Now that the extra-long Week 1 of college football is in the books, and I’ve had some time to think about things and listen to podcasts and consider other people’s opinions, I want to go through all my thoughts about the college football landscape. We’ll go in order down the AP Top poll, but I’m only going to do the top-10 for now.
My first question is this: How the heck was Florida not ranked in the preseason poll while Oregon was ranked #11? After beating Utah, Florida jumped all the way up to #12 from unranked. It’s like the voters knew Florida should’ve been ranked before that Utah game but for whatever reason decided to keep them unranked going into the season. That’s a bit fishy to me that Oregon was ranked #11 and Florida wasn’t even ranked at all.
- Alabama: Okay, I think Bama is excellent, and obviously they deserve the benefit of the doubt no matter what because of not only Saban, but Bryce Young and Will Anderson. But here’s the thing about Bama this year that I wonder about–and keep in mind this is like nitpicking the Mona Lisa. But who are Bama’s elite playmakers on offense? Jameson Williams is gone, John Metchie is gone, Slade Bolden is gone, Brian Robinson is gone. I don’t know anything about their skill players this year. Their depth chart lists these guys as their top three receivers: Jermaine Burton, Kobe Prentice, and Traeshon Holden. Their running back is a junior named Jahmyr Gibbs. I don’t know anything about those guys. I’ve never heard their names before this year. I’m not saying they’re bad or anything–I mean, come on–this is Bama we’re talking about. Those four skill position guys are all 4-star recruits (Burton transferred over to Bama from Georgia this year).
- I just feel like Bama usually has way more star power at the offensive skill positions than they do this year. You look back in the past and it’s guys like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith at wide receiver. Are any of their guys right now on that level, or even close to it? At running back you’ve had obviously Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris, Kenyan Drake, Najee Harris–one stud after another. Is Gibbs on that level? I just don’t know.
- I could be proven completely wrong and these guys could all emerge as studs–after all, they do have Bryce Young as their QB, and that makes a hell of a difference. But I just get the sense that there’s a noticeable lack of offensive star power beyond Bryce Young at Bama this year, and it feels different than years past. I mean just compare the 2020 Bama team’s offense to this year’s. It’s night and day. It’s somewhat concerning.
- Georgia: I don’t really have a whole lot to say about Georgia. They completely outclassed Oregon. Georgia is elite once again this season. They might not be quite as good as they were last year, but they’re still National Championship-level, I think. However, one thing I will say is that Oregon absolutely shouldn’t have been ranked #11. I’m not trying to take away from Georgia’s big win or anything, but it’s just a fact that Oregon did not deserve to be ranked that high. Final thing is Kirby Smart’s supposedly controversial remarks in the press conference where he said Georgia just has better players than Oregon and that’s why Georgia won. People are trying to make that into Smart taking some sort of shot at Oregon, I don’t see it that way. I listened to the clip a few times and all I saw was a man speaking the truth. Everyone knows it: Georgia has way better players than Oregon. If anything Kirby Smart was being compassionate to Dan Lanning–it’s not like Kirby Smart said “Yeah we just outcoached those guys.” No, he’s just pointing out that there’s a significant talent gap between Georgia and Oregon, and that’s why the game ended up being 49-3. People are trying to blow this up into some sort of controversy or spicy take by Kirby Smart, it’s nothing of the sort.
- Ohio State: That game against Notre Dame was not as close as the score would indicate. People who are saying Ohio State “didn’t look good against Notre Dame” or “Ohio State got exposed,” I disagree. I think anyone who says that is exposing themselves, quite frankly. Notre Dame got most of their offense in the first half, and on fluky plays at that. In the second half, they could not move the ball at all. Ohio State’s offense looked rough for about 3 quarters, sure. But they were also missing their best receiver. And once they started clicking on offense in the third quarter, they were going to score at will. If that game would’ve lasted 5 quarters, Ohio State would’ve won 35-10. Even though the score was close, by the time it got to the end of the third quarter, you could just tell Notre Dame had no chance of winning that game. Now, do I think Ohio State should’ve gotten jumped by Georgia in the rankings even after beating the #5 team in the country? Probably not, but at the same time I don’t have a problem with it. Georgia beat the #11 team by 46 points. Oregon certainly didn’t deserve to be ranked #11, but you can’t just discredit the Georgia win after the fact by saying that. When Georgia played them, they were #11, and Georgia won by 46. So I don’t have a problem with Georgia jumping Ohio State.
- Michigan: Michigan was dominant outside of the very beginning of the game, but they played Colorado State. I don’t really know how much I can take from that game. I just look at this Michigan team that lost Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo and Daxton Hill and wonder if they’re going to be able to maintain the same level of play. I think last season we saw more or less a maxed out Michigan program under Jim Harbaugh. It feels like beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten and getting blown out by an elite SEC team is basically as good as it’s going to get in Ann Arbor. I don’t think they’re quite as good this season.
