Projected top 25 college football rankings: Clemson and Georgia survive road tests, SEC drops
Projecting the many changes in the new AP Top 25 poll college football rankings after Week 2
Week 2 provided a return to normalcy for college football after a five-day onslaught opened the season a week ago. In terms of the new college football rankings set to be released on Sunday afternoon, that usually means not too much shake up after preseason expectations were adjusted following Week 1.
But that doesn't mean we weren't close to seeing some major changes.
Texas A&M had two chances to take No. 2 Clemson to overtime, one lost by a fumble out of the back of the end zone and another snuffed by an interception on a two-point try to tie, and South Carolina showed enough fight against No. 3 Georgia to have the outcome in doubt prior to the third quarter. But the Aggies did not pull off the upset, the Bulldogs routed the Gamecocks in the second half, and the top five will likely remain unchanged when the new AP Top 25 is released on Sunday afternoon.
South Carolina and Florida will likely fall out due to losses, while we expect USC to hang on despite losing at Stanford. The Cardinal could see a slight bump from the ranked win, but probably not past No. 7 Auburn thanks to the Tigers' win against Washington in Week 1. The rest of the ranked teams were winners this weekend, most by double-digits and many against FCS or Group of Five opponents.
So on a weekend where No. 2 and No. 3 were getting put to the test on the road, we leave Week 2 feeling confident in their position and more confident than ever in Alabama being No. 1.
Here's how we think the Top 25 will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Last week -- 1): Jalen Hurts did play, but Tua Tagovailoa played a ton -- well into the third quarter of a blowout win -- and this Alabama team sent a message with its all-too-easy disposal of a conference championship-caliber Arkansas State team.
2. Clemson (2): We could see the Tigers get jumped by Georgia based on margin of victory, but Clemson still got a dozen first-place votes last week while the Bulldogs didn't get any. Kelly Bryant proves to the be steadying hand under center and Clemson picks up a huge road win for its playoff profile.
3. Georgia (3): Thoughts that the Bulldogs might be challenged in the SEC East were mostly put to bed here in Week 2. Bowling over South Carolina was the first crucial game for Georgia to get back to the College Football Playoff, the next coming in two weeks at Missouri against the dangerous Drew Lock.
4. Ohio State (4): These blowout wins from Ohio State against Rutgers hardly phase us anymore. The Buckeyes may have won over some more believers as one of the best teams in the country, but most voters will hold out until after seeing them face TCU next week.
5. Oklahoma (6): Rodney Anderson left the Sooners' rout of UCLA with a knee injury in the first half, leaving an uneasy feeling for Oklahoma following what should have been a win worth celebrating. Anderson showed back up on the sideline in street clothes, and Lincoln Riley could only hope for the best, with no update on his status moving forward.
6. Wisconsin (5): If Jonathan Taylor's Heisman Trophy campaign is going to be pieced together with eye-popping stats, Saturday's win against New Mexico helped that effort. Taylor had a career-high 253 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and the passing game even opened up thanks to his effort.
7. Auburn (7): No stress for the Tigers in a 63-9 win against Alabama State.
8. Stanford (10): A dominant win against USC should lead to a bump for the Cardinal, and Notre Dame played Ball State just close enough to think that voters will slide Stanford up above the Irish and their Pac-12 North rivals, Washington.
9. Notre Dame (8): A classic spot in the Notre Dame schedule where a huge win is followed by playing its next game much closer than the experts (or fans) expected. Brandon Wimbush threw three interceptions and Notre Dame couldn't get much going on the ground outside of a few explosive plays. It's a win, but one that could cost a spot or two in the poll.
10. Washington (9): It's possible the Huskies jump Notre Dame, but I don't see voters rewarding a 45-3 win against North Dakota with big movement.
11. LSU (11): Like Washington, LSU should remain steady after a lopsided affair against the FCS foe on its schedule.
12. Virginia Tech (12): Legendary William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock told reporters that Virginia Tech's defensive front has been overlooked, and could rival Clemson's as the best in the ACC. After its performance against FSU and now these comments, Ricky Walker and the rest of that group might be overlooked for long.
13. Penn State (13): There is some real value in putting away an opponent for good, a lesson that the 2018 Penn State team nearly had to learn with a loss last week against Appalachian State. No such worries this week against Pitt as it rolled to a 51-6 win.
14. West Virginia (14): The Will Grier-Gary Jennings connection was unstoppable against Youngstown State. Jennings hauled in three of Grier's four touchdown passes in a 52-17 win that served as a great warm-up for next week's trip to Raleigh to play NC State.
15. TCU (16): Weather delays and an early SMU lead stirred attention, but the Horned Frogs put the Mustangs away and most voters were asleep by the time 42-12 win was in the books. No movement for TCU.
16. Mississippi State (18): Nick Fitzgerald is back but the real point of emphasis for Mississippi State in its road win at Kansas State is the emergence of running back Kylin Hill. Hill ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, and the Bulldogs won 31-10 in Manhattan.
17. UCF (19): Not a whole lot of work needed for the Knights to shut out South Carolina State 38-0. Up next is a road trip to Chapel Hill against a reeling 0-2 North Carolina team. The Tar Heels might be coming off a road loss to East Carolina, but every Power Five win counts in the eyes of the selection committee.
18. Boise State (20): The Broncos' 818 yards of total offense against UConn in a 62-7 win was not impressive only as a number that could stand as one of the most prolific offensive performances for any team in FBS vs. FBS competition, but also a balanced effort: Boise State had 418 passing yards and 400 rushing yards in a statement game that sets up for a huge matchup with Oklahoma State next week.
19. Michigan (21): Western Michigan walked into a hornets nest, and a Michigan offense badly in need of rhythm found it against the Broncos. The 49-3 romp should have put some confidence back into Michigan, returning to the September success we're used to seeing under Jim Harbaugh.
20. Miami (22): Speaking of get-right wins, Miami put up a school-record 77 points with a school-record margin in its 77-0 win against Savannah State.
21. USC (17): Hard to think the Trojans fall too far losing on the road to a top-10 team -- definitely down but not out of the top 25.
22. Oregon (23): Another game of Oregon putting up ridiculous offensive numbers and star quarterback Justin Herbert finishing the game rooting on his teammates from the sideline. We all agree the Ducks are explosive, but there won't be any big jumps in the poll until they are put to the test against Stanford in Week 4.
23. Utah (NR): The Utes didn't have much working on offense on the road against stout Northern Illinois team, but their defense once again led the way in a 17-6 win. There weren't many style points, but as one of the leading vote-getters outside of the top 25 last week I think Utah breaks into the rankings on Sunday.
24. Arizona State (NR): Herm Edwards notched a signature win in Week 2 of his return to college football, knocking off Mark Dantonio and top-15 ranked Michigan State at home in the night cap of an otherwise uneventful day in the polls. Not all the voters will be ready to make the Sun Devils much more than No. 25, but I bet they'll show up in enough ballots thanks to the sticker-shock on Sunday morning.
25. Boston College (NR): The high-flying Eagles offense has put up 117 points through two games with AJ Dillon rolling up 247 rushing yards with four total touchdowns. It's looking like either BC or Oklahoma State for this last spot in the AP poll, so I'll lean with the Dudes, the preseason dark horse darlings in the ACC.
Projected to drop out: Michigan State (15), South Carolina (24), Florida (25)
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