College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 1
Did you think 2021 would be a normal college football season? That's fine! And also, Week 1 laughed in your face.
On paper, the schedule looked relatively tame. Featured a couple of big games, had plenty of lopsided results, nothing out of the ordinary. But then, #TeamChaos absolutely exploded the afternoon and evening in the best way imaginable.
After Virginia Tech upset North Carolina on Friday night, Montana took down Washington. UCLA upset LSU. Tulane took Oklahoma to the wire, and both Northern Iowa and Fresno State put a scare into Iowa State and Oregon, respectively.
Bleacher Report's college football crew—David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Morgan Moriarty and Brad Shepard—assembled to make sense of the day through B/R's first Top 25 of the regular season. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
B/R's Week 1 Top 25
3. Ohio State
7. Texas A&M
8. Iowa State
T-9. Notre Dame
11. Penn State
15. Coastal Carolina
18. Virginia Tech
22. Arizona State
24. North Carolina
25. Ole Miss
Others receiving votes: Washington, UCF, Maryland, TCU
Who's Hot: Alabama Crimson Tide
Hopefully, you weren't surprised at the result. Alabama has been the nation's most consistent program for a decade-plus, and Miami hasn't reasonably contended with top competition in recent years.
In case you needed a reminder, though, the top-ranked Crimson Tide provided an emphatic one.
They raced out to a 27-0 lead during the first half and cruised to a 44-13 victory over the Hurricanes, who managed just 266 yards. Bryce Young, in his first career start, completed 27 of 38 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams reeled in four passes for 126 yards and a score.
"I thought Bryce did really, really well," Alabama coach Nick Saban said, per Paul Newberry of the Associated Press. "The poise he played with, the command he had. He kind of took what the defense gave him and really directed the offense in a positive way."
Alabama has a reasonably difficult early schedule with trips to SEC counterparts Florida (Sept. 18) and Texas A&M (Oct. 9) within the first six games. But the Tide absolutely aced their first test.
Who's Not: North Carolina Tar Heels
Friday morning, North Carolina woke up as the Coastal Division favorite. Sam Howell rolled out of bed in the Heisman Trophy conversation and as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Well, uh, perception has changed quickly.
Howell tossed three interceptions—including an off-balanced nightmare during the final minute—in a 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech. North Carolina managed just 354 yards of offense, the fifth-lowest total in Howell's 26 games as the Tar Heels' quarterback.
Now, it's one loss. The sky isn't falling. And after pointing out North Carolina's task of reloading at running back and receiver all offseason, we're not surprised at a rough showing either.
However, the Heels basically have 14 days to address the poor offensive debut. They host Georgia State next Saturday before a stretch of five ACC matchups in five weeks. UNC doesn't have much margin for error in the conference race.
North Carolina can still win the Coastal Division. Howell's draft prospects aren't crumbling. The road to those destinations, though, is a whole lot more difficult that anticipated.
Fun Fact: Georgia's Neutral-Site History with Clemson
File this one under "the more you know."
Separated by just 73 miles, Clemson and Georgia had played 64 times before Week 1's clash. Georgia held a 42-18-4 advantage in the series, and the programs split the only two matchups in the last 18 years. That gap is a precursor to a history lesson.
Saturday night, Georgia earned a 10-3 victory at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The exact location is less important than knowing it was the first neutral-site meeting between Clemson and UGA since 1913—a mere 108 years ago.
Overall, the Bulldogs have dominated the games outside of Athens and Clemson. They now own a 7-1-1 edge in those contests—which all otherwise happened in 1916 or earlier.
So, yes, that record means absolutely nothing! But it's a peculiar sidebar to the most impactful game of the weekend.
What to Watch For: Big Ten Teams in Nonconference Showdowns
Week 2 is a pretty typical early season Saturday. Generally speaking, it's an opportunity for power-conference teams to pick up a victory and everyone else to collect a paycheck. Some upsets will happen, but true marquee games are limited.
Consequently, most everyone would agree Week 2 has three key matchups. And each one features a Big Ten program.
At noon ET, Ohio State hosts two-time reigning Pac-12 champion Oregon in the definite game of the week. It's the first matchup between the teams since the national championship to close the 2014 season.
Additionally, Iowa travels to rival Iowa State for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff, and Michigan hosts Washington in an 8 p.m. prime-time clash. Even as Washington lost a stunner to Montana in Week 1—and that's a bad loss—it's too early to bail on preseason thoughts.
In the preseason B/R Top 25, every team but Michigan made an appearance—and the Wolverines received the fourth-most points in the "others receiving votes" section. The results of these contests will have a heavy influence on next weekend's poll.