College Football Rankings 2017: NCAA Top 25 Predictions After Opening Saturday

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Trace McSorley #9 of the Penn State Nittany Lions passes the ball to Juwan Johnson #84 during the second quarter against the Akron Zips on September 2, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Week 1 of the 2017 college football season isn’t in the books quite yet.

But after a Saturday filled with fireworks, it’s time to break down how the sport’s landscape is going to look moving forward.  

Below, we’ll provide an updated Associated Press Top 25 projection—bearing in mind there are still games to be played Sunday and Mondayand break down some of Saturday’s best and worst performances from teams that entered Week 1 ranked.       


Projected Top 25 After Week 1 (Through Saturday)

  • 1. Alabama (1-0, def. Florida State) 
  • 2. Ohio State (1-0, def. Indiana)
  • 3. USC (1-0, def. Western Michigan) 
  • 4. Clemson (1-0, def. Kent State)
  • 5. Penn State (1-0, def. Akron)
  • 6. Oklahoma (1-0, def. UTEP)
  • 7. Florida State (0-1, lost to Alabama)
  • 8. Washington (1-0, def. Rutgers)
  • 9. Wisconsin (1-0, def. Utah State)
  • 10. Oklahoma State (1-0, def. Tulsa)
  • 11. Michigan (1-0, def. Florida)
  • 12. Auburn (1-0, def. Georgia Southern)
  • 13. LSU (1-0, def. BYU)
  • 14. Stanford (1-0, def. Rice)
  • 15. Georgia (1-0, def. Appalachian State)
  • 16. Louisville (1-0, def. Purdue)
  • 17. Miami (1-0, def. Bethune-Cookman)
  • 18. South Florida (1-0, def. Stony Brook)
  • 19. Kansas State (1-0, def. Central Arkansas)
  • 20. Virginia Tech (0-0, plays Sunday night)
  • 21. West Virginia (0-0, plays Sunday night)
  • 22. Washington State (1-0, def. Montana State)
  • 23. Tennessee (0-0, plays Monday night) 
  • 24. TCU (1-0, def. Jackson State)
  • 25. Florida (0-1, lost to Michigan)

Performers of Note 

Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions returns a kickoff return during the second half against the Akron Zips on September 2, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania. Penn State defeats Akro

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

No, the opponent wasn’t ranked. And no, it wasn’t necessarily the most telling performance given the disparity in talent between the two sides. 

But boy, did the Penn State Nittany Lions look impressive in their 52-0 rout of the Akron Zips on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium. 

Put simply, everything clicked. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was efficient and accurate. In roughly three quarters of work, the senior completed 18 of 25 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran the option calmly and effectively to the tune of 12 carries for 48 yards and a score. 

Elsewhere on the ground, Heisman Trophy hopeful Saquon Barkley ran roughshod over the Zips’ front seven to the tune of 14 carries for 172 yards and two touchdowns. All told, Barkley managed 226 yards of offense. 

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, tight end Mike Gesicki chimed in with six catches for 58 yards and a pair of scores, while emerging boundary target Juwan Johnson ripped off 21 yards per catch on four receptions. 

The defense held its own and allowed PSU to assume a 569-159 edge in total yardage, while DeAndre Thompkins proved electric on special teams with a punt return to open the scoring in the first quarter. 

“We have so many playmakers,” Barkley said, per the Associated Press (via “Some games are going to be my game, some are going to be (quarterback) Trace (McSorley)’s game, some games it’s going to be (tight end) Mike (Gesicki) and obviously others on the offensive side of the ball.”

It’s early, but Penn State’s balance looks like it could be a problem for the rest of the Big Ten.

Next up: A showdown with the Pittsburgh Panthers at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 9.


Texas Longhorns

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Shane Buechele #7 of the Texas Longhorns scrambles and is tackled by Brett Kulka #96 of the Maryland Terrapins in the second quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ti

Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Tom Herman era didn’t start quite the way the Texas Longhorns planned. 

While fans clad in burnt orange were hopeful Herman’s arrival would propel the Longhorns back up the national rankings, they’re primed to plummet out of the AP Top 25 after entering the week at No. 23. 

The reason: a 51-41 home loss to the Maryland Terrapins that saw the Big Ten challengers rack up 482 total yards of offense, including 263 on the ground. 

“Obviously not the result any of us wanted or expected,” Herman told reporters after the loss. 

History suggests Herman was right. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info (via’s Mark Schlabach), Herman joined John Mackovic and David McWilliams as the only coaches in school history to lose their debuts with the Longhorns. Furthermore, the 51 points Texas allowed “were the most the Longhorns have ever allowed in a season opener and in a head coach’s debut.”

The Longhorns will need to bounce back in a big way next week as they prepare to host the 1-1 San Jose State Spartans in a Saturday game they should be heavily favored to win. 


Florida Gators

Malik Zaire

Malik ZaireTom Pennington/Getty Images

Speaking of disappointments, the Florida Gators find themselves in an early 0-1 hole after failing to generate any sort of sustainable offense against the Michigan Wolverines. 

The result was a 33-17 loss at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and it’s sure to send the Gators back to the drawing board after the Wolverines dictated the pace of Saturday’s showdown thanks to some stellar line play. 

Consider the following: Not only did Michigan rush for 215 yards, but it held Florida to 11 yards on the ground. 

The Gators’ passing attack was similarly anemic as redshirt freshman starter Feleipe Franks went 5-of-9 for 75 yards before he was pulled in favor of graduate transfer Malik Zaire. However, the former Notre Dame signal-caller didn’t fare much better as he went 9-of-17 for 106 yards. 

By game’s end, the Gators managed nine first downs compared to Michigan’s 19. 

To be fair, Florida was working at a deficit with 10 players—including running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Antonio Callaway—suspended for the opener. 

However, Florida head coach Jim McElwain wasn’t in the mood to make excuses.

“Their guys were bigger and stronger,” he said, per Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel. “They whooped us. Plain and simple.” 

Florida should be able to unleash its full complement of playmakers next Saturday against the North Colorado Bears, but it will need to find some offensive fluency if it wants to avoid a letdown in its SEC opener the following week against Tennessee.