We debut something new, as we close out September with our first edition of the F.F.I. Power Rankings of the three NFL and five prominent college football programs we cover.
We will rank the college and NFL teams together on the same list with the following brief criteria: how has your team looked and importantly, against what type of competition? Have they won easily or in nail bitter fashion? How injured/beat up are they at this point? How’s your team on the “it factor” of star players and looking good, etc?
So, without delay, here goes to this point (and it will change) in descending order:
8. Florida State- The Noles are reeling after their lost last Saturday to N.C. State and at 0-2 are the only winless team in our rankings. Now, you can argue that Alabama would easily hang the “L” on the other four college teams, but, the Noles played them and got handled.
No one is saying that QB James Blackman won’t grow and FSU won’t start winning some games, but for now? They are at the bottom of our list.
7. Miami Dolphins- At 1-1, the Dolphins overcame Hurricane Irma relocation to Los Angeles and beat the Chargers in the in the final minute of week one. But, followed it up with a dismal showing last week at the Jets. The Fins have stars like Ajayi, Landry, Parker, Suh, Wake, etc., but traveling to London for the Saints game Sunday will be challenge for them. Will they pull it together and move up our rankings? Let’s see.
6. Miami Hurricanes- Mark Richt’s team is 2-0. That’s the good news. The bad news is we don’t really know how improved they are. They struggled at the beginning and then blew out Bethune-Cookman. Then, after Hurricane Irma postponed their next two games with Arkansas State and FSU, they looked a bit stale last Saturday with Toledo.
Yet, RB Mark Walton ripped off a 200 yard game and they pulled away. Canes have Duke Friday night as an ACC road test that they need to pass before having the Noles in Tallahassee next week.
5. USF- We know. They are 4-0, but as Olivia Stacey wrote earlier this week, the competition was suspect these first few games for the Bulls. And we’re not sure if they will get much of a game on the road against East Carolina this Saturday.
Yes, Quinton Flowers is a talented QB. But, he has been erratic throwing and just “pretty good” with his legs, so far. There is no doubt while talented, the Bulls have benefited from playing bad teams. We simply need to see more, unbeaten or not, to move them up.
4. Tampa Bay Bucs- An impressive blowout of the Bears at home week one was undone by being manhandled by the Vikings and backup QB Case Keenum in game two. Jameis Winston is the focal point for the Bucs and he threw three INTs last week.
And, the Bucs could not run the ball and really abandoned it last week in Minnesota. They are 1-1, with two large home games coming with the Giants and then a massive Thursday nighter with the Patriots. Time to see what they are made of and if they will move up.
3. UCF- The Knights were very impressive at Maryland in a 38-10 win last week. In fact, when you consider all the prominent college teams games last Saturday, UCF had the most decisive win against the best opponent. And they did so, having just like FSU, and Miami to wait three weeks in between their first game and their second game.
QB McKenzie Milton is a true dual threat and the Knights have run the ball well in their two victories. It is a small sample and they do have a showdown in the American conference with Memphis in a re-scheduled game Saturday night. For now, UCF deserves this slot.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Yes. It’s early. But, yes. They are 2-1 with two blowout wins. And while you could dismiss their easy victory over the Texans in week one, you can’t ignore the 44-7 shallacking of the Ravens in London last Sunday. The Jags defense led by veteran newcomer Calais Campbell and young stars in the making like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler has looked good in the wins.
Also, Leonard Fournette has provided the power run game to help take the pressure off Blake Bortles. Borles responded with a 4 TD game last week. You can question the competition a bit, but the Jags have two lopsided victories. They deserve this spot.
1. Florida Gators- Ok. We know this will generate debate and criticism, but let’s be honest. When we all saw how dismal Florida looked on offense in Arlington, TX, against Michigan week one, there were a lot of people speculating the Gators might lose to both Tennessee and at Kentucky. Well, in both cases, Florida did the opposite and gutted out dramatic wins. So, they deserve a ton of credit. The SEC is hard. Ask Missouri the last two years. Ask Vandy, year in and year out.
And Jim McElwain continues to succeed in close games with these last two moving him to 9-1 in SEC games decided by seven points or less. The Gators are still trying to figure out the QB spot. They will go with veteran Luke Del Rio to start this week against the Commodores. Here’s the reality. The Gators won’t stay on the top spot for very long. But for now, those two wins? In the SEC? They deserve this bump.