1. Ohio State
Complete arrogance is a luxury, but when you got it, flaunt it. Ohio State can phone in a sloppy home performance against Hawaii, rotate two misfiring QBs ineffectively, waltz into halftime with a measly 14-0 lead, and still stride across the finish line with a 38-0 win over the Rainbow Warriors. (In their full rainbow throwbacks, no less.) The Buckeyes are like an elite marathon runner with a lead so big they can stop for a roadside donut, even if you want to fret over the two-QB system and make something out of nothing.
They got a nice political boost when every team openly questioning their strength of schedule did foolish things like losing to Toledo at home. Enjoy that donut, Brutus. It ain't flaunting if you got it.
2. Michigan State
Since the Top Whatever ranks teams based on games actually played, the Spartans get the 2 spot via beating the Oregon Ducks, 31-28. Sure, they almost blew a lead and had to fend off Vernon Adams, but they did it, including four times on fourth down.
Note this is the second half of a home-and-home that produced two compelling games people enjoyed. Both teams emerge as stress-tested products. Meanwhile, someone else lost to Toledo at home or struggled with East Carolina or barely put away an FCS team at home in overtime. NOT NAMING NAMES, MIND YOU, BUT JUST NOTICE THAT.
P.S. Michigan State's lines are good enough to keep them up here as long as they'd like to stay.
The poll rankings are out
3. Notre Dame
Virginia now plays the role of Designated Losing Team Of Quality for the entire universe this year. They played a game second to UCLA in Week 1, lost to Notre Dame on a bombed TD this week, and will probably surrender a game-winning punt return to Boise in two weeks in Charlottesville. (Or worse, since the rule with UVA is "it could always be worse and will be 10 minutes from now.")
Losing Malik Zaire is horrible and no, no, stop saying anything Ohio State did in 2014 has any bearing. It doesn't, especially when you start comparing any backup to Cardale Jones. Jones is an incomparable real-life Jaeger and has two small pilots who control his every action. Both of them are really good at Twitter.
Eh, playing MTSU in a workmanlike 37-10 win at home counts for something, especially when other SEC West teams were doing things like losing to Toledo or letting Jacksonville State take them to overtime. Ooh! Lane Kiffin appears to have learned who Derrick Henry is and to let him carry the ball in the red zone. This is slow progress, but this is the state of Alabama.
Honestly, does Alabama's slate make you feel any better about judging their talent level after this weekend? Does anyone's, now that you're two weeks into the season and realizing no one is really that great at football yet? Good, let's stop shitting on people's schedules for the moment, unless you lost to Toledo or almost lost to Jacksonville State. Which SOME TEAMS did.
Just repeat that last bit about testing yourself early and seeing what happens. Then disregard that advice for Tennessee, which beat Oklahoma for the better part of three quarters, then sat idly and watched Baker Mayfield figure out OU's new offense in front of a horrified Neyland Stadium. That may have had almost as much to do with playcalling down the stretch (Is that when you remembered Lloyd Carr's old offensive coordinator is running Tennessee's attack? It should have been.) but there's a kind of credit due to teams that play miserably for that long and still pull out a road win.
When everyone else looks as bad as they did in Week 2, Stoops Brother Chicken Salad will have to serve as a main course for dinner.
A good loss loss to Michigan State, if possible, should keep them in consideration for "teams that played another really good team and barely lost on the road." Adams should get better, the skill players are still unreal, and you might excuse an inability to stop the run if you credit Michigan State with having very large and mean people along the line. Oregon doesn't have quite as mean and large people, which is no insult to the large and mean Ducks.
7. Ole Miss
Haven't really played anyone, which is against the rules of the Top Whatever, but Chad Kelly at QB might have radically changed what this team is capable of. Still have the most piecemeal approach to running the ball ever -- Robert Nkemdiche ran for a TD against Fresno State in a 73-21 win this weekend -- but that might be a formality. If they put up half as many points as they're averaging against decent competition, they stand a chance with anyone in the nation.*
*Unlike some teams who can't score more than 12 against a MAC team at home or put away Jacksonville State at home before overtime.
If Notre Dame gets the vaunted UVA bounce, UCLA barely clings to the Top Whatever, even if going on the road to maul UNLV 37-3 barely qualifies as a road game.
Baylor and TCU, both out after playing patsies Lamar and Stephen F. Austin, respectively. (Lamar gave Baylor fits for a half, which: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .)
Texas A&M, though it did beat the MAC team it scheduled UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE in defeating Ball State, 56-23.
FSU, even though Dalvin Cook had a billion yards rushing against USF, because USF's offense makes me want to weep openly in public like a beloved world leader has died tragically.
Georgia, because Vandy is on the schedule and that is no one's fault but history's.
USC played Idaho, which is not really like playing a game at all.
Arkansas, because YOU LOST TO TOLEDO AT HOME.