College Football Rankings 2021: Predicting Week 2 AP and Amway NCAA Polls
The first full week of the 2021 college football season did anything but disappoint. After a lackluster Week 0 schedule, every top-25 team was in action over the weekend, and a handful of scores seriously opened some eyes—both good and bad—around the sport.
Oklahoma, which was originally scheduled to play Tulane in New Orleans before Hurricane Ida devastated the city, instead hosted the Green Wave in Norman and only barely survived what would have been one of the biggest upsets in college football history, sneaking out with a 40-35 win. Notre Dame, meanwhile, got out of Tallahassee by the skin of its teeth with an overtime win over Florida State to keep potential College Football Playoff hopes alive, and Iowa put the Big Ten on notice with a 34-6 thumping of then No.17 Indiana.
After an eventful weekend, here's where we see the top-25 polls.
Top 25 Projections for Week 2
1. Alabama (1-0)
2. Georgia (1-0)
3. Ohio State (1-0)
4. Oklahoma (1-0)
5. Texas A&M (1-0)
6. Iowa State (1-0)
7. Clemson (0-1)
8. Cincinnati (1-0)
9. Oregon (1-0)
10. Notre Dame (1-0)
11. Florida (1-0)
12. Iowa (1-0)
13. Penn State (1-0)
14. USC (1-0)
15. Texas (1-0)
16. UCLA (2-0)
17. North Carolina (0-1)
18. Utah (1-0)
19. Coastal Carolina (1-0)
20. Wisconsin (0-1)
21. Arizona State (1-0)
22. LSU (0-1)
23. NC State (1-0)
24. Miami (0-1)
25. Indiana (0-1)
SEC’s Elite Separate from the Pack Early
There were a number of dominant performances over the weekend, but none was more impressive than the drubbing No. 1 Alabama put on No. 14 Miami in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide defense swarmed, particularly in the first half, as Alabama jumped out a 27-0 lead that Miami cut into slightly with a field goal right before halftime. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young proved he should have no problem filling first-round pick Mac Jones' shoes at quarterback, with the former completing 27 of 38 passes for 344 and four touchdowns.
Wide receiver Jameson Williams, a transfer from Ohio State, took over the big-play mantle from DeVonta Smith, catching four passes for 126 yards and a touchdown as 'Bama's offense picked apart Miami's overmatched secondary. The Tide might not have quite the offensive firepower from a year ago, but the defense has a chance to be one of Nick Saban's best yet in Tuscaloosa, and Young and Co. are by no means holding this team back.
Speaking of elite defenses, though, there isn't a better one in the SEC or anywhere in the country than Kirby Smart's unit at Georgia. The Bulldogs, down two key starters to injury, held Clemson to meager 180 yards of offense in a 10-3 win in Charlotte. The Tigers rushed the ball 23 times for two—yes, two!—total rushing yards, and wunderkind quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was sacked six times as Georgia's defense completely overwhelmed Clemson's offensive line.
The Bulldogs had plenty of offensive struggles of their own, as Heisman candidate JT Daniels threw for just 135 yards and an interception, but the rushing game held its own and racked up 121 yards against Clemson's vaunted defensive line.
It's almost a given that the SEC's two best teams will again be ranked 1-2 in this week's poll, and all signs point to yet another rematch in the SEC Championship Game with one—or potentially two—College Football Playoff berths on the line.
UCLA Makes Its Mark as Pac-12 Contenders
Raise your hand if you predicted UCLA being 2-0 headed into Week 2 with a dominant win over No. 16 LSU on their resume. Me neither. Chip Kelly's squad looks like it's finally broken through after three years of futility, and the Bruins have a chance to be legitimate challengers to USC in the Pac-12 South and the league as a whole.
The Ducks survived a major scare from a plucky Fresno State squad, but star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux left the game in a walking boot, and Oregon's passing offense was far from inspiring.
USC, meanwhile, handled a good San Jose State squad 30-7. But the Trojans' crosstown rivals were the story of the week, manhandling LSU up front en route to a convincing 38-27 win.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson only completed nine of his 16 passes, but he threw from 260 yards and three touchdowns, while UCLA's running game bullied its way to 210 yards and two rushing touchdowns against LSU's supposedly loaded defensive front seven.
The result raises some major questions about whether head coach Ed Orgeron will be on the sidelines in Baton Rouge if these struggles continue, but Kelly, who returned to college football in 2018 after a disastrous stint in the NFL, might be able to salvage things in Los Angeles if this is a sign of things to come.