- Clemson: Clemson may have won 41-10, but that game was close for a while. It was 17-10 Clemson with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter. Clemson really was struggling for most of that game. They poured it on in the 4th quarter and made it look like a blowout, but if you watched the game, you’d know Clemson has some real issues on offense. They were brutal on offense last year, and they might be a bit better this year, but they do not have a National Championship-level offense. Their defense will make them competitive with just about anyone, but that offense holds them back from being truly elite. They just do not have the firepower to keep up with teams like Bama, Georgia and Ohio State. This Clemson team reminds me of the 2017 team that had a great defense but was limited at QB with Kelly Bryant. My operating theory is that Clemson is a tier-2 program that can win National Championships only when they get a generational QB prospect like DeShaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence. In my opinion, DJ Uiagaleilei has not really gotten all that much better since last year and despite him being a highly-touted 5-star QB prospect coming out of high school, I think Clemson is limited with him under center. I don’t think he’s the guy. Backup QB Cade Klubnik came in and looked pretty good at the end of that GT game when it was already out of hand, and there might be a brewing QB controversy at Clemson now. Clemson might want to see what they have in him before too long, because they’re not winning a Natty with DJ as their QB.
- Texas A&M: I really don’t know what to say about A&M. They played Sam Houston State and the game was delayed for like an hour and a half due to lightning. They won 31-0. I got nothing.
- Oklahoma: I was high on the hiring of Brent Venables to be the OU head coach after Lincoln Riley’s shocking departure for USC. I thought the program had maxed itself out under Riley–they were elite on offense, but they were soft and couldn’t play defense. Their ceiling was making the playoff and getting shredded by an elite SEC team 55-31 or something like that. Lincoln Riley’s upside as a head coach is limited by his inability to build a strong defense. I think Brent Venables will be the guy to bring defense and toughness back to Oklahoma. Of course, they played UTEP in week 1 and won 45-13, so we really don’t know much about them under Venables, and we probably won’t for some time, as it takes a few years for a new head coach to really make a college football program “his.” II want to see Oklahoma play a real team, but I think having Venables as head coach is good for them, and will make them much more viable for their move to the SEC.
- Notre Dame: They played about as well as they could’ve against Ohio State, but over the course of 60 minutes, they just don’t have the guys to match up against a team like the Buckeyes. I think Notre Dame is a top-10 to 15 team in the country, but they were way over-ranked at #5. I think that was more to create buzz for their matchup with Ohio State. As much as I dislike Brian Kelly, he was a good coach for Notre Dame and I think it’s going to be difficult for Marcus Freeman to replicate Kelly’s success, much less surpass it.
- Baylor: Yeah, they played Albany in week 1 and won the game 69-10. We just don’t know anything about Baylor yet. But they do play #25 BYU today, so this will be a nice early test for them. I expect Baylor to win, but that’s only because of what they did last year and where they’re ranked now.
- USC: I want to see USC return to prominence. College football is more fun when USC is good. You know my thoughts on Lincoln Riley: he’s brilliant offensively, but he can never get the defense figured out and so his teams always have a ceiling. He’ll have USC as a top-10 fixture program in no time–maybe even this year. I mean they’re already in the top-10 as it is. I just need to see him build a strong defense. There’s a perception that he ran from Oklahoma because of the impending move to the SEC. I don’t know if that’s fully the truth–I mean, the USC job is highly appealing. But Lincoln Riley played against SEC teams in the playoffs every year from 2017-2019, and he lost every time. In 2019, OU lost to LSU 63-28. They were down 49-14 at halftime. I do think it’s fair to say he doesn’t want any part of the SEC, but I also think it’s fair to say he’d rather have the USC job than the Oklahoma job in a vacuum.
Those are my thoughts on the top-10 teams going into week 2. I think once more games are played and we start to get a better idea of who all these teams are, I will expand this to the entire top-25 like I did last season, but for now, it’s just kind of a waste of time because so many of these teams have played only cupcakes so far.
As far as picks go, there’s really not that many big matchups this week. Bama is now favored by 21 points over Texas, and my gut instinct is to say Bama will cover easily. But that also feels like the general consensus, and this site is called Fade the Public. So I think I have to take Texas and the points here, don’t I? I think I do.
I can see Bama just slicing through the Texas defense on their first 6 possessions and going up like 38-7. I can see Bama and that defense–arguably the nation’s best–just tee’ing off on that young Texas QB Quinn Ewers and making his life absolutely miserable.
But I think while Bama may start to coast once they get a huge lead, Texas will be playing hard and trying to make this thing respectable until the final horn. So I feel like Texas will put up a decent amount of fourth-quarter points and maybe score the backdoor cover.