Week two of college football was another week of absolute chaos. So many teams that looked better than most last week toppled to lesser competition. Two games in, and the top 25 has been shuffled about, with many new teams emerging as the more talented in the country.
As my rankings had shown last week, I expected Iowa to defeat Iowa State, and the Hawkeyes went on the road and took down the Cyclones, 27-17. However, my high expectations for Florida State were shattered in a come from behind 20-17 loss to Jacksonville State. Ohio State couldn’t handle the speed of Oregon, which firmly placed itself in the Playoff hunt.
Let’s recap this week in the way that only we can at NFL Sapient. Here is my college football top 25:
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: Must-Watch next week candidates
- BYU Cougars (2-0; W Utah 26-17)
- Arkansas Razorbacks (2-0; W Texas 40-21)
- Virginia Cavaliers (2-0; W Illinois 42-14)
- TCU Horned Frogs (2-0; W California 34-32)
- Rutgers Scarlett Knights (2-0; W Syracuse 17-7)
Last week, all five schools that I named in this section won their matchups. While that certainly wasn’t the point of this section, perhaps there is good fortune to those who end up on this list… Just kidding.
Arkansas is in the tough SEC West but showed out with a big win over Texas’s to-be in-conference rivals. Arkansas brought a fleury of attacks from the dual-threat ability of KJ Jefferson. They have weapons all across the field, making this offense very formidable.
I loved what I saw from Virginia, who man-handled Illinois this weekend. They have some weapons on their offense as well and play a tight-knit defense that makes few mistakes. However, I want to see a little more, and they will have an excellent opportunity this week against North Carolina.
5 schools who are noticably abscent
- North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-1; L @ Mississippi State 24-10)
- Texas Longhorns (1-1; L @ Arkansas 40-21)
- Utah Utes (1-1; L @ BYU 26-17)
- North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1; W Georgia State 59-17)
- Michigan Wolverines (2-0; W Washington 31-10)
Last week, North Carolina State made the 17th spot after an impressive showing against USF. Unfortunately, this team was unable to go on the road and beat an SEC team. I couldn’t justify leaving them in the top 25 right now.
North Carolina seeks redemption after a tough loss to Virginia Tech in week one. My biggest concern with North Carolina is that Sam Howell struggled so badly after losing almost every skill position player from last year. He looked almost like a different person. They have talent, but the unfamiliarity seems to be a key issue on that Tar Heels team. That’s concerning to me.
Michigan may be 2-0, but I want to see a little bit more. They manhandled the Washington team that came off an ugly loss to Montana in week one. They destroyed a MAC opponent. There’s certainly a bit of a fire brewing up there. I just want to see if it won’t continue when they start conference play.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 25-21
25. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-0; W @ Tennessee 41-34)
24. Nevada Wolfpack (2-0; W Idaho State 49-10)
23. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0; W UNLV 37-10)
22. Auburn Tigers (2-0; W Alabama State 62-0)
21. Kentucky Wildcats (2-0; W Missouri 35-28)
Pittsburgh needed to beat Tennessee on the road by two touchdowns to really show what they were. Instead, they gave the Volunteers two opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter with conservative offensive playcalling. However, the Panther’s defense showed some flashes despite the drives they gave up to the Volunteer’s newfound fast pace.
Nevada is worth mentioning because of the NFL caliber players laced all into their offense. It’s been part of why they’ve seen early success this season and maybe the best team in the Mountain West. Led by quarterback Carson Strong, who is gathering NFL popularity, Nevada takes on Kansas State next week and will show where they really are.
Auburn has obliterated two teams that weren’t near the competition level that they needed to be. Bo Nix looks improved this season as a passer, but he’s also operating from near-flawless pockets. For this, they give up the slight edge to Kentucky, who has played better competition and has already opened conference play with a win. I like the weapons the Wildcats have around Will Levis, and I think this team is much more talented than people are giving them credit.
