2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #1
One note before we get to the rankings. Look for this to normally come out on a Monday, but with the Labor Day festivities leading to a longer slate of games I’ve been forced to delay it until today.
Well, there have been some changes from last week’s rankings. Actually getting to see the teams play will do that. However, the opening weekend was defined by injuries and one major statement game, all of which have a major impact on this week’s rankings.
THE 2008 NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1) Oklahoma Sooners (1-0, #2 Last Week)
We have a new #1 team. Why did the Sooners move up? Did we learn anything new about Bob Stoops’ team from their 57-2 rout of D-1AA Chattanooga? Of course not, the Sooners looked to be the dominating team that I expected. The Sooners are now ranked #1 because Chris Wells of Ohio State has a potentially season altering injury. Oklahoma is #1 until we find out more about both the Sooners and Wells’ ankle.
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Cincinnati
#2) Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0, #1 LW)
Ohio State had a great start to the season, holding Youngstown State under 100 yards of total offense en route to a shutout and ringing up 43 points on offense. Freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor scored his first touchdown and the Bucks’ defensive line looked much improved. The only thing that Ohio State did to fall out of the top spot is the minor matter of losing Chris Wells to a foot injury in the second half. Ohio State had better hope that he can play in two weeks against USC because he is one of the country’s most dominant players.
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Ohio
#3) Florida Gators (1-0, #4)
Florida dominated to begin the 2008 season, shellacking Hawai’i by a 56-10 margin. Despite a slow start, the Gators ran for 255 yards, only 37 of which came from Tim Tebow. That’s definitely a positive sign. The possible presence of viable tailbacks combined with yet another major injury in week 1 for another team has the Gators sitting at #3 heading into a rivalry showdown with Miami.
Week 2: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Miami (FL)
#4) Southern Cal Trojans (1-0, #5)
USC did exactly what I expected them to do in their cross-country trip, as the Trojans absolutely destroyed UVA by a 52-7 margin. Mark Sanchez showed no ill effects from his dislocated kneecap and the rest of the Trojans were equally impressive. This was the game that USC wanted going into their bye week. Now, they can sit back, relax, and watch Ohio State play Ohio before the biggest non-conference game of the college football season.
Week 2: Off Week (Home vs. Ohio State Week 3)
#5) Missouri Tigers (1-0, #3)
Missouri kicked off the season with a bang, outscoring Illinois 52-42 in the Arch Rivalry game in St. Louis. Chase Daniel and company looked excellent on offense and during the return game. However, Mizzou’s star returner, Jeremy Maclin, was carted off late in the game and his injury concerns definitely play into the Tigers dropping. Furthermore, the Tigers fell because their defense absolutely fell apart in the second half after leading 31-10. I’m sorry, but Juice Williams threw for over 450 yards (including numerous deep balls to wide open targets) and he’s simply not that good. Missouri cannot expect to win a Big XII Title if their defense plays like that all year.
Week 2: Saturday 7:00 PM EST versus Southeast Missouri State (D-1AA)
IN THE 2008 NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#6) Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, #6)
Joe Paterno tied Bobby Bowden for the all-time wins mark in the Nittany Lions’ rout of Coastal Carolina, a 66-10 drubbing. Penn State ran all over the field and seems to be warmed up for their first decent test of the year when they welcome Oregon State this weekend.
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 EST versus Oregon State
#7) Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-0, #7)
Texas Tech was a slight disappointment in Week 1. The Red Raiders still dominated on offense but their defense allowed a very disappointing 24 points and allowed Eastern Washington (D-1AA) to hang around for a couple of quarters. Texas Tech still features an excellent offense but their ranking will be in question next week if the defense doesn’t play better against Nevada
Week 2: Saturday, 9:05 EST at Nevada
#8) Texas Longhorns (1-0, #13)
I was very impressed with the Longhorns’ performance this past weekend. I expected FAU to take advantage of Texas’ young secondary and keep the game close. However, the Horns never let the Owls into the game and Colt McCoy looked very good in his third season opener. Texas is still looking for a running back but Mack Brown’s team earns a top ten nod after playing far better than I expected.
