Note: Because these rankings are purely based on results, and every team starts the season with the same numbers, I cannot provide any rankings for at least a few weeks. Until then, I'll discuss some interesting points of interest with respect to the Sterritt Score. I posted an introduction to my rankings last week. Check it out if you're curious on my methodology!
As Auburn fans, we tend to have an aversion to preseason polls. When we start out on top, the season almost never seems to pan out, and yet our best years (2004, 2010, 2013) come when we’re least expecting it. Look at this year… our Tigers were unranked in almost every major poll, and yet we came within 40 yards of knocking off the #2 team in the country. Who knows what this season holds? If Saturday was any predictor, it could be a roller-coaster.
Right now, the preseason polls are in shambles. Besides Alabama, none of the top teams REALLY wowed. Several top teams lost (Oklahoma, LSU), pulled out ugly wins (Clemson, Tennessee), or at least did what was expected against underpowered opponents (Ohio State, Michigan). It makes me even more confident that I don’t release any sort of rankings for the first few weeks. I want NO part of trying to figure out what some of these teams are. Is Houston really a playoff caliber team? What is Clemson? I (and my rankings) will hold off on commenting there. Results should be the thing that drives rankings, and nothing else.
With that being said, and without having any rankings to provide yet, let’s talk about the weekend.
Taking Care of Business
Several highly regarded teams opted to start the season off with a warm-up game, which can have its benefits. Ohio State lit up Bowling Green to win by almost 70 and recorded a knockout about 10 minutes into the game. Poor Hawai’i, who played in Australia last weekend, traveled all the way to Ann Arbor just to have 63 points dropped on them. Perhaps a little game film would’ve helped them prepare.
Louisville scrimmaged – I mean played – Charlotte Thursday, and the Lamar Jackson-led offense took a 56-0 lead into halftime. I’ve been saying this since I saw him in the Georgia Dome last year; Lamar Jackson is going to be a household name by the time he leaves Louisville. Keep an eye on him for Heisman consideration the next two years.
The ACC continued its strong opening week Monday night as FSU looked great in the second half to come all the way back to beat Ole Miss by 11, with a respectable KO of about 8 minutes. Also of note, Washington slaughtered P5 bottom-dweller Rutgers by 35 and scored the best KO of the week less than four minutes into the game.
Not Quite According to Plan
As mentioned, several games this weekend didn’t quite follow their summer narratives. Alabama absolutely wiped the floor with USC, who was supposed to be back. I didn’t get to watch the game much since I was in JHS, but by all accounts, the freshman QB for the Tide could be something special. If so, I’m not looking forward to what Alabama is going to do this year.
In the noon slot Saturday, Houston showed that they are not just a one-hit wonder. Maybe Oklahoma isn’t as good as their preseason ranking suggested, but after watching that performance I think Houston is just that good. Watch out for the Cougars, folks.
Flashing back to Thursday, App State almost shocked the world again, 9 years after this, by upsetting Tennessee. Fortunately for so many Vols fans, the magic (and the sanity of the App State coaching staff) ran out late for the Mountaineers. Where will the Vols go now? Was this their version of our Jacksonville State game last year? There were certainly a lot of similarities there. App State isn’t as much of a pushover as you would think, though (#32 in last year’s Sterritt Score), and the Vols might be able to use their mistakes to motivate themselves going into the 2016 campaign.
The team one behind the Vols in the preseason rankings, Notre Dame, didn’t fare as well last night. Texas took them to double overtime and won. Just who is Texas? They have three wins over top 12 teams since the Oklahoma game last year, but they’re only 5-3 in that span including a loss to Iowa State. This is where I remind you that Iowa State only beat two FBS teams last year… Texas and Kansas. I’ll wait and see with Texas.
Team of the Week
One score, in particular, caught my eye more than any other this week, and that’s saying something. Army West Point, who won two games last year and only has one winning season since 1996, beat 2015 darling Temple by 15. The game wasn’t a knockout until about 3 minutes to go, but for a program with the limitations of Army, this was a great win. Who knows if this is the beginning of a big year for Army, but for now, big props to them.
Originally, I had a rant here about my thoughts on the quarterback issue. It wasn't pretty, but with some (hopefully) better news coming from Tuesday's PC, I'll spare you the billionth breakdown of what went wrong. All things equal, I'm very proud of the players. Most everyone, especially the defense, met or exceeded my expectations.
How will this game affect Auburn in the Sterritt Score going forward? Assuming Clemson maintains a strong record (for SOS reasons), this is just a minor blip on the radar. In fact, because of the way the defense fought to get the ball back late, the game ended up being a 0:00 knockout, and only a 6 point margin of victory! With this defense, it looks like Auburn could rack up some big MOVs this season, particularly against the rest of the out of conference slate.
I'm surprisingly very optimistic about the Tigers the rest of the year; maybe the poor performances by everyone except TAMU, UGA, and Bama, and the sudden realization by Gus that three quarterbacks won't work, help that.
I’ll be back with more thoughts next week! As previously mentioned, it’ll be a few weeks before I have a real set of rankings. Remember, results are more important than expectations!