CFN 2012 Rankings
Sept. 4, Week 1
- 2012 AP Rankings
2012 Coaches' Poll
Scoreboard & Game Recaps
- 2012 CFN Preseason Rankings
- CFN 2012 Week 1
Rankings, No. 26-124
1. Alabama 1-0
Last Week: W, Michigan 41-14
Why Alabama Should Be No. 1: The Tide delivered the best win of the opening weekend, a signature rout of No. 8 Michigan. The rebuilt defense was just fine, picking off three passes, and holding Denard Robinson and the Wolverines to just 69 rushing yards. The ‘Bama offense displayed balance, getting 232 yards on the ground to go along with a pair of AJ McCarron scoring strikes.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It's surely a nit-pick at this point, but ‘Bama did throttle Michigan without one of its best players, RB Fitzgerald Touissant. McCarron, who missed a handful of throws throughout the night, needs to play sharper once the likes of Arkansas and LSU enter the on-deck circle.
2. LSU 1-0
Last Week: W, LSU 41-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers will throw a wave of powerful backs at opposing defenses, and their own D will be among the fiercest in the country. In other words, not a whole lot has changed from a year ago, when LSU ran the table during the regular season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: With North Texas in Baton Rouge, LSU lacked inspiration, which will need to change with this week's visit from Washington. Zach Mettenberger was so-so in his debut as the starting quarterback, while the vaunted defense failed to produce a sack.
3. USC 1-0
Last Week: W, Hawaii 49-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Trojans kicked off the season exactly the way they'd hoped, winning easily, remaining healthy and building the kind of lead that allowed the reserves to pick up valuable reps. Now that RB Silas Redd has broken the seal on his Troy career, the program's offense will be as potent as ever.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Trojans pass rush was assertive on Saturday, producing a dozen stops for loss and five sacks, but Hawaii is hardly the litmus test for the rebuilt front wall. USC will deal with depth problems all year, and both lines still must prove it against the top tier teams on the schedule.
4. Oregon 1-0
Last Week: W, Arkansas State 57-34
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: While some of the offensive parts are different, the final product is very much the same in Chip Kelly's system. The Ducks, with redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota orchestrating for the first time, ripped off 50 first-half points before coasting over the final 30 minutes. Mariota was an encouraging 18-of-22 for 200 yards and three touchdowns, adding a potent aerial component to the prolific Oregon running game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, most of the output occurred in garbage time, but the Ducks would still like to plug a few holes on defense. They gave up 530 total yards, and a few of the missed tackles won't sit well with Kelly of his defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
5. Florida State 1-0
Last Week: W, Murray State 69-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The class of the ACC took care of business in predictable fashion, disposing of Murray State in quick enough fashion to allow second and third-stringers to earn valuable reps. The D will rank among the best in the country, and QB EJ Manuel is poised to deliver the best season of his Florida State career.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: As long as the ‘Noles are facing FCS opponents, which will happen again next week, no one will know for sure if this team is ready to finally live up to its hype. Florida State is still home to a young and unproven O-line that might get a false sense of security until league play begins in two weeks.
6. Arkansas 1-0
Last Week: W, Jacksonville State 49-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: With the healthy return of RB Knile Davis, the Hogs now boast one of the game's most balanced and potent offenses. His running plus the passing of Tyler Wilson makes Arkansas extremely difficult to stop. As new wide receivers emerge, TE Chris Gragg is a dangerous weapon Wilson plans to employ liberally.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is going to need to clean up a few soft spots exposed by Jacksonville State on Saturday evening. The Hogs fumbled the ball away three times, and allowed the Gamecocks to convert too many times on third down.
7. Georgia 1-0
Last Week: W, Buffalo 45-23
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After sputtering early, the Dawgs seized control of the game and coasted in the second half. Rookie RB Todd Gurley showed flashes of becoming the threat out of the backfield that this program sorely needs, rushing eight times for 100 yards and two scores to go along with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Georgia was slow to shake Buffalo, leading just 24-16 at halftime. The vaunted defense gave up nearly 200 yards and a couple of scores on the ground, which needs to be tightened up before the level of competition improves markedly.
8. West Virginia 1-0
Last Week: W, Marshall 69-34
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Mountaineers were one point off last year's Orange Bowl output, but it was still enough to jet past in-state rival Marshall in the annual Coal Bowl. The offense, which figures to be among the best in the country, was unstoppable in registering 655 yards and nine touchdowns.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If West Virginia has a cap this fall, it'll be because of a defense that figures to lag behind some of the better offenses in the Big 12. The unit allowed 14 plays of at least 10 yards to the Thundering Herd, and failed to mount much of a pass rush.
