Florida State clings to top spot in Power Rankings after wild Week 1

Tuesday September 2nd, 2014

After Wisconsin’s 28-24 loss to LSU on Saturday, Badgers head coach Gary Andersen was asked why running back Melvin Gordon received just two carries after halftime. “I don’t know,” Andersen responded. Those three words were immortalized by character Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) in the film Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Spicoli’s teacher writes it on the board: “I Don’t Know.”

STAPLES: Week 1 brings unpredictability; more Punt, Pass & Pork

So, I have to give Spicoli -- and Andersen -- credit for inspiring the intro to my Power Rankings. Why did Florida State look so sluggish against Oklahoma State? I don’t know. How did Alabama move the ball so easily against West Virginia and only win by 10 points? I don’t know. What happened to Clemson’s defense against Georgia? I don’t -- scratch that. I do know that one. Todd Gurley happened.

The Top 25 will look vastly different a few weeks from now. The season is dark and full of terrors. But the unknown is also what makes the early weeks so special.

College Football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Florida State Seminoles
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    How can I still have the ‘Noles ranked No. 1 after squeaking by Oklahoma State? Because every team has clunkers. Florida State just spent months being told how good it was. You can try to motivate 18-to-21-year-olds all you want, but they’re still college kids. If anything, a game like this happening so early could prove to be a good thing for the Seminoles. They survived. They advanced. And now they’ve seen what can happen when they take their foot off the gas.
    Last game: Beat Oklahoma State, 37-31
    Next game: Saturday vs. Citadel

  • 2
    2Oregon Ducks
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The mighty South Dakota Coyotes out of the Missouri Valley Football Conference are far from a power, but Oregon did plenty of things well in its dominant win. If the Ducks play tough defense and stay healthy, their offense is good enough to get into the College Football Playoff. Oregon rang up 62 points despite maintaining possession for less than 21 minutes. That quick-strike attack will be put to the test against Michigan State on Saturday.
    Last game: Beat South Dakota, 62-13
    Next game: Saturday vs. Michigan State

  • 3
    3Michigan State Spartans
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Spartans scored a combined 47 points in their first two games last season. They had 38 points at the half against Jacksonville State. The quality of competition certainly has to be considered here, but the emergence of quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford, which started midway through the 2013 campaign, makes Michigan State a more complete football team. And that defense still looks elite behind stars like Shilique Calhoun and Kurtis Drummond.
    Last game: Beat Jacksonville State, 45-7
    Next game: Saturday at Oregon

  • 4
    4Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    New starting quarterback Blake Sims looked pretty good last weekend, although coordinator Lane Kiffin needs to make sure he runs the dang football. He has T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, so he shouldn't get carried away with the pass plays. What was more concerning from a 33-23 win over West Virginia was Bama’s defense. Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett attacked the Crimson Tide with success, perhaps a sign that Alabama's secondary still isn't up to par. Bama's case is similar to Florida State's. The Tide are ranked this high because they have the talent to be a playoff team. They shouldn’t be penalized for beating a power-conference opponent by 10 in a neutral-site game.
    Last game: Beat West Virginia, 33-23
    Next game: Saturday vs. Florida Atlantic

  • 5
    5Oklahoma Sooners
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Sooners jumped out to a 31-3 halftime lead against Louisiana Tech and were never really challenged. For Oklahoma to be successful, it doesn’t need quarterback Trevor Knight to play like a Heisman Trophy candidate. It just needs him to do his job, pick his spots and let the Sooners' dominant front seven do the rest. This weekend's game at Tulsa should be a sneaky test, and a solid performance could build some momentum heading into a big Week 3 matchup against Tennessee.
    Last game: Beat Louisiana Tech, 48-16
    Next game: Saturday at Tulsa

  • 6
    6Auburn Tigers
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    It seemingly doesn't matter who throws the ball for Auburn; Gus Malzahn’s offense will score plenty of points. Nick Marshall served his suspension for an offseason marijuana citation, then came in after the half to help the Tigers score 24 unanswered points in a win over Arkansas. Auburn also rushed for 302 yards, thanks largely to a 177-yard effort from Cameron Artis-Payne. Sure, Auburn had some luck last season. It’s also a darn good football team.
    Last game: Beat Arkansas, 45-21
    Next game: Saturday vs. San Jose State

  • 7
    7Georgia Bulldogs
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Every superlative that has been used to describe Todd Gurley’s performance against Clemson is well deserved. Gurley set a program record for all-purpose yards (293) and scored four touchdowns with a blend of speed, power and vision. After the game coach Mark Richt said he thought Gurley was “the best player in America.” The Bulldogs’ revamped defense was as good as advertised, too, with Jeremy Pruitt's unit allowing just 15 yards in the second half. There remain questions about whether new starting quarterback Hutson Mason can shoulder the load, but the Dawgs made a statement in Week 1.
    Last game: Beat Clemson, 45-21
    Next game: Sept. 13 at South Carolina

