AP Poll College Football 2011: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 1

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIISeptember 5, 2011

AP Poll College Football 2011: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 1

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    There were a few big upsets in the first week of college football. No. 16 Notre Dame was shocked at home by South Florida, No. 4 LSU picked apart No. 3 Oregon and No. 14 TCU lost to unranked Baylor.

    BCS rankings may still be a few weeks away, but the AP Top 25 will need a few changes after an exciting opening weekend.

    So, who will drop and who will rise in next week's rankings? Read on to find out.

Who Fell out of the Rankings?

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    No. 25 USC

    Yes, the Trojans won, but barely. To make matters worse, the team they almost lost to was Minnesota. Not exactly a top level competitor.

    USC was already barely in the rankings and there were enough impressive performances by other teams to knock them off for now.

    No. 23 Auburn

    Wow. Auburn barely escaped the Utah State game with a W. Utah State only won four games last year and that was playing in the WAC.

    Auburn was great last year, but they lost too much to stay good. They had a great recruiting class though, so maybe they'll be good again in 2012 or 2013, but for now, they're not a top 25 team.

    No. 16 Notre Dame

    This year, Notre Dame was for real. They made it up to No. 16 in the AP polls based on hype and tradition, but neither of those things help you on the field, as South Florida showed them.

    While it was a pretty close game, you don't host a mid-level Big East team and lose if you're the 16th best team in the country.

25. Penn State

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    Penn State snuck into the 25th spot on the Coaches Poll, but just missed the top 25 in AP's poll.

    Now, after their impressive 41-7 win over Indiana State, Paterno's Nittany Lions become ranked again.

    With the sanctions that hit Ohio State which resulted in Jim Tressel's departure, the Big Ten is wide open this year. Don't count Penn State out.

24. Arizona State

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    Another team that is knocking on the door of the rankings is Arizona State (the Sun Devils placed 28th in the Coaches Poll).

    Arizona State started off 2011 with a very impressive 48-14 win over UC Davis. The win was practically a shutout, as Davis did not score at all until the fourth quarter.

    ASU put up 517 total yards of offense before everything was said and done, allowing them to jump up a couple of spots to a ranking.

23. TCU

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    Yeah, I know, they're now a 0-1 team, but TCU started the season ranked No. 14, so a fall of 12 spots after such a close loss to a very good Baylor team may be a bit much.

    After all, they nearly put together what would've been one of the best comebacks of the season before finally losing to Baylor by two measly points (the final score was 50-48).

    They might have faltered, but TCU still had superb special teams play and their offense still packs a punch. I think the Horned Frogs will end up staying in the top 25, but they will fall after the loss.

    Speaking of Baylor.

22. Baylor

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    Robert Griffin III had the most impressive single player performance of the week and he showed that Baylor is not a team to be dismissed.

    Even without using his running ability, his Bears put up 50 points on TCU, one of the best defenses (statistically) in the country over the last few years.

    He even has a streak of 15 straight completions while Baylor seemingly scored at will on TCU. On the other hand, their defense leaves a little something to be desired. Still, they were definitely good enough in their opener to warrant a top 25 ranking.

    They are a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12.

21. Georgia

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    Georgia got manhandled by Boise State at home (technically a neutral site, but it was really a home game for Georgia).

    That said, Boise State started out as the fifth ranked team in the country, so it should be no surprise that they beat No. 19 Georgia handily. Georgia still has Aaron Murray and they're still not cream puffs but Georgia will drop a couple of spots for being 0-1.

    They don't get much of a break either, as they host defending SEC East champion No. 12 South Carolina on September 10.

20. West Virginia

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    West Virginia hasn't done anything to warrant jumping up four spots, but they haven't lost either. With the teams in front of them either losing (Georgia, Notre Dame and TCU) or sputtering (Auburn against Utah State), they move up by default.

    West Virginia started their 2011 campaign by sticking it to the Marshall Thundering Herd 34-13. South Florida looks good and Cincinnati tore up their first opponent, but West Virginia is still the team to beat in the Big East until further notice.

