Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 AT 7:32 AM / Updated at 12:24 PM
Sam McKewon’s Top 25, Sept. 3
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

Craig Bohl doesn’t want to see his FCS power, North Dakota State, shut out of games with FBS teams. I don’t blame him. NDSU has beaten one in each of the last four years. Nor would I blame Bohl if he takes a job after this season at a major conference school and wants absolutely nothing to do with the team that gave him his first head coaching job.

The biggest story of college football’s first week was intermittent-but-memorable triumphs of FCS teams that get a fat wad to play sacrificial lamb to BCS teams, only to bare a nasty set of teeth. Understand that BCS teams usually schedule these games because the payouts for FBS, non-BCS squads have become too pricey to pay on the off chance that they pull out a win.

This strategy took out two of the teams in my top 25 – Kansas State and Oregon State. Both may return later in the year, and if NDSU and Eastern Washington rattle off win after win, they’ll have to get more consideration for top 25. It’s too early for that now.

Here’s the top 25 I submitted for the Associated Press:

1. Alabama: The Tide’s offense played poorly. Imprecise and soft. But ‘Bama beats Virginia Tech 35-10 because the defense – aside from one long run – was dominating, and the Tide’s return game produced two touchdowns from Christion Jones. The best teams have so many good athletes that all three phases are a form of offense.

2. Oregon: In his debut as offensive coordinator, Scott Frost’s Ducks racked up 772 yards. Doesn’t mean much.

3. Texas: Accumulated 715 yards in a 56-7 win over New Mexico State.

4. Clemson: Clemson gets an upgrade for initially hanging with and finally finishing off Georgia. Quarterback Tajh Boyd made clutch throws, while Clemson’s running game gained nearly 200 yards.

5. Louisville: Tremendously efficient beatdown of Ohio 49-7. Frank Solich said it’s certainly the best team he’s coached against while with the Bobcats. I watched most of this game, rather impressed.

6. Ohio State:
The Buckeyes futzed around a lot against Buffalo, and drop as a result. Too many penalties (nine for 94 yards).

7. Texas A&M: The only real difference between A&M’s 52-31 win over Rice and Nebraska’s nail-biter was the Aggies’ offense. It, unlike NU, didn’t shoot itself in the foot. But the Aggies get a big bump because Johnny Manziel, definitively, will play this year. And he’ll play all year.

8. Florida State: Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston had a spectacular debut at Pittsburgh, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns. FSU’s defense forced two turnovers.

9. South Carolina: Can’t say much bad or good about the Gamecocks’ 27-10 win over North Carolina. South Carolina sort of specializes in wins like these.

10. Georgia: A failed fourth-and-goal and several offensive blocking penalties kept the Bulldogs from a win in Death Valley. But they don’t drop much in my poll.

11. LSU: Impressively kept TCU at bay most of the night. Fourteen of the Horned Frogs’ 27 points came on a kickoff return and a 6-yard drive after a fumble. LSU ran 26 more plays and converted 13 of 19 third downs. The Tigers move up.

12. Notre Dame: Offense played better than I thought it would. Defense gave up 360 yards but only a touchdown in a 28-6 win.

13. Stanford: Bye week

14. Oklahoma: Humbled an occasionally-cagey Louisiana-Monroe team 34-0 with solid defense. OU’s new spread-run offense will take time to season.

15. Oklahoma State: Beat Mississippi State – which might win three games this year – by a ho-hum 21-3 score. But the Cowboys get two walkovers in UTSA and Lamar to come.

16. Wisconsin: 598 total yards, 393 on the ground, and a 45-0 shutout of UMass.

17. Washington: The Huskies make a leap into my Top 25 with a blowout win of Boise State, the Broncos’ worst since 2005. I had Boise just outside my top 25 headed into the season. The Huskies’ home-field advantage at newly-renovated Husky Stadium sounds fierce.

18. Miami (Fla.): Beat Florida Atlantic 34-6, forcing Carl Pelini to call for a fourth-down spike of the ball at the end of the game. Canes ran for 303 yards.

19. UCLA: Moves into my rankings with a 58-20 thumping of a decent Nevada team. The Bruins broke open a 17-13 halftime lead with a punt block for a score and key fourth down stop deep in its own territory.

20. Arizona State: Bye week

21. Michigan: The Wolverines’ defense had impressive speed in a 59-6 win. That said, Central Michigan played two quarterbacks about as bad as you’ll find.

22. USC: Stayed purposely vanilla in a 30-13 win over Hawai’i that was 30-6 until the final minute. The Trojans ran the ball with confidence and tallied 192 yards.

23. Florida: Just 297 total yards in a 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators aren’t moving up much in my book.

24. Nebraska: NU stays in my top 25. The Huskers’ lack of focus and finishing touch on offense was concerning.

25. Georgia Tech: Pummeled Elon into thorough submission 70-0. The Yellow Jackets are better on defense than many pundits may think.

DROPPED OUT

Oregon State: Out after a 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington. The Beavers just couldn’t stop EWU’s passing game.

Kansas State: The Wildcats traditionally struggle in season-openers – even if they’ve won several in a row – and a disciplined, confident North Dakota State team finished them off with a spectacular 18-play, 80-yard drive in a 24-21 loss.

Michigan State: The defense of raw, angry jackals scored two touchdowns of its own, but that offense is just too troubling (for now) after a 26-13 scrum over Western Michigan.

TEAMS I’M CONSIDERING

Northwestern: The Wildcats survived a late-night game at Cal – which might win three games this year – thanks to two interception returns for touchdowns.

Ole Miss: Fun comeback win at Vanderbilt, which I don’t peg for being very good at this juncture. If the Commodores get better, the win will look better for the Rebels.

Baylor: Routed Wofford. Still much to learn about the Bears.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at sam.mckewon@owh.com. And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.