In the first week of college football, teams from the usually powerhouses of the west coast will be fighting it out with those from the usually powerhouses of the east coast. The first week of college football is usually a week of upsets, but those upsets tend to fade as Week 2 approaches. Week 2 will be a little tougher, but teams will start to separate themselves from the pack.
Last week was the first weekend of college football season, and it’s still difficult to estimate who will win each game. Some teams are already dead in the water, while others are one bad loss away from being national title contenders.
Week 1 of the college football season has arrived which means it’s time to start ranking teams by how much potential they have, not by how much they’ve actually played. Here are my Power Rankings for the first week of games.
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The calendar finally reached Week 1 after a long summer of waiting, and the college football schedule did not disappoint.
The fact that an Alabama squad coached by Nick Saban confused its opponent in the first week of the season came as no surprise. Bryce Young showed he was ready to fill the big shoes left for him by the renowned quarterbacks before him by defeating Miami 44-13 this year.
If you like defense, Georgia and Clemson played up to the expectations, and although the Tigers fell 10-3, don’t rule out coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson from making a run and returning to the playoffs.
Despite leading 37-14 at halftime, Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma were given a scare by Tulane. The Sooners hung on for a 40-35 win, and Rattler continued to look like a Heisman front-runner, so Norman supporters can exhale and look forward to Week 2.
Ohio State rolled on Thursday in CJ Stroud’s first start, and Texas A&M is still on a quest to prove it deserved the final spot in last year’s College Football Playoff.
Week 1’s highlights are over, now it’s time to see where each team ranks in this week’s power rankings, which will be released ahead of Week 2.
This just in: Alabama is very excellent, and it doesn’t seem to matter who the Crimson Tide lost from last year’s squad, whether on the roster or in the coaching booth. While the postgame emphasis was rightfully on quarterback Bryce Young’s record-setting debut, coach Nick Saban was eager to point out that his defense limited Miami quarterback D’Eriq King to 178 yards and one touchdown throw while also recording two interceptions. Because they won’t need any of the above to defeat Mercer next weekend, Alabama’s focus is already on the team’s trip to the Swamp on Sept. 18 to play Florida, another club that is reloading a monster 2020 offense. Ryan McGee’s quote
On offense, the Bulldogs have a long way to go, but their defense against Clemson looked a lot like the one that took them to a CFP national title berth in coach Kirby Smart’s second season. The Bulldogs pounded Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei with a rotating cast of former five-star defensive linemen and linebackers. Georgia sacked him seven times to open the game and shook him. Clemson only managed 180 total yards of offense, including 2 net yards on the ground. Georgia will be the SEC East favorite in the future, but it will almost certainly need greater offensive production at some time. Schlabach, Mark
Georgia suffocates Clemson throughout the game, recording seven sacks in a 10-3 victory over the Tigers.
In the post-Justin Fields era, the Buckeyes’ big-play offense is still going strong. Coach Ryan Day urged rookie starting quarterback C.J. Stroud to “keep swinging,” despite a rocky first half, and continued to call aggressive plays. Stroud tossed four second-half touchdown throws of 38 yards or longer, averaging 47.2 yards per completion, with the assistance of a strong group of receivers and running backs. Stroud, as expected, has space to improve, but his teammates will give him every opportunity to do so. Adam Rittenberg’s remark
The Sooners’ 40-35 win against Tulane raised concerns, especially on defense, as they allowed 5.1 yards per play (Tulane QB Michael Pratt went 27-of-44 for 296 yards and three touchdowns) and enabled Tulane to outscore them 21-3 in the second half. Spencer Rattler, the Heisman frontrunner, threw two interceptions, one of which came on the game’s first play. Still, a victory is a win, and the Sooners improved dramatically over the course of last season. They’ll need it once again to live up to the lofty expectations set for this season. Dave Wilson is an author.
