NCAA Women’s Power Rankings: Tar Heels, Orange Lead Charge

1.      North Carolina—Before the season even started, the Tarheels were ranked No. 1 in many preseason polls. They did not disappoint in their season opener against Florida, who they defeated convincingly 20-8.

2.      Syracuse—The Orange have opened their season at 2-0 with blowouts against Stetson and Jacksonville. Their offense was nearly unstoppable in both games, but they travel to Virginia near the end of the month to play an always competitive Virginia.

3.      Northwestern—After defeating Virginia by the skin of their teeth, Northwestern will face an even greater challenge in Duke this Saturday, on the road nonetheless. They displayed a strong offensive stance against Virginia and will need a repeat performance if they hope to get the road win.

4.      Duke—This past weekend, Duke won two games on their own field. The first was a blowout against Elon, 25-4, the second a 14-11 win against Louisville. With other powerhouses like North Carolina and Syracuse, Duke has been easily overlooked in the preseason, but they are always competing at a high level, and this season should be no different.

5.      Virginia—They may have lost their season opener against Northwester, but just barely. After suffering a heartbreaking 13-12 loss against the Wildcats, Virginia will be looking to bounce back this Saturday against Loyola, who has yet to play their season opener.

6.      Penn State—Though they have yet to open their season, Penn State is always highly competitive. They finished last season at 14-7, and have improved their team on both ends of the field.

7.      Massachusetts—This Saturday, UMass will take on UConn, one of their regional rivals. The team is coming off a ridiculously good 2013 season, and they hope to continue their success into 2014 by winning the coveted NCAA Tournament.

8.      Loyola—This Saturday marks Loyola’s season opener against Virginia, which will be played on the road. The positive? Virginia is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Maryland. The negative? Virginia is one of the most talented teams in the league, and they defeated Loyola last year 10-9. That game will certainly be on the minds of the returning players.

9.      Florida—The Gators had the unfortunate task of facing North Carolina in their season opener, which ended in a miserable 8-20 loss. Their next four games will be played at home, which should help them get their play on the right track.

10.     Notre Dame—With a big 19-7 win against Michigan for their home opener, the Fighting Irish are already flying high early in the season. The next couple of weeks pose fairly easy match-ups by Division I standards, giving the team plenty of time to get their groove.