Arkansas Ranks Every College Football Team After Week 2: Kentucky, Jumps In Top 10

There’s nothing wrong with overcorrecting college football rankings so early in the season.

Over more than two weeks of football, there have been countless setbacks and surprising results. Three top 10 teams lost to teams outside of the Power 5 conferences last Saturday. Alabama nearly lost to Texas and its backup quarterback. We don’t know what to expect by the end of the year, but we also have to recognize that some of the things we expected this season have not materialized.

In this ranking, teams are rewarded for big wins. As a result, Kentucky and Arkansas are in the top 10 of the athletic 131.

Will they be there at the end of the season? Maybe not. But Kentucky just went to Florida and pushed the Gators down in a 26-16 win. A week ago Utah couldn’t do the same. The Wildcats brought the Anthony Richardson hype train back to the station, passing 14-for-35 with two interceptions and only four rushing yards (including a sack). Kentucky won 10 games last year and finished second in the SEC East. The Wildcats were picked to finish second in the East again this year. Florida got a lot of love after the Utah win and Tennessee seems to be on its way back under Josh Heupel, but don’t forget Kentucky. The Wildcats made us remember that on Saturday.

Arkansas defeated Cincinnati in Week 1, then covered South Carolina 44-30, rushing nearly 300 yards. The Razorbacks have risen in this ranking early in the season and have fallen back at times in recent years. It can always happen again. But quarterback KJ Jefferson looked elite so far, completing 76.6 percent of his passes for 8.2 yards per attempt, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, plus two hasty touchdowns. The Razorbacks have a tough schedule ahead of them. After Missouri State this week they are playing Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State and BYU, but I would give them a shot in most of those now. Maybe Alabama is more vulnerable than we thought. Maybe not. But there’s no reason not to reward teams that win, especially at a time when it feels like almost anyone can beat anyone.

A reminder that teams can go up after a loss or go down after a win. Teams can be spimply jumped because someone else had a more impressive win. They can also be affected when a previous win or loss looks better or worse with more results. The ranking gets stronger as soon as everyone plays a good opponent. Head-to-head won’t be the only factor as the year goes on simply because it can’t, but it’s heavily emphasized early in the year and acts like a tiebreaker between close-knit teams.

Here is the week 3 edition of the athletic 131.

Georgia was already number 1 in this ranking after week 1, and that became more solid after Alabama escaped Austin with a 20-19 win. Along with Kentucky and Arkansas, USC and Oklahoma State have made it into the top 10. The Lincoln Riley-Caleb Williams USC attack looks like the best-case scenario right now, after a 41-28 win over Stanford going 41-14 into the fourth quarter. The defense was average, at 21 points per game, but the Trojans have eight takeaways. Can it stay that way?

11-25

Rank Team file Previous

11

2-0

21

12

2-0

14

13

2-0

22

14

2-0

17

15

1-1

10

16

1-1

11

17

2-0

34

18

1-1

15

19

1-1

7

20

2-0

23

21

1-1

24

22

2-0

32

23

2-0

57

24

1-1

25

25

2-0

26

BYU’s overtime win against Baylor makes the Cougars a lot better, and it’s not unreasonable to talk about them as a College Football Playoff contender with a few wins left. Tennessee’s win at Pitt makes the Vols look legit. Kansas State is 2-0 after a dominant 40-12 win over Missouri. I’m surprised the Wildcats aren’t in the polls. Florida slumps after losing to Kentucky, but the Gators stay ahead of Utah because they, you know, beat the Utes last week.

Oregon State enters the top 25 after beating Fresno State in the final game. The Beavers are 2-0 against two of the best in the group of 5, coupled with the comfortable win over Boise State last week. Marshall also jumps into the top 25 after his 26-21 win at Notre Dame.

Texas moves up a few spots after nearly knocking out Alabama as the Longhorns did indeed look a lot better than expected. But I’ve seen too many losses for TCU and Iowa State to fully believe in them, especially with Quinn Ewers on the sidelines. Texas A&M drops out of the top 10 and falls into this group after a 17-14 home loss to Appalachian State. It is behind the Mountaineers, who are behind North Carolina due to the Tar Heels win at Boone last week. Notre Dame also falls out of the top 10 and in this group after the loss to Marshall. The Fighting Irish have no playmakers and haven’t done much since a fairly successful first half against Ohio State. They don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Washington State rises over Wisconsin after a big win at Camp Randall Stadium. Texas Tech’s win in overtime against Houston makes the Red Raiders jump too.

East Carolina continued its narrow defeat to NC State with a solid 39-21 win against Old Dominion. Syracuse’s dominant win against Louisville last week looks even better now that Louisville won at UCF. Illinois’ 24-3 win against Virginia is arguably the quietest Power 5 win of the entire season over a Power 5 team.

Kansas is 2-0 for the first time since 2011 after an overtime win over West Virginia. Has Lance Leipold turned this around yet? Duke is 2-0 in the Mike Elko era after beating Northwestern. Georgia Southern’s 642 yards were the most ever allowed by Nebraska at home, and Clay Helton’s team has adapted quite well to the triple option offense. Virginia Tech recovered from its ODU loss with a 27-10 win against Boston College.

UCF’s loss to Louisville was a blast for a team that should be battling for the AAC title this season. Georgia State is 0-2 with two competitive losses to South Carolina and North Carolina. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers make noise in the Sun Belt. South Alabama was a touchdown underdog, but came out of Central Michigan with a 38-24 win. Utah State’s 35-7 loss to FCS Weber State was one of the most surprising results of the weekend, and the Aggies tumbled as a result.

(Photo of Will Levis: James Gilbert/Getty Images)

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