The new AP Top 25 poll is out, and here’s what you need to know about every team in the rankings, from No. 1 Clemson to No. 25 Virginia.
New AP Top 25
No. 1 Clemson
At some point, Clemson is going to have another close game again. But despite a few hiccups on offense, the Tigers were a late touchdown away from winning their 12th straight game by 20 or more points in a 24-10 victory over No. 12 Texas A&M. One thing that’s clear: Even without several key defenders who are now playing in the NFL, Brent Venables’ defense is still plenty good enough and disruptive enough to carry this Clemson team back to national championship contention. — Chris Low
No. 2 Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa continues to operate with preposterous efficiency, and the Tide offense keeps rolling, hanging 38 points on New Mexico State before intermission. But here’s the best news if you’re Nick Saban: You might have finally found a kicker. Alabama has been plagued by poor place-kicking in recent years, but freshman Will Reichard’s performance on Saturday might be the first step in rewriting that narrative, as he was a perfect 2-2 on field goal attempts from 48 and 49 yards. — Alex Scarborough
No. 3 Georgia
Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs keep on humming along, making quick work of Murray State as they inch closer to a big-time home game in two weeks against Notre Dame. If you’re a Georgia fan, though, you have to like what you’ve seen from the defense, which has a new coordinator and replaced five starters from last season, and had four sacks before halftime on Saturday — double the total it had during the season opener against Vanderbilt. — Scarborough
No. 4 LSU
The Tigers’ new-look offense is for real, and even more surprising, their coaching staff seems committed to opening up the passing game. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow completed 31 of 39 passes for 471 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in a 45-38 victory at Texas. Burrow is the first LSU quarterback to throw more than 400 passing yards against an AP-ranked opponent since Rohan Davey against Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl. For the first time in school history, the Tigers had three 100-yard receivers (Justin Jefferson had nine catches for 163 yards, JaMarr Chase had eight for 147 and Terrance Marshall Jr. had six for 123). One big concern: LSU’s defense surrendered 409 passing yards and 38 points. — Mark Schlabach
No. 5 Oklahoma
It’s difficult to glean much from dominating an overmatched team — the way the Sooners did South Dakota — but Alex Grinch’s defense continues to show encouraging signs. They play fast, they’re physical and they forced three turnovers. Through two games, OU’s D looks like a much-improved outfit and if that continues to ring true — coupled with their explosive offense — that boosts the Sooners’ national title hopes significantly. — Sam Khan Jr.
No. 6 Ohio State
Ohio State’s defense has looked dominant in its first two games, especially against the run. The unit struggled last season with big plays but has looked much improved. Maybe more importantly for the rest of the season, quarterback Justin Fields, who has nine TDs in his first two games, showed improved decision-making while under pressure. — Tom VanHaaren
No. 7 Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish enjoyed a week off after their season-opening Monday night win over Louisville. After hosting New Mexico this week, Brian Kelly’s crew will get its first real test when it travels to Athens to take on No. 3 Georgia in Week 4. After that game, we’ll have a lot better sense of Notre Dame’s playoff chances.
No. 8 Auburn
The Tigers avoided a letdown after such a big season-opening win against Oregon last week, taking care of business at home vs. Tulane. But if you’re Gus Malzahn, you’ve got to figure out how to get the offense running on all cylinders. The ground game, led by JaTarvious Whitlow, continues to struggle early in games, and although freshman quarterback Bo Nix is 2-0 as the starter, his 47.05 completion percentage isn’t going to cut it over the course of the season. — Alex Scarborough
No. 9 Florida
Feleipe Franks needed a bounce-back game after his up-and-down performance against Miami in the Week Zero opener — and he got it against UT Martin. He was efficient, completing 25 of 27 passes, and he was careful with the football, committing no turnovers. And if he continues to do that, this offense will thrive and the Gators can win a bunch of ball games, starting with the SEC opener next Saturday at Kentucky. — Alex Scarborough
No. 10 Michigan
Michigan’s dreams of a breakthrough season under fifth-year coach Jim Harbaugh became a bit dimmer Saturday. Its revamped offense under new coordinator Josh Gattis couldn’t get out of its own way, or Army’s way, as an active Black Knights defense mostly bottled up Shea Patterson and his teammates. Even after Army opened the door with a rare Kelvin Hopkins Jr. interception near the Michigan goal line, Harbaugh’s team couldn’t fully capitalize. If Michigan can’t consistently convert short-yardage situations against Army, how will it fare against Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others? The Wolverines have a lot to fix in their open week. Fortunately for them, they will do so after a win. — Adam Rittenberg
No. 11 Utah
