This Is Not A Test, Louisville Really Is No. 1 In Our College Football Power Rankings

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After an incredible slate of games in week one, college football gave us a breather this week. If you were lucky, your inconsiderate friends who had to have a fall wedding took advantage of the late summer weather and had it this past weekend, ensuring you missed nothing too important on the field. If you’re not so lucky, perhaps you’re one of the many FCS schools that got fed to the Power 5 Conference leaders this weekend to let them rest up before conference play? In either case, week two was a good reminder that friends and family deserve our weekend time too.

The biggest game was quite literally the Battle at Bristol, a college football game played on the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway in front of almost 157,000 fans. Tennessee put away Virginia Tech, 45-24, to earn the pole (err, poll) position this week (I’m so sorry) but the Hokies are young and under the reins of a new coach in Justin Fuente. They weren’t expecting to contend for much this year. And at least now they’ll have an incredible experience to look back on. Tennessee showed marked improvement over their Week 1 squeaker against Appalachian State. With Ohio this week, the Vols might start rounding into SEC championship form by the time conference play begins.

Some notable drops this week include Michigan State and Washington, while TCU fell completely out of the rankings (that’ll happen when you let a 6-foot-10 offensive tackle block the game-winning field goal). Arkansas is the home of that 6’10 offensive tackle and they — and a host of others — make their first appearance on the Power Rankings.

Welcome folks, you’ll quickly figure out we’ve got no patience for byes, losing to rivals or starting the season with three cupcakes in a row.

Finally, what’s wrong with all the Tigers? Last week we had LSU blowing it as a Top 5 team against Wisconsin up in Lambeau, this week we had Clemson struggling to put away Troy, 30-24, one of the many sacrificial lambs expected to provide an easy win for this year’s Championship contenders. Figure it out fast, Dabo, because conference play starts in two weeks for you and a performance like that isn’t going to let you escape Doak alive in October.

Hope you enjoyed the relatively quiet weekend, college football fans. From here on out, we take a cue from Bristol and put the pedal to the metal for the rest of the season. Start your engines ladies and gentlemen, we’re motorin’ through the POWER RANKINGS!

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1. Louisville (2-0)
Last week: 13
Last game: Beat Syracuse, 62-28
Next up: Saturday vs. Florida State

Told you they’d climb up these rankings fast. Thanks to the insane abilities of Lamar Jackson (411 yards passing with one touchdown and 199 yards rushing with four touchdowns), the Cardinals racked up almost 1,000 yards of offense against the Orange. They’ll take on the Seminoles at home this Saturday in a game that will make Jackson a household name and Heisman favorite if they can take down the ACC juggernaut. Which seems entirely possible when your quarterback can make plays like this:

2. Florida State (2-0)
Last week: 3
Last game: Beat Charleston Southern, 52-8
Next up: Saturday at Louisville

Awww yeah, Top 2 matchup coming this weekend! We told you Week 3 would be amazing. Most people broke out a Sharpie in the summer and marked FSU-Clemson as the game to decide the ACC this season, but then Lamar Jackson broke into their homes and scored eight touchdowns on that Sharpie and now this game has earned the coveted ESPN Gameday slot. FSU handled their sacrificial FCS foe with relative ease, if a bit of sloppiness. The real blow to FSU’s title hopes came via an injury to star defensive back Derwin James in the third quarter. James has been diagnosed with torn meniscus in his left knee, which isn’t great but isn’t as bad as initially feared. Regardless, he’ll certainly miss Saturday’s game against Jackson and the Cardinals. There’s no getting around the fact that he’s a huge part of the Seminoles’ fearsome defense.

3. Alabama (2-0)
Last week: 1
Last game: Beat Western Kentucky, 35-10
Next up: Saturday at Ole Miss

Playing for Nick Saban sounds like making a deal with the devil. On the one hand, you know you’re going to get at least one good shot at a national title in your three or four years and most likely a good chance to get drafted. On the other hand, has there ever been a performance that Saban deems good enough?

