No play affected the future Top 25 picture (not to mention the College Football Playoff) more than Ronnie Harrison’s sack of Deondre Francois during the fourth quarter of Alabama’s 24-7 win against Florida State.
Francois’ season-ending knee injury opens the door for Clemson (not to mention Virginia Tech, Miami and Louisville) in both the ACC and national races. Of course, the college football regular season once again looks like a battle for No. 2 behind Nick Saban and big, bad ‘Bama.
We read through the first in-season AP Top 25 poll of the year and made the following changes:
How the Top 25 should’ve looked after Week 1
First teams out: West Virginia (AP No. 28), Colorado (No. 29), Oregon (No. 31)
24. Washington State
23. South Carolina
No, you shouldn’t be sold on Maryland as a Top 25 team, but if the media was going to give Texas enough credit to earn the No. 23 spot, it should make way for the Longhorns’ slayers this week. South Carolina was mighty impressive in a win vs. N.C. State (The offense! It’s alive!) while Florida is suddenly trying to figure out if it will ever score another touchdown on “O.”
19. Kansas State
16. Virginia Tech
Lamar Jackson is back to terrorizing defenses, while the Louisville “D” doesn’t inspire much confidence. The team will need to pull out a few more tough wins to keep its defending Heisman winner in the race again. Miami and Virginia Tech are the ACC Coastal division favorites. They won’t meet until Nov. 4.
Is any fan base as conflicted as Georgia’s right now? 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason is out vs. Notre Dame with a sprained knee, and 5-star backup Jake Fromm provided some big plays in his stead. Bulldogs supporters have been picking sides since Saturday. If Fromm has a huge day against the Irish, it’ll be tough to give Eason his spot back.
12. Oklahoma State
9. Florida State
As bad as Florida State’s night was going on Saturday, it was not a death knell for the ‘Noles. At least, not until Deondre Francois crumpled to the turf and FSU was suddenly confronted with a huge problem at quarterback. Freshman James Blackman appears to be the guy, but he’s likely a big step down from the stability Jimbo Fisher expected with Francois. The ‘Noles get Louisiana-Monroe this weekend before a visit from rival Miami.
Outside of the massive hype for quarterback Sam Darnold and an impressive win over Washington last season, it was not clear why AP voters put so much distance between the Trojans and the Huskies — a 2016 Playoff team — in the preseason poll. Washington didn’t look great against Rutgers, but its performance was several levels above USC’s near-flop vs. Western Michigan. Southern Cal has to prove its stability with a tough four-game stretch upcoming (vs. Stanford, vs. Texas, at Cal, at Washington State).
5. Penn State
3. Ohio State
For those keeping score at home: Yes, there are three Big Ten teams from the same division in the Top 5. Michigan still has to prove it can score consistently, but the defense played an “A+” game vs. Florida. But Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines look as if they want to spend another season near the top of the polls.
Clemson gets a huge test from Auburn’s spread offense this Saturday, while Ohio State will look for a second consecutive victory over Oklahoma. Alabama doesn’t get to take the week off, but Fresno State doesn’t provide much of a challenge. Keep an eye out for a classic Saban rant this week as the legendary coach attempts to keep his team focused on its Mountain West opponent.
What do you think? Post your own rankings in the comments section below.