Newsweek college football Top 20 rankings, games to watch for Week 2

College football had a smorgasbord of great matchups during the first, full opening weekend. Fans filled stadiums and TV ratings reflected the massive popularity of the game’s return in high volume after a COVID-stricken season in 2020.

A slew of teams ranked in the preseason top 20 lost, and there were some surprises, like UCLA knocking off LSU and Penn State going on the road to beat Wisconsin. There were some near upsets, like Tulane barely losing to No. 2 Oklahoma (40-35), No. 11 Oregon surviving Fresno State (31-24) and Louisiana Tech falling at Mississippi State (35-34).

The main menu last weekend was the slate of ranked matchups, particularly the two SEC-vs-ACC games in the southeast. Top-ranked Alabama rolled No. 13 Miami, 44-13. Then, No. 4 Georgia beat No. 3 Clemson, 10-3. Neither team allowed an offensive touchdown—Georgia scored its only touchdown on a pick-six.

Ohio State went on the road to win a tough game over Minnesota, Virginia Tech brought former No. 9 North Carolina down to earth, Iowa looked impressive over Indiana and Washington lost to Montana.

On Sunday night, Florida State scored late against Notre Dame to send the game to overtime, with Notre Dame kicking a field goal to pull out a 41-38 win.

Here’s what happened in the rankings from the preseason to Week 2.

There’s still one more game to play as Louisville and Ole Miss will meet Monday night in Atlanta. It will be the first time this season that America will be able to see Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who’s a Heisman favorite entering the 2021 season.

Preseason rankings are more cosmopolitan than anything, with outlets looking at 2020 results combined with personnel coming back. Newsweek did the same, putting defending national champion Alabama at No. 1, followed by Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State.

Jameson Williams #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts as he takes this long reception for a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kick-Off Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If anyone who ranks football teams doesn’t have Alabama at No. 1 after the first full week of football, well, probably didn’t watch any football or any highlights this weekend.

Oklahoma dropped, even though they lost. Georgia vaulted to No. 2 because their defense looked good. Ohio State barely rose in the rankings, but they had tough sledding at Northwestern. The only team that lost, and remained in the Newsweek top 20, was Clemson.

Here are the rankings for for Week 2 — September 6, 2021:

Rank Team Record Previous Next Game
1 Alabama 1-0 1 vs Mercer
2 Georgia 1-0 4 vs UAB
3 Ohio State 1-0 5 vs #10 Oregon
4 Oklahoma 1-0 2 vs Western Carolina
5 Cincinnati 1-0 7 vs Murray State
6 Texas A&M 1-0 8 vs Colorado* (in Denver)
7 Clemson 0-1 3 vs South Carolina State
8 Iowa State 1-0 6 vs #16 Iowa
9 Oregon 1-0 11 at #3 Ohio State
10 Penn State 1-0 NR vs Ball State
11 USC 1-0 12 vs Stanford
12 Michigan State 1-0 NR vs Youngstown State
13 Notre Dame 0-0 14 vs Toledo
14 Florida 1-0 15 at South Florida
15 Iowa 1-0 NR at #8 Iowa State
16 UCLA 2-0 NR vs Fresno State
17 Coastal Carolina 1-0 20 vs Kansas
18 Texas 1-0 NR at Arkansas
19 UCF 1-0 NR vs Bethune-Cookman
20 Virginia Tech 1-0 NR vs Middle Tennessee

Dropped Out: North Carolina (#9); Wisconsin (#10); Miami (#13); Washington (#16); LSU (#17); Indiana (#18); Oklahoma State (#19)

Here are the games to watch this week:
Oregon at Ohio State
Iowa at Iowa State
Pittsburgh at Tennessee
Texas A&M at Colorado
Washington at Michigan
Texas at Arkansas
Utah at BYU
Stanford at USC

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