Week 1 Top 25 College Football Rankings: Alabama, Georgia stand above all

Which teams come in at the top of our FBS Top 25 College Football Rankings for the 2021 football season? Here's an early look at the order!

FBS Top 25 college football rankings  | 16-25

Which teams round out our FBS Top 25 College Football Rankings after Week 1? Three new teams appear on the list in this range, including a Pac-12 program on an explosive trajectory.

16. North Carolina Tar Heels (-4)

It’s a big dip for Sam Howell and company after UNC’s thoroughly uncoordinated effort against Virginia Tech. One can’t fault Howell alone for his 3-interception performance, but that only sheds light on more uncertainty in Chapel Hill.

The offensive line, even after returning most of its starters, was bad. Howell still doesn’t have great chemistry with his offensive weapons. And now that there’s no dominant threat in the box with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, teams will spread the field to make sure Howell isn’t comfortable. Mack Brown has some work to do.

17. UCLA Bruins (N/A)

Pro Football Network’s initial FBS Top 25 College Football Rankings didn’t include the UCLA Bruins. But PFN’s initial list was also formed before Week 0. Since that time, Chip Kelly’s squad has put together two dominant wins against Hawaii and SEC foe LSU.

We can’t forget about them anymore. Zach Charbonnet has the demeanor and stature of a runaway train, and he runs behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation — led by the nasty Sean Rhyan. There’s more talent to go around, but that physical ground game seems very tough to stop.

18. Utah Utes (+4)

Surprising no one, the Utes are 1-0 to start the 2021 college football season, having bested Weber State by a score of 40-17. It was a fairly complete showing for Utah. Charlie Brewer showed promise as the quarterback. Tavion Thomas, Brant Kuithe, and Dalton Kincaid all provided value as weapons. The line was solid, and on defense, star playmaker Devin Lloyd led the way with 12 total tackles, a sack, and an interception. Utah is a well-coached, well-rounded team. In a week where the Pac-12 is sliding, they move up a few notches.

19. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (–)

Notre Dame is one of the few teams in the NCAA that hasn’t played their Week 1 game yet, as of this writing on Sunday morning. They face the Florida State Seminoles, led by Mike Norvell, on Sunday night at 7:30 PM EST. The Fighting Irish are 7-point favorites against their ACC opponent, and it makes sense.

Notre Dame’s roster is returning a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Jack Coan will have to prove himself, but players like Kyle Hamilton, Jarrett Patterson, and Isaiah Foskey should provide lasting impacts.

20. Ole Miss Rebels (–)

Like Notre Dame, Ole Miss has yet to play its Week 1 game. Thus, they won’t be moved up or down in our rankings just yet. The Rebels hit the field against the Louisville Cardinals at 8 PM EST on Monday night. They’ll be without head coach Lane Kiffin, who tested positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, even without Kiffin, the Rebels are still 10-point favorites. Quarterback Matt Corral is a dynamic signal-caller who should generate big plays, and defensively, Ole Miss has a lot of returning talent. Their sleeper campaign in 2021 begins this week.

21. Florida Gators (–)

Florida kicked off its season against the Owls of Florida Atlantic, and the results were predictable. The Gators dusted FAU in a solid, albeit flawed, 35-14 win. Zachary Carter had 3 sacks, while Kaiir Elam, Trey Dean III, Gervon Dexter, Ventrell Miller, and Khris Bogle all had good days as well.

While Florida’s defense was superb, the offense didn’t show enough to move them over Ole Miss. Emory Jones was inconsistent, and Florida’s 2-QB system may become a 1-QB one if Jones doesn’t improve. Anthony Richardson is breathing down his neck right now.

22. Penn State Nittany Lions (+3)

On one hand, giving Penn State a three-spot boost for not scoring any points until the third quarter feels wrong. But the Nittany Lions still closed out a Big Ten squad perceived to be better than them. Although Sean Clifford struggled to string together drives, Penn State displayed a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Noah Cain and Jahan Dotson are tough to stop when they’re on. On defense, a core of Arnold Ebiketie, PJ Mustipher, Ellis Brooks, Brandon Smith, Tariq Castro-Fields, Joey Porter Jr., and Jaquan Brisker has immense potential.

23. TCU Horned Frogs (+1)

TCU held Duquesne to just 3 points in a Week 1 blowout that went swimmingly for the home team. It was a fairly complete showing on both sides of the ball. Max Duggan showed up and provided dual-threat value. Running backs Kendre Miller and Zach Evans both found the end zone, picking up where they left off last year.

On defense, certified ball-hawk Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson picked off a pass — something he failed to do last year despite leading all returners in pass deflections. As expected, no surprises from TCU, at least not yet.

24. Iowa Hawkeyes (N/A)

UCLA is the highest-ranked new addition on our post-Week 1 FBS Top 25 College Football Rankings, but they’re not alone in that newcomer category. Replacing Big Ten teams Indiana and Wisconsin is the team that blew Indiana out of the water: Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa Hawkeyes.

This ranking might imply to some that Iowa has a quarterback. That’s incorrect. But what Iowa does have is a stingy, aggressive, and opportunistic defense. Additionally, Tyler Goodson and Sam LaPorta are budding stars on offense. They’ll provide enough to stay afloat in the Big Ten.

25. Virginia Tech Hokies (N/A)

Rounding out our FBS Top 25 College Football Rankings is the Virginia Tech Hokies. On Friday night, the Hokies put together a stifling performance against Sam Howell and the North Carolina Tar Heels. With Amaré Barno, Norell Pollard, TyJuan Garbutt, Dax Hollifield, Jermaine Waller, Chamarri Conner, and Armani Chatman all providing peak play, VT’s defense looks dangerous. If Braxton Burmeister can keep developing as a passer, there’s a chance the Hokies may not be done climbing the proverbial college football mountain.

Teams moving out

  • Indiana Hoosiers
  • Wisconsin Badgers
  • Washington Huskies

Teams closing in

  • Nevada Wolfpack
  • Liberty Flames
  • Michigan Wolverines
  • UCF Knights
  • Kentucky Wildcats
  • Pittsburgh Panthers

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.

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