After some hustle and bustle, the Big Ten reunited at the college football party, which means ESPN’s power rankings look a little different this week.
Ohio State jumps straight to second place and if the Buckeyes take all their players back, they are more than talented enough to claim first place.
And, really, whether you’re a SEC homer / hater or a Big Ten homer / hater, it’s a college football coup that the Big Ten are back in the mix. Maybe the Pac-12 will be next. As Alabama manager Nick Saban told ESPN this week, it makes the sport more holistic and more representative.
“The more people play, the better for everyone,” Saban said.
The top 5 this week is Notre Dame, who beat South Florida. The Clemson-Notre Dame clash of November 7 in South Bend cannot come soon enough. Nothing like “the rivals of the ACC”
This week’s biggest promoter is UCF, which opened its season by decimating Georgia Tech on the road a week after Georgia Tech’s victory in the state of Florida. The Knights moved up to number 13. Of the top 16 teams this week, 10 are from the SEC or the Big Ten.
Watching Alabama play the last few seasons with Tua Tagovailoa throwing the ball all over the pitch was a bit surreal. And while the crimson tide is expected to be explosive on offense again in 2020, it’s the defense that feels much closer to how Alabama’s defenses have traditionally been under Nick Saban. In attack, LaBryan Ray is ready for a great season after a foot injury sidelined him a year ago. Dylan Moses has returned to the inside linebacker and Patrick Surtain II has a chance to be one of the best cornerbacks Tide have produced under Saban. And if you’re looking for impact freshmen, outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. has been as impressive as anyone else in defense this preseason.
Next next: in Missouri (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Buckeyes are hoping to put the band back together as they head for their opening against Nebraska and another run to the national championship. Cornerback Shaun Wade and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, both projected into the NFL draft for the first round, are planning to return after initially giving up this season. When you pitch into quarterback Justin Fields, good luck finding a top hat-trick quarterback / offensive lineman / cornerback on a college football team.
Next next: v Nebraska (Oct 24, TBA)
Two weeks into the season and Clemson still has to sweat after beating Citadel 49-0 on Saturday. The fact remains that the Tigers are good or talented, because it is obvious that they are one of the best teams in college football and extremely well trained. Trevor Lawrence will make many opposing defenses look bad this season. But looking at the Tigers schedule, they may not truly be tested until their trip to Notre Dame on November 7, especially considering that four of the next five games are at home.
Next next: v Virginia (October 3, TBA)
Yes, he was the enemy of the FCS in the state of Missouri. And yes, Oklahoma would have won big regardless of how red-shirted freshman Spencer Rattler performed in her first career start two weeks ago. But what was so pleasing to OU fans was how comfortable he looked, whether he was throwing the ball across the field with precision or making a pass across the screen for a touchdown. Rattler will face tougher competition in the future, but to no one’s surprise, the Sooners should be fine in the quarterback position – again.
Next next: v Kansas State (Sat, noon ET, Fox)
No one can beat Fighting Irish for not amassing enough style points in Week 2. After such a performance in his opening win of the season against Duke, Notre Dame on Saturday looked like a full-fledged national title contender. 52-0 the dismantling of South Florida, even without more defensive starters. One of the most impressive things about the Irish so far is that they have a large amount of impact players on both sides of the ball. It’s hard not to appreciate the balance that Brian Kelly has created.
Next next: at Wake Forest (Sat, noon ET, ABC)
You probably won’t be able to get Kirby Smart to compare this defense of Georgia (or any of the defenses he had in Athens) to some of the ones he coached in Alabama, as many of those Tide defenses were filled with players now playing in la NFL. But what comes out in this Georgia D is speed and directing prowess in almost any position. Sound familiar? Of the 19 defenders who played at least 200 shots last season for the Dawgs, 14 have returned.
Next next: in Arkansas (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
In the SEC, it’s typically what you didn’t do that dogs a program. In the case of Florida, this is not beating Georgia and not making it to the SEC championship for three consecutive years. But Dan Mullen has continued to build up to this point. He won 10 games his first season and 11 games last season. This should be his most balanced team, with the senior quarterback in the red jersey Kyle Trask returning and a talented defense that brings back eight starters. Another thing that works in the Gators’ favor is not having to face Alabama during the regular season.