The Utes might not only be the Pac-12’s best team, but the team with the easiest road to the conference title with Stanford and Oregon on the schedule. After winning the division last year, Utah has plenty of reasons to believe this is the year it takes the next step and wins the conference for the first time. That was the belief throughout the offseason, and nothing through two relatively easy wins has changed that. The conference opener against USC on Sept. 20 looms large. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 12 Texas
OK, so maybe the Longhorns aren’t all the way back yet. After boasting that Texas was the real “DBU,” the Longhorns were victimized by LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and his receivers in a 45-38 loss at home. While Burrow made some difficult throws and took some hits, LSU’s receivers were running open on too many other plays. The good news is Texas’ offense moved the ball at will against LSU’s defense, too. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 401 yards with four touchdowns and ran 19 times for 60 yards with one score. — Mark Schlabach
No. 13 Penn State
We’re used to James Franklin teams thumping mid-major competition, so it was a shock to see the Nittany Lions getting drastically outgained and trailing Buffalo by a 10-7 halftime margin. But a John Reid pick-six kick started a 28-point third quarter, and two Pat Freiermuth touchdown catches put the game away. They ended up covering, and it probably wasn’t a bad thing for PSU to have to work up a sweat heading into Pitt Week. — Bill Connelly
No. 14 Wisconsin
The Badgers continued their dominant start with a 61-0 shutout of Central Michigan on Saturday. Combined with last week’s 49-0 rout of South Florida, Wisconsin has scored 110 points without allowing a point, which is the second highest such total by a Big Ten program in the AP Poll era. Illinois scored 113 points without surrendering a point in the first two games of 1942. Even more important, quarterback Jack Coan continued to play well, completing 26 of 33 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns. The Badgers had 400 passing yards for only the third time in school history. — Mark Schlabach
No. 15 Oregon
It was fair to wonder about how Oregon might respond to last week’s heartbreaking loss to Auburn, but the hangover basically lasted 10 minutes. After a wobbly start, the Ducks absolutely dominated a Nevada team that might not be too bad, going on a 70-0 run (!!!) and cruising. After a tune-up vs. Montana, the conference race begins with a trip to Palo Alto to play the Stanford team that handed them last year’s most heartbreaking loss. — Connelly
No. 16 Texas A&M
As is the case with most quarterbacks after a loss, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond is going to get a ton of blame for the setback to Clemson. He struggled with his accuracy and held on to it too long at times, but he also got hit way too much and spent much of the game under duress. The running game also disappeared. If the Aggies are going to contend in the SEC West, the entire passing game will need to improve, and they will also need to find more balance on offense. — Low
No. 17 UCF
Freshman Dillon Gabriel got the start against FAU, taking over for Brandon Wimbush, and mixed some shaky throws with some brilliance. He completed just 7 of 19 passes, but he hit receivers for gains of 57, 45, 21, 74 and 32. He tossed two TDs and ran for another, showing a level of explosiveness UCF fans might rightly have worried would disappear this season without McKenzie Milton. It was the 28 straight time UCF has scored at least 30. The past five have come with four different starting QBs, but the Knights might have found their full-time guy moving forward. — David M. Hale
No. 18 Michigan State
The last time Michigan State scored 50 points, the Spartans made the College Football Playoff. Granted, the Spartans did it against Penn State and Indiana then, not WMU, but Brian Lewerke going 23-for-32 for 314 yards was an incredible development, and Elijah Collins (17 carries, 192 yards) gave State something it hasn’t seen in years: big plays in the run game. An MSU that can actually score some points is a scary MSU. Now do it again. — Connelly
No. 19 Iowa
Nate Stanley tossed three touchdowns without a pick for the second straight game. Sure, it came against Rutgers, but it’s still an encouraging note for the Hawkeyes. The last time Iowa had consecutive games with three TD passes and no picks was way back in 2010. Stanley has long been considered an NFL prospect, and his numbers have matched the pedigree so far this season. — David M. Hale
No. 20 Washington State
Wins over New Mexico State and Northern Colorado aren’t exactly résumé builders, but they have allowed the Cougars to break in new quarterback Anthony Gordon with encouraging results. The fifth-year senior’s time in the system has proved beneficial: He has thrown for nearly 900 yards already with nine touchdowns passes and just one pick. And the Cougars’ back-to-back 50-point outings represent just the sixth time they’ve reached the half-century mark in consecutive games since 1936. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 21 Maryland
Are the Terps for real? Sure, last week’s 79-0 win over Howard didn’t prove anything, but then they hung 63 on then-No. 21 Syracuse. Mike Locksley’s crew is rolling early and if it takes care of business against Temple this week, will have a showdown with Penn State in Week 4, and could be a sleeper in the Big Ten.
