College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 2
One week of the 2014 college football season is complete. Though a single game doesn't dictate how the entire year will go, we are able to make some early assessments of the top teams. As a result, a lot of movement has taken place in the Bleacher Report power rankings since the preseason list was published.
Several high-profile opening-week games left us with some perceived powers already saddled with a loss, while some big names that came out victorious didn't fare as well as expected. That is reflected in their current standing.
Our power rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: The Associated Press media and Amway coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ledger and my personal ranking.
Scroll through to find where your favorite (and most hated) teams sit, then let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
The bottom rung of FBS features a number of teams that got off to a winning start in 2014. However, 13 of them opened with a victory against an FCS squad. Those schools must show they can beat an upper-division opponent.
At least one team below will begin 2-0, as Georgia State hosts New Mexico State in a Sun Belt game on Saturday. GSU earned its first win as an FBS program on Aug. 27 against Abilene Christian, while NMSU is looking to start 2-0 for the first time since 1999, when the Aggies opened 3-0.
- 128. Massachusetts (0-1)
- 127. Eastern Michigan (1-0)
- 126. Georgia State (1-0)
- 125. New Mexico State (1-0)
- 124. Florida International (0-1)
- 123. Miami, Ohio (0-1): The Redhawks lost their 17th straight game, but the 42-27 setback to Marshall marked the most points they've scored since November 2012.
- 122. Idaho (0-0)
- 121. Southern Mississippi (0-1)
- 120. Air Force (1-0)
- 119. Appalachian State (0-1)
- 118. Western Michigan (0-1)
- 117. New Mexico (0-1)
- 116. Old Dominion (1-0)
- 115. UTEP (1-0)
- 114. Georgia Southern (0-1)
- 113. UAB (1-0): The Blazers won their season opener for the first time since 2009, crushing Troy 48-10 to give new coach Bill Clark a victorious debut.
- 112. Kent State (0-1)
- 111. Troy (0-1)
- 110. Hawaii (0-1)
- 109. Texas State (1-0)
- 108. Buffalo (1-0)
- 107. Army (0-0)
- 106. Louisiana Tech (0-1)
- 105. Tulsa (1-0)
- 104. Purdue (1-0): The Boilermakers ended a 10-game losing streak with a 43-34 win over Western Michigan. It was their first victory over an FBS team since November 2012.
- 103. UNLV (0-1)
- 102. Wake Forest (0-1)
- 101. Wyoming (1-0)
- 100. Akron (1-0)
- 99. Louisiana-Monroe (1-0)
- 98. Connecticut (0-1)
- 97. Florida Atlantic (0-1)
- 96. Ohio (1-0)
- 95. San Jose State (1-0)
- 94. Central Michigan (1-0)
- 93. Tulane (0-1)
- 92. South Florida (1-0)
- 91. North Texas (0-1)
Some of last year's most underachieving power-conference teams got off to good starts in Week 1. But in a few cases, that came at the expense of other schools from the big leagues.
The most surprising outcome among squads in this part of the rankings came from UTSA, the fourth-year program that continues to rise rapidly.
The Roadrunners opened with a dominant 27-7 win at Houston, spoiling the debut of the Cougars' new on-campus TDECU Stadium. UTSA held Houston to minus-26 rushing yards but now hosts Arizona, which leads FBS in total offense after gaining 787 yards in a 58-13 win over UNLV.
- 90. Ball State (1-0)
- 89. Virginia (0-1)
- 88. SMU (0-1)
- 87. Nevada (1-0)
- 86. Western Kentucky (1-0)
- 85. South Alabama (0-0)
- 84. Middle Tennessee (1-0)
- 83. Rice (0-1)
- 82. Colorado (0-1)
- 81. Iowa State (0-1). The Cyclones fell at home to an FCS team to open the season for the second straight year, losing 34-14 to North Dakota State. ISU lost at home to Northern Iowa at the start of 2013. It now heads into a Big 12 clash with visiting Kansas State without its best offensive player, wide receiver Quenton Bundrage, who tore his ACL against NDSU and is out for the season.
- 80. Kansas (0-0)
- 79. Kentucky (1-0)
- 78. Memphis (1-0)
- 77. UTSA (1-0)
- 76. Arkansas State (1-0)
- 75. Illinois (1-0)
- 74. Boston College (1-0)
- 73. North Carolina State (1-0)
- 72. California (1-0): The Golden Bears snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 31-24 victory at Northwestern. It was Cal's first win over an FBS team since October 2012 (Washington State).
- 71. Northwestern (0-1)
- 70. Arkansas (0-1)
- 69. Vanderbilt (0-1)
- 68. Toledo (1-0)
- 67. Indiana (1-0)
- 66. Minnesota (1-0)
- 65. Washington State (0-1)
- 64. Fresno State (0-1)
- 63. Houston (0-1)
- 62. Temple (1-0)
- 61. Colorado State (1-0)
The teams that finished just outside our top 50 all made bowl games in 2013. The list includes a conference champion (Bowling Green) and a league title-game entrant (Utah State) that both suffered blowout road losses to open this season.
