College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 1

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2019

College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 1

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    Oregon running back Darrian Felix
    Oregon running back Darrian FelixRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    College football is back, baby, and it brought with it no shortage of drama, even if most of the upsets were relegated to those outside the Top 25.

    Matt Campbell's Iowa State Cyclones made it through a three-overtime nightmare against FCS Northern Iowa, and the only other ranked team to chalk up an "L" by press time was No. 11 Oregon, which lost to No. 16 Auburn in dramatic fashion.

    Thursday night featured the national champion Clemson Tigers taking care of business against Georgia Tech, and Alabama did the same against Duke on Saturday. Though neither team looked like a finished product, both got the job done.

    Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and others proved worthy contenders through one game as well.

    It's just a matter of how things shake out in the polls.

    Bleacher Report's panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—tried to sort everything once again. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.

    Here is our Week 1 poll:

    1. Clemson
    2. Alabama
    3. Georgia
    4. Oklahoma
    5. LSU
    6. Ohio State
    7. Texas
    8. Michigan
    9. Auburn
    10. Washington
    11. Notre Dame
    12. Texas A&M
    13. Utah
    14. Florida
    15. Penn State
    16. Wisconsin
    17. Boise State
    18. UCF
    19. Oregon
    20. Washington State
    21. Syracuse
    22. Michigan State
    23. Cincinnati
    24. Iowa
    25. Stanford

    Others receiving votes: Iowa State, Virginia, Memphis, Georgia State

Who's Hot: Former Georgia Quarterbacks

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    Washington quarterback Jacob Eason
    Washington quarterback Jacob EasonAssociated Press

    New surroundings looked good on a few high-profile quarterback transfers during the first weekend of the college football season.

    Two of them found fertile fields where big statistics grew away from the state of Georgia. 

    Former Bulldogs quarterbacks Jacob Eason (Washington) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) left Athens after failing to beat out Jake Fromm for the Bulldogs' signal-caller job. While Fromm did just fine to start his season against the Vanderbilt Commodores, so did Eason and Fields.

    Though it was just against Eastern Washington, the Huskies should be thrilled with the beginning of the Eason era after Jake Browning's decorated career. Browning won plenty, but his physical limitations were evident at times. The arm strength and athleticism will never be in question with Eason at the helm.

    Eason's Huskies career began with a 27-of-36 performance in which he threw for 349 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a 47-14 win over Eastern Washington. Sure, the level of competition will elevate, but Eason's attributes are obvious, and this is a young team with a lot of weapons.

    Fields had all the headlines surrounding him entering this year, and he did not disappoint. After a 51-yard scoring scamper opened the first quarter, the dual-threat budding star wound up with 234 passing yards, 61 rushing yards and five total touchdowns in a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic.

    With Fields behind center, Ryan Day's Buckeyes may not skip a beat in the post-Urban Meyer era.

    In case you were wondering, Eason and Fields combined for 644 total yards and a passer rating of 191.3. In case you didn't know, Georgia's Kirby Smart can recruit, and now other elite programs are benefiting from there not being enough snaps to go around in Athens. 

Who's Not: Iowa State, but It's OK...for Now

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    Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell
    Iowa State head coach Matt CampbellAssociated Press

    Matt Campbell's honeymoon in Ames has been salvaged.

    Barely.

    One of the hottest young names in college coaching orchestrated a surprise Iowa State season a year ago, and the goodwill carried over into a preseason No. 21 ranking. 

    But all that nearly crumbled in epic fashion Saturday afternoon when Football Championship Subdivision power Northern Iowa waltzed into the home of the Cyclones with upset hopes that fell just short in a 29-26 nail-biter. 

    There's just something about FCS scares in the Hawkeye State. The last time a team from the "little brother" division beat a ranked opponent was September 17, 2016, when North Dakota State beat No. 13 Iowa, 23-21. The Hawkeyes finished that season unranked.

    The Cyclones don't have to worry about crawling out of that ditch.

    On a day when the only Top 25 team to lose was in a matchup between two ranked opponents, Campbell's team is the one that leaves with the most questions. Yes, at least they get to answer them with a notch in the win column, but it was ugly. 

    Running back Sheldon Croney Jr.'s one-yard, third-overtime score sent relief across Jack Trice Stadium, but only because quarterback Brock Purdy fell on Croney's fumble on the play before. The Iowa State defense kept the Cyclones in the game, but the offense was never on schedule in the second half. That's a major problem.

    With Purdy at the helm, you've got to think things will improve, but the start to perhaps the most anticipated Iowa State season in decades was less than optimal, to say the least.

