Inside Week 1 college football power rankings
2:22 | College Football
Inside Week 1 college football power rankings
Tuesday September 8th, 2015

Week 1 always poses a unique challenge to assessments of any team. Whether it looked good or bad, how much was a team's debut performance due to its own abilities and how much was due to its opponent's. This is why the College Football Playoff committee doesn't begin ranking teams until the middle of the season, when seven or eight games offer a larger sample size on which to evaluate teams' strengths and weaknesses.

But what's a Week 1 Power Ranker to do? Some results appeared to suggest more than others. Alabama's methodic steamroll of Wisconsin seems like pretty solid evidence that the Crimson Tide are among the top teams in the country. Other results are more muddled. Is TCU's narrow-but-never-seriously-in-doubt victory over Minnesota proof that the Horned Frogs are vulnerable this year? Or that Minnesota is a contender in the Big Ten? For now, we mostly have to hedge, assuming the answer is somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum. Only more games will tell if that assumption is correct.

College football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 1
    record: 1–0
    I was ready to make Alabama by No. 1 team and had the Crimson Tide in my top spot entering Monday night. I felt good about it at halftime of the Buckeyes’ opener against Virginia Tech. But then Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett proved no one can match Ohio State’s offensive weapons. The Buckeyes’ letdowns in the secondary against Michael Brewer raise some concern, but even if that takes some time to get fixed, they’ll be able to outscore anyone anyway. Look at what they did to a really good Hokies defense.
    Last game: Beat Virginia Tech 42–24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Hawaii

  • 2
    2Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 5
    record: 1–0
    The Crimson Tide looked just about flawless in their 35–17 win over Wisconsin. The biggest question about Alabama entering the season regarded who would play quarterback, but Jake Coker managed the role well, completing 15 of 21 passes for 213 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Those aren’t Heisman-worthy numbers, but the Tide don’t need that from their quarterback. Alabama showed how it can thrive on Saturday: A dominant defense that held the Badgers to 1.9 yards per carry and a dynamic running game that produced 238 yards and four scores.
    Last game: Beat Wisconsin 35–17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Middle Tennessee

  • 3
    3Baylor Bears
    last week: 6
    record: 1–0
    The 21 points the Bears allowed to SMU doesn’t concern me because A) Chad Morris knows a thing or two about offense, and B) once Baylor adjusted the defense was stifling. It’s understandable to be tripped up early in Week 1 when teams have no film from the current season to help them prepare. After using halftime to adapt, the Bears held the Mustangs to 3.3 yards per play. Meanwhile, Seth Russell proved Baylor’s offense wouldn’t slow down without Bryce Petty.
    Last game: Beat SMU 56–21
    Next game: Saturday vs. Lamar

  • 4
    4Notre Dame Fighting Irish
    last week: 4
    record: 1–0
    Even if Texas’s defense has regressed, the Fighting Irish’s dismantling was impressive. Malik Zaire looks like a Heisman threat after completing 19 of 22 passes for 313 yards with three scores. And Notre Dame’s defense was as good as advertised, manhandling Texas’s offensive line and limiting the Longhorns to 3.1 yards per play. Tarean Folston’s injury has reduced what was a deep crop of running backs to a thin unit, but Zaire’s stellar play can make up for that.
    Last game: Beat Texas 38–3
    Next game: Saturday at Virginia

  • 5
    5UCLA Bruins
    last week: 14
    record: 1–0
    He’ll need to keep it up for a few more weeks to completely erase the doubts, but true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen did just about everything he could in his debut to look like a star in the making. Rosen’s stats were incredible (28 of 35 for 351 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions), but more importantly his passes were crisp, accurate and with perfect touch. Surrounded by a veteran offense and an athletic defense that held Virginia to 2.9 yards per carry, Rosen can take the Bruins far if he continues to play at this level.
    Last game: Beat Virginia 34–16
    Next game: Saturday at UNLV

