The JP Top 25: Ranking the best teams in college football after Week 2

In college football, they say you make the most improvement from week 1 to week 2. I am living proof that is not the case.

I dropped the ball this weekend. I admit it, I own up to it, and I make no excuse for it. You see, for the past four years I’ve been stuck in an office for 12+ hours every Saturday in the fall. It was far from torture – I was watching football after all – but I had the great pleasure of checking all my friends’ snapchats from sports bars all day long, while I’m grinding out tweets and GIFs for @ESPNU. So….

…I let loose a little bit this weekend. I enjoyed my first-ever full College Football Saturday from a sports bar. I’m not saying I took it easy, but I am saying I had more beers during the Virginia Tech-Delaware game than Virginia Tech had first downs. So if you’re wondering why there was no Sunday Morning QB this week, well…that’s why. Unsportsmanlike conduct on my part; I’ll be doing 6 AM wind sprints all week long to pay the price.

On to this week’s top 25. Unlike the AP Top 25, the JP Top 25 is based strictly off what we’ve seen on the field so far. Preseason rankings mean nothing; this is purely the eye test. Who has played the best football so far this season?

  1. Alabama (2-0)

Dominated a Florida State team loaded with future NFL players, then wiped the floor with Fresno State at home. The Tide are the best team in college football this season. Again. 

  1. Oklahoma (2-0)

Baker Mayfield has made the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony each of the last two years. With a few more nights like Saturday night, beating Ohio State in Columbus…Baker might make it all the way up to the stage this time.

  1. Clemson (2-0)

The Tigers obliterated Kent State on opening weekend just like a top-five team should do. Keeping Auburn out of the end zone for four quarters earns you the No. 3 spot in this ranking. The Tigers’ defense is the likely the best in the country.

  1. Georgia (2-0)

The Bulldogs turned South Bend into Athens North on Saturday night. Jake Fromm didn’t set the world on fire in his first start, but it’s going to be hard to convince Georgia fans he’s not the best guy for the starting quarterback job, no matter when Jacob Eason comes back healthy.

  1. Michigan (2-0)

It wasn’t the prettiest win against Cincinnati, but the suffocation of Florida in Week 1 keeps Michigan in the top five for now. I had them at 2 last week.

  1. USC (2-0)

As sluggish as the Trojans looked against Western Michigan, they were sharp as a tack against Stanford. Sam Darnold completed 81 percent of his passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. There’s no doubt USC has the most talented roster in the Pac-12…but can they be this good consistently? That’s the bigger concern. 

  1. LSU (2-0)

Shutting out BYU was a big statement on opening night. The Tigers are allowing 1.5 yards per carry through two games. They have a dangerous road game this week against Mississippi State. I’ve got the Tigers on upset alert in Starkville. 

  1. Maryland (2-0)

Not too many teams have a resume-building win like putting 50 points on Texas in Austin. I still think the Longhorns are going to be pretty good this season, so I value that win enough to keep Maryland in the Top 10 for now. Are they one of the 10 best teams in college football? No, but they deserve to be ranked here to this point.

  1. Penn State (2-0)

For the first time in 12 games, the Nittany Lions failed to cover the spread, beating Pittsburgh by 19 despite entering as 21-point favorites. Saquon Barkley has only logged 28 carries so far through two games. You can bet James Franklin will unleash him as the season unfolds.

  1. Oklahoma State (2-0)

The Cowboys’ offense is as good as advertised, but it’s the defense that has looked a bit better than expected (albeit against very pedestrian competition). The ‘Pokes travel to Pittsburgh this weekend, whom they beat in a 45-38 shootout last season. If Mason Rudolph and company want to enter the mix as legit national title contenders, blowing out the Panthers would be a nice place to start.

  1. Virginia Tech (2-0)

After an emotional win against West Virginia, in addition to playing on a short week, it wasn’t a surprised the Hokies looked lethargic in a 27-0 win over Delaware. Dropped passes, erratic throws, a lack of explosion in the running game led to an uninspired offensive performance. Thankfully, the Hokies have two more weeks of cupcakes before welcoming Clemson to Blacksburg.

