AP poll reaction: What's next for each Top 25 team

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The AP Top 25 didn't feature much movement this week, since teams in last week's poll went 24-1 over the first week, with the lone loss coming in a ranked vs. ranked matchup of Auburn-Oregon. Here's the biggest lesson we learned for each team in the new top 25, plus what it means going forward.

No. 1 Clemson (1-0)

It would be easy enough to criticize Trevor Lawrence's opening performance (two interceptions in 23 attempts) but the Tigers aren't worried about their QB long term. More encouraging was the performance of the defensive line, which was a legitimate question mark entering the opener and looked good, coming away with two sacks while showcasing some depth that'll be needed next week against Kellen Mond and Texas A&M. -- David M. Hale

Up next: vs. Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 2 Alabama (1-0)

It was a lot more methodical offense under Steve Sarkisian than Alabama fans grew accustomed to last season with Mike Locksley calling plays, but it was nonetheless effective as Tua Tagovailoa kicked off his season by completing a sparkling 26 of 31 passes for 336 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions -- in just three quarters of play. Meanwhile, the defense didn't crumble without veteran inside linebacker Dylan Moses, who suffered a season-ending injury last week. Despite starting a pair of true freshmen at inside linebacker, the defense more than held its own, limiting Duke to three points. -- Alex Scarborough

Up next: vs. New Mexico State (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

No. 3 Georgia (1-0)

The Bulldogs showed off the best offensive line in football and their usual depth in the backfield, as D'Andre Swift and Brian Herrien each got 10-plus carries, and freshmen Zamir White and James Cook got involved, too. Georgia averaged over 8 yards per carry and gained 300 yards on the ground. Still, after racing out to a 21-0 lead, the Bulldogs didn't get much production on offense, and though it didn't need Jake Fromm and the passing game to beat Vanderbilt, finding a go-to receiver will continue to be a storyline over the next two games. Especially since Georgia will want a much more balanced approach against Notre Dame on Sept. 21. -- Andrea Adelson

Up next: vs. Murray State (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 4 Oklahoma (1-0)

Jalen Hurts looks like a third potential Heisman winner. The Sooners' offense will not miss a beat and that bodes well for Oklahoma, but perhaps most important is how fast and aggressive Alex Grinch's defense was. The unit harassed D'Eriq King, the nation's returning leader in touchdowns responsible for, enough to keep Houston at arm's length. If the Sooners can play that fast and furious moving forward, this team might have enough to break through the CFP semifinals, into a national title. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Up next: vs. South Dakota (7 p.m. ET)

No. 5 Ohio State (1-0)

It looks like the Buckeyes may just have a quarterback.Justin Fields made history in his highly anticipated debut, becoming the first OSU player to have five touchdowns in his first game. The Buckeyes defense held FAU to minus-14 yards in the first half despite the absence of leader Jonathon Cooper. However, Cincinnati and former coach Luke Fickell come to town in Week 2, and Fields will need to make quicker decisions and better pre-snap assessments if he wants to keep cruising. -- Tom VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Cincinnati (12 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 6 LSU (1-0)

All offseason we heard about LSU's new offense and how much more comfortable quarterback Joe Burrow was running it. And against Georgia Southern it showed, as Burrow threw more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four). We'll see next week against Texas whether that was an aberration or a sign of things to come -- we've been fooled by LSU's offense before -- but if it's the latter then these Tigers could find itself themselves in the playoff hunt. -- Scarborough

Up next: at Texas (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 7 Michigan (1-0)

A lot of eyes were on Michigan first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis coming into this season, and the Wolverines certainly showed some diversity on that side of the ball in their season-opening 40-21 victory over Middle Tennessee. Not only did Shea Patterson look comfortable throwing the ball with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, but nine different players caught passes and eight different players combined to rush for 233 yards. -- Chris Low

Up next: vs. Army (12 p.m. ET, FOX)

No. 8 Notre Dame

There will be plenty on the to-do list for the Irish during their bye week after their win over Louisville. Though they seemed to run at will for much of the game, their short-yardage offense on third down was unsuccessful. They did not convert enough on third down, either, and Ian Book looked shaky at times. Explosive plays in the passing game were virtually nonexistent. Brian Kelly pointed out that Book was tentative early on, but he did not seem to be in a better rhythm in the second half. Meanwhile, the anticipated ups and downs at linebacker played out, a position where inexperienced clearly showed. Notre Dame tried various combinations throughout the game but Louisville was able to gain over 200 yards rushing. The good news is they have a week off to make some fixes before facing New Mexico. The bad news is a huge matchup at No. 3 Georgia looms on Sept. 21. If the run defense continues to struggle and Book does not play more consistently, it could be a long day in Athens. -- Adelson

