When the next set of AP NCAA football rankings are released, there will inevitably be changes to the Top 10, courtesy of No. 8 Clemson's thrilling shootout victory over fifth-ranked Georgia in Death Valley on Saturday.
The Tigers' stock will be high, and the win could allow them to ascend into the Top Five, while Georgia is slated to drop below as many as four other SEC foes, since No. 12 LSU impressively beat the No. 20 TCU Horned Frogs in another Top 25 duel.
Although the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes weren't exactly as dominant as they should have been, the two teams at the top shouldn't change. The teams at the bottom of the Top 10, though, will ascend further and pick up key ground early on.
Below is an analysis of Clemson and the other teams which put on impressive performances in their first games that will move up.
Note: AP rankings courtesy of ESPN.
Clemson Tigers (No. 8)
The quarterback battle between the Bulldogs' Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd was won by the Clemson signal-caller, who accounted for five total touchdowns.
Every time Georgia took the lead and threatened to knock off the Tigers on their home field, Boyd and Co. responded with powerful answers.
Between a not-to-be-denied two-yard touchdown plunge in the second quarter, a magnificent 31-yard touch pass for a score to Zac Brooks to knot things at 21 and a clutch touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal in the fourth, it was a convincing, Heisman-esque display by Boyd.
Defense is definitely a concern for the elite ACC team, but with the number of points this offense can put up and a relatively generous schedule, the Tigers are primed for a BCS bowl.
Supremely talented receiver Sammy Watkins led Clemson with six catches for 127 yards and an electric 77-yard touchdown reception, while RB Roderick McDowell gashed the Bulldogs for 132 yards on the ground.
That type of balance bodes well for the rest of 2013, and that will be reflected first in the release of the newest rankings, in which the Tigers should jump to No. 5.
Louisville Cardinals (No. 9)
The Ohio Bobcats have won 19 games over the past two years, so there was at least some possibility that superstar Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater could have had some difficulty in Sunday's opener.
So much for that.
Bridgewater put on a virtuoso performance, matching a career high with five touchdowns in completing 22 of 27 passes for 353 yards. The Cardinals obliterated the Bobcats, 49-7.
As head coach Charlie Strong said at halftime, per ESPN's telecast, Bridgewater's lone blemish—an interception—was the receiver's fault for not cutting in front of the defensive back.
Senior Bobcats signal-caller Tyler Tettleton is no slouch, either, but he paled in comparison to Bridgewater—largely thanks to the Cardinals defense. The unit was 16th in pass defense last season and carried over those efforts to the first game of 2013, limiting Tettleton to 140 yards on just 11 completions.
As phenomenal as Bridgewater is, it seems that this Cardinals team is more complete than meets the eye. Also encouraging was the emergence of former Auburn star Michael Dyer, who broke out for a 46-yard touchdown run.
Since Texas A&M's defense played poorly in a 52-31 win over Rice, there is a distinct possibility that the Cardinals could fly past the Aggies in the upcoming poll.
Florida Gators (No. 10)
A case could be made to keep Georgia ahead of the Gators, but Will Muschamp's bunch was facing a Toledo team that had posted three consecutive winning seasons and was not one to be overlooked.
Plus, star cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, widely touted as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and starting linebacker Antonio Morrison, among others, were suspended.
Even with those two key defensive contributors out, the defensive-minded Muschamp was able to prepare his team adequately enough to hold the Rockets to just six points and 205 total yards.
The offense operated with extreme efficiency, too, thanks to a powerful running game driven by junior tailback Mack Brown's 25 carries, 112 yards and two touchdowns.
QB Jeff Driskel averaged a solid seven yards per attempt and completed 17 of 22 throws, with a four-yard touchdown strike to put the game out of reach near the end of the third quarter.
That should be enough to push the Gators off the Top 10 bubble and to place them ahead of SEC rivals Georgia and LSU after the first week.
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