It was billed as “the greatest opening weekend in college football history,” and it did not disappoint.
Four of my top 11 last week, and six of my top 15, lost in their season opener, meaning this season’s first big shakeup in these rankings comes earlier than normal.
Preseason rankings are so ambiguous. But now that we’ve seen the teams on the field, let’s look at the updated top 25:
1. Alabama (1-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
Last Week: def. #20 USC, 52-6
This Week: vs. Western Kentucky
While Alabama was preseason number one, both here and in the AP Poll, I still had a few doubts about the Crimson Tide entering their game against USC. Those were erased, and then some, with a 48-point win over the Trojans. Quarterback Jalen Hurts (what a name) and running back Damien Harris both showed they will be a force as the Crimson Tide battle in the SEC.
2. Florida State (1-0, 4th, 3rd)
Last Week: def. #11 Ole Miss, 45-34
This Week: vs. Charleston Southern
After trailing 28-13 at halftime, the Seminoles outscored Ole Miss 32-6 in the second half for a convincing win. Throwing for 419 yards, freshman Deondre Francois was reminiscent another Florida State quarterback in his debut in 2013: Jameis Winston. The ‘Noles were more convincing than Clemson against a better opponent, so they pass the Tigers in these rankings.
3. Clemson (1-0, 2nd, 2nd)
Last Week: def. Auburn, 19-13
This Week: vs. Troy
Clemson nearly gave the game away (kick the field goal, Dabo!), but survived Auburn’s last-second upset efforts for a win on the plains at Jordan-Hare. Now the Tigers should have a couple of weeks to iron out the things that gave them trouble, facing Troy and South Carolina State in their next two games. That said, there were certainly positives, including Wayne Gallman’s 123 rushing yards, Mike Williams’ 174 receiving yards in his return from injury, and Jadar Johnson’s two late pass deflections to save the day.
4. Michigan (1-0, 6th, 5th)
Last Week: def. Hawaii, 63-3
This Week: vs. UCF
No one was particularly surprised by Michigan’s 60-point win over Hawaii, but even against an overmatched Warriors team, the Wolverines showed they are a force to be reckoned with. It’s almost too early to think this, but they are (at least in these rankings) in a playoff spot, although an October 1 meeting with Wisconsin suddenly looks larger than it did just a few days ago after the Badgers upset of LSU.
5. Houston (1-0, 12th, 6th)
Last Week: def. #3 Oklahoma, 33-23
This Week: vs. Lamar
The score of the Cougars’ win over Oklahoma does not indicate how much they were altogether better than the Sooners. The Cougars have shown they deserve to at least be mentioned when discussing the elite teams in college football, and while their schedule moving forward is light enough that they will likely at least enter the home stretch perfect, they still have arguably the most impressive win of anyone thus far.
6. Stanford (1-0, 8th, 7th)
Last Week: def. Kansas State, 26-13
This Week: idle
Christian McCaffrey scored twice (plus a crazy one called back due to penalty), picking up right where he left off, as the Cardinal defeated K-State. USC comes to Palo Alto on September 17, in a game that may be easier than we all first thought, and one the Cardinal have two weeks to prepare for.
7. Tennessee (1-0, 7th, 17th)
Last Week: def. Appalachian State, 20-13 (ot)
This Week: vs. Virginia Tech (Bristol, TN)
The media has crucified Tennessee for needing overtime to dispatch Appalachian State, but they’re forgetting that it was a season-opening game against a solid Mountaineers team picked to win the Sun Belt. That said, while other teams that won gained ground this week, I have the Volunteers staying put. Over 153,000 fans will be watching the Vols this week, as they play in the inaugural Battle at Bristol against Virginia Tech at “Thunder Valley,” the Bristol Motor Speedway.
8. Oklahoma State (1-0, 9th, 22nd)
Last Week: def. SE Louisiana, 61-7
This Week: vs. Central Michigan
The Cowboys were predictably dominant over FCS foe Southeastern Louisiana, and should not have much trouble with this week’s opponent either, when Central Michigan comes to Stillwater. The schedule does toughen up after that, with Pittsburgh, Baylor, and Texas facing the Cowboys in consecutive weeks, but two of those three are also at home.
9. Iowa (1-0, 13th, 16th)
Last Week: def. Miami (OH), 45-21
This Week: vs. Iowa State
The Hawkeyes did what the Hawkeyes do on Saturday, beating Miami (Ohio) with a strong rushing attack and solid defense. This is how they started 12-0 last year, and how they will contend for another division title this season. This is Hawkeye football, and this is why coach Kirk Ferentz was given a contract extension through 2025 on Tuesday.
10. Georgia (1-0, 17th, 9th)
Last Week: def. #22 North Carolina, 33-24
This Week: vs. Nicholls State
Season openers are often about answering questions. Georgia entered their opener against North Carolina with the question of who would play quarterback, but after Jacob Eason helped lead the Bulldogs to victory, he will now be the man moving forward. Perhaps more importantly, Nick Chubb returned from last year’s injury with a 222-yard, two touchdown performance, showing he is the leader of the offense. The Dawgs have a favorable schedule, especially after October 1, to potentially make some noise in Kirby Smart’s debut campaign.
11. Oklahoma (0-1, 3rd, 14th)
12. Wisconsin (1-0, unranked, 10th)
13. Louisville (1-0, 16th, 13th)
14. LSU (0-1, 5th, 21st)
15. Baylor (1-0, 18th, 23rd)
16. Ole Miss (0-1, 10th, 19th)
17. Texas (1-0, unranked, 11th)
18. Nebraska (1-0, 20th, unranked)
19. Michigan State (1-0, 19th, 12th)
20. Notre Dame (0-1, 11th, 18th)
21. Washington (1-0, 22nd, 8th)
22. Ohio State (1-0, 23rd, 4th)
23. North Carolina (0-1, 14th, unranked)
24. Oregon (1-0, 24th, 24th)
25. Boise State (1-0, 25th, unranked)