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College football Week 2 power rankings
1:56 | College Football
College football Week 2 power rankings
Monday September 14th, 2015

The weeks that appear to have the more boring schedules typically produce the most craziness, and Week 2 was no exception. Toledo over Arkansas? Auburn needing overtime to beat Jacksonville State? Notre Dame almost losing to Virginia? BYU winning on another Hail Mary?

We’re still in the very early phases of learning about every team, but now we know a bit more. Every result, good, bad and in between, shapes our understanding of each squad because it makes up 50% of their body of work to this point.

So, with plenty of volatility surely still to come, here’s where the college football picture stands after Week 2:

College football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Ohio State Buckeyes
     
    last week: 1
    record: 2–0
    After the defense’s sluggish start to the season against Virginia Tech, it was a positive sign to see the Buckeyes blank Hawaii. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t amazed yet (three touchdowns Saturday but 3.7 yards per carry), and neither Cardale Jones nor J.T. Barrett looked fully in sync against the Rainbow Warriors, but the diversity of weapons gives Ohio State flexibility. It only needs a few of its options functioning in high gear to pile on the points.
     
    Last week: Beat Hawaii 38–0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Northern Illinois

  • 2
    2Alabama Crimson Tide
     
    last week: 2
    record: 2–0
    Steady dominance defines Alabama’s start to the season. Derrick Henry looks like a Heisman-caliber running back, and Jake Coker continues to move the ball methodically through the air. The Crimson Tide defense held Middle Tennessee to 3.7 yards per play while forcing four turnovers. Alabama will need more situational efficiency to avenge last year’s loss to Ole Miss, though; the Tide converted just four of 13 third downs Saturday.
     
    Last week: Beat Middle Tennessee 37–10
    Next week: Saturday vs. Ole Miss

  • 3
    3Michigan State Spartans
     
    last week: 6
    record: 2–0
    There’s a lot of the season left to play, but the Spartans’ win over Oregon keeps the possibility of two Big Ten teams making the playoff alive. Michigan State’s pass defense has taken a step back from its past units, but the Spartans remain stout in the trenches, helping them hold Oregon to 2.9 yards per carry. The biggest surprise of Michigan State’s season has been the reloaded run game, which cranked out some game-changing scampers Saturday night, including three rushes for 18 yards or more.
     
    Last week: Beat Oregon 31–28
    Next week: Saturday vs. Air Force

  • 4
    4UCLA Bruins
     
    last week: 5
    record: 2–0
    It’s too much to expect true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen to put up eye-catching numbers and lead UCLA’s offense every week. Luckily for the Bruins, they don’t need him to. Rosen was average against UNLV on Saturday, but Paul Perkins stole the show, rushing for 151 yards and two scores on 18 carries. Defensive tackle Eli Ankou (five tackles, two tackles for loss) filled in nicely for Eddie Vanderdoes, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, but we won’t really get a sense of how big of a loss that is until the Bruins face BYU this week.
     
    Last week: Beat UNLV 37–3
    Next week: Saturday vs. BYU

  • 5
    5Baylor Bears
     
    last week: 3
    record: 2–0
    For the second straight game, Baylor got off to a rough start. But just like last week, once the Bears found their rhythm, they proved they’ll be incredibly tough to keep up with. Quarterback Seth Russell turned the ball over four times, including three in the first half that allowed Lamar to tie the game at 21. But early-season games against overmatched opponents are designed to allow new starters to get their mistakes out of the way. As long as he doesn’t make a habit of it, Baylor will be just fine.
     
    Last week: Beat Lamar 66–31
    Next week: Saturday vs. Rice
     

  • 6
    6TCU Horned Frogs
     
    last week: 7
    record: 2–0
    The Horned Frogs shrugged off last week’s surprisingly sloppy debut on offense with a 70-point outburst Saturday. It was only Stephen F. Austin, but seeing Trevone Boykin pass for four touchdowns in just over a half was an encouraging sign after he uncharacteristically missed on some throws against Minnesota.
     
