7. Toledo Rockets (1-0/MAC)
- LAST WEEK: 11th
- LAST GAME: won 54-20 v. FCS New Hampshire
- NEXT GAME: September 6 v. Missouri
Toledo had a dominant preparation for bigger tests to come as they knocked off New Hampshire in their home opener 54-20. The Rockets went over 300 yards both in the air and on the ground, led by quarterback Phillip Ely’s 24-of-34 performance that included four touchdowns and 360 total yards of offense. Tailback Kareem Hunt added 136 yards and two rushing touchdowns as Toledo piled up a demonic 666 yards of total offense. Next they welcome defending SEC East champion Missouri to the Glass Bowl, where they have a history of upsetting top-25 schools. They’ll also get a crack at Cincinnati and Iowa State to bolster the record further.
8. UL-Monroe Warhawks (1-0/SUN)
- LAST WEEK: 35th
- LAST GAME: won 17-10 v. Wake Forest
- NEXT GAME: September 6 v. Idaho
In a rare home game against ACC competition, the Warhawks made the most of their opportunity in a come-from-behind 17-10 victory over Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons took a 10-0 halftime lead, scoring on a blocked punt and adding a 38-yard field goal in the first 30 minutes. But Wake Forest’s offense never did amount to much, finishing with less than 100 total yards from scrimmage, and a 30-yard Justin Manton field goal and Mitch Lane’s return of a John Wolford interception put ULM in position for the upset. Quarterback Pete Thomas punched in the winning score himself from nine yards out with less than four minutes left. The ACC test is down, but three SEC challenges – LSU, Kentucky, and Texas A&M – still await.
9. Northern Illinois Huskies (1-0/MAC)
- LAST WEEK: 5th
- LAST GAME: won 55-3 v. FCS Presbyterian
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at Northwestern
Only a 31-yard Brandon Morrow field goal with six seconds left in the third quarter could blemish an otherwise dominant performance by NIU in their season opener. The Huskies used three different quarterbacks as they search for the successor to Jordan Lynch, and the trio collectively combined for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game saw 11 different people contribute positive yardage as the team racked up 424 rushing yards; Akeem Daniels contributed 118 yards on 15 carries, while Joel Bouagnon chipped in 97 yards and touchdowns of one, one, nine, and 23 yards. Next week they take on Northwestern with a chance to make a statement against a Big Ten opponent.
10. Memphis Tigers (1-0/AAC)
- LAST WEEK: 37th
- LAST GAME: won 63-0 v. FCS Austin Peay
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at UCLA
Memphis entered the year with most people expecting them to be one of the doormats in the AAC. Instead, after losses by UCF and Houston, Memphis looks like they could be one of the better teams in the conference if they can play like they did against an admitted minnow like Austin Peay. But it was the way that the Tigers took out their opponent that was so impressive. The Governors’ two quarterbacks combined to go 6-of-16 for 30 yards and an interception, and the FCS school finished with just 146 total yards of offense. Paxton Lynch, meanwhile, was 20-of-27 for the Tigers for 242 yards and four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing). Can they bottle up Brett Hundley and UCLA as well?
11. UTEP Miners (1-0/C-USA)
- LAST WEEK: 48th
- LAST GAME: won 31-24 at New Mexico
- NEXT GAME: September 6 v. Texas Tech
If you are a fan of old-timey ground-and-pound football, you loved the tilt between UTEP and New Mexico on opening weekend. The two teams combined for 740 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The seventh touchdown that separated the two teams came courtesy of quarterback Jameill Showers, the former Texas A&M quarterback now starting for the Miners. Showers was just 11-of-22 for 116 yards, but his 48-yard pass to Jarrad Shaw in the first quarter ultimately was the only difference between two otherwise abysmal passing games. If the Miners can make Texas Tech’s Air Raid offense look as foolish as they did the Lobos quarterbacks, UTEP might have a chance at the upset.
12. Ohio Bobcats (1-0/MAC)
- LAST WEEK: 36th
- LAST GAME: won 17-14 at Kent State
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at Kentucky
A late drive and a 44-yard field goal as time expired are all that separated Ohio from Kent State… so why do the Bobcats rate this highly? They already have a conference victory in the MAC thanks to Josiah Yazdani’s accurate leg, they will take a trip to SEC country this weekend for a winnable showdown with Kentucky, and they otherwise have no clear roadblocks on their out-of-conference schedule. Derrius Vick looked great as Tyler Tettleton’s replacement under center, completing 75 percent of his passes for 262 yards and two scores, and the backfield rotation produced 175 yards on the ground. Several years after they were expected to contend with different personnel, Frank Solich might finally have the crew to challenge for the MAC.