The Aggies’ offense started out on shaky ground with freshman quarterback Haynes King throwing two first-half picks and the new-look offensive line allowing a few too many tackles for loss. But the second half was a better story as Texas A&M ran away with the game thanks to a 17-point third quarter. King and the line will need some time to gel, but with a solid defense and a strong running game, the Aggies should be fine with unranked Colorado and New Mexico remaining before SEC play begins. — Alex Scarborough
Cincinnati has a fantastic chance this year, beginning in the top 10 and retaining the most of its 2020 players while preparing for big games against Indiana and Notre Dame. The Bearcats breezed through their first test against Miami (Ohio), winning 49-14. Desmond Ridder threw 20 of 25 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns, while Jerome Ford gained 121 yards on 12 runs. Miami had a 3.8 yard per play average and didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter. Bill Connelly’s quote
Former quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 selection in the NFL draft in April, was clearly missed by the Tigers, but they could have used former running back Travis Etienne even more in their defeat to the Bulldogs. Georgia’s defense teed off on D.J. Uiagalelei and blitzed him early and frequently without the threat of a sustained running game. The offensive line for Clemson struggled against Georgia’s deep defensive line. The Tigers will be big favorites in their next two games against FCS South Carolina State and Georgia Tech, but the post-Lawrence era’s early results have been disappointing. Dabo Swinney and his team have a lot of work ahead of them. Schlabach’s words
With 2:57 remaining in the game, quarterback Anthony Brown’s 30-yard touchdown run gave the Ducks a disheartening 31-24 victory against Fresno State. However, as soon as the game concluded, the focus turned to standout defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux’s health, as he spent the second half in street clothes and a walking boot. After the game, Ducks coach Mario Cristobal didn’t seem too worried, but his condition will be a hot topic this week. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
With a new starting quarterback in Jack Coan and four new offensive line starters, the Irish kick off their season against Florida State on Sunday night. Not only that, but the Irish must replace linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and overcome the absence of projected starting linebacker Marist Liufau due to injury. However, the Irish, which include Kyren Williams, Michael Mayer, and Kyle Hamilton, return a number of players who have the potential to be game-changers on Sunday night. One of the most important things to monitor is how the new starters gel, particularly on offense. Andrea Adelson’s remark
Emory Jones’ first start as the Gators’ starting quarterback was a mixed bag. Sure, Florida thrashed FAU 35-7. (check). Jones also rushed for 74 yards on ten occasions, which isn’t terrible. He didn’t throw the ball very well, completing 17 of 27 passes for 113 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. While the Gators don’t need Jones to be Kyle Trask (the rushing game is strong, and the defense looks to be improving), he does need to reduce turnovers and average more than 4 yards per pass attempt. Scarborough, North Yorkshire
In relief, quarterback Anthony Richardson rushes for 160 yards and a touchdown on only seven attempts as the Gators defeat FAU 35-14.
We’ve learned a lot about Matt Campbell’s Iowa State over the years, including the fact that we won’t learn much about the Cyclones versus FCS opponents. The Cyclones defeated Drake by three points in 2018 and Northern Iowa by three points in 2019. They pride themselves on going as bland as possible, which they did again in a 16-10 victory against UNI on Saturday. The Cyclones had to punt six times and settle for field goals three times after Brock Purdy completed 21 of 26 passes for just 197 yards. But, as is customary in these games, they did enough. — Sean Connelly
When Greg Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it for a score in the fourth quarter, Kedon Slovis and the offense received some assistance from the defense to put this game away. Slovis had two touchdown passes of his own, while receiver Drake London had 137 yards on the ground. USC had a nice victory, but there wasn’t much in this game that struck out as outstanding. San Jose State was just six points behind USC until the Trojans scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away. VanHaaren (VanHaaren)
The Penn State defense, particularly Jaquan Brisker, came up huge against Wisconsin, picking off Graham Mertz on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. Penn State held Wisconsin to only 10 points thanks to blocked field goals, a fumble recovery, and an interception. On the other hand, under new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, the offense has to improve. In the first half, quarterback Sean Clifford only threw for 41 yards. He picked up some steam in the second half, ending with 247 yards, but he didn’t have much assistance on the ground, as the backs only managed 50 yards. VanHaaren (VanHaaren)
The Hawkeyes’ defense has been extremely strong under Phil Parker for a long time, but it doesn’t always receive its due in the national media. A strong showing versus Indiana in the opener may turn the tide. Riley Moss had two pick-sixes against Michael Penix Jr., who had three interceptions in total. Iowa held Indiana to 77 running yards and kept them out of the end zone. Other than Tyler Goodson’s 56-yard touchdown run, the Hawkeyes’ offense didn’t accomplish much, and they’ll need to be sharper this week against Iowa State. — Richard Rittenberg
Chip Kelly’s ambition for UCLA seems to have come to fruition. In typical Kelly form, the Bruins followed up a huge win against Hawai’i in Week 0 with a 38-27 shock victory over LSU at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, while Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown combined for 213 yards and a score on the ground. Many said this was Kelly’s make-or-break season in Los Angeles, and he seems to have gotten the message.