  • 8
    8Stanford Cardinal
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Cardinal are quickly becoming that piece of luggage that you appreciate more as it gets older. Stanford has a new defensive coordinator. It lost a bunch of defensive talent from last year’s 11-win squad. It has a new lead running back after Tyler Gaffney’s graduation. Yet somehow the Cardinal keep holding it together. Saturday’s home game against USC should be a key early-season measuring stick for both teams.
    Last game: Beat UC Davis, 45-0
    Next game: Saturday vs. USC

  • 9
    9Baylor Bears
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Hey, Art Briles: Please take care of Bryce Petty. He’s a really good quarterback, and it’s fun to watch him execute your offense. The Bears' weakness last season was their defense, and pitching a shutout against SMU is a sign that Baylor’s recruiting efforts are paying off. With Petty leading the charge, the offense should put up big numbers all year long.
    Last game: Beat SMU, 45-0
    Next game: Saturday vs. Northwestern State

  • 10
    10UCLA Bruins
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Hopefully the Bruins’ offensive line bought the defense a bouquet from Edible Arrangements or something. UCLA’s linemen got absolutely manhandled by Virginia’s defense. Thankfully, the Bruins' defense manufactured three touchdowns on a pair of pick-sixes and a fumble recovery for a score. To live up to its hype, UCLA's offense must get better fast.
    Last game: Beat Virginia, 28-20
    Next game: Saturday vs. Memphis

  • 11
    11Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The J.T. Barrett experience got off to a rocky start, but the Buckeyes pulled it together in time to defeat a feisty Navy team in Baltimore. Barrett's arm must keep defenses honest so that opponents can’t key on backs Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel. Barrett will now face a Virginia Tech defense that is far better than Navy’s group. It’s sink or swim time for the redshirt freshman.
    Last game: Beat Navy, 34-17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Virginia Tech

  • 12
    12LSU Tigers
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    You know how sometimes parents will buy clothes that are too big for their children just so they can grow into them? That’s LSU in 2014. I’m not entirely sure the Tigers are the No. 12 team in the country yet. Behind a roster stocked with young talent, let’s give them time to grow into it.
    Last game: Beat Wisconsin, 28-24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Sam Houston State

  • 13
    13USC Trojans
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Pick your favorite stat from USC's 52-13 win over Fresno State. Was it the 64 rushing attempts? The 701 yards of total offense? The Trojans' defense limiting the Bulldogs to a 2-of-12 clip on third-down conversions? After a week filled with distractions, it must have been nice for USC to exorcize some demons on the field. The defense was strong, Cody Kessler looked improved and freshman Adoree’ Jackson showed why he was such a highly touted recruit. That game against Stanford should be fun.
    Last game: Beat Fresno State, 52-13
    Next game: Saturday at Stanford

  • 14
    14Texas A&M Aggies
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    By now you’ve heard plenty about new Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill. However, if the Aggies are to make a run in the SEC West, they have to get consistently better on defense. Last Thursday was a start, and freshman defensive end Myles Garrett showed flashes of future greatness. Coach Kevin Sumlin said the Aggies aren’t a one-trick pony. Let’s see what they can do for an encore.
    Last game: Beat South Carolina, 52-28
    Next game: Saturday vs. Lamar

    15Notre Dame Fighting Irish
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Quarterback Everett Golson makes the Fighting Irish a completely different team. He can make plays with his legs, throw the ball downfield and turn nothing into something when a play breaks down. He gives Notre Dame a chance against any opponent on its schedule. Golson’s reemergence couldn’t have come at a better time, with the defense replacing several key contributors and five players suspended amid an ongoing academic misconduct investigation.
    Last game: Beat Rice, 48-17
    Next game: Saturday vs. Michigan

  • 16
    16Arizona State Sun Devils
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Despite his nomadic tendencies, Todd Graham is one heck of a football coach. He’s starting to show what can happen when he sticks around long enough to build something. Arizona State's offense is dynamic and receiver Jaelen Strong has the skills to be an NFL star. That schedule isn’t doing the Sun Devils any favors -- they play UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington during a brutal four-game stretch -- but they have the players to shake up the Pac-12.
    Last game: Beat Weber State, 45-14
    Next game: Saturday at New Mexico

