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College football rankings: Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State a cut above

By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer

It took Texas — a team I’ve thought highly of for nine months — to take Nick Saban’s Alabama team to the brink of its first loss since the national title game to show us just how large the chasm between Georgia and the rest of the sport is.

After Week 2, though, there is no doubt that UGA is the class of the sport for the second week in a row. What still remains to be seen is just how the teams following Bama and Ohio State shake out over the course of this season.

Is Alabama overrated?

RJ Young talks about why Alabama could be facing an unusually difficult season, and why the Texas Longhorns might be better than originally thought.

1. Georgia (2-0)

Defeated Samford, 33-0

While Stetson Bennett’s 24-for-34-for-300-yards stat line deserves mention, you should note the Dawgs allowed just 19 rush yards, 128 total yards and just one of 13 third-down conversion attempts against their FCS opponent.

2. Alabama (2-0)

Defeated Texas, 20-19

Alabama trailed Texas with 1:29 left to play and needed Bryce Young to make a Houdini act to avoid an embarrassing loss to the Longhorns.

3. Ohio State (2-0)

Defeated Arkansas State, 45-12

Last season, Ryan Day let Kyle McCord have a start to let C.J. Stroud heal after a physical game against Minnesota. Day is the only coach I’ve seen do that, and it’s smart. There’s no need to play stars in these games if they’re banged up. So he sat Julian Fleming and Heisman candidate Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and still beat the Red Wolves by more than five TDs.

After Notre Dame was stunned by Marshall 26-21 in South Bend, the Buckeyes’ season-opening win has lost its luster. The Irish paid the Thundering Herd $1.25 million to get handed an L in our first edition of Money in the Bag this season on The Number One College Football Show. 

Marvin Harrison Jr. snags a touchdown pass from C.J. Stroud

Marvin Harrison Jr. caught seven passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns Saturday.

4. Kentucky (2-0)

Defeated Florida, 26-16

Mark Stoops moved ahead of Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins as head coach at UK in school history by doubling up Florida for the first time since 1976 and 1977 in consecutive seasons. The Wildcats are now the challenger to a dominant UGA team for the SEC East title.

5. Michigan (2-0)

Defeated Hawaii, 56-10

It’s difficult to judge how good Michigan is against an opponent it was favored to beat by 52 and led 42-0 at halftime. But the Wolverines are a win away from going 3-0 in their non-conference schedule and look like a team capable of defending their Big Ten title.

Even better, it appears that Jim Harbaugh has settled on a quarterbackJ.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy finds Roman Wilson

The Michigan Wolverines took a 7-0 lead over Hawaii when J.J. McCarthy found Roman Wilson on a 42-yard TD pass.

6. Arkansas (2-0)

Defeated South Carolina, 44-30

Arkansas hammered the Gamecocks on the ground for 295 rush yards with five rushing TDs.

The Razorbacks look like the team most likely to challenge the Crimson Tide for the SEC West crown, and that’s no small feat. The Pit Boss, Sam Pittman, has Arkansas humming right along and looking like a team capable of competing for an SEC Championship.

7. Michigan State (2-0)

Defeated Akron, 52-0

The Spartans beat Akron by a margin they hadn’t beaten an opponent by since the Eisenhower Administration.

Jalen Berger is becoming the kind of tailback I thought he was capable of when he first arrived at Wisconsin. Against Akron, the transfer carried the rock 17 times for 107 yards. He’s averaging 7.5 yards per carry through two games for the Spartans and looking like a worthy successor to former Spartan great Kenneth Walker III.

8. Clemson (2-0)

Defeated Furman, 35-12

With wins against Georgia Tech and Furman, it’s hard to know just how good Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are, but being 2-0 is certainly going to help their cause. The Tigers’ first real challenge doesn’t come until they play North Carolina State on Oct. 1.

9. Oklahoma (2-0)

Defeated Kent State, 33-3

The Sooners have yet to be tested and likely won’t be until Sept. 24 when they face a Kansas State team that dismantled Missouri on Saturday. However, the Sooners have allowed just 16 points through two games and gave up at least 16 points in 10 of their 13 games in 2021.

The Sooners gave up 35 in last year’s season-opener alone — to Tulane.

10. USC (2-0)

Defeated Stanford, 41-28

USC dismantled their first Pac-12 opponent of the Lincoln Riley era. Now 2-0, the Trojans are proving they will be in the hunt for the league crown after winning just four games last season.

Quarterback Caleb Williams completed 20 of 27 passes for 341 yards for four TDs in his first Pac-12 game. 

