College Football Power Rankings: Penn State, Florida State in top five as Alabama, Ohio State have work to do


Half the battle these days for Kirby Smart is keeping his players’ attention. They are better than everyone else. In a season opener against UT-Martin — no, that’s not a country-music star — win No. 18 in a row was easy and expected. We think Carson Beck (294 yards passing, touchdown) can play but at a high enough level? We certainly won’t know this week against Ball State. — 1-0

Peacock had a great day because Michigan had a great day. That was the only place one could see the two-time defending Big Ten champions’ rout of East Carolina. Who needs Jim Harbaugh? In his head coaching debut, defensive coordinator Jesse Minter was responsible for holding the Pirates to a field goal in a 30-3 win. — 1-0

Penn State
The Drew Allar era began with a bang. Penn State’s new star QB threw three touchdown passes in his debut as a starter as part of a 325-yard passing night against West Virginia. Call them The Quadruples – Allar, RBs Nicholas Singleton (70 yards), Kaytron Allen (51 yards) and WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith (123 yards, two touchdowns). — 1-0

Florida State
Let’s reconsider FSU after it stuffed LSU. They have a Heisman Trophy-worthy QB (Jordan Travis). They have a difference-making WR (Keon Coleman). They have perhaps the most dangerous presence off the edge (Jared Verse). Mike Norvell is now unofficially underrated as a coach. The Seminoles have the vague scent of their Bobby Bowden-era selves. Long way to go, but a seven-game winning streak (all with more than 35 points) isn’t bad. — 1-0

Michael Penix Jr. kicked off his Heisman campaign by throwing five touchdowns against Boise State, tying a career high. The issue for Penix is getting attention. In his own league, the remaining Pac-12 quarterbacks threw 33 TDs Thursday through Sunday. — 1-0

Welcome back to the game manager era at Alabama. Let’s not kid ourselves. That’s what Jalen Milroe is as the new starting QB. Those five total touchdowns set a school record for a Bama in his first start. The Tide can still win the SEC West, the SEC and get to the CFP, but Saturday was about determining whether he was competent enough to beat Texas this week. Conclusion: So far so good. — 1-0

Ohio State
Ryan Day played two QBs against Indiana. Worse, Ohio State took way too long in putting away the Hoosiers. Kirk McCord and Devin Brown combined to throw for 237 yards. There’s a LOT of receivers to keep happy. The QBs will have to do better with Notre Dame looming in three weeks. — 1-0

Notre Dame
Is this heaven? No, it’s only South Bend, Indiana, for Sam Hartman, who threw four touchdowns against Tennessee State and is off to the most efficient two-game start of his six-year career (33 of 40, six TDs). — 2-0

When Joe Milton wasn’t dancing in the pregame or the sideline, he was ripping apart New Mexico. After a routine rout of Virginia, it’s clear the Volunteers are in good enough hands after Hendon Hooker moved on. Milton accounted for four scores — two passing, two running. — 1-0

Eight quarters, 16 offensive touchdowns for the Trojans. OK, so the competition hasn’t been great (San Jose State, Nevada), but the Trojans may have established themselves as the class of the Pac-12. Two games in, Caleb Williams is in line for consecutive Heismans. — 2-0

Bama week. Hinge game. This is where we answer the question: Is Texas back? The Longhorns warmed up by getting three turnovers against Rice. Quinn Ewers wasn’t bad … but he wasn’t great, either. Steve Sarkisian played 10 true freshmen in preparation for the Tide. One of them wasn’t Arch Manning. The backup QB in an easy win was 6-foot-5 Maalik Murphy. — 1-0

You heard about the push-ups. (The Oregon Duck mascot did 546 of them, one after every point scored against Portland State.) “I guess that’s the only negative,” Oregon QB Bo Nix said. The 81 points against the Vikings were the most in Autzen Stadium history. Things get tougher this week with a trip to Texas Tech. — 1-0

