A wild amount of movement was to be expected in the Week 2 Associated Press and Amway standings after the inaugural week of the 2014 college football season saw a number of contenders put everything on the line.
Jameis Winston and Florida State were not among those at first glance, although a close call against Oklahoma State has given those behind in the polls some momentum. Georgia and Texas A&M are fast risers after marquee wins, while South Carolina and Clemson take a nosedive.
For those on the move down, there is still hope with the inaugural playoff on the distant horizon. That in no way negates the importance of the polls, though, so let's take a look at how the top polls feel about the collegiate football landscape heading into Week 2.
Amway and AP Top 25 Rankings
|Rank||Associated Press Top 25||Amway Top 25|
|1||Florida State Seminoles (46)||Florida State Seminoles (57)|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide (1)||Alabama Crimson Tide|
|3||Oregon Ducks (5)||Oklahoma Sooners (2)|
|4||Oklahoma Sooners (2)||Oregon Ducks (2)|
|5||Auburn Tigers||Auburn Tigers|
|6||Georgia Bulldogs (2)||Michigan State Spartans|
|7||Michigan State Spartans||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|8||Ohio State Buckeyes||Georgia Bulldogs (1)|
|9||Texas A&M Aggies (2)||Baylor Bears|
|10||Baylor Bears||Stanford Cardinal|
|11||UCLA Bruins||UCLA Bruins|
|12||LSU Tigers (1)||LSU Tigers|
|13||Stanford Cardinal||Texas A&M Aggies|
|14||USC Trojans||USC Trojans|
|15||Ole Miss Rebels||Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|16||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Arizona State Sun Devils|
|17||Arizona State Sun Devils||Ole Miss Rebels|
|18||Wisconsin Badgers||Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|19||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Wisconsin Badgers|
|20||Kansas State Wildcats||Kansas State Wildcats|
|21||South Carolina Gamecocks (T-21)||South Carolina Gamecocks|
|22||North Carolina Tar Heels (T-21)||Missouri Tigers|
|23||Clemson Tigers||North Carolina Tar Heels|
|24||Missouri Tigers||Clemson Tigers|
|25||Louisville Cardinals||Texas Longhorns|
Source: USAToday.com and Associated Press.
It's not a major surprise to see the Seminoles remain on top, although those 57 first-place votes in the Amway poll are a bit noteworthy after the team barely escaped with a 37-31 victory over the Cowboys.
Winston was shaky with 370 passing yards and one touchdown to two interceptions, but more concerning is that Oklahoma State—which lost 28 seniors and 13 starters in the offseason—piled on 364 total yards and an 8-of-16 mark on third downs.
Alright, so perhaps the Cowboys are better than advertised. Or as ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski writes, the Seminoles better buckle the seatbelts:
But truth is, as the regular season stretches its legs and the Seminoles face Clemson, Notre Dame, travel to Louisville and Miami, and finish with Florida, the Seminoles' nerve will be tested again and again. They will get every opponent's best shot -- just like the solid punches Oklahoma State landed a couple of nights ago.
One slip is all Alabama or Oregon needs at this point. Nick Saban's Crimson Tide did not wind up exactly impressive in Week 1, either, but the ground-and pound approach with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry will work wonders in the SEC.
Yeldon brutalized the West Virginia defense in the 10-point victory for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 23 totes, while Henry was not far behind with 113 yards and a score on 17 carries. Dual-threat quarterback Blake Sims did well enough with 350 passing yards and 42 more on the ground. Crimson Tide radio analyst Phil Savage put it best:
'Bama 3) Blake Sims acquitted himself well overall…2 bad misses and a poor INT on 33 throws was not a bad night…3rd down efficiency was key.— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) September 1, 2014
The Ducks get two first-place votes in the Amway after a 62-13 shellacking of South Dakota out of the MVFC, as does Oklahoma after a 48-16 win over Louisiana Tech thanks to five rushing touchdowns on the ground from three different players.
Auburn interestingly hangs around and does not move up despite a gritty, 45-21 SEC win over Arkansas. It is important to point out that, while Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is accredited as an offensive guru, he seems to want to play with fire via a two-quarterback system this year.
"He's too good a player and he can help us," Malzahn told Tiger Talk, via Brandon Marcello of AL.com. "So, each week we'll have different packages for him. At the same time, he can run the entire offense, so that's a good thing moving forward."
Jeremy Johnson did throw for 243 yards and two scores, while Marshall came in late and provided a spark with a 4-of-6 mark for 50 yards and another 19 yards and a score on the ground. Malzahn gets one more week to tinker with the lineup against San Jose State before his team's standings in the polls go up for grabs against Kansas State.
It seems the polls are finally ready to give Michigan State the respect it deserves, too. While a 45-7 win over Jacksonville State is not something to write home about, losses on the defensive side of the football have clearly been over exaggerated (the Gamecocks rushed for all of 22 yards) and Connor Cook's upward trajectory and offseason hype was on display in full force thanks to his 285 yards and three scores with one incompletion.
It should be noted, though, that Cook and the Spartans will undergo a serious trial by fire in the marquee matchup of Week 2 when they travel to take on the Ducks.
Other notables from the release include the rise and first-place vote gifted to Georgia as a result of a critical 45-21 victory over Clemson in a rivalry showdown. Running back Todd Gurley is back on the Heisman hunt and piled up 198 yards and three scores on 15 carries—for an average of 13.2 yards.
More importantly, senior quarterback Hutson Mason finally got his shot with Aaron Murray now in the NFL and did well as a game manager who took care of the football and let his backs do the dirty work.
As for notable fallers, the UCLA Bruins were apparently exposed and hardly scored a 28-20 victory against 21-point underdog Virginia. It is right for the naysayers to exercise caution as the bad showing came against a perennial defensive powerhouse, as Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo illustrates:
A lot of talk about Brett Hundley and UCLA struggling against Virginia, but Virginia has a lot of good players on that defense— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 1, 2014
Wisconsin takes a similar free fall after a late four-point loss to LSU in which Heisman contending running back Melvin Gordon was held out of a large chunk of the second half due to an injury. Les Miles' Tigers did not gain much upward traction as a result, although that lone first-place vote in the AP poll is certainly of note.
Joining Clemson in the "major nosedive" category this week is South Carolina. Apparently the loss of Jadeveon Clowney to the NFL is bigger than anyone could have anticipated—the Gamecocks got four passing touchdowns from Dylan Thompson but the defense surrendered 680 total yards and held strong on just five third downs in the 52-28 upset.
One could argue South Carolina should not be ranked at this juncture, but those of that mindset may not have to wait long with a date against Georgia on the slate in two weeks.
Obviously the end result makes the Aggies—a team with two first-place votes in the AP poll—one of the top risers. One Johnny Manziel is already an afterthought at this point as Kenny Hill went out and threw for 511 yards and three scores to place himself firmly in the Heisman conversation.
Early-season polls will not have a major impact on the playoff down the road, but it is hard to take major issue with the initial batch of offerings here. There is a wealth of football yet to sort things out, but for now, these polls are a great first take at how the best of the best compare.