    Last week: Beat Stephen F. Austin 70–7
    Next week: Saturday vs. SMU

  • 7
    7USC Trojans
     
    last week: 11
    record: 2–0
    Two weeks, two blowouts for the Trojans. A combined 104–15 margin through two games is definitely impressive, but we won’t get a sense of whether USC can actually contend for a Pac-12 title until it starts facing some tougher competition. Luckily, that begins this week, with the Trojans’ conference opener against Stanford.
     
    Last week: Beat Idaho 59–9
    Next week: Saturday vs. Stanford

  • 8
    8Ole Miss Rebels
     
    last week: 12
    record: 2–0
    Like USC, it’s hard to know how much to make of Ole Miss lighting up the scoreboard when the onslaught of points has come against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State. Still, given the Rebels’ quarterback uncertainty entering the season, Chad Kelly’s hot start (29 of 40 for 557 yards with six touchdowns and one interception) is definitely enticing. But can it continue against Alabama? Kelly better hope Laremy Tunsil’s eligibility situation gets cleared up soon, as he’ll need the All-America tackle to handle the Crimson Tide’s front seven.
     
    Last week: Beat Fresno State 73–21
    Next week: Saturday at Alabama

  • 9
    9Clemson Tigers
     
    last week: 13
    record: 2–0
    We’ll finally get a realistic sense of how Clemson is coping with its massive losses this off-season (only one returning offensive line starter and three returning defensive starters) in Thursday’s trip to Louisville. So far the signs have been positive, including in Saturday’s beatdown of Appalachian State. Deshaun Watson continues to look like a star in his return from a torn ACL, and the Tigers’ rebuilt defense shut out the Mountaineers in the first half.
     
    Last week: Beat Appalachian State 41–10
    Next week: Thursday at Louisville

  • 10
    10Florida State Seminoles
     
    last week: 14
    record: 2–0
    Everett Golson isn’t the game-changing transfer overly optimistic Seminoles fans might have hoped he’d be. He’ll produce at times, as he did in the second half Saturday, completing 13 of 17 passes for 157 yards, but he’ll also disappoint, as he did in the first half, completing just one of nine passes for six yards. In both the good and bad times, though, he’ll have Dalvin Cook, and that’s why Florida State can win the ACC. Cook made a strong claim to be the best running back in the country with his 30-carry, 266-yard, three-score performance that at times single-handedly drove the Seminoles’ offense Saturday.
     
    Last week: Beat South Florida 34–14
    Next week: Friday at Boston College
     

  • 11
    11Notre Dame Fighting Irish
     
    last week: 4
    record: 2–0
    A season that looked like it could end in a playoff berth after Week 1 is quickly disintegrating for the Fighting Irish. They’ve already weathered season-ending injuries to cornerback Shaun Crawford, defensive tackle Jarron Jones and running back Tarean Folston, as well as the ineligibility of running back Greg Bryant. But quarterback Malik Zaire’s fractured ankle seems one bad break too much (and now tight end Durham Smythe is out for the season, too). New starter DeShone Kizer is bound to slip up due to his inexperience, particularly given that three of his first five starts are against Georgia Tech, Clemson and USC. Aside from Zaire’s injury, Virginia managed to hang with Notre Dame on Saturday thanks to a lackluster performance from the Irish’s secondary, which allowed Cavaliers passer Matt Johns to throw for 289 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That won’t cut it, no matter who’s under center for Notre Dame.
     
    Last week: Beat Virginia 34–27
    Next week: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech

  • 12
    12Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
     
    last week: 15
    record: 2–0
    Georgia Tech leading the nation in rushing offense is nothing new, but after the Yellow Jackets lost essentially all of their running backs from last season, it’s still an auspicious sign. That’s especially true given how large the margin is between Georgia Tech and the next closest team (Air Force). With an average of 457.5 yards on the ground per game, the Ramblin’ Wreck lead the Falcons by nearly 50 yards. When an option offense is averaging 67 points per game, the rest of the country has reason to be nervous.
     
