What a difference one week can make in the college football season. Before Week 1 began, the biggest debate surrounding the FBS was the validity of the rankings. While some teams seemed to be in legitimate positions, others appeared either over or undervalued.
With one game in the books for each team, we've seen the Top 25 shaken up in a big way. Here's a look at the updated AP Poll followed by some very early playoff projections.
|Rank||Team (1st-Place Votes)||Points||Prev. Rank|
|1||Florida State (46)||1,456||1|
|9||Texas A&M (2)||978||21|
The top four teams remained the same for another week; however, things changed in drastic fashion thereafter.
Auburn moved closer following its big win over Arkansas. Georgia made a huge jump after Todd Gurley and Co. dismantled Clemson. Texas A&M moved all the way up to No. 9 after pummeling South Carolina, which incidentally fell to No. 21. Louisville became the only newcomer to the list, jumping up from 31st to 25th after an impressive win over Miami.
While all of these teams appear deserving of their current ranks following one week of action, only four can move on to the College Football Playoff. Projections are in order.
The Seminoles are poised to make a nice run through the regular season once again. Don't let the team's stumble against Oklahoma State in Week 1 fool you.
Sure, Florida State's running game wasn't exactly stellar, and Jameis Winston did make a couple of mental mistakes along the way, but this is still a very talented team. This run from Winston shows what he's capable of, via SportsCenter:
The Seminoles held J.W. Walsh to 203 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception for a rating of 52.9, and the Cowboys averaged just 3.8 yards per carry.
If the game showed anything, it's that the Seminoles defense is capable of winning games even when the offense falters. Going forward, we can expect Winston to make amends for his mistakes, and considering Rashad Greene proved he's the real deal, that shouldn't be too difficult.
All right, so the Crimson Tide didn't look very impressive in their debut against West Virginia. Blake Sims had an up-and-down performance, completing 24 of his 33 pass attempts for 250 yards and an interception, but Alabama flourished on the ground, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
The backfield duo of T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry should be more than enough to keep the Crimson Tide afloat while they figure out the quarterback position. Yeldon and Henry combined for 239 rushing yards and three touchdowns on Saturday—that kind of production will give Sims time to develop.
Here's a telling statistic from ESPN Stats & Info:
T.J. Yeldon & Derrick Henry have both rushed for over 100 yards vs WVU. Alabama had two 100-yard rushers in same game twice last season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 30, 2014
Alabama's defense looked on point as well, allowing just one touchdown and holding the Mountaineers to average just 1.2 yards per carry—they rushed 24 times for 28 yards. This unit, combined with a great running game, is sure to produce wins.
Much of Oregon's projected berth in this year's College Football Playoff will hinge on how the team fares against Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans have a fierce defense, and Connor Cook has looked phenomenal under center. Although, they'll have some matchup issues against such a prolific Ducks offense.
Marcus Mariota continues to look like a great Heisman candidate. In Week 1, he completed 14 of his 20 attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns before Jeff Lockie took over the team's rout of South Dakota.
SportsCenter summed up Mariota's efforts in Week 1:
Win the day! Marcus Mariota throws for 3 TD, rushes for another as Oregon trounces South Dakota, 62-13. pic.twitter.com/GT4gR6N5Xv— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 31, 2014
Helping Mariota put up some points was the dangerous Byron Marshall. A shifty runner with good hands, the Ducks experimented with him in the slot, and it paid dividends. Marshall racked up 228 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on just 16 total touches. Factor in Mariota's ability to run and a deep backfield, and you get an offense that can stack up against anyone.
Here's the surprise. The Georgia Bulldogs sneak into the top four by the end of the season thanks to a very well-rounded team. During its Week 1 contest against Clemson, the Bulldogs showed they can take control of games with the old-fashioned approach of solid running and stout defense.
How impressive is Todd Gurley? Possibly the Heisman front-runner, Gurley racked up 198 yards on 15 carries—that's an average of 13.2 yards per rush—and three touchdowns against the Tigers. His efforts even overshadowed the four-carry, 70-yard performance from fellow running back Nick Chubb.
This tweet from Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle says it all:
Todd Gurley is a freak!!!!!— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) September 3, 2014
Quarterback Hutson Mason didn't have to do much. He managed the game nicely and didn't force any bad throws that lead to turnovers. If the Bulldogs continue to gain 328 yards on the ground, he'll have an easy season ahead.
On defense, Georgia limited Clemson to just one big play—a 30-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake—while allowing a total of just 291 yards to the Tigers on the game.
Cole Stoudt's highly anticipated debut quickly turned sour after he couldn't get anything going, and the team's running game averaged just 2.0 yards per carry—that includes an 18-yard scramble by Stoudt.
Georgia is skilled on both sides of the ball, and we shouldn't be surprised when it finds itself in the top four.