Championship Chase: Week One Stock Report

Frank AhrensSenior Writer ISeptember 1, 2008

From the first weekend of college football—all five, glorious, heady, fall-off-the-wagon, wonderful days of it—we learned quite a lot. We learned that the ACC, well, stinks. And right now, the Big East looks like a two-team league—WVU and South Florida.

We’ll see if Cincy can pull an upset of Oklahoma next week in Norman. There’s precedent. (Tune in to ESPN Classic today at 1 p.m. for the rebroadcast of WVU’s 1982 upset of Oklahoma.)

We didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know about Clemson. We saw two of the leading Heisman candidates—Beanie Wells and Knowshon Moreno—get dinged up as well as a Heisman dark horse, Mizzou’s Jeremy Maclin.

Meanwhile, we saw another Heisman candidate—WVU’s Pat White—start burnishing his resume with five touchdown passes.

And, finally, we learned this: Pitt is not this year’s Big East champion, it is not a Top 25 team, it is exactly what sensible people have known all along—this year’s version of last year’s 5-7 team. To quote the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail’s Mike Casazza: “Can we stop talking about Pitt now?”

We're posting this before the AP Week One Top 25 poll comes out, but there should be no surprises: Clemson out, Auburn up, Texas or Texas Tech up into the Top 10. So here’s a look at the preseason AP Top 10 and how each team’s stock fared during Week 1:

1) Georgia: No CHANGE. Workman-like 45-21 victory over Georgia Southern. (Does Erk Russell still coach there? What is “Erk” short for, anyway?) No test Saturday against Central Michigan; the fun starts the next week with a trip to South Carolina and then to Arizona State the week after.

2) Ohio State: NO CHANGE. Expected pummeling of Youngstown State Penguins. (Fearsome!)  It’s a season-changer for the Buckeyes if Wells is out for an extended period of time, beginning Sept. 13 against Southern Cal.

3) Southern Cal: UP. Speaking of, Trojans engage in a little revolutionary activity at Mr. Jefferson’s university, meaning they went all Lexington and Concord on the Cavaliers. (Fearsome, but in a really, really creepy way.)

4) Oklahoma: NO CHANGE. Routs Chattanooga in a weird, lightning-delayed game. Next week: Cincy visits Norman; Sooners get first test. Cincy defense may give Sam Bradford Fiesta Bowl flashbacks that would make a Vietnam veteran’s LSD-fueled flashback seem like relaxation therapy. One can hope.

5) Florida: NO CHANGE. Florida would have risen a bit had it managed to score in the first quarter. Still no go-to back behind Tim Tebow. We’ll know more about the Gators after next Saturday’s tilt vs. the Miami Hurricanes. Not everything, but something.

6) Mizzou: NO CHANGE. Should have moved up if the Tigers had shown any proclivity at all—any—for playing defense. Every national championship team for the past number of years has allowed about 16 points per game. The Tigers need to button down.

7) LSU: SLIGHTLY UP. Lose your senior quarterback? Lose his heir apparent? No problem! Crazy ol’ Les Miles plugs in Harvard JV player, who does just fine.

8) WVU: NO CHANGE. Gets expected blowout win over I-AA Villanova, Pat White 2.0 emerges, tossing five touchdown passes. Suddenly, a meaningful early-season test looms on the road Saturday against the East Carolina Pirates. (Arrr!)

9) Clemson: DELISTED. Clemson, with high expectations, blows it on the national stage. Shocker.

10) Auburn: UP SLIGHTLY: Only because Clemson drops. Auburn defense looks solid vs. lesser foe, but no quarterback emerges as leader of new spread offense.


South Florida: A win, yes, over a I-AA team, but a dominant one. This schedule is made to order for 8-0 or 7-1 heading to a competitive game at Cincy. Here are the Bulls’s following opponents: UCF, Kansas, Florida International, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville.  Kansas presents the only possible speed bump.