0 out of 4
Ohio State’s CJ Strode leads the Buckeyes to a win over Notre Dame (AP Photo/David Dermer).
It’s Week 1 of the 2022 college football season, but the Pac-12 is unfortunately already in midseason form, quickly dropping out of the College Football Playoff conversation.
Well, not completely. AP no. 14 USC inflicted a 66-14 blow on Rice with the help of not one, not two, but three Big Sixes. But no. 11 Oregon no. 3 was swept by Georgia, and the no. 7 Utah went into the Gainesville Swamp and came away with an L against unranked Florida.
Not temporarily standardized, ie.
After beating Utah in Billy Napier’s head coaching debut, the Gators could climb into the top 10 in the AP poll. Anthony Richardson was every bit as electric as we remembered when he was healthy early last season. They’re at least a top-10 team, according to Bleacher Report’s college football experts David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Morgan Moriarty and Brad Shepherd.
While that upset was waning Saturday night, in the opening weekend’s main event AP No. 2 Ohio State gradually asserted its favor against No. 5 Notre Dame, 21-10.
The Fighting Irish gained 54 yards (69 if you count the 15-yard passer penalty) on the first snap of the game, and then the Buckeyes lost Jackson Smith-Njikpa on one leg. Injury in the middle of the first trimester (none of the fingers is serious). But Ohio State has more talent, more toughness and Mian Williams and Trevion Henderson to deny them a marquee win.
We’ll update these rankings Monday night if Clemson struggles or loses to Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A kickoff, but as we await the final game of Week 1, here’s how our consensus Top 25 looks for the week. 2:
1. AlabamaPrevious rank: 1)
2. Georgia (3)
3. Ohio State (2)
4. Clemson (4)
5. Michigan (8)
6. Texas A&M (7)
7. Florida (NR)
8. Oklahoma (15)
9. USC (11)
10. Notre Dame (5)
11. Arkansas (16)
12. Michigan State (12)
13. Miami (17)
14 (tie). Baylor (14)
14 (tie). BYU (23)
14 (tie). Wisconsin (18)
17. Oklahoma State (9)
18. Utah (6)
19. Tennessee (NR)
20. Pittsburgh (25)
21. Penn State (19 D)
22. Kentucky (24)
23. Houston (19D)
24. Texas (22)
25. NC State (10)
Also receiving votes: Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Mississippi State
1 in 4
Stetson Bennett of Georgia (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
After sweeping the 2019 national championship, LSU took 14 players in the NFL Draft…and then crashed and burned.
If you were worried that defending national champion Georgia might suffer a similar fate after 15 players (including five first-rounders) were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, Saturday’s 49-3 No.
The passing attack was flawless. Stetson Bennett did most of the work, but Carson Beck contributed 439 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Bulldogs averaged nearly 12 yards per pass attempt against a top Oregon defense under new head coach (and former UGA DC) Dan Lanning.
At the same time, Georgia’s defense held the Ducks to just one field goal, holding the Ducks to two touchdowns in the first 20 minutes of the game. Before a meaningless long drive in the final 10 minutes, Oregon had a mediocre 221 yards of total offense.
The Dawgs didn’t get any sacks in this one, so it wasn’t too similar to “Holy cow, how is anyone going to score against this defense?!” That’s the kind of statement they made in last year’s season opener against Clemson. Still, it was a dominant performance, at least on par with what the Knicks have done to him over the past three years as the quarterback at Auburn.
If Oregon can’t even remotely challenge this Georgia team, it won’t face a legitimately serious test until the scheduled SEC championship showdown with Alabama. The Bulldogs have just one other game on the schedule against a ranked opponent, and AP no. 20 That game at Kentucky is two and a half months away.
Get used to seeing them at or near the top of the rankings.
2 out of 4
NC State’s Devin Leary (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The good news is that NC State didn’t actually lose its season opener at East Carolina.
The bad news is that the No. 10 team in our preseason rankings couldn’t have been less confident in its 21-20 win over the Pirates.
