NCF Nation: power rankings 090913

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
9:04
AM ET
It's time for a fresh set of power rankings with another week in the books. The top four teams remain the same from last week, but there was some shuffling the rest of the way down.

1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.

3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.

5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.

6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.

7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.

8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.

9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.

10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.

11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.

13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.

14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
9:03
AM ET
After Week 2, there is one big riser and one big faller in this week’s Big 12 power rankings:

1. Oklahoma State (2-0, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 1): So much for the notion J.W. Walsh can’t pass. The dual-threat quarterback set an Oklahoma State single-game completion percentage record and threw more touchdown passes than incompletions. Walsh has the ninth-best QBR in college football, and he’s a major reason the Pokes keep the top spot.

2. Baylor (2-0, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 4): It’s one thing to beat Wofford and Buffalo. It’s quite another to completely destroy both of them. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Baylor has 16 touchdown drives of two minutes or less, the most of any offense in the country. The Bears are also averaging 47 points … per first half.

3. Oklahoma (2-0, 1-0 Big 12, last week: 2): The Sooners take a step back despite the West Virginia win because of the uncertainty at quarterback. The good news is that the defense and run game look much improved. But the Sooners can’t win the Big 12 without a viable passing attack, right?

4. TCU (1-1, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 5): TCU’s QB situation has been resolved by Casey Pachall’s broken arm. The Frogs have been more efficient with Trevone Boykin at QB, but he’ll have to do it for four quarters beginning Thursday night in Lubbock against Texas Tech.

5. Texas Tech (2-0, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 6): Baker Mayfield has been spectacular through two games, with seven touchdowns, no interceptions and a 71 percent completion percentage. But Mayfield will be tested for the first time against an aggressive TCU defense that will be welcoming defensive end Devonte Fields back into the starting lineup.

6. West Virginia (1-1, 0-1 Big 12, last week: 7): Oklahoma’s quarterback woes overshadowed the Mountaineers’ stingy defensive performance in Norman. The West Virginia offense, however, continues to sputter, especially through the air. How long will Dana Holgorsen stick with Paul Millard over Clint Trickett if this continues?

7. Texas (1-1, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 3): The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire.

8. Kansas State (1-1, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 8): Bill Snyder’s bunch bounced back with a nice performance over one of the Sun Belt’s better teams in Louisiana-Lafayette. Maybe the Wildcats are better off using two quarterbacks, as Jake Waters (278 yards passing) and Daniel Sams (63 yards rushing) got the offense moving in different ways.

9. Kansas (1-0, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 10): Justin McCay made good on his vow to end the Kansas receiver scoreless catch streak, and the Jayhawks handled South Dakota after a shaky first quarter. Next up? A tricky road trip to Rice, which figures to reveal where exactly this Kansas defense is.

10. Iowa State (0-1, 0-0 Big 12, last week: 9): Kansas won its FCS opener. Iowa State did not. But the Cyclones could jump-start their season next weekend. Take home the Cy-Hawk Trophy for a third straight season, and nobody in Ames will be talking about Northern Iowa.
The top half of the Power Rankings remains exactly the same, but some interesting story lines are starting to develop.

Is Ohio State or Michigan the Big Ten's best team? Michigan made its case Saturday night against Notre Dame, while Ohio State's bigger tests await in Weeks 5 and 6 (Wisconsin and Northwestern). For now, we're keeping the Buckeyes at No. 1, but we'll need to see a strong performance this week on the road against Cal's high-powered offense.

Northwestern and Wisconsin held steady, and both Nebraska and Penn State looked better in Week 2. Illinois is the big mover after Saturday's dominant win against Cincinnati, while Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa fall. There's some separation after the top six, and Nos. 7-9 really could appear in any order.

These are consistent with our rankings in the ESPN.com power poll.

Here's one last look at the previous Big Ten rankings.

To the rundown …

1. Ohio State (2-0, last week: 1): Braxton Miller's knee injury created some tense moments in Columbus, but Ohio State fans settled down and settled in to the smooth sounds of Kenny G (Guiton, that is). One of the nation's best backup quarterbacks torched San Diego State for three touchdowns as a Buckeyes team that sleepwalked through the second half in Week 1 took charge from the get-go. Ohio State's young defense will be tested much more this week by the "Bear Raid" offense at Cal.

