A wild week that almost saw an historic upset and featured two tight, late-night contests is followed up by what should be great feature matchups such as Auburn-LSU, Georgia Tech-Notre Dame, Alabama-Ole Miss, and BYU-UCLA. Those four top-25 games promise a significant shake-up in next week’s rankings.
I was wrong about Auburn (who clearly was ranked too high), wrong about Michigan State (who did get that win over Oregon after all), and wrong about Cincinnati (whose loss against Temple eliminates my earl Cinderella pick). However, I will happily take credit for being one of the few to omit Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri from my rankings. Those teams may resurface at some point, but the hype was clearly premature.
25. Cal (2-0)—Memphis, Houston, and Mississippi State (despite the close loss) competed for this spot, but Cal claims #25 for now. Jared Goff’s team should be favorites at Texas, at Washington, and against Washington State. Then they will be tested with a very, very tough four game stretch.
24. Northwestern (2-0)—The Wildcats blanked Eastern Illinois. They now travel to Duke before continuing on with a schedule that currently holds no ranked teams. We will see if they can make a run, but the path is there.
23. Utah (2-0)—Jim Harbaugh’s team has not only gifted Utah with a W but followed that up with a dominating performance over a PAC 12 opponent to make that win look even better.
22. Temple (2-0)—The early darling of the college football season is a toss up between BYU and the Owls. Having taken out the Bearcats, Temple could make a run for the American title although Houston and Memphis look strong as well.
21. Miami (2-0)—Al Golden will be on the hot seat throughout the year, and it remains to be seen how that will affect this team. Its next two opponents (Nebraska and Cincinnati) are reeling after unexpected losses.
20. BYU (2-0)—The Cougars have the look of a team of destiny. However, sometimes destiny runs into reality, and that looks to happen this week against the Bruins.
19. Auburn (2-0)—Despite all the talent on this roster, the pathetic performance against Jacksonville State leaves me feeling this is generous. They fall here, but unless they can piece it together Malzahn’s Tigers are poised to fall out of the top 25 altogether with a loss to LSU this week.
18. Arizona (2-0)—The Wildcats rolled past Nevada and will do the same against Northern Arizona this week. UCLA looms large on the 26th.
17. Oklahoma (2-0)—My rankings have been hard on the Sooners, who I give a six-point jump to this week. Unlike most, I did not have Tennessee ranked, but that still counts as a quality win for a team poised to shoot up these rankings without facing a ranked opponent until November.
16. Ole Miss (2-0)—I have been more generous to Ole Miss than most. Still, after two 70+ point games, the Rebels should be higher. But, I will take the “wait and see” approach with Alabama on the horizon.
15. Notre Dame (2-0)—The loss of their quarterback and the narrow victory over the Cavaliers leaves the Irish flying a little lower than they were after the victory over Texas. I still move them up a spot and think the game against Georgia Tech is must see.
14. Clemson (2-0)—The light schedule of the Tigers takes a step up with a visit to Louisville this week. If they can get by the Cardinals, now looking weaker, and the Fighting Irish, the matchup against Georgia Tech may be a top ten feature.
13. Georgia (2-0)—I’m sold on Nick Chubb, but I’m not sold on the Dawgs as a whole just yet. We will learn what kind of run this team can make once they face off against the Tide in early October.
12. Georgia Tech (2-0)—We will learn a lot about this team against Notre Dame this week. While I could certainly eat my words, the Yellow Jackets are my surprise team this year.
11. Oregon (1-1)—A loss is a loss, but a three-point loss at a very good Michigan State team with a chip on its shoulder can only drop you so far. I still love the talent on this team and the upward trajectory of Vernon Adams, who is still picking up the offense.
10. LSU (2-0)—Despite a late rally, the Bayou Bengals held on for an impressive win against Dak Prescott and company. Leonard Fournette is the real deal, and next week’s opponent, the Auburn Tigers, look anything but daunting.
9. Florida State (2-0)—Beating USF is not overly impressive, but Dalvin Cook is. The controversial running back put forward an incredible performance and appears to be the workhorse for a team that has definitely taken a step back in quarterback play.
8. Texas A&M (2-0)—The Aggies dominated Ball State, and, more importantly, Kyle Allen continues to separate himself from Kyler Murray, solidifying himself as the starter. Nevada is unlikely to cause a stumble before TAMU heads into its SEC schedule.
7. USC (2-0)—Juju Smith and the Trojans’ passing attack throttled the Vandals. Arkansas State, who the team beat last week, gave Missouri a scare. Now, USC must avoid a surprise upset as they face three teams (Stanford, ASU, and Washington) that possess talented but started off the season on the wrong foot.
6. UCLA (2-0)—Josh Rosen came down to earth a little this week, but the Bruins still dominated UNLV. Plus, the win over Virginia looks slightly better after the Cavaliers provided Notre Dame with such a scare. However, games against BYU and at Arizona over the next two weeks will test this team.
5. Baylor (2-0)—Giving up 31 points to Lamar bumps the Bears behind the Horned Frogs this week. Still, only two ranked teams on the schedule provides plenty of confidence Art Briles’ team will remain in the playoff picture for some time.
4. TCU (2-0)—SFA proved to be a nice tune up for Trevone Boykin and company. This week offers the first direct comparison against Baylor with the match up against SMU.
3. Michigan State (2-0)—The most impressive win of the young year belongs to Michigan State, who could still be in the playoff discussion with a loss to Ohio State—provided the Ducks finish the year strong.
2. Alabama (2-0)—This week, the Tide faces Ole Miss in a highly anticipated matchup. So far, Coker-Henry have proved to be a potent combination. The Rebels, coming off back to back 70+ point outputs, will require the Tide offense to continue its own strong production.
1. Ohio State (2-0)—As expected, Ohio State cruised to victory over a Hawaii team that picked an odd time to feature the throwback Rainbow. The only thing that failed to work for the Buckeyes: a quarterback rotation that did not allow either to truly achieve a rhythm.