Week 2: Saturday, 10:15 PM EST at UTEP
#9) Wisconsin Badgers (1-0, #10)
Wisconsin laid out its typical game plan on Saturday, as powerful tailback PJ Hill rumbled for 210 yards as the Badgers rolled to a 38-17 win over Akron. Wisconsin performed about as well as I expected, but they move up because of yet another major injury suffered by a top ten team (more on that below). Wisconsin will have to avoid looking ahead to a suddenly big showdown at Fresno State in two weeks and focus on the task at hand to maintain their ranking.
Week 2: Saturday, 12:00 PM versus Marshall
#10) Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, #9)
Georgia won 45-21 against D-1AA Georgia Southern, but the story of the day was that of yet another major injury. Georgia lost defensive tackle Jeff Owens for the season to a torn ACL in the first quarter. The Bulldogs frankly appear to be snakebitten and have lost two of their best linemen before playing a D-1A opponent! The rest of the Bulldogs looked impressive and will have to continue to be impressive as two time defending MAC champion Central Michigan comes to town.
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Central Michigan
#11) Oregon Ducks (1-0, #20)
Oregon is one of my fastest risers in this week’s poll. I had the Ducks in my rough top fifteen until about a week before the season began when starting quarterback Nate Costa was lost for the year. Well, looks like I overreacted after the Ducks ran roughshod over Washington and their defense contained the very dangerous Jake Locker. Turns out Oregon won’t be nearly as bad off as I thought and I’ve got to move them back up after their 44-10 blowout win.
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Utah State
#12) Auburn Tigers (1-0, #14)
Auburn began the year with a semi-impressive 34-0 shutout over hapless Louisiana-Lafayette. I say semi-impressive because Auburn dominated on defense and ran for over 300 yards during the rout. I also say semi-impressive because the Tigers still don’t have a clear starting quarterback after both of their main guys struggled. Auburn had better find a quarterback if they want to be a national competitor.
Week 2: Saturday, 12:30 PM EST versus Southern Mississippi
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#13) Louisiana State Tigers (1-0, #15)
LSU was pretty impressive in their season opener against Appalachian State, holding the Mountaineers down and running the ball very well. Unfortunately, this was about the performance I expected, meaning I have to keep LSU outside the realm of National Title contention. For now. LSU has two more weeks of easy non-conference games before it has to settle on a quarterback for a huge showdown with Auburn.
Week 2: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Troy
#14) California Golden Bears (1-0, #21)
Cal overcame a 4 th quarter defensive meltdown to pull out a 38-31 victory over a pesky Michigan State team. The Golden Bears showed some resilience but if the Bears have to play Nate Longshore again, all bets are off. Kevin Riley is the clear starter at quarterback and Cal should continue building momentum in their conference opener against Washington State.
Week 2: Saturday, 6:30 PM EST at Washington State
#15) South Florida Bulls (1-0, #18)
USF began the season with a bang, running up a 56-7 decision over hapless Tennessee-Martin. The Bulls showed a dominant offense and good focus. However, they have to refocus for in-state rival UCF, who will be out for revenge after a shellacking last fall at the hands of USF.
Week 2: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST at Central Florida
#16) Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, Not Ranked)
Alabama was the most impressive team in the first week, dominating Clemson 34-10 in one of Week 1’s marquee games. The Tide was thought to be a year away but a dominant performance on the line of scrimmage and a surprisingly effective showing by much maligned senior QB John Parker Wilson will likely send the always unrealistic Alabama fan base’s expectations off the charts. While I’m not so sure that the Tide will play this way every week, they deserve their due and rocketed up my standings this week.
Week 2: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST versus Tulane
#17) South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, #17)
South Carolina parlayed a very poor offensive showing into a 34-0 win. While I was completely underwhelmed by the performance of Tommy Beecher, the Gamecock defense reinforced my belief that South Carolina is capable of beating anyone in the SEC. The Cocks hold steady as the good news comes out of Columbia that Chris Smelley will get the start this week after turning a lethargic offense into a juggernaut in the 2 nd half last Thursday. The Gamecocks open up conference play this Thursday on the road.
#18) West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0, #19) WVU surprised me a little bit in the debut of their new pass friendly attack. Pat White’s 5 TD tosses combined with a good defense produced an impressive 48-21 win. Unfortunately, this win came against D-1AA Villanova. Let’s see how Pat White does passing the ball this week against a surprising East Carolina team that is coming off of an upset of Virginia Tech.
