While a few teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 poll flirted with a season-opening loss to an unranked opponent in Week 0 or Week 1, the only loss suffered by a top-25 team so far this season was No. 11 Oregon falling to No. 16 Auburn in Arlington.
Miami (FL) gave No. 8 Florida a scare in Week 0, No. 21 Iowa State needed triple overtime to escape Northern Iowa, and Iowa and Nebraska didn’t pull away from Miami (OH) and South Alabama, respectively, until the second half.
While No. 9 Notre Dame won’t play its first game of the season against Louisville until Monday, here’s what we think what we think the AP Top 25 poll will look like in Week 2.
This isn’t a personal ballot, this is how we predict the AP voters will vote.
The Cardinal held off Northwestern in a low-scoring affair, capped off by a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the game’s final minute. But the concern now for Stanford is the health of quarterback K.J. Costello after he was knocked out of the game at the end of the first half on a missed targeting penalty and he was unable to return to the game.
The Huskers started the season 1-0, which they couldn’t say last year, so that alone is an improvement for a team that many college football fans didn’t believe should be ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 poll after going 4-8 last year. South Alabama actually out-gained Nebraska on offense 314 yards to 276 but the Huskers’ defense scored twice and they added another touchdown on special teams.
23. Iowa State
As referenced at the top, the Cyclones nearly lost to FCS Northern Iowa before Sheldon Croney Jr. ran in for the game-winning touchdown in triple overtime. The Panthers led 13-10 at halftime and the Cyclones needed a game-tying field goal in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
Remarkably, Northern Iowa hung with Iowa State despite rushing for just 34 yards on 31 carries.
22. Washington State
Washington State Coach Mike Leach’s offensive system seems to be plug-and-play at this point as Anthony Gordon, who is tasked with replacing Gardner Minshew II, was 29-for-35 passing Saturday for 420 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 12-yards-per-attempt average.
The Cougars defeated New Mexico State 58-7.
Weirdly, most of the attention paid to Syracuse-Liberty was on the coaches’ box, where Liberty’s Hugh Freeze coached from a hospital bed. But the Orange had no issues on the field with the Flames, pitching the shutout on the road. Tommy DeVito was just 17-of-35 passing for 176 yards and two interceptions.
The Hawkeyes struggled to pull away from Miami (OH), leading 3-0 after the first quarter and 10-7 at halftime, before winning 38-14. Running back Mekhi Sargent had 156 yards from scrimmage, including a rushing touchdown, and quarterback Nate Stanley was 21-of-30 passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns.
The Badgers blanked South Florida on the road 49-0 as running back Jonathan Taylor scored four total touchdowns, leading Wisconsin in rushing (135) and receiving (48) yards. Quarterback Jack Coan was 19-of-26 for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
18. Michigan State
Taking the under in Michigan State-Tulsa (48.5) was one of our college football Week 1 betting roundtable picks and the Spartans’ D never left a doubt in their 28-7 win. Michigan State jumped out to a 25-0 lead, which included a safety and a fumble recovered by Kenny Willekes in the end zone, and quarterback Brian Lewerke played well enough (21-of-37 for 192 yards and a touchdown) for Michigan State to move the ball on offense.
Even with McKenzie Milton and Darriel Mack Jr. sidelined due to injury, UCF was able to lay the hurt on Florida A&M 62-0 as the Knights out-gained the Rattlers 694 yards to 96. UCF’s defense held Florida A&M to just 3-of-18 on third down conversion attempts, while three different players – Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, Dillon Gabriel and Quandry Jones – threw at least one touchdown pass.
16. Penn State
Back in early July, we ranked Penn State second on a list of which top-25-caliber teams had the best chances of making it to October undefeated, largely because of the Nittany Lions’ early schedule.
Penn State backed that up with a 79-7 win over Idaho in which the Nittany Lions rushed for 331 yards and seven touchdowns, which were scored by five different players. New starting quarterback Sean Clifford was 14-of-23 passing for 280 yards, two touchdowns and a 12.2-yards-per-attempt average.
You could make the case that Oregon could’ve/should’ve been up 28-3 against Auburn on Saturday. Bryan Addison let a potential touchdown throw hit him in the chest and fall to the ground on 3rd & Goal, which led to kicker Camden Lewis missing a 20-yard, chip-shot field goal.
Then the Ducks squandered Jevon Holland’s 81-yard punt return after Justin Herbert fumbled at the Auburn 9-yard line and Big Kat Bryant took it 83 yards the other way.
Ultimately, Oregon let a 21-6 lead late in the third quarter slip from its grasp as Auburn true freshman quarterback Bo Nix rallied the Tigers for a 27-21 win that in some ways felt like the BCS National Championship that was played between the two schools.
Oregon felt dominant in the first half and the Ducks lost to a similarly ranked team, so they shouldn’t drop too far in the AP poll.