The Crimson Tide rolled over Western Kentucky just fine, no matter what the PerfectoBot3000 says. What really matters is this upcoming game. Last year, No. 2 Alabama lost, 43-37, to Ole Miss thanks to a great performance by Rebels’ QB Chad Kelly and, well, witchcraft:

Now, the more philosophically-minded Tide fans might consider that last year, they lost to Ole Miss but went on to recover and make the College Football Playoff and win the title. Would they make the same bargain again? Chad Kelly’s still around, and I’m sure somebody can find a witch, but the more likely outcome of this game is ‘Bama rolls and Nick Saban hires another analyst, unhappy this time with his team’s sleeping habits.

4. Ohio State (1-0)
Last week: 4
Last game: Beat Tulsa, 48-3
Next up: Saturday at Oklahoma

Urban Meyer is warming his Buckeyes up like an old car in the heart of a Columbus winter. First he pumped the pedal to prime the fuel line against Bowling Green, this week he turned the key and let his offense struggle in fits and starts against an overmatched Tulsa, where they didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the second half. Luckily for Meyer, his defense is already running at peak efficiency and snagged four interceptions, returning two of them for scores against the Golden Hurricanes. It’s time to hit the highway though for Ohio State, because now they’re headed to Norman to face a Sooners squad that’s looking to reclaim its good name and chances at making the Playoff.

5. Michigan (2-0)
Last week: 5
Last game: Beat UCF, 51-14
Next up: Saturday vs. Colorado

The Harbaugh train keeps a-rolling, this time trampling UCF in the Big House. If you’ve been keeping score at home, that’s two games in a row the Wolverines have scored more than 50. Granted, Hawaii and UCF ain’t exactly the Steel Curtain, but this is still a team that’s able to score in many different ways.

Now Jim, we’ve got to talk. Clearly, your methods, unconventional as they may seem, are working. But this … this is not a good look for the program:

If you want to continue to have your pick of the nation’s best recruits, it’s best to carry a tissue.

6. Houston (2-0)
Last week: 6
Last game: Beat Lamar, 42-0
Next up: Thursday at Cincinnati

Tom Herman’s Cougars keep on rolling, and honestly, the only thing I have to write about them is that every time I saw the score on the bottom line on Saturday, I saw the little red Cardinal next to “Lamar” and thought “You know, Lamar Jackson probably could take on a team single-handedly, just not Houston.” They begin conference play on a short week at Cincinnati, and while their conference opponents might not match up evenly the biggest challenge Houston will face is the unrelenting pressure, knowing that a single bad game will torpedo their Playoff hopes.

7. Iowa (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Iowa State, 42-3
Next up: Saturday vs. North Dakota State

Welcome to the Power Rankings, Hawkeyes! You’re here for two main reasons: One, it’s hard to call it anything but straight raw power to see a team absolutely dismantle their most hated rival; and two, word on the street is you just dumped off a whole truck full of money at Kirk Ferentz’s house. Maybe you got an extra wheelbarrow or so left hanging around you forgot to drop off? I could totally take that, you know, if you just had to get rid of it. Let me know.

8. Texas (2-0)
Last week: 22
Last game: Beat UTEP, 41-7
Next up: Saturday at Cal

TEXAS IS BACK, BABY! At least, that’s what I’d like to believe, because TCU, who occupied this spot last week, showed they’re not quite ready to represent the Big 12 by losing to unranked Arkansas. Until they let Houston in, Charlie Strong’s team is going to have to represent the Lone Star State in the Power 5.

9. Tennessee (2-0)
Last week: 11
Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 45-24
Next up: Saturday vs Ohio

Winner of the Battle at Bristol, Tennessee has overcome slow starts in two straight games to come back and win. The Vols probably have one more week where they can get away with that, as the Bobcats of Ohio aren’t exactly SEC-caliber. But if Butch Jones’ squad can’t find their rhythm next week they’re going to hit a wall once conference play begins. The good thing is, they’ll be returning home to their cozy and quaint 102,000-seat Neyland Stadium that I’m sure will look a lot smaller now that they’ve played in front of 150,000 people.