Utah State was crushed 38-7 at Tennessee, while Bowling Green lost 59-31 at Western Kentucky.
- 60. Syracuse (1-0)
- 59. San Diego State (1-0)
- 58. Georgia Tech (1-0)
- 57. Northern Illinois (1-0)
- 56. Rutgers (1-0): The Scarlet Knights opened on the West Coast for the second straight year but this time came out on top. Rutgers got 173 rushing yards from Paul James in a 41-38 win at Washington State, one season after losing its opener 52-51 in overtime at Fresno State.
- 55. Navy (0-1)
- 54. Utah (1-0)
- 53. Bowling Green (0-1)
- 52. Utah State (0-1)
- 51. Maryland (1-0)
50. Pittsburgh Panthers
Average rating: 49.63
Week 1 result: Beat Delaware 62-0
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 5 at Boston College
Pittsburgh registered its highest point total in a season opener in school history with a runaway performance against Delaware, outgaining the Blue Hens 501-57 in the process.
The Panthers got 153 rushing yards and four touchdowns from running back James Conner, while quarterback Chad Voytik threw two touchdown passes.
49. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
Average rating: 48.88
Week 1 result: Beat Southern 45-6
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Louisiana Tech
The reigning Sun Belt champions opened their season with a dominant win over FCS program Southern. Louisiana-Lafayette led 24-0 midway through the second quarter and never looked back.
The Ragin' Cajuns got 237 passing yards and four total touchdowns from quarterback Terrance Broadway (three passing, one rushing), and Jamal Robinson caught five balls for 112 yards and two scores. Elijah McGuire added 129 rushing yards and a TD, and ULL held Southern to 77 rushing yards on 32 attempts.
48. East Carolina Pirates
Average rating: 47.0
Week 1 result: Beat North Carolina Central 52-7
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at South Carolina
Shane Carden threw three touchdown passes, while receiver Justin Hardy caught a pair of TDs and also threw a 41-yard scoring strike to teammate Isaiah Jones as part of Jones' 10-catch, 150-yard performance.
East Carolina outgained NC Central 582-174 and after trailing 7-0 early scored the game's final 52 points. The Pirates ran for 208 yards and got three touchdowns on the ground.
47. West Virginia Mountaineers
Average rating: 45.5
Week 1 result: Lost 33-23 to Alabama
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Towson
West Virginia came out of its opening game against Alabama with a much brighter outlook than expected for a team that went 4-8 the season before, despite losing by 10 points.
The Mountaineers were able to move the ball through the air very well against the Crimson Tide, with Clint Trickett throwing for 365 yards and a touchdown.
West Virginia had defensive troubles, though, as it allowed 538 yards and saw two Alabama running backs—T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry—rush for more than 100 yards apiece.
46. Marshall Thundering Herd
Average rating: 43.8
Week 1 result: Beat Miami (Ohio) 42-27
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Rhode Island
Marshall opened with a 28-3 lead and then held on to hand host Miami its 17th straight loss, getting 264 passing yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one running) from quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Devon Johnson added 151 rushing yards and two scores for the Thundering Herd.
45. Oregon State Beavers
Average rating: 43.0
Week 1 result: Beat Portland State 29-14
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Hawaii
Oregon State managed to get past this lower-division opponent that proved to be much tougher to topple than expected, a year after opening with a home loss to an FCS school.
Sean Mannion, who had the second-most passing yards in FBS in 2013 (4,662), threw for 328 yards and a touchdown, while Storm Woods had 125 yards on the ground. The Beavers forced five turnovers and held Portland State to 214 yards of total offense, though the Vikings did lead 14-13 in the first half.
44. UCF Knights
Average rating: 42.5
Week 1 result: Lost 26-24 to Penn State
Week 2 matchup: Bye
UCF shook off a slow start to rally past Penn State and take a late one-point lead, only to see the Nittany Lions win on a field goal as time expired in a game played in Dublin, Ireland.
The Knights trailed 13-3 before backup quarterback Justin Holman got things turned around. Holman had a pair of short touchdown runs—including the go-ahead score with 1:13 left—as well as 204 passing yards and a TD on just 9-of-14 throwing.
UCF was unable to slow down Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, though. The sophomore signal-caller threw for a school-record 454 yards and was able to march his team down the field for Sam Ficken's 36-yard game-winning field goal.
43. Tennessee Volunteers
Average rating: 42.33
Week 1 result: Beat Utah State 38-7
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Arkansas State
Tennessee jumped on Utah State early, scoring twice in a 14-second span in the first quarter, then cruised to an easy victory Sunday night.