  • 6
    6Michigan State spartans
    last week: 7
    record: 1–0
    The Spartans deserve some credit for playing an underratedly difficult nonconference game against a rising power in the MAC on the road. They also deserve credit for finding some answers to off-season questions about who would replace Jeremy Langford in the backfield. LJ Scott and Madre London combined for 136 yards on 26 carries with two scores. However, in the defense’s first game without Trae Wayne and Kurtis Drummond in the secondary and Pat Narduzzi at coordinator, Michigan State gave up 365 yards to Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell. That’s a big concern heading into Saturday’s showdown with Oregon.
    Last game: Beat Western Michigan 37–24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Oregon

  • 7
    7TCU Horned Frogs
    last week: 3
    record: 1–0
    Who would have guessed it’d be the TCU defense that looked in better shape than the offense? The Horned Frogs returned only five starters on defense, two of whom missed the opener due to injuries, but still held Minnesota to 17 points and 4.6 yards per play. Trevone Boykin looked a little out of synch and missed some open throws he’d be expected to execute. But given his and the rest of the offense’s success last year, we’ll chalk up the missed throws as just shaking off the rust for now.
    Last game: Beat Minnesota 23–17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Stephen F. Austin

  • 8
    8Auburn Tigers
    last week: 2
    record: 1–0
    An optimist and a pessimist would both find plenty of fodder in the Tigers’ season-opening victory. New starting QB Jeremy Johnson looked in control at times, Peyton Barber emerged as Auburn’s new go-to back and Will Muschamp’s defense kept the Louisville run game in check through most of three quarters and intercepted Lamar Jackson on the first play from scrimmage. However, Johnson also tossed three picks, and Jackson found success on the ground late, rushing for 106 yards and rallying the Cardinals from a 24–0 deficit to within seven points. Most importantly though, the Tigers got a win in a challenging opener and have a tuneup against Jacksonville State before their next test at LSU.
    Last game: Beat Louisville 31–24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Jacksonville State

  • 9
    9Georgia Bulldogs
    last week: 11
    record: 1–0
    The Bulldogs did exactly what they were supposed to do in a cupcake opener. Nick Chubb and Keith Marshall dominated on the ground, Georgia’s defense stuffed Louisiana-Monroe’s running game and new quarterback Greyson Lambert built some confidence. We’ll have to wait for a team that forces the Dawgs to play a full 60 minutes—literally, as Saturday’s game was called early in the fourth quarter amid a lightning delay and a huge margin—before we can get a good assessment.
    Last game: Beat Louisiana-Monroe 51–14
    Next game: Saturday at Vanderbilt

  • 10
    10Oregon Ducks
    last week: 10
    record: 1–0
    We know the offense is in mid-season form. The Ducks dropped 61 on Eastern Washington behind a huge day from Royce Freeman (180 yards and three touchdowns) and a successful debut for transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (246 yards passing, two touchdowns, 94 yards rushing). But after losing several key pieces on defense, including end Arik Armstead and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon allowed its FCS opponent to rack up 42 points. Like their next opponent, Michigan State, the Ducks have some serious work to do on their pass defense.
    Last game: Beat Eastern Washington 61–42
    Next game: Saturday at Michigan State

  • 11
    11USC Trojans
    last week: 8
    record: 1–0
    There were no flaws to be found in the Trojans’ beatdown of Arkansas State. In addition to the expected successes—Cody Kessler was accurate and threw for four scores, Su’a Cravens had a interception—USC found plenty of positives in its running game, which had to replace lead back Buck Allen. That’s obviously what teams hope to get out of a tuneup game. We’ll wait to see if it carries over against more difficult foes.
    Last game: Beat Arkansas State 55–6
    Next game: Saturday vs. Idaho