9. Texas 1-0
Last Game: W, Wyoming 37-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Defense and the running game will be the Longhorns' calling cards for success this season. Manny Diaz's D is terrific, with a star at each level. The offense gave a glimpse of its potential over the weekend, pounding out 280 yards on the ground, 110 from Joe Bergeron and 105 from Malcolm Brown.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The ‘Horns remain on high alert regarding the play of their quarterback, unproven David Ash. He had minimal success in stretching out the Wyoming defense, producing just 156 yards and a score on 20-of-27 passing. It's only a matter of time before opposing defenses figure out that they can simply stack the box to create traffic jams in the running lanes.
10. Virginia Tech 1-0
Last Week: W, Georgia Tech 20-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: No, it wasn't pretty, but the Hokies showed a ton of guts and perseverance in coming back to beat the Yellow Jackets Monday night. Tech has a championship-caliber D and a quarterback, Logan Thomas, with the skill set to elevate the other 10 players surrounding him on offense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: A win's a win, but the Hokies didn't play like a top 10 squad against an average, undermanned visitor from Atlanta. The offense was erratic, still searching for a go-to back, and the vaunted D allowed a late fourth quarter drive that nearly cost Tech a fast start in the Coastal Division.
11. Clemson 1-0
Last Week: W, Auburn 26-19
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers copped a thrilling bellwether win over a quality SEC team on a neutral field. Playing without its most incendiary weapon, WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson gutted out the victory behind a 231-yard rushing effort from Andre Ellington and the play of a resurgent defense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Clemson had problems controlling the Auburn pass rush, especially DE Corey Lemonier, which will need to be addressed before the Sept. 22 trip to Tallahassee. Four field goals from Chandler Catanzaro are evidence that the Tigers need to improve their efficiency in the red zone.
12. Oklahoma State 1-0
Last Week: W, Savannah State 84-0
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: At least for one week, it was hard to tell that the Cowboys were missing key offensive stars, like QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon. Sure, the opponent is the worst that Oklahoma State will see all year, but Mike Gundy has crafted a plug-and-play system with enough skill position talent to continue humming.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Cowboys are still led by a true freshman quarterback, Wes Lunt, and will need to generate more edge pressure on defense against the better opponents on the schedule. Okie State is bracing for the Sept. 29 visit from Texas, which will provide a better indication of its potential the year after graduating so many key cogs.
13. Michigan State 1-0
Last Week: W, Boise State 17-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Hey, no one expected this Spartans team to be a thing of beauty in 2012. Michigan State is going to win a lot of games with stout defense and the power running of 244-pound RB Le'Veon Bell, which is exactly what the team did on Friday night.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Michigan State did not play like a ranked program in Week 1, barely escaping the gutsy effort of a Boise State visitor in full-fledged rebuilding mode. The passing attack, new QB Andrew Maxwell and a shaky corps of receivers, will need to find its footing before Big Ten play begins at the end of the month.
14. Wisconsin 1-0
Last Week: W, Northern Iowa 21-16
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Badgers did what every quality team does on an off day … it survived. Wisconsin still boasts one of the premier backs in the game, Montee Ball, and its defense made key stops on Saturday that helped prevent a catastrophic loss to the Panthers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Were the Badgers just rusty in an opener, or is this an overrated squad? We're sure to find out now that the FCS portion of the schedule has been completed. One certainty is that the offense just isn't the same now that Russell Wilson is a Seattle Seahawk, and Danny O'Brien is the new man under center.
15. Oklahoma 1-0
Last Game: W, UTEP 24-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Just like a smattering of other ranked teams, the Sooners survived on a night when they didn't play their best game. The defense carried more of the weight in El Paso, holding the Miners to just 255 yards and not a single offensive touchdown.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Phew! That was way too close for comfort for a team that's supposed to be the Big 12 favorite and a national championship wannabe. The reshuffled line held up poorly in the face of a marginal Miners D, yielding three sacks, and opening too few holes for the backs. The final score is deceiving; Oklahoma led this game 10-7 when the final quarter began.
16. Missouri 1-0
Last Game: W, SE Louisiana 62-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers rolled as expected versus an inferior opponent, never getting challenged once the first quarter hit the midway point. The offense clicked despite soggy conditions, getting the needed plays out of QB James Franklin and RB Kendial Lawrence to empty the bench after halftime.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's a lot left to be learned about this Mizzou team, such as how its gimpy O-line will hold up in the face of a grown-up defense. Answers will begin trickling in this weekend, when Georgia visits this weekend for the Tigers' first-ever SEC game.