The Volunteers got 273 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Justin Worley, while 11 players caught at least one reception. Tennessee's large freshman class was very involved, with Steve Megargee of the Associated Press reporting the Vols played 21 true freshmen.
Tennessee's best effort came in limiting Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who was intercepted twice and managed just 12 rushing yards.
42. TCU Horned Frogs
Average rating: 41.63
Week 1 result: Beat Samford 48-14
Week 2 matchup: Bye
Trevone Boykin returned as quarterback for TCU after spending time as a receiver and running back in 2013. He looked like he hadn't missed a step. The junior threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a score.
The Horned Frogs outgained the Bulldogs 555-143, holding Samford to just nine first downs.
41. Miami (Florida) Hurricanes
Average rating: 41.0
Week 1 result: Lost 31-13 to Louisville
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Florida A&M
It was more of the same for Miami in its 2014 opener, which closely resembled the 2013 finale both in terms of the opponent and result. A little over eight months after losing 36-9 to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl, the Hurricanes were once again outmuscled and run over by the Cardinals.
The difference, though, was this one counted toward the ACC standings, since Louisville joined the league this season.
Miami managed just 244 yards of total offense. The Hurricanes got a two-yard touchdown catch from Clive Watford in the second quarter and actually led 10-7 after a subsequent field goal. But Louisville's Corvin Lamb returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Cardinals never looked back.
True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya threw for 174 yards and was intercepted twice for the Hurricanes, while running back Duke Johnson ran for 90 yards in his first game since breaking his ankle last November.
40. Virginia Tech Hokies
Average rating: 40.88
Week 1 result: Beat William & Mary 34-9
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Ohio State
Virginia Tech had a relatively effortless opening game against an FCS team that nearly won at West Virginia a year ago, with the Hokies shining on defense and putting up good offensive numbers.
Michael Brewer, a transfer from Texas Tech, threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Shai McKenzie ran for 106 yards and a TD on just nine carries. The Hokies outgained the Tribe 488-193 and sacked W&M quarterbacks four times.
39. Boise State Broncos
Average rating: 39.5
Week 1 result: Lost 35-13 to Ole Miss
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Colorado State
Boise lost its season opener for the second straight year, spoiling the debut of new coach Bryan Harsin. But more unsettling than the overall result was how the Broncos defense wore down. Veteran quarterback Grant Hedrick was also highly mistake-prone in this contest.
Hedrick completed 36 of 46 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown, but he also had four interceptions. Still, Boise only trailed 7-6 entering the fourth quarter before allowing the Rebels to score 28 points in the final 12:26.
38. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Average rating: 39.38
Week 1 result: Beat Central Arkansas 42-35
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at UTEP
Texas Tech struggled to get past FCS opponent Central Arkansas, trailing 16-7 early and then trading touchdowns in the second half after establishing a lead.
The Red Raiders got 452 yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Davis Webb, but Webb was also intercepted twice. His top target was Bradley Marquez, who had 11 receptions for 184 yards and two TDs.
DeAndre Washington ran for 104 yards and a score, and he was part of a solid 184-yard team rushing effort.
37. Arizona Wildcats
Average rating: 36.9
Week 1 result: Beat UNLV 58-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 4 at UTSA
Arizona set a school record for offense with 787 yards despite a lineup that featured mostly newcomers, all of whom excelled in their debuts.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns, as 10 different Wildcats caught passes. That included senior Austin Hill, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL but returned to catch three balls for 110 yards, including a 92-yard TD pass.
Arizona's run game churned out 353 of the 787 yards of total offense. Terris Jones-Grigsby carried it 13 times for 124 yards and a TD, and Nick Wilson added 104 yards and a score on seven touches.
36. Cincinnati Bearcats
Average rating: 36.88
Week 1 result: Off
Week 2 matchup: Bye
The oddest of scheduling quirks has Cincinnati sitting out the first two weeks of the 2014 season then having only one bye week the rest of the way.
The Bearcats don't open until Sept. 12, when they host Toledo. Their first road game isn't until Sept. 27, but it's a doozy: at Ohio State.
35. Michigan Wolverines
Average rating: 33.6
Week 1 result: Beat Appalachian State 52-14
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Notre Dame
Michigan's effort on the offensive end looked much improved after having a lethargic offense for most of the second half of last season. It helped vanquish old memories of one of the program's biggest upset losses ever.
The last time the teams met, in 2007, ASU was an FCS program and shocked Michigan 34-32 in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines gained 560 yards this time around, including 350 on the ground, to roll past Appalachian State in its debut as an FBS team.
Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes, all to Devin Funchess. Derrick Green rushed for 170 yards and a TD, and De'Veon Smith added rushing 115 yards and two scores.
34. Duke Blue Devils
Average rating: 32.4
Week 1 result: Beat Elon 52-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Troy
Duke won its seventh straight nonconference regular-season game in dominating fashion, gaining 567 yards as three different players scored two touchdowns.
