I am not a big fan of preseason rankings. I wish we did away with preseason rankings all together, but of course, that’s not the reality we live in. With a full week of games gone, I’m starting my Top 25 poll. Look for these weekly as I will update my Top 25 and give some analysis and reasoning why I rank the teams the way I do. So let’s dive in!
25 North Carolina
24 Virginia Tech
22 Ole Miss
21 Arizona State
Big wins for Virginia Tech, Auburn, and Ole Miss propel them into the Top 25. North Carolina drops to 25 after a poor performance against Virginia Tech. Sam Howell’s Heisman campaign takes a major hit, as UNC will have to continue tinkering with their offense after losing so much production to the NFL.
17 Coastal Carolina
Wisconsin slides to 19 after their poor offensive showing against Penn State. I was impressed with Wisconsin’s defense. I felt they stifled Penn State, only giving up a few big plays. Miami did not play well against Alabama, but that is because Alabama is just that good. Miami will be fighting UNC for a spot in the ACC Championship, but this might be their only loss of the season. Texas was in a dogfight against a good Louisiana team, and they did well to start the Steve Sarkisian era with a victory.
13 Penn State
UCLA might be the hottest team on the planet after demolishing Hawaii and getting a huge, program-defining win against LSU. LSU is not a great team, but this is a huge win for Chip Kelly. Penn State found a way to win at Wisconsin, but I am not impressed with their offense. Penn State hit a few long passes that set them up to score, but that was pretty much it. They really need to improve on that side of the ball, but just give OC Mike Yurcich a few weeks. Oregon struggled against Fresno State, so they need to improve quickly as they travel to Ohio State this week.
Iowa really impressed me in their thrashing of Indiana. They played stifling defense as they normally do at home. Iowa just flat shut down Michael Penix and the Indiana offense right from the kickoff. They were balanced on offense, and it was a really classic Kirk Ferentz Iowa performance. They mustered just 303 total yards of offense, but it doesn’t matter when you keep the other team out of the end zone and force turnovers. The 34-6 thrashing of Indiana sets up a top 10 matchup against Iowa State this week.
9 Texas A&M
Texas A&M struggled offensively against Kent State last week, mostly from their own doing. True freshman QB Haynes King had a debut that he probably wants to forget. He tossed 3 picks, but the Aggies won 41-10. They have plenty of time to improve, but they will lean on Isaiah Spiller and the running game and their strong defense. With two more tuneups before SEC play, the Aggies have some time to fix the mistakes they made against Kent State.
8 Notre Dame
Notre Dame had an 18 point lead in the 4th quarter and looked like they were going to cruise to victory against Florida State. Then Mackenzie Milton came in and Notre Dame could not stop Florida State. They ended up getting the win in OT, but blowing an 18 point lead in the 4th quarter is not a good sign of things to come. I am a big fan Jack Coan and I think he can lead ND back to the CFP, but he and the rest of the Irish are going to have to do a much better job of closing out games.
There is no reason Oklahoma should have in a 4 quarter game against Tulane. That is inexcusable for a program of their stature and a team that talented. However, they found a way to win. Spencer Rattler struggled, tossing 2 INTs. The defense did not look elite, but Oklahoma has the firepower to win shootouts if they limit turnovers. I like the potential for Oklahoma this year, but they have a huge obstacle between them and the Big 12 and a potential Playoff birth.
The Clemson offense was totally shutdown by Georgia’s defense. It’s a new look offense with DJ Uiagalelei behind center. He simply doesn’t have the mobility Trevor Lawrence had, and that changes everything for this Clemson offense. Still, most of their struggles were because of Georgia’s defense, which is the best in the country by the way. This loss was a major blow to Clemson’s Playoff chances, but with a great defense of their own, they aren’t out of it yet. OC Tony Elliott will have to find ways to get production out of this offense.
Let me just say that I love the Cincinnati Bearcats. I love their style, and the culture Luke Fickell has established there. I got to sit in on the Peach Bowl press conferences in January and just loved Fickell’s comments about his program and their approach as the premier Group of Five program right now. They handled Miami (OH) this week, much like they will do to their competition this season. They are the G5 team I most want to see in the Playoffs, so it pains me to have them at 5 this week.
4 Iowa State
Much like Cincinnati, I love Iowa State and their coach Matt Campbell. He truly has a National Championship contender in Ames this year. Northern Iowa gave them a scare this week, but UNI is consistently at the top in the FCS. Iowa State might have been looking a little ahead at Iowa this week. Iowa has been the Achille’s Heel for ISU, but will this be the year Matt Campbell takes home the Cy-Hawk Trophy? A win this week will cement Iowa State in the Playoff Picture. I see them as the clear favorite in the Big 12 heading in to Week 2.
3 Ohio State
Minnesota gave everything they had for Ohio State and nearly came out with a victory. True freshman CJ Stroud struggled at times for the Buckeyes, but he made the plays when they mattered most. Ohio State will continue to lean on their rushing game and tailback Miyan Williams. I think Williams is a top running back in the entire country. Ohio State’s defense looked strong, but it was obvious they were working thru the kinks of learning new DC Kerry Coombs. They will have to get the kinks worked out as Oregon comes to town this week. It could turn into a shootout because we know Ryan Day can scheme up any offense to get himself a win.
This really might be a 1a and 1b scenario. Alabama handled Miami with ease, which was not really a surprise. When will teams learn to stop poking the Grizzly Bear that is Nick Saban and his Alabama football program? The defense will have to fill the gaping hole left by Christopher Allen. Allen underwent surgery to repair a fractured foot this week and that will likely force him out for the season. Alabama’s offense didn’t seem to skip a beat with Bill O’Brien taking over as Offensive Coordinator and Bryce Young assuming starting QB duties. Young was nearly perfect against Miami. He was efficient and deadly with his arm and legs. He showed the poise of a 10 year vet of the NFL, not like the 20 year old sophomore he is. Alabama will have to keep their focus and avoid a let down this week as Mercer comes to town.
I feel like I have said this for 3 straight years, but this Georgia defense might be the best in the country. Last week, it was and it wasn’t even close. That unit absolutely shut down Clemson’s offense. Clemson could do literally nothing on offense. The defensive line was unblockable and in DJ’s face pretty much as soon as he caught the snap. I had questions about the secondary heading into the game, but they were flying around preventing the Clemson receivers from catching anything if the ball came their way, which was rare. The offense was lackluster, but likely mostly by design. Kirby Smart hates losing game by being over aggressive on offense. Being without your top 7 wide receivers, you have to play conservatively. JT Daniels’ numbers don’t jump off the page, but he showed he can be a game manager when he has to be. Georgia just needs to get healthy on offense, and we’ll see them near the top of the polls every week until December.
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