17. Nebraska 1-0
Last Week: W, Southern Miss 49-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Always dangerous Southern Miss was absolutely no threat in Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. If QB Taylor Martinez plays anywhere near the way he did in the opener, the Huskers could become the Big Ten favorite. Complementing the ground game like never before, he went 26-of-34 for 354 yards, five touchdowns and no picks.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Golden Eagles are rebuilding this year, which ought to dampen the blowout victory a bit. As the schedule gets tougher, Nebraska will need to prove that it can hold the line of scrimmage and consistently generate backfield pressure on defense.
18. Michigan 0-1
Last Game: L, Alabama 41-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wolverines took a swing for the fences at Cowboys Stadium and, well, didn't even show warning track power. Still, this is a deep and talented squad that'll be in the Big Ten title chase all year. Plus, it'll be all the more dangerous once RB Fitzgerald Toussaint returns from his suspension.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: A team of Alabama's caliber isn't on the rest of the Michigan schedule, but that makes Saturday night's effort no less concerning. The Wolverines were sloppy, executed poorly and got roughed up at the point of attack. They did not operate like a top 10 team when the opportunity to do so presented itself.
19. Ohio State 1-0
Last Week: W, Miami U. 56-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Buckeyes kicked off the Urban Meyer era in fine fashion, scoring eight offensive touchdowns over the final three quarters. The surly defense held the Red Hawks to minus rushing yards, while QB Braxton Miller put on a show, both as a runner and a passer.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's not a lot to dislike about Ohio State's effort on Saturday afternoon, a lopsided affair that wasn't in doubt after the first quarter. The Buckeyes did allow three sacks of their quarterbacks, yet were only able to hunt down Miami hurlers twice.
20. South Carolina 1-0
Last Week: W, Vanderbilt 17-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Gamecocks survived a tougher-than-expected opener … in a league game … in Nashville. The D remains ornery for new coordinator Lorenzo Ward, allowing just 11 first downs and 276 yards, and RB Marcus Lattimore rushed for 110 yards and two scores in his return from a serious knee injury.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: South Carolina did not look like a serious threat to the SEC East title on Thursday night. The offense sputtered, much the way it did a year ago, and against a mediocre Vandy defense. The passing game produced just seven completions and 67 yards, which will be costly against better competition.
21. Louisville 1-0
Last Week: W, Kentucky 32-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinals steamrolled rival Kentucky in a game that was even more lopsided than the score indicated. Louisville controlled the line of scrimmage, producing a pair of 100-yard rushers, Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright, which is going to hasten the development of rising QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense will need to play better than it did on Sunday in order to remain ranked. The usually reliable unit allowed almost five yards a carry on the ground, while the Wildcats converted on 7-of-13 third down attempts.
22. Texas A&M 0-0
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Hurricane Isaac prevented the Aggies from showcasing the core of its 2012, an outstanding veteran O-line and a front seven highlighted by DE Damontre Moore and LB Sean Porter. RB Christine Michael is the kind of back who can carry an offense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: A&M begins life in the always-tough SEC with a roster littered with young players and newcomers. It's youth movement under rookie head coach Kevin Sumlin includes Johnny Manziel, the program's true freshman quarterback.
23. BYU 1-0
Last Week: W, Washington State 30-6
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cougars ruined Mike Leach's debut at Wazzu Thursday, dominating from the defensive side of the ball. BYU has now held seven straight opponents to less than 300 yards, while senior QB Riley Nelson brings a steady, veteran presence to the offense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Nelson was sharp through the air, aided by the development of TE Kaneakua Friel, but much more will be needed from a sagging ground game. Against the shaky Cougars defense, BYU averaged just three yards a carry, producing just two runs of more than 10 yards.
24. Florida 1-0
Last Week: W, Bowling Green 27-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Defense and the running game, Gators fans hope, will carry this program back to the glory days in 2012. The D is stout, and there's a new head of the ground troops, Mike Gillislee. The senior carried the offense last weekend, rushing for 148 yards and two scores on 24 carries.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: As long as the Gators struggle on offense, they'll be an incomplete team that's vulnerable against just about anyone. The program still hasn't figured out who'll be its full-time quarterback, a bad omen for a school that won't stack up well against some of the SEC's better defenses.
25. Tennessee 1-0
Last Game: W, NC State 35-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Volunteers looked like a far more complete team than at any point in 2011, disposing of the Wolfpack in Atlanta. Not only did the offense pile up more than 500 yards, but Sal Sunseri's D created four turnovers and plenty of pressure.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While it was a great start for the Tennessee defense on Friday night, the unit still has taller hurdles to clear this fall. It needs to show it can consistently win the battles at the point of attack, especially against the more physical SEC teams.
- CFN 2012 Week 1
Rankings, No. 26-124