Alabama Escapes An Upset, Notre Dame And Texas A&M Don’t

Week 2 was just another reminder that college football is back, with thrilling plays, chilling upsets, and shrilling announcers gracing TVs across the country. And just like Week 1, our top 25 college football rankings saw significant movement. Who rose, who fell, and who could sneak into the top 25 as early as next week?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Well, Alabama, you really dodged a bullet there. And I did, too, because if the Crimson Tide fell to Texas, I would’ve had quite a bit more work to do tonight. After failing to get anything going offensively, Bryce Young tuned out the noise and drove the offense downfield when it counted the most. It was quite the display of composure under pressure for the future top NFL draft pick.

However, Alabama has some serious self-scouting to do, as they committed a whopping 15 penalties. And had Longhorns QB Quinn Ewers not suffered a sprained clavicle, the outcome of the contest could’ve been very different.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Following a tough victory over Notre Dame last week, Ohio State had a bit of a breather vs. Arkansas State. No Jaxon Smith-Njigba, no problem. C.J. Stroud threw for over 350 yards, with Marvin Harrison Jr. (7-184-3 receiving line) and Emeka Egbuka (4-118-1) stepping up. Even though TreVeyon Henderson’s services weren’t required on the ground, he was still able to produce 87 yards and two scores on 10 carries.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

If anyone thought Samford would score a single point on Georgia‘s defense, they were horrendously misinformed. The Bulldogs — of Athens — didn’t let their guard down one iota, holding the FCS program to zero while putting up 30 of their own by halftime. Georgia is a national championship challenger until they prove otherwise.

4. Michigan Wolverines

J.J. McCarthy outdueled Cade McNamara in Week 1, and he all but solidified the starting QB job for Michigan in Week 2. McCarthy needed just 12 attempts to complete 11 passes for 229 yards and three scores. Meanwhile, McNamara came in for garbage time and completed just 4 of 6 passes for 26 yards and an interception. The rest of the roster can compete for a College Football Playoff spot, and starting McCarthy opens the offense and raises the ceiling.

5. North Carolina State Wolfpack (Last week: 6)

As was the case with many of the top 25 teams this week, North Carolina State handled their business against lesser competition. Charleston Southern was simply no match for the Wolfpack, as head coach Dave Doeren pulled QB Devin Leary up 40+ points in the third quarter. It was good to see the signal-caller spread the ball around for four passing touchdowns, and he even scampered into the end zone twice.

6. Clemson Tigers (Last week: 7)

Furman isn’t exactly Alabama, but DJ Uiagalelei and Clemson put any doubt of an upset away early. After allowing Tyler Huff to complete 13 straight passes, the Tigers clamped down, opening up the offense to take control. DJU and Co. moved up and down the field with ease, which they will need to do consistently against stiffer defenses to have a real shot at a College Football Playoff berth.

7. USC Trojans (Last week: 9)

USC has forced four turnovers in back-to-back games, proving they are more than just Lincoln Riley and the offensive onslaught. Although, that aspect of the Trojans hasn’t left. Caleb Williams threw 341 yards and four touchdowns against an underrated Stanford secondary. Travis Dye ran for 105 yards and a score. And Jordan Addison hauled in seven receptions for 142 yards and two TDs.

8. Oklahoma Sooners (Last week: 10)

Offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and Dillon Gabriel haven’t skipped a beat, as the two are efficiently moving the ball in Norman. A key reason for their success is WR Marvin Mims, who popped off for 163 yards and two TDs this week. Through two games, Oklahoma has outscored opponents 78-16, though UTEP and Kent State aren’t exactly elite football programs.

The Sooners will face their first Power Five test in Week 3 when they travel to take on Nebraska. It should be like taking a math exam with a calculator, but it is a test nonetheless.

9. Kentucky Wildcats (Last week: 18)

It wasn’t Will Levis‘ finest outing, but he did just enough to help push Kentucky over a ranked Florida squad. Besides a 55-yard touchdown reception by Dane key and a goal-line push passed the pylon by Levis, the Wildcats struggled offensively. But the defense picked up the slack, snatching two interceptions, one of which Keidron Smith took to the house. If Levis can harness his immense physical potential, Kentucky could upset more SEC rivals this season.

10. BYU Cougars (Last week: 23)

Despite two missed game-ending field goals, BYU left LaVell Edwards Stadium with a win over top-10 ranked Baylor. Jaren Hall only threw one touchdown, but he did notch a 22-yard receiving score. Who threw that pass? Freshman WR Chase Roberts, who had an 8-122-1 receiving line as Hall’s top target with Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua out.

Baylor was the Cougars’ toughest matchup yet, but they still have dates with Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Oregon on tap. Although, those last two have far less steam than they did heading into the season.

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Last week: 15)

Oklahoma State‘s defense struggled to stop Central Michigan in Week 1, but they bounced back in a big way against Arizona State. Sun Devil QB Emory Jones was under constant duress from the Cowboys’ front seven, leading to a 50% completion rate. Spencer Sanders wasn’t spectacular through the air, but, as usual, he used his legs to the offense’s benefit. Speaking of, RB Dominic Richardson generated 131 yards and a score on the ground.

12. Miami Hurricanes (Last week: 19)

It may have taken until halftime, but Tyler Van Dyke and the aerial assault found their groove against Southern Miss and ended any and all upset alerts. Henry Parrish Jr. powered the offense on the ground while the rest of Miami‘s offense worked out their kinks, rumbling for 116 yards and a score. The defense also showed their teeth, limiting an underrated Southern Miss offense to seven points.

13. Michigan State Spartans (Last week: 17)

Michigan State had no issue with Akron … defensively. But QB Payton Thorne continued his below-average play. Still, Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard are a problem carrying the rock, bowling over whoever stands in their way. If the passing game can find a modicum of success, the Spartans could cause headaches in the Big Ten.

14. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last week: 21)

The Golden Gophers have hardly been tested against New Mexico State and Western Illinois, but one thing is certain: Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts are BACK. The duo has combined for over 200 rushing yards and three rushing TDs each game thus far. If they can keep their legs churning against Big Ten competition, Minnesota can make some noise.

15. Ole Miss Rebels (Last week: 22)

Similar to last week, Ole Miss didn’t need the passing attack firing on all cylinders to record an expected victory. In a 59-3 win over Central Arkansas, QB Jaxson Dart threw for just 182 yards. But freshman RB Quinshon Judkins once again had an impressive day, barreling forward for 104 yards on just 10 carries. Nevertheless, Ole Miss will need Dart and the passing game to find its rhythm to compete in a vaunted SEC.

16. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last week: 24)

North Carolina‘s defense continues to be suspect, allowing Georgia State to give the Tar Heels another scare. Regardless, QB Drake Maye and RB Omarion Hampton are one of the top backfield duos in the nation. As long as those two are on the field, UNC will always have a puncher’s chance in any game they play.

17. Tennessee Volunteers (Last week: unranked)

2.6. That’s how many yards Tennessee averaged per carry against Pitt. But behind the right arm of Hendon Hooker and the receiving trio of Cedric Tillman, Jalin Hyatt, and Bru McCoy, the Vols were able to outlast the Panthers in overtime. Yes, Kedon Slovis was knocked out of the game, but even he was inefficient vs. this Tennessee defense.

18. Arkansas Razorbacks (Last week: unranked)

It’s about time I give Arkansas the respect they deserve. While I was low on them entering the year, KJ Jefferson and Co. simply can’t be ignored any longer. Jefferson only recorded 162 passing yards, but the Razorbacks put up 295 yards and five TDs rushing behind their offensive line. Raheim Sanders led the way, averaging 6.5 yards per carry en route to 156 yards and two scores.

The defense has some studs, including LBs Drew Sanders and Bumper Pool. And with two impressive victories over Cincinnati and South Carolina on their résumé, Arkansas deserves a spot in the top 25.

19. Oregon State Beavers (Last week: 25)

In a week full of overtimes and upsets, Oregon State held on against an impressive Fresno State program. Chance Nolan had less than 100 yards passing at halftime. And if you just looked at Bulldogs QB Jake Haener’s (30/46, 360 yards, one TD) and RB Jordan Mims’ stats (21-122-2), you’d think Fresno State came out on top.

But these Beavers don’t give a dam, and fullback/linebacker hybrid Jack Colletto scored the walk-off touchdown with seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Nolan and Co. must be consistent to challenge in the cannibalistic Pac-12, but they are talented enough to reach the conference championship.

20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Last week: unranked)

Welcome back, Sam Hartman. Following a one-week absence due to a medical procedure, Hartman picked up where he left off last season, throwing for 300 yards and four TDs. A.T. Perry relished in his QB’s return, taking five catches for 142 yards and a score. With Hartman at the helm, Wake Forest will feature heavily in ACC title discussions.

21. Florida Gators (Last week: 13)

After upsetting Utah just a week ago, Florida was upset themselves. Anthony Richardson couldn’t will his squad to a victory this time around. In fact, he threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once. It was a frustrating performance for the Gators, but they fell to a ranked Kentucky team, not an FCS or Group of Five opponent. Richardson will need to bounce back in Week 3, or the Gators could be in trouble.

22. Utah Utes (Last week: 20)

After a tough loss to Florida in Week 1, the Utes easily dispatched Southern Utah. Sure, it was against an FCS foes, but it was quite the bounceback for Cameron Rising and Co. as they led 45-7 by halftime. Dalton Kincaid continued to prove why he is a top TE prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, going for over 100 receiving yards. Still, knocking off a non-FBS opponent can only move the needle so much.

23. Pittsburgh Panthers (Last week: 14)

Despite losing, this is still a Pitt team worthy of a top 25 position. With Slovis out and Nick Patti completing just 9 of 20 passes at four yards per attempt, the Panthers took a talented SEC team into OT. Israel Abanikanda broke out for 154 yards and a score on 25 attempts, and Gavin Bartholomew had the young season’s hurdle of the year. With a healthy Slovis, which is now a luxury, Pitt still has a chance in the ACC.

24. Baylor Bears (Last week: 9)

Baylor were road underdogs against BYU, but they did themselves no favors with 14 penalties for 117 yards. However, they still took the Cougars to double-overtime, and were it not for a missed field goal, their positions in the top 25 could be switched.

That doesn’t excuse Blake Shapen averaging just 4.9 yards per attempt through the air. The running game will get theirs behind a stout offensive line, but without a passing attack to pair with it, Baylor may not be a ranked team for too much longer.

25. Houston Cougars (Last week: 12)

Nothing is certain in the world of college football. Well, maybe Houston playing in overtime each week. Despite Nathaniel Dell and Clayton Tune connecting for 120 yards on seven receptions, there was a different song playing Saturday. That would be “Fight, Raiders, Fight,” Texas Tech’s fight song. With the Cougars settling for a field goal in OT, sophomore QB Donovan Smith called game, punching in a touchdown run.

The loss wasn’t on Derek Parish, who racked up four sacks and six tackles for loss, giving his all right up into the buzzer. Tune barely completed over 50% completion of his passes, but if he can right the ship, Houston can rise as soon as next week.

Teams on the outside looking in 

  • Texas Tech Red Raiders
  • Washington State Cougars
  • Marshall Thundering Herd
  • Florida State Seminoles
  • Penn State Nittany Lions

James Fragoza is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.

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