2. Michigan (2-0, last week: 2): Debate the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry all you want, but it mattered a lot for quarterback Devin Gardner and the Wolverines. Gardner proved he's a big-game quarterback and triggered an impressive offensive performance against Notre Dame's physical defense. Although Michigan's defense had some issues, it made timely plays against the Irish. The Wolverines have the look of a BCS bowl team and possibly a Big Ten champion.

3. Northwestern (2-0, last week: 3): Week 1 was all about survival for Northwestern. Saturday night, the Wildcats showed why they should contend for the Legends Division title this season. Quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian had their way with Syracuse's defense, and wideout Tony Jones had a huge night as Northwestern easily improved to 2-0. The Wildcats should be 4-0 in three weeks when Ohio State visits Evanston, and star running back Venric Mark should be healthy by then.

4. Wisconsin (2-0, last week: 4): The run game has been dominant, the defense suffocating and the competition level horrendous. What do we make of these Badgers after two not surprisingly dominant performances against lowly Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech? Wisconsin deserves credit for handling its business with few if any mistakes, recording back-to-back shutouts to open a season for the first time since 1958. Quarterback Joel Stave looks comfortable. But the competition goes up -- way, way up -- this week at Arizona State.

5. Nebraska (2-0, last week: 5): The Huskers defense doesn't deserve the "Blackshirts" label quite yet, but at least the unit avoided less-flattering terms for a week. Cornerbacks Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans set the tone for a rebound performance with pick-sixes in the first quarter, and junior-college transfer Randy Gregory applied pressure all game. The defense needs a better performance this week against UCLA, potentially the only team that can beat the Huskers during the first two months of the season.

6. Penn State (2-0, last week: 6): After a rough start, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg settled down in his Beaver Stadium debut. He also got a ton of help from the run game, which had struggled in the opener but broke out for 251 yards and five touchdowns. Tackle DaQuan Jones triggered a suffocating Lions defense, which will be tested much more this week when Blake Bortles and Central Florida visit Happy Valley.

7. Minnesota (2-0, last week: 8): Although Aggie Vision was the real highlight Saturday night, Minnesota provided a few of its own in an easy win against New Mexico State. The Gophers continue to find creative ways to score, adding a special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown in a 44-21 romp. Despite being short-handed at running back, Minnesota got the ground game going behind Rodrick Williams (148 yards, 1 TD), David Cobb (56 yards, 1 TD) and quarterback Philip Nelson (122 rush yards, 1 TD). The Gophers have another tuneup this week before their first real test Sept. 21 against San Jose State.

8. Michigan State (2-0, last week: 7): Can Shilique Calhoun play quarterback? The sophomore defensive end has been Michigan State's best offensive weapon in the first two games, scoring one more touchdown than the entire Spartans offense. Michigan State's defense has added a dynamic playmaking element early this season. Unfortunately, the problems on offense only seem to be worsening and the quarterback situation is anyone's guess right now.

9. Illinois (2-0, last week: 11): Surprise, surprise, the Illini are unquestionably on the rise. Few saw it coming, but Illinois walloped Cincinnati behind another impressive performance by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense. One of the nation's worst offenses has surged under coordinator Bill Cubit, scoring 87 points in the first two games. Linebacker Mason Monheim and the defense rebounded nicely after a shaky Week 1 effort. Can the Illini pull off another upset this week against Washington at Chicago's Soldier Field?
10. Indiana (1-1, last week: 9): Kevin Wilson's words last week proved prophetic as Indiana's offense lacked the efficiency it needed early on against Navy's ball-control offense. But eventually a defense has to make some stops and Indiana's once again couldn't, especially in the closing minutes. The Hoosiers surrendered 444 rush yards in a 41-35 loss, once again showing that this program hasn't turned a corner. Things get tougher this week as a very good Bowling Green squad comes to Memorial Stadium.