Week 2:Saturday, 4:30 PM EST at East Carolina
#19) Illinois Fighting Illini (0-1, #16) Illinois went down swinging in another entertaining game against rival Missouri. The Illini defense disappointed in the 52-42 loss as they could not consistently slow down the Tigers. However, the Illini offense did look impressive and Juice Williams threw for over 450 yards, easily his career high. The Illini should improve on defense and I will reward them for the effort against one of the nation’s best teams by not dropping them too far.
Week 2:Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Eastern Illinois
#20) Kansas Jayhawks (1-0, #22) Kansas did their job and drilled Florida International. The Jayhawks continued their strong play from a year ago against lesser opposition. That’s called taking care of business. The Jayhawks are going to be an offensive force again this year and will need another strong offensive showing this week as they welcome Louisiana Tech, who is coming off an upset win over Mississippi State.
Week 2: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST versus Louisiana Tech
#21) Fresno State Bulldogs (1-0, NR)
Fresno State continued its mantra of anyone, anytime, anywhere as they traveled all the way to Rutgers to claim a season opening win over the Scarlet Knights. The FSU defense turned in a very impressive performance and propelled the team into the top 25 leading into their off week. Fresno State will be able to rest and prepare for a rare visit from a top ten team in two weeks.
Week 1: Off Week (Home versus Wisconsin Week 3)
#22) Clemson Tigers (0-1, #8) Pathetic would be the first word that comes to mind when discussing the effort of the Tigers against Alabama. Simply put, Clemson got beat physically and stopped competing and that is the biggest condemnation that you can put on a coach. Tommy Bowden had better turn this ship around quick or Clemson fans will have him tarred and feathered by midseason. Here’s an idea: Run the ball more than 8 times between your two star tailbacks?
Week 2: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus The Citadel
#23) Utah Utes (1-0, NR) Utah came out swinging in the Big House and rode a strong first half to a 25-23 victory over the offensively inept Michigan Wolverines. The Utes definitely were able to take advantage of a Michigan team that featured a lot square pegs in round holes on offense but the Utah offense showed some moxie of its own. The Utes jumped all over a supposedly decent Michigan defense in the first half and held on for the big win. However, the Utes now need to focus on the rest of their year if they don’t want to watch this win’s luster diminish.
Week 2: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus UNLV
#24) Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0, #24) Arizona State had a relatively underwhelming performance in week one against Northern Arizona, winning 30-13. The Sun Devils did throw for nearly 400 yards but they will have to play better this week as they welcome a confident Stanford team coming off of a dramatic win over Oregon State last Thursday.
Week 2: Saturday, 10:00 PM EST versus Stanford
#25) Tennessee Volunteers (0-1, #11) Tennessee was nothing short of a disappointment against UCLA, losing for the second consecutive year to begin the season out on the Left Coast. Tennessee couldn’t take advantage of four first half interceptions and their vaunted offensive line withered in the Southern California humidity. UCLA’s defensive tackles dominated the line and Jonathan Crompton played a very poor game. Tennessee is a lot better than they showed but one more bad performance will knock them out of the rankings. The Vols get to enjoy a long off week amidst a very angry fan base without a game this weekend to distract them.
Week 2: Off Week (Home versus UAB Week 3)
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 2008
Michigan State Spartans
Brigham Young Cougars
Ole Miss Rebels
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
East Carolina Pirates
Florida State Seminoles
The conference that lost the most this week was clearly the ACC. Their top two teams, Clemson and Virginia Tech, plummeted down the rankings after losing in horrible fashion and the ACC’s sole ranked team sits at #22. Meanwhile, the Big East also had a tough week as Pitt disappeared from the rankings, leaving only two teams. The SEC now leads with seven teams, followed by the Big XII, which features five teams, including FOUR in the top ten. The Big Ten sits at four, as does the Pac Ten. The non- BCS leagues now boast two teams, up from none a week ago.
By Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer
Matt Baxendell is collegesports-fans.com’s newest staff writer. If you’d like to join his college football therapy group, email him at matt.baxendell @ gmail.com with all your questions, comments, and anything else you would like to share. Also be sure to check out Matt's 2008 conference previews here at CollegeSports-fans.com!
CollegeSports-fans.com is the home of the Dash Fans Network of independent college sports fan sites. If you are interested in having a link to your site from College Sports Fans or in joining the Dash Fans Network, or if you are interested in advertising on the Dash Fans Network, please visit our Contact Info page.