NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 1

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30:  Kenny Hilliard #27 of the LSU Tigers runs past Derek Landisch #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Welcome back, college football. You never disappoint.

The first game of the 2014 season ended on a last-second field goal, and the second saw a Top 10 team lose by 20-plus points at home. The SEC brought the weird from start to finish, and so did the Croke Park Classic out in Dublin.

Week 1 was one of those quintessentially awesome debuts, the kind that has us tearing up our previous rankings, questioning our predictions and wondering why in the heck we do those things in the first place. It's not like we stand any chance of being right!

Accordingly, the Week 2 Associated Press poll should look much different than the preseason version. Unrecognizably different. And how could it not? With so many top teams looking less than dominant, the entire pecking order must be reconsidered.

Let's try to make sense of it all:

Predicted Week 2 Associated Press Poll
TeamRecordPreviousWeek 1 Result
1. Florida State1-01def. Oklahoma State, 37-31
2. Oregon1-03def. South Dakota, 62-13
3. Oklahoma1-04def. Louisiana Tech, 48-16
4. Alabama1-02def. West Virginia, 33-23
5. Auburn1-06def. Arkansas, 45-21
6. Michigan State1-08def. Jacksonville State, 45-7
7. Georgia1-012def. Clemson, 45-21
8. Baylor1-010def. SMU 45-0
9. LSU1-013def. Wisconsin, 28-24
10. Stanford1-011def. UC-Davis, 45-0
11. Texas A&M1-021def. South Carolina, 52-28
12. Ohio State1-05def. Navy, 34-17
13. UCLA1-07def. Virginia, 28-20
14. USC1-015def. Fresno State, 52-13
15. Notre Dame1-017def. Rice, 48-17
16. Ole Miss1-018def. Boise State, 35-13
17. Arizona State1-019def. Weber State, 45-14
18. Kansas State1-020def. Stephen F. Austin, 55-16
19. Nebraska1-021def. Florida Atlantic, 55-7
20. Wisconsin0-114loss vs. LSU, 28-24
21. Clemson0-116loss vs. Georgia, 45-21
22. South Carolina0-19loss vs. Texas A&M, 52-28
23. North Carolina1-023def. Liberty, 56-29
24. Texas1-0NRdef. North Texas, 38-7
25. Missouri1-024def. South Dakota State, 38-18
Source: Author's Prediction /

Note: Rankings reflect a prediction of the Week 2 AP poll—not how the author would rank the teams himself. Predictions made under assumption that all remaining Week 1 games finish as betting spread would indicate.

Fun Facts

• South Carolina tumbles from the preseason Top 10 to outside of the Top 20. Last year, the lowest faller from the preseason Top 10 was Florida, to No. 12. If South Carolina indeed falls below No. 20, it will be the first time that has happened to a preseason Top 10 team since Michigan in 2007. (That was the year it lost to Appalachian State.)

• Washington falls out of the poll despite starting 1-0, the result of a one-point win at Hawaii. A 1-0 team hasn't dropped from the poll since Auburn (four-point win over Utah State) and USC (two-point win over Minnesota) in 2011. The Tigers finished that season 8-5, but the Trojans went 10-2 and finished No. 6 in the final AP rankings.

Teams Rising

COLUMBIA, SC - AUGUST 28: Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies watches his team play against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Gett
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Texas A&M

Kenny Hill led the Aggies to a stunning upset of South Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium—not just because of its occurrence, but because of the way it occurred. Hill broke Johnny Manziel's single-game passing record for an offense that hung 52 points (with ease).

According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, head coach Kevin Sumlin credited a story calling Texas A&M "the most overrated team in the nation" for giving his team the fuel it needed to come out and abuse the Gamecocks. Expect that the media has learned its lesson.

Now…let the wild, 10-hour rumpus start


Todd Gurley was out of control, putting up roughly 300 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns on 16 touches, and the running game in general helped overcome a boring (if not safe and reliable) full-time starting debut from quarterback Hutson Mason.

More than that, the Bulldogs defense held Clemson to 15 yards in the second half. Fifteen! Despite the embattled secondary, new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt had his group looking good.

With Gurley carrying the offense and the best group of linebackers in the country (Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera) carrying the defense, plus the apparent ineptitude of South Carolina as a rival in the SEC East, this team looks like a strong College Football Playoff contender. 


The only new addition to the poll this week is Texas, which replaces a Washington team that struggled to beat Hawaii.

The Longhorns looked good in the first game of the Charlie Strong era, holding North Texas to 94 total yards and coasting to a 38-7 win.

Defense is the staple of every Strong-coached team, and this group has the talent to rank among the best he's ever had. The offense looked a little bit rough, though, and things will only get rougher if center Dominic Espinosa is in fact out for the year with a broken ankle.

Teams Falling

COLUMBIA, SC - AUGUST 28:  Dylan Thompson #17 of the South Carolina Gamecocks calls for a timeout during their game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Williams-Brice Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina. Texas A&M won 52-28.  (Photo by Gran
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

South Carolina

Touched upon earlier, but it would be remiss not to mention the Gamecocks again.

You can't get depantsed on your home field in front of a national audience and not free-fall down the poll.


Things started well in Athens, Georgia, Saturday evening, but Clemson's offense withered in the second half and eventually went AWOL. It was a profoundly un-Chad Morris performance.

More concerning than that, the defensive front seven—supposedly one of the strongest in the country—could not handle Gurley for the second consecutive season, despite having another full summer to prepare.

The Tigers are probably not as bad as they looked in the second half Saturday, but with a road trip to Florida State looming, that might not matter. Starting 1-2 is a recipe for falling out of the poll.

Ohio State

Only part of this has to do with Ohio State's struggle against Navy. A big part of it also has to do with the Braxton Miller injury, which happened after the release of the preseason AP poll.

Still, the Buckeyes could have mitigated how far they fell with a more convincing Week 1 effort. Navy is a good team, and there is no shame in beating it by 17 points, but there was a long stretch of that game where it really looked like Ohio State would lose.

Urban Meyer's team still has some proving to do.


Of all of the curious curiosities from the first weekend of the season, Wisconsin's second-half disappearing act stands out.

The Badgers were so, so good in the first half, and their first drive of the third quarter—bolstered by a 63-yard run from Melvin Gordon—went for a touchdown. They were rolling toward a program-defining win.

Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. Gordon found himself on the bench because of something head coach Gary Andersen called "a scenario" that happened at halftime, per Brian Bennett of And from there, things collapsed on both sides of the football.

And as a result, Wisconsin is dropping.


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