Grading the Preseason Top 25 After Week 10

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2013

Grading the Preseason Top 25 After Week 10

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    We're 10 weeks through the 2013 college football season, so that means it's time to grade the preseason rankings to see how the polls have held up.

    The upper echelon of teams has mostly stayed consistent, with Alabama and Oregon taking care of business.

    However, teams like Boise State and USC, who were ranked in the preseason, have seen their seasons implode this year.

    Here's how the grading of the preseason AP poll works:

    A: 0-2 spots off

    B: 3-5 spots off

    C: 6-10 spots off

    D: 11-20 spots off

    F: 21 or more spots off

    To give some perspective, here's a breakdown of how many times each grade appears on this list:

    A: 8

    B: 3

    C: 3

    D: 1

    F: 10

25. Oregon State

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    Two weeks ago, the Oregon State Beavers were ranked No. 25 in the country despite falling to FCS Eastern Washington in Week 1.

    But two straight losses to Stanford and USC over the past two games have dropped the Beavers to 6-3 overall and out of the AP poll all together.

    Regardless, quarterback Sean Mannion has been one of the best gunslingers in the country with 31 touchdowns and 3,540 yards passing.

    The Beavers have a bye week in Week 11 but return to action on Nov. 16 against Arizona State.

24. USC

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    It's no surprise that the USC Trojans, ranked No. 24 in the preseason, get a failing grade here.

    The Trojans fired Lane Kiffin at the end of September after a rough 3-2 start that was capped off with a 62-41 blowout defeat to Arizona State.

    Since then, though, the Trojans have improved to 6-3 on the season and are actually starting to play well. Defensively, the Trojans give up the 13th-fewest points in the country, according to ESPN.


23. Wisconsin

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    Grade: A

    Currently ranked at No. 21 in the AP poll, the voters were nearly right on with the Wisconsin Badgers in the preseason.

    The Badgers have quietly been one of the Big Ten's best teams at 6-2 overall, including a marquee win over Northwestern when the Wildcats were ranked No. 19 on Oct. 12.

    Melvin Gordon has been a superstar running back in 2013, racking up 1,074 yards already this season.

    The Badgers face BYU in Week 11.

22. Northwestern

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Grade: F

    A 4-0 start by Northwestern had fans in Chicago thinking Pat Fitzgerald and Co. finally had a team capable of winning the Big Ten.

    But a 40-30 loss has since spurned a five-game losing streak, made worse by the Hail Mary that Nebraska beat Northwestern on in Week 10.

    Now, the Wildcats have just three games to get two more wins and become bowl eligible. And with matchups against Michigan and Michigan State scheduled, that could be a tough task.


21. UCLA

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: B

    Sitting at No. 16 in the country, pollsters in the beginning of the season weren't as confident in the UCLA Bruins as they are now.

    Quarterback Brett Hundley looked like a Heisman candidate early in the season. But losses to Oregon and Stanford all but eliminated the Bruins from Pac-12 title contention.

    Nevertheless, the Bruins are still 6-2 and, with a strong finish to the season, should appear in a late December, and possibly even early January, bowl game.

20. TCU

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    Grade: F

    With Casey Pachall and Devonte Fields all coming back, the TCU Horned Frogs were poised to make a run at a Big 12 title. 

    But a loss to LSU in Week 1, followed by an injury to Pachall in Week 2, crippled the Horned Frogs. TCU now stands at just 3-6 overall and will need to win out to even make a bowl game.

    TCU is currently riding a three-game losing streak and has also lost four of its last five. The only win in that stretch came to lowly Kansas.






19. Boise State

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    Grade: F

    A Week 1 loss to the Washington Huskies knocked the Boise State Broncos out of the rankings, and they haven't been back since. 

    Despite not having faced a team that was ranked all season, the Broncos are just 6-3 this season and look to be out of the chase for a Mountain West title.

    Running back Jay Ajayi has been impressive this year, though, accumulating 1,008 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

    Following a bye in Week 11, the Broncos face Wyoming at home on Nov. 16.

18. Nebraska

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Grade: F

    With losses to UCLA and Minnesota, the Cornhuskers have fallen completely out of the AP poll this season.

    But Week 10's win over Northwestern, which came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the game, could be the spark Bo Pelini is looking for.

    At 6-2, the Cornhuskers are certainly no slouch of a Big Ten squad. They'll be put to the test though on Nov. 9, as they travel to the Big House to face Michigan.

17. Michigan

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    With two losses in their last three games, the Michigan Wolverines have fallen out of the rankings. 

    Despite some shaky performances against Akron and UConn, the Wolverines still started their seasons 5-0. But losses to Penn State in overtime and Michigan State last week have since humbled the squad.

