College Football Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook Before Week 1 Saturday Games

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2014

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 30: Jesse James #18 of the Penn State Nittany Lions makes the catch in the endzone for a touchdown during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Thursday’s packed schedule of college football games has created a genuine buzz among fans of the sport, and the start of the 2014 season has put the focus on the rankings as Saturday’s slate of games approaches.

With No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Alabama and 19 other ranked teams in action on the first Saturday of the regular season, college football fans must find a comfortable chair, kick their feet up and enjoy a schedule full of action.

Here are the full Amway Coaches and the Associated Press Top-25 polls and a preview of Saturday’s most intriguing matchup.


Preseason Amway and AP Top 25 Rankings
Rank Associated Press Top 25 Amway Top 25
1 Florida State Seminoles Florida State Seminoles
2 Alabama Crimson Tide Alabama Crimson Tide
3 Oregon Ducks Oklahoma Sooners
4 Oklahoma Sooners Oregon Ducks
5 Ohio State Buckeyes Auburn Tigers
6 Auburn Tigers Ohio State Buckeyes
7 UCLA Bruins UCLA Bruins
8 Michigan State Spartans Michigan State Spartans
9 South Carolina Gamecocks South Carolina Gamecocks
10 Baylor Bears Baylor Bears
11 Stanford Cardinal Stanford Cardinal
12 Georgia Bulldogs Georgia Bulldogs
13 LSU Tigers LSU Tigers
14 Wisconsin Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
15 USC Trojans USC Trojans
16 Clemson Tigers Clemson Tigers
17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Notre Dame Fighting Irish
18 Mississippi Rebels Arizona State Sun Devils
19 Arizona State Sun Devils Mississippi Rebels
20 Kansas State Wildcats Texas A&M Aggies
21 Texas A&M Aggies Kansas State Wildcats
22 Nebraska Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers
23 North Carolina Tar Heels North Carolina Tar Heels
24 Missouri Tigers Texas Longhorns
25 Washington Huskies Washington Huskies
Source: and Associated Press.


Saturday’s Must-Watch Game: Penn State vs. UCF

One of the most intriguing games of the Week 1 schedule is the battle between Penn State and UCF Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET in Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland. You read that correctlythese two teams will go to battle overseas to start the regular season.

The Nittany Lions are entering a new era under head coach James Franklin. The 42-year-old coach spent the last three seasons as the leader of the Vanderbilt Commodores and took the Penn State job during the offseason.

Franklin will be leaning heavily on sophomore starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg to start the year fast, but there are plenty of weapons on the offensive unit. With wide receivers like Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton, plus a tough running back like Bill Belton, the Nittany Lions will be dangerous on offense.

While much of the focus for fans will be on the revamped Penn State offense, the defense has made strides this offseason as well. With several fifth-year seniors returning for one last shot at glory, the Nittany Lions could be a major contender if the chemistry is there from Day 1.

Using a strong defensive line to cause havoc in the rushing and passing attacks, the program’s vaunted linebacker group led by Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell and a secondary that includes hard-hitting players like cornerback Jordan Lucas and safety Adrian Amos, Penn State should be able to pull out the victory on Saturday.

UCF will not go down without a fight, though.

The Knights will begin the season with redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo as the starting quarterback, so Penn State should be expecting a simplified offense for a player who has never taken a snap in college football before.

Look for the team to lean heavily on running backs William Stanback and Dontravious Wilson as DiNovo gets acclimated to the offensive system. A strong group of receivers, which includes Rannell Hall, J.J. Worton and tight end Justin Tukes, will help make the transition easier, but expect the Nittany Lions to bring pressure on the inexperienced QB early and often.

There will be no home-field advantage across the Atlantic Ocean, so the stage has been set for the best overall team to walk away victorious. While the Knights were the better team last season, the lack of Blake Bortles will doom UCF on Saturday morning.

Penn State should roll to a decisive victory.

Predicted Winner: Penn State 40, UCF 20


*Stats via