Aided by a fumble recovered for a touchdown, the Wolfpack led 21-7 at halftime. But what we thought would be one of the most potent offensive attacks in the nation this season was held scoreless from that point on.
It’s not for lack of opportunity. On one drive, the Wolfpack marched 74 yards before fumbling at the ECU 1. And they got 1st and goal at the ECU 1 before Demi Sumo-Karngbaye got to the goal line on four consecutive carries.
It was a start that lasted more than 12 minutes, including 10 runs for minus-4 yards.
Meanwhile, ECU had what looked like a game-tying touchdown until Owen Daffer missed an extra point. He had a chance at redemption when an NC State three-and-out left the Pirates with plenty of time to get into field-goal range. Unfortunately, Daffer pushed the game-winning 42-yard attempt wide right, allowing the Wolfpack to escape by a thin chin of chin hair.
All credit goes to ECU, which won seven games last season and has one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the country in Holden Ahlers — but this game shouldn’t have come down to the wire. Because it did, we seriously question if NC State is a good candidate to dethrone Clemson in the ACC.
The Wolfpack slipped from No. 10 to No. 25 in our rankings.
3 out of 4
Cincinnati’s Ben Bryant (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Well, No. 23 Cincinnati’s dream of making the College Football Playoffs is already dead.
The Bearcats opened their season at No. 19 If Arkansas wins, the “Unbeaten Season Watch” will officially be underway. Road games against SMU and UCF in late October won’t be easy, but if they’re 85 percent better than they’ve been over the past few years, they should win each of their remaining 11 games.
Alas, Cincinnati got off to a painfully slow start in the first half in Fayetteville and never fully recovered, falling to the Hawks by a final score of 31-24.
On Cincinnati’s opening drive of the season, Ben Bryant led the Bearcats out of the red zone before Arkansas DB Dwight McLothern jumped a route for an interception and returned it 51 yards.
Cincinnati had two long first-half drives that resulted in missed field goals.
But despite digging an early 14-0 hole on the road, they clawed their way almost the entire way.
On three consecutive possessions in the second half, they got the ball in Arkansas territory, needing a touchdown to tie the game. Instead, they got a field goal from a drive that started at the Arkansas 3, a punt on a drive as deep as the Arkansas 21, and a back-breaking strip-sack after an impressive Trey Tucker punt return.
Cincinnati didn’t look too bad, racking up 438 total yards against SEC defenses. This could be the third year in a row that the New Year’s Six represents the group of five. It shot itself in the foot a few times this afternoon and suffered its first loss outside of the bowl season since the 2019 AAC Championship against Memphis.
4 out of 4
Texas’ Steve Sarkisian and Bijon Robinson (Tim Warner/Getty Images)
First up on the Week 2 slate is a noon ET showdown between AP No. 1 Alabama and unranked Texas. It’s the first time in a decade that the Crimson Tide have played a true road game against a Power Five conference opponent, and it comes against former Nick Saban assistant Steve Sarkisian.
It should be a healthy diet rat poison In the next seven days.
25 BYU hosting no. 10 Baylor’s nightcap (10:15 p.m. ET) is the only matchup between the teams in the preseason AP Poll. The Cougars have defeated at least one ranked opponent in each of the past four seasons, but they lost to the Bears in Waco in last year’s meeting. A little revenge in Provo could put BYU in the College Football Playoff conversation.
No. 17 Tennessee at Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. ET) Should be a battle between the top-ranked teams when the new AP Poll comes out in a few days. After making quick work of Ball State on Thursday, the Panthers look to build on their upset Week 1 win over West Virginia in a resurgent backyard showdown as the top-ranked Volunteers prepare for a big test.
Then there are the three major conference clashes, no. 19 Arkansas at South Carolina (noon ET), no. 20 Kentucky at Florida (7 p.m. ET) and No. 14 USC hosts Stanford (7:30 p.m. ET).
While nothing quite like Oregon-Georgia or Notre Dame-Ohio State, Week 2 should be every bit as entertaining as Week 1—albeit with almost a full day in a 100-hour window.