11. Iowa (1-1, last week: 10): Some Iowa fans undoubtedly felt better about their team after last week's loss to Northern Illinois than Saturday's win against FCS Missouri State. The Hawkeyes had just seven points through the first 37 minutes before Mark Weisman (180 rush yards, 2 TDs) took over down the stretch. Quarterback Jake Rudock showed good mobility but also threw a pick-six. Iowa faces a must-win this week as it hits the road to face rival Iowa State.

12. Purdue (1-1, last week: 12): The Boilers got a win Saturday, but they won't win many more if they don't clean up their problems on offense. If Purdue can't punch the ball into the end zone against Indiana State from inside the 5-yard line, what's going to happen against Big Ten defenses? Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston had a big day, but the Boilers need many others to elevate their play as Notre Dame visits Ross-Ade Stadium this week.

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
9:01
AM ET
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Stanford: There was some thinking to switch the top two after Oregon's dominant road effort at Virginia, but the Cardinal pretty much showed their own style of dominance against a San Jose State team that won 11 games last year and has an NFL prospect at quarterback.

2. Oregon: If Oregon approaches the monstrous butt-kicking it gave Virginia at home against Tennessee, then it probably will be time to move Oregon up to No. 1. And another dominant performance, this time against an SEC team, would probably move the "what will Mark Helfrich do" talk to the background.

3. Washington: The Huskies were off this week, but their victory over Boise State is still the highest-quality victory in the conference this season. Now can a team that has struggled on the road under Steve Sarkisian bring that efficiency on both sides of the ball to Illinois on Saturday?

4. UCLA: Another power rankings debate here. Both Kevin and I picked Arizona State to win the South Division. Now that the Sun Devils have played -- and drubbed an FCS team -- should they be bounced up? Nope. Even though the Bruins were off, their opening victory over Nevada was still of a higher quality. Plus, both teams take on ranked Big Ten teams on Saturday. Maybe that will provide some more clarity.

5. Arizona State: You never play a perfect game, but the Sun Devils were pretty much exactly what their idealized version should be against an FCS team last Thursday. Beat Wisconsin and the country will take note.

6. Washington State: Cougs making their move! We know you guys are irritated that the victory over USC became all about how bad USC looked, but we're also assuming the objective side of you sort of knows why. And, well, you didn't score an offensive TD. Still, great road win. Great defensive effort. Enjoy being optimistic.

7. Utah: Boy, Dennis Erickson sure is too old to make a difference with the Utes' offense! That hire will never work. Our guess is Utes fans who were down on the program have now noted that good QB play is sort of a good -- and fun! -- thing to get. Beating Oregon State at home on Saturday would perk up some preseason expectations.

8. Arizona: The Wildcats' defense, though it gave up a couple of big plays at UNLV, is vastly improved. And the running game looks pretty good, particularly with Ka'Deem Carey back in the lineup. But the passing game -- still no TD passes caught by a receiver -- is an issue.

9. California: The Bears get no style points -- even with all the big passing numbers -- for beating Portland State. But a win is a win. The issue, however, is how many more remain with a brutal upcoming schedule.

10. Oregon State: Hawaii isn't good. But after the disaster against Eastern Washington, it was good that the Beavers not only took care of business but overcame a first-half lull when they looked like they might be about to go rear-end-over-tea-kettle. The visit to Utah could set the trajectory for the season.

11. Colorado: Of course, it would have been nice for the Buffs to dominate Central Arkansas, but this isn't a team that can dominate anyone. Still, a second consecutive week of fourth-quarter gumption and opportunistic playmaking is meaningful. In danger of a humiliating defeat? Well, score 21 consecutive points to win going away.

12. USC: Just awful. The crowd in the Coliseum pretty much said it all.

SEC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
9:00
AM ET
After two weeks, we have some nice movement in our SEC Power Rankings.

1. Alabama (1-0; LW: 1): The Crimson Tide had time to sit and watch an interesting Week 2 in the SEC. The bye week should really pay off for a team preparing for Johnny Football and looking to improve its play along the offensive line.