Fun Fact: New Lows for Programs Formerly Known as Powerhouses

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    Tennessee quarterback  Jarrett Guarantano
    Tennessee quarterback Jarrett GuarantanoSilas Walker/Getty Images

    No, the Florida State Seminoles and Tennessee Volunteers aren't in the Top 25 now. It may be a long time before either gets there again, too.

    After the 'Noles failed to make a bowl game for the first time in 36 years in Willie Taggart's first season as a head coach, they started Year 2 with a thud as well, losing 36-31 to Boise State in Tallahassee. It was a monumental collapse, too.

    Florida State led by 18 points before the Broncos' true freshman quarterback, Hank Bachmeier, helped his team storm back for the win. Just how atrocious has the start of the Taggart era been? Aside from the lack of urgency, the 'Noles can't put teams away, either.

    According to ESPN Stats & Info, FSU is 80-2 in the past 15 seasons in games where it led by 18 or more points. The only other loss besides Saturday's came last year against Miami. Taggart had better turn it around, or he'll be in trouble soon.

    But, hey, at least Florida State isn't Tennessee, right?

    After the failed tenures of Derek Dooley and Butch Jones, UT's national disaster coaching search turned up Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt ahead of the 2018 season, but the Vols failed to make a bowl game. Despite bringing in a strong class of recruits, things got worse in a hurry Saturday.

    Georgia State—a team that has only had a football program for 10 years and been in the FBS for seven—came into Neyland Stadium and didn't just beat the Vols, but dominated them in a 38-30 win. UT had to score a touchdown with less than five seconds to go just to make it look that respectable.

    It was the first loss in a home opener for the Vols since 1983, as well as the first time in 82 tries an SEC team that was a 25-plus-point favorite lost, according to ESPN. It was the largest loss by an SEC team favored by that much in 40 years.

    This was the worst loss for UT since 1975, when North Texas upset the Vols. They haven't been relevant in a long time and look nowhere close.

What to Watch For: Warm-Ups Are over in Week 2

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    Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher
    Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Texas A&M head coach Jimbo FisherAssociated Press

    If you love big-time college football, your viewing guide is all set during Week 2 with a slate of intriguing games that include two marquee matchups and a couple of exciting showdowns that are worth your time.

    Other fun-to-watch battles are on tap as well, with teams quickly shaking off the rust and preparing for the gauntlet.

         

    Cincinnati at Ohio State (noon ET)

    The Buckeyes better not sleep on Cincinnati in this all-Ohio intraconference battle. The Bearcats are building something exciting after last year's 11-2 season and then upending UCLA again in the 2019 season opener.

    You know there's nothing Bearcats coach Luke Fickell would love more than to knock off the "big brother" school where he was once an assistant under Urban Meyer. This could be a fun and sneaky-close battle in the first wave of Saturday games. 

         

    Texas A&M at Clemson (3:30 p.m. ET)

    It may be easy to forget, but before the Clemson Tigers blazed a path of carnage through the College Football Playoffs a season ago, they were finding their way early in the year. During that time, they traveled to Kyle Field to take on a young Aggies team that gave them all they could handle in a 28-26 A&M loss.

    Now, Jimbo Fisher's team is a year older and should be even better, despite showing some offensive line inconsistencies during the first weekend.

    The defending national champion Tigers dominated Georgia Tech in Week 1, and running back Travis Etienne kicked off his Heisman campaign in style. This will be their first test of the season, and it comes in Death Valley.

         

    LSU at Texas (7:30 p.m. ET)

    The potential for a massive season is in place for LSU head coach Ed Orgeron in Year 3; the Tigers have eight starters returning on both sides. Maybe this is the team that can get the Bayou Bengals back to competing with Alabama in the SEC West.

    First comes a showdown with Texas and quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who is ready to take the Longhorns to the next level. This is a big early test for two programs on the cusp of the College Football Playoff conversation. It will be a proving ground to separate the pretender from the contender.

           

    Stanford at USC (10:30 p.m. ET)

    The nightcap doesn't have a bevy of games from which to choose, but the Stanford-USC rivalry will be renewed with two teams looking to get back to the forefront of the Pac-12.

    The Cardinal had to grind out a 17-7 home win over Northwestern to open the season, and the Trojans are going to try to open up the offense in their first year with Graham Harrell as the offensive coordinator. This could be a fun early-season Pac-12 showdown.

          

    Several other games are worth your watch, too. West Virginia and new coach Neal Brown will travel to Missouri for a noon showdown with quarterback Kelly Bryant and the Tigers. Syracuse and Maryland are also facing off at noon, when new Terps coach Mike Locksley will get his first big test.

    Colorado beat Nebraska 33-28 a year ago in a renewal of the old Big Eight rivalry, and they'll have the return battle at 3:30 ET in a game the Cornhuskers really need to win to stay in the Top 25.

    It's going to be another huge weekend in college football with even more big games to watch.

        

    Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard.

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