The Blue Devils got 247 passing yards and four TDs from Anthony Boone, who threw two scores apiece to Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney. On the ground, Thomas Sirk scored twice, which came as part of 275 rushing yards for Duke.
33. Iowa Hawkeyes
Average rating: 32.0
Week 1 result: Beat Northern Iowa 31-23
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Ball State
Iowa trailed its in-state FCS opponent for seven minutes in the second quarter, and the Hawkeyes never had more than an 11-point lead in a hard-fought victory. Iowa avoided starting 0-1 for the second straight season.
The Hawkeyes were outgained 405-401 by the Panthers, despite 250 passing yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Jake Rudock. Damond Powell's 12-yard TD catch midway through the fourth quarter provided the final margin after UNI pulled within a point earlier in the period.
32. Washington Huskies
Average rating: 31.8
Week 1 result: Beat Hawaii 17-16
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Eastern Washington
Washington narrowly escaped having to make the long trip home from Hawaii with an upset loss, relying on defense to hold off the Warriors and give head coach Chris Petersen his first win with the program.
The Huskies were outgained 424-336 by Hawaii, and quarterback Jeff Lindquist—starting in place of the suspended Cyler Miles—threw for just 162 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-26 passing. He was helped by some late-game running by Lavon Coleman, who finished with 78 yards on 17 carries.
It was Washington's defense that earned the win, though. Despite allowing 143 rushing yards and a TD to Hawaii's Joey Iosefa, the Huskies prevented the home team from putting up the kind of big passing numbers the Warriors have been known for.
31. Penn State Nittany Lions
Average rating: 31.5
Week 1 result: Beat UCF 26-24
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Akron
Penn State needed every second of its trip to Ireland to beat UCF, getting a 36-yard field goal from Sam Ficken as time expired to avenge a home loss from 2013 to the Knights.
Ficken made four field goals in the game, while the Nittany Lions got a school-record 454 passing yards and a touchdown on 32-of-47 passing from Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg, who also threw a pair of interceptions, became the first PSU quarterback to top the 400-yard mark as he made new coach James Franklin a winner in his Lions coaching debut.
PSU outgained UCF 511-246.
30. BYU Cougars
Average rating: 31.0
Week 1 result: Beat Connecticut 35-10
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Texas
BYU had no problem with jet lag in its season-opening win on the East Coast, as quarterback Taysom Hill picked up where he left off in 2013 with his dual-threat skills.
Hill threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 97 on the ground with two scores. His 405 total yards were 50 more than Connecticut had in its first game under coach Bob Diaco, the former Notre Dame defensive coordinator.
29. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Average rating: 30.3
Week 1 result: Beat Southern Mississippi 49-0
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. UAB
Dak Prescott threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns, and Mississippi State's defense forced three turnovers for its first shutout since 1999.
The Bulldogs gained 550 yards and held Southern Mississippi to 283 yards, including only 71 on the ground on 33 carries. Even the special teams stepped up, with Jay Hughes returning a blocked field goal 68 yards for a TD.
28. Florida Gators
Average rating: 29.8
Week 1 result: Florida's opener against Idaho was canceled due to lightning
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Eastern Michigan
Florida's season opener lasted all of 10 seconds of elapsed game time. After a lengthy delay due to heavy rain and lightning, the game was delayed once again and eventually called off in Gainesville.
Officials from both schools are discussing options to make up the game, with CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reporting no decision will be made until "Tuesday at the earliest."
Both teams have a bye on Oct. 25, the week before Florida plays its annual game against rival Georgia in Jacksonville. If the game were not made up, it would require the Gators to finish 6-5 in the regular season to be eligible for a bowl after missing out last year with a 4-8 record.
27. Louisville Cardinals
Average rating: 28.1
Week 1 result: Beat Miami (Florida) 31-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Murray State
Louisville ushered in the second Bobby Petrino era in its opener. His debut in the ACC was a defense-driven victory over the same team the Cardinals crushed last December in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Petrino's Cardinals gained 336 yards, with quarterback Will Gardner throwing for 206 yards and two touchdowns. But the star for Louisville was running back Dominique Brown, who had 143 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown.
The Cardinals trailed 10-7 late in the first half when the game turned on a kickoff, as Corvin Lamb went 97 yards for the go-ahead score.
26. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Average rating: 27.5
Week 1 result: Lost 37-31 to Florida State
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Missouri State
Despite opening the season with a loss for the first time since 2007, Oklahoma State might have made one of the biggest impressions of any Week 1 team that failed to post a victory.
The Cowboys played defending champion Florida State down to the wire, rallying from a 17-0 second-quarter deficit to keep the game in doubt until the final minutes.
They did so thanks to three touchdowns from quarterback J.W. Walsh—two of which were on runs—and a defense that picked off reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston twice and shut down the Seminoles' run game for most of the night.
