College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 2
Week 2 was an exciting week, though devoid of any notable upsets. Though only one team within the top five tasted defeat last weekend, we had two changes in the top four spots.
Remaining at No. 1, the Alabama Crimson Tide head into Week 3 after a 41-10 victory over Fresno State. With an impressive stat line of 128 yards through the air, 154 on the ground and three total touchdowns, Jalen Hurts was once again at the forefront for the Tide. Though he had a sound performance, critics of Hurts will say that his displayed inclination to escape the pocket early may be causing him to miss out on some big plays that would come with patience. With all of the talent on both sides of the ball, many feel that this is one last tweak the Tide must make to have an elite team yet again. This weekend the Tide take on Colorado State at home.
The No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners are new to the top four this week after a 31-16 win on the road against then-No. 2 Ohio State. Avenging last year’s loss, Baker Mayfield had a Heisman-like performance, posting three touchdowns and 386 yards through the air. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had yet another impressive performance with six tackles, 2.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks. The Sooners are flying high and they’ll have a cupcake game against Tulane this week before opening up Big 12 play.
The Clemson Tigers hold down No. 3 after a tough 14-6 victory over then-No. 13 Auburn. Clemson’s stout defense held transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham to a pedestrian 79 yards through the air, and held the entire team to just two field goals. Clemson’s offensive efforts were spearheaded by first year starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, who put up 181 yards through the air along with 59 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Tigers will have to travel up to No. 14 Louisville and Lamar Jackson for another top 15 matchup this week.
Back into the top four this week are the No. 4 USC Trojans, who managed to jump back in with a convincing 42-24 home win over then-No. 14 Stanford. Heisman hopeful Sam Darnold threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns, split evenly between Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett. Brice Love rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinal in the losing effort. The Trojans have flashed their immense talent at times over the first two weeks but have failed to play as consistently as we all think they’re capable. This week, they have an intriguing matchup with the Texas Longhorns, whom they haven’t faced since Vince Young and company bested them for the national title in an epic matchup that still haunts the Trojan faithful.
Dropping out of the top four this week are the No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions. The Nittany Lions beat their rivals, the Pittsburgh Panthers, 33-14, in what was an interesting matchup as the Panthers' time of possession was roughly 17 minutes higher than the Nittany Lions. Trace McSorley was 15-28 for 164 yards and three touchdowns and a pick. His backfield mate Saquon Barkley had a solid outing with 88 yards on the ground and 45 receiving yards with two total touchdowns. Though the Nittany Lions have yet to show any signs of weakness, they were dropped from the top four as a result of their schedule up to this point. While on the outside looking in, the Nittany Lions have a cupcake game this week against Georgia State which ought to be one final tuneup before heading into conference play where they will have all of their work ahead of them in terms of the Playoff.
The two major sleepers in this playoff race are the No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs and the No. 14 Louisville Cardinals. For the Bulldogs, there is of course the eventual looming SEC Championship showdown with Alabama. However, up until that point the most difficult matchup on their schedule is a road matchup with No. 15 Auburn. With the expected return of stars Jacob Eason (QB) and Malkom Parrish (CB), the Bulldogs could reach that game unscathed rather easily. Unlike Georgia, Louisville’s playoff fate will be decided this week as opposed to down the line. Lamar Jackson and the Cards host No. 3 Clemson this week, and if they win, then win out, they could book their ticket to ACC title game as they’d hold the tiebreaker over Clemson. At that point they could even afford a loss and still be in a good position to make it to the playoff.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.