Ranking every college football team after Week 1, from No. 1 Georgia to No. 131 Charlotte

The first few weeks of the college football standings are always the toughest.

I don’t want to stick too close to the pre-season rankings, which are just educated guesses. As more information arrives each week, the rankings generally become easier to sort, at least by tiers.

These rankings are meant to highlight what a team has accomplished. So if a team gets a big win in Week 1, they’re going to “rise” in a big way. Spoiler alert: It’s Florida this week. But that’s a relative term, again, as the pre-season standings were a guess. A team can also look better than expected in a loss and still “go up”. Spoiler alert: it’s Notre Dame and UTSA this week.

But there are also so many teams that have yet to face a quality opponent. So, as you find your team in the standings in these first few weeks, don’t worry if they drop despite a blowout victory against an inferior opponent. It probably means someone else looked good against quality competition. After everyone has a few games against a quality competition under their belt, it becomes easier to tell the teams apart. This doesn’t mean the top five teams have the best five wins, but we do want to reward results that feel meaningful.

Florida deserves a top-10 ranking right now. The Gators held off and beat a top 10 team from Utah that many of us picked to make the college football playoffs. Do I think the Gators will challenge for the SEC East title? I do not know. But based on what Florida has accomplished in this very small sample, it’s worth something. The Gators shouldn’t be ranked in their teens or twenties after this performance.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are new faces down the list. Some teams that have struggled for years have lost to FCS teams, and there is no longer any benefit of the doubt.

Here is this week’s edition of Athleticism 131.

It took us a full game week to get a new No. 1. Alabama’s 55-0 win over defending Mountain West champion Utah State couldn’t have gone much better, but after Georgia inflicted a 49-3 smackdown on Oregon, the Dawgs move into first place. Quarterback Stetson Bennett may have taken another big step in his game, and Georgia still has all kinds of speed and size on the outside.

The other notable move here is Notre Dame colliding after a 21-10 loss at Ohio State. The Irish covered the gap by 17.5 points and led 10-7 at halftime. Credit to Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ second-half adjustments as the Buckeyes shut down the Irish offense, but Notre Dame’s defense held Ohio State in check. For an opening trip to Columbus, it was a solid showing to build on. Utah and Notre Dame are examples of teams that aren’t out of playoff contention despite Week 1 losses.

Clemson finally pulled away from Georgia Tech and the defense looks strong again, but the offense is still lacking in playmakers. Texas A&M slips one spot after a 31-0 win over FCS Sam Houston. It was a dominating statistical performance in the lightning-delayed game, but it was just 10-0 with a minute to go in the first half, and Haynes King threw two interceptions.

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The only noticeable changes are at the bottom of this group. Houston’s 37-35 triple overtime win over UTSA was both surprisingly close and particularly impressive as the defending C-USA champions Roadrunners played well at home. Oregon clings to the top 25 only because Georgia looks like a national championship team again. NC State is also hanging on after escaping East Carolina 21-20 on the road thanks to a missed extra run and a missed field goal. Cincinnati went to Arkansas and lost 31-24, a commendable performance that could have had a different outcome if not for a few key mistakes.

Oklahoma State’s 58-44 win over Central Michigan also left some questions. It was 44-15 at halftime. Just a rough night for backups or a sign of a bigger problem?

Penn State’s 35-31 victory at Purdue moves the Nittany Lions closer to the top 25, even though it was a lousy one for most of the night. Mississippi State’s 49-23 win over Memphis was quietly one of the weekend’s most impressive performances. North Carolina exits its preseason standings with two wins under its belt, but its defense appears to be in serious trouble. Appalachian State scored a ridiculous 40 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 63-61 loss to the Tar Heels.

Oregon State led Boise State 24-0 at halftime and never looked back. Could the Beavers be a surprise contender in the Pac-12? UTSA progresses despite the loss because the Roadrunners looked good and led Houston 21-7 in the fourth quarter. Neither Florida State nor LSU looked particularly impressive Sunday night, but it was at least an exciting game. Washington’s 45-20 victory over Kent State was much better than last year’s opener loss to Montana. Have the Huskies corrected the offense with new head coach Kalen DeBoer and quarterback Michael Penix Jr.? On the other hand, Iowa’s ugly 7-3 win over FCS South Dakota State without scoring a touchdown raises many questions. The Hawkeyes drop in the standings despite the win.

Arizona’s 38-20 victory at San Diego State was perhaps the most surprising result of the weekend. After an influx of transfers and a top-25 recruiting class, Jedd Fisch could have something in Year 2. Old Dominion jumps into the top 65 after a 20-17 win over Virginia Tech. Illinois is 1-1 with a Week 0 win over Wyoming and a controversial loss to Indiana.

East Carolina is another example of a team that actually moved up the standings despite losing after nearly upsetting NC State. Rutgers’ 22-21 win at Boston College and Syracuse’s 31-7 win over Louisville also helped those teams move into the top 75, as did Northwestern’s Week 0 win over Nebraska in Ireland.

For the first time in a long time, the UConn/UMass/New Mexico State collection is not at the bottom of this ranking. Kudos to UConn, who are far from the basement after a competitive loss to Utah State, although the Huskies were close to Central Connecticut for a while in Week 1 before pulling out.

Navy lost 14-7 to FCS Delaware with three fumbles and three failed fourth down attempts. Hawaii got blasted by Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky at home. And FCS William & Mary got away from Charlotte with a 41-24 win (after the 49ers lost 43-13 to FAU in Week 0). These programs seem to be misplaced in the field right now, all for different reasons, and past successes can’t stop them from coming out of the basement.

(Top photo of Stetson Bennett and Kendall Milton: Brett Davis/USA Today)

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