College Football Rankings 2018: Final NCAA Overview of Week 1 Standings

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2018

Washington running back Myles Gaskin (9) against Penn State during the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Focusing on the College Football Playoff on the first day of September might not seem like a worthwhile exercise, but Week 1's games could make an impact on the playoff rankings and, more immediately, the AP Top 25 given the significance of the contests.

While the majority of the title contenders face easy opening-weekend matchups, there's one top-10 showdown that will alter teams' positioning and could shift the perception of one Power Five league.

No. 6 Washington and No. 9 Auburn contest Saturday's most meaningful game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and if the Tigers leave Atlanta with a victory, the Pac-12 will have yet another disadvantage in the rankings.

However, a victory by Chris Petersen's Huskies would set the tone for an intriguing discussion regarding the Pac-12's credentials on a national stage.

Beneath the top 10, there's a trio of games between ranked teams spread out across three nights as college football once again takes over our lives.

            

AP Top 25 Entering Week 1

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Georgia

4. Wisconsin

5. Ohio State

6. Washington

7. Oklahoma

8. Miami

9. Auburn

10. Penn State

11. Michigan State

12. Notre Dame

13. Stanford

14. Michigan

15. USC

16. TCU 

17. West Virginia

18. Mississippi State

19. Florida State

20. Virginia Tech 

21. UCF

22. Boise State

23. Texas

24. Oregon

25. LSU 

          

Top-10 Shakeup Will Occur After Week 1 

All eyes will be on the clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a multitude of reasons that go well beyond who wins the game.

Whether it's fair or not, Washington is playing for the reputation of the Pac-12 since most of the top teams in the conference won't receive a similar challenge this season.

The Huskies were the last Pac-12 College Football Playoff representative—in 2016—but since their 24-7 loss to Alabama, the conference's status among the best in the nation took plenty of hits.

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Pac-12 possessed a handful of solid teams a year ago, with Washington being one of them, but the Huskies, USC and Stanford were nowhere near relevancy in the final College Football Playoff debate.

If Washington leaves the Peach State with a victory, it would be the first of what the Pac-12 hopes is many claims for a spot in the CFP, as well as a presence in the top five of the AP poll.

Auburn doesn't have as much to lose since the SEC is basically guaranteed one a CFP spot no matter which team ends up as the conference champion.

Picking up a victory would be a step in the right direction for Gus Malzahn's side, which lost to Clemson in September the past two seasons.

A boost from a quality victory would position Auburn close to the top five and could be used as a buffer if the Tigers slip up during the season.

            

Handful of Teams Have Opportunities to Surge in Rankings

The programs outside of the top 10 aren't considered national championship contenders yet because of some doubts carried over from recent years.

No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 14 Michigan arguably have the most on the line in Week 1, as both Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh need a positive result to fend off their critics for at least one week.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The loser of the rivalry showdown at Notre Dame Stadium could experience a drop down the rankings, while the victor has a case to crack the top 10.

The ACC battle between No. 19 Florida State and No. 20 Virginia Tech will alter the the bottom half of the AP Top 25, as the winner has one quality conference win compared to other schools who face lesser opponents in Week 1.

No. 22 Boise State and No. 23 Texas face difficult road trips, with the Broncos facing a dangerous a trip to rising Group of Five power Troy and the Longhorns heading east to Maryland.

Of all the teams at the back end of the rankings, No. 25 LSU might have the most to gain, as a win over No. 8 Miami would serve as a massive boost ahead of a treacherous SEC West schedule.

          

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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