Alabama Makes A Statement, New No. 1
Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 1 of the regular season.
Making a Statement
After a close preseason vote left Southern California No. 1, just ahead of Alabama and LSU, the Crimson Tide separated itself from the pack by taking apart Michigan 41-14 on Saturday in Texas.
USC fans are no doubt wondering just how badly the Trojans needed to beat Hawaii to keep the top ranking. USC won 49-10 at home as heavy favorites. But hold the outrage. No. 1 winning and falling is fairly common. It’s happened 86 times in the 76-year history of the poll, and every year since 2007 – including in 2008 when USC jumped preseason No. 1 Georgia after the first week of the season.
So for those ready to scream SEC bias, relax.
The Tide plays Western Kentucky this week, so it seems safe to say that Nick Saban’s crew will go to No. 8 Arkansas on Sept. 15 undefeated – if not the No. 1 team in the country.
The last time Alabama was No. 1 during the regular season was October 2010. Last year, Alabama didn’t reach No. 1 until it mattered most. At the end.
Sure it was only Miami, Ohio, but Ohio State’s 56-10 victory in Urban Meyer’s first game as coach was enough to boost the Buckeyes four spots in the poll to No. 18.
Buckeyes fans have been plotting Big Ten domination since Meyer took the job in December, assuming that it will begin next season when Ohio State gets sprung from the NCAA penalty box.
Why wait? Quarterback Braxton Miller (161 yards rushing, 207 passing) looks as if he was born to run Meyer’s spread offense. Surely, there are already Buckeyes fans wondering if their team can finish the season unbeaten and No. 1 in the AP poll, whose panel can vote for teams on probation.
The Wolverines started the season with their best ranking in the AP poll since 2007. That year, they lost to Appalachian State.
The loss to Alabama won’t go down in history, but it did knock the Wolverines down 11 spots to No. 19 in the rankings.
Adding a little injury to the insult, the Wolverine also lost top cornerback Blake Countess for the season with a torn knee ligament during the game. Though the good news for Michigan was star quarterback Denard Robinson came home in one piece, despite some scary moments.
Life gets easier for Michigan this week when Air Force visits the Big House.
In and Out
Everybody’s favorite – or least favorite depending upon your perspective – BCS buster is out of the rankings for the first time since 2008.
Boise State started the season No. 24, but its rebuilt offense couldn’t muster a touchdown in a 17-13 loss at Michigan State, and it cost the Broncos their ranking streak. Boise State had appeared in 62 straight polls, which was the second-best current streak behind Alabama.
The only team to move into the rankings this week has set the standard for polarizing programs in college football. Welcome back, No. 22 Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish started the season with a field trip to Dublin, highlighted by a 50-10 victory against Navy.
The best news for the Irish was that quarterback Everett Gholson played well, leaving no question about who will direct the offense after a long competition to determine the starter. Gholson will start against Purdue this weekend. Tommy Rees returns from suspension to compete for the No. 2 spot.
Boise State’s new starting quarterback, Joe Southwick, was so-so in his first game as Kellen Moore’s replacement.
Take heart Boise Staters: Michigan State’s defense is the best the Broncos will face this season, and they could be back in the rankings in a few weeks by beating Miami, Ohio (Sept. 15), and BYU (Sept. 20) at home. The Cougars could be pushing for a spot in the rankings by then, too.
From the Archives
Alabama has been atop the AP poll 47 times, 16 under coach Nick Saban.
Though if anyone can say for sure that being No. 1 during the season isn’t all that important, it’s Saban.
In the last two seasons that Alabama has won the national title (2009, 2011), the Crimson Tide was ranked No. 1 during the season a total of two weeks. In 2009, the Tide reached No. 1 for a week in October, and again when it beat Florida in the SEC title game to go in the BCS championship game top-ranked.
Making a late move on No. 1 is an Alabama tradition. Back in 1992, when Gene Stallings’ team won the national title by beating No. 1 Miami in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama did not spend a day atop the AP poll.
Odds & Ends
Oklahoma dropped only one spot to No. 5 after the Sooners slogged through a 24-7 opening victory at UTEP. The small slide was bigger than the rankings show. Oklahoma had 1,286 points and a first-place vote in the preseason poll. The Sooners were down to 1,170 points after Week 1. The Sooners have issues to sort out on both lines going into this weekend’s tuneup against Florida A&M. They then have a week off before hosting Kansas State on Sept. 22. … There are no ranked teams playing against each other this week. But there are plenty that could be tested: No. 16 Nebraska at UCLA; Washington visiting No. 3 LSU; No. 22 Kansas State hosting Miami; Ohio State gets UCF at home; and No. 18 Oklahoma State is at Arizona. … West Virginia and South Carolina were tied for No. 9 and No. 15 Virginia Tech was one point ahead of No. 16 Nebraska.