    Quarterback Devin Gardner has struggled with consistency this season, as he has 13 touchdown passes but 11 picks.

    The Wolverines will try to pick up the pieces against Nebraska at home this week.



16. Oklahoma

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    Grade: B

    Ranked No. 12 in the Week 11 poll, the Sooners have beaten out the preseason expectations so far.

    At 7-1, the Sooners are among the top competitors in a wild Big 12. The team's only loss came to the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Shootout on Oct. 12.

    Oklahoma responded to that loss though with two straight wins, including handing Texas Tech its first loss of the season.

    On Thursday, the Sooners face arguably their biggest test of the year, as they face the No. 5 Baylor Bears, who are undefeated.

15. Texas

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    Grade: F

    With the most returning starters nationally, the Texas Longhorns were a darkhorse national title contender in the preseason.

    But a 1-2 start derailed the Longhorns season and knocked them out of the rankings. They haven't gotten back in the polls since, although they received the most votes of any unranked team in the Week 11 poll.

    Texas has turned around its season since starting 1-2 with five straight wins to start Big 12 play. The Longhorns now control their own destiny to a conference title and a BCS berth.

    But with dates against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to end the season, Texas could slide as the season draws to a close.

14. Notre Dame

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    Grade: C

    Fresh off a 12-0 regular season in 2012 and an appearance in the national title game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were picked in the top 15 to start 2013.

    But losses to Michigan and Oklahoma have set the Fighting Irish back in their pursuit of a second-straight BCS bowl game, as they now rank No. 24 in the country.

    Quarterback Tommy Rees has been a suitable, but at times inconsistent, replacement to Everett Golson with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

    Notre Dame will put its four-game winning streak to the test on the road against Pittsburgh in Week 11.

13. Oklahoma State

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

    Grade: A

    Currently ranked 15th in the country, the poll voters seemed to have a good grasp on Mike Gundy and his Oklahoma State Cowboys team in the preseason.

    The only blemish on Oklahoma State's 7-1 record is an upset loss on the road to West Virginia. Had the Cowboys not dropped that one, they would almost certainly be in the Top 10.

    Despite troubles in finding a consistent rushing attack or a steady signal-caller between Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh, the Cowboys still rank 15th in the nation in scoring, per ESPN.

    The Cowboys should improve to 8-1 in Week 11, as they face the Kansas Jayhawks, who haven't won a Big 12 game since 2010.

12. LSU

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Grade: A

    Currently ranked No. 13, the preseason poll was nearly dead-on with the LSU Tigers. 

    With a 7-2 record, including two wins over ranked opponents, the Tigers have quietly been one of the SEC's best in 2013. 

    Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been a huge star in Baton Rouge, tossing for 2,492 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. 

    Now, the Tigers are set to face top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 9 in a game that will surely shakeup the landscape of college football as a whole. Should the Tigers win, they could make a run at a berth into the SEC title game. 

11. Florida State

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C

    Not even the most optimistic preseason voters could've seen the Florida State Seminoles coming this year. 

    Despite having a redshirt freshman at quarterback, FSU finds itself ranked No. 3 in the AP poll after beating Miami last week. 

    And that redshirt freshman quarterback? Well, Jameis Winston is among the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy with 24 touchdowns passes en route to a perfect 8-0 record. 

    The Seminoles don't face a ranked opponent in the remaining part of the regular season, so the 'Noles should coast to the ACC title game undefeated. 

10. Florida

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    A Week 2 loss to the Miami Hurricanes was just the beginning of what's been a long season in Gainesville. 

    The Gators, who currently stand at 4-4 and are unranked, have dealt with a multitude of issues, including a season-ending injury to quarterback Jeff Driskel. 

    Right now, Florida is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, including a 23-20 defeat at the hands of Georgia in Week 10.

    With four games left on the Gators schedule, they should be able to get bowl eligible should they beat Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern. But if they drop one of those games, Florida will have to upset South Carolina or Florida State to make it to the postseason. 

9. Louisville

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    Grade: D

    Louisville's only loss of the season, a 38-35 upset at the hands of the UCF Knights, vaulted the Cardinals out of the national title hunt and out of the top 10 of the rankings. 

    Despite sitting at 7-1, the Cardinals haven't faced a ranked team all year and currently sit at No. 20 in the rankings. 

    Teddy Bridgewater has looked impressive statistically with 2,557 yards passing and 23 touchdowns. But his inability to put away teams has knocked him from the Heisman race. 

    Coming off a bye week, Louisville returns to action this week against a UConn team that hasn't won a game yet. 

8. Clemson

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    Grade: A

    One of the very few preseason rankings that is right on the money, the Clemson Tigers were picked eighth at the beginning of the year and currently sit at No. 8 in the AP poll. 