    Last week: Beat Tulane 65–10
    Next week: Saturday at Notre Dame

  • 13
    13Oklahoma Sooners
     
    last week: 16
    record: 2–0
    How Oklahoma recovered offensively from its 17–3 fourth-quarter deficit is fairly obvious. Quarterback Baker Mayfield shrugged off three quarters of lackluster play to complete 11 of 12 passes for 103 yards with three touchdowns and another on the ground in the fourth quarter and overtime. Equally critical was how quickly Mayfield got the ball back due to the Sooners’ shutdown defense. Beginning late in the third quarter, Tennessee didn’t get another first down in regulation. Oklahoma beat the Volunteers on first and second down during that stretch, leaving them with third downs that required 25, 21 and 15 yards to convert.
     
    Last week: Beat Tennessee 31–24 in 2OT
    Next week: Saturday vs. Tulsa

  • 14
    14Georgia Bulldogs
     
    last week: 9
    record: 2–0
    Nick Chubb and the rest of Georgia’s rushing attack is obviously the strength of the Bulldogs’ offense. But they’ll need some help from the passing game to live up to preseason expectations of an SEC title. Quarterback Greyson Lambert didn’t complete a pass in the first half Saturday, and Georgia finished the game with just 141 yards on 13-of-25 passing. That’s fine when Chubb picks up 9.9 yards per carry, but is it sustainable?
     
    Last week: Beat Vanderbilt 31–14
    Next week: Saturday vs. South Carolina

  • 15
    15Oregon Ducks
     
    last week: 10
    record: 1–1
    If the College Football Playoff gives us a rematch of the Ducks’ meeting with Michigan State, I will be perfectly satisfied. I’d love to see what Oregon could do against the Spartans when its starting quarterback has more than a month in the system to prepare. That’s not an excuse for the Ducks, who presumably picked Adams to start because they felt he gives them the best chance right now. But Oregon should improve as the season goes on and Adams gets more comfortable.
     
    Last week: Lost to Michigan State 31–28
    Next week: Saturday vs. Georgia State
     

  • 16
    16LSU Tigers
     
    last week: 19
    record: 1–0
    Similar to Georgia, LSU is winning with almost no support from its passing game. However, that’s still an improvement for the Tigers from trying to win while being dragged down by their passing game. Brandon Harris offered little balance to LSU’s offense against Mississippi State—he completed just nine of 14 passes for 71 yards—but at least he didn’t harm the Tigers. That’ll be enough to win plenty of games with Leonard Fournette (159 yards, three scores) in the backfield.
     
    Last week: Beat Mississippi State 21–19
    Next week: Saturday vs. Auburn

  • 17
    17BYU Cougars
     
    last week: NR
    record: 2–0
    Don’t let BYU get the ball down by less than a touchdown late. Just don’t do it. With quarterback Tanner Mangum, filling in for the injured Taysom Hill, and back-to-back weeks of incredible luck and vertical jumping skills, the Cougars have to be among the most feared teams in the country. So let the pain of Nebraska and Boise State be a lesson to you, UCLA: Build a big lead or face the Hail Mary consequences.
     
    Last week: Beat Boise State 35–24
    Next week: Saturday at UCLA

  • 18
    18Texas A&M Aggies
     
    last week: 17
    record: 2–0
    Texas A&M did what it was supposed to Saturday, dominating Ball State on both sides of the ball. Kyle Allen was efficient with his passing, and the Aggies’ ground game got rolling, which didn’t really happen against Arizona State last week. However, Texas A&M falls a bit in this week’s rankings because Arizona State required two fourth-quarter scores to break a tie with Cal Poly. If the Sun Devils prove to be far less than the Pac-12 contender they were expected to be, the Aggies’ Week 1 win becomes much less significant.
     
    Last week: Beat Ball State 56–23
    Next week: Saturday vs. Nevada

  • 19
    19Auburn Tigers
     
    last week: 8
    record: 2–0
    Nothing Auburn has done on the field makes it deserving of a top 25 ranking, especially not the Tigers’ come-from-behind overtime win over Jacksonville State. They remain here because, despite two very disappointing games, they’ve only played two games. Auburn is off to a horrid start, but the sample size is too small to entirely dismiss what the Tigers were projected to be. If they don’t turn things around, beginning this weekend with their trip to LSU, then they’ll drop out of the rankings.
     
