The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 08, 2021 3:30 pm

Sinn's AP Poll: Week 2

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Finally, we have some data. While preseason college football polls are mostly exercises in educated guesswork, the polls following the first week of games are always much more informed (though still far from perfect), because we have finally seen these teams on the field. One game is not enough to know the true measure of any team, but there is at least a better sense of each team's relative strengths and weaknesses, at least early in the season.

There were also some results that tell us with a fair degree of certainty that a team was mis-ranked to start the season (hello, Indiana, Washington, North Carolina). With that in mind, here is my AP Poll from Week 2.

1. Alabama (1-0)

2. Georgia (1-0)

3. Ohio State (1-0)

4. Oklahoma (1-0)

5. Clemson (0-1)

6. Notre Dame (1-0)

7. Cincinnati (1-0)

8. Texas A&M (1-0)

9. Florida (1-0)

10. Iowa State (1-0)

11. Iowa (1-0)

12. Oregon (1-0)

13. Penn State (1-0)

14. Texas (1-0)

15. USC (1-0)

16. Coastal Carolina (1-0)

17. Utah (1-0)

18. UCLA (2-0)

19. Mississippi (1-0)

20. Miami (0-1)

21. Kansas State (1-0)

22. Wisconsin (0-1)

23. Virginia Tech (1-0)

24. Auburn (1-0)

25. North Carolina (0-1)

Of course, the game of the week was, for once, the game everyone was expecting it to be. There was not a lot of offense in Georgia-Clemson, but that wasn't for lack of offensive talent. Those two defenses are likely among the top five in the country and Georgia has a pretty solid case to be the top unit in the country as we sit here in early September. The Bulldogs certainly have flaws, but they are also pretty clearly the second-best team in the country right now, especially after Ohio State and (especially) Oklahoma looked none too dominant in Week 1 victories. Georgia doesn't play Alabama in the regular season, so it's entirely possible both of those teams go into the SEC Championship Game undefeated and both make the College Football Playoff. 

For Clemson, meanwhile, the sky is not falling, though it is clear, as should have been obvious, that redshirt freshman DJ Uiagalelei will need some time to approach the heights reached by his predecessors, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. He is obviously talented, but he'll be seeing that Georgia pass rush in his nightmares.

Meanwhile, I tried to tell you all about Wisconsin. When I wrote about my preseason poll, I included my assessment that the Badgers were overrated and people were giving them the benefit of the doubt despite little evidence they'd be appreciably better than they were last season. So what happened? They went out and lost at home to Penn State, while quarterback Graham Mertz looked like anything but the future of the position in Madison. It's clear Wisconsin coaches don't trust Mertz to do a whole lot and he threw a half-dozen dangerous passes into coverage in the red zone that could have been intercepted. A lot of people assumed Wisconsin would rebound because Mertz would take a leap in Year 2 as the starter and he still could, but that did not look like a promising proposition in Week 1.

As for the teams I cover, Notre Dame moved up one spot in my poll to No. 6. That says less about my confidence in the Irish than my loss of some confidence in Iowa State, which barely snuck by against FCS Northern Iowa in Week 1. I dropped the Cyclones from sixth to 10th, although they can move up again if they beat an Iowa team that suddenly looks like the second-best group in the Big Ten. Notre Dame answered some questions in a 41-38 win over Florida State in Week 1 (Jack Coan will be just fine at quarterback and Kevin Austin is every bit as good as people expected), but left several more unresolved (Can the offensive line gel quickly enough? Can the defense avoid giving up big plays?). We won't know much more about the Irish until they face Wisconsin at Soldier Field in late September.

And then there's Indiana. I cautioned in my preseason poll discussion that the Hoosiers were getting too much hype and I figured them to be more of a fringe top 25 team than an actual Big Ten title contender. It turns out I was far too generous. Indiana's offense revolves largely around Michael Penix Jr. making big throws and if he is as bad as he was against Iowa, this is a 5-7 team. Not an ideal start for IU.

Dylan's Bold Prediction, Week 2: Arkansas 27, No. 14 Texas 23

The Razorbacks showed signs of life in 2020, making things difficult for everyone except Georgia and Alabama in Year 1 under Sam Pittman. Meanwhile, I'm not sold on the Longhorns, who are still in the "I'll believe it when I see it" bucket I have them in every season, along with USC and Miami. The Longhorns beat Louisiana in Week 1, but that might be the biggest talent disparity we see all year between two ranked teams.

Last week: Georgia 30, Clemson 17

I overestimated the Georgia offense, but it's nice to start the season with a win.

Season record: 1-0

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