The elite teams we rank are now hitting their stride three games into the season. This week we handed out five A’s and three solid B’s but we had slackers as well.

While Clemson is rising like a hot air balloon (to No. 3) after beating a Louisville team that is not last year’s Louisville team, Alabama is falling faster than the space laboratory that crashed into Saturn this week. After posting an anemic C grade (76.17), the Tide fell to No. 8 and would have fallen farther if USC hadn’t turned in the worst winning grade of the week–an ugly D (63.88) against Texas. I’ve heard a certain Sirius XM radio personality state that ugly wins are still wins as good as any others but they aren’t as good when we’re measuring how well a team played.   (And, folks, that’s the ONLY way to determine whether one team is better than another.)

Angry Bama fans (and confused “experts”) can email me and I’ll be happy to explain how many test questions the Tide got wrong, but I will explain the Trojans’ poor performance grade right here, because the experts are still giving them credit for beating a Stanford team that has already played its way out of the top twenty-five.

If you only watched the last half of the fourth quarter and the two overtimes, you witnessed as exciting a game conclusion as we have had, or even might have, this year (the Florida Hail Mary notwithstanding), but you missed the tortuous road these two storied programs traveled before that. The Trojans had thirteen possessions that started on their on end of the field and managed to score only ten points. That’s more than an entire game’s worth of possessions for most teams.  On those possessions, the Trojans faced third down half of the time and converted less than half of them. They turned the ball over twice and made only one play longer than twenty-five yards. Before overtime, they had two short field possessions but scored only once. Relative to their opponent (Texas is not a top fifty team) and relative to the performances of their elite company on this rankings list, that is sub par (and, not in a golf sense).

The Trojan performance was so bad that Ohio State, with a loss on its resume, passed them in the rankings after smothering Army. You can see the whole rankings table on this Website under the “About RPG” tab. The Buckeyes are No. 9 and the Trojans are No. 10 only because we haven’t added better teams to the rankings as yet.

Speaking of which … Last week we added LSU to the rankings only to have the Tigers produce a 44.82 grade in their loss at Mississippi State. Now some experts have jumped on the Mississippi State bandwagon but–once burned, twice learned–we’re going to wait this one out. Next week Mississippi State plays at Georgia and we’ll add the winner of that game to our elite list.

So far this season, Oklahoma State (No. 1 overall), Oklahoma (No. 2 overall) and Penn State (No. 4overall) are at the top of the offensive performance list, in that order, while Clemson (No. 3 overall), Washington (No. 6 overall) and Wisconsin (No. 7 overall) have played the best on defense. Alabama’s one man offense is No. 7 and its injury-riddled defense is No. 10 among these twelve ranked teams. Can Alabama beat all the other teams on this list? The experts think they can, but they haven’t shown us yet how they would do that.