Sunday, September 14, 2008

After Week 3, USC is clearly the top team in '08 right now!

Trojans head coach Pete Carroll has assembled plenty of talent at USC this season. Some believe it could be Carroll's best team. USC's 35-3 home cooking of the Big Ten's top rated program, Ohio State, clearly gives some strong evidence.

Some talking heads are ready to pass the torch to a team other than Ohio State in the Big Ten pecking order. Does a 13-10 win by Wisconsin at Fresno State pass the torch to a team that hasn't won a Big Ten title, since 2000? The Big Ten Conference season is two weeks away. Ohio State is still the team to beat.

USC looks very good. But, clearly the Pac 10 Conference has shown the good, the bad and the ugly this weekend. BYU blasted UCLA, UNLV beat Arizona State in Tempe and New Mexico knocked off Arizona this weekend, along with other losses in Week 3.

It's still very early in the 2008 College Football season, but some teams are clearly moving up and down (and out of) the Top 25, after Week 3. Who are the Top Teams right now in college football? Here's my take, after three weeks:
  1. USC Trojans (2-0) - Is there any question who should be #1 right now? Clearly, one of the most consistent BCS programs, since 2002, with six straight BCS appearances. Quality wins: at Virginia (ACC) Week 1 and vs. Ohio State (Big Ten) Week 3. The Pac 10 slate includes all nine other members. The Trojans will be idle Week 4 and will open Pac 10 play on September 25th at Oregon State (1-2, 0-1 Pac 10).
  2. Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) - UGA picks up a nice 14-7 victory in the SEC opener at South Carolina (1-2, 0-2 SEC). Further, the Bulldogs revenged last year's SEC opening loss at home to the Gamecocks (12-16 in '07). Now, the Bulldogs go on the road to face, an upset Arizona State (2-1) team, that is coming off a disappointing home OT loss 20-23 to UNLV in Week 3. Georgia has wins now over Georgia Southern (FCS) and Central Michigan (MAC) to go with their first SEC win...
  3. Florida Gators (2-0) - The Gators have home victories over Hawaii (WAC) and Miami-FL (ACC) to open the '08 season. The first real test will come this Saturday, as the Gators travel to Knoxville for a game at Top 25 Tennessee (1-1), who are coming off a 35-3 win in their home opener over UAB.
  4. Oklahoma Sooners (3-0) - The Sooners traveled on the road for the first time in Week 3 and picked up a solid 55-14 win at Washington (0-3, 0-1 Pac 10). The Sooners have wins over UT-Chattanooga (FCS), Cincinnati (Big East) and now Washington (Pac 10). The Sooners will take two weeks to prepare for home date with TCU (3-0, 1-0 MWC), who picked up a 31-14 win over the Pac 10 as well, beating Stanford 31-14 at home.
  5. Auburn Tigers (3-0, 1-0 SEC) - A similar track for Auburn, as Georgia, the Tigers revenge a SEC opening loss in '07 (14-19 vs. MSU) with a road opening SEC victory 3-2 at Mississippi State (1-2, 0-1 SEC). Auburn has beat UL Monroe (Sun Belt) and Southern Miss (C-USA) before picking up first SEC win to open '08. Big Top 10 match up at home with SEC rival LSU (2-0) coming in Week 4.
  6. Texas Longhorns (2-0) - Hurricane Ike postponed the Texas-Arkansas game this week. The home game will be postponed until September 27th. The Longhorns have wins over Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt) and at UTEP (C-USA) so far this season. The Longhorns host Rice (2-1, 2-0 C-USA) in Week 4.
  7. LSU Tigers (2-0) - The defending BCS champs have tune up victories over Appalachian State (FCS) Week 1 and North Texas (Sun Belt) Week 3. The real season begins Week 4 with a SEC opener at #5 Auburn (3-0).
  8. Missouri Tigers (3-0) - Coach Gary Pickel has the Tigers high powered offense rolling with 69-17 home victory over the Nevada (1-2). The Tigers have defeated Illinois (Big Ten), Southeast Missouri (FCS) and Nevada (WAC) to open '08. Next up: Buffalo (2-1, 1-0 MAC) at home.
  9. Oregon Ducks (3-0, 1-0 Pac 10) - Big OT come from behind road win 32-26 at Purdue for coach Mike Belotti and the Ducks. As I mentioned last week, "Bellotti is always dangerous if he gets strong QB play!" He will have to do his magic, with the Ducks down to their 3rd QB now. Wins to date: Pac 10 opener, Washington; Utah State (WAC), and Purdue (Big Ten). Next up: Boise State (2-0) at home.
