So… are there any good teams in college football?
We’re really starting to see the lingering effects of last year’s COVID-altered season. Many players are battling in their first live, competitive action in nearly two years – and it’s showing. Alabama looked unbeatable in their first game against Miami but since have looked much more mortal. Playoff mainstays Oklahoma, Clemson, and Ohio State are having trouble incorporating all their new pieces with the upper-classmen, leaving room at the top of the power rankings for up-and-coming teams like Oregon, Cincinnati, and Ole Miss.
This week’s rankings don’t feature a ton of risers or fallers, but there’s definitely some shuffling within the top 25 from last week. Let’s take a look.
* (NS) = neutral site; (NR) = not ranked in last week's power rankings
The Bruins fell six slots in the power rankings after dropping a home tilt with Fresno State. The Bulldogs aren't a bad team at all. They're ranked 22nd in the AP Poll, in fact. But, UCLA had two weeks to prepare for this game, and Fresno State put them on their heels. They looked like an over-confident team, and they got hit in the mouth by the hungrier bunch. This is still a good team, but that was a humbling loss.
Penn State Nittany Lions
I haven't seen anyone rank the Nittany Lions this high, but their defense is great, and many of the other teams ranked near them just aren't firing on all cylinders. Sure, they had over 100,000 fans at their back, but they took down a strong SEC opponent who put up 60 in each of their first two games. Penn State is a legitimate threat to make the playoffs.
As I mentioned in the notes section of the above table, I made a mistake keeping BYU out of the top 25 last week. They were my first team out, and they sure proved me wrong. Arizona State is a strong team, and BYU just showed they won't be pushed around by anyone. Any team traveling to Provo should be prepared for a good old-fashioned battle when they face the Cougars.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State vaulted themselves into the AP Top 25, my top 25, and they very well may have put an early dagger in Miami's season and Manny Diaz's tenure at the helm. They've now scored at least 38 points in all three games this season after not even topping 30 once last year. The schedule doesn't get tough until the second half of the season, so the Spartans can build themselves a nice little cushion if they keep playing this well.
Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats let Nevada hang around for three quarters but put them away with three rushing touchdowns in the final frame. Nevada has a road win at Cal, so they're no pushover. Kansas State's rushing attack and defense are both strong, and if they can sort out the injuries and inconsistencies under center, they could be a factor in a bit of a watered-down Big 12.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State is back after spending last week outside my top 25. All it took was a trip away from home, I guess. UNLV is not a good team, and the Cyclones trounced them 48-3. Brock Purdy finally looked like someone who was loosely mocked within the first two rounds of the NFL draft, throwing for almost 400 yards, and the Iowa State defense held the Rebels to 122 total yards.
I guess this transition from Trevor Lawrence to D.J. Uiagalelei isn't going as smoothly as many of us anticipated. Uiagalelei looked great last year when Lawrence missed time with COVID, but he's looked anything but this year. The Tigers needed a stop on fourth and goal to essentially prevent overtime or at least a chance for the Yellow Jackets to send it to overtime with a two-point conversion. This isn't a team we'll be seeing in the playoffs unless something drastically improves.
The Gators lost at home yet still moved up two spots in the rankings. They were a two-point conversion away from tying it up against Alabama late in the fourth quarter. This game started off looking like another Crimson Tide rout, but the Gators kept their composure and showed they're a force to be reckoned with in the SEC.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame didn't look great against Purdue, despite winning by two touchdowns. Jack Coan missed way too many open receivers, and that's not going to work as this schedule toughens up. The Irish play five consecutive opponents who'll be coming off a bye, starting next week at Lambeau Field against the Wisconsin Badgers.
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