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THE TOP WHATEVER, in which UCF remains No. 1 until someone does something about it

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It’s the 2018 return of The Top Whatever, college football’s weekly ranking of only the teams that must be ranked.

Alabama v Louisville
Alabama fans in Orlando, home of UCF
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Top Whatever exists for one reason: So I can rank teams however the hell I want to rank them.

This is because rankings are generally silly, especially amid Week 1. There is little actual evidence to say whether anyone is good. The stats will be half-lies. Everyone is rusty, and some teams are still figuring out which players they need to start to be successful. (Some good teams, even.)

The formula for ranking teams after Week 1 looks like this for most people:

  • 70 percent credit carried over from last season
  • 20 percent performance in Week 1
  • 10 percent petty personal grudges about teams or coaches they do not like

The most respectable part of that formula is the petty, because at least that’s consistent. My formula is much simpler:

  • 40 percent petty personal grudges
  • 30 percent strength of wins
  • 20 percent how good I think they could be potentially
  • 10 percent arbitrary judgment about whether a team was fun to watch

The formula may change at any moment. There will be no clarifications or explanations going forward. If this seems silly, then consider that you’re the one who thinks this is science or even a good idea. I never said it was a good idea. I said it’d be fun.

1. UCF. Champs stay champs by defeating bitter rivals UConn 56-17. HAIL.

2. North Texas. Beat SMU 46-23, which is just fine. A lot of important teams did just fine in Week 1, because most teams schedule lightly, but only one team in FBS offered fans a postgame wrestling match free with purchase of a ticket. Was it a classy affair, you ask?

HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN WAS THERE. Asked and answered, next please.

No other football team in America gives its fans a win in football, the chance to see a real wrasslin’ match on the same field on the same night, and can also claim Stone Cold Steve Austin as a former player.

For one week and one week alone, the Mean Green are among the chair-swingin’, beer-slamming kings of the sport. Hit us over the head with a folding chair if you disagree, but please swing hard, because the last thing I would want to do is live through the horrible experience of someone hitting me in the head with an actual folding chair.

3. Alabama. 51-14 over Louisville, a good team that will do good things later this season. There are good players — new starting QB Jawon Pass looked pretty great at times — and a good coach.

There is also a good chance this will be forgotten completely because this happened against Alabama, a team that sometimes makes FBS opponents look like FCS cupcakes. Some teams struggle when they play two QBs on offense. Some two-QB teams blow out pretty good competition by 37 points.

Some teams give Nick Saban a thin excuse to be weirdly hostile to a reporter on national television, but Saban really doesn’t need an excuse to do that anyway. Don’t give Alabama credit for that. They did enough other actually good things on Saturday to keep their account full for a few weeks.

4. Cody Thompson, Toledo. Author of the most efficient football play in the history of football plays, imo.

One of the shortest punt return TDs in the history of football. #SCtop10

A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on

Run that every time, never lose a game. See, football is easy.

5. Auburn. 21-16 over Washington in a game that really was like a lot of Week 1: the same two teams from last year, playing a game this year with almost no changes in appearance. Washington still looked like a really well-coached team being torn to pieces at the line of scrimmage by larger defensive linemen.

Auburn looked a lot like last year’s team, too — the version without running back Kerryon Johnson in the lineup. Auburn without a consistent running back played low-scoring games and scrapped along on defense and field goals. That might be what Auburn is for a minute until they figure out the red zone offense, and that was good enough to beat Washington anyway, so yeah. No complaints about plug-ugly-but-effective, is what I’m saying, Auburn. You could get plug-ugly and ineffective, but then you’d be Michigan.

5a. LSU. 33-17 over Miami, in which the Tigers basically did to the Canes what Notre Dame did to Michigan: Played an opponent who couldn’t run, banked points early and opportunistically, and made very few mistakes. Miami even ended up with more yards on the night, more first downs, and a better average yards per play. Still more proof that math is a lie, and only liars use it to prove things, nerds.

The questions about whether LSU has fixed anything are largely unanswered. For instance: QB Joe Burrow went 11 of 24 for 140 yards with zero TDs or INTs. If someone wants to extend that small down payment into a mortgage on “LSU HAS A REAL QB NOW,” then that someone has probably had at least one car repossessed.

6. TACTICAL REF. Computer show me “swole-ass nerd.”

King of swole-ass nerds, I salute you, and the “accountant who can brawl” look you rock so hard.

7. Notre Dame. Made Michigan look a very exact king of plug-ugly in a hammering, 24-17 win. The Irish looked efficient. They had barely 300 yards of offense, but made it count. They let Michigan have about the same amount, but let it go nowhere and got timely pressures and turnovers when needed most.

They’re actually not that categorically different than Michigan, except for the whole “We could actually run the ball” thing. This is basically going to be the reason Notre Dame can win any other game it plays this year, and why a three-loss Michigan will probably go to the Outback or Citrus Bowl and still end up beating Florida.

I don’t write the rules, I just read them, and that’s what is going to happen. Go Gators.

8. West Virginia. 40-14 flex over Tennessee. A rebuilding Tennessee, but whatever, the Mountaineers aren’t the ones to blame for Tennessee showing up for with a PARDON OUR MESS sign taped to each helmet.

By October, Will Grier is going to have full season of QB-type numbers, because he just threw for 429 yards and five TDs against an SEC defense*.

* Which one? Well, that’s a very good question, gotta go—

9. Ohio State. 77-31 over Oregon State, and let’s just remember that Oregon State went 1-11 last year, is very bad at football right now, and in a soccer relegation-type situation would have been sent down a level years ago at this point. This makes Oregon State the Blackpool of the Pac-12, which is actually insanely cool. Congratulations, Oregon State.

P.S. Ohio State is still disgustingly talented at every position on the field, this ranking means nothing, and I never answer my emails so don’t bother writing one.

10. Virginia Tech. 24-3 over a Florida State that stepped on every rake in its path. However, Week 1 is sometimes about watching the other team get hit in the face and wisely doing nothing to stop it, and the Hokies did that. Did the opponent with just 3 points outgain the team with 24 points? Yes, yes they did. I repeat: Math is a LIE.