  1. Louisville (2-0)

I’m going to write about this in more detail later this week, but Lamar Jackson has the best chance of anyone in years to win a second Heisman Trophy. Overshadowed by Darnold and Mayfield among others entering the season, Jackson has reminded us with back-to-back 500-yard performances that he is the most dynamic athlete we’ve seen at quarterback in college football since Michael Vick.

  1. Notre Dame (1-1)

Brian Kelly may have melted down in the postgame press conference, but it doesn’t change the fact that Notre Dame came within one point of beating a very good Georgia team. You can make fun of the fact that Georgia fans seemed to take over Notre Dame Stadium, but I’m treating this as almost a neutral-field loss. I can hold that against the Irish fans, but I’m not holding it against the players. I still think Notre Dame can be a good team this season. That was a good loss.

  1. Florida State (0-1)

Losing by 17 points to Alabama is hardly an indictment on your team. The bigger concern is figuring out how to contend for the ACC title without Deondre Francois. I have my doubts.

  1. Washington (2-0)

I wished the Huskies had put Rutgers away more easily than they did two weeks ago, but they came back with a 56-point win over Montana to make me comfortable keeping them in the top 15.   

  1. TCU (2-0)

The Horned Frogs crushed Arkansas 28-7. Is it time to wonder if Bret Bielema will ever turn the corner in Fayetteville? The Horned Frogs get SMU this week in a tricky game before facing Oklahoma State on the road a week later. Dangerous spot for the Fighting Gary Pattersons on Saturday. 

  1. South Carolina (2-0)

Don’t look now but the Gamecocks might be the second-best team in the SEC East behind Georgia. The Gamecocks defense looked outstanding Saturday night, holding Missouri to just 13 points on the road. South Carolina has been outgained in each of its first two games this season, but they are +2 in turnover margin and have taken two kicks back to the house already. Those are trends that are tough to continue, but for now credit the Gamecocks for two nice wins early on.

  1. Ohio State (1-1)

The Buckeyes have serious problems in the passing game. JT Barrett failed to lead a single touchdown drive in the first half, and looked totally overmatched compared to Baker Mayfield. I thought the Buckeyes were good enough to run the table this year. Suddenly, Urban Meyer looks like an underachiever at Ohio State…maybe Finebaum was right. 

  1. West Virginia (1-1)

It’s hard to penalize the Mountaineers much for coming within 20 yards of taking Virginia Tech to overtime. On a short week, they took on East Carolina and led 49-3 at halftime. I think West Virginia has a real chance at winning the Big 12 this season. I haven’t seen anything through two weeks to change my mind.   

  1. Washington State (2-0)

#Pac12AfterDark got off to a beautiful start, with the Cougars knocking off Boise State 52-49 in triple overtime. The game ended after 2 AM Sunday morning. Mike Leach’s club should be 4-0 when they welcome USC to Pullman at the end of September for a Friday night game. That will be funnnnnn.

  1. Oregon (2-0)

The Ducks nearly blew a 28-point halftime lead to Nebraska, but hung on to win 42-35. They didn’t a point after halftime, nearly pulling a Texas A&M-like collapse. Which Oregon will we see going forward?

  1. Wisconsin (2-0)

A couple soft opponents to start the season makes it hard to figure out just how good Wisconsin is. A trip to a reeling BYU team this weekend could be interesting. The Cougars will be desperate for a win.

  1. Miami (1-0)

It will be three weeks between the first two games for Miami. By moving the Florida State game to Oct. 7, it gives both teams a few extra weeks to prepare a couple young quarterbacks for a huge game with massive ACC implications.

  1. UCLA (2-0)

Similar to Oregon, I wonder which UCLA we’ll see this season? The Bruins aren’t good enough to just show up every week and win. It feels like an 8-4 season is coming.

  1. Stanford (1-1)

The Cardinal defense couldn’t do anything to slow down USC on the road. I don’t think the Cardinal are good enough to challenge Washington in the Pac-12 North, but there’s also not many coaches better than David Shaw at improving his team throughout the season. Stanford will be better than it looked Saturday night.


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