Up next: vs. New Mexico (Sept. 14, 3:30 p.m. ET)

No. 9 Texas (1-0)

On a day full of way-too-difficult contests for big-brand teams, Texas methodically ran up a 38-0 lead on Louisiana Tech and won 45-14. QB Sam Ehlinger was solid -- 28-of-38, 276 yards, four touchdowns -- but was never as comfortable in the pocket as coach Tom Herman would have liked, especially with the big nasties of LSU coming to Austin next week. It will be arguably the biggest home game for the Longhorns in a decade, but for the first time in the Herman Era his team will have some Week 2 momentum. Before Saturday night, he was infamously 0-2 in Texas season openers after a pair of losses to Maryland. -- Ryan McGee

Up next: vs. LSU (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 10 Auburn (1-0)

Auburn's recent program peaks have occurred with Gus Malzahn calling plays and the right quarterback calling signals. The Tigers have both pieces in place with Bo Nix emerging behind center. The true freshman still needs work as a passer, but showed incredible poise and a connection with Seth Williams. The reintegration of receiver Anthony Schwartz should help, as should continued improvement from a veteran but sometimes shaky line. If the Tigers build on Saturday's comeback, they'll be very dangerous in the SEC. -- Adam Rittenberg

Up next: vs. Tulane (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 11 Florida (1-0)

The Gators put together one of the sloppier performances to open the season and were fortunate to beat Miami. But the real question is whether that was a product of Week 0 or the way we can expect Florida to play once it faces its next FBS opponent. Florida needs to get more consistency from veteran quarterback Feleipe Franks, improve its run game and cut down on the turnovers. Defensively, tackling needs to get better, and so does safety play. -- Adelson

Up next: vs. UT Martin (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 12 Texas A&M (1-0)

A four-interception performance was a promising start for an Aggies secondary that was a frequent target of criticism all offseason. But the Week 2 test -- vs. Trevor Lawrence and Clemson -- will be much stiffer than Texas State. Kellen Mond looks even better than he was a year ago, and that's huge. The biggest offensive question out of Week 1? Consistency and communication on the offensive line. That must improve when the Aggies face the nation's elite. -- Khan

Up next: at Clemson (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 13 Utah (1-0)

It's time to start looking forward to Utah's trip to USC on Sept. 20. The Utes validated preseason hype, for now, in their 30-12 victory against rival BYU and have what should be two easy home games (Northern Illinois and Idaho State) before heading to a place where they're winless in eight tries dating back to 1925. Running back Zack Moss has a real shot to lead the nation in rushing. -- Bonagura

Up next: vs. Northern Illinois (1 p.m. ET, Pac-12)

No. 14 Washington (1-0)

QB Jacob Eason certainly looked the part in his debut for his hometown team, but the difficulty ramps up significantly next week against a very good Cal defense. The Golden Bears completely flummoxed the Huskies offense in Berkeley last season, so they'll be a confident bunch for this intriguing early-season Pac-12 game in Seattle. -- Kyle Bonagura

Up next: vs. Cal (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

No. 15 Penn State (1-0)

There are tons of new faces on Penn State's team, especially on offense, but the Nittany Lions looked as explosive as ever in a 79-7 season-opening annihilation of Idaho. The reality is that nobody expected Penn State to have much trouble in this game, and with two more home games upcoming against Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it might still be a while before we get a true read on the Lions. But it's clear that James Franklin and his staff continue to recruit and develop at a high level, and this is also a defense that should give Penn State a chance in every game it plays this season. -- Low

Up next: vs. Buffalo (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

No. 16 Oregon (0-1)

The Ducks are talented enough and balanced enough to win the Pac-12, but they can't afford to miss opportunities like they did against Auburn. There's a coaching piece here, as the Auburn loss and last season's Stanford defeat reflect poorly on Mario Cristobal. The Ducks also must control the line of scrimmage for entire games, not two or three quarters, as their power up front is just as significant as their speed on the outside. -- Rittenberg

Up next: vs. Nevada (7:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12)

No. 17 Wisconsin (1-0)

The Badgers had an unusual season in 2018 with injuries and bad luck. But with Jonathan Taylor, who averaged 10.2 yards per touch, the offense will be just fine with new starting quarterback Jack Coan. The involvement of Taylor in the passing game -- a career-high 48 receiving yards, with two TD receptions -- could be a good wrinkle for the offense and helps Coan in his adjustment going forward. -- VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Central Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)