25. Missouri Tigers
Average rating: 26.8
Week 1 result: Beat South Dakota State 38-18
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Toledo
A 100-yard kickoff return by Marcus Murphy midway through the third quarter helped Missouri avoid an embarrassing home loss. His score came moments after visiting South Dakota State pulled within three points.
The Tigers ran for 215 yards, as Russell Hansbrough led the way with 126 yards and a touchdown. Maty Mauk threw for 178 yards and three TDs, two of which went to Darius White in the first quarter when Mizzou built a 21-7 lead.
Mizzou now heads on the road to face Toledo, the school that Gary Pinkel coached until getting hired by the Tigers before the 2001 season.
24. Texas Longhorns
Average rating: 26.6
Week 1 result: Beat North Texas 38-7
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. BYU
Texas' first game under new coach Charlie Strong was a rousing success. However, it came at a price: Quarterback David Ash suffered a head injury and will miss the next game because of concussion-related symptoms.
Ash threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, which was more than enough when combined with Malcolm Brown's two rushing TDs. The defense held North Texas to 94 total yards, only 15 of which were through the air, and recorded six sacks to go with four interceptions.
Without Ash, Texas is set to go with sophomore Tyrone Swoopes against BYU. And he'll be getting snaps from a new center, as Dominic Espinosa was lost for the season with a broken ankle, according to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
23. North Carolina Tar Heels
Average rating: 26.1
Week 1 result: Beat Liberty 56-29
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. San Diego State
North Carolina trailed its FCS opponent by one point midway through the third quarter before finally waking up, scoring 28 in 3:49 to pull away.
The big score was a 19-yard interception return by Jeff Schoettmer, which came 13 seconds after Mack Hollins caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Marquise Williams. Williams accounted for four of UNC's touchdowns—two through the air and two on the ground.
The Tar Heels committed four turnovers but also registered six takeaways, recovering four Liberty fumbles.
22. Clemson Tigers
Average rating: 23.6
Week 1 result: Lost 45-21 to Georgia
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. South Carolina State
For the first 23 minutes, Clemson's retooled offense looked solid, and its veteran defense looked pretty good. Then Georgia's Todd Gurley erupted, and the Tigers fell apart in every facet of the game.
Clemson managed just 15 of its 291 total yards and one of its 15 first downs after halftime, while its defense slacked off and let a 21-21 tie at the half turn into a blowout. Georgia's Gurley, who tied the game at 21 with a 100-yard kickoff return, had two of his three rushing TDs in a three-minute span in the fourth quarter.
The spurt turned a three-point game into a runaway.
Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt started for the Tigers but split time with freshman DeShaun Watson. The pair both had flashes of efficiency in the first half but ended up combining for just 203 yards on 18-of-33 passing.
21. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Average rating: 20.8
Week 1 result: Beat Florida Atlantic 55-7
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. McNeese State
Nebraska's easy win had all of the things its coaches and fans wanted to see: solid quarterback play, lots of Ameer Abdullah running prowess and a defense that didn't give up too many big plays.
But it also featured a potentially costly injury.
The Cornhuskers defense allowed just 200 yards, giving up a first-quarter touchdown and then nothing else. However, the unit did suffer a potentially devastating injury when star defensive end Randy Gregory was hurt early.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, getting help in the form of a behind-the-back catch by Jordan Westerkamp that he said was "all luck," according to Eric Olson of the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports).
Abdullah rushed for 232 yards and a score on 21 carries, picking up where he left off in 2013 en route to nearly 1,700 yards on the ground.
20. South Carolina Gamecocks
Average rating: 20.3
Week 1 result: Lost 52-28 to Texas A&M
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. East Carolina
South Carolina's home win streak was due to end at some point, but this wasn't how anyone would have expected it to meet its demise.
The Gamecocks were run out of their own stadium in the season opener, losing for the first time at Williams-Brice Stadium in 19 games, a stretch spanning back to October 2011. And they lost badly, giving up nearly 700 yards to Texas A&M, including a school-record 511 passing yards to quarterback Kenny Hill.
South Carolina's Dylan Thompson threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns, but most of that was a result of passing in catch-up mode. The Gamecocks' effort in the run game was minimal, with Mike Davis only getting six carries because of a rib injury. He's considered "sort of doubtful" by coach Steve Spurrier for the next game, according to CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli.
It was the most points South Carolina allowed since giving up 56 to Auburn in the 2010 SEC championship game and is the first time it begins a season 0-1 since going 0-11 in 1999.
19. Wisconsin Badgers
Average rating: 19.6
Week 1 result: Lost 28-24 to LSU
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Western Illinois
Wisconsin was on its way to a huge season-opening win over LSU, despite a woeful passing game and injuries that decimated its defensive line. But then the Badgers suddenly stopped using their top running back and ended up blowing a 17-point lead to start 0-1 for the first time since 1997.
