1. Alabama- This was an easy pick. After destroying a Michigan team that everyone thought would put up a fight 41-14, I don’t think that there is a better team in college football right now. QB AJ McCarron was 11/21 for 199 yards and 2 TDs, and the Crimson Tide RBs had 42 carries for 232 yards and 2 TDs. The Tide face Western Kentucky next week.
2. USC- The Trojans put up a great game against Hawaii, winning 49-10, but they did leave some points on the field and there were some depth issues that will hurt them later in the year against teams like Oregon, Washington, Arizona State, and Notre Dame. QB Matt Barkley was 23/38 for 372 yards and 4 TDs, and the Trojan RBs had 23 carries for 81 yards and a TD. The Trojans face Syracuse next week.
3. LSU- Nothing LSU did against North Texas could move them from their previous spot. They put up a great showing dispatching North Texas 41-14, but Zach Mettenberger will have to do better than 19/26, 192 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT to beat Alabama. LSU faces #22 Washington next week.
4. Oregon- I worried about how well Marcus Mariota would do taking over at QB for Darron Thomas, arguably the best quarterback in Oregon history. He showed last week in the 57-34 drubbing of Gus Malzahn-coached Arkansas State that he is the real deal. (He finished 18/22 for 200 yards and 3 TDs.) The Ducks will be helped by their RB corps which finished the day with 57 carries for 297 yards and 4 TDs. The defense will have to give up less points for the Ducks to be USC, but they have until Nov. 3 to figure that one out. Oregon faces Fresno State next week.
5. Florida State- The Seminoles look like a team that deserves to be top 5. They beat Murray State 69-3 and EJ Manuel looked pretty dang good, completing 16 of his 22 passes for 188 yards and 1 touchdown before leaving the game (to rest, it is week 1 after all) in the middle of the third quarter. It looks like FSU has a pretty good running game too, as Lonnie Pryor, James Wilder Jr., and Debrale Smiley combined for 285 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. It should get nothing but easier for the Seminoles this week as they have Savannah State, who is coming off of a 84-0 loss to Oklahoma State, coming to Tallahassee.
6. West Virginia- Can you say Big XII champs? Yes, it may be a bit early to crown the Mountaineers but can you say that anyone in the conference is better? They beat Marshall 69-34, Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and 4 TDs and the Mountaineers rushed for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns. They need to work on the pass defense as they gave up 413 yards to the Herd and against Oklahoma, Texas, or Baylor that will really hurt them. But if they keep scoring like this, they’ll be ok.
7. Michigan State- They played one of the best games this weekend against Boise State and pulled out an amazing win 17-13. QB Andrew Maxwell threw for 248 yards, but did not have a touchdown pass and threw 3 interceptions. The Spartans really relied on RB Le’Veon Bell who ran for 210 yards (on 44 touches) and scored both of MSU’s touchdowns and had 6 receptions for 55 yards. Expect MSU to rely on him throughout the season, but if Bell gets injured, the Spartans could be in for a rough time.
8. Oklahoma- Well, preseason No.4 Oklahoma came out and laid an egg in week 1. They did end up beating UTEP 24-7, but c’mon. It’s Oklahoma against UTEP. That should be a game that should end up on ASU vs. NAU (63-6) or West Virginia vs. Marshall (69-34) proportions. They may have been the team I was most disappointed with this weekend (it could also be Pitt or Maryland, I’m not quite sure yet). If I were an Oklahoma fan I would worried about the tough games OU has left on their schedule (Kansas State, Texas, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Oklahoma State)
9. Georgia- This was not exactly the start the Georgia Bulldogs wanted. Hosting the Buffalo Bulls, UGA won 45-23. Aaron Murray was 15/26 for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns and Georgia ran 39 times for 227 yards and 2 TDs. 8 running backs (Including Murray) combined for that total, but it still has yet to be seen how much the Bulldogs will miss Isaiah Crowell (Who is now at Alabama State) but their real weakness is their defense which gave up 199 yards rushing and 347 yards total to the Bulls. If the defense can improve, the Dawgs can go to the SEC Championship. If not, this season may be rough.
10. South Carolina- They opened ESPN’s college football season on Thursday with a 17-13 win against Vanderbilt and RB Marcus Lattimore looked back to his pre-ACL tear form going for 110 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries. QB Connor Shaw was 7/11 for 67 yards and ran 14 times for 92 yards. I can’t see the Gamecocks continuing a system where the QB runs more than he passes, but if Connor Shaw can’t play (as of today he can’t lift his arm due to a bone bruise in his shoulder) then South Carolina may be in trouble against East Carolina.
11. Clemson- The Tigers opened the season against a fairly underrated Auburn team in an ACC/SEC mash-up. Behind QB Tajh Boyd, who threw for 208 yards and a TD and completed 24/34 passes, and RB Andre Ellington, who carried the ball 26 times for 231 yards, Clemson beat Auburn 26-19. Expect Clemson to get even better when WR Sammy Watkins returns from suspension week 3.
12. Arkansas- The Razorbacks dropped in my ratings not because of how they did, but because of how well other teams performed. Arkansas played Jacksonville State and won 49-24 in John L. Smith’s head coaching debut. Tyler Wilson was 19/27 for 327 yards and 3 TDs, and Kniles Davis ran for 70 yards on 18 carries. A solid week for Arkansas and they should only get better with Louisiana coming to Fayetteville next week.
