College Football

College Football Rankings Week 2: B/R's Official Top 25

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

College Football Rankings Week 2: B/R's Official Top 25

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    One week of the 2014 college football season is in the books, and already the rankings have felt a shake-up.

    And we're not just talking with the ranked teams who lost, as early impressions of some of the country's top-rated teams have led our voters to change their opinions of which team is the best in the land. As a result, we no longer have a unanimous No. 1 team, as was the case in the preseason poll.

    Florida State's touch-and-go 37-31 win over Oklahoma State was just one of the games that had a major impact on the Week 2 rankings. Others that had a resounding effect included Georgia's convincing win over Clemson, Alabama's shaky victory against West Virginia and LSU's comeback rally to down Wisconsin.

    The Bleacher Report Top 25 is voted on by 20 members of Bleacher Report's college football team: writers Keith Arnold, Ben Axelrod, Phil Callihan, Michael Felder, Justin Ferguson, Andrew Hall, Kyle Kensing, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Brian Pedersen, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence and Greg Wallace, as well as editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Max Rausch.

    Each voter submits their ballots based on observations made during the just-completed week's games. Teams receive 25 points for a first-place vote, all the way down to one point for being ranked 25th, and then the top 25 vote-getters are ranked in order of their point totals.

    Check out Bleacher Report's Week 2 poll, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Others Receiving Votes

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    Only one team listed in our preseason rankings fell out of the Top 25, and that is Washington. The Huskies began the season 23rd, but a less-than-impressive 17-16 win at Hawaii late Saturday caused them to drop out of the poll.

    Other teams that had impressive performances over the weekend saw a boost in their votes, such as Mississippi State and Penn State in wins and Oklahoma State in a close loss to defending national champion Florida State. One or more of them could sneak into the Top 25 next week with another victory.

    • Mississippi State (39 points)
    • Oklahoma State (39)
    • Florida (35)
    • Penn State (29)
    • Washington (24)
    • Duke (17)
    • BYU (15)
    • Michigan (14)
    • Arizona (10)
    • Louisville (10)
    • Marshall (8)
    • Temple (4)
    • Maryland (3)
    • North Dakota State (1)

25. Missouri Tigers

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Week 1 result: Beat South Dakota State, 38-18

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Toledo

    Poll points: 41

    Last week's ranking: 25

     

    Missouri nearly blew a 14-point first-quarter lead, seeing its advantage dwindle to 21-18 early in the second half before the Tigers scored the game's final 17 points for a relatively solid opening win.

    Maty Mauk threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing, while Russell Hansbrough ran for 126 yards and a score on 20 carries. Receiver Darius White made a good case for being the Tigers' breakout receiver this season with TD catches of 44 and 39 yards, both in the first quarter.

    Mizzou's defense recorded three turnovers and also fared well on special teams, getting a 100-yard kickoff return score by Marcus Murphy.

24. Texas Longhorns

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Week 1 result: Beat North Texas, 38-7

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. BYU

    Poll points: 43

    Last week's ranking: Not ranked

     

    The debut of the Charlie Strong era in Texas was a successful one, and it went about how a Strong-coached team would be expected to perform: with efficient offense and lockdown defense.

    The Longhorns held North Texas to just 94 yards of total offense, allowing 79 rushing yards on 43 carries and limiting the Mean Green to 15 yards through the air on 3-of-17 passing. Texas intercepted four passes, with Demarco Cobbs returning one 28 yards for a TD, and North Texas' only score came on a fumble recovery in the end zone.

    Texas' offense was good, but not great, with quarterback David Ash throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown (110 of which, as well as the score, went to John Harris) and running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combining for 147 yards on the ground.

23. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Week 1 result: Beat Liberty, 56-29

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. San Diego State

    Poll points: 63

    Last week's ranking: 22

     

    While it wasn't a big win in terms of the statistics, North Carolina managed to blow away its FCS opponent by making the most of its 438 yards with seven offensive touchdowns.

    Quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 169 yards and two TDs while adding 52 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. UNC's top receiver was Ryan Switzer, who didn't manage to score on a punt return after taking five to the house as a freshman last season but did record eight receptions and average 10 yards on his seven returns.