Melvin Gordon finished with 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but nearly all of that was in the first half. Gordon was either not on the field or used as a blocker on passing plays late in the game, while quarterback Tanner McEvoy struggled to a woeful 8-of-24, 50-yard, two-interception performance.
Gordon's lack of touches was mind-boggling at the time, but he said Monday he'd suffered a hip flexor injury and coaches wanted to prevent further damage, per the Badger Football Twitter account.
He wasn't the only key Badger to get hurt, as defensive end Konrad Zagzebski was carted off the field and briefly hospitalized after suffering a neck injury.
18. Kansas State Wildcats
Average rating: 19.4
Week 1 result: Beat Stephen F. Austin 55-16
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Iowa State
Kansas State had no trouble dispatching this FCS opponent a year after opening the season with a home loss to another lower-division team, despite only one reception from star receiver Tyler Lockett (which went for a nine-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Wildcats gained 478 yards, with quarterback Jake Waters tallying 278 of those (223 passing, 55 rushing) and recording four total touchdowns. Running back Charles Jones added a pair of scores on the ground, and the K-State defense held Stephen F. Austin to 294 yards.
17. Ole Miss Rebels
Average rating: 18.8
Week 1 result: Beat Boise State 35-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Vanderbilt
A sloppy offensive performance and a dominant defensive effort combined to give Ole Miss a solid season-opening win, one that was very tight until the Rebels exploded in the fourth quarter.
Ole Miss scored 28 points in the final period, turning a 7-6 game into a runaway. During that quarter, Bo Wallace threw three of his four touchdown passes, including a 76-yard strike to Cody Core. The QB finished with 387 yards to help make up for three first-half interceptions.
The Rebels defense picked off four passes of their own and kept Boise out of the end zone until the final five minutes of play.
16. Arizona State Sun Devils
Average rating: 18.4
Week 1 result: Beat Weber State 45-14
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at New Mexico
Arizona State ended its two-game losing streak that carried over from 2013 in dominant fashion, jumping out early on its FCS opponent and cruising to an easy win.
The Sun Devils gained 570 yards, including 238 passing yards and a touchdown from quarterback Taylor Kelly. ASU ran for 267 yards, with D.J. Foster leading the pace with 147 yards and three TDs, while receiver Jaelen Strong added 10 catches for 146 yards.
ASU held Weber State to 308 total yards.
15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Average rating: 16.6
Week 1 result: Beat Rice 48-17
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan
Everett Golson made a memorable return to college football with 336 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns in Notre Dame's dominant opening win over last year's Conference USA champions.
Golson, who missed all of 2013 while sitting out with academic issues, threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns while adding three rushing scores. His TD passes went for 75 and 53 yards, while two of his rushing scores were from more than 10 yards out.
The Irish rushed for 281 yards, with Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston each gaining 71. Notre Dame's defense collected a pair of takeaways.
14. USC Trojans
Average rating: 14.0
Week 1 result: Beat Fresno State 52-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Stanford
USC's first game under new coach Steve Sarkisian wasn't just good, it was record-breaking.
The Trojans gained more than 700 yards and ran 104 plays, which set a Pac-12 record for offensive snaps. And the offense was diverse and dominant everywhere, with Cody Kessler throwing for 394 yards and four touchdowns (along with a rushing TD) and Javorius Allen adding 133 rushing yards and a score.
USC played more than a dozen true freshmen, mostly on offense, with wide receiver JuJu Smith catching four passes for 123 yards while wideout Adoree' Jackson and tight end Bryce Dixon both had TD catches. Not to be forgotten, junior receiver Nelson Agholor had two TDs as well.
Jackson played offense, defense and special teams for USC, and Michael Lev of The Orange County Register tweeted Monday that Sarkisian plans to somehow "expand" Jackson's role with the Trojans. Who knows what else he'll be asked to do in Saturday's big game at Stanford.
13. LSU Tigers
Average rating: 12.0
Week 1 result: Beat Wisconsin 28-24
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Sam Houston State
LSU trailed by 17 points midway through the third quarter before turning things around on, of all things, a fake punt. After coach Les Miles called for linebacker Kendell Beckwith to take the ball from his up-man position, the sophomore gained five yards on a 4th-and-4 play.
It was one of the few strong runs by the Tigers to that point, as Wisconsin had shut down the ground game and forced QB Anthony Jennings to beat them through the air. Jennings did that, though, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns despite completing just nine of 21 passes.
Jennings' 36-yard TD pass to John Diarse got LSU within three points in the fourth quarter, then the run game woke up with Kenny Hilliard scoring on a 28-yard run to finish with 110 yards on 18 carries. The Tigers' other six ball-carriers had just 20 yards on 29 carries, though.
12. UCLA Bruins
Average rating: 10.6
Week 1 result: Beat Virginia 28-20
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Memphis
UCLA's defensive effort stands out when one searches for superlatives in this tight win. But even dominant performances on defense can get overshadowed with as uneven as the Bruins looked on offense.
