Now that week one is over and the evidence has been checked, it’s time to reveal my top 25 teams right now in college football.
1. Alabama. They were my pick for the National Championship and I will stand by that. They did have an easy first game, a 48-7 blowout win over Kent State but the quarterback position is an issue. Both AJ McCarron and Philip Sims threw a pair of interceptions and while you can get away with it against Kent State, you won’t get away with it against Penn State. The Tide roll into Happy Valley for a massive test this weekend which could prove to be an early turning point in Alabama’s season.
2. LSU. With all the controversy surrounding the Bayou Bengals, many people (myself included) thought that LSU would be vulnerable against Oregon last week. Not so. Led by a stifling defence, Les Miles’ squad pounded the Ducks into submission and scored the most impressive win in week 1. Granted quarterback Jarrett Lee didn’t look that impressive last week but when the defence can force 4 turnovers which led to 13 points, he didn’t have to be. If Lee improves at quarterback the Tigers become one of the favourites for the national championship.
3. Oklahoma. Yes they won their first game rather easily. Yes quarterback Landry Jones looked impressive. Yes the Sooners are still the favourites to win the Big 12. Yes it’s early. Just not sold on the Sooners being better than the top 2 SEC teams yet. But if they can run the table, Oklahoma will move up in my rankings.
4. Stanford. An easy opening day win is just a start for the Cardinal. Andrew Luck looks like he will be the top pick in the draft. Their test will come later though. Wait and see.
5. Nebraska. Not the most impressive showing by the Cornhuskers but still a blowout win at home. They do have things to work on such as a slightly inconsistent offence but this is a solid team that has a shot. And it’s only week 1.
6. Boise State. A very impressive 35-21 win over Georgia should propel the Broncos to an excellent season. Quarterback Kellen Moore is becoming a Heisman candidate right before our eyes. The schedule is soft but if teams above them fall, the Broncos could be New Orleans bound in January.
7. Texas A&M. Very impressive first outing for the Aggies. A resounding 46-14 team over SMU is the kind of start coach Mike Sherman is looking for. Many people feel the Aggies are the team to challenge Oklahoma in the Big 12. With a move to the SEC looming, Texas A&M may be sending a message to that conference as well.
8. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will also have a say in the Big 12. But giving up 34 points at home to Louisiana-Lafayette isn’t the message they want to send. OK State must improve defensively or they won’t get past Oklahoma or A&M. Time will tell.
9. Virginia Tech. Another team with an easy first win but wait and see what the rest of the season brings. The Hokies are always strong especially with Frank Beamer patrolling the sidelines so they could be a dark horse in the National Championship picture.
10. Florida. There are those who think the Gators are a year or two away. While this may be true, Will Muschamp has put a stamp on this team already. A strong defence led the way to an easy first win and it prepares the Gators for a tough SEC schedule to come. I don’t expect them to win the SEC but they won’t be fun to play against.
11. Wisconsin. The Badgers simply destroyed UNLV on Thursday night and the Madison faithful are anticipating bigger and better things. However the running game wasn’t a factor and the defence were exposed at times. The Badgers need to shore things up before the Big 10 comes calling.
12. Arkansas. The Razorbacks didn’t miss Ryan Mallett last week. Then again they were playing Missouri State so the jury is still out on the Hogs. Still winning 51-7 is impressive and Arkansas do have high hopes this season. Another wait and see team.
13. South Carolina. The Gamecocks had quite the scare last weeks as they trailed East Carolina at halftime at home. But Steve Spurrier’s squad rebounded with a lights out second half that had South Carolina put up 42 second half points. The defence needs work though and Spurrier knows it. Things could get tricky in Columbia this season.
14. Ohio State. Who needs Jim Tressell and Terrelle Pryor? Well the Buckeyes didn’t last week. Then again they were playing Akron. A 42-0 shellacking of the Zips won’t convince everyone that Ohio State is out of the woods yet. Still it is a good start and the Buckeyes still have talent.
15. Michigan State. It wasn’t quite the start the Spartans wanted. Still a lacklustre 28-6 win over Youngstown State is better than a shocking loss. Michigan State didn’t look that interested but maybe they were playing down to the opponent. Still work needs to be done in East Lansing or there could be trouble for the green and white.
16. Baylor. That’s right Baylor. A shocking 50-48 upset over TCU puts the Bears in my rankings. The Bears nearly blew it in the end but hung on by the skin of their teeth to post the biggest win in many years. I don’t know if this will last but the people from Waco should enjoy it while it lasts.
17. West Virginia. The Mountaineers opened up their season with a solid 34-13 win over in-state rivals Marshall and look now to be the favourites in the Big East. Both sides of the ball looked sharp and this looks like a cohesive unit. They will have bigger tests but this is a good start for the kids at Morgantown.
18. Oregon. A season with lofty expectations began with an earth shattering thud. A 40-27 loss to LSU put the Ducks in a hole in which they may not get out of . Still they have a chance at the Pac 12 title but Oregon looked exposed and weakened by a better team. We’ll see if the boys from Eugene have the stones to recover.
19. Auburn. The great escape has some people are calling it. A narrow 42-38 win over Utah State gave the defending national champions a second life. But now questions are looming. How much do they miss Cam Newton? How much do they miss Nick Fairly? Can the defence rebound from a poor effort? Are they over the scandals that have affected the school? Many questions still to be answered.
20. Penn State. Joe Paterno can still coach. And he’s 187 years old. (allegedly) The Nittany Lions scored a 41-7 win over Indiana State but they litmus test comes on Saturday as Alabama makes a rare trip to Happy Valley. A mammoth game for both teams, Penn State will find out where they stand following this game. A must see.
21. South Florida. The Bulls survived the delays, the distractions, and the hype to score an upset win over Notre Dame in South Bend. The Bulls showed tremendous resiliency and character which should help them throughout the season. Yes I was surprised they won so I’m not sure what to expect next week but the Bulls could be a surprise team this year.
22. Arizona State. The Sun Devils opened up their season with a 48-14 win over UC Davis but things should get tougher for ASU. A home game against Missouri on Friday night could be a sign of where Arizona State is headed. A win could vault them into National Championship talks. A loss and they could be an also ran.
23. Missouri. The Tigers were not that impressive last week only putting up 17 points against Miami (Ohio). Even though Mizzou won the game but coach Gary Pinkel wasn’t happy with the team’s performance. A tough road game at Arizona State is next for Pinkel’s crew and they must play better than last week if they have any chance of winning.
24. Utah. The Utes started their first season in the Pac 12 with a 27-10 win over Montana State but the Utes will have to play better when they go up against conference opponents. The offence looked inconsistent and needs to finish off drives better. The Utes are a wait and see team right now so they do have room to improve.
25. USC. The Trojans are back. But just barely. A 19-17 squeaker over Minnesota gave Lane Kiffin’s squad a win, but not much else. Yes the Trojans are rebuilding. But if they want to stay on my list, they better step up their game.
Game to watch: Alabama at Penn State. No question this is the game of the week. Nick Saban vs Joe Paterno. SEC vs Big 10. The Crimson Tide vs. The “White Out” This should be good.