11. Brigham Young (2-0)

Defeated Baylor, 26-20 in 2OT  

After slugging it out with a tough Baylor squad, the Cougars next head to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks.

12. Baylor (1-1)

Lost to. BYU, 26-20 in 2OT

Baylor missed a field goal and an extra point, was outgained 366-282 and failed to force any turnovers — and still almost pulled out a tough road win.

13. Oklahoma State (2-0)

Defeated Arizona State, 34-17

The Pokes put up 197 rush yards with Dominic Richardson gaining 130 of it on 27 carries. Quarterback Spencer Sanders threw for 268 yards, but completed just 21 of 38 passes.

14. Tennessee (2-0)

Defeated Pittsburgh, 34-27

This was a great win on the road for the Vols in the Johnny Major Classic. Quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman are a formidable duo.

Big win for Tennessee

The Tennessee Volunteers pulled off a big overtime victory over the No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers. RJ Young discusses what this means for both teams moving forward.

15. Minnesota (2-0)

Defeated Western Illinois, 62-10

Minnesota’s non-conference schedule feels as competitive as a man on a bicycle racing against a stock car at Kansas Speedway. But the Gophers have an identity and look like the class of the Big Tent West after both Wisconsin and Iowa suffered losses against non-conference foes Saturday.

16. Florida (1-1)

Lost to Kentucky, 26-16

Anthony Richardson showed he still has room for growth, but the Gators didn’t look out of the game until late in the fourth quarter. It was a formidable opponent they played on Saturday night. Florida is the only Power 5 team to open with two ranked opponents this season. How’s that for strength of schedule?

17. Utah (1-1)

Defeated Southern Utah, 73-7

The Utes scored 38 in the second quarter against their FCS opponent. There’s still a road to the College Football Playoff for them, but they’re going to have to be perfect the rest of the way and hope to play an undefeated opponent in the Pac-12 title game.

18. Mississippi (2-0)

Defeated Central Arkansas, 59-3

Ole Miss managed this lopsided win without a 200-yard passer, just one 100-yard rusher, and created four turnovers. While it plays its first Power 5 opponent of the season next week, it’s Georgia Tech.

We won’t know much about Ole Miss until it plays Kentucky on Oct. 1.

19. North Carolina State (2-0)

Defeated Charleston Southern, 55-3

After being scared to death by East Carolina, the Wolfpack seem to have found their footing against an FCS opponent.

20. Miami (2-0)

Defeated Southern Miss, 30-7

Tyler Van Dyke is looking more and more like the man many thought he’d be in 2022. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 263 pass yards and a TD in the win.

21. Texas (1-1)

Lost to Alabama, 20-19

Texas is a damn good football team. Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers was 9-for-12 for 134 yards before being knocked out of the game. It’s a serious question as to whether Texas would’ve completed the upset had Ewers finished the game healthy.

Highlights: Alabama edges Texas

Check out the highlights from Alabama’s thrilling 20-19 victory over Texas.

22. Texas A&M (1-1)

Lost to Appalachian State, 17-14

For the second consecutive week, the Aggies failed to run the ball effectively. They didn’t run a third play in Appalachian State territory until well into the fourth quarter and couldn’t throw the ball convincingly at all against a team that gave up more than 60 to North Carolina last week. 

It might be time to sound the alarm in College Station.

23. Wake Forest (2-0)

Defeated Vanderbilt, 45-25 

Yes, it is Vandy, but these Commodores were only a touchdown underdog in this game at kickoff.

With the triumphant return of Sam Hartman, the Demon Deacons look like a team that can contend for the ACC title alongside North Carolina State, Miami and Clemson. Hartman completed 18 of 27 passes for 300 yards with four TDs.

24. Texas Tech (2-0)

Defeated Houston, 33-30 in OT

With starter Tyler Shough out, first-year head coach Joey McGuire handed the keys to quarterback Donovan Smith, and the man did not disappoint Red Raider fans.

Smith completed 36 of 57 passes for 351 pass yards and a TD to lead the Red Raiders to their first win against a ranked opponent in the McGuire era. Look out for the Red Raiders because they, like Kansas(!), are going to be a problem in the Big 12.

Tech fans rush the field to celebrate upset

Donovan Smith’s rushing TD in OT sealed Texas Tech’s 33-30 victory against No. 25 Houston.

25. North Carolina (3-0)

Defeated Georgia State, 35-28

The Tar Heels are 3-0, one of those wins having come against an Appalachian State team that beat Texas A&M on Saturday 

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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