UCLA only managed one offensive touchdown in defeating a Virginia team that was 2-10 last season.
The Bruins' first three TDs, all in the second quarter, came on interception returns by Ishmael Adams and Eric Kendricks and a 75-yard scoop-and-score by Randall Goforth. The Bruins were outgained by the Cavaliers 386-358, but that was more an indictment of their offense than anything else.
Quarterback Brett Hundley finished with 281 total yards and a rushing touchdown, but he looked tentative and unsure most of the game.
11. Ohio State Buckeyes
Average rating: 9.9
Week 1 result: Beat Navy 34-17
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Virginia Tech
Ohio State regrouped in the final 30 minutes after spending the first half on major upset alert to roll past Navy. The Buckeyes won behind the efforts of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and a defense that eventually figured out how to stop the option run.
Barrett, making his first career start in place of the injured Braxton Miller, threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns. His 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith late in the third quarter gave the Buckeyes the lead for good, then their defense buckled down and slowed a Navy rushing attack that still managed to gain 370 yards.
OSU's offensive line struggled against Navy's front seven, with Barrett's 50 rushing yards leading the ground attack. The Buckeyes will need to block better up front in order to balance out their offense, with Virginia Tech coming in this weekend.
10. Texas A&M Aggies
Average rating: 9.5
Week 1 result: Beat South Carolina 52-28
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Lamar
The Texas A&M team that many thought was possible this season erupted out of the gates to start 2014, with sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill and a young lineup of offensive and defensive stars obliterating South Carolina on the road.
Hill threw for 511 yards, a school record, on 44-of-60 passing, along with three touchdowns. Making his first start after being named the successor to Johnny Manziel, Hill tore apart South Carolina's secondary and completed passes to 12 different targets.
"Hill busted the seams of the shoes he was expected to fill from Johnny Manziel and played his own game," Sean Lester of the Dallas Morning News wrote.
Malcome Kennedy had 14 catches for 137 yards, while A&M's run game produced 169 yards. Tra Carson alone had three scores.
The Aggies defense also impressed. Even though A&M allowed 366 passing yards and four touchdowns to South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson, the defense was far more aggressive and involved than the unit that was ravaged repeatedly in 2013.
9. Stanford Cardinal
Average rating: 9.4
Week 1 result: Beat UC-Davis 45-0
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. USC
Stanford prepared for this weekend's major conference showdown with a lopsided win over an FCS team, a victory that included all of the offensive contributions you'd expect from the Cardinal.
All-purpose threat Ty Montgomery shined, bringing back a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and adding five catches for 77 yards and a score. Quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a TD, while the young running back unit ran for 149 yards.
UC-Davis, which beat Stanford in 2005 in its first season of FCS competition, managed just 115 yards and committed three turnovers.
8. Baylor Bears
Average rating: 9.0
Week 1 result: Beat SMU 45-0
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Northwestern State
Baylor was its usual dominant self on offense, but it was the Bears' defensive effort that made the first game in new McLane Stadium a memorable one.
Baylor held SMU to a mere 67 yards of total offense, including minus-24 on the ground thanks to nine sacks of the Mustangs' three quarterbacks. Baylor also recorded three takeaways, keeping SMU from ever even sniffing the Bears' red zone.
On offense, quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 161 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing TD before leaving before halftime with a back injury. Petty told USA Today's George Schroeder he took a face mask to the lower back, but that "it's nothing that serious. Everything is good."
He isn't expected to miss the Bears' next game, despite CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reporting Monday that Perry has "transverse-processes fractures of his back."
7. Georgia Bulldogs
Average rating: 7.6
Week 1 result: Beat Clemson 45-21
Week 2 matchup: Bye
At least for one week, many of the concerns about how Georgia would look in 2014 have been allayed. Instead, they've been replaced by expectations that shot through the roof after the Bulldogs' runaway revenge win over Clemson.
Todd Gurley, already among the early candidates for the Heisman, set a school record with 293 all-purpose yards. That included a 100-yard kickoff return, which tied the game at 21 midway through the second quarter and marked the turning point in the contest, along with 198 rushing yards and three scores.
Gurley is the difference-maker for Georgia. He's that rare college player you see who you want to draft on your NFL fantasy football team right now. He's the guy who leaves you stunned when he doesn't pick up 10 yards and who can change the game in a matter of seconds.
Beyond what Gurley did, though, the way Georgia's defense dominated in the second half was also noteworthy. A year after being the team's Achilles' heel, the unit now guided by coordinator Jeremy Pruitt held Clemson to one first down and 15 yards after halftime.
6. Michigan State Spartans
Average rating: 6.0
Week 1 result: Beat Jacksonville State 45-7
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Oregon
Michigan State's outcome was never really in doubt, though the future of its season was when quarterback Connor Cook took a late hit to his legs in the first quarter.
