In its last season with the current lineup of schools, the Pac-12 is flexing its muscles. The conference has five teams in this week’s rankings, including five in the top 16. The cream of the crop in the PAC-12 has been hyped all offseason as USC and Washington. So far, both teams have delivered, as the Trojans are 2-0 to begin their campaign and the Huskies dismantled a solid Boise State team 56-19 to open their season. The committee rewarded them as such, as USC enters the week at No. 6 and Washington comes in at No. 8.
The next tier of west coast teams is formidable as well, as Utah, Oregan and Oregon State come in at No. 12, 13 and 16 respectively. Without starting quarterback Cam Rising, the Utes picked up an impressive win at home, knocking off Florida 24-11. The Ducks and quarterback Bo Nix looked as advertised in Week 1, thrashing Portland State by a final of 81-7. In transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei’s first start in Beaverton, Ore., Oregon State handled business, taking down San Jose State 42-17.
The surprise team in this week’s poll from out west is Colorado. In Deion Sanders’ first year as head coach, the Buffaloes were not expected to make a ton of noise in the PAC-12. Instead, they went down to Fort Worth, Tx., and shocked TCU — last year’s national runner-up — winning a 45-42 thriller. Colorado comes in at No. 22 this week.
LSU dropped nine spots to No. 15. Clemson, which was upset at Duke, fell 16 places to No. 25. TCU, which lost to Colorado, dropped all the way out of the rankings after being No. 17 in the preseason.
Colorado’s victory as a three-touchdown underdog at TCU in coach Deion’s Sanders debut was the story of the weekend, and now the Buffaloes are ranked for the first time since a brief stay in the 2020 season. The Buffs were also ranked for two weeks in 2018, but have only finished a season in the Top 25 once (2016) in the last 20 seasons.
Sanders, the former NFL star and Florida State All-American, took over a team that went 1-11 last season and did an unprecedented roster makeover, with nearly 90 new players, 58 of them transfers. The new-look Buffs came away with a 45-42 victory on the road against the program that played in the national title game last season.
The rest of the top 10 was Southern California at No. 6, followed by Penn State, Washington, Tennessee and Notre Dame.
Duke capped the long Labor Day weekend of college football by knocking off Clemson 28-7 on Monday night in Durham, North Carolina. It was the Blue Devils’ first victory against a team ranked in the top 10 since 1989 against a Clemson team ranked seventh.
In Year 2 under coach Mike Elko, perennial basketball powerhouse Duke is ranked for the first time in the AP college football poll since a one-week stint in 2018.
That season was also the last time Florida State made an appearance in the preseason Top 25. The Seminoles quickly faded that year, slipping into the worst stretch the program has had since the 1970s.
These Seminoles opened with their most impressive victory since coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M late in the 2017 season.
Coach Mike Norvell’s team broke through last season, going 10-3 and finishing No. 11 in the country. The victory over LSU was the Seminoles’ first against a team ranked in the top five since October 2014 at home against No. 5 Notre Dame.
College football’s first full weekend of games, and then some thanks to the Labor Day holiday, introduced delicious storylines into the new season. Deion Sanders, Coach Prime, if you will, announced his presence with an authority and that should to propel his Colorado Buffaloes into the Associated Press Top 25. North Carolina racked up nine sacks to manhandle South Carolina, 31-17. Florida State romped over LSU in Sunday night’s matchup of top-10 ranked teams. Finally on Monday, Duke shocked the ACC and the nation with the ease of its 28-7 win over, until that moment, the ACC favorite Clemson Tigers. When the new top 25 poll is released Tuesday at 2 p.m., expect wholesale changes. The top team should remain the same with two-time defending champion Georgia (1-0) at No. 1. But Florida State (1-0), after its 45-24 walloping of LSU (0-1), needs to be in the top four.
Georgia is followed at the top of the polls by Michigan at No. 2, Alabama moving up a spot to No. 3, the Seminoles at No. 4 and then Ohio State down two spots to No. 5. There was some room for teams further down the rankings to move into the top 10 after Clemson’s loss at Duke on Monday, a result that sent the Tigers plummeting 16 spots to No. 25 and gave the Blue Devils their first AP Top 25 appearance since 2018 (No. 21). Washington, Tennessee and Notre Dame were the biggest movers in wake of the shakeup at the top of the rankings with all moving up multiple spots into the top 10.
The arrival of Colorado at No. 22 comes as the entire country is beginning to believe in Deion Sanders’ roster and program overhaul in Boulder. The Buffs did not appear on a single ballot in the preseason poll, but after going in as a three-touchdown road underdog and taking down a top-20 team like TCU, their stock has changed in the eyes of the voters. Colorado has a chance to bolster their standing in the poll and continue this strong start to the Coach Prime era with another big stage matchup in Week 2 hosting Matt Rhule and Nebraska on Saturday.
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