Next next: to Ole Miss (Sat, noon ET, ESPN)
Overreaction is always tempting after a first game, but senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger seemed very comfortable spreading the ball in UTEP’s Texas 59-3 bond last week, and he did it with guys who didn’t play. starring roles a year ago. Ehlinger is experienced enough not to have to depend on one or two guys, who are expected to pay big dividends for the Longhorns this season in an offensive system designed to spread wealth.
Next next: at Texas Tech (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Fox)
If anyone is planning to unseat Ohio State in the Big Ten this season, it’s Penn State. The Nittany Lions have the pieces to be a real factor in the national championship competition. Their talent pool continues to grow deeper under James Franklin. If quarterback Sean Clifford takes off in the system of new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and especially if linebacker Micah Parsons returns after initially giving up, that showdown with Ohio State in the second week of the season at Happy Valley looms as one of the games of the ‘year. .
Next next: at Indiana (October 24, date to be confirmed)
The delay in the start of the season in the SEC could end up working in LSU’s favor, after all. The Tigers reprized defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr. this week after Farrell had previously given up the season, and manager Ed Orgeron left the door open for other players to change their minds and decide to play this season. Either way, there’s a new look for this LSU football team, from coordinators to players, but Orgeron and his staff are confident they’ve recruited well enough not to cope with a serious drop in reigning national champions.
Next next: v Mississippi State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
Much of the attention at College Station has been focused on quarterback Kellen Mond and the kind of pass he takes this season, but he’ll need his pass-catchers too. Returning Aggies leader Jhamon Ausbon announced last week that he would be giving up the season. And with Camron Buckley also out for the season with a ripped ACL, that means Mond will have no one returning to the position of the wide receiver who took more than three passes last season. The good news is that Jalen Wydermyer and running back Isaiah Spiller are two of the SEC’s most promising sophomores.
Next next: v Vanderbilt (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SEC Network)
Consistency and Wisconsin football were synonymous under Paul Chryst. In his five seasons at Madison, the Badgers have won 10 or more games in four of those campaigns. The formula for the most part will remain the same in 2020: beating defending teams. Even though linebackers Zack Baun and Chris Orr are gone, Wisconsin is returning to nearly everyone else in defense from a year ago and should be just as good, if not better, against running after finishing sixth nationally a year ago. .
Next next: v Illinois (Oct 24, TBA)
Everyone in and around college football is cheering on McKenzie Milton to return to the pitch as he continues to fight over the catastrophic knee injury he sustained in 2018. And as Milton continues that fight, his quarterback replacement and hometown friend , Dillon Gabriel, is playing super football. After passing for 3,653 yards and 39 touchdowns last season as a freshman, Gabriel set Georgia Tech on fire for 417 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday in UCF’s opening 49-21 win of the season over the Yellow Jackets.
Next next: in East Carolina (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN +)
Two games in the 2020 season, Houston transfer quarterback D’Eriq King clearly made a difference in the Miami offense, but so did first-year offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. The hurricanes traveled on Saturday night and destroyed Louisville 47-34. And in doing so, they showcased the kind of offensive balance and explosive play that Coral Gables has lacked in recent seasons. King went through for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Hurricanes average 5.3 yards per run and have scored three touchdowns of 47 yards or more.
Next next: v Florida State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ABC)
The Tigers have lost a lot of good players in the secondary from a year ago, so it wasn’t just in the defensive line where they had some key personnel losses. But keep an eye on the safety of young Jamien Sherwood, who has been hard to miss this preseason in defense of Kevin Steele. Sherwood’s first start last season came to LSU, where he had 10 tackles and recovered a fumble. The 6ft 2 220lb Sherwood may be one of the league’s best breakout defenders this season.
Next next: v Kentucky (Saturday, noon ET, SEC network)
There will be no slack in the 2020 season for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. They open the season away against Minnesota, who have the firepower in attack to test any defense. Speaking of defense, Michigan received some good news last week when defensive star Kwity Paye said he would play this season. Paye had 12.5 tackles per loss, including 6.5 layoffs, in his first full season as a starter in defense a year ago. He projects as one of the top defenders in college football and will be the cornerstone of that Wolverines D.
