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Varsity Numbers: Mid-Term Evaluations

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As always, we wrap up a busy week with a little Varsity Numbers action. Head on over and read!

Less Than Happy Surprises

Kentucky (2-2). Projected 43rd after years of decent-not-great play, the Wildcats have plummeted to 97th in the current F/+ rankings, due mostly to a lifeless offense that ranks 114th in raw Off. S&P. They have managed a .500 record thanks simply to the fact that they have played bad Central Michigan and Western Kentucky squads, but two home losses -- first to a Louisville team that had just lost to Florida International, then in grand fashion (48-10) to Florida -- signaled that the Wildcats' run of five consecutive bowl bids could possibly be coming to an end soon. Look at their remaining schedule and ask yourself where you see four more wins. Jacksonville State and Ole Miss? Okay, that's two. Now find two more.

Boston College (1-3). The Eagles have been the model of consistency through the years; the last time they didn't make a bowl game (1998), today's college freshmen were approximately six years old. But while their defense has sunk to 40th in Def. S&P+, their offense has been dreadful in the absence of star running back Montel Harris and currently ranks 90th in Off. S&P+. Horror of horrors: B.C. lost to Duke at home two weeks ago. Now let's play the Kentucky game; find five more wins on a schedule that includes ghastly road trips to Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame and Miami.

Auburn (3-1). We knew this one, didn't we? Auburn's incredible offensive success last year led to unreasonable projections this year (fourth overall), and while they are still competent, they have shown some significant defensive cracks. The Tigers still rank 57th in Def. S&P+, partially because projections are still playing a role in the ratings, but they rank 114th in raw Def. Passing Downs S&P, which is the sign of a young, spastic defense. The Tigers led lowly Florida Atlantic 10-6 at halftime last week before finally pulling away.

USC (3-1). Sure, they're 3-1 (with a road loss at a Top 25 Arizona State team), but they have rarely looked truly strong, and they have shown little hope of living up to their preseason projection of 18th. They currently rank 40th in F/+ and 60th in raw Def. S&P (77th on Standard Downs). They still have some fun offensive weapons in quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods, who is on pace for over 120 receptions in just 12 games, but the whole just doesn't add up to the sum of the parts here, and with upcoming scholarship limitations, the sum of the parts soon won't be as strong as it once was either.