The new college football rankings are guaranteed to have a new set of teams in the top five after a Week 2 that saw Texas pick up one of the biggest wins we may all season, 34-24 over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Longhorns entered 2023 with plenty of hype but still some doubt about the their championship bona fides, starting the year outside the top 10. Now, they are projected to be inside the top five and sitting pretty.
Alabama just recently jumped Ohio State in the rankings after looking more impressive than the Buckeyes in a Week 1 win against Middle Tennessee. But when the competition ramped up for Nick Saban’s group on Saturday, the talent-laden Crimson Tide struggled, shifting the doubt from the ‘Horns to a program that won six national championships in a 12-season span from 2009-20.
Where Alabama lands is tougher to predict than where Texas will wind up as quarterback Quinn Ewers and coach Steve Sarkisian clearly held the upper hand against a defense that could be one of the best in the country. If the Longhorns can go into Bryant-Denny and dictate terms, they have the quality to compete for a national championship.
Texas will not jump Georgia or Michigan based off the Alabama win, but it will surely challenge Florida State for the title of the next-best team battling for No. 3 in the college football rankings.
Further down the AP Top 25, we anticipate plenty of additional shake up, especially compared to the chalky Week 1 results. Miami taking out Texas A&M and Washington State toppling Wisconsin should provide opportunities for both of those winners to enter the rankings with 2-0 records, while Notre Dame is set for a boost after answering the call in a “prove it” game at NC State.
Voters didn’t have a lot of tough decisions after a Week 1 that saw few ranked teams lose, but that’s not the case here — especially with so many nonconference games played Saturday that ultimately shook up the college football rankings picture.
Here’s how we believe the AP Top 25 will look after Week 2.
1. Georgia (Last week — 1): Hard to take much away from the Bulldogs’ wins from a rankings perspective at this point. It was yet another noncompetitive result (45-3 vs. Ball State) with Georgia continuing to lead the top 25 board.
2. Michigan (2): Two different head coaches here for Michigan as Jim Harbaugh worked the chain gang elsewhere, but there was never a doubt as Michigan’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage and the Wolverines cruised to a 35-7 win against UNLV.
3. Texas (11): The Longhorns are now acarrying the most impressive win of the season on their profile. Beating Alabama at home by double digits is the tie-breaker of all tie-breakers when comparing elite teams, and as long as Texas can replicate this kind of performance moving forward, it will remain in the conversation for the top four teams in the country.
4. Florida State (4): The Seminoles already made their big jump after last week’s win against LSU. Voters will simply check to make sure they took care of business against Southern Miss (they did) and likely keep them slotted in a similar position on the ballot.
5. Ohio State (5): After a quiet Week 1, Marvin Harrison Jr. made his impact felt early and dominated the first half with seven receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The second half of the Jim Tressel Special didn’t feature as much action, but Ohio State should feel good seeing its star wide receiver link up with Kyle McCord for a couple big plays after the passing game was limited in the season opener.
6. USC (6): The Trojans cruised the entire way to a 46-point win against Stanford, highlighted by four total touchdowns for Caleb Williams and a victory that will largely hold USC in its place in the rankings.
7. Notre Dame (10): Blowout wins against Navy and Tennessee State were rewarded by the voters after Week 1, but there was still some skepticism given the caliber of competition in those two results. After going to Raleigh, North Carolina, and waiting out one of many Saturday lightning delays, the Fighting Irish pulled away late for a 45-24 win at NC State that should answer doubts about whether this recent offensive success can be replicated against Power Five foes.
8. Penn State (7): The Nittany Lions put their stellar group of running backs on full display with 315 yards rushing among 541 total yards in a 63-7 win against Delaware.
9. Washington (8): Michael Penix Jr. had another massive day with 409 yards and three touchdowns, and the Huskies never punted in a 43-10 win against Tulsa. That’s not to say it was a perfect performance — there was an interception, a lost fumble and a missed field goal — but still a business-like approach from one of the most high-powered offenses in the country.
