I once said it's impossible for a team to lose the top slot of a power rankings if they don't actually lose. Last week, that theory of mine was put to the test.
In playing a paycheck game against Alcorn State, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets went out and executed. They executed the game plan on offense. They executed the game plan on defense. Hell, capital punishment is legal in the state of Georgia—and they flat out executed Alcorn.
It was a growing example of a team taking a paycheck to simply get beat. In the ACC last week, nine of 14 teams played home games against teams either from a non-power conference or from FCS. One (Duke) played a road game against a non-power league team. Only four (North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia and Virginia Tech) played teams that were from either a P5 league or ranked—all of them lost.
So if anyone wants to brag about the league going 10-4 in non-conference play, I'm simply not buying it. The league took a major public relations hit this week when Virginia and Virginia Tech lost by multiple scores. UNC, although vastly improved on defense, lost to South Carolina in Charlotte. And Louisville hung tough with the #6 team in the land, losing by a touchdown to Auburn.
I'm installing Florida State as the top team in this week's power rankings, but to me, the season still hasn't really started.
|Team||Ranking||Last Week||Change In Position|
|Florida State Seminoles||1||1||--|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||2||2||--|
|Duke Blue Devils||5||7||+2|
1) Florida State Seminoles (1-0 Overall, 0-0 ACC)
Last week: W, Texas State (59-16)
The entire offseason discussion in Tallahassee centered around Everett Golson. Would he be the man who was a Heisman Trophy candidate to start 2014 in Notre Dame? Or would he lose the job to Sean Maguire, especially without the same skill players who helped lead the Seminoles to undefeated regular seasons in 2013 and 2014?
Granted, it's only Texas State, but FSU was on point. Golson went 19-25 for 302 yards with four touchdowns. Dalvin Cook, fresh off his sabbatical to take care of his legal issues, averaged nearly 10 yards per carry, going for two scores on 156 yards. This game was 21-10 at halftime but not nearly as close, and the Seminoles salted it away with a 14 point third quarter. Up 35-10, they eventually went up 49-10 before rolling, 59-16.
2) Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Alcorn State (69-6)
You know what's better than an effective triple option? An effective triple option that can't be stopped.
Marcus Marshall averaged 23 yards per carry, amassing 184 yards on eight carries with two scores. Three Yellow Jackets ran for 50 yards or more, and Patrick Skov had three scores on 72 yards.
It was 34-0 at the end of the first quarter.
3) Clemson Tigers (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Wofford (49-10)
Deshaun Watson threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half of football, and we learned Wayne Gallman is for real with two of his own scores.
Clemson has never lost a game against an FCS opponent, having improved to 30-0 lifetime with the win. So they got that going for them, which is nice.
4) Louisville Cardinals (0-1, 0-0)
Last Week: L, #6 Auburn (31-24)
Why is Louisville still rated as the fourth best team in the league even if they lost?
Well, for starters, they actually played someone. They played a very good Auburn team, on the road, and hung tough with them. The defense forced three interceptions of Jeremy Johnson and did a very good job of keeping the Tigers in check. But Lonnie Jackson only went 9-20 for 100 yards (even though he did go 16 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown) and it wasn't enough.
If Louisville can develop that last part of their offense, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic Division.
5) Duke Blue Devils (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Tulane (37-7)
Duke played a team and demolished them. That team was more of a team than any of the FCS prop-ups the rest of the league faced.
6) Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Youngstown State (45-37)
This was a sneaky close game, and I really don't foresee the Panthers staying at this spot. James Conner went down injured, and Chad Voytik was, for the most part, ineffective. But Qadree Ollison didn't play poorly, and Tyler Boyd had been suspended for the game. Conner was held out of the rest of the game as a precaution, so you have to think that with a full complement in the starting lineup, Pittsburgh is much better than the score would indicate.
7) Miami (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Bethune-Cookman (45-0)
Brad Kaaya threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and the Hurricanes beat Bethune-Cookman in South Florida. It was the first shutout of Al Golden's career.
Does that make his seat any less hot? Meh. Probably not.
8) Boston College (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Maine (24-3)
As we've said all week, BC showed flashes on offense and showed why their defense is stacked. If the offense can develop, they're going to be dangerous. Don't expect them to go anywhere this week with their game against Howard.
Out of the teams behind them, I don't necessarily think BC has the best roster, but I do believe that BC could and would defeat any of the teams behind them in this power poll, which is kind of the point.
9) North Carolina (0-1, 0-0)
Last Week: L, South Carolina (17-13)
Who knew UNC could play defense?
Honestly, I don't think South Carolina is anything to write home about, but I love the effort and respect the result. UNC is probably even with BC right now, and I'm going to start using them as a measuring stick against the Eagles performance as the weeks start to roll on.
10) NC State (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Troy (49-21)
NC State is well on their way to a 2-6 league record with a bowl berth.
11) Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0)
Last Week: L, #1 Ohio State (42-24)
Here's why the Hokies dropped as badly as they did:
1) They were overmatched by a clearly more talented Buckeye team to the point where I said multiple times, "Looks like it's back to the drawing board for Tech."
2) They lost their starting quarterback to a broken collarbone, meaning a young guy with no experience is now calling significant signals at a time when he wasn't prepared to be in that situation.
3) The supposedly great Virginia Tech defense was undressed badly. Even though it was Ohio State, the Virginia Tech defense—extolled by everyone as being top five in the nation (including this guy)—looked vulnerable.
Virginia Tech tumbles, but we'll see if they can pull out of it as the season progresses.
12) Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Elon (41-3)
To be honest, last year's Wake Forest team would have only scored 20 points (maybe) against Elon. If there's a team in the league that deserves kudos for destroying a low level team, it's the Demon Deacons. It's a sliver of good hope after a season of bad vibrations.
13) Virginia (0-1, 0-0)
Last Week: L, #13 UCLA (31-16)
Say what you will about the Cavs being on the road to not making a bowl, but at least they played a real opponent and didn't really get blown out. They were never really in the game, but the score was close at halftime. The defense was torched by freshman Josh Rosen for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
Close but no cigar is the story of the Cavaliers the last couple of years.
14) Syracuse (1-0, 0-0)
Last Week: W, Rhode Island (47-0)
Name one team that could win by 47 points and still leave the game feeling uneasy.
The Orange beat a team everyone wants to keep on the chopping block for "programs most likely to be cut in five years." In the process of wiping the Carrier Dome floor with them, they also lost their quarterback for the rest of the season. Not bad considering the entire offense hinged on his ability to not stink this year.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Syracuse football team!