    The Tar Heels forced six turnovers, four of which were on fumble returns, while Jeff Schoettmer's 19-yard interception return for a TD helped start the rout when it gave UNC a 35-22 third-quarter lead just 13 seconds after Williams threw a scoring pass to Mack Hollins to go ahead by six points.

22. Clemson Tigers

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    Week 1 result: Lost to Georgia, 45-21

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. South Carolina State

    Poll points: 74

    Last week's ranking: 15

     

    Clemson's first game with all new players on offense looked good for one half, but then everything fell apart for that unit as it was shut out after halftime. Even more distressing, though, was how much the Tigers defense struggled in stopping Georgia.

    The Tigers had just one first down in the second half, and only 15 of their 291 yards of total offense were gained in the final two quarters. The quarterback tandem of senior Cole Stoudt and freshman Deshaun Watson went a combined 17-of-32 for 189 yards with a touchdown (by Watson) and an interception (by Stoudt).

    Defensively, Clemson's front seven was incapable of slowing down Georgia's run game. The Bulldogs ran for 328 yards, with 198 of that coming from Todd Gurley. Gurley also had a 100-yard kickoff return that tied the game at 21.

21. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Week 1 result: Lost to Texas A&M, 52-28

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. East Carolina

    Poll points: 103

    Last week's ranking: 9

     

    The opening game of the season's first weekend of action gave us one of the most surprising results, causing South Carolina to plummet from the Top 10 to almost out of the rankings.

    The Gamecocks saw their 18-game home winning streak come to a crashing halt in one of the worst defensive performances since Steve Spurrier took over as coach in 2005. They allowed 680 yards, including 511 passing yards to Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill in his first career start.

    South Carolina's already suspect secondary looked worthless and unable to cover A&M's overabundance of receivers, and its retooled defensive front failed to ever get any push to throw Hill off his game. Dylan Thompson had a strong game at quarterback for the Gamecocks, with 366 yards and four touchdowns, but he wasn't helped out on the ground, as Mike Davis was limited to just six carries and the team ran for only 67 yards.

    The Gamecocks are in serious risk of free-falling, especially when their next opponent features another prolific quarterback in East Carolina senior Shane Carden.

20. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Week 1 result: Lost to LSU, 28-24

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Western Illinois

    Poll points: 111

    Last week's ranking: 14

     

    Wisconsin's season-opening loss involved some of the most perplexing results of any game involving a ranked team in the first week of play. The Badgers led, 24-7, doing so behind a running game that couldn't be stopped. Then, they inexplicably stopped turning to dominant rusher Melvin Gordon and consequently blew an opportunity for a huge victory.

    Gordon ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but nearly all of that was in the first half. He was hardly used after halftime, more as a blocker than to run the ball, and instead of leaning on him, Wisconsin either handed it off to backup Corey Clement or tried to let unproven quarterback Tanner McEvoy get the job done.

    As Pete Thamel of SI.com noted, "Once (Gordon) stopped touching the ball, the Badgers went from a dynamic one-dimensional team to a pedestrian one-dimensional team."

    McEvoy was woeful in his first start. He completed just 8-of-24 passes for 50 yards with two interceptions and never seemed comfortable. Yet Wisconsin stuck with him instead of giving 2013 starter Joel Stave the nod.

    McEvoy's second-half struggles came as LSU was able to finally start running the ball effectively after two Wisconsin defensive linemen were lost for the game because of injuries.

19. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Week 1 result: Beat Stephen F. Austin, 55-16

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Iowa State

    Poll points: 125

    Last week's ranking: 20

     

    Kansas State shook off a slow start to romp its FCS opponent, in a way exorcising some of the demons from last season's first-week loss to lower-division North Dakota State.

    The Wildcats led, 7-0, after one quarter, then erupted for 35 points in a 22-minute span of action. Quarterback Jake Waters rushed for a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and also threw for two TDs and 223 yards in the game.

    K-State held Stephen F. Austin to 294 yards of total offense, including only 69 on the ground.

18. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Week 1 result: Beat Florida Atlantic, 55-7

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. McNeese State

    Poll points: 133

    Last week's ranking: 21

     

    Nebraska's offense fired on all cylinders in a runaway victory over Florida Atlantic, with the top returning rusher from 2013 (in terms of yards gained) getting a quick jump on being the No. 1 overall running back in 2014.

    Ameer Abdullah rushed for 232 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, part of a 498-yard rushing output for the Cornhuskers. The 784 yards they gained were the fifth most in school history and the most in 23 years, according to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com).

    Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 271 yards and two TDs, with both Jordan Westerkamp and Kenny Bell gaining more than 100 yards receiving. Westerkamp's tally of 125 yards was aided by a strong contender for catch of the year, one in which he hauled in a tipped pass behind his back along the sideline.

17. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Week 1 result: Beat Weber State, 45-14

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at New Mexico

    Poll points: 152

    Last week's ranking: 18

     

    Arizona State almost effortlessly won its opener, pumping out 570 yards behind running back D.J. Foster's breakout game.

    Foster ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns on only 15 carries, part of a 267-yard rushing effort for the Sun Devils. Senior quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 18-of-27 passes for 238 yards and a score, while Jaelen Strong had 10 catches for 146 yards.

    All told, ASU registered a first down on 32 of 84 offensive snaps.

16. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Week 1 result: Beat Boise State, 35-13

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Vanderbilt

    Poll points: 158

    Last week's ranking: 17

     

    Ole Miss was very impressive on defense in its opener, while the offense managed 458 yards and made up for senior quarterback Bo Wallace's early mistakes.

    Wallace threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-36 passing, but he also threw three interceptions. One of those came in the end zone, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Rebels offense took off and turned a 7-6 lead into a rout.

    Ole Miss managed to overcome its mistakes because of a great defensive performance, one that featured four interceptions of Boise quarterback Grant Hedrick and holding the Broncos run game to 3.6 yards per carry.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Week 1 result: Beat Rice, 48-17

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan

    Poll points: 201

    Last week's ranking: 19

     

    Everett Golson's return to the field for Notre Dame was better than anyone could have predicted, as the quarterback tallied 336 yards of total offense and was responsible for five touchdowns in the destruction of last year's Conference USA champions.

    Golson threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns and also ran in three scores that included an 11-yard TD scamper to open the scoring midway through the first quarter. His 41 rushing yards were part of a 281-yard team effort on the ground, and his 14 completions went to seven different targets.

    It was the first game for Golson since the 2013 BCS title game, as he sat out last season with academic issues. He told Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune that he still has room to improve, though.

    "With a lot of stuff today, I was getting away with just making plays," Golson said. "I had to go into scrambling mode. I definitely want to get the timing down and be more precise."

    Such improvements will need to be ironed out quickly, though, with Notre Dame hosting Michigan in a big game next weekend.

14. USC Trojans

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    Week 1 result: Beat Fresno State, 52-13

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Stanford

    Poll points: 268

    Last week's ranking: 16

     

    There wasn't much to complain about for USC in its overwhelmingly strong win against Fresno State, as the Trojans were dominant on offense and suffocating on defense in handing new coach Steve Sarkisian a win in his debut.

    Sarkisian's uptempo offense resulted in more than 700 yards on 104 plays, which set a Pac-12 record for offensive snaps. Quarterback Cody Kessler was nearly flawless with 394 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-37 passing, and he also scored the game's first TD on a one-yard run.

    USC ran for 277 yards and three TDs, led by Javorius Allen's 133 yards and a score on 22 carries. Allen and Kessler were among the standout veterans, but even more impressive was how many freshmen the Trojans got major contributions from. Receiver JuJu Smith had four catches for 123 yards, while fellow first-year wideouts Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon, as well as running back James Toland, scored TDs in their collegiate debut.

    The Trojans also picked off four Fresno passes and held the Bulldogs to 317 yards.