10. Alabama (3): We might be going low here on the projection, but these are the same voters who entered the season with lower-than-usual expectations for Saban’s squad. If Alabama had its lowest preseason ranking since 2009 heading into the year, then whatever doubts powered that were confirmed by Texas’ explosive performance Saturday night.
11. Tennessee (9): There’s definitely a bit of disappointment that comes with Saturday’s 30-13 win against Austin Peay as the victory did not feature the Volunteers flexing their offensive muscles like one might expect given the FCS competition. Fans will take more away from this than AP voters will, but when it comes to making tough decisions between teams in the top 15, the result won’t do Tennessee any favors.
12. Utah (12): The Utes could get shuffled around a little bit with all the rankings movement around them, but the team did little to help its argument as a top-15 team with its performance at Baylor. Neither team had its starting quarterback, and Baylor controlled the game for much of the afternoon, but two late scores allowed Kyle Whittingham’s squad to escape Waco, Texas, with a 2-0 record.
13. Oregon (13): An impressive comeback win at Texas Tech keeps Oregon in the top 15.
14. LSU (14): No big rankings adjustments coming in terms of where LSU sits in the order after a lopsided win against Grambling.
15. Kansas State (15): A no-nonsense, wire-to-wire 42-13 win against the reigning Sun Belt champions in Troy might fall under the radar for some voters, but five total touchdowns from QB Will Howard won’t be overlooked by Big 12 defensive coordinators looking to slow the Wildcats in conference play.
16. Oregon State (16): The Beavers had little trouble with UC Davis and will likely remain in their spot in the order at this tier of the rankings.
17. North Carolina (17): Another edition of UNC vs. Appalachian State delivered another bonkers finish as the Tar Heels missed a short field goal to end regulation. Still, UNC eventually pulled out athanks to 234 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Omarion Hampton.
18. Ole Miss (20): Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart stepped up with some big plays in the second half of a game that saw Tulane lead early but fail to come up with enough offense late. This despite Tulane star QB Michael Pratt being sidelined with an injury. It’s a good sign of resilience from the Rebels to get the road win and for Dart to come up big in a tough spot against a quality opponent.
19. Colorado (22): There is certainly room for more upward rankings movement when you consider that this is a second straight Colorado win that exceeds expectations — the Buffaloes beat Nebraska by 22 points as a 3-point favorite. Last week, the placement of the Buffs was so scattered across the final 10 spots in the top 25 that the ceiling, for now, might be around No. 15. Next week is Colorado State, but after that, the top 25 profile will get more significant data points with games against Oregon and USC.
20. Oklahoma (18): Much of the offensive cohesion and dominance on display in the Week 1 win against Arkansas State was absent in a 28-11 victory against SMU, and while the lack of flash might cost the Sooners a spot or two in the rankings, it’s encouraging for Brent Venables to see his group step up with a strong finish when the Mustangs threatened to pull the upset by cutting the deficit to three points early in the fourth quarter.
21. Duke (21): No hangover evident from Monday night’s upset win against Clemson as Duke took care of business in a 42-7 win against FCS Lafayette.
22. Iowa (NR): After being 26th in voting points last week, the Hawkeyes are almost guaranteed to get a bump up into the top 25 after beating rival Iowa State on the road. However, Iowa isof scoring 25 points per game.
23. Miami (NR): Last season’s loss to Texas A&M was the beginning of a downward spiral for Miami in a season that ended with the Hurricanes missing a bowl game. This year, Miami overcame early mistakes and poured it on late against Texas A&M in a 48-33 win.
24. Washington State (NR): Toppling Wisconsin provided a great moment for a Cougars program that has undergone some staff shake up and may have come out better on the other side. A rankings appearance, as we’re predicting here, would mark Washington State’s first AP Top 25 visit since 2019.
25. Clemson (25): The Tigers may have dropped out — if not for some other losses — just based on the much-discussed poor start against Charleston Southern. What was less discussed was how the Tigers took control and scored the final 45 points of the game, and the 66-17 final should leave them on enough ballots to finish ahead of the next team up in Others Receiving Votes.
Projected to drop out: Wisconsin (19), Texas A&M (23), Tulane (24)