Week 1 of the college football season is over and although most of the Top 25 AP poll teams played minor colleges to start their seasons, four games will cause some movement within the Top 25 positions of all the major college football rankings, whether they be ESPN’s or the AP.
Three of the games involved six Top 25 teams, while one involved #15 Pittsburgh and the unranked Utah (unless one looks at the USA Today Coaches poll, which had Utah tied with West Virginia at #24). Although all four games were relatively close and losses should not result in major falls for the teams that lost, the winners will see a little movement within the college football rankings (except for Boise St. and — probably — TCU, both of which will most likely see no movement at all).
#15 Pittsburgh at Utah
Unranked Utah (they finished 28th in overall AP poll college football preseason rankings) took on #15 Pittsburgh to start the college football season on Thursday. There couldn’t have been a more exciting or strange ending to an opener. With something to prove, Utah’s crushing defense allowed the Utes to build a commanding lead, giving themselves an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. Then they lost it.
Pittsburgh struck quickly. Less than a minute later (38 seconds later, to be exact) and the Panthers were within three following a touchdown and a two-point conversion. With Utah unable to score, Pitt got the ball back with 2:39 remaining, mounting a drive that culminated on the Utah 13-yardline. Utah head coach would call three straight timeouts to throw off the kicker’s game (the second kick was missed, but the timeout made the kick moot), but Dan Hutchins’ third field goal attempt tied the game.
Utah would score a field goal on their first possession, winning the game 27-24.
#18 North Carolina at #21 LSU
North Carolina made it a game, although they saw a good portion of their team (13 players) benched for suspected NCAA violations (alleged ties to a sports agent), seven of whom were ruled ineligible to play. Despite falling behind by 20 points, the Tarheels fought back and were within a touchdown of winning the game. Improbably, they found themselves on the LSU 6-yardline with seconds to go after recovering an LSU fumble. Two quick passes went for naught and North Carolina walked away with an “L” 30-24.
#24 Oregon State at #6 TCU
Oregon State and TCU matched touchdowns all the way through the third quarter in their mostly evenly matched contest. TCU, which finished last season with one loss — to the only other undefeated team of the season besides Alabama, Boise State — and with hopes of repeating their 2009 undefeated regular season, then took the lead with a touchdown with a minute to go in the third quarter. TCU would hold Oregon State from scoring, adding a safety on a fumble by Oregon State to ice the game at 30-21 with just over four minutes to play.
#3 Boise State at #10 Virginia Tech
The much-anticipated match-up between #3 Boise State and #10 Virginia Tech proved to be a crowd-pleasing nailbiter, but the end will not see any movement on the part of Boise State in the college football rankings, and that should suit them just fine, considering what a loss would have done to their bowl expectations. Ranked third behind #1 Alabama and #2 Ohio State, the Boise State Broncos seem to have added another point to their argument that they should be considered for a national championship game.
The game saw four lead changes but it got off to a rocky start for Virginia Tech as special teams mistakes and a fumble put them behind quickly by 17 points. But Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer settled his team down and watched them battle their way back, eventually taking the lead in the third quarter. Boise State pulled off a 71-yard run from scrimmage during their next possession that put them back in the lead. A missed extra point kept things interesting.
Virginia Tech regained the lead with a 28-yard touchdown pass on the next possession. Boise State then missed a field goal. Virginia Tech followed by not missing their next field goal attempt. But neither team generated anything during their next possessions, leaving Boise State with the ball with less than two minutes to play, no time-outs, and a four-point deficit to overcome. Kellen Moore masterfully orchestrated a 56-yard touchdown drive that put Boise State in the lead for good, although Virginia Tech came knocking, trying to get within field goal range for a tie and a chance at winning in overtime. They made it to Boise State’s 34-yardline before losing the ball on downs.
Final score: 33-30.
Who’s Moving Where In The College Football Rankings
Although there won’t be any major shifts in the college football rankings after Week 1, it is relatively safe to say that Pittsburgh will fall out of the Top 20 but will probably remain in the Top 25. Utah’s win was not some fluke victory, which will save Pittsburgh from a precipitous fall. Oregon State will most likely fall out of the AP Top 25 but not far. They will also have a chance to redeem themselves when they play Boise State in Week 4 (Boise State’s third game). As for LSU and North Carolina, they could possibly trade places in the rankings, but North Carolina’s future rankings, even though they showed themselves a more bench-deep team than suspected, will depend heavily on those alleged NCAA infractions. Virginia Tech will most likely fall to around the #15 position. Other teams will see little movement.
Major movement within the college football rankings will come next week, though, on Super Saturday, where a number of AP Top 25 teams take on each other.
Associated Press Top 25 Poll via ESPN.go.com