The Gridiron Gradebook: BCS Edition
It's been a couple of weeks since the last installment of the ever-evolving Gridiron Gradebook.
This time, we focus our attention on the BCS Top 10, which has been under unprecedented scrutiny since its release on Sunday. Okay, that part about the scrutiny being unprecedented is only a joke, but by the looks of the comment boards across the internet, the first BCS poll of 2008 is anything but funny.
1. Texas 7-0 Grade: A-
The Longhorns proved two weeks ago that they are deserving after their domination of Oklahoma in the second half. Then followed that up with a 25-point beating of then-Heisman favorite, Chase Daniel and the Missouri Tigers last Saturday.
The biggest hurdle for the Longhorns is on defense, where in their last two games they're giving up points like the average Big Ten basketball team in the sixties. It's probably no coincidence that they've played ranked opponents in those last two games.
Quite a few people are crowning the Longhorns as one of the favorites to play for the National title, but they have three remaining games against ranked teams, and close the regular season at home against Texas A&M. Let's wait a couple more weeks before we even put Texas in the Big 12 title game.
2. Alabama 7-0 Grade: B-
If the first half of the season is any indication, the Tide should finish the season at 8-4. You heard it here first. The reason for their decline is unknown, though we have all seen the signs all season.
In the first half against Georgia, Alabama scored points like it was their job, which I guess it was, as they raced out to a 31-0 halftime lead. But in the second half, they were outscored by three touchdowns in the second half. Then, last Saturday against Ole Miss, the Tide sprinted to a 24-3 halftime lead, but had to hang on for a four point win. The Rebels shut them out in the second half outscoring the Tide 17-0 after halftime.
If Alabama wants to win in Knoxville, they will need to finish in the second half. The last time they visited Knoxville, they led 13-6 after three quarters and had kept Tennessee's offense out of the end zone. It was the fourth quarter they wished they could have skipped.
So, if Alabama can't finish in the second half of games, what makes us think they can finish in the second half of the season?
3. Penn State 8-0 Grade: A
The biggest game of their season is Saturday night in primetime at Ohio State. If they can win that one, then there's no reason why they can't win out and play for the National Championship.
If only it were as easy as it sounded. Really, it doesn't seem out of the question for Penn State, who opened as a one-point favorite (the line jumped to two-and-a-half by Wednesday), to roll into Columbus and thump the Buckeyes.
Last Saturday, Michigan seemed primed for an upset, but found out that, unlike Alabama, Penn State knows how to finish games. Add to that Nittany Lion QB Daryll Clark, an Ohio native, squaring off against Terrell Pryor, a Pennsylvania native whom Penn State recruited quite heavily, and there is a lot riding on this game.
Not to mention what it means to the BCS poll.
4. Oklahoma 6-1 Grade: A
The Sooners actually have a better shot at the Big 12 title game than Texas. They close the season against a couple of current Top Ten teams against Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State. Until then, though, the road seems easy.
Oklahoma beat Kansas by two touchdowns last week. Unless, they show up late or drunk in their next three games, they should face No. 8 Texas Tech with just the one loss.
5. USC 6-1 Grade: A+
There isn't much to be said about a 69-0 win at Washington State except for when I was asked how they beat the Cougars by that score, I said, "They had an extra point blocked in the second quarter. This team is clicking.
6. Oklahoma State 7-0 Grade: A-
The Cowboys travel to Austin to take on No. 1 Texas. The theme of the Big 12 this season is offense, and both teams have plenty. Ultimately, Oklahoma State will have to stop somebody from scoring, and that somebody may be the Longhorns.
It's hard to go against a team who's coach is both a man, and 40. Oklahoma State upsets Texas this week, furthering clouding the already murky BCS and Big 12 picture.
7. Georgia 6-1 Grade: B+
Georgia let Vanderbilt hang around about two minutes longer than they should've by missing a field goal with just under three minutes left. They have a huge test at No. 13 LSU Saturday before squaring off against Florida next week for what should be the SEC championship.
For a half against Alabama, Georgia was terrible, and the rest of the country won't soon let them forget it. Beating LSU would be a big step toward erasing that memory.
8. Texas Tech 7-0 Grade: B
The Red Raiders have played unranked teams all season, but now begins a string of four in a row at Kansas this Saturday. It's likely that Texas Tech hasn't faced even a decent defense all season. They've only scored fewer than 40 points twice thus far.
They have made their way through the first half of the season without a challenge, but that is all about to change. After Kansas, they face Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, where it's almost a certain they will lose at least once.
9. Ohio State 7-1 Grade: B
Ohio State is in the catbird's seat entering their Saturday matchup with Penn State in Columbus. They control their own destiny in the Big Ten, but more importantly, their third National Championship Game berth is in sight.
The Buckeyes have been inconsistent all year. They haven't dominated teams they should have dominated. Then they blew out No. 20 Michigan State, 44-7. So it's hard to tell which bunch will show up against Penn State.
The jury is out on whether they are for real, but one thing is for sure. Beating Penn State will put them back in the conversation.
10. Florida 5-1 Grade: A
For the record, Florida only has a loss because they had an extra point blocked during the one game they decided to take off. USC spent most of the evening watching the back of JacQuizz Rodgers when they took a night off at Oregon State.
The Gators might be the best team in the country, but at No. 10 in the BCS, they may not get the chance to prove it. They still play Georgia in the Cocktail Party, most likely to decide who represents the East in the SEC Championship Game. A win there may out them over the top, provided that at least three of the teams ahead of them in the BCS decide to take a night off sometime before the end of the season.
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