 28-14, the Bears defense only allowed one more touchdown to the Mustangs, with that coming in the second, before shutting them out in the second half. Quarterback Seth Russell completed only half of his 30 passes in the game, but still managed 376 yards and five touchdowns on the night, with 178 of those yards resulting in connections with receiver Corey Coleman. Baylor hosts Lamar on Saturday, and Rice after a bye, before beginning Big 12 play on October 3.
7. Georgia (1-0, 7th, 10th)
Athens was electric on opening day in more ways than one, as the Bulldogs game against Louisiana-Monroe was delayed in the fourth for lightning, but the good news for Georgia was that the outcome of the game wasn’t in doubt, allowing the game to quickly be called, with the Dawgs winning 51-14. Grayson Lambert threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns in his debut, but he wasn’t needed much and only attempted 12 passes, as Nick Chubb and Keith Marshall combined to rush for 193 yards, each scoring twice. This week Georgia travels to Vanderbilt for their SEC opener.
8. Georgia Tech (1-0, 8th, 15th)
The Yellow Jackets’ win over Alcorn State was vintage Georgia Tech, as they rushed for 476 yards with their option attack, and stormed by Alcorn State by a 69-6 margin for a season-opening win. The Jackets, in fact, attempted just five passes in the game, something that has become normal for Paul Johnson-coached teams over the years. Freshman running back Marcus Marshall was a big part of the explosive ground attack, rushing for 184 yards and two touchdowns, while Patrick Skov added 72 yards and three touchdowns. Tech does have a big test early, when they travel to Notre Dame a week from Saturday, so as pedestrian as this week’s game against Tulane may seem, it is the final tune-up for the Jackets’ first big test.
9. Michigan State (1-0, 9th. 5th)
While the Spartans’ 37-24 win over Western Michigan didn’t produce the most lopsided score, considering they were expected to win big, the Spartans did get the job done. Connor Cook was only 15-for-31, but the passes he did complete resulted in 256 yards and two touchdowns. While the defense did allow 383 yards to the Broncos, they allowed only 18 rushing yards, showing that rush defense is likely to be the strength of the Spartans defensive unit as the season moves forward. As mentioned earlier, Oregon’s Royce Freeman had an excellent performance in the Ducks’ opener, so that rush defense will be important for Michigan State to beat Oregon this week, as the Spartans face their biggest test of the season short of a November 21st meeting with Ohio State.
10. USC (1-0, 11th. 8th)
Arkansas State was picked by many to win the Sun Belt Conference, so when the Trojans defeated them 55-6 on Saturday, it sent a statement, even if the win wasn’t over a “Power Five” opponent. Quarterback Cody Kessler threw for four touchdowns, while a pair of backs, Tre Madden and Ronald Jones II, combined for 192 rushing yards, with each scoring a touchdown. The schedule through the rest of September may be easier for the Trojans than they originally thought; after hosting Idaho this Saturday, the Trojans host Stanford and travel to Arizona State, and both of those teams just fell out of the 25 after being upset over the weekend.
11. Auburn (1-0, 12th. 6th)
12. Notre Dame (1-0, 15th. 9th)
13. Ole Miss (1-0, 13th, 17th)
14. LSU (0-0^,14th, 14th)
15. Arizona (1-0, 10th, 22nd)
16. Florida State (1-0, 16th, 11th)
17. UCLA (1-0, 18th, 13th)
18. Arkansas (1-0, 20th, 18th)
19. Texas A&M (1-0, unranked, 16th)
20. Missouri (1-0, 22nd, 21st)
21. Tennessee (1-0, 25th, 23rd)
22. Boise State (1-0, 24th, 20th)
23. West Virginia (1-0. unranked, unranked)
24. Wisconsin (0-1, 17th, unranked)
25. Louisville (0-1, 21st, unranked)
Fell from rankings: Arizona State (0-1, 19th, unranked), Virginia Tech (0-1, 23rd, unranked)
*Ohio State is the unanimous #1 in the AP Poll.
^LSU’s season opener against McNeese State was cancelled due to inclement weather. They will open the season Saturday at Mississippi State.