19. Florida

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    So much for a learning curve. Despite having a coaching staff that is almost entirely new, Florida slammed Schnellenberger's FAU squad 41-3.

    Even John Brantley looked improved in the opener, completing 21 of 30 passes for a touchdown and two interceptions.

    If Chris Rainey keeps up his impressive performances as both a receiver and a rusher (79 yards rushing, 67 yards receiving, three touchdowns), Florida could very well win the SEC East.

18. Missouri

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    Missouri won their first game handily, beating Miami of Ohio 17-6.

    Not exactly a blowout, but a solid win against a solid team nonetheless. Quarterback James Franklin was quite impressive, passing for 129 yards and rushing for an additional 72 yards and grabbing two touchdowns on the way.

    Missouri was ranked No. 21 last week, so if nothing else changes, they'll move up to 18 by default since Notre Dame, TCU and Georgia lost.

17. Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State entered the season as an SEC West afterthought. Despite an impressive 2010 campaign, they were ranked below every other SEC West squad except Auburn and Ole Miss.

    However, they showed in their opening game against Memphis that they are still a contender for the SEC crown. They routed Memphis 59-14 in their first appearance and running back Vick Ballard could not have looked better, picking up 169 yards on only 10 carries with three touchdowns to boot.

    Mississippi State gets to show what their made of next week against No. 23 Auburn.

16. Ohio State

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    No head coach? No problem.

    Granted, Akron was probably the worst team in the country last year, but a shutout is still a shutout, so Ohio State moves up by default.

    New quarterback Joe Bauserman had a solid first start, completing 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

    A win against Akron doesn't say much about how good Ohio State is and with Toledo and Miami (FL) next up on their schedule, it may be a while before anyone has a good idea of how good or bad they are.

15. Michigan State

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    Last year's Big Ten co-champion got off to a bit of a slow start against Youngstown. It took the Spartans a whole quarter and then some to put points up, but they were never really threatened and ended the game with a solid 28-6 win over the FCS squad.

    Michigan State certainly is going to have a good season, but they'll need to step up if they're going to compete with Wisconsin and Nebraska for the first Big Ten title that will be decided by playoff.

14. Oregon

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    Oregon wasn't even in the same league as LSU on Saturday. That said, LSU looked like they might be the best team in the country, so if you're gonna lose to someone, they'd be about the best option.

    Oregon still has reasons to be optimistic, and they're still a great team, but their national title hopes died in Texas.

    I think they fall pretty far, but not out of the rankings entirely. No. 14 seems about right.

13. Arkansas

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    Arkansas definitely is a little worse off without Knile Davis, but that doesn't mean they aren't great.

    Tyler Wilson looked fantastic, throwing for 260 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. They also had a plethora of runners, including Kody Walker, who scored two touchdowns.

    Still, the team they beat was just Missouri State, so those points don't mean a whole lot. Arkansas will be able to show its stuff against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn and Alabama later in the season.

12. Virginia Tech

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    Appalachian State is an FCS team, but they're also certified giant killers. Not so against Virginia Tech.

    The Hokies ran up 66 points against Appalachian State. The first 53 points went unanswered.

    New running back David Wilson was a big part of that success. The junior had 16 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns.

    Florida State may be the ACC top dog right now, but Virginia Tech clearly isn't going to be an easy opponent.

11. South Carolina

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    East Carolina actually threatened South Carolina for a while, leading the Gamecocks at halftime 24-14. However, once quarterback Stephen Garcia got back in, it was over.

    South Carolina scored 56 points in the end, winning the game handily. Marcus Lattimore showed that he's still the best running back in the country by running for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

    While South Carolina showed that they're far from invincible, they also showed that they can put up a lot of points on good teams. They're definitely still the team to beat in the SEC East.

10. Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State has an explosive offense; there is no doubt about that. However, their defense clearly has some questions, as they allowed Louisiana-Lafayette to put up 34 points.