  10. Ohio State (2-1) - Yes, the Buckeyes remain in my Top 10, despite a blowout loss at USC 35-3 in Week 3. The Buckeyes will not face a team of USC's skill set the rest of the way. Does anyone have more talent than #1 USC? Ohio State is the team to beat in the Big Ten in '08. They can match up better vs. others in the Top 10, especially if they eliminate costly penalities and turnovers they allowed at #1 USC and get their #1 RB back. Wins over Youngstown State (FCS) and Ohio U (MAC) don't make a strong resume. But, eight Big Ten games will and a trip to a BCS bowl game certainly remains on the minds of the Buckeye coaching staff. Next up: Troy (2-0) at home.
  11. Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) - Coach Nick Saban's crew picks up 41-7 win at home vs. Western Kentucky (1-2), who will join Sun Belt in '09. Next up: SEC opener at Arkansas (2-0).
  12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0) - Coach Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons were idle Week 3 and will open ACC play in Week 4 at Florida State (2-0).
  13. Brigham Young Cougars (3-0) - Solid non-BCS conference leader, so far in '08, building on the resume with second straight Pac 10 win, this week, over UCLA (1-1), at home, 59-0.
  14. Penn State (3-0) - So far, Joe Pa has the perfect script beginning for a sweet final season in Happy Valley, with his Nittany Lions winning on the road for the first time in Week 3, with 55-13 win at Syracuse (0-3). Next Up: Temple (1-2, 0-1 MAC) at home.
  15. Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) - The Badgers weathered an early road test at previously rated #20 Fresno State, with a 13-10 victory. The Badgers will return to road in two weeks, as they open Big Ten play Sepetember 27th at Michigan (1-2).
  16. Utah Utes (3-0, 1-0 MWC) - The Utes picked up a road win at in-state rival Utah State (0-3) 58-10 to remain unbeated, after wins at Michigan and at home in the MWC, vs. UNLV. Next Up: Air Force (3-0, 1-0 MWC).
  17. South Florida Bulls (3-0) - Second half comeback at home vs. then rated #19 Kansas (2-1) keep the Bulls undefeated in '08. Next up: FIU (0-2) at home.
  18. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0) - The Red Raiders win third straight OOC home game with 43-7 win over SMU (1-2, 0-1 C-USA). Next up: Massachusetts (FCS) at home.
  19. East Carolina Pirates (3-0, 1-0 C-USA) - Avoided C-USA upset at Tulane (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) with a come from behind 28-24 victory on the road. Next up: at North Carolina State (1-2, 0-1 ACC).
  20. Clemson Tigers (2-1, 1-0 ACC) - Open ACC play with 27-9 win over North Carolina State (1-2, 0-1 ACC) at home. Next up: South Carolina State (FCS) at home.
  21. Tennessee Volunteers (1-1) - The Volunteers rebounded from disappointing Labor Day loss at UCLA with a 35-3 home win over UAB (0-3, 0-1 C-USA). Next Up: #3 Florida (2-0) at home to open SEC play.
  22. TCU Horned Frogs (3-0, 1-0 MWC) - Coach Gary Patterson's team beat Stanford (1-2, 1-1 Pac 10) at home. Next up: At cross town rival SMU (1-2, 0-1 C-USA).
  23. Kansas Jayhawks (2-1) - Lose big opportunity at then rated #23 South Florida (3-0) 34-37 with second half collapse. Next up: Sam Houston State (FBS) at home.
  24. Vanderbilt Commodores(3-0, 1-0 SEC) - Coach Bobby Johnson has the Commodores playing solid football with wins at Miami-OH, vs. SEC foe (South Carolina) and a 38-21 win vs. Rice (2-1, 2-0 C-USA) at home in Week 3.
  25. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-0, 1-0 C-USA) - Coach Todd Graham and the Golden Hurricane enjoyed a bye week and will host New Mexico (1-2, 0-1 MWC) in Week 4, who are coming off 36-28 home win over Arizona.

Out of the Top 25 after Week 3 - Arizona State (2-1, 1-0 Pac 10) and Fresno State (1-1)

Team to Watch - Iowa (3-0) - Win Cy-Hawk Trophy 17-5 over Iowa State (2-1)... the Hawkeyes face first road test at Pittsburgh (1-1)... for another Big Ten vs. Big East inter-conference battle.


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