    Last week: Beat Jacksonville State 27–20 in OT
    Next week: Saturday at LSU

  • 20
    20Utah Utes
     
    last week: 23
    record: 2–0
    With quarterback Travis Wilson providing just enough balance on offense, powerful running back Devontae Booker and a ferocious front seven are capable of allowing Utah to compete with anyone. Luckily for the Utes, Wilson is expected to be back by their Week 4 showdown with Oregon after injuring his shoulder against Utah State. The senior has give Utah what it needs, completing 73.3% of his passes for 284 yards so far. The bigger concern now is when stud defensive end Hunter Dimick will return after he left Friday’s game with a knee injury.
     
    Last week: Beat Utah State 24–14
    Next week: Saturday at Fresno State
     

  • 21
    21Arizona Wildcats
     
    last week: 21
    record: 2–0
    As long as the duo of quarterback Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson is racking up yards, Arizona will be in contention. When the Wildcats defense is holding opponents to 4.3 yards per play, as it did Saturday, then watch out. Nevada lacks the offense of Arizona’s Pac-12 rivals, but the Wildcats got everything they wanted out of this nonconference matchup. It’ll definitely help the defense build confidence that it can still do its part without Scooby Wright III.
     
    Last week: Beat Nevada 44–20
    Next week: Saturday vs. Northern Arizona

  • 22
    22Northwestern Wildcats
     
    last week: NR
    record: 2–0
    The Wildcats followed up Week 1’s upset of Stanford with a blowout of Eastern Illinois. In past years Northwestern has struggled with playing down to lesser opponents, so it can draw some positives from Saturday, despite its clearly inferior opposition. Good teams rout FCS opponents, so for a Northwestern team hoping to prove that it is good and that its season-opening win wasn’t a fluke, Saturday’s win still means something.
     
    Last week: Beat Eastern Illinois 41–0
    Next week: Saturday at Duke

  • 23
    23Oklahoma State Cowboys
     
    last week: 25
    record: 2–0
    The Cowboys beat Central Arkansas by less than Samford did the week before, so while Saturday’s victory was hardly close, it’s nothing to brag about either. If lead running back Chris Carson can rush for just 2.8 yards per carry against the Bears, he’ll struggle to give Oklahoma State a ground game against Big 12 defenses. Mason Rudolph’s 11.5 yards per attempt and the defense’s 3.4 yards allowed per play were more positive signs.
     
    Last week: Beat Central Arkansas 32–8
    Next week: Saturday vs. UTSA

  • 24
    24Missouri Tigers
     
    last week: 20
    record: 2–0
    Missouri’s win over Arkansas State paled in comparison to USC’s rout of the Red Wolves, but with lead running back Russell Hansbrough hurt early Saturday, the Tigers can take comfort in how quarterback Maty Mauk stepped up to secure the victory. Mauk wasn’t perfect, tossing two interceptions, but his 223 total yards and three touchdowns helped the Tigers stave off an upset. And has any defensive player had a better start to the season than Kentrell Brothers? The Mizzou linebacker recorded 16 tackles for the second straight week and this time added two interceptions as well.
     
    Last week: Beat Arkansas State 27–20
    Next week: Saturday vs. Connecticut

  • 25
    25Wisconsin Badgers
     
    last week: NR
    record: 1–1
    Its matchup with Alabama’s front seven was about as brutal of an opener as could be for Wisconsin’s running game. The Badgers fared much better in Week 2, even without Corey Clement. Dare Ogunbowale proved he's Wisconsin’s best option behind Clement in the backfield, rushing 16 times for 112 yards against Miami (Ohio). Joel Stave continued his development from last season’s yips, and the Badgers’ defense held the RedHawks to negative rushing yards, a total aided by three sacks. Overall, Wisconsin got the bounceback game it needed and showed it’s still a top contender in the Big Ten West.
     
    Last week: Beat Miami (Ohio) 58–0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Troy

Next five: Temple, West Virginia, Cal, Kentucky, Houston

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