13. UCLA Bruins

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    Week 1 result: Beat Virginia, 28-20

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Memphis

    Poll points: 272

    Last week's ranking: 7

     

    If not for UCLA's defense, the Bruins might have suffered an embarrassing loss to open 2014. Instead, they just came out looking less like a top-10 team than one that still has some kinks to work out, thus their fall of six spots in the rankings despite a road victory.

    UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley had 281 yards of total offense that included a rushing touchdown, but he failed to impress. The Bruins were outgained by Virginia, which was 2-10 a year ago, and were able to prevail thanks to three defensive touchdowns in the second quarter.

    Ishmael Adams and Eric Kendricks had interception returns for TDs, while Randall Goforth scooped up a fumble and ran 75 yards for another score.

11(tie). Texas A&M Aggies

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    Week 1 result: Beat South Carolina, 52-28

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Lamar

    Poll points: 283

    Last week's ranking: 24

     

    The poll's biggest mover was also the one that made the greatest impression during the opening week of play, as Texas A&M went from a team with a lot of questions to one that suddenly looks like it could be even better than the ones piloted by Johnny Manziel the past two seasons.

    Manziel's successor at quarterback, sophomore Kenny Hill, put on an amazing performance in pacing a 24-point road victory on Thursday. He set numerous Aggies passing records, throwing for 511 yards and three touchdowns on 44-of-60 passing. Hill connected with 12 different targets, many of whom were newcomers, such as Speedy Noil (five catches, 55 yards) and Ricky Seals-Jones (five catches, 67 yards, one TD).

    "Kevin Sumlin is building the perfect offensive beast in College Station," Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde wrote, referring to A&M's third-year coach. "As long as he's the coach, it may not matter too much who is playing quarterback. It's all going to work."

    A&M also rushed for four TDs in churning out 680 yards of total offense, while just as impressive was the way its defense managed to make plenty of big stops despite being overloaded with inexperienced starters.

    South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns, but A&M defenders, particularly defensive back Armani Watts and defensive end Myles Garrett (both freshman), had solid debuts.

11 (tie). Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Week 1 result: Beat Navy, 34-17

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Virginia Tech

    Poll points: 283

    Last week's ranking: 8

     

    Ohio State avoided an upset bid by independent Navy, taking over in the second half behind redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett's poised play and a defense that finally figured out how to slow down the option run game.

    The Buckeyes were sparked by a 61-yard fumble return for a TD by Darron Lee. Then Barrett threw a pair of second-half touchdowns and finished with 226 yards on 12-of-15 passing. In between, OSU's vaunted defensive line started to shut down Navy's run game, though all told, it allowed 370 yards on 63 carries.

    OSU finished with 194 rushing yards but never managed to run effectively. Barrett was the top rusher, with 50 yards, while Curtis Samuel, Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson combined for 132 yards on 25 carries.

10. LSU Tigers

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    Week 1 result: Beat Wisconsin, 28-24

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Sam Houston State

    Poll points: 294

    Last week's ranking: 13

     

    LSU spotted Wisconsin a 24-7 lead before taking over midway through the third quarter, and as a result won its 46th straight nonconference regular-season game behind a late-blooming running attack and a promising performance from sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings.

    "We came out a little slow, but in the second half we showed what we are about," Jennings told Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate. "We all knew what we had in our locker room...we just had to play."

    Jennings threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns despite completing just 9-of-21 passes. His 36-yard TD throw to John Diarse and two-point conversion to Trey Quinn got the Tigers within three points early in the fourth quarter, at which time the running game woke up and ripped through Wisconsin's depleted defensive line. Kenny Hilliard finished with 110 yards, including the game-winning 28-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

    A number of young Tigers players had big games, most notably sophomore wideout Travin Dural. He had three receptions for 151 yards after managing only seven catches for 145 yards in 2013. One newcomer who didn't stand out, though, was freshman Leonard Fournette, who had eight carries for 18 yards along with five kickoff returns for a 23.4-yard average.

9. Stanford Cardinal

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    Week 1 result: Beat UC Davis, 45-0

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. USC

    Poll points: 312

    Last week's ranking: 11

     

    There was never any doubt for Stanford in its commanding win over FCS opponent UC Davis, as the Cardinal outgained the Aggies, 461-115.