  • 12
    12Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: 13
    record: 1–0
    Even within a slate full of routs of clearly overmatched opponents, Ole Miss’s shellacking of Tennessee-Martin stood out. Chad Kelly’s solid first start (9 of 15 for 211 yards with a score and an interception) was a promising sign for an offense that has plenty of star power in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, tight end Evan Engram and left tackle Laremy Tunsil (who was held out of the opener amid an ongoing NCAA investigation) but more uncertainty about how to capitalize on that star power. Even defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche got in on the offensive onslaught, catching a 31-yard touchdown pass and showing off some blazing open-field speed in the process.
    Last game: Beat Tennessee-Martin 76–3
    Next game: Saturday vs. Fresno State

  • 13
    13Clemson Tigers
    last week: 12
    record: 1–0
    It was good to see Deshaun Watson back and moving well on the field after tearing his ACL last season. Wide receiver Mike Williams’s neck fracture thankfully wasn’t much worse, but he’ll still be a huge loss for the Tigers after racking up 1,030 receiving yards last year. Given the quality of the competition, Saturday’s opener didn’t tell us much about the biggest off-season concern for Clemson, an offensive line that returns just one starter.
    Last game: Beat Wofford 49–10
    Next game: Saturday vs. Appalachian State

  • 14
    14Florida State Seminoles
    last week: 9
    record: 1–0
    An offense that seemed to have no sure thing a month ago certainly looked impressive Saturday. Dalvin Cook, back on the field after being found not guilty of battery, led a rushing attack that gained 266 total yards with 156 yards of his own on 19 carries. Quarterback Everett Golson seemed in command of his new offense, matching his career high with four touchdown passes. Golson will have plenty more time to perfect his knowledge of the playbook as the Seminoles likely won’t face a true test until mid-October.
    Last game: Beat Texas State 59–16
    Next game: Saturday vs. South Florida

  • 15
    15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
    last week: 19
    record: 1–0
    The Yellow Jackets’ running backs seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Despite losing its top four running backs from last season, Georgia Tech rolled out a new crop against Alcorn State and calmly racked up 476 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets didn’t even need Justin Thomas, who didn’t play after the first quarter.
    Last game: Beat Alcorn State 69–6
    Next game: Saturday vs. Tulane

  • 16
    16Oklahoma Sooners
    last week: 21
    record: 1–0
    Lincoln Riley’s first game implementing the Air Raid offense and Baker Mayfield’s first game executing it in Norman was a resounding success for the Sooner. Mayfield threw for 388 yards with three touchdowns; more importantly, he showed better discipline than when he posted a 12-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a freshman at Texas Tech. The junior didn’t turn the ball over in his Oklahoma debut. But now things get more difficult as the Sooners prepare to take on Tennessee.
    Last game: Beat Akron 41–3
    Next game: Saturday at Tennessee

  • 17
    17Texas A&M Aggies
    last week: NR
    record: 1–0
    The Aggies picked up the biggest win of the week with their 38–17 victory over Arizona State. John Chavis’s defense showed tremendous improvement and a ferocious pass rush that got to Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici nine times. Defensive end Daeshon Hall picked up four sacks alone. The Aggies may not have settled on a quarterback, but that’s only because both had success, Kyle Allen through the air and Kyler Murray on the ground. True freshman receiver Christian Kirk proved he’s going to be phenomenal with a ridiculous 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
    Last game: Beat Arizona State 38–17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Ball State

  • 18
    18Arkansas Razorbacks
    last week: 22
    record: 1–0
    The Razorbacks were expected to have a powerful running game. They did. They were expected to have a physical defense. They did. What wasn’t expected was for quarterback Brandon Allen to sling the ball for 308 yards on 14-of-18 passing. With a dearth of proven passers in the SEC, if Allen can continue to thrive in new coordinator Dan Enos’s offense, he could give Arkansas a huge edge.
    Last game: Beat UTEP 48–13
    Next game: Saturday vs. Toledo

  • 19
    19LSU Tigers
    last week: 23
    record: 0–0
    Weather deprived us of the Tigers’ debut Saturday, as lightning forced a delay with 10:08 left in the first quarter and continued throughout the evening, making a restart impossible. For whatever it’s worth, Brandon Harris was 1 of 2 for minus-4 yards and Leonard Fournette rushed twice for 11 yards before the delay.
    Last game: Cancelled vs. McNeese State
    Next game: Saturday at Mississippi State