Next next: in Minnesota (October 24, date to be confirmed)
You might see him coming up with Louisiana after Ragin ‘Cajuns opened the season by defeating the nationally ranked state of Iowa on the road, making their move to the leaderboard, and getting loads of fanfare along the way. They were ready for the overturn on Saturday and followed by two touchdowns in the third quarter. But to their credit, they found a way to recover and beat Georgia State 34-31 in overtime on Elijah Mitchell’s 12-yard landing run. Two weeks into the season, Billy Napier’s club was one of the best college football stories.
Next next: v Georgia Southern (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN2)
It’s too early to start defending the best Group of 5 team in college football, but Cincinnati should certainly be in that conversation. The Bearcats, coming out of straight 11-winning seasons, opened the 2020 season on Saturday with a 55-20 defeat to Austin Peay and may have found a new benchmark in attack. Gerrid Doaks rushed for three scores and took a touchdown pass. Its continued development will help ease the pain of losing Michael Warren II in the NFL.
Next next: vs. Army (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC / ESPN)
Tar Heels’ game against Charlotte on Saturday was postponed after the 49ers announced they had too many players out due to contact-tracking protocols to play safely. This means North Carolina won’t play again until the first weekend in October after opening the season with a 31-6 win over Syracuse, a win that highlighted a UNC defense equipped to pick up the game even when second quarterback Sam Howell doesn’t. have his best things. This is good news for the Tar Heels in the future.
Next next: at Boston College (October 3, date to be confirmed)
Just what everyone expected from the Cowboys this season: they will grind the games in defense. Well, maybe not, but it’s good that the Oklahoma State defense came to play on Saturday in the opening – a 16-7 breakaway against Tulsa. The Cowboys remained behind in the half court after starting quarterback Spencer Sanders fell with an injury to his right leg and did not return. Real freshman Shane Illingworth was the third quarterback to play for Oklahoma State and gave the Cowboys a spark with some key completions at the end of the third quarter. But they never found any rhythm on offense and running back star Chuba Hubbard was unable to get back on track.
Next next: v West Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
If anyone other than Wisconsin wins the West Division of the Big Ten this season, keep an eye out for P.J. Fleck, who won 11 games a year ago. Their chances of winning the division will greatly increase if the receiver star wide Rashod Bateman receives a waiver from the NCAA in order to play this season after initially giving up and signing with an agent. We won’t have to wait long to get an idea of this Minnesota team. The Golden Gophers open the season at home against Michigan.
Next next: v Michigan (Oct 24, TBA)
The Vols scored a big win off the pitch last week when the NCAA approved Cade Mays’ waiver of playing immediately this season after moving from Georgia. The SEC has yet to clear Mays for the transfer within the league. If Mays gets the green light from the SEC, Tennessee should be as good as it has been on the offensive line for a long time, especially with All-SEC actor Trey Smith back on guard. Mays played all positions in the game last season for Georgia.
Next next: in South Carolina (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SEC Network)
With the postponement of the SMU game, TCU had some extra time – much needed time – to sort out his quarterback situation. Max Duggan has yet to be discharged after undergoing a procedure to correct a heart condition. Sophomore Matthew Downing also lost time to train. But Gary Patterson said the horned frogs should be at maximum strength from the opener. Winning that game against Iowa State will be key for TCU, especially with two of the Frogs’ first three games in October against Texas and Oklahoma.
Next next: v Iowa State (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, Fox Sports 1)
Replacing a dynamic player like Lynn Bowden Jr. will be a challenge, but the Wildcats are optimistic that they will be more balanced in attack if quarterback Terry Wilson manages to stay healthy after tearing his left patellar tendon last season. Some new faces have to emerge off the receiver, and Josh Ali is someone who could really come during his senior season. Finding consistency in the passing game will be important, because Mark Stoops did a great job of getting the SEC Wildcats ready on the scrum line.
Next next: in Auburn (Sat, noon ET, SEC network)
It was a little too sloppy for Pat Narduzzi’s tastes, especially some of the penalties; but he worked hard to build the kind of culture in Pittsburgh where the Panthers can win league games even when they’re not playing their best. Their 21-10 win over Syracuse on Saturday marked the first time since 2016 that Pitt has started a 2-0 season. Defense, Narduzzi’s staple, will give the Panthers a chance in every game. They must continue to grow on offense, though, as they face a revealing bout against Louisville, NC State and Boston College over the next three weeks.
Next next: v Louisville (Sat, noon ET, ACC network)