Alabama has a loss. Clemson has a loss.
Through two weeks of a season, college football’s two powerhouse programs over the last decade are 1-1. It’s the first time that’s happened in 20 years! In 2003, Tommy Bowden-led Clemson lost to Georgia to open the year. Also that year, Mike Shula-led Alabama lost to Oklahoma in Week 2.
Are their dynasties over? Is this the end of the eras? The Tigers have missed the CFP the last two seasons, and Saban’s last two teams have lost at least two games — the first time in a decade for him.
It’s far too early to proclaim that they are done with their dominance of the sport. But it’s getting closer! In fact, Texas’ win in Tuscaloosa was the first double-digit loss that Nick Saban has suffered at home since a Ron Zook-coached Florida beat his LSU Tigers in 2003.
But plenty more transpired on a wild Saturday in college football.
In the upset category, Rice — Rice! — beat Houston, Washington State beat No. 19 Wisconsin and Southern Illinois toppled Northern Illinois in the first FCS-over-FBS result of the year.
There were some great escapes. Ole Miss barely pulled out a victory at Tulane, Utah survived in Waco, North Carolina outlasted Appalachian State in double overtime and Missouri beat Middle Tennessee by a score of 23-19.
Things got political too. Former President Donald Trump was spotted flipping burgers at an Iowa State fraternity tailgate party before the Cyclones lost to Iowa 20-13. Oh, by the way, Brian Ferentz Watch is on high alert. In a peculiar clause in Ferentz’s contract, Iowa must average at least 25 points a game for him to retain his position. Well, the Hawkeyes aren’t off to a great start there. They’ve scored 24 and 20 points in the first two games.
Deion Sanders & Co. are having little issue scoring points. They outraced Nebraska to move to 2-0, scoring a combined 81 points in their first two games.
While things are rosy in Boulder, they are gloomy in College Station. After Miami beat Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M, the Aggies have now lost nine of their last 12 games against Power Five opponents. A reminder that Fisher’s buyout is around $70 million.
In likely its last year of existence, the Pac-12 started this season 18-0 in non-conference games before Arizona lost in overtime to Mississippi State on Saturday, and the ACC continued its assault on the SEC. The league is now 4-1 against the SEC.
Enough already! Let’s get to the Top 10.
Please remember that we rank teams differently than most. We do not consider any preseason polls or any past season results. What happened in the past is in the past.
For instance, you won’t find on here Georgia (it has yet to play a Power Five opponent) or USC (whose wins have included San Jose State, Nevada and Stanford). You might, however, find … Duke!
This system normally rewards teams with tougher early season opponents, but it also makes for an unusual group of teams in the first couple of weeks. By mid-season, our Top 10 won’t be much different than many others. But for now …
This week: won 34-24 at Alabama
Next week: vs. Wyoming
Entering the game at Alabama, Steve Sarkisian told Texas players to trust him. He planned to be aggressive against the vaunted Crimson Tide, he told them. Boy, was he. What a resounding victory for Sarkisian’s rebuild in Austin and a stunning performance from QB Quinn Ewers. He shredded through the Alabama secondary for 349 yards and three touchdowns, and the Texas defense shined, exposing the Tide’s O-line and QB Jalen Milroe’s inexperience — and indecision.
This week: won 36-14 vs. Nebraska
Next week: vs. Colorado State
Deion Sanders has more receipts, this time about his defense, a unit maligned all week as the team’s weakness after the 42-spot allowed against TCU. A week later, the Buffaloes suffocated Nebraska, allowing four third-down conversions, 341 total yards and forcing four turnovers. Two weeks into the Coach Prime era, Colorado is 2-0, has scored 81 total points and has one of the country’s most prolific quarterbacks. Through two weeks, Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s son, is 69 for 89 (77.5%), with 903 yards passing, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
3. Notre Dame
This week: won 45-24 at NC State
Next week: vs. Central Michigan
The Sam Hartman Show came to Raleigh, endured an hour and 45-minute rain delay and walked out a big winner. He’s now got 10 touchdowns on the season and zero interceptions and the Irish are 3-0. During the rain delay, the ND quarterback didn’t pack enough grub, so staff members had to make a run to the concession stands for hot dogs!
4. Florida State
This week: won 66-13 vs. Southern Miss
Next week: at Boston College
If you thought the Seminoles would experience a post-LSU hangover, you were wrong. They scored touchdowns on three of their first five drives and their defense forces six punts in a walloping of the Golden Eagles. A long trip awaits to Boston before a road game at Clemson the week after.
This week: won 20-13 at Baylor
Next week: vs. Weber State
Down by a touchdown against Baylor, the Utes scored more points in the final two minutes of the game (14) than they did the previous 58 (6). Utah picked off a pass and turned it into the game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds left. That came after an 88-yard TD drive with 1:59 remaining to tie the game. With starting QB Cam Rising out a second straight week, the Utes found something in redshirt freshman Nate Johnson, who took all the fourth-quarter snaps and finished 6-of-7 for 82 yards.
6. North Carolina
This week: won 40-34 in 2OT vs. App State
Next week: vs. Minnesota
The good news for North Carolina is the Tar Heels are not playing App State again, at least no time soon. This was the last of a three-game series against their pesky little brother. The Mountaineers won in 2019, the Heels barely escaped with a 63-61 win last year and now this — a double overtime victory. “Glad we don’t play them anymore,” UNC coach Mack Brown said afterward. In the three-game series, UNC scored 134 points. App State scored 129. App held Drake Maye to 208 yards Saturday. A tip of the cap!
This week: won 43-10 vs. Tulsa
Next week: at Michigan State
Is Michael Penix Jr. the best quarterback in the country? OK, it’s too early for such a proclamation. The Huskies have beaten the likes of Tulsa and Boise State, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But given his performance last season and the start to this year — 859 yards, 72% completion, 8-1 TD-INT — he may find himself in New York by season's end.
8. Penn State
This week: won 63-7 vs. Delaware
Next week: vs. Illinois
The Nittany Lions find themselves remaining in the Top 10 with their season-opening win over West Virginia. QB Drew Allar gets much of the love, but check out the Nittany Lions’ defense over the first two games under coordinator Manny Diaz: They’ve allowed a combined 448 yards and just six conversions on 25 third-down tries against. Does James Franklin finally have the team to advance to the CFP? We’ll know a lot more in two weeks when Iowa goes to State College. We’ll know even more on Oct. 21 (at Ohio State).
9. Ohio State
This week: won 35-7 vs. Youngstown State
Next week: vs. Western Kentucky
QB Kyle McCord is starting to settle in for the Buckeyes, but nothing is coming easy for the offense right now. After a two-catch outing last week in a win at Indiana, Marvin Harrison Jr. had seven against Youngstown. But the real highlight for OSU: its defense. The Buckeyes have given up just 10 points and 387 yards in the two games.
This week: won 42-7 vs. Lafayette
Next week: vs. Northwestern
The Blue Devils break into our Top 10, not because of the win over Patriot League member Lafayette, but because of their romping win over Clemson in Week 1. The first edition of the Top 10 was released last Saturday, two days before Duke took down the Tigers 28-7.