Top 25 Spots 20-16
20. Liberty Flames (2-0; W Troy 21-13)
19. Miami Hurricanes (1-1; W Appalachian State 25-23)
18. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-0; W Kansas 49-22)
17. USC Trojans (1-1; L Stanford 28-42)
16. Iowa State Cyclones (1-1; L 7. Iowa 27-17)
Coastal Carolina came out and took care of business against Kansas this week, showing off their brilliant offense as well as their tough, physical defense. It’s hard to see this team struggling as long as Grayson McCall is in the game at quarterback. This week, they go on the road for the first time this season, headed to Buffalo, New York, to play the 1-1 Bulls.
What a disappointing week for USC and Miami. USC falls to their rivals, Stanford, again, 3rd time in the last five games between the two schools. Miami struggled badly against Appalachian State – who is certainly no pushover – but Miami had the rough outing week one against Alabama and needs to start showing some form of dominance.
Iowa State put up a fight with their in-state rivals, the Hawkweys, but ultimately fell short of the physicality of the Big Ten.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 15-11
15. UCLA Bruins (2-0; Bye Week)
14. Florida Gators (2-0; W USF 42-20)
13. Wisconsin Badgers (1-1; W Eastern Michigan 34-7)
12. Ole Miss Rebels (2-0; W Austin Peay 54-17)
11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0; W Toledo 32-29)
The Florida Gators have a quarterback in Anthony Richardson, who is a dynamic and explosive playmaker. Let’s talk about his production so far this season: He’s completed 6 passes for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s run for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 11 carries. For some reason, Florida keeps pushing the senior Emory Jones, who’s thrown 4 interceptions through the first two games this season. Not impressive.
I really like where Ole Miss is. Yes, they destroyed an FCS opponent this week. However, looking at their offense, there are so many good players, and Matt Corral is one of my favorite quarterback prospects in the class. The defense is much improved too.
Notre Dame falls back a couple of spots this week. Despite their talent, they struggle to play at their level and instead are playing down to teams. The Fighting Irish look worse this week, too, after Florida State lost to Jacksonville State.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 10. Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1)
Last week: L (8) Oregon (35-28)
How the mighty fall.
Ohio State showed signs of weakness while playing on the road last week against Minnesota. This week, the loss comes to the Oregon Ducks, who were missing their best player, arguably the best player in the country, in Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Much of the discord has come from the lack of consistency that freshman quarterback CJ Stroud has shown so far and the defense not being laced with as many sure-fire first-round picks as it has been in recent memory. The playmakers are there on both sides of the ball but failed to step up in action. With other five-star talents sitting on the bench at the quarterback position, people have already been clamoring.
9. Cincinnati Bearcats (2-0)
W Murray State (42-7)
Cincinnati has a substantial offense put together this season behind the arm and legs of Desmond Ridder at quarterback. While it was a slow start against Murray State, it eventually got moving behind the legs of Jerome Ford, who ran for 113 yards on 18 carries and 3 touchdowns.
Cincinnati is walking into the Big 12 as the most skilled and established program following the exit of Oklahoma and Texas. They’re deep, play well on both sides of the ball, and want to make their run at a National Championship. Next week, they will have a good game on the road against Indiana to prove what they are made of.
8. Oregon Ducks (2-0)
W @ (10) Ohio State (35-28)
The Oregon Ducks pulled off one of the most impressive upsets that we have seen this season – beating Ohio State on their own turf. No one really gave them a chance, but they found a way to get it done.
Running back CJ Verdell was the game’s hero, scoring a game-high 3 touchdowns and collecting 195 scrimmage yards. The most incredulous part of the game was that Oregon beat Ohio State with speed and by playing faster. That’s normally Ohio State’s calling card when they play teams – more speed and athleticism across the lineup. This time, they were the slow ones. It makes you wonder where the ceiling is for this Oregon team.
7. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0)
W @ (16) Iowa State (27-17)
Iowa might be one of the best teams in the Big Ten this year. Their offense has its consistency concerns, as quarterback Spencer Petras isn’t the best in the conference. However, this defense is tough and physical, and the Hawkeye’s show a remarkable resiliency to stay around and capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes.
This season, Iowa’s secondary has been their secret ingredient to success, giving quarterbacks some difficulty throwing against them. Indiana’s Michael Penix threw three interceptions in week one (two of them returned for touchdowns by Riley Moss), and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy threw three this week. This defense creates opportunities with turnovers and gives the offense a short field to capitalize on.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0)
W Ball State (44-13)
Penn State has the most impressive win so far in the Big Ten, going on the road and knocking off Wisconsin in week one. Now, they find themselves moving up quickly in the rankings.
Are there quarterback issues here? Yes. It appears that most schools this year have them. We were blessed last season with some incredible quarterbacks across the college football landscape – so much so that five of them were drafted in the first 15 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, and three are set to start today in week one of the NFL season. But Penn State’s defense looks solid and can keep their offense in the game, waiting for playmakers like Jahan Dotson to make that big play.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25: 5. Texas A&M Aggies (2-0)
W Vs. Colorado (10-7)
I very seriously debated this spot. Why should Texas A&M hold this spot? They were one of the anointed pre-season top five teams in the country.
I think that the narrow win over Colorado is certainly concerning. However, other spots shone brightly. The Aggies defense is legitimate, holding Colorado to just 7 points. If Colorado had settled for field goals in their opportunities instead of going for it, they could have won this game. But, A&M’s defense certainly stepped up in the clutch. The early exodus of their starting quarterback, Hayes King, hurt this team tremendously, too. I think this team is loaded with talent and still can push for a playoff appearance.
4. Oklahoma Sooners (2-0)
W Western Carolina (76-0)
Oklahoma certainly played uninspired last week, struggling tremendously against Tulane in their narrow victory, 40-35. This week, there was more energy in the team’s performance. Spencer Rattler threw five touchdowns before exiting the game.
Oklahoma’s concern this season while competing for a playoff spot will be their defense. If Rattler continues to make mistakes and struggle with consistency, do they have a defense that can make up for those instances? If they do, this team can make the Playoff. If not, they won’t get through their conference schedule.
3. Clemson Tigers (1-1)
W South Carolina State (49-3)
Losing by a touchdown to arguably the best defense in college football is not a slight on your record – in fact, with top teams losing games in the first couple weeks of the season, it strengthens your playoff claim. Clemson got the offense moving in the right direction with a win over South Carolina State and is getting settled in to start conference play next week against Georgia Tech.
I think this is the best defense Clemson has put on the field in the Dabo Swinney era. There are so many key playmakers in all three levels of the defense that make find NFL Draft prospects. I’m excited to see how they perform over the coming weeks.
2. Georgia Bulldogs (2-0)
W UAB (56-7)
The Georgia Bulldogs didn’t need JT Daniels to get the offense going against the UAB Blazers. Daniels sat out the game with an injury, and last year’s surprise performer, Stetson Bennett, stepped back into the spotlight and led the Bulldogs to a huge victory.
This defense is among the best in the country, no doubt. They stifled a Blazers offense that was clicking last week. Bennett played well enough to keep the train going. Georgia has the best team it has seen on the field in a very, very long time.
Vogel’s College Football Top 25 #1: Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0)
W Mercer (48-14)
Alabama struggled a little bit early against Mercer, but it’s good for the Crimson Tide to get these mistakes out of their system now before next week. They start conference play next week, going on the road to face 14th ranked Florida, promising to be a little bit of a challenge.
The success of this football team lies in the performance of redshirt freshman quarterback Bryce Young. So far, his performance has been stellar. So far, he’s thrown for 571 yards and 7 touchdowns through two games and has yet to turn over the football. Young has handled the pressure very well, too, showing off natural pocket awareness to move out of the pressure and throw darts downfield. Alabama will be a tough cookie this season.