With a strong win against a very talented Louisiana squad, the Steve Sarkisian era got off to a terrific start. As the Longhorns systematically pounded away at the Ragin’ Cajuns, new starter Hudson Card was effective (14-of-21 for 224 yards, 2 TDs). Most significantly for Texas fans, Sarkisian demonstrated his willingness to go outside the box to get the ball to Bijan Robinson, who had a career-high 24 touches, including 20 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 73 yards and another touchdown. Wilson’s words
The Chanticleers continued their winning ways from last season, racing out to a 38-0 lead on the Citadel in the season opener before cruising to a 52-14 victory. Grayson McCall, the quarterback, was as effective as usual, completing 16 of 19 passes for 262 yards and a score. The rushing game, on the other hand, was very spectacular, with six ball carries totaling 266 yards and five touchdowns. Kansas is up next on Friday night. Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Ole Miss fans will have to wait until Monday to see the Rebels, and they will do so without head coach Lane Kiffin. This week, the second-year coach tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to lead his squad against Louisville on Labor Day. Still, the Rebels have a lot to be excited about going into their game against the Cardinals on Monday night in Atlanta, and quarterback Matt Corrall will be a key player to watch.
The Tigers’ 38-27 defeat to UCLA was everything from a fluke. LSU was outplayed in almost every aspect of the game and showed no indications of being ready to rebound from a 5-5 season last year. The LSU defense failed to stop UCLA running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown, while QB Max Johnson threw for 330 yards but never seemed confident (213 combined rushing yards). Bonagura’s
There were doubts about whether we’d see the Graham Mertz of last year’s season opening, when he passed for five touchdowns, or the quarterback who struggled later in the season. Mertz completed 22 of 36 passes for 185 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions in the game. He struggled with the quarterback-running back interchange, mishandling the ball on many occasions. The defense was strong, but the Wisconsin offense struggled to get traction and only managed to score 10 points in the defeat against Penn State. VanHaaren (VanHaaren)
In the season opener against Virginia Tech, the North Carolina offense seemed to be out of sync from the start. Sam Howell, who had three interceptions in the game, never seemed at ease against the Hokies and their loud crowd, and the result was a 17-10 defeat at Blacksburg. After being shut out for the first two quarters, the Tar Heels trailed by 14 at halftime. For the second year in a row, Howell threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter, but the turnovers were too much to overcome, and a top-10 North Carolina team fell to an unranked ACC opponent early in the season.
Jayden Daniels threw for 132 yards on 10 of 12 passing for the Sun Devils, who defeated Southern Utah 41-14. They held the Thunderbirds to just 224 yards of total offense, including 78 yards on the ground. Given the skill gap, it’s difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about ASU other than that it had a promising start to the season. Bonagura’s
The Utes played in front of a record crowd of 51,511 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, their first home game since 2019, and although the final score, 41-17, suggests a landslide victory, this was a largely poor effort. Tavian Thomas (12 carries, 107 yards) and quarterback Charlie Brewer (19-of-27, 233 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) both had promising debuts, but the Utes didn’t pull away from FCS Weber State until late in the third quarter. Bonagura’s
The first Lane Stadium game back in front of a full house did not disappoint, as Virginia Tech got out to a fast start against No. 10 North Carolina on Friday and never looked back. In the first half, Virginia Tech’s defense held North Carolina’s offense off the scoreboard as the Hokies established a 14-point advantage. The Tar Heels chipped into Virginia Tech’s advantage in the third quarter, but the Hokies’ defense held strong to win 17-10. In the end, the Hokies intercepted Howell three times on route to a top-10 upset in front of a raucous Blacksburg crowd.
Is it fair to evaluate the Canes in light of the Atlanta team they faced? Most likely not. But, coach Manny Diaz, isn’t that your job? “After Week 1, college football is known for overreactions,” Diaz remarked. “That is not the focus of our group. You don’t write your narrative after the first game of the season. We just aren’t there yet. If anything, what occurred today will bring the men in the locker room closer together.” So will the schedule, which features four consecutive home games, including one against Appalachian State, D’Eriq King’s first at Hard Rock Stadium. McGee’s words
Nothing says college football like a couple hundred fans in a stadium. To get a better idea of how the teams stack up, we headed to the stadium and asked the crowd how they felt about their favorite team. The results were surprising, but not necessarily positive. Nearly half of the fans in the stands had no idea who their team was playing this week, but they still had a lot of opinions on which teams were in the top tier, and which were in the bottom.. Read more about espn ncaa football rankings 2021 and let us know what you think.
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- college football power rankings 2021
- college football rankings 2022
- college football rankings 2020
- college football rankings 2021-22
- espn ncaa football rankings 2021