Understanding Why Georgia and Ohio State Were Jumped by USC

J.C. AyvaziSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2008

After one week, the AP writers and the coaches participating in the USA Today poll have elected to "take a Mulligan" and reset the top of their rankings.  It was painfully obvious that they hooked their first tee shot deep into the woods after an opening week that featured all three of the top teams winning.

How can such a thing happen you ask?  Is it all about Trojan love, no doubt conjured by those evil gamesters at ESPN?  Could it be yet another slight to the majesty of the SEC?  How about another way for unbelievers to denigrate the Big Ten?  

No my friends, we are looking at a proper conclusion to what happened this opening week along with a bit closer observation to what is going on with these three teams.

The former number one Georgia Bulldogs defeated Georgia Southern of the Southern Conference while losing starting defensive tackle Jeff Owens for the season to a torn ACL. 

They had already lost starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant—freshman All-SEC last year—for the season during training camp, but after most of the preseason polls were taken.

Mark Richt's Bulldogs suffer major hits to each side of the line while winning at home against a Division I-AA school (sorry, I'm not playing that p.c. foolishness game the NCAA started last year with the renaming of the divisions.)  Up next is another lower division school, Central Michigan of the Mid-America Conference.

The Ohio State Buckeyes beat Youngstown State of the Missouri Valley Conference at home—another I-AA school—and their offensive star Chris "Beanie" Wells went down with a leg/foot injury that has yet been officially determined. 

He could not walk on it while leaving the field and returned to the sideline in a protective boot later during the game.

Next week, they gorge on a Mid-America Conference cupcake of their own, Ohio University.  This will be the first time Ohio St. plays Ohio U. since 1999.  The time before that was 1902—what an compelling in-state rival they must be for Jim Tressel's Buckeyes.

Meanwhile, Pete Carroll's USC Trojans traveled to an Atlantic Coast Conference school with questions about every aspect of the Trojan offense save running back. 

They crushed Virginia, allowing one touchdown aided by 40 yards in penalties during a brief period where the Trojans composure slipped after scoring three TD's in three series.

Quarterback Mark Sanchez proved his knee was sound and his ability to lead the offense has improved since his three game stint in the middle of last season. USC's wide receivers made many fine plays, scoring twice and serving notice that last season's talent drop is an aberration that has been addressed. 

The O-line, questioned due to four starters leaving, had little trouble opening holes for the running game and keeping the Cavaliers pass rush away from Sanchez for the most part.

Not playing this week, the Trojans await a visit from Ohio State.  USC's practice sessions may prove to be more stimulating than either the Bulldog/Chippewas or Buckeye/Bobcat skirmishes.

This week's net results are one team smacking a BCS division school on the road while answering questions of a key player's health, while the two other schools strangle lower division competition at home and suffer significant injuries.

More importantly, these poll results seem to be tangible evidence that voters are starting to pay attention to what many—including some of these very pollsters—have said about the unsavory habit of contending teams ducking other elite squads in favor of indulging their sweet-tooth by scheduling cream-filled treats.

For the record, Georgia hosts a I-AA school, a MAC school and visits Arizona St. of the Pac-10; Ohio St. also hosts a I-AA school, a MAC school and visits USC of the Pac-10; while USC visited Virginia of the ACC, hosts Ohio St. of the Big Ten along with their yearly battle against the University of Notre Dame.

Padding your schedule with Division I-AA schools and non BCS league schools should be a negative consideration in poll placement.  Occasionally, one I-AA or non BCS school on the schedule could be explained for various reasons, but doubling your pleasure while claiming to be a legitimate title contender ventures into absurdity. 

Only until the offending institutions are forced to suffer for these scheduling indiscretions shall they change their ways.