We are one week into the 2014 college football season and we've already seen some dramatic wins and, consequently, some pretty tough losses. In college football, more than in any other sport, every game matters. One loss can effectively end a team's hopes for a national championship. With this in mind we took a look around the country and came up with the 15 teams that made it past week one unscathed and should keep their unblemished record all the way until October.
We're not saying all of these teams are going to run the table in 2014, but they should boast perfect records for at least another month. And for college football fans, there's nothing better than a month of undefeated football for your favorite team.
Did your team make the cut?
The Cardinals had quite an impressive debut in the ACC in week one. They used a balanced offensive attack to outlast Miami (FL) in their first league home game. Going forward Louisville will not be be significantly challenged (Murray State, UVA, FIU, Wake Forest) again until October.
New starting quarterback sophomore Will Gardner showed a lot of poise in the victory putting together an incredibly efficient outing (20-of-28 and two touchdowns). Senior running back Dominique Brown looks ready to build upon last year's success. Look for him to top the 1,000 yard rushing mark before November.
14. Ole Miss
In week one, the Rebels struggled against Boise State for three quarters, but eventually found their rhythm in the game's final period. Senior quarterback Bo Wallace has been 'the guy' for a couple of years now, but in order to take the next step, he'll need to cut down on the turnovers (three against the Broncos). Luckily, Ole Miss doesn't have a very daunting schedule (Vandy, La-Lafayette, Memphis) the next few weeks. There's no reason the Rebels shouldn't be 4-0 when they take on Alabama on October 4.
The Rebels' two top wide receivers, junior Cody Core and sophomore Laquon Treadwell, seem to be ready for huge seasons; as they both went over the 100-yard mark in week one. We'll be shocked if they don't continue to produce at a high level over the next month.
13. Texas A&M
One of the more shocking results of week one was A&M's dismantling of the South Carolina Gamecocks. The leader of the onslaught was Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill, or "Kenny Trill," "Kenny Thrill," "Kenny Football," or the "King of the Hill" depending on who you talk to.
Regardless, expect no less than 40 points on the board in the Aggies' next four contests. Those upcoming defenses (Lamar, Rice, SMU, and Arkansas) will have no answer for A&M's attack. The Aggies will continue to climb the rankings and do not be surprised if they're receiving first place votes when they face off against 'Bama in mid October.
12. Penn State
The Nittany Lions narrowly escaped week one with a victory over the UCF Knights in Ireland. They aren't yet in midseason form, but fortunately for them, their next four games are anything but daunting. Sophomore Christian Hackenberg is the real deal, and despite a few road bumps in week one (one touchdown, two interceptions), his stock is rising. Penn State's star quarterback has ample weapons in his arsenal, namely junior wide receiver Geno Lewis and sophomore wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton. Penn State's passing attack could be the best it's been in years (454 yards in week one).
Penn State gets Akron, Rutgers, UMass and Northwestern before October. There's no reason it shouldn't be 5-0 by then.
The Crimson Tide didn't exactly steamroll West Virginia in week one, but the general consensus in Tuscaloosa is that the team still has time to work out any issues. Alabama gets Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss and Florida before October - only the game against the Gators will even be mildly competitive.
The running back combination of junior T.J. Yeldon and sophomore Derrick Henry is as terrifying a one-two punch as everyone imagined it would be. 'Bama is focusing on running the ball even more this year and it racked up 288 yards in the opener. The biggest question mark for the Tide as they coast through their September schedule is who will be the starting quarterback when they hit the meat of their SEC slate?
Baylor put quite a beat down on a hapless SMU squad in week one, winning 45-0. Don't think this is the last time it'll dominate an opponent so thoroughly, though. The Bears' upcoming stretch of games (Northwestern State, Buffalo, Iowa State) is going to be a slew of blowouts, and they won't be seriously tested until early October when they head to Austin to face the Longhorns.
Bryce Petty is day-to-day with a back injury, but if there is a time in the season that the Bears can skate by with him injured, it's now. If he can get healthy, watch his Heisman campaign gain legitimacy as Baylor gets further into the season undefeated.
The Hawkeyes might not have beaten Northern Iowa by as much as they would have liked in week one, but they're still in a great position to get to October with a blemish-free record. Junior quarterback Jack Rudock is the real deal and his efficiency was on display in the season opener (31-of-41 for 250 yards and two touchdowns).
Iowa does have a few legitimate tests on the horizon, but fortunately has its rival Iowa State at home. If Iowa can go on the road and steal a victory in Pittsburgh (the Panthers beat Delaware in their season opener 62-0), it can possibly bring an undefeated record into the month of November. The Hawkeyes may surprise some people this year.
