How the AP Top 25 should've looked after Week 1
I’m guessing those who associate SEC bias with their hate toward the elite aren’t too happy with Tuesday’s poll results.
Alabama and Texas A&M were very impressive in their respective games, downing nationally-ranked opponents in neutral-site venues with matching 21-point victories. And for that, should rightfully move up in the rankings.
Based on Saturday’s results and not falling victim to massive overreactions, here’s how the AP Top 25 should’ve looked based on Week 1 performances.
How the AP Top 25 Should’ve Looked
1. Ohio State (1-0; 61 first-place votes) — It’s halftime Monday night and I’m thinking to myself, ‘how is this team trailing after punching Virginia Tech in the mouth early in the game?’ The Buckeyes’ talent shined through in the second when Braxton Miller helped put the Hokies away, but it wasn’t a flawless performance by any stretch. Still, Urban Meyer looks like he has the most stacked team in the country and the schedule only gets easier from now until November.
2. Alabama (1-0) — I wouldn’t argue if a handful of voters placed the Crimson Tide at the top of this week’s poll after a performance worthy of a few first-place votes, but until Ohio State shows a glaring weakness, it deserves to be No. 1 as the defending national champs (who beat the team I deem behind them in last year’s semis). Alabama dismantled one of the Big Ten’s top-tier teams Saturday night and did so by using Derrick Henry as a human wrecking ball.
3. TCU (1-0) — The Horned Frogs dropped a spot in the AP Poll and I think writers got it right, but Gary Patterson has a point — any win on the road on Thursday night against a Power 5 school is worthy of applause. Listen, Minnesota had an entire offseason to prepare for Trevone Boykin and the Air Raid and for much of the contest, it showed. But TCU survived and advanced and that’s the sign of a good team led by veterans.
4. Baylor (1-0) — Seth Russell and the high-scoring Bears offense was a well-oiled machine by the second half, spoiling Chad Morris’ debut at SMU. There’s no doubt this is one of the best offenses in the country.
5. Auburn (1-0) — Yes, Jeremy Johnson threw three interceptions and yes, Auburn didn’t exactly show a killer instinct with a big lead, but the Tigers beat a quality opponent on a neutral field and that always holds value. Many think the victory over Louisville will look much better later in the season when the Cardinals are hovering near 10 wins.
6. Michigan State (1-0) — A 13-point win at Western Michigan won’t win brownie points and I don’t think the Spartans are a Top 5 team, at least not yet. Two Broncos receivers gashed an above-average secondary for a combined 24 catches, 263 yards and a touchdown. We’ll see the real Michigan State on Saturday against Oregon or this squad won’t be in the Top 10 for long.
7. Notre Dame (1-0) — Too high? No, and here’s why: Quarterback Malik Zaire is going to take the Fighting Irish a long way this season if Notre Dame’s defense continues to develop on the other side of the football. A 35-point smashing of Texas spelled doom for the Longhorns’ primary play-caller and made Charlie Strong a bit hot under the collar.
8. Oregon (1-0) — I saw bits and pieces of Vernon Adams’ debut as the Ducks’ new quarterback, but was alarmed at the sheer number of big plays Oregon’s defense gave up against Eastern Washington. The Ducks gave up five touchdown passes and 438 yards through the air, not a great look heading to East Lansing to face Connor Cook this weekend.
9. Georgia (1-0) — We’ve said it throughout the offseason — offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t have any excuses this season, transfer quarterback or not leading the way. Sony Michel, Keith Marshall and Nick Chubb ran with relentless aggression while Terry Godwin got in the mix early in the short to intermediate passing game, a great sign for this offense. Georgia deserves to be inside the Top 10. The Bulldogs would beat most of the Top 25, right now, on a neutral field.
10. USC (1-0)
11. Florida State (1-0)
12. UCLA (1-0)
13. Texas A&M (1-0) — From unranked to just outside the Top 10. The Aggies are the biggest mover in this week’s ‘How The Top 25 Should’ve Looked’ because they were the most impressive team during Week 1 across all of college football (in my opinion). Not only did Texas A&M unearth two new elite playmakers in Christian Kirk and Kyler Murray, but we saw a defensive intensity we haven’t witnessed during Kevin Sumlin’s tenure. I’ve always said when Texas A&M finds an elite defense to match its tough-to-defend Air Raid, look out.
14. Clemson (1-0)
15. Ole Miss (1-0) — Covering the Rebels’ rhythmic beating of UT-Martin gave me time in the second half to channel surf between other games around the country since I’d seen all I needed to see — this team is loaded with athletes and flexes an up-tempo offense with new wrinkles thanks to Chad Kelly.
16. LSU — I apologize for dropping the Tigers two spots from their No. 14 spot in the preseason and realize you’re not supposed to lose your starting job ‘due to injury’, but not getting a good grasp of how this offense is going to look under Brandon Harris breeds skepticism heading into a tough SEC — and now season — opener in Starkville.
17. Arkansas (1-0) — Brandon Allen’s improvement from the beginning of last season to now is noticeable and the Dan Enos dynamic will truly benefit the senior from a production standpoint. Over 300 yards passing and four touchdowns against UTEP revealed that opposing teams will have to respect Arkansas all over the field and not just at the line of scrimmage. I was impressed by the Razorbacks’ front seven on defense as well.
18. Georgia Tech (1-0)
19. Oklahoma (1-0)
20. Tennessee (1-0) — I know how many yards the Vols gave up against Bowling Green and plenty of y’all have reminded me of the total on Twitter this week. (Tennessee scored 59 points, btw) I watched the first 3.5 quarters and was surprised at the lack of adjustments Tennessee was making in the secondary. Oh yeah, two starters were out along with assistant coach Willie Martinez. That’ll do it. Expect a much better outing against Oklahoma at Neyland. If not, the Sooners’ newly-installed Air Raid will have its way.
21. Mizzou (1-0) — Is there really a small contingent of Mizzou fans calling for Drew Lock at quarterback? I’m admittedly not the biggest Maty Mauk fan and at times think he limits the Tigers’ offense, but he’s done nothing yet to warrant the pressure of looking over his shoulder. Mauk threw touchdown passes to J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown in the first quarter and had plenty of help from a defense that dominated in multiple areas.
22. Arizona (1-0)
23. BYU (1-0) — I’m putting the Cougars here instead of Boise State (1-0). I thought BYU’s win at Nebraska was more impressive than the Broncos’ squeak-by on the Smurf Turf against Washington. Of course, BYU’s stay in the Top 25 would be short-lived anyway considering its best player, quarterback Taysom Hill, is out for the season.
24. Utah (1-0)
25. Arizona State (0-1)
Other SEC notes: It wasn’t that Mississippi State, the league’s 10th team at No. 25 in Tuesday’s rankings, didn’t show me enough to warrant a spot in the poll, it was the voters’ complete dismissal of Arizona State that left me baffled. Ranked 15th in the preseason as a Pac-12 contender, Sun Devils dropped 10 spots out of the rankings after a loss to Texas A&M (a quality opponent). I didn’t think Arizona State deserved to fall out and would be a 6.5-point right now on a neutral field against the Bulldogs in my opinion. BYU’s win at Nebraska was also impressive and one could argue the Cougars were more deserving of a No. 25 ranking than Mississippi State.