AP Top 25 Reality Check: Week 1 can be deceiving. Have Deion Sanders and Colorado already peaked?

The Week 1 result that seems really meaningful but turns out not to be is a time-honored tradition in college football.

The gold standard of this category is the infamous “Texas is back” game in 2016 when the Longhorns beat Notre Dame in overtime.

The victory pushed coach Charlie Strong’s team from unranked in the preseason to No. 11. There was a lot of excitement — and then Texas and Notre Dame went on to finish the season a combined 9-15.


No. 21 Duke and No. 22 Colorado rode big upsets in high-profile games this past weekend to spots in the first regular-season AP Top 25 Tuesday.

There is especially a feeling of uncertainty that lingers around Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes, who were stunningly competent and explosive in beating TCU with an almost completely new roster, a substantial chunk of which arrived after spring practice.

TCU was last season’s biggest surprise. Coming off a losing season, unranked in the preseason and with a new coach, the Horned Frogs rode a string of comebacks and close victories to the CFP championship game.

As fun as it was catching Saturday’s game in Fort Worth, Texas, it’s probably fair to wonder: Did we just watch a couple of 6-6 teams?

It should be noted, if Coach Prime can take a program that has been about the worst in Power Five for about a decade and get it to a bowl game in Year 1, he should be in the running for AP coach of the year.

There is no shame for a program that has been down-trodden for so long to reach the rankings in September before leveling off. Kansas reached as high as No. 19 last season before finishing 6-7 and unranked. It was still a resounding success for the Jayhawks.

So Reality Check asks the question: Have Sanders and CU already peaked? Or are they just getting started?

No. 1 Georgia (1-0)

Next: vs. Ball State, Saturday.

Reality check: We can start paying attention to the Bulldogs in Week 3 when South Carolina visits.

Ranking: Just right.

No. 2 Michigan (1-0)

Next: vs. UNLV, Saturday.

Reality check: QB J.J. McCarthy threw 30 passes against an East Carolina defense that seemed determined not to just get run over. Leaning on McCarthy against weak opponents might pay dividends in the long run.

Ranking: About right.

No. 3 Alabama (1-0)

Next: vs. No. 11 Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: When was the last time Alabama played a big game in which the Crimson Tide came in as a team trying to prove itself? Feels like that’s the case this week.

Ranking: This is fine.

No. 4 Florida State (1-0)

Next: vs. Southern Miss, Saturday.

Reality check: The Seminoles combination of seasoned dual-threat quarterback, myriad playmakers and creative play-calling should terrify the rest of Atlantic Coast Conference way more than the FSU board of trustees’ threats to leave the league.

Ranking: Three AP voters had the Seminoles No. 1. That’s fair.

No. 5 Ohio State (1-0)

Next: vs. Youngstown State, Saturday.

Reality check: More troublesome for the Buckeyes: Play of the new starting quarterback in the opener or play of the new starting offensive tackles?

Ranking: Buckeyes earned their slight slide.

No. 6 Southern California (1-0)

Next: vs. Stanford, Saturday.

Realty check: Cardinal were good enough offensively in their first game under coach Troy Taylor that this should be a solid test to determine if USC is making real progress on defense.

Ranking: A touch high.

No. 7 Penn State (1-0)

Next: vs. Delaware, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Drew Allar mostly lived up to the hype in his first start, but the bigger development for the Nittany Lions might be KeAndre Lambert-Smith flashing No. 1 receiver skills.

Ranking: Tad low.

No. 8 Washington (1-0)

Next: vs. Tulsa, Saturday

Reality check: Something to keep an eye on with the Huskies’ overwhelming offense: The running game. They lost their top running back to an injury and had only 13 rushes for 60 yards from their top two ball carriers last week.

Ranking: Little low.

No. 9 Tennessee (1-0)

Next: vs. Austin Peay, Saturday.

Reality check: Vols defense was dominant against a Virginia offense that really couldn’t match up. Still, good sign.

Ranking: Just right.

