Once again, like the opening weekend of the season, this past weekend wouldn’t necessarily qualify as the best weekend of college football any of us have ever seen. But it wasn’t bad, with several high-profile games coming down to the wire, including all three matchups of two ranked opponents, and also including, shockingly, the Auburn-Jacksonville State game (which Auburn won, although an overtime game with an FCS foe has caused them to drop double digits both here and in the polls). This coming weekend should be exciting, with four matchups between a pair of top 20 opponents (not bad for this early in the season).
1. Ohio State (2-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
The top-ranked Buckeyes took care of business against visiting Hawaii in their home opener, winning 38-0 over the Warriors. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Northern Illinois visits “The Horseshoe” in Columbus on Saturday, and Western Michigan does next week, before the men of the scarlet and gray begin conference play.
2. Alabama (2-0, LW: 2nd, AP: 2nd)
The Crimson Tide only led 7-0 over Middle Tennessee State after a quarter, but from there they dominated, beating the Blue Raiders, 37-10. Derrick Henry, who ran for three touchdowns against Middle Tennessee State, already has six scores in the young season, along with 243 rushing yards, forming one of the most impressive early-season stat lines in the country. Alabama’s only loss last year before the College Football Playoff was to Ole Miss, and they will get a chance for revenge against the Rebels. That may not sit well for the Rebels; Alabama is 9-1 in “revenge games” under Nick Saban.
3. TCU (2-0, LW: 3rd, AP: 3rd)
Stephen F. Austin was simply overmatched when they met the Horned Frogs, as TCU defeated the Lumberjacks, an FCS opponent, 70-7. Quarterback Trevone Boykin threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns, before retiring for the day once the score was more than lopsided in the third quarter. This week the Horned Frogs host in-state rival SMU in their final non-conference tune-up for Big 12 play, which starts at Texas Tech next week.
4. Michigan State (2-0, LW: 9th, AP: 4th)
Connor Cook led the Spartans to their biggest non-conference win of this century on Saturday, as he threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans’ 31-28 win over Oregon. Although the Ducks outgained the Spartans 432-389, and had five more first downs, Oregon had more turnovers and more penalties, and the Spartans led by double digits on two occasions before winning by three. Next up for the Spartans is a pair of home games with non-conference opponents they will be heavily favored against, as they play Air Force and Central Michigan.
5. Clemson (2-0, LW: 4th, AP: 11th)
The Tigers dominated Appalachian State on Saturday, winning 41-10, and they have now outscored their two opponents for the season 90-20, although both of their games have been mismatches. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been as impressive as advertised, as he has gone 37-for-48 for 442 yards and five touchdowns. (Yes, it has been against light competition, but his numbers are better than other top quarterbacks against equally light competition.) The schedule gets much tougher now, as the Tigers hit the gauntlet: at Louisville this Thursday after a short week of practice, and after a bye week, home against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. We’ll know very soon just how legit the Tigers really are.
6. Baylor (2-0, LW: 6th, AP: 5th)
When Baylor played FCS opponent Lamar on Saturday, even as they won 66-31, we saw how shaky the Bears defense can be. The Bears allowed 340 yards and 31 points to a team that plays in the Southland Conference in the FCS, numbers which don’t exactly show defensive strength, especially since a lot of those yards weren’t in garbage time. Lamar led 14-13 early in the 2nd quarter, and the game was tied 21-21 late in the first half, before Baylor pulled away. The good news here is what Baylor’s offense did, even in a game where quarterback Seth Russell threw three interceptions, as they gained 785 yards and 38 first downs, scoring 66 points, with Russell throwing four touchdowns, all to Corey Coleman. There is time to work on the defense, as well as the interceptions, as the Bears have a bye this week, before hosting Rice next week in their last tune-up before Big 12 play begins.
7. Georgia (2-0, LW: 7th, AP: 7th)
While Georgia wasn’t as dominant as some of their fans might have liked, they defeated Vanderbilt on the road, 31-14, in their SEC opener. The game was more even than the score would indicate, as the Georgia only outgained the Commodores 422-400, and Vanderbilt had more first downs than Georgia, 21-19. However, three Johnny McCrary interceptions doomed the ‘Dores, along with a 77-yard punt return touchdown by Isaiah McKenzie, and 189 rushing yards by Nick Chubb, who ran for 9.9 yards per carry. This week the Bulldogs play division rival South Carolina, and while the series is traditionally close, and Georgia was upset by the Gamecocks a year ago, this year they are at home and favored by 17.
8. Georgia Tech (2-0, LW: 8th, AP: 14th)
The Yellow Jackets don’t have any superstars, but are very solid as a unit, together doing what needs to be done to win. That was evident on Saturday in a 65-10 win over Tulane, as Georgia Tech rushed for 439 yards as a team, but their leading rusher Matthew Jordan only rushed for 72 yards. That’s because there were eight Yellow Jackets players who each rushed for 35 yards or more, with five players topping 45 yards, three gaining over 50, and two surpassing 70. We will know more this Saturday about just how good this unit is, as they travel to 8th-ranked Notre Dame.
9. USC (2-0, LW: 10th, AP: 6th)
Quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as the Trojans crushed Idaho, 59-9. For the season, USC is outscoring opponents 114-15, and while that hasn’t been against any Power 5 opposition, it hasn’t been against any FCS teams either. Against the Vandals, the Trojans gained 737 yards, and Kessler is now at 650 passing yards for the season. This week, USC opens Pac-12 play against rival Stanford, who began the season ranked, but has fallen from the Top 25 after losing to Northwestern. USC is favored by 10, but the last five meetings have all been decided by eight points or less, and the series has seen numerous upsets in recent years by both sides.
10. Oregon (1-1, LW: 5th, AP: 12th)
Even though they lost, the Ducks made a very strong showing for themselves as a young team on the road, taking a top 10 opponent down to the wire in a 31-28 loss at Michigan State. However, in the game’s closing minutes, quarterback Vernon Adams missed an open receiver in the end zone. Had he converted, the outcome of the game could very well have been different. Adams was up-and-down, throwing for 309 yards and a touchdown, but also throwing two interceptions and missed the potential game-winner. Adams, and the rest of the team, will be able to work on some things in game action this week, as they host Georgia State (1-24 since joining FBS), before starting conference play next week against Utah.
11. Ole Miss (2-0, LW: 13th, AP: 15th)
12. LSU (1-0, LW: 14th, AP: 13th)
13. Notre Dame (2-0, LW: 12th, AP: 8th)
14. Arizona (2-0, LW: 15th, AP: 20th)
15. Florida State (2-0, LW: 16th, AP: 9th)
16. UCLA (2-0, LW: 17th, AP: 10th)
17. Texas A&M (2-0, LW: 19th, AP: 17th)
18. BYU (2-0, LW: unranked, AP: 19th)
19. Missouri (2-0, LW: 20th, AP: 22nd)
20. Oklahoma (2-0, LW: unranked, AP: 16th)
21. West Virginia (2-0, LW: 23rd, AP: unranked)
22. Wisconsin (1-1, LW: 24th, AP: 24th)
23. Auburn (2-0, LW: 11th, AP: 18th)
24. Northwestern (2-0, LW: unranked, AP: 23rd)
25. Utah (2-0, LW: unranked, AP: 21st)
Fell from rankings: Arkansas (1-1, LW: 18th, AP: unranked), Tennessee (1-1, LW: 21st, AP: unranked), Boise State (1-1, LW: 22nd, AP: unranked), Louisville (0-2, LW: 25th, AP: unranked)
Also ranked in AP Poll: Oklahoma State (2-0, 25th)