10. Stanford (1-0)
Last week: 6
Last game: Beat Kansas State in Week 1, 26-13
Next up: Saturday vs USC

You see, Stanford? You see what happens when you deprive America of Christian McCaffrey highlights for a whole two weeks? You plummet! These rankings are nothing if not incredibly vindictive. David Shaw’s team got an early bye that sets them up nicely for conference play, and if there’s one Pac 12 team we don’t want to see well prepared, it’s the smart kids at Stanford. Good luck, USC, you got beat by pure brawn in Week 1, and now this might be the brain’s chance.

11. Notre Dame (1-1)
Last week: 23
Last game: Beat Nevada, 39-10
Next up: Saturday vs. Michigan State

This ranking is based largely on the fact that Brian Kelly has clearly taken our (and everybody else’s) advice and realized DeShone Kizer should be their starting quarterback. We’re still not too excited about Malik Zaire getting 14 snaps, but look, the Chris Leak/Tim Tebow thing worked well enough in Gainesville so we’ll let it slide for now. We’ve still got our eye on you, Kelly. And so does God.

12. LSU (1-1)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Jacksonville State, 34-13
Next up: Saturday vs. Mississippi State

Alright Baton Rouge, you’re out of the doghouse. Playing an FCS team will tend to do that to SEC powers like yours. We know you’re not worse than the Top 25 teams in the country, but we also don’t think you’re anywhere close to your preseason hype. We’ll put you here for now and see how conference play treats you, sound good? Let’s reconvene in a week and talk it over then. In the meantime, thanks for one of the highlights of the weekend:

13. Georgia (2-0)
Last week: 9
Last game: Beat Nicholls, 26-24
Next up: Saturday at Missouri

Somehow Georgia didn’t get the message that you’re supposed to not just schedule, but easily tear apart these little FCS minnows. Did Mark Richt take down his bulletin board when he left for Miami? That reminder was one of only two items on there, alongside a list that simply said:
1. Recruit in the south
2. ?
3. Championship

14. Oklahoma (1-1)
Last week: 14
Last game: Beat Louisiana Monroe, 59-17
Next up: Saturday vs Ohio State

Oklahoma recovered from their week one loss to beat Louisiana Monroe quite handily, and now they can begin the preparation for a visit from Ohio State. Strange as it may seem, if they can beat the Buckeyes they’ll jump right back into the Playoff conversation. That’s always been the most frustrating thing about college football: While everyone likes to say that every game matters, the truth is an early season loss is much, much easier to overcome than a loss in October or November. Alabama proved it again last year after losing to Ole Miss in September and recovering to win the SEC title and earn a Playoff spot, and eventually a national title too. Bob Stoops needs to remind his team that they still have everything to play for.

15. Arkansas (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat TCU, 41-38
Next up: Saturday vs. Texas State

Arkansas climbed into the rankings with a great win against a Horned Frogs team that was a popular pick to represent the Big 12 in the Playoff. Bret Bielema’s boys are starting off a Texas Trifecta, after traveling to TCU they return home to host Texas State and then Texas A&M. If ever there was a chance for Arkansas to make strong inroads in Texas recruiting, going 3-0 against Texas teams would be a great stat to bring up in Longhorn homes.

It also helps to have one of the wildest finishes of the weekend.

16. Wisconsin (2-0)
Last week: 17
Last game: Beat Akron, 54-10
Next up: Saturday vs. Georgia State

Moving on up, Badgers! Unfortunately, stomping an Akron team isn’t enough to move you up too far, and we got news for you: beating Georgia State probably isn’t going to move needles either. But boy, is it me or does that Michigan State game seem to be coming up awfully fast? We’ll find out how real you are before October.

