by Zack Lambert
October 18th, 2020
Pac 12 schools will be added into the rankings the week before their play begins.
25 – Michigan (0-0)
I’ve been a part of this earthly plane for many years and in that time I’ve watched my fair share of Michigan football. Am I supposed to assume this season is going to be any different from recent years? I have them included in my power rankings just as some sort of precaution, but I’m not sure why.
24 – Louisiana (3-1)
The Ragin’ Cajuns suffered their first loss of the season to Coastal Carolina in what was probably the second best game of the week. Louisiana effectively ran the ball for the entire game. Levi Lewis certainly could have been better passing the ball and it would be fair to accuse his performance of losing the game for the team. The defense wasn’t very good either, though. They didn’t deny any form of offense and couldn’t make big plays. They only got to the quarterback once and didn’t force a single turnover. Whether it was just a bad week or actual performance issues will be determined next week against UAB.
23 – Army (5-1)
Jeff Monken and our nation’s best service team just keep plowing through their opposition. This weekend’s victims were the UTSA Roadrunners who were downed by a score of 28-16. Army only completed one pass for 53 yards but, of course, used their trademark triple option to devastating effect. 60 carries went for 305 yards and all four touchdowns. Classic. The defense could have been a bit better but there’s no criticizing them for their performance this week. Would we have liked to see some turnovers? Sure. Better play along the defensive line? Why not. But I wouldn’t change anything from the plan that won this game.
22 – Coastal Carolina (4-0)
A 4-0 record and Wednesday’s win over Louisiana has the Sun Belt, and the country, on notice. Coastal Carolina has been legitimately productive on both sides of the ball and their 30-27 victory over Louisiana proves that. Grayson McCall was really consistent and hit 70% of his passes for 202 and a couple of touchdowns. Torrance Marable and Jaivon Heiligh were the biggest producers at the skill positions. Jordan Morris’s only contribution to the game was an interception, the only turnover of the game. CCU really struggled to get into the backfield of Louisiana but like Army and the line was pretty disappointing on the defensive side of the ball, so that needs to be fixed soon, but I’m really happy with the overall product.
21 – North Carolina State (4-1)
Remember when we all thought Duke was good? That was pretty fun! Well they’re 1-5 now and NC State has posted another win to bring their record to 4-1. The defense starred in the 31-20 win, allowing just 13 points to Duke, the other seven coming from a punt return. State made up for that punt return with one of their own and held the Blue Devils to 319 yards on the day. Tack on three picks and it’s a great day. The offense was fine but the day was a net loss as Devin Leary was likely lost for the season. Bailey Hockman was good in his seven throws as a replacement but that loss is huge, especially if the run game can’t generate very well.
20 – Minnesota (0-0)
I was a huge fan of Minnesota’s production in 2019 and they didn’t lose too many key pieces. The Golden Gophers are coached by a really intelligent group and another year of the core being together should bring good results. They open the season with a big test against Michigan so we’ll see exactly who they are right off the bat.
19 – Kansas State (3-1)
Kansas State rolled to their third victory in a row this season by topping TCU by a score of 21-14. The State offense was pretty bad again with WIll Howard having an especially poor game passing the ball, but Howard and Vaughn were able to run well enough to fend off the Horned Frogs. The defense starred again with AJ Parker making six tackles and a pick-six while the team recorded three sacks and six pass defenses. TCU were unable to get the passing game moving which allowed the K-State line to clog up the holes and shut things down. It’s weird to say but they could actually make a Big 12 Championship game.
18 – Virginia Tech (3-1)
The shootout with UNC last week didn’t discourage the Hokies from using their offense again. Henden Hooker didn’t pass often but when he did Brad Cornelsen made sure they were easy passes for decent yardage. The run game went wild on Boston College, racking up 350 yards and four touchdowns as Hooker and Khalil Herbert dominated the opposition. The defense, especially the front seven, were dominant. Boston College was throwing for most of the game but still only gained 90 yards on the ground and fumbled four times, losing three of them. The secondary was hit for a lot of yardage but Jurkovec was throwing a lot and holding him two touchdowns to two picks is a pretty good end product.
17 – Marshall (3-0)
Marshall continues to bomb teams as they just doubled up Louisiana Tech, 35-17. Grant Wells was great at quarterback, connecting on nearly 80% of his passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Brendan Knox is a true workhorse running the ball and kept up his production with 125 yards and two touchdowns this week. The defense picked off a pass and absolutely mauled in the run stop. Tech was held to seven yards on 24 attempts, but Marshall did have a tough time stopping passes. Tech didn’t really challenge the secondary and threw a lot of short passes, but the coverage will need to be a bit better to close out the season.
16 – Wisconsin (0-0)
Wisconsin is probably going to be Wisconsin again this year. Pick up a weird win late in the season, still make the Big 10 Championship game, lose to Ohio State, and repeat. The revenge game is first on the schedule against Illinois but the only challenges are later in the season again Michigan and Minnesota.
15 – North Carolina (3-1)
28 points isn’t a lot but it should be more than enough to beat Florida State this season. UNC had to come back in a game where they were down 24-0 and 31-7 and despite a big second half, couldn’t get it done. The offense really struggled in the first half and despite big totals, Sam Howell didn’t have a very good game. He missed a lot of makeable passes and threw a pick-six to make it 24-0. He, Javonte Williams, and Beau Corrales had great second halves, but not good enough to win. The defense struggled to make an impact in the backfield though it did intercept a pass. Don Chapman had the best showing with a sack and two forced fumbles, but again, it wasn’t enough to avoid the really bad loss.