  • 20
    20Missouri Tigers
    last week: 20
    record: 1–0
    Despite being one of the more experience passers in the SEC, Maty Mauk faces an abundance of questions about whether he can lead the Tigers’ offense consistently. A games like Saturday’s won’t change that. Mauk threw for 181 yards on 12-of-22 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. That’d be an O.K. line against a stout SEC defense, but Missouri fans would like to see more against Southeast Missouri State. Tigers fans will be more than happy with Kentrell Brothers after the linebacker made 16 tackles and blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown.
    Last game: Beat Southeast Missouri State 34–3
    Next game: Saturday at Arkansas State

  • 21
    21Arizona Wildcats
    last week: 15
    record: 1–0
    It’s important to remember that despite the incredible exploits of linebacker Scooby Wright III, the Wildcats fielded a pretty average defense last year. UTSA’s 32 points in the opener against Arizona therefore look like more of the same. With Wright out after undergoing a procedure for a lateral meniscus tear, the Wildcats will have to figure out how they can avoid a huge letdown when their margin for error is already small. On the positive side, Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson look solid driving the offense.
    Last game: Beat UTSA 42–32
    Next game: Saturday at Nevada

  • 22
    22Boise State Broncos
    last week: 16
    record: 1–0
    With Washington’s top-to-bottom offensive uncertainty and its loss of four key contributors on defense, the Broncos’ three-point win felt like a disappointment. Sorry, Boise State, it’s the burden of big expectations. The Broncos’ veteran defense lived up to its preseason reputation, and running back Jeremy McNichols looks poised for a breakout year after rushing for two touchdowns Friday. But McNichols will need new quarterback Ryan Finley to give the offense better balance or else defenses will key in on the run like Washington did. After rushing for 69 yards by earlier in the second quarter, McNichols picked up just 20 the rest of the game.
    Last game: Beat Washington 16–13
    Next game: Saturday at BYU

  • 23
    23Utah Utes
    last week: NR
    record: 1–0
    Jim Harbaugh’s debut was set up for failure when he took a team whose weaknesses were on the offensive line and at quarterback to Salt Lake City to play against a ferocious front seven. Naturally, the Utes capitalized, picking off Rudock three times and holding Michigan to 2.6 yards per carry. If Utah can comfortably win game when running back Devontae Booker is held to 69 yards, that’s a good sign for the Utes.
    Last game: Beat Michigan 24–17
    Next game: Friday vs. Utah State

  • 24
    24Tennessee Volunteers
    last week: NR
    record: 1–0
    It’s been nearly eight years since the Volunteers won a game as a ranked team, and they did so with plenty of offensive firepower. Josh Dobbs was efficient while passing for 205 yards with two touchdowns. Tennessee dominated the game on the ground, gaining 399 yards with six rushing touchdowns. Still, the Vols have to be concerned about a defensive backfield that allowed 433 passing yards without LaDarrell McNeil and Rashaan Gaulden, who went down with injuries in the preseason. The secondary’s job won’t get any easier this week against Oklahoma’s Air Raid attack.
    Last game: Beat Bowling Green 59–30
    Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma

  • 25
    25Oklahoma State cowboys
    last week: NR
    record: 1–0
    The Cowboys had to scramble from a second-half deficit to avoid an ugly loss to start the season. Perhaps they can use that as a positive as they already know they can rally back, but it’s still hardly an encouraging beginning. A more positive takeaway is that Mason Rudolph adds a dual-threat dimension to Oklahoma State’s offense that it didn’t have last year with Daxx Garman. Rudolph threw for 266 yards with one touchdown and rushed 21 yards for another score.
    Last game: Beat Central Michigan 24–13
    Next game: Saturday vs. Central Arkansas

Next five: BYU, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona State, Cincinnati

2:04 | College Football
Heisman Watch: Week 1 review

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