17. Michigan State (1-0)
Last week: 10
Last game: Beat Furman in Week 1, 28-13
Next up: Saturday at Notre Dame

Yeah, this is a big fall for a team that didn’t even play, but frankly that’s the problem. Beating Furman didn’t really tell us anything about the Spartans, and in the meantime, a lot of other teams have done things that make their picture a little clearer. Michigan State is really still about as unknown as they were before the first week of the season, and this upcoming battle in South Bend is going to go a long way toward establishing the Spartans in all the polls.

18. Washington (2-0)
Last week: 12
Last game: Beat Idaho, 59-14
Next up: Saturday vs. Portland State

See above: State, Michigan. We gave you a lot of credit for smashing Rutgers in week one, but Idaho isn’t anyone to hang your hat on, and frankly, neither is Portland State. These are the power rankings, Washington. You gotta get our attention if you want to stay up high when the Bret Bielemas of the world are taking on TCU and winning.

19. Oregon (2-0)
Last week: 19
Last game: Beat Virginia, 44-26
Next up: Saturday at Nebraska

On the one hand, we want to award points for playing and beating a Power 5 conference team this week. But on the other hand, it was Virginia.

20. Texas A&M
Last week: 18
Last game: Beat Prairie View, 67-0
Next up: Saturday at Auburn

Pitching a shutout is always a good sign, even against a nobody like Prairie View. But we’ll get our best look at Kevin Sumlin’s boys next week on the road at Auburn. Can they keep this offense running against SEC defenses?

21. Pitt (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Penn State, 42-39
Next up: Saturday at Oklahoma State

We really like rewarding winning rivalry games, no matter what anybody on the other team says or whether you’ve even played this “rival” in the previous 16 years. But consider making it on the list a special treat, because you came this close to blowing a lead and winding up on the other side of the coin.

As for you, Penn State? Prepare to see this tweet on a LOT of gameday signs for the forseeable future:

22. Miami (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat FAU, 38-10
Next up: Saturday at Appalachian State

Miami started their season with two home games against Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic. That tells us absolutely nothing about the team that will travel to Appalachian State this weekend. Then again, maybe I just put them on here so I could drop them next week after getting beat by the Mountaineers?

23. Ole Miss (1-1)
Last week: 16
Last game: Beat Wofford, 38-13
Next up: Saturday vs. Alabama

Way to do it right, Hugh Freeze. After the devastating blow to the Ole Miss secondary that was losing Ken Webster, the Rebels got a week to reorganize and figure out how to adapt against a weak Wofford. Hope they figured out, because the Crimson Tide come to town this weekend.

24. Baylor (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat SMU, 40-13
Next up: Friday at Rice

Three tune-up games, Baylor? Really? We’re all impressed you’ve put 95 points on the board over two games, but it’s hard to count them all when it’s been against Northwestern State and SMU. And now Rice? Call us when you’ve played someone powerful, Baylor, maybe then you’ll make some noise in the rankings.

25. San Diego State (2-0)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Cal, 45-40
Next up: Saturday at NIU

Everyone’s favorite little conference that could finally cracks the Power Rankings thanks to the Aztecs’ Donnel Pumphrey who rushed for 281 yards and three scores, breaking the school’s all-time rushing yards record previously held by Marshall Faulk. For East Coasters who can’t sleep, you could do a lot worse than watching this team late on a Saturday night.

Next Five: Florida, BYU, Colorado, UNC and the last warm days of summer

You made it! We know this week was not nearly as exciting as Week 1. But this week’s slate is packed with good games as conference play begins for most teams and there’s even a few specials, such as Ohio State at Oklahoma and Alabama at Ole Miss. It’s time to start separating the wheat from the chaff folks, and we don’t just mean in Big Ten backyards.

We’ll see you in Louisville, where the Seminoles will be hoping their defense minus Derwin James can finally put an end to the Lamar Jackson show. Let’s take it away Outkast!

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