Mark SchlabachESPN Senior Writer
Defending national champion Alabama continues to look head and shoulders above everyone else through two weeks of the 2018 season.
But Saturday showed us the Crimson Tide might have some competition in the SEC West other than Auburn (hello, Mississippi State and Texas A&M), and defending SEC champion Georgia isn’t going away anytime soon.
While Alabama remains No. 1 in the ESPN Power Rankings after Week 2, Georgia and Ohio State climbed back into the coveted top four spots after impressive victories.
Remember, the Power Rankings are about how you look and whom you play each week. Forget the body of work or the brand name. These rankings drip with recency bias.
Here are the rankings after Week 2:
Week 2 result: Defeated Arkansas State 57-7
What’s next: at Ole Miss (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Maybe Alabama’s quarterback battle isn’t over yet (#sarcasm). Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes in the first half — after Tua Tagovailoa threw scoring passes on three of the Tide’s first four possessions. At least Alabama’s never-ending kicking woes are keeping things interesting for the defending national champions.
Week 2 result: Defeated Texas A&M 28-26
What’s next: vs. Georgia Southern (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Teams typically need a little luck to win a championship, and the Tigers got a lot of it at Texas A&M on Saturday night. The Aggies fumbled a ball through the end zone for a touchback, and then failed to convert a two-point conversion late. Clemson’s vaunted defense allowed 501 yards of offense, including 430 through the air.
Week 2 result: Defeated South Carolina 41-17
What’s next: vs. Middle Tennessee State (Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Georgia is showing promising signs of once again having a dominant running game and physical defense, which it used to reach the CFP National Championship a year ago. There is still plenty to correct on both sides of the ball, but it’s hard not to be impressed by a 31-point whitewashing at South Carolina, where the Bulldogs have traditionally struggled.
4. Ohio State
Week 2 result: Defeated Rutgers 52-3
What’s next: at TCU (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Buckeyes are faring just fine without coach Urban Meyer, who was suspended from coaching in a game for the second week in a row. He’ll return to practice this week but miss Saturday’s showdown at TCU as well. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins feasted on a woebegone program for the second game in a row.
Week 2 result: Defeated UCLA 49-21
What’s next: at Iowa State (Saturday, noon ET)
The Sooners rolled for the second straight week, but their rout of the Bruins might have been costly. Star tailback Rodney Anderson injured his right knee on the final play of the first quarter and didn’t return. They’ll probably need Anderson, who ran for more than 1,100 yards last season, if they’re to stay in the CFP hunt.
Week 2 result: Defeated Alabama State 63-9
What’s next: vs. LSU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
After struggling to run the ball against Washington in Week 1, the Tigers re-established the ground game in a name-your-score game against FCS foe Alabama State. Auburn ran for 430 yards and takes a lot of momentum into next week’s SEC West showdown against LSU at home.
7. Notre Dame
Week 2 result: Defeated Ball State 24-16
What’s next: vs. Vanderbilt (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
The Fighting Irish slowly awoke from their post-Michigan slumber to pull away from Ball State in the second half on Saturday. Notre Dame has what should be two more warm-ups — against Vanderbilt next week and then at Wake Forest — before hosting Stanford on Sept. 29.
Week 2 result: Defeated USC 17-3
What’s next: vs. UC Davis (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
Stanford tailback Bryce Love‘s Heisman Trophy campaign kicked off a week late, as he ran for 136 yards with one touchdown, helping the Cardinal avoid losing to the Trojans for the third time in a year. With its stingy defense, Stanford looks like Washington’s biggest threat in the Pac-12.
Week 2 result: Defeated New Mexico 45-14
What’s next: vs. BYU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Wisconsin was slow out of the gates for the second week in a row, but Jonathan Taylor and its huge offensive line took over in the second half of a 45-14 rout of New Mexico. Taylor ran 33 times for a career-high 253 yards with three scores. The Badgers will play BYU in their final nonconference game next week before opening Big Ten play.
10. West Virginia
Week 2 result: Defeated Youngstown State 52-17
What’s next: at NC State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The Mountaineers beat up FCS foe Youngstown State and revamped their injury-riddled defense in the process. Safety Jovanni Stewart moved to linebacker to replace Charlie Benton, who was lost to a season-ending knee injury last week. They’ll try to improve before Big 12 play starts in two weeks.
11. Virginia Tech
Week 2 result: Defeated William & Mary 62-17
What’s next: vs. East Carolina (Saturday, 12:20 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Playing only five days after their impressive road victory at Florida State, the Hokies routed FCS foe William & Mary on Saturday. It probably won’t be much more difficult at home against East Carolina next week or at Old Dominion the following week.