No. 18 UCF (1-0)

The spotlight was on UCF's quarterbacks going into the opener against FAMU, and they did what was expected against an overmatched opponent. Brandon Wimbush and Dillon Gabriel combined for five touchdown passes, and it would not be a surprise if they continue to split snaps. Of far greater importance was the Knights losing starting cornerback Brandon Moore to a serious leg injury. Moore was hurt in the third quarter, with the game well in hand, and now the Knights must replace one of their most veteran defensive players. -- Adelson

Up next: at Florida Atlantic (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

No. 19 Michigan State (1-0)

The Spartans' defense didn't skip a beat from last season, wreaking havoc against Tulsa's offense, holding the unit to minus-73 team rushing yards, fewest in school history and the second-fewest by a team in the past 20 seasons. Quarterback Brian Lewerke showed the promise he displayed in his sophomore season and could make the Spartans a sleeper team to watch. -- VanHaaren

Up next: vs. Western Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET, BTN)

No. 20 Iowa (1-0)

When you have a senior quarterback with the experience Nate Stanley has, you lean on him. And it's pretty obvious coming out of Saturday's season-opening 38-14 victory over Miami (Ohio), that's exactly what Iowa plans to do this season. Stanley, making his 27th consecutive start for the Hawkeyes, was 21-of-30 for 252 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Stanley's command of the Iowa offense is only underscored by the fact that he completed passes to 10 different players. -- Low

Up next: vs. Rutgers (12 p.m. ET, FS1)

No. 21 Syracuse (1-0)

The game was never in doubt, as the defense helped Syracuse to a 24-0 victory over Liberty in the opener. But the easy win might also generate some serious concerns for the Orange, with new quarterback Tommy DeVito struggling (5.0 yards per attempt, no touchdowns, two interceptions) and the Orange totaling just 368 yards of offense. That could be a huge red flag with a road trip to Maryland and a date with Clemson coming up. -- Hale

Up next: at Maryland (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 22 Washington State (1-0)

QB Anthony Gordon, a fifth-year senior making his first career start, was just about flawless (29-for-35, 420 yards, five TDs, no INTs), and by this time next week he could already be near the 1,000-yard mark (WSU plays FCS Northern Colorado). After flirting with the College Football Playoff deep into last season, Gordon's debut gives hope to Cougars fans that they'll again be in the mix for the Pac-12 title. -- Bonagura

Up next: vs. Northern Colorado (5 p.m. ET)

No. 23 Stanford (1-0)

The most pressing question following Stanford's season-opening win against Northwestern relates to the health of senior quarterback K.J. Costello, who left at the end of the first half after taking a hit to the head (which somehow did not draw a targeting flag). With Costello sidelined and highly touted backup Davis Mills in the game, Stanford didn't score any offensive points. If Costello can't go next week, it would mean Mills' first career start would happen at USC as the Cardinal opens conference play. -- Bonagura

Up next: at USC (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 24 Boise State (1-0)

First, the Broncos had to deal with their game against Florida State being moved from Jacksonville into Tallahassee, making it a true road game. Then, they fell behind 24-6 early in the second quarter. But Bryan Harsin's squad ended up scoring the game's last 23 points to take a 36-31 win over the Seminoles. True freshman QB Hank Bachmeier, a former ESPN 300 recruit, looked the part, finishing with 407 yards passing. If Bachmeier continues to develop, the Broncos could challenge UCF for the Group of 5 spot in a New Year's Six bowl.

Up next: vs. Marshall (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 25 Nebraska (1-0)

This wasn't the "We're back!" announcement Nebraska fans were hoping for. The Huskers scored three non-offensive touchdowns in the second half but needed all three to hold off a game South Alabama squad. The defense was mostly fine, but more was expected of this offense than two touchdowns and 4.2 yards per play against what was one of the worst defenses in FBS last year. Lots of fine-tuning to do before next week's trip to Colorado. -- Connelly

Up next: at Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

No. 25 Iowa State (1-0)

UNI scaring the heck out of an in-state FBS school is almost a tradition at this point, so the near-upset wasn't a total surprise. Still, our first glimpse of ISU's offense in a post-David Montgomery and post-Hakeem Butler universe was discouraging. The Cyclones produced just one gain of more than 20 yards, and Brock Purdy averaged just 9.3 yards per completion. Big plays won't be any easier to find when Iowa comes to town. -- Connelly

Up next: vs. Iowa (Sept. 14, 4 p.m. ET, FS1)

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