14 – Southern Methodist (5-0)
Sonny Dykes pulled off the overtime victory over Tulane, 37-34, in a back and forth affair. Shane Beuchele kept launching the ball in this game and finished with 384 yards and a couple of scores. Danny Gray, Rashee Rice, and Tyler Page all caught a touchdown and were over 100 yards on the day. The yardage and points allowed are certainly not desirable totals, but four sacks, a pick, and pretty good coverage helped SMU walk away with the win. Tulane’s quarterback was limited in a big way in his ability to complete passes and that was all due to the impressive pass defense from the team.
13 – Iowa State (3-1)
Iowa State earned their third win of the season and continue to improve on the season by the week last Saturday. The only Texas Tech scores bookended the game but Iowa State was dominant throughout, beating the Red Raiders 31-15. Brocky Burdy is a real stud at quarterback and helped the offense to its 516 total yards. Iowa State didn’t force any turnovers and only sacked the quarterback two times, but it was clearly enough. Tech struggled to get anything moving until it was far too late to matter. Iowa State will face their biggest task of the season against OK State this coming weekend.
12 – Florida (2-1)
Florida didn’t play football this week but the last taste of that defensive performance still lingers. The offense is good enough to compete for a national championship. The defense would struggle to win a high school state championship. Big problems.
11 – Texas A&M (4-0)
I guess? The big win over Florida may have been a fluke considering the defense and A&M didn’t do too much against Mississippi State this week. The 28-14 win was fine but it was against one of the worst teams in the conference this season. Kellen Mond regressed and the defense simply sat home and dared Mississippi State to throw, which they did ineffectively. I was impressed with only allowing two yards on 20 carries and loved that Isaiah Spiller played well again, but I really don’t know what Texas A&M is other than inconsistent.
10 – Miami (4-1)
Miami bounced back from their blowout against Clemson with a win over Pitt that was really impressive in a lot of ways. The most impressive was what the defense did to a pretty functional offense. Pitt could only manage a single touchdown, were flatly unable to use the run in any way that produced yards, and couldn’t find anything consistent on offense. The Miami kicking game was also very, very good. The offense was a bit less impressive as D’Eriq King didn’t make too many passes and the run game was lethargic. I’m not sure if Clemson slowed them down or it was just a slow week, but I’m confident they’ll return to their top level.
9 – Brigham Young (5-0)
BYU has a Heisman contender. Like, a real one. Zach Wilson is having a stellar season at quarterback and is leading the 6th best scoring offense in the country with a 5-0 record. BYU had a slow 44 minutes to start off the game, but the offense came alive late against the Houston Cougars. BYU scored four touchdowns in the last 16 minutes of the game to pull away and win 43-26, Wilson going for 400 yards and four touchdowns. BYU utilized their depth on defense to hold Houston late. There weren’t many big plays made but some big showing in the 4th helped earn the win.
8 – Penn State (0-0)
Sure! A lot of people tell me that Penn State is good and they usually are, so here we go. I can’t wait for them to lose to Ohio State and ruin what Michigan fans believe is the season they’re destined to win a title or something.
7 – Oklahoma State (3-0)
Oklahoma State is for real. They have NFL weapons on offense and the defense is a strength instead of a liability this season. If teams ahead of them falter then this could be a Playoff team. This season’s biggest test will likely come this week against Iowa State.
6 – Cincinnati (3-0)
We haven’t seen Cincinnati play against a really good team yet and we may not for the entire season, but what we’ve seen so far is really, really good. The offense is consistent, even without Ridder being dominant, and the defense just keeps getting better as time moves by.
5 – Ohio State (0-0)
We can only expect good things from the Buckeyes this season. The only tough games on the schedule are against Penn State and Michigan and I’m not sure those will even be tough. The team is loaded again and they should be looking for another playoff appearance.
4 – Georgia (3-1)
Georgia replicated their game against Arkansas this weekend, but they accidentally flipped it backwards. The Dawgs were stellar in the first half and played Alabama about as well as possible, winning the half 24-20. That didn’t last long. Alabama apparently decided to play with their eyes open in the second half, blanking Georgia and finishing the game with 24 unanswered. Stetson Bennett IV was helpless. The defense was disassembled. Is Georgia a good team? Yes. Is there a chance of an SEC team beating Alabama this season? Hell no.
3 – Notre Dame (4-0)
12-7 is never a good game. Ever. Never, ever. Notre Dame snapped the ball 68 times and put up 338 yards. They scored 12 points on 1-4 Louisville. The offense is a problem right now but the defense is not. Louisville was held to 219 yards on the night, but I’m not really sure what happened past that since I was blessed enough to not see the game. The defense didn’t make any plays but were apparently good enough to hold out. I’m sorry if you’re a fan of this team.
2 – Clemson (5-0)
1 – Alabama (4-0)
Clemson and Alabama are the two best teams in the country and they’re the argument for the BCS style of life because no teams in the country can beat both of them to win a title. Mac Jones continues to dominate as the Tide rolled Georgia 41-24. Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith are unbelievably talented and neither are able to be covered the right way without double coverage. Najee Harris is a monster. Dylan Moses and Demarcco Hellams were heat-seeking missiles. The secondary was swarming and picked off three passes. Just an incredible day for the Tide.