Week 2 result: Defeated SMU 42-14
What’s next: vs. Ohio State (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Horned Frogs looked stuck in the mud — literally — in the first quarter at SMU on Friday night, before KaVontae Turpin‘s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown sparked a 42-14 win. They can’t afford a similar slow start in next week’s showdown against Ohio State.
13. Mississippi State
Week 2 result: Defeated Kansas State 31-10
What’s next: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SECN)
This isn’t one of Bill Snyder’s best teams at Kansas State, but the Bulldogs’ 31-10 rout of the Wildcats on the road was still downright impressive. We’ll learn a lot more about Mississippi State at the end of the month, when it opens a four-game stretch against Florida (home), Auburn (home), LSU (road) and Texas A&M (home).
Week 2 result: Defeated Southeastern Louisiana 31-0
What’s next: at Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
The Tigers seemed to have a post-Miami hangover and started and stopped throughout their shutout of an FCS foe. LSU had one first down and three punts on its first three drives of the second half before pulling away. It was hardly the performance LSU wanted heading into next week’s game at Auburn.
15. Penn State
Week 2 result: Defeated Pitt 51-6
What’s next: vs. Kent State (Saturday, noon ET, FS1)
If you wondered how Penn State truly feels about instate rival Pittsburgh, consider this: Quarterback Trace McSorley threw a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 37-6, and then backup Sean Clifford threw a 34-yard score to make it 51-6.
Week 2 result: Defeated North Dakota 45-3
What’s next: at Utah (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Huskies bounced back from their opening loss to Auburn with a rout over an FCS foe. It’s too early to rule them out of the CFP race, and they’ll gain back a lot of respect if they can beat the Utes on the road next week.
17. Boise State
Week 2 result: Defeated UConn 62-7
What’s next: at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
The Broncos stomped FCS, err FBS, foe UConn in their final tuneup before next week’s trip to Oklahoma State. Boise State had 41 points and 514 yards of offense — in the first half.
Week 2 result: Defeated Portland State 62-14
What’s next: vs. San Jose State (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert seems to be getting along fine without former coach Willie Taggart. Herbert’s hot start continued against FCS foe Portland State, as he completed 18 of 24 passes for 237 yards with four touchdowns in the first half. He has nine touchdowns with two interceptions in limited action in the first two games.
Week 2 result: Defeated South Carolina State 38-0
What’s next: at North Carolina (Saturday, noon ET)
The Knights were the self-proclaimed co-national champions last year, and they’re starting to schedule nonconference games like Alabama, too. They overcame a so-so performance on offense to win their 15th consecutive game.
Week 2 result: Defeated Nebraska 33-28
What’s next: vs. New Hampshire (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
After an impressive opening win over rival Colorado State, the Buffaloes came from behind to spoil Scott Frost’s debut at Nebraska. Steven Montez has developed into one of the Pac-12’s best passers, and the Buffaloes seem ready to put last season’s 5-7 finish in the rearview mirror.
Week 2 result: Defeated Western Michigan 49-3
What’s next: vs. SMU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
The Wolverines got well against Western Michigan on Saturday, running for 308 yards, after gaining only 58 in last week’s 24-17 loss at Notre Dame. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson also was much more efficient, completing 12 of 17 passes for 125 yards with three scores.
22. Texas A&M
Week 2 result: Lost to Clemson 28-26
What’s next: vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SECN)
In only his second game, Jimbo Fisher nearly guided the Aggies to a monumental upset of Clemson at Kyle Field on Saturday night. Imagine what $100 million would have gotten them.
Week 2 result: Lost to Stanford 17-3
What’s next: at Texas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox)
The education of quarterback JT Daniels hit a big roadblock at Stanford. The Trojans were held without a touchdown for the first time since a 52-6 loss to then-No. 1 Alabama in the 2016 opener, and they scored their fewest points since a 27-0 shutout loss at Washington on Nov. 1, 1997.
Week 2 result: Defeated Bowling Green 45-14
What’s next: vs. Temple (Saturday, noon ET, BTN)
The Terrapins overcame a slow start and 14 penalties to improve to 2-0 after last week’s upset of Texas. Holding a three-point lead over Bowling Green after three quarters, Maryland scored 28 consecutive points in the fourth to put the Falcons away.
Week 2 result: Defeated Savannah State 77-0
What’s next: at Toledo (Saturday, noon ET)
The Hurricanes got well after their dreadful opener against LSU by trouncing FCS foe Savannah State in the most lopsided victory in school history. Quarterback Malik Rosier threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, and backup N’Kosi Perry tossed the first three touchdowns of his collegiate career. It doesn’t mean much, but it’s a step in the right direction.