Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Auburn, Wisconsin to jump in college football rankings after chalky Week 1
Twenty-four of the teams in the Preseason AP Top 25 started 2019 with a victory
It's been an unusually chalky start to the season for the top 25 teams in the college football rankings. With Week 0 and Week 1 in the books, just one team from the Preseason AP Top 25 started the year with a loss, and even that defeat -- No. 11 Oregon falling to No. 16 Auburn in the final minute -- doesn't come as a huge stunner given the expectations going into the game and the fact that one team had to lose in the only matchup of top 25 opponents thus far.
Scanning over the last decade-plus of Preseason AP Top 25 rankings, you won't find such opening weekend consistency from the initial top 25. In 2014, there were three teams that took losses in their opening games, but like Oregon, every one of those defeats came in games against other ranked teams. An unranked team knocking off a ranked team out of the gate creates buzz, whether its Maryland over Texas in 2017 and 2018 or South Florida over Notre Dame in 2011, but such headline-stealing upsets were absent from this year's slate.
So instead the shifts in the AP Top 25 are going to be limited to perceptions, which leaves the door open for high levels of variance. Our big bet that is most of the top 25 will be status quo, but the teams near the end of the rankings that failed to impress could find themselves out even after winning in Week 1 because of heightened support for teams that were ranked just outside the top 25 in the preseason.
Boise State, for example, was the eighth team out (No. 33) but traveled to the Sunshine State, had its game moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, and still proceeded to come back from a 31-13 deficit to shut out Florida State in the second half and leave with a win. That team received some votes as a top 25 team before the season, and I can almost guarantee it will receive more from the voters after knocking off the Seminoles. Such moves mean someone else has to get bumped, even if that team -- like 23 others from the preseason top 25 -- started the year with a win.
Here's how we think the AP Top 25 will look when the new poll is released on Tuesday:
1. Clemson (Last week -- 1): The preseason split on first-place votes was 52-10 in favor of the Tigers, and I don't expect that advantage to be shifted much after the 52-14 win against Georgia Tech.
2. Alabama (2): It's not that Alabama didn't look good vs. Duke. When you consider those level of play shown by underclassmen forced into action because of injuries, suspensions and other attrition, you could argue the performance by the Tide in Week 1 was great. Just not enough to cause a "who's No. 1" controversy.
3. Georgia (3): The Bulldogs' boa constrictor was on full display as they physically overwhelmed Vanderbilt on the line of scrimmage and cruised to a 30-6 win.
4. Oklahoma (4): The difference in polling points between Georgia and Oklahoma isn't quite low enough to think the Sooners will overtake the Bulldogs based on instant reactions to Jalen Hurts' debut. But I won't be surprised if they are neck-and-neck heading into Week 2.
5. Ohio State (5): Ryan Day's debut provided the fireworks needed to give Justin Fields some confidence as the team's QB1 and set the stage for a run at a Big Ten title. But given the Conference USA opponent, I don't think we see any adjustment in the polls.
6. LSU (6): No look-ahead issues as the Tigers as they warmed up for Week 2's trip to Texas by beating Georgia Southern by 52 points.
7. Michigan (7): This was probably one of those "sorry was watching Auburn-Oregon and transcribing" games for many voters. Shea Patterson put Michigan up early and then action slowed a bit late. No major adjustments for a game that didn't grab much attention.
8. Florida (8): Week 0 feels like it is forever ago, and there's been enough bad football since then for voters to forget whatever issues they might have felt with the Gators' top-10 status. When you compare it to the performances of other Year 2 coaches, Dan Mullen's opener looks great.
9. Notre Dame (9): This year's Irish team is solid. Not flashy, not especially elite in any one area, but strong up and down the roster and capable of beating every team on its schedule. Notre Dame might lack the star power to beat the likes of the top-five, national title-contended types, but I wouldn't favor more than six or seven teams in the country over the Irish on a neutral field.
10. Texas (10): The back-ness of Texas will be put to the test against LSU, not in a 45-14 win against Louisiana Tech.
11. Auburn (16): The drop-off from No. 10 to No. 11 in the preseason poll is the first big dividing line, so I think Auburn will jump to the front of the next tier after its win against Oregon, previously holding that No. 11 spot.
12. Wisconsin (19): Going to Tampa and totally dominating Charlie Strong's South Florida team is going to have a lingering impression on voters, especially the ones who took time to tune in to the lopsided win on Friday night. Wisconsin started last year in the top-10 and finished the year unranked, but now look much closer to that top-10 status after a imposing their will for 60 minutes against the Bulls.
13. Texas A&M (12): No shame in dropping a spot here for the Aggies. It's just that they beat Texas State by a bunch in a game that didn't get much attention while Auburn and Wisconsin left more of an impression.
14. Utah (14): Kyle Whittingham is Utah football, and this year's team is Kyle Whittingham. The Pac-12 South favorites looked the part in a 30-12 win against BYU.
15. Penn State (15): I know it was Idaho ... but 79 points? The young blue chippers for James Franklin might be ready to show out and live up to that hype in 2019.
16. Washington (13): There's going to be a hesitation to make a lot out of Jacob Eason's impressive debut for the Huskies, but this was an FCS win. That's not enough to hold your ground in a handful of teams fighting amongst themselves for a few spots in the polls.
17. UCF (17): No movement for the Knights after a 62-0 win against Florida A&M that made everyone in the black and gold, including Brandon Wimbush, look like all-everything talents.
18. Oregon (11): It's possible that the Ducks get dropped down into the 20s, but this team belongs on a tier with its peers at the top of the Pac-12.
19. Michigan State (18): Is everything all good now with Michigan State's offense? Hard to feel great after a 28-7 win against Tulsa but not ready to sell stock after just one week.
20. Iowa (20): Hype builds for the Iowa State Cy-Hawk Trophy. It's an elimination battle to see who gets bumped from the top 25.
21. Washington State (23): The ceiling might have been 2018 as the Cougars went 11-2 and finished in the top 10, but the floor has clearly raised to a top-25 level even in rebuilding years. A 58-7 win against New Mexico State suggests all is well in Pullman after last year's success.
22. Syracuse (22): The offense needs to clean things up a little but the Orange defense ran the show in a 24-0 win against Hugh Freeze (from the hospital bed in the press box) and Liberty.
23. Iowa State (21): Was needing three overtimes against Northern Iowa a reflection of what's to come in 2019 for the Cyclones or just a rivalry, Iowa-infused cluster of a game that was meant for craziness from the start? Hard to tell from the result, but I think the near-upset will be enough for a two-spot drop in the polls.
24. Boise State (NR): I know Florida State wasn't ranked, but it was favored and the unique circumstances of that game will get attention for the way the Broncos not only withstood the initial surge but got stronger and more dominant late in the game.
25. Nebraska (24): There is a chance Nebraska gets bumped from the top 25 after needing three non-offensive touchdowns in a 14-point win against South Alabama, but there's a certain lack of great options behind them from the preseason polling that will limit enough of a consensus to get both the Cornhuskers and Stanford out of the top 25.
Projected to drop out: Stanford (25)
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