No. 22 Boise State
With the win against Florida State in its back pocket, Boise State gave itself a good opportunity to take an undefeated record deep into the season. ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the Broncos to be favorites in every game the rest of the way and heavy favorites in most cases. They hope to wrap up the nonconference against Portland State before starting Mountain West play, eyeing a run to a New Year’s Six bowl. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 23 Washington
Waiting through a three-hour weather delay only to lose to Cal for a second straight year isn’t exactly what Washington expected to go through Saturday (and well into Sunday) and now the Huskies’ playoff aspirations are on life support. The Huskies have the talent and the coaching to bounce back, but their margin for error in the Pac-12 is paper-thin. They’ll have Hawaii and BYU before re-entering conference play against USC on September 28. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 24 USC
Maybe a different freshman quarterback will save Clay Helton’s job. The Trojans seemed all but done after quarterback JT Daniels suffered a torn ACL in last week’s opener against Fresno State, which will sideline him for the rest of the season. But Kedon Slovis, an 18-year-old freshman from Arizona, had a debut to remember, completing 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards with three touchdowns in a 45-20 upset of Stanford on Saturday. Slovis’ 377 passing yards are the most by a USC freshman in a single game. — Mark Schlabach
No. 25 Virginia
Through two games, the Cavaliers have shown exactly why they were the preseason choice to win the Coastal Division in the ACC. This past week in a win over William & Mary, Virginia scored on offense, defense and special teams. Bryce Perkins continues to get better in the passing game, and the often underrated defense should get far more notice. Virginia has not allowed an offensive touchdown in 10 of the last 12 quarters it has played. On Saturday, Virginia hosts Florida State with a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 2005. — Andrea Adelson
It’s not going to get any easier for Syracuse, which was just run over by the Terps and should likely fall out of the next AP Top 25. After surrendering 354 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns to Maryland, Syracuse faces Clemson next week. Instead of entering the game as a CFP spoiler, as they have threatened in the past, the Orange should be concerned about finding a way to at least slow down Clemson running back Travis Etienne. — Heather Dinich
The Cardinal could use an FCS opponent on the schedule next week to recover from its shocking blowout loss at USC. Instead, Stanford will travel across the country to play at No. 18 UCF as a prelude to its game against No. 16 Oregon the following week. The schedule was always a concern — and that was before the Cardinal were shredded by a true freshman quarterback making his first start. — Bonagura
McConaughey … Bingo!
College GameDay guest picker McConaughey did a little singing and a lot of picking. He picked his beloved Longhorns, no surprise there. But here were the rest of his picks and results so far:
South Florida over Georgia Tech (LOSS!)
BYU over Tennessee (WIN!)
Ohio State over Cincinnati (WIN!)
Michigan over Army (WIN!)
Maryland over Syracuse (WIN!)
Colorado over Nebraska (WIN!)
UCF over FAU (WIN!)
North Carolina over Miami (WIN!)
Clemson over Texas A&M (WIN!)
USC over Stanford (WIN!)
And the man sure knows how to make an entrance.
Alright alright alright …
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 7, 2019
— ESPN (@espn) September 7, 2019
LSU QB Joe Burrow’s dad disagrees, however.
Joe Burrow’s dad is every LSU fan 😂 pic.twitter.com/StMuIQmSG5
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 8, 2019
Saturday’s best: What we’ll remember from Week 2
Dancing Coach of the Week
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates with some dance moves after the Cougars’ win against Tennessee.
BYU’s Zac Dawe tackles Jarrett Guarantano, and then takes his shoe and tosses it off the field into Tennessee’s bench.
We’re No. 2!
Akron made a strong entrance into the sideline-object scene with an oversized writing implement.
Jordyn Riley rises up to intercept UAB QB Tyler Johnston III’s pass, he returns it 15 yards to the Akron 42.
Monmouth beat Lafayette, 24-21, and this incredible interception helped make that difference.
Monmouth DB Anthony Budd leaps into the end zone to rob Lafayette of a touchdown.
Undertaker taking over
An Oklahoma fan brought a pro-Sooners sign (and a couple of Horns Down) to the GameDay set in Austin, and The Undertaker, a big Longhorns fan, took care of things.
Texas fan The Undertaker finds an Oklahoma sign in the crowd and rips it in half on the College GameDay set.
North Dakota football is wild
Minot State got the week started off right with a little misdirection was totally on purpose. Unfortunately, these were the only points the Beavers scored in a 52-7 loss on the road at Minnesota Duluth.
Minot State’s Cory Carignan fumbles on the kickoff, breaks tackles in his own end zone, then goes 104 yards the other way for a touchdown.
At the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, they have a different set of practice-field challenges than they do at Alabama.
#MooseUpdate: The moose is laying down taking its typical midday college nap. We are still asking everyone to avoid the area so that the moose doesn’t become stressed or panicked. #BestCopsAround #MooseWatch2019 pic.twitter.com/SsSs5p3BE2
— University of North Dakota Police (@UNDPoliceDept) September 3, 2019
Mike vs. Bevo
The real bragging rights in the Texas-LSU matchup: Which mascot is better?
Gene Wojciechowski examines the battle between Bevo and Mike the Tiger before Texas and LSU’s matchup.
Ready for takeoff
Air Force is honoring the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in its latest outstanding alternate uniform. The unis are designed to look like the aircraft and feature several different nameplate styles on the back that pay homage to Air Force bases around the country.
Get up for game day
Ready for some football? If not, New Mexico’s weight room will help you get in the mood.
— ESPN (@espn) September 5, 2019