    Kevin Hogan threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing, with all three of his TD passes going for 40-plus yards and coming in a 7:51 span in the second quarter. One of those was a 44-yard strike to Ty Montgomery, who also broke off a 60-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter.

    Stanford's run game was effective, but not as dominant as last season as it looks for a new go-to rusher. Barry Sanders Jr. was the top ball-carrier with 43 yards on seven carries, while Kelsey Young added 37 yards on as many touches. The Cardinal will face a much tougher front seven next week when they host USC in a critical, early-season Pac-12 matchup.

8. Baylor Bears

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    Week 1 result: Beat SMU, 45-0

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Northwestern State

    Poll points: 328

    Last week's ranking: 10

     

    Baylor christened its new on-campus stadium with a rousing victory Sunday night, and while its offense was strong, the star of the night was the Bears defense.

    SMU was held to 67 yards of total offense, including an astounding minus-24 on the ground. Baylor recorded eight sacks on three different Mustangs quarterbacks, while also forcing three turnovers in a completely dominant performance.

    The defense overshadowed another great offensive effort by the Bears, led by senior quarterback Bryce Petty. Petty threw for 161 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for a score before leaving with a back injury. Petty's rushing TD was one of three on the ground for the Bears, with Shock Linwood (16 carries, 89 yards) leading the charge.

    All told, Baylor gained 574 yards and had 31 first downs.

7. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Week 1 result: Beat West Virginia, 33-23

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Florida Atlantic

    Poll points: 408

    Last week's ranking: 3

     

    Most of the intrigue connected to Alabama's opening game centered around how senior quarterback Blake Sims would fare in his first start, but once the Crimson Tide were done holding off West Virginia, there was far more interest in whether the poor defensive performance was a sign of things to come.

    The Tide had far more trouble putting away a 4-8 team than anyone could have expected. West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards on 29-of-45 passing, picking apart Alabama's secondary all game. If not for the Mountaineers' struggles completing drives, which resulted in three field goals, things could have been a lot worse.

    Sims completed 24-of-33 passes for 250 yards with an interception, getting great efforts from Amari Cooper (12 catches, 130 yards) and DeAndre White (six catches, 73 yards). Alabama's run game was also as good as ever, totaling 288 yards with both T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry topping 110 yards and combining for three TDs.

    The defense will get a few weeks to retool against far less talented opponents, time that coach Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart will no doubt use to make major changes.

6. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Week 1 result: Beat Clemson, 45-21

    Week 2 matchup: Bye

    Poll points: 409 (3 first-place votes)

    Last week's ranking: 12

     

    Todd Gurley, who already was garnering hype for the award heading into this season, "will be the player with the most hard evidence supporting his Heisman 'candidacy,'" according to Chip Patterson of CBS Sports. That's thanks to the junior running back's masterful output against Clemson, in which he ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score that tied the game at 21 midway through the second quarter and marked the point when Georgia took over.

    As amazing as Gurley's play was, he wasn't alone. The Bulldogs' maligned defense allowed Clemson to gain only 291 yards and shut the Tigers out over the final 37 minutes of play.

    Put all that together, and it's easy to see why Georgia jumped six spots in one week and—combined with South Carolina's blowout loss to Texas A&M—is the runaway favorite to win the SEC East division.

5. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Week 1 result: Beat Louisiana Tech, 48-16

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Tulsa

    Poll points: 411

    Last week's ranking: 5

     

    The opponent wasn't anything to write home about, but Oklahoma's performance in its season opener was still impressive thanks to the play of quarterback Trevor Knight and a three-headed running attack that should prove to be a dangerous weapon.

    Knight was 19-of-34 for 253 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception. Keith Ford and Alex Ross each ran for two touchdowns, while Samaje Perine finished with a team-best 77 yards on 13 carries with a TD. All told, Oklahoma rushed for 183 yards as it built a 31-3 halftime lead and then cruised.

    Oklahoma's defense was also impressive, holding Louisiana Tech to 245 yards of total offense.