  • 17
    17Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    It wasn’t pretty on offense, as quarterback Bo Wallace threw three interceptions and the Ole Miss line committed eight false-start penalties. But when we close the book on the season, odds are that the Rebels' victory over Boise State will be regarded pretty highly. Ole Miss has terrific athletes all over the field, but it won't go very far if the good version of Wallace doesn’t show up more often than his alter ego, Dr. Bo.
    Last game: Beat Boise State, 35-13
    Next game: Saturday at Vanderbilt

  • 18
    18Kansas State Wildcats
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Wildcats won six of their final seven games last year, including the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan. They carried that momentum into 2014 by routing Stephen F. Austin 55-16. If you’re sleeping on Kansas State, get your last winks in while you can. Coach Bill Snyder’s team won't go overlooked for much longer.
    Last game: Beat Stephen F. Austin, 55-16
    Next game: Saturday at Iowa State

  • 19
    19Nebraska Cornhuskers
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    Ameer Abdullah doesn’t get much Heisman hype, as he's not often mentioned alongside Yeldon, Gurley or Gordon. That should probably change. Abdullah carried 21 times for 232 yards against Florida Atlantic. If he keeps running like that, the Huskers could be in for big things. The defense holding the Owls to 200 total yards was a nice bonus.
    Last game: Beat Florida Atlantic, 55-7
    Next game: Saturday vs. McNeese State

  • 20
    20Wisconsin Badgers
    last week: N/A
    record: 0-1
    Two days after Andersen's “I don’t know" comment, news broke that Gordon had suffered a hip injury during the game against LSU. The contest seemed well in hand before coach Les Miles’ club stormed back, and the win probability table reflected that.

    Instead, the result goes down as another close loss for Wisconsin, which has endured plenty in recent memory. While the Badgers’ lack of depth shouldn’t prevent them from thriving in the Big Ten, it could keep them from becoming truly dominant in 2014.
    Last game: Lost to LSU, 28-24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Western Illinois

  • 21
    21South Carolina Gamecocks
    last week: N/A
    record: 0-1
    The Gamecocks aren’t as bad as they looked against Texas A&M. They’re also probably not as good as their preseason ranking suggested. It’s not as if South Carolina has any time to dwell, though; it has to play an explosive East Carolina team this Saturday and Georgia the week after that. The fact that Steve Spurrier called Mike Davis "sort of doubtful" for Week 2 doesn't bode well.
    Last game: Lost to Texas A&M, 52-28
    Next game: Saturday vs. East Carolina

  • 22
    22Missouri Tigers
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Tigers got a career day out of defensive lineman Markus Golden, who recorded 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss in a 38-18 win over South Dakota State. Golden has big shoes to fill following the departures of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, but Mizzou has to like his Week 1 showing. The Tigers are well balanced but have plenty of question marks. With games against South Carolina and Georgia by mid-October, Gary Pinkel’s team will be tested early.
    Last game: Beat South Dakota State, 38-18
    Next game: Saturday at Toledo

  • 23
    23Clemson Tigers
    last week: N/A
    record: 0-1
    After a masterful opening drive, Clemson had a 7-0 lead against Georgia and looked like as if would have no trouble replacing Tajh Boyd. That changed quickly as the defense was gashed by Georgia’s running backs and the offense couldn’t muster a second-half push. Clemson is solid, and true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson was impressive in limited action. Still, the Tigers have to improve on special teams and start sustaining more drives.
    Last game: Lost to Georgia, 45-21
    Next game: Saturday vs. South Carolina State

  • 24
    24North Carolina Tar Heels
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    The Tar Heels might be a top 15-team based on their explosive offense alone. That’s how talented guys like quarterback Marquise Williams and receiver Ryan Switzer are. The defense, however, has kept North Carolina from breaking through. Sure, it was only Liberty, but the Tar Heels’ defense looked good forcing six turnovers in a 56-29 win. Now, if only the program could avoid off-field issues for a few weeks.
    Last game: Beat Liberty, 56-29
    Next game: Saturday vs. San Diego State

  • 25
    25Penn State Nittany Lions
    last week: N/A
    record: 1-0
    It might get downplayed because of its early start time, but James Franklin’s coaching debut for Penn State was impressive. Would-haves and could-haves will certainly plague UCF when it comes to not starting quarterback Justin Holman, but the Nittany Lions beat last year’s Fiesta Bowl winner, which was returning a bunch of solid players. Franklin worked some football version of The Prestige during his tenure at Vanderbilt. His ceiling in State College looks high.
    Last game: Beat UCF, 26-24
    Next game: Saturday vs. Akron

Next five: Oklahoma State, Texas, Michigan, Mississippi State, BYU

2:05 | College Football
College football roundup: Week 1

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