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Poll Problems: Week 1

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We take a look at the AP poll each week to see what the voters got right and what they got terribly wrong.

Greg Ward Jr. and Houston shot up the rankings after their win over Oklahoma.
Greg Ward Jr. and Houston shot up the rankings after their win over Oklahoma.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The loaded Week One slate lived up to the hype, as it didn't take long for preseason top-10 teams to bite the dust and major shakes-ups to occur in the poll. Of course, it was overreaction city from the pollsters. Houston, Wisconsin and Texas scored big wins that sent them skyrocketing toward the top 10 and their victims in the other direction. The schedule pays us back this week with a snooze-worthy collection of games, with no matchups pitting top-25 teams against one another. In fact, only four ranked teams are favored by less than 20 points this week. Yikes.

1. Alabama

Remember Alabama's killer road schedule we talked about last week? Uh, yeah, about that... Two of the four teams we mentioned (LSU and Ole Miss) lost in Week 1, while the other two (Tennessee and Arkansas) barely snuck by supposedly inferior opponents. Sure, it's early in the season, but after watching the Tide roll up Southern Cal in embarrassing fashion, that schedule looks much more navigable.

2. Clemson

It certainly wasn't pretty (especially the final minute), but Clemson escaped Auburn with a win and remains at No. 2 in the poll, albeit by the skin of its teeth. The Tigers were far from dominant on offense and certainly put the "greatest offense ever" stuff on hold for at least a week, but the defense showed that it can pick up the slack if needed. At the end of the day, Clemson got the win it needed and has two weeks to work out the kinks before it tries to exorcise its Atlanta demons.

3. Florida State

There is certainly a case for the Noles to jump Clemson for the No. 2 spot, and they nearly did. After looking like it wanted to kickstart SWAG's Heisman campaign in the first half, Florida State calmly erased a 22-point deficit with a second-half beatdown of Ole Miss. Deondre Francois announced his presence by recovering from a shaky first half to throw for better than 400 yards. The Seminoles get an easy win against Charleston Southern before a stiff road test against Louisville.

4. Ohio State

Ohio State was clearly offended by Bowling Green's pick-six to open the game's scoring, as they outscored the Falcons 77-3 the rest of the way.

5. Michigan

The Wolverines embarrassed Hawaii as a host of players combined for over 300 rushing yards.

6. Houston

A kick six and a great performance by quarterback Greg Ward Jr. gave Houston the statement win it needed to establish itself as an early playoff contender as the Cougars blew by Oklahoma. I figured they would crack the top 10, but this feels a bit high based on just one win. Houston's AAC schedule again lends itself to the possibility of a perfect record, and a bout with Louisville late in the season may be the only major hurdle remaining.

7. Stanford

A late Christian McCaffrey touchdown sealed the deal against an always tough Kansas State squad, and now Stanford gets a bye week before jumping right into the thick of its Pac 12 schedule against Southern Cal (Ha!).

8. Washington

I said last week I was high on the Huskies, not knowing they would move into the top 10 this speedily. But after taking care of business against a bad Rutgers team, they should remain here for at least a couple weeks and have a chance to truly show their worth when Stanford comes to town in late September.

9. Georgia

Nick Chubb is back, boys and girls! Although perhaps not quite at full steam yet, he had plenty in the tank to fuel a comeback win over North Carolina, which inexplicably continues to not use its running backs to their full capacity. Sixteen combined carries for Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan??? Despite a combined 9.5 yards per carry??? Sheesh. It's hard for me to believe Georgia is a top-10 team at this juncture.

10. Wisconsin

Sconny took the luster off preseason No. 5 LSU with a gutty 16-14 win at Lambeau and gets rewarded with an insane jump in the rankings. Top 15? Eh, maybe. But this is quite the leap for beating a team that is clearly the same old version of itself.

11. Texas

Speaking of big movers, the Longhorns scored a thrilling home win over Notre Dame and went from unranked to No. 11. They were impressive, but let's slow the roll on the "Texas is back" sentiment, Joe Tessitore.

12. Michigan State

Considering Furman had the ball in Spartan territory down by just 8 in the fourth quarter, Michigan State's confidence has to be a bit shaken moving on from its season opener. Sparty gets a week off to assess things before traveling to Notre Dame, where they will likely need to muster a lot more offense than this past week if they have designs on winning.

13. Louisville

Lamar Jackson set the world on fire against a heavily outclassed Charlotte team. He'll get to take a crack at Syracuse Friday night before the Cardinals host Florida State in a huge ACC Atlantic showdown.

14. Oklahoma

Welp, the Problems said we weren't sold on the Sooners, and here we are. If Oklahoma can't beat Houston, what reason is there to believe it has a shot against Ohio State in two weeks?

15. TCU

TCU got locked into a high-scoring battle with South Dakota State before pulling away in the fourth quarter. The Frogs host Arkansas in an interesting game this week. Can they shore up that defense before Big XII play comes around?

16. Iowa

The Hawkeyes picked up a ho-hum win over Miami-Ohio and now host laughingstock rival Iowa State, which just lost to Northern Iowa. The tough schedule continues...

17. Tennessee

It looked at one point like Rocky Top might actually toss away a season full of expectations with an opening night loss to Appalachian State. It looked that way until the Vols' miraculous fumble recovery touchdown in overtime finally gave them the separation they needed to escape with a win. The deed didn't go unpunished though, as Tennessee plummeted eight spots in the rankings despite the victory.

18. Notre Dame

Remember our discussion last week about the perils of an unsettled quarterback situation? Well, Notre Dame found out the hard way about that, and by the time Brian Kelly landed on DeShone Kizer as the full-time signal caller, the Irish had dug themselves a hole they ultimately couldn't climb out of. That wasn't the only issue, however, as their defense also failed to show up — surrendering more than 500 yards and being picked apart by a true freshman quarterback.

19. Ole Miss

It's rare that you see a team dominate the first half of a game the way Ole Miss did against Florida State, only to turn around and get pasted in the second half the way the Rebels did. But SWAG and the boys melted down and let a potential marquee win slip away. Sad!

20. Texas A&M

The Aggies notched a big nonconference home win over UCLA after coughing up a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Trevor Knight actually wasn't horrible, which was a nice change of pace.

21. LSU

We wondered last week if LSU had enough passing ability to live up to its lofty preseason expectations, and it appears the answer is a resounding "No." Sixteen spots still seems like a pretty steep drop, but there is no doubt the Tigers have some soul-searching to do if they want to bounce back from that devastating loss.

22. Oklahoma State

We told you the Cowboys could put up numbers, but can they do it when the real opponents come calling?

23. Baylor

Cupcake city continues for the Bears until a Week 4 showdown with previously mentioned Oklahoma State, where we should expect an astronomical number of points to be scored.

24. Oregon

The Ducks handled UC-Davis as expected and will probably beat downtrodden Virginia by more than that 25-point margin this week.

25. Miami

I don't think much of the Hurricanes, but we'll take all the ACC we can get.