2. LSU (2-0; LW: 3): Quick, who is second in the SEC in passing yards (533), passer rating (189.4) and tied for first in passing touchdowns (six)? That would be Zach Mettenberger, the same Mettenberger who took two months to get comfortable in LSU's offense last year. Helping him is a stout running game and the SEC's No. 4 defense.

3. Texas A&M (2-0; LW: 4): This is what college football has been waiting for, and the Aggies enter Alabama week fresh off two blowout victories over cupcakes. Johnny Manziel is improving as a passer and A&M again leads the SEC in total offense. However, the Aggies are second to last in the league in total defense (449.5 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (29.5).

4. Georgia (1-1; LW: 6): The Bulldogs might own the SEC's worst defense statistically, but the offense is equipped to win any potential SEC shootout. Georgia's dramatic win over South Carolina puts the Bulldogs in the SEC East's driver's seat. It's a first for the Bulldogs in a while, and to stay on that path, the defense is going to have to improve, with better opposing defenses showing up on the schedule.

5. South Carolina (1-1; LW: 2): The offense was very good and very balanced against Georgia, but it wasn't enough. The Gamecocks have real issues on defense and lackluster play by Jadeveon Clowney isn't helping. If South Carolina is going to make a charge in the SEC East, both of those things must be corrected.

6. Florida (1-1; LW: 5): The Gators will be kicking themselves for a while after going a miserable 2-for-6 in the red zone in their 21-16 loss to Miami. Once again this season, Florida has an elite defense. But mental mistakes, questionable play calling and five turnovers overshadowed an otherwise decent performance.

7. Ole Miss (2-0; LW: 7): Thanks to a high-octane offense and an improved defense, the Rebels are back in the polls and have a chance to make some national noise with a victory at Texas this weekend. Ole Miss was run out of its own house last year when the Longhorns traveled to Oxford, so the Rebels are hoping to do the same during their trip to Austin on Saturday.

8. Vanderbilt (1-1; LW: 8): A week after a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss, Vandy responded with a cushy 38-3 win over Austin Peay. The Commodores clearly were the better team, but it was a nice tuneup before heading to Columbia, S.C., to take on the Gamecocks in a game that could propel Vandy up the SEC ranks.

9. Auburn (2-0; LW: 9): Two weeks in and Gus Malzahn and his team are sitting at 2-0. This team isn't having any sort of problem running the ball, but the passing game still needs some work. Also, giving up more than 400 yards per game won't cut it once league play starts this weekend against Mississippi State.

10. Missouri (2-0; LW: 10): The Tigers might have played overmatched opponents during the first two weeks of the season, but there's more excitement around this program because of the offensive production. Quarterback James Franklin, who dealt with a handful of injuries last year, is averaging 265 passing yards in two games and has run for 121 yards in two games.

11. Arkansas (2-0; LW: 11): Bret Bielema said he wanted to create a more physical team in Fayetteville, and that's what he has after two weeks. The Razorbacks lead the SEC in rushing (312.5 yards per game) and freshman Alex Collins leads the SEC with 303 rushing yards. Arkansas gets another tuneup against Southern Miss before traveling to Rutgers on Sept. 21.

12. Tennessee (2-0; LW: 12): Butch Jones is the talk of the town in Knoxville after a 2-0 start, but things get really interesting this week with a trip to Oregon. While the Vols are still trying to figure things out on offense, especially in the passing game, the defense has a league-high nine takeaways. We'll find out a lot more about Tennessee this weekend.

13. Mississippi State (1-1; LW: 13): The Bulldogs put on quite the show on Saturday in their 51-7 win over Alcorn State. Sure, the opponent wasn't very tough. But after an opening loss, this will serve as a confidence-booster. As it has been for the past few years, this weekend's game against Auburn will serve as a momentum-builder for the winner.

14. Kentucky (1-1; LW: 14): Out of nowhere, the Wildcats' offense awoke over the weekend and churned out 675 yards of offense in Kentucky's 41-7 victory over Miami (Ohio). Maxwell Smith has pulled away in the quarterback race and the defense made vast improvements from Week 1 to Week 2. Now it's time to take on bitter rival Louisville.

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