College Football Power Rankings: Top five after Week 1 features three SEC teams … and UCLA?

Written by on September 7, 2021



Those Tuscaloosa Androids just keep humming along. Bryce Young removed all doubt about being the new kid in town by throwing four touchdowns against Miami. Brian Robinson slotted himself behind Najee Harris. And, oh my, that defense. D’Eriq King may have wished he had come out for the NFL Draft. Can’t beat the Crimson Tide, might as well try to unplug ’em. They just keep humming along. — 1-0


The Bulldogs put a stick in the ground and announced who they’re going to be in 2021. That is, hairy Dawgs on defense. Even with a secondary that qualified as decimated, Kirby Smart was able to confuse D.J. Uiagalelei. Heck, there was a walk-on playing in the secondary at times. In the lowest scoring game involving Clemson since 1978, Georgia established itself as a playoff team. — 1-0

Ohio State

The reloading post-Justin Fields has begun. The Buckeyes scored at least 45 points for the 13th time in Ryan Day’s 26 games as full-time coach. Day still hasn’t lost a regular-season game. A showdown with Oregon is next. — 1-0

Texas A&M

Not a bad week for Jimbo Fisher. He signed a new contract, the mere buyout of which equals the GPA of some third-world countries. Then his Aggies went out and beat Kent State, 41-10. We were particularly interested in new quarterback Haynes King, who threw for 292 yards and two scores (plus three picks). Leon O’Neal Jr. had two picks for the Aggies, one for an 85-yard pick six. — 1-0


It took Chip Kelly a while, but he has finally established the Bruins once again. The win over LSU was arguably the program’s biggest since 2006, and it marked the first 2-0 start since 2017. While Kelly won’t make it about the Pac-12, a lot of it is about the Pac-12. This was the league’s biggest nonconference win in seven years since Oregon made the first CFP. If Dorian Thompson-Robinson keeps throwing for 260 yards, the Bruins are going to be a factor in the Pac-12 South. Early in the season, they’re just outside the playoff. — 2-0


The takeaway in the season opener is obvious. Defense is the final piece needed to potentially make this Lincoln Riley’s best team. The defense failed, or at least didn’t live up to expectations, Saturday. Tulane’s Michael Pratt (four total touchdowns) staged a fourth-quarter comeback. A side note: It’s going to be tougher than this in the SEC, Sooners. — 1-0

Iowa State

Get ready for the biggest Cy-Hawk game, maybe ever. On the same day Iowa blew out Indiana in its opener, the Cyclones struggled with Northern Iowa. That sets up this game, which marks the first time the teams have met when both ranked. — 1-0

Penn State

This was a Big Ten game only Wayne Duke could love. Duke was the respected commissioner during the league’s hey day when 16-10 games were common. This one ended when Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz threw two late interceptions. The Nittany Lions defense was amazing. Does Ohio State have some competition in the Big Ten East? — 1-0


We’ll just chalk up a closer-than-expected win over Fresno State to opening day jitters. This one was influenced when the Ducks lost star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to a sprained ankle. His availability for Ohio State is unknown at this point. — 1-0


The lack of offense against Georgia was disturbing. The three points were the fewest scored during the Dabo Swinney era. Ditto for the 2 yards rushing. Uiagalelei is still growing, but even on some of the passes he hit, they were a tick or two behind the receiver. Georgia took away Clemson’s explosiveness. Haven’t seen that in about 10 years, which is the last time until Saturday the Tigers had lost two in a row. — 0-1

Notre Dame

Brian Kelly’s “execution” comment distracted from a wild season-opening win. Now get over it. Jack Coan threw for four touchdowns and established him as a Heisman Trophy candidate in a 41-38 OT win at Florida State. Did the Fighting Irish wilt in the fourth quarter? Absolutely, but FSU kicker Ryan Fitzgerald added some historical context by pushing his overtime field goal attempt wide left. — 1-0


The Bearcats had no problem in their first game without star defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman (now at Notre Dame). Mike Tressel had a nice debut limiting Miami (OH) to 278 yards and 14 points. Murray State is next. — 1-0


One game, and we already have a quarterback controversy. Redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson may have outplayed redshirt junior Emory Jones in any easy win over FAU. Dan Mullen is sticking with Jones, but is Jones sticking with Jones? “I don’t feel that good about [my first start], honestly,” he said. — 1-0


The Trojans offense bogged down three times in the red zone. The defense contributed a pick six. The 30-7 final looked easier than it was, but for a program that needs a Pac-12 title or bust, it was enough. — 1-0


The hurt for Badgers everywhere still lingers today. The defense had Penn State completely shut down. The offense held the ball for 41 freakin’ minutes. But the Nittany Lions made enough plays to squeak out a 16-10 win. We’ll see how Wisconsin reacts in two weeks against Notre Dame. — 0-1


What a week for the Knights! First, they rallied back to beat Boise State. Then news breaks that UCF is probably headed to the Big 12. That’s the biggest news in Orlando since family discount Tuesdays at Disney World. — 1-0


Bipolar week in Ann Arbor. Glad over an easy season-opening win over Western Michigan. Sad over losing WR Ronnie Bell for the season. Jim Harbaugh should be able to nurse the Wolverines to October when they play their first road game. — 1-0

North Carolina

This is what is looks like when an offseason of hype blows up in your face. The Tar Heels have Sam Howell, but they’ve simply lost too many offensive weapons. At least that’s what it looked like at Virginia Tech in a 17-10 loss. That tied for the fewest points by the Heels since 2017. — 0-1


The Longhorns did their best imitation of Alabama 2020 in Steve Sarkisian’s opener. There was a 100-yard rusher (Bijan Robinson) and 200-yard passer (Hudson Card). Defense was good enough against Louisiana. “I love it, man. There’s nothing like winning,” Sark said. He should know. Texas’ new coach just won his 15th straight game. — 1-0


With the Wisconsin loss, perhaps its time to reevaluate the Big Ten West after one week. The Hawkeyes surprisingly stuffed Indiana. Cornerback Riley Moss had the rare double pick six against Michael Penix Jr. — 1-0


Coach O is officially on the 2021 hot seat. Yes, the Tigers were driven from Baton Rouge by Hurricane Ida. Yes, they had to practice last week in Houston. But what was so distressing is that they were pushed around by UCLA. If LSU gets out of September 2-2, Orgeron should be looking over his shoulder. — 0-1

Kansas State

Solid win over Stanford, 24-7. QB Skylar Thompson ran for two scores then pontificated. “In the midst of a situation that once seemed very dark and stormy, to see the fruit fall from the tree, to see the sun shine a little bit and to take a deep breath … it all worked out and everything happened for a reason.” Thompson missed most of last season with a shoulder. — 1-0


Coach Kyle Whittingham said this year’s Utes have the look of the 2019 team that won the Pac-12 South and sent seven players to the NFL. Who is to argue after a 40-17 win over Weber State? Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer debuted with 223 yards passing. — 1-0

Ole Miss

No Lane, no problem. The Rebels persevered in a season-opening win over Louisiana with a revamped defense. Revamped is a relative term. The Rebels were last or near last in every meaningful statistical category last season. Lane Kiffin missed the game having caught a breakthrough case of COVID-19. — 1-0

Coastal Carolina

The Chanticleers scored on their first seven possessions. Grayson McCall, the Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2020, registered 262 yards on only 19 throws vs. The Citadel. Things get tougher — maybe — this week against Kansas. — 1-0


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