Primed to Plummet

Which unbeaten teams, three weeks into the season, are likeliest to take a tumble? To get an idea, take a deeper look at the most telling number: yards per play
September 24, 2012

OKLAHOMA(No. 6 in AP poll)

In the opener at UTEP, the Sooners led only 10--7 after three quarters. They pulled out a 24--7 win, but they need to improve their rush defense. The Miners gained 6.2 yards per carry, significantly better than the 4.6 FBS average; against Mississippi the next week, UTEP averaged only 2.6. That's a bad sign for a team with championship hopes.

SOUTH CAROLINA(No. 7)

The Gamecocks traveled to Vanderbilt on the season's opening night and held on for a 17--13 victory, helped by a blown pass interference call late in the game. The data indicate two evenly matched teams: Vandy gained 4.7 yards per play to 4.4 for Carolina. Unless the Commodores are a top 10 team too, the Gamecocks shouldn't be No. 7.

TEXAS(No. 12)

The Longhorns' average margin of victory is 33.3, but they haven't challenged themselves by playing Wyoming, New Mexico and Mississippi. Wyoming and Ole Miss were able to move the ball, though, racking up 6.0 and 6.2 yards per play, respectively, while the FBS average last year was 5.6. David Ash has thrown well, but he has yet to face a Big 12 defense.

OHIO STATE(No. 16)

Quarterback Braxton Miller has improved in the passing game, but the Buckeyes' D has suddenly gone soft. Central Florida gained 5.5 and Cal 6.5 yards per play, which made both games close. To squeak out a 35--28 win last Saturday, the Buckeyes needed a penalty that nullified a touchdown and three missed field goals by the Golden Bears.

ED FENG, WHO HAS A PH.D. IN ENGINEERING FROM STANFORD, RUNS THEPOWERRANK.COM.

WORD PLAY

• After the ACC added Notre Dame for all sports except football and men's hockey last week, commissioner John Swofford said, "There is no need to add a 16th team to the league and there's no intention of doing so. In fact, from a practical standpoint, it is illogical." Should anyone believe him? Consider these comments.

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne in June 2010:

"It is my sincere belief that staying in the Big 12, where we compete in the same time zone, get our athletes home at a decent hour, and where they can play in front of their families and friends are all very important things to consider. Our athletes and coaches have skin in the realignment game, and all our coaches and the vast majority of our student-athletes want to stay where we are. That was a key decision point to me."

A&M was accepted to the SEC in September 2011.

Mike Alden, Missouri's AD in August 2011:

"Where are we going? We haven't had any discussions with anybody else. Our focus, as you know, is on the Big 12."

Mizzou followed Texas A&M to the SEC in November 2011.

Colorado AD Mike Bohn in June 2010:

"The best thing for Colorado is to be in the Big 12 conference. Colorado has been committed to the Big 12 conference all along. Colorado was instrumental in helping form the Big 12 conference."

Colorado joined the Pac-12 in July 2011.

Swofford in May 2010:

"I think we're very happy where we are as 12 and very happy with the 12 that we have."

In September 2011, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were accepted as members of the ACC.

HEISMAN TRACKER

Matt Barkley put a big dent in his Heisman chances as well as his team's title hopes with last week's loss to Stanford, but at least he's not Arkansas's Tyler Wilson, who sat out the Hog's 52--0 loss to Alabama but still falls off this week's chart, replaced by Ohio State's do-everything QB Braxton Miller.

WEEK 14

PHOTOTIM DOMINICK/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.COM (LATTIMORE)FREE TO FALL Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks are riding high—but maybe too high. PHOTOPATRICK MCDERMOTT/GETTY IMAGES (SMITH) PHOTOAARON M. SPRECHER/GETTY IMAGES (BYRNE) PHOTODAK DILLON/US PRESSWIRE (ALDEN) PHOTOMARC PISCOTTY/GETTY IMAGES (BOHN) PHOTODAVID SCEARCE/ICON SMI (SWOFFORD) CHART

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)