    Quarterback Brandon Weeden also had some problems. While he threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns, he also gave away three interceptions against a lesser team.

    A win is a win, but Oklahoma State is gonna get leapfrogged by a few other teams for still having some questions.

9. Nebraska

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    Nebraska completely dominated Chattanooga and Taylor Martinez looked decent, completing half his passes for 116 yards and rushing for three touchdowns.

    Still, it was Chattanooga; they would've made any Big Ten team look dominant. Nebraska moves up by default.

8. Wisconsin

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    Russell Wilson seems right at home in Wisconsin and the Badgers look almost as dominant as they were in 2010.

    In the 51-17 win over UNLV, Wilson threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. James White and Montee Ball look just as good as they were last year; the tandem rushed for 127 yards and four touchdowns.

7. Texas A&M

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    It must be that whole "moving to the SEC" thing that has A&M playing such good football.

    A&M stomped an old rival from the Southwestern Conference in SMU. Everyone expected a win, but no one expected a 46-14 rout. Keep in mind that SMU is not just an FBS team, but a pretty good one.

    Tannehill looks as solid as ever, and if he keeps up the play, he'll find himself drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

    A&M proved that they are the real deal and their ranking will reflect that.

6. Florida State

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    Florida State is one of the only teams that doesn't move.

    They put up 34 points on Louisiana-Monroe and shut them out. Despite this, those 34 points took all four quarters to get up there and new quarterback EJ Manuel also threw an interception.

    Florida State will still have a great year, but I don't know if they're a BCS championship caliber team.

5. Stanford

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    After Stanford lost head coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL, I thought a ranking of No. 7 in the nation was generous. Now, I think it's too low.

    Andrew Luck completed 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns (his career 46th and 47th) while rushing for one more.

    Stanford rested a lot of starters late in the game and that's the only reason San Jose State put up any points at all. The final score was 57-3.

    With Oregon sitting at one loss already, Stanford may very well find themselves going to the Rose Bowl this year, if not the National Championship.

4. Boise State

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    So much for SEC dominance. A No. 5 team manhandling a No. 19 team should be no surprise, but I guarantee that a lot of people were shocked by Boise State's 35-21 win over upstart Georgia.

    Boise is ready to continue their role as BCS busters and with a tougher schedule this year, including games against Nevada, Fresno State, TCU and San Diego State. If they stay perfect this year, I don't think they'll get left out in the rain.

    The margin of victory versus Georgia was only two touchdowns, but the Broncos were playing prevent defense for the last half. Boise is a for real BCS threat.

3. LSU

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    No. 3?!? Did I not see the Oregon game? LSU is one of the best teams in the country!

    That is true, but the rankings don't like to drop the No. 1 or 2 team unless they lose, so LSU stays down at No. 3 for now. They get a chance to take No. 2 Alabama on directly in a few weeks anyway.

    Even without Jordan Jefferson, LSU proved to be too much for No. 3 Oregon, handing them a 40-27 loss in Texas.

    LSU-Alabama will end up being one of the most watched games of the season. If only Nov. 5 (when the two meet) wasn't so far away.

2. Alabama

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    Alabama started AJ McCarron at quarterback and he did not look good. He threw 226 yards for a touchdown and two interceptions in their 48-7 win over Kent State. Not that impressive.

    That said, it's pretty much the only thing wrong with Alabama. Their defense was superb and didn't allow any points until the second half when starters got some rest.

    Trent Richardson made his presence known as he rushed for three touchdowns in only 37 yards.

    The battle for the SEC West crown will be a tough one with LSU, Arkansas and even Mississippi State in contention. It ought to be great to watch.

1. Oklahoma

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    They started No. 1, they stay No. 1. Oklahoma looked like what everyone expected them to be in their 47-14 win over Tulsa.

    Landry Jones was great, passing for 375 yards and a touchdown, but the story of the night was running back Dominique Whaley. He rushed for 131 yards and four touchdowns in just 18 carries.

    Oklahoma's offense will likely be the best in the country this year and they deserve the No. 1 spot.