As the college football welcomes back the SEC like an old friend stopping by after a few weeks of lockdown, Iet’s take a look at the pre-SEC play AP Top 25 and a look at the contenders and highlights from the first two weeks.
AP Top 25 (Sept 20th) – the next poll will be released tomorrow.
7 Notre Dame
8 (=) Texas
8 (=) Auburn
10 Texas A&M
11 North Carolina
15 Oklahoma St
20 Virginia Tech
The spectre of the SEC looms over college football in this latest poll. Eight SEC teams are ranked without picking up a ball and the Top 25 could look much different after tomorrow and also from October. College football received a boost with the welcome news that the Big Ten returns to play on October 4th so expect Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin to have a say in the national poll then.
So, who should they be looking out for?
No. 1 Clemson have opened impressively and NFL scouts will be salivating at the prospect of Trevor Lawrence potentially joining one of their teams. A 37-13 week one win over ACC rivals Wake Forest saw Lawrence make some NFL-ready throws and two running touchdowns. An easy 49-0 outing against The Citadel saw him add another rushing touchdown and while wide receivers Amari Rodgers and Frank Ladson Jr. have gone some way to easing concerns over the loss of Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. Clemson also had a chance to introduce 250lb freshman backup quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who ran for a couple of touchdowns while giving Lawrence a break. They look tough to unseat at the top. Wake Forest then dropped to 0-2 with a 45-42 loss to in-state rivals North Carolina State.
No.8 Texas opened up with a 59-3 thrashing of UTEP. Sam Ehlinger throwing for 5 touchdowns and 426 yards (all bar two in the first half), opening up his Heisman campaign in some style. Texas have recruited some good receivers for Ehlinger to throw to and Longhorns fans can be optimistic about this year. Four other Lone Star state teams staged shootouts, UTSA defeating Texas State 51-48 in a thriller, while SMU trounced North Texas 65-35.
Big 12 rivals No.3 Oklahoma saw Lincoln Riley unleash Spencer Rattler at quarterback and the highly touted redshirt freshman didn’t disappoint, throwing for 4 touchdowns and completing 14 of 17 attempts for 290 yards. Rattler managed to spread the offense well, connecting with 12 different receivers in a 48-0 opening win over Missouri State.
Across the ACC, contenders Miami, Notre Dame and North Carolina have started well. The No.11 Tar Heels started slowly against conference rivals Syracuse, but pulled away to a 31-6 victory and 252 wins for coach Mack Brown, the most amongst active FBS coaches. No.7 Notre Dame saw an impressive debut from RB Kyren Williams who had over 200 all-purpose yards – 112 rushing and 93 receiving in a 27-13 week one win vs. Duke. The Fighting Irish then trounced USF 52-0 last week with QB Ian Book rushing for 3 touchdowns but looking a little off with his throws.
No.12 Miami seem to have found the answer at quarterback. Houston graduate transfer D’Eriq King has made a big impact, his physical presence is keeping defenders guessing and buying time for his receivers to get open. King threw for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Hurricanes beat conference rival No.24 Louisville 47-34, Hurricanes kicker Jose Borregales kicked a 57 yard field goal. They play Florida State this weekend, who lost their opener to Georgia Tech 16-13, and have now lost their last four season opening games.
No.13 UCF racked up 660 offensive yards in a 49-21 win over Georgia Tech. QB Dillon Gabriel joined illustrious fellow UCF Knights alumni Daunte Culpepper and Blake Bortles with a 400 yard and 4 touchdown pass game. No.15 Oklahoma State stuttered to a 16-7 win over Tulsa, mainly thanks to their defense as their offense misfired. QB Spencer Sanders left the game and Tulsa stopped RB Chuba Hubbard’s 11-game streak of over 100 yards rushing.
A good news story from the Syracuse – Pittsburgh game where despite a 21-10 loss, Orange backup quarterback Rex Culpepper threw his first touchdown since recovering from cancer, stepping in for the injured Tommy DeVito.
No.25 Marshall made it into the poll, with an upset 17-7 win over Appalachian State.
Look out for…
British fans will be able to catch three SEC games on BT Sport/ESPN with Ole Miss travelling to No.5 Florida, No.6 LSU taking on Mississippi State and No.2 Alabama opening vs. Missouri.
A critical ACC matchup sees No.24 Louisville travel to No.21 Pittsburgh where a loss effectively rules out a run at the conference title.
In the Big 12, No.3 Oklahoma and No.8 Texas hope QBs Spencer Rattler and Sam Ehlinger continue their fine starts against Kansas State and Texas Tech respectively.