The Arkansas Razorbacks hung with the Auburn longer than most would have anticipated in week one, but the Tigers eventually pulled away and showed why they are one of the top teams in the country. The Tigers also proved that they have a backup quarterback that they could win with in sophomore Jeremy Johnson. Johnson filled in for suspended starter Nick Marshall superbly, going 12-of-16 for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers play a tough Kansas State team in two weeks but should take care of business and get to October undefeated. Senior running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who looks to be making the most of his final year at the collegiate level, had a career day against the Razorbacks. He is a dark horse to lead the SEC in rushing this year.
This could be a special season for the Arizona Wildcats, or at least the start could be special. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon made an impressive career debut with 425 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 58-13 win over UNLV in week one. His athletic ability mixed with Arizona's lackluster schedule over the next three games (UTSA, Nevada, and Cal) should result in a 4-0 record for the Wildcats.
Their schedule kicks up a notch in October, with conference games against Oregon and USC. I'm not saying they'll get through October undefeated, but I am saying they'll at least arrive there that way.
The Thundering Herd's balanced offensive attack, led by extremely underrated senior quarterback Rakeem Cato, is going to cause headaches for Conference USA defensive coordinators all year. Cato has been starting at Marshall for years, and has serious NFL potential.
In week one, he threw three touchdowns against zeo interceptions, as his squad knocked off Miami (OH) on the road. Even more impressive was junior running back Devon Johnson, who ran for 151 yards on just 19 carries to go along with two scores. Marshall will take down its next several opponents (Rhode Island, Ohio, Akron, Old Dominion) without much competition at all.
The Blue Devils, who are in the middle of a football renaissance, could be poised for another big season. Senior quarterback Anthony Boone had the best game of his career in a 52-13 win over Elon (22-of-33 for 247 yards and four touchdowns).
Boone's connection with senior wide receiver Jamison Crowder is quite evident. Look for both to set career highs this season as Crowder hits the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the third time in his time in Durham. The Blue Devils' upcoming schedule has a couple tests, but nothing that they can't handle. Watch them take out Kansas and Miami on the way to an undefeated September.
The Sooners spent week one manhandling Louisiana Tech en route to a 48-16 victory. The good news for Oklahoma is that no individual player had a great game, yet it still won the game with ease. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight is an exciting player and 2014 is his year after winning Oklahoma's quarterback competition. His performance in week one was alright, but expect him to only get better from here on out.
Over the next three weeks, the Sooners host Tennessee and have to travel to West Virginia to play in front of what is sure to be a hostile crowd. They'll roll into October with a 4-0 record when conference play really begins to heat up. They'll undoubtedly be a threat for the No. 1 spot in the AP poll at some point this season.
It seemed as though the Tigers were dead in the water against the Wisconsin Badgers, as they trailed 24-7 in the second half. However, LSU proved why it is consistently one of the top programs in the country. On national television, they stormed back and won the game 28-24 behind senior running back Kenny Hilliard's heroic outing.
After week one, LSU's schedule plummets in difficulty for a while (Sam Houston, UL Monroe, Mississippi State, New Mexico State) with the Bulldogs being the only real challenge. They'll win their next four games fairly easily before taking on Auburn on October 4th. And a test it will be, both teams will be undefeated and it will unquestionably be billed as one of the biggest games of the year.
2. Florida State
The Seminoles' contest against Oklahoma State was a much closer game than many anticipated; yet the defending national champions found a way to pull out the win. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston didn't have the best game (one passing touchdown, two interceptions) but like great players do, he found a way. In the third quarter he pulled the ball down and rumbled for an impressive 28-yard touchdown run to give Florida State some breathing room.
But the real MVP of the game was senior wide receiver Rashad Greene, who caught 11 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. The connection between Winston and Greene ensures that the Seminoles' offense will be lethal all year. FSU's only upcoming test is Clemson, a game in which the Seminoles get to host (they also play Citadel and NC State). Look for Florida State to remain undefeated into October and most likely into December.
The most impressive performance this past weekend was certainly Georgia in its win over Clemson. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 45-21 almost entirely on the legs of their junior running back Todd Gurley. With the whole country watching, Gurley emphatically launched his Heisman campaign via a ridiculous highlight-filled four-touchdown game. He's going to keep running (and returning) and Georgia is going to keep winning.
The Bulldogs travel to South Carolina next week, but don't expect the Gamecocks, given the way they played on defense against Texas A&M, to slow them down. After that, they face Troy and Tennessee. None of those defenses should be able to slow down the Dawgs. Senior quarterback Hutson Mason just has to manage the game, allowing their running backs to take center stage. Gurley is on a mission, and that mission's first goal is to remain undefeated while he continues his ground assault. Advice for college football fans for the rest of the year: sit back and enjoy the Gurley show -- it's going to be special.