4. Michigan State Spartans

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    Week 1 result: Beat Jacksonville State, 45-7

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Oregon

    Poll points: 414

    Last week's ranking: 6

     

    Michigan State's walkover win against an FCS opponent on Thursday wasn't as notable for the result or statistics, but rather for how the game nearly became a disaster when quarterback Connor Cook went down early after taking a big hit. Thankfully, Cook was able to return to action after getting hit in the leg on a touchdown throw, and all signs are positive heading into next week's showdown at Oregon.

    Cook finished with 285 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-13 passing, with receiver Tony Lippett proving to be his top target. The pair hooked up for TD throw-and-catches of 64 and 71 yards in the game's first five minutes, and Lippett finished with four catches for 167 yards.

    MSU's quarterback was one of four players (including three starters) to suffer injuries against Jacksonville State, according to Kyle Austin of MLive.com. Running back Jeremy Langford also suffered a leg injury and had just 57 yards on 13 carries, leaving most of the work to backup Nick Hill, who had two TD runs.

    Langford told Austin the ailment isn't major, that "I'll probably be 100 percent by practice Tuesday." He'll need to be at full strength for the Spartans to pull out a major win in Eugene.

3. Auburn Tigers

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    Week 1 result: Beat Arkansas, 45-21

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. San Jose State

    Poll points: 427

    Last week's ranking: 4

     

    No matter the quarterback, Auburn's offense is once again going to be explosive. That was evident in the opener against SEC West foe Arkansas, as backup Jeremy Johnson paced the Tigers in the first half before Nick Marshall came in for the final two quarters after serving a suspension related to his offseason marijuana citation.

    Johnson threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing in the first half, showcasing Auburn's new receiver standouts with TD throws to D'haquille Williams (nine catches, 154 yards) and Melvin Ray (49-yard TD reception). Marshall only threw six passes, completing four, for 50 yards, while adding just 19 rushing yards, but that was because the rest of Auburn's ball-carriers were more than making up for him.

    Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a career-high 177 yards and a TD, with Corey Grant adding 87 yards and a score. Auburn rushed for 302 yards, nearly twice as much as run-heavy Arkansas (153) gained.

    The game was tied at 21 at halftime, but then Auburn's defense stepped up and pitched a shutout.

2. Oregon Ducks

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    Week 1 result: Beat South Dakota, 62-13

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan State

    Poll points: 448 (1 first-place vote)

    Last week's ranking: 2

     

    There wasn't much about Oregon's seven-touchdown win over an FCS opponent that stood out, other than that it looks like it's going to be another wildly successful year for the Ducks offense.

    Marcus Mariota was out of the game by halftime, but by that point, he'd already thrown for 267 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a score. Those four total TDs gave him 81 for his career, breaking the school record of 77 previously held by Joey Harrington.

    It wasn't just Mariota, though, as the Ducks ran for 293 yards behind freshman Royce Freeman, who gained 75 yards with a pair of TDs in his collegiate debut.

    Now comes a much tougher test for Oregon, with Michigan State coming into town for arguably the biggest nonconference matchup of the 2014 season.

1. Florida State Seminoles

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    Week 1 result: Beat Oklahoma State, 37-31

    Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. The Citadel

    Poll points: 490 (16 first-place votes)

    Last week's ranking: 1

     

    In most cases, a win is a win. But when you're the defending national champions, just coming out on top isn't good enough anymore, not when expectations are so high. Florida State remains our No. 1 team, but the Seminoles no longer have a stranglehold on the top spot after Saturday's 37-31 win over Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas.

    "Florida State escaped," wrote George Schroeder of USA Today. "There's no other way to say it."

    FSU struggled to run the ball, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, and leading rusher Karlos Williams' per-carry rate was a meager 2.9 on 23 attempts. Heisman winner Jameis Winston tallied 370 passing yards and had a spectacular 28-yard touchdown run, but he was intercepted twice in the first half.

    The Seminoles also allowed far too many big plays, nearly squandering a 17-0 first-quarter lead before extending their win streak to 17 games. They were good enough to win, but that won't always fly, especially when considering Oklahoma State is among the schools with the fewest number of returning starters of any power-conference team.

     

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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