Texas A&M
The Aggies averaged 22 points per game last season. They had that many 10 minutes into the second quarter of a rout against New Mexico. For once, it was about the ball — not an unsightly upset, not whether Bobby Petrino was calling plays. For one season-opening night, the Aggies looked like a 10-win team as Connor Weigman threw for five TDs. — 1-0

Utes’ backup QB were better than Florida’s transfer QB. The Gators had their chances outgaining Utah, but Graham Mertz was sacked five times despite a career-high 333 yards passing. Utah won for the 15th straight time at home, the fourth-longest streak in the country. — 1-0

That was embarrassing: being outscored 31-7 in the second half versus Florida State, outgained 281-167 in that span. The three-touchdown loss to the Noles was a reminder that Brian Kelly is still building. The 45 points surrendered tied for the most given up by LSU in a nonconference game since 1981. The SEC hadn’t lost an opening week nonconference game to a ranked opponent since 2017. — 0-1

Deion Sanders was as insufferable in the postgame as his team was brilliant in the game. If this is what we’re going to have go through after every Buffaloes win, so be it. Let’s just hope Coach Prime doesn’t let his receipts overshadow a great story. Sanders brought in 58 new players when there weren’t 58 good-enough players in the portal to populate a Power Five roster. That’s why the TCU win was so amazing. That’s why we all have to adjust our expectations of CU. — 1-0

Kansas State
In the grand tradition of Bill Snyder, the Wildcats were never going to lose to a season-opening punching bag (this one, Southeast Missouri). But there was further encouragement that QB Will Howard (297 yards) can replace Adrian Martinez and RB DJ Giddens (128 yards) can replace Deuce Vaughn. — 1-0

Oregon State
It is pity mixed with unabashed joy in Corvallis. DJ Uiagalelei proved he could play on either coast with five total touchdowns in a season-opening win over San Jose State. Call me crazy, but if the Beavers keep playing like this, they can challenge for the Pac-12. — 1-0

One of the biggest wins in Duke history did not involve a round ball or a Coach K. Riley Leonard was ready for his close up, adding to his NFL prospects with 273 total yards against top-10 Clemson. A surprisingly physical and opportunistic Duke defense forced three turnovers. (Clemson was No. 2 in turnover margin last season.) It was the Blue Devils’ first top-10 win since 1989. The Tigers were held to their fewest points in an ACC game since 2014. — 1-0

North Carolina
If the Tar Heels’ defense continues to improve this season, it could be about much more than a Heisman run by Drake Maye. Sure, Maye had two TD passes against South Carolina, but the UNC defense had nine sacks. Somebody check on Spencer Rattler. — 1-0

And you thought the problem was Uiagalelei? Clemson just suffered its worst ACC loss since 2014 to … Duke … by three touchdowns. There were two blocked fields and three turnovers. The worst thing, Duke matched up physically. It looks a bit like the wheels have fallen off. Is Cade Klubnik the answer? Please. Dabo might want to start by dabbling in the portal. — 0-1

OK, who is Luke Fickell kidding? So much for the Dairy Raid. The Badgers ran for 300-plus yards against Buffalo. Two guys rushed for 100-plus. One of them was Braelon Allen. Sound familiar? — 1-0

One drop. One damn drop. That’s all that separated Michael Pratt (14 of 15 vs. South Alabama) from a perfect game. The Green Wave remain the best of the Group of Five teams after a season-opening win. — 1-0

Ole Miss
Tre Harris caught a school-record four touchdowns. The 667 yards against Mercer were the sixth highest in school history. This is all well and good. We’ll know more when the Rebels visit Tulane this week. Ole Miss has won the last 12 in a row. Tulane hasn’t won the meeting in New Orleans since 1987. — 1-0

Looks like Chip Kelly has his QB. Freshman All-America candidate Dante Moore took over for the struggling Ethan Garbers and broke open a close game against Coastal Carolina in the fourth quarter. San Diego State is waiting in ambush this week. The Aztecs won the last matchup in 2019 at the Rose Bowl, one of the biggest wins in program history. — 1-0

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