    What's disappointing about the Tigers season, though, is that they were sitting pretty at No. 3 heading into a highly anticipated matchup with Florida State. 

    But the Seminoles routed Clemson, 51-14, on Oct. 19 and all but ended the Tigers' dream of a national title. 

    However, Clemson is still 8-1, and quarterback Tajh Boyd is still one of the best signal-callers in the country. 

    Clemson gets this week off but returns to face Georgia Tech on Nov. 14, a Thursday night game. 

7. Texas A&M

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    Grade: B

    Johnny Manziel has been brilliant this year. But if this season has proved anything, it's that he can't do it all himself. 

    With two losses on the year to Alabama and Auburn, the Aggies find themselves ranked outside the top 10 at No. 11. That's just a bit lower than their No. 7 preseason ranking.

    A big reason for Texas A&M's struggles at times has been its poor defensive play. The Aggies rank just 80th in the nation in points allowed, giving up nearly 30 per game, according to ESPN

    At two games back of Alabama in the SEC West and having already lost to the Crimson Tide, it's hard to imagine that the Aggies will be competing for a conference title. 

    But an at-large to a BCS game is still very much a possibility.

6. South Carolina

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C

    Lackluster performances from Jadeveon Clowney and losses to Georgia and Tennessee appeared to bury the South Carolina Gamecocks. 

    But on Oct. 26, the Gamecocks upset previously unbeaten Missouri and injected some much-needed life into their season. 

    Now at 7-2, the Gamecocks are one loss away from Missouri controlling their destiny to the SEC title game. 

    Currently, South Carolina ranks No. 13 in the polls because of their two losses. But this team is red-hot and is certainly on the path to getting an at-large bid to a BCS game. 

5. Georgia

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    A Week 1 loss to Clemson, followed by a two-game losing streak in the middle of October to Missouri and Vanderbilt, have shot the Georgia Bulldogs out of the rankings despite being voted in the top five in the preseason. 

    Georgia looked like it was going to put that loss to Clemson behind them and enter back into the national title conversation before the Missouri Tigers stormed in and upset Aaron Murray and Co. on Oct. 12. 

    The Bulldogs are currently 5-3 and are receiving the second-most votes of any unranked team in the poll. But it's hard to imagine that the Bulldogs have any sort of shot at a BCS berth. 

    Georgia is coming off a rebound win against Florida last week and faces FCS Appalachian State this week, so the Bulldogs should at least earn bowl eligibility. 


4. Stanford

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: A

    The only reason the Stanford Cardinal, who are ranked No. 6 in this week's AP poll, aren't in the top five is because of an upset loss to Utah on Oct. 12. 

    Besides that hiccup, though, the Cardinal have proven to be one of the best teams in the country with wins over four ranked teams, including UCLA and Oregon State. 

    Running back Tyler Gaffney has been brilliant this season, racking up 886 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.3 yards a carry. 

    Stanford can put that loss to Utah behind them once and for all on Thursday if they can find a way to upend Marcus Mariota on the Oregon Ducks in what is surely going to be one of college football's most important games this season. 

3. Oregon

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    Grade: A

    The Oregon Ducks haven't skipped a beat under new head coach Mark Helfrich and currently sit at No. 3 in the AP poll, right where voters had them in the preseason. 

    The Ducks, who've been led by Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, are a perfect 8-0 with wins over Washington and UCLA. 

    But Oregon faces its biggest test of the year on Thursday, as it's set to square off against the Stanford Cardinal, who are looking to get back into the national title conversation after losing to Utah earlier this year. 


2. Ohio State

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: A

    Winners of 26-straight games, the Ohio State Buckeyes haven't left the top five of the AP poll all season. Currently, Urban Meyer and Co. are ranked No. 4. 

    The Buckeyes, who are 9-0 and three wins away from back-to-back perfect seasons, had some rough patches at the beginning of the season with the injury to Braxton Miller

    But over the last two weeks, Ohio State has played its best football of the year with blowout wins over Penn State and Purdue. 

    Ohio State gets a bye this week but returns on Nov. 16, as it faces Illinois on the road. 

1. Alabama

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: A

    When you're back-to-back national champions, you're probably going to be picked No. 1 at the start of the season. And if you start the season 8-0 with two wins over ranked teams, you'll probably stay atop the AP poll. 

    Well, that's exactly what the Alabama Crimson Tide have done this season, as they're sitting pretty as the top-ranked team in the nation. 

    To no surprise, the Crimson Tide boast the country's stoutest defense, giving up just over nine points per game, according to ESPN

    But this week, the Tide face their biggest test of the year, as they face the red-hot LSU Tigers in a game that will make or break Alabama's chances at a three-peat.