13. San Diego State Aztecs (1-0/MWC)
- LAST WEEK: 24th
- LAST GAME: won 38-7 v. FCS Northern Arizona
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at North Carolina
Most people expected Boise State, Fresno State, or Utah State to be the dominant forces in the Mountain West in 2014. After opening weekend, there might be a different State emerging as a burgeoning frontrunner. San Diego State wasn’t exactly stout on defense, allowing just 87 fewer yards than the Lumberjacks despite scoring 31 more points in their victory. Quinn Kaehler didn’t look great in his first start at quarterback, going 18-of-29 for 205 yards with the trifecta of a touchdown, an interception, and a sack. He’ll have to be more efficient if San Diego State expects to beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill in their Week 2 matchup.
14. Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-0/SUN)
- LAST WEEK: 18th
- LAST GAME: won 37-10 v. FCS Montana State
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at Tennessee
When you look at Sagarin rankings throughout the years, you find that many Big Sky teams from the FCS are comparable in terms of relative quality to many of the schools from the five mid-major conferences in the FBS. Montana State isn’t the greatest opponent, but by Sagarin’s account they’re better than Troy or New Mexico or Kent State – teams that other challengers in these rankings beat on opening weekend. The Red Wolves continue to cycle through coaches, and yet they continue to put up big and balanced offensive numbers. If they can do the same against Tennessee next weekend, they’ll bolster their credentials against a school that’s already exposed mid-major contender Utah State.
15. Texas State Bobcats (1-0/SUN)
- LAST WEEK: 42nd
- LAST GAME: won 65-0 v. FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff
- NEXT GAME: September 13 v. Navy
No team scored more points on opening weekend than Texas State’s 65 as they shut out Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bobcats held the Golden Lions under 100 yards passing and forced two turnovers as they scored often and at will on their beleaguered FCS opponents. Tyler Jones was an absurd 21-of-25 for 278 yards and four touchdowns, backup Connor White added another 41 yards in the air on 4-of-5 passing, and Robert Lowe rushed for 150 yards on 14 carries as the offense piled up 697 total yards. Dennis Franchione’s team will get a bye week to prepare now before Navy comes to town on September 13; they’ll also get a Big Ten test against Illinois before the month is out.
16. Akron Zips (1-0/MAC)
- LAST WEEK: 27th
- LAST GAME: won 41-0 v. FCS Howard
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at Penn State
Akron pitched a shutout that should build its confidence ahead of next weekend’s trip to Happy Valley for a showdown with Penn State. Quarterback Kyle Pohl came up big for the Zips on opening weekend, tossing for 308 yards and four touchdowns and leading the team in rushing with 48 yards on seven carries. The defense was solid, forcing one turnover and allowing just 2.8 yards per play against the Bison; three different Zips receivers racked up more yardage than the entire Howard offense managed. Penn State proved in Dublin against UCF that they can be beaten, even if they did survive on a late field goal. What once looked like a MAC afterthought could quickly grow into a contender should they win in Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
17. East Carolina Pirates (1-0/AAC)
- LAST WEEK: 9th
- LAST GAME: won 52-7 v. FCS North Carolina Central
- NEXT GAME: September 6 at South Carolina
An uncharacteristic blunder on their opening drive put East Carolina in a deficit, as NC Central’s C.J. Moore scooped up a loose fumble and returned it 31 yards for an early 7-0 lead. The Pirates went ahead for good late in the first quarter on a wide receiver pass, Justin Hardy hitting Isaiah Jones for the 41-yard touchdown strike. Normal quarterback Shane Carden added three more touchdowns and 287 yards in the air on 26-of-37 passing, including two to Hardy in his regular capacity as a receiver. Now the fun starts for East Carolina, who nearly upset South Carolina last season. Before September is even over, the Pirates could potentially have victories over an SEC school and two ACC opponents.
18. UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (1-0/SUN)
- LAST WEEK: 7th
- LAST GAME: won 45-6 v. FCS Southern
- NEXT GAME: September 6 v. Louisiana Tech
Terrance Broadway proved that he has fully recovered from the wrist injury that kept him out part of last season, piling four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a 45-6 demolition of the Jaguars. He would finish with 275 total yards – 237 yards on 20-of-32 passing, 38 on six carries – as the Ragin’ Cajuns overwhelmed their FCS opposition. Running back Elijah McGuire finished with 129 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries, and backup quarterback Brooks Haack was a perfect 4-of-4 for 27 yards and a late touchdown in mop-up duty. A visit from Louisiana Tech next week is a prelude to a showdown with Ole Miss in Oxford on September 13.