Every Thursday during the college football season, I revealed my new power rankings prior to the next week getting started. Beginning next week I will start unveiling them on Wednesdays. Keep in mind that this is not a Top 25 poll but a list of power rankings based on the previous week’s games. Here is the first set of Southern Football Report Power Rankings:
1. Auburn Tigers – Saturday on The Plains we finally got to see the Ferrari known as the Auburn Tigers offense fire up and go for the first time all season. The LSU Tigers were down 17 points in the first quarter before they even knew what was going on. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall scored once through the air and once on the ground in the first quarter to put the Tigers up by 10 entering the 2nd period. It was all Auburn after that as the Tigers rushed for 298 yards on the ground on their way to a convincing 41-7 win over SEC West foe LSU.
2. Mississippi State Bulldogs – Saturday in Starkville was unlike anything the Bulldog faithful had ever seen: their top ten Bulldogs were welcoming in a top ten opponent and there was no suspense. The Bulldogs got a ho-hum 48-31 win over the Texas A&M Aggies and their Heisman hopeful quarterback Dak Prescott tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for three more on the ground. The folks with cowbells celebrated in the fourth quarter as their Bulldogs had a 48-17 lead and Mississippi State forced three turnovers.
3. Florida State Seminoles – Everyone knew what was coming when Wake Forest arrived at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday: Florida State was going to beat them soundly. The Florida State players knew it, the Wake Forest players knew it, fans of both teams knew it and the Wake Forest coaching staff knew it. A tipped pass interception and fumble in the first quarter helped raise eyebrows across the country as the Noles took a pedestrian 13-3 lead into halftime but responded in the second half with 30 unanswered points behind the arm of quarterback Jameis Winston and the hands of freshman wide receivers Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph.
4. Baylor Bears – Two programs who ten years ago were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, the Baylor Bears and Texas Longhorns actually ended up giving us a pretty good game. The Longhorn defense came in with a game plan to stop Bears quarterback Bryce Petty and it worked as they held him to his lowest passing numbers as a starter at 111 yards on only 7-of-22 attempts. What the Longhorns didn’t plan for was sophomore runningback Shock Linwood (who is on the Southern Football Report All-Name Team) who rushed for 178 yards on 28 carries on the way to a Baylor 28-7 win. Oh yeah, and the Baylor defense forced three turnovers. Beware of teams finding alternate ways to win early because they will find those ways again to win late.
5. Ole Miss Rebels – In what was easily the biggest game in recent history in Oxford, the Rebels defeated the third ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on an incredible interception in the end zone by senior defensive back Senquez Golson with less than a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. Entering that 4th quarter, Ole Miss was trailing 17-10 and hope was fleeting but quarterback Bo Wallace led his team on two clutch touchdown drives to win the ball game. Students and alum alike stormed the field and tore down the goal posts in fits of euphoria and I’m sure the Grove hasn’t seen a party like that since a Manning wore an Ole Miss uniform.
6. Georgia Bulldogs – When your team is struggling in the passing game, it’s always nice to have Vanderbilt next on the schedule. Georgia came into the game with speedy wide out Justin Scott-Wesley returning from injury/suspension but he didn’t catch a pass and senior Bulldog quarterback Hutson Mason threw for only 121 yards but did toss two touchdown passes. Heisman trophy candidate and leader in the clubhouse for many voters Todd Gurley carried the ball 25 times for 163 yards and threw the longest completed pass of the season (fifty) for the Dawgs in their 44-17 dismantling of Vanderbilt.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes – When Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller went down before the season with a shoulder injury, a lot of people wrote off Ohio State. The rest of those people wrote off the Buckeyes when they lost at home to Virginia Tech. Since that loss, freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has completed 75% of his passes for over 900 yards with 14 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Saturday Barrett went for 267 and 4 touchdowns as the Buckeyes rolled over Big Ten newcomer Maryland on the road. Ohio State rolled up over 500 yards of total offense and forced 4 turnovers in their 52-24 win in College Park.
8. Clemson Tigers – Making their first appearance in the Southern Football Report Power Rankings, the Tigers made a serious statement on Saturday when they shutout the North Carolina State Wolfpack 41-0. The Clemson defense held NC State to only 154 yards of total offense and defense end Vic Beasley tied the all-time career sack mark with his 28th career sack. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson threw two touchdowns and ran in for two on the ground as well, as it appears that Clemson is set at the quarterback position for the next three seasons.
9. Marshall Thundering Herd – Also making their first appearance in our Power Rankings, the Thundering Herd were up 28-0 on the Monarchs of Old Dominion with over 5 minutes still left to play in the first quarter and put it on cruise control on their way to a 56-14 win. Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato, who is the best quarterback that you’ve never heard of, didn’t have his best game with only 198 yards passing and two interceptions to go with this two touchdowns but he didn’t need to because runningback Devon Johnson flirted with the 200-yard mark with 198 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns.
10. Memphis Tigers – Keeping the trend going with newbies in the Power Rankings, anytime the Memphis Tigers beat an FBS opponent 41-14, it’s noteworthy. When the Tigers beat a team like Cincinnati by 27 points the folks underground are grabbing jackets. Memphis has seemingly turned the corner in Justin Fuente’s third season and when you’ve got a runningback like Sam Craft who goes for a buck seventy on 38 carries, you’re going to win a few ball games. Memphis racked up 610 yards of offense on Saturday with 30 first downs and forced two turnovers in only their 5th conference win in the last three seasons.
Tune in to the Southern Football Report this and every Saturday morning from 10 am to Noon on Live 101.9, Rockin 106.3 & Q 92.3 to hear high school scores from Friday night as well as college football discussion, debate and previews of the games to come!