13. Ohio State- They may not be able to go to a bowl this year but that didn’t stop the Buckeyes from going out and being extremely impressive in Urban Meyer’s OSU coaching debut. The Buckeyes went and blew Miami (OH) out of the stadium 56-10. Braxton Miller was 14/24 for 207 yards and 2 TDs. He also ran 17 times for 161 yards and a TD (an impressive 65-yard run). Also this game featured what may end up being the catch of the year on Miller’s first TD pass to Devin Smith. OSU defense also held the Redhawk’s run game to -1 yards which is pretty dang impressive
14. Oklahoma State- Could any team have been more impressive than the Oklahoma State Cowboys? Even though they played a mediocre team in Savannah State, they scored 84 points which is something to take notice of, as they lost Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars respectively. Freshmen JW Walsh and Wes Lunt went a combined 24/32 for 278 yards and 2 TDs. The Cowboys ran 42 times for 395 yards and 9 TDs. The Arizona Wildcats better watch out. They have a hell of challenge next week.
15. Notre Dame- The Irish finally started off a season on a high note. Notre Dame traveled to Dublin, Ireland to take on the Navy Midshipmen and acted like St. Patrick driving Navy out of Ireland. Sophomore QB Everett Golson was 12/18 with 144 yards and a TD (to All-American TE Tyler Eifert) and RBs Theo Riddick (19 carries, 107 yards, 2 TDs) and George Atkinson III (9 rushes, 99 yards, 2 TDs) led the Irish to a very impressive 50-10 victory. Next up: Purdue in South Bend.
16. Nebraska- The Cornhuskers took on Southern Miss on Saturday and was pretty impressive in a 49-20 win. Junior QB Taylor Martinez was 26/34 for 354 yards and 5 TDs. The Huskers held the Golden Eagles’ pass game to 75 yards and if they can keep that up they will be in pretty good shape to contend in the Legends division.
17. Michigan- Saturday was pretty much the Wolverines’ worst nightmare. They played Alabama in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, TX and lost 41-14. Denard Robinson was held to 27 yards rushing and 200 yards passing (most of which came on 2 plays) and was hurt at one point during the game. I don’t know if Michigan will be able to rebound from this but we will find out when Michigan faces their next big test against Notre Dame in South Bend on Sept. 22.
18. Texas- The reigning Holiday Bowl Champions came into 2012 and won their first game against the Wyoming Cowboys 37-17. QB David Ash was 20/27 for 156 yards and a touchdown and RBs Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown combined for 29 carries, 115 yards, and 3 TDs. I am not completely sure how good Texas can be, but we will get a good idea when Texas and Oklahoma meet in the Red River Rivalry on Oct. 13.
19. Wisconsin- Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien took over for Russell Wilson and did not have nearly the debut that Wilson did last year. The Badgers played the Northern Iowa Panthers (most famous for beating Kansas in the NCAA basketball tournament a few years ago) and gave up 265 yards and 3 TDs through the air, while only having 219 yards and 2 TDs through the air. Wisconsin did win 26-21, but I expected a lot more from a team with Montee Ball (32 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD, 3 rec, 31 yards) in the backfield and Bret Bielema at the helm.
20. TCU- They didn’t play this week, but they moved down one spot by virtue of performances of other teams. They should have a decent season and finish in the top half of the Big XII, but we’ll really get to know how good the Horned Frogs will be after they play Grambling State on Saturday.
21. Washington- The Huskies began their 2012 campaign by dispatching the San Diego State Aztecs 21-12. QB Keith Price, the star of this UW team, was 25/35 for 222 yards and a TD to lead the Huskies to victory. The UW defense gave up 199 yards rushing which they will have to improve on to compete with USC and Oregon. But if they can it can be a special season in Seattle.
22. Kansas State- The Wildcats followed an extremely successful 2011-2012 season where they finished 10-3, by opening up the 2012 season against Missouri State in Manhattan. QB Collin Klein was 19/28 for 169 yards and 2 TDs and RB John Hubert had 12 carries for 152 yards and a TD to lead the Wildcats to a 51-9 victory. This is a great start for K-State, but we will really see where they stand after their game against Oklahoma on Sept. 22.
23. North Carolina- The Tar Heels opened their 2012 campaign with an impressive 62-0 win over Elon. I realize it was Elon, but 62 points is regardless nonetheless. QB Bryn Renner was 14/21 for 236 yards and 3 TDs and the Heels ran the ball 46 times for 243 yards and 4 TDs. Based off of this performance this could be a great season for UNC, whose defense held Elon to 170 total yards.
24. Louisville- The Cardinals opened up this season by winning the Governor’s Cup against Kentucky, 32-14. QB Teddy Bridgewater was 19/21 for 232 yards and RBs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright combined for 38 carries, 213 yards, and 4 TDs. The only ranked Big East team and favorite goes on to face Missouri State next week.
25. Virginia Tech- The Hokies won a thriller in OT against the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech (that’s one of my favorite fight songs, so that might appear a few times here), 20-17. It wasn’t pretty which is why I dropped them down to #25. VT was a 15 spot favorite according to the AP poll so they should have won this game in regulation, but they did win, which is why they stayed in the poll. Logan Thomas finished 21/38 for 230 yards and 2 TDs, but the defense gave up 192 yards rushing and they missed a crucial field goal in regulation so I couldn’t keep them at 16. VT plays Austin Peay next week.