Cook was knocked to the ground and limped off the field after throwing a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett, but he later returned and threw two more TD passes. His first throw after coming back was also to Lippett, which went for 71 yards.
"It was frightening," Cook told Joe Lapointe of MLive.com. "I haven't got hit like that in a while."
Cook was done early with the game in hand, completing 12 of 13 passes for 285 yards. Jeremy Langford added 57 rushing yards, limited by an in-game ankle injury, but backup Nick Hill scored twice on the ground.
The Spartans will need all of their stars healthy for the next game, a major nonconference showdown at Oregon.
5. Auburn Tigers
Average rating: 4.8
Week 1 result: Beat Arkansas 45-21
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. San Jose State
Auburn was without its playmaking quarterback for the first half, as Nick Marshall was benched for the opening two quarters for his offseason marijuana possession citation. But backup Jeremy Johnson impressed, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing.
The Tigers were also stout on the ground, as was the case all of 2013. They gained 302 yards as a team, with 177 of that coming from Cameron Artis-Payne. He, Corey Grant and Marshall each had a rushing touchdown.
Auburn was tied at 21 at the half before its defense shut down Arkansas in the third and fourth quarters, a great sign for upcoming games. Arkansas had only 61 of its 328 yards in the second half.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Average rating: 4.0
Week 1 result: Beat Louisiana Tech 48-16
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 at Tulsa
Oklahoma's offense was efficient, if not flashy, while its defense shined in an opener that was never in doubt.
The Sooners got 253 passing yards from Trevor Knight, but that came on just 19-of-34 passing and included both a touchdown and an interception. The run game gained 183 yards and scored five touchdowns, led by Samaje Perine's 77 yards and a score. Keith Ford and Alex Ross each scored twice on the ground.
The defense held Louisiana Tech to 245 yards and didn't allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Average rating: 3.4
Week 1 result: Beat West Virginia 33-23
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Florida Atlantic
While the spotlights were mostly focused on Alabama's quarterback play heading into the opener, when the closer-than-expected game was over, much more attention was being paid to how shaky the Crimson Tide looked on defense.
Alabama allowed 393 yards to the Mountaineers, with 365 of that coming via the air from quarterback Clint Trickett. The Tide's secondary was torn apart much as it was in high-profile 2013 games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma.
"We didn't have any player that’s ever played before at (middle) linebacker," Saban said. "And I think at times, the coordination between what the secondary was doing and what the linebackers were doing and what they were all supposed to do was not exactly what it should have been."
Fortunately for Alabama, its offense looked mostly crisp under new coordinator Lane Kiffin. Senior Blake Sims got the start over junior Jake Coker at quarterback, and Sims looked good in completing 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards. He relied heavily on Amari Cooper (12 catches, 130 yards) but also got DeAndrew White (six receptions, 73 yards) involved.
Alabama's run game was especially strong, with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry combined for 239 yards and three scores.
2. Oregon Ducks
Average rating: 3.2
Week 1 result: Beat South Dakota 62-13
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Michigan State
Oregon's season opener against an FCS team was never in doubt, as Marcus Mariota used his first-half appearance to set the school record for total touchdowns and the Ducks' deep running back corps got to show its stuff in the runaway victory.
Mariota threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He added a TD run and 43 yards on the ground, giving him 81 total touchdowns for his career. That breaks the previous record of 77 held by Joey Harrington. Mariota's TD passes included two to Byron Marshall, who had eight catches for 138 yards.
The Ducks' run game churned out 293 yards, led by 90 from Marshall (on eight carries) along with 75 and two TDs from freshman Royce Freeman and another 64 from Thomas Tyner.
The only hiccup in the game was an ankle injury suffered by senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who only played the first quarter.
Ekpre-Olomu told Ryan Thorburn of The Register-Guard he was held out as a precaution, and that he was "fine." With Oregon set to host Michigan State in a huge game this weekend, having Ekpre-Olomu healthy is essential.
1. Florida State Seminoles
Average rating: 1.6
Week 1 result: Beat Oklahoma State 37-31
Week 2 matchup: Sept. 6 vs. Citadel
It wasn't exactly the overwhelming performance that many expected from the defending national champions, but Florida State did manage to do enough to get past a better-than-expected Oklahoma State team to win its 17th straight game.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher didn't seem pleased with the result, which isn't surprising because the Seminoles looked vulnerable at times before Jameis Winston came alive in the second half. He rebounded from two first-half interceptions to throw for 370 yards and a game-clinching 50-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene (who had 11 catches for 203 yards, asserting himself as FSU's new No. 1 receiver).
Winston also had a highlight-reel touchdown run in the second half, juking out and hurdling defenders before diving into the end zone.
The most important thing was that FSU survived, but 2014 won't be easy.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.
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