The Utes won a lightning-delayed Holy War 30-12 behind the workhorse play of running back Zack Moss, who had 29 carries for 187 yards and a touchdown, and an efficient 13-of-16 passing for 106 yards from quarterback Tyler Huntley. Utah picked off BYU quarterback Zach Wilson twice and recovered a fumble by the Cougars to win the turnover battle 3-0.
New starting quarterback Jacob Eason appears to be worth the wait for Huskies fans. He was 27-of-36 passing for 349 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, while averaging nearly 10 yards per attempt.
Washington’s defense held Eastern Washington to just 2.1 yards per carry on the ground and 63 total rushing yards – 26 of which came on one run.
The Tigers won the only ranked-versus-ranked matchup of Week 1, coming from behind to defeat No. 11 Oregon 27-21. It’s tough to predict how high Auburn will climb in the AP poll and how far Oregon will fall – they might ultimately just switch spots from where they were ranked in the preseason poll because that’s the easy/lazy thing for voters to do – but we slotted the Tigers one spot behind division foe Texas A&M.
If voters thought Texas A&M was better than Auburn in the preseason, there’s a good chance they still think that, even if the Tigers are coming off of a great season-opening win.
11. Texas A&M
The Aggies opened their season with a 41-7 win over Texas State in which they picked off four passes, had two 100-yard rushers (Isaiah Spiller and Jashaun Corbin) and quarterback Kellen Mond completed 19-of-27 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns.
Next up is a much tougher test: at No. 1 Clemson.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger declared that Texas was back after the Longhorns’ Sugar Bowl win over Georgia and they got off to a strong start with a 45-14win over Louisiana Tech, thanks to Ehlinger’s 276 passing yards and four touchdowns.
9. Notre Dame
We haven’t seen Notre Dame play yet, so let’s assume voters keep them in the same spot for now.
Man, Florida-Miami feels like it happened a month ago, doesn’t it? The Gators did their best to give the Hurricanes the game in the fourth quarter with Feleipe Franks’ second interception and some costly penalties on defense but they escaped Orlando with a win.
Miami might win the ACC Coastal so even though that Week 0 game was ugly, it could age well.
The first play of the season for Michigan’s revamped offense was… a fumble, which was recovered by Middle Tennessee and turned into seven points for the Blue Raiders. But the Wolverines scored 24 unanswered points after that.
Michigan tried a lot of different looks on offense, including formations that included quarterbacks Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey, which were less than productive, but a home game against Middle Tennessee in Week 1 is the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t before the schedule gets much tougher.
It’s early in the season and it wasn’t necessarily stiff competition but it appears a full offseason for quarterback Joe Burrow in LSU’s program and the school’s hiring of passing game coordinator Joe Brady are already paying dividends. Burrow was 23-of-27 passing for 278 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions against Georgia Southern, making him just one of two quarterbacks in the country with more touchdowns than incompletions after Saturday.
5. Ohio State
No one is going to confuse Florida Atlantic with the ’85 Bears but it was great to see Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields be able to play a full game as a starter, rather than being inserted into the game for a few plays and then pulled if his team didn’t score, like we saw with him last season at Georgia.
Fields was responsible for five total touchdowns and nearly 300 yards of offense in his Buckeyes debut, including a 51-yard touchdown run and three touchdown passes of at least 25 yards – all in the first quarter.
The new-look Sooners, featuring another transfer quarterback in Jalen Hurts and a new defensive coordinator in Alex Grinch, beat Houston 49-31 on Sunday night. Hurts had a massive debut for Oklahoma, completing 20-of-23 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 176 yards and three scores. That’s more than 500 yards of total offense and six total touchdowns if you’re keeping score at home. There could be yet another Oklahoma quarterback headed to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
The ‘Dawgs could’ve been in tricky spot to open the season, playing their first game on the road against a division opponent in Vanderbilt. But they handled their season-opener like you would expect of a program that’s been a national title contender the last two seasons.
Vanderbilt never reached the end zone, Georgia ran the ball 40 times (compared to just 23 passing plays) effectively on the backs of D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien and Zamir White, and the Commodores were stifled through the air, averaging just 3.4 yards per pass and converting on just 3-of-14 third down attempts.
Alabama was never in danger of losing to Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, if only because its defense remained stout after the loss of linebacker Dylan Moses, who’s out indefinitely with a knee injury. But seeing the scored tied 0-0 after the first quarter was certainly surprising given how often the Crimson Tide jumped out to 14-0, 21-0 and 28-0 leads a year ago.
Running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. didn’t play in the first quarter due to disciplinary reasons but Alabama’s offense quickly hit its stride once they returned. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had another other-worldly stat line: 26-of-31 passing for 336 yards, four interceptions and no interceptions.
Travis Etienne was the standout performer in top-ranked Clemson’s 52-14 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday, when he had 12 carries for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a relatively quiet night through the air and he’s halfway to matching his interception total from last season, but he showed promising mobility that we didn’t see often last year.