No. 10 Notre Dame (1-0)

Next: at North Carolina State, Saturday.

Reality check: The Fighting Irish defense has faced 113 plays and allowed 110 yards passing in two games. It’ll get a lot tougher than Navy and Tennessee State, but it’s a fun stat.

Ranking: Too high.

No. 11 Texas (1-0)

Next: at No. 3 Alabama, Saturday.

Reality check: How tough is Texas? Let’s find out Saturday.

Ranking: Bit high.

No. 12 Utah (1-0)

Next: at Baylor, Saturday.

Reality check: Winning its opener without QB Cam Rising and several other key starters was a testament to Utah’s stability and identity. And Florida having neither of those.

Ranking: Too low.

No. 13 Oregon (1-0)

Next: at Texas Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: The Ducks have scored 151 points in two games against FCS opponents the last two years under coach Dan Lanning, who clearly is not concerned about being accused of running it up.

Ranking: This is fine.

No. 14 LSU (0-1)

Next: vs. Grambling, Saturday.

Reality check: The portal-patched secondary got exposed against Florida State. That might be tough to fix or hide the rest of the way.

Ranking: Too high.

No. 15 Kansas State (1-0)

Next: vs. Troy, Saturday.

Reality check: The DJ Giddens-Treshaun Ward running back combo could make the departure of Deuce Vaughn go down a lot easier.

Ranking: Too high.

No. 16 Oregon State (1-0)

Next: vs. UC Davis, Saturday.

Reality check: QB DJ Uiagalelei’s redemption tour started with 20-for-25 and three TDs passes against San Jose State. Oh, and something happened at Clemson.

Ranking: Little low.

No. 17 North Carolina (1-0)

Next: vs. Appalachian State, Saturday.

Reality check: The Tar Heels had 17 sacks last season, and nine in the opener against South Carolina.

Ranking: After winning one of the few meaningful games in Week 1, Tar Heels are a little low.

No. 18 Oklahoma (1-0)

Next: vs. SMU, Saturday.

Reality check: No offense to the Sooners but the biggest takeaway from their opener was that it looks real bad for Arkansas State coach Butch Jones in Year 3.

Ranking: Little high.

No. 19 Wisconsin (1-0)

Next: at Washington State, Saturday.

Reality check: A couple of interceptions and 6.1 yards per pass from QB Tanner Mordecai was a discouraging first start for the SMU transfer.

Ranking: About right.

No. 20 Mississippi (1-0)

Next: at No. 24 Tulane, Saturday.

Reality check: Louisiana Tech transfer WR Tre Harris debuted with four touchdown catches for the Rebels.

Ranking: Too high.

No. 21 Duke (1-0)

Next: vs. Lafayette, Saturday.

Reality check: The Blue Devils were supposed to take a step back with a tougher schedule in Year 2 under coach Mike Elko. Now? How about 4-0 Duke hosting Notre Dame on Sept. 30 with ESPN’s “College GameDay” on campus for the first time?

Ranking: Reality Check encourages a little Week 1 over-reaction. Too low.

No. 22 Colorado (1-0)

Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Shedeur Sanders was the star, but Deion’s other son, Shilo, was the Buffs’ leading tackler at TCU with 10 from his safety position.

Ranking: Too low.

No. 23 Texas A&M (1-0)

Next: at Miami, Saturday.

Reality check: Second-year QB Conner Weigman opened with five TD passes and, regardless of the competition, that’s a good sign for the Aggies’ new offense under Bobby Petrino.

Ranking: Too low.

No. 24 Tulane (1-0)

Next: vs. No. 20 Mississippi, Saturday.

Reality check: Against what is expected to be a pretty good South Alabama defense, Green Wave QB Michael Pratt was 14 for 15 for 294 yards and four TDs. NFL prospect.

Ranking: Too low.

No. 25 Clemson (0-1)

Next: vs. Charleston Southern, Saturday.

Reality check: That did not look like the offense new coordinator Garrett Riley ran at TCU last year.

Ranking: Why?


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com


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