Week 1 of the 2014 NCAA football season has already exposed the difficulty of making preseason rankings.
Wisconsin is in trouble at the quarterback position, UCLA and Alabama failed to look otherworldly, and it's very possible Georgia—led by sensational running back Todd Gurley—wasn't ranked high enough.
For the majority of teams, fans and pundits, the preseason polls are merely a soon-to-be-discarded signpost to frame early college football discussions. Yes, some powerhouses will validate their earliest positions in the college football pecking order, but the list will eventually become a relic.
However, it still works as a reference point for Week 2's action as some teams make a second run at showing why so many observers held them in high esteem before the action began.
The teams and rankings included here are from the AP preseason poll. There will, of course, be some movers and shakers after all the action that took place Saturday, but fans who want to keep track of the teams originally designated as the 25 best—and keep tabs on how ridiculous that list may look in a couple of weeks—should check out this schedule and these predictions.
|12 p.m.||Florida Atlantic||No. 2 Alabama||Alabama|
|12 p.m.||No. 4 Oklahoma||Tulsa||Oklahoma|
|12 p.m.||Western Illinois||No. 14 Wisconsin||Wisconsin|
|12 p.m.||No. 20 Kansas State||Iowa State||Kansas State|
|12 p.m.||McNeese State||No. 22 Nebraska||Nebraska|
|12 p.m.||No. 24 Missouri||Toledo||Toledo|
|12:30 p.m.||South Carolina State||No. 16 Clemson||Clemson|
|3:05 p.m.||Eastern Washington||No. 25 Washington||Eastern Washington|
|3:30 p.m.||No. 15 USC||No. 11 Stanford||Stanford|
|4:30 p.m.||No. 18 Ole Miss||Vanderbilt||Ole Miss|
|6:30 p.m.||No. 8 Michigan State||No. 3 Oregon||Oregon|
|7 p.m.||San Jose State||No. 6 Auburn||Auburn|
|7 p.m.||East Carolina||No. 9 South Carolina||South Carolina|
|7 p.m.||No. 19 Arizona State||New Mexico||ASU|
|7:30 p.m.||Citadel||No. 1 Florida State||Florida State|
|7:30 p.m.||Northwestern State||No. 10 Baylor||Baylor|
|7: 30 p.m.||Sam Houston State||No. 13 LSU||LSU|
|7:30 p.m.||Michigan||No. 17 Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|7:30 p.m.||Lamar||No. 21 Texas A&M||Texas A&M|
|8 p.m.||Virginia Tech||No. 5 Ohio State||Ohio State|
|8 p.m.||San Diego State||No. 23 North Carolina||SDSU|
|10 p.m.||Memphis||No. 7 UCLA||UCLA|
ESPN.com, CollegeFootball.AP.org, Predictions: Nate Loop
Top Matchups To Watch In Week 2
Michigan State at Oregon
This is an excellent matchup in terms of pitting strength versus strength. Oregon's high-powered, scything offense takes on the nasty, brutish defense of the Michigan State Spartans. Neither team gave observers any reason to doubt its preseason ranking in Week 1.
Oregon rolled to a 62-13 victory over South Dakota State behind superlative play from quarterback Marcus Mariota. He played just one half of football and still managed to throw for three touchdowns and run for another. He also broke the school record for career touchdowns during the contest.
As SportsCenter noted, he's No. 2 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s big board for the 2015 NFL draft, to the surprise of absolutely nobody:
Michigan State has a highly touted defense, but even the crew led by star players such as defensive end Shilique Calhoun won't be able to slow down the Oregon offense enough for the Spartans to keep pace. Quarterback Connor Clay has plenty of experience, but he's not a particularly explosive player.
Oregon won't blow away the Spartans, but it will affirm its preseason ranking and win this contest rather handily.
Prediction: Oregon 38-24 Michigan State
USC at Stanford
USC hasn't been in the national title conversation for a couple of years now, as the NCAA sanctions against the program prevented it from developing deep rosters and may have driven away some wary top prospects.
For Trojan fans who can't wait to see their team return to dominance, quarterback Cody Kessler must look like a godsend. The junior passer threw for a career-high 394 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns in USC's 52-13 victory over Fresno State.
His favorite target was true freshman Juju Smith, who reeled in four catches for 123 yards on the afternoon.
Kessler noted that head coach Steve Sarkisian has made the new era of Trojan football an enjoyable one.
"His whole thing is we’re going to compete, we’re going to play hard, but at the same time we’re going to have fun," Kessler said of his head coach, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News.
USC fans should know just how high to set their hopes after the team takes on Stanford, who played brilliantly in a 45-0 win over UC-Davis.
The new-look, no-huddle Trojan offense could prove to be problematic for Stanford, but the Trojans are apt to make more mistakes in this contest. The team racked up nine penalties for 76 yards against Fresno State and, as the team's official Twitter account noted, relied on a bevy of true freshmen:
Everyone’s getting in on the action today - USC has played 9 true freshman and Kessler has hit 6 different receivers through one half.— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) August 31, 2014
This sets up USC for a bright future, and it could very well take control of the Pac-12 South behind Kessler. However, this game is Stanford's to lose. Head coach David Shaw will make sure there is no letdown in Stanford this weekend, although the final score will probably be much closer than he would prefer.
Prediction: Stanford 35-31 USC