Everyone (except A&M; curse you Isaac) has played three games so far, which means the season is a quarter gone already. Let's take a moment to see how things have been going for everyone.
The Crimson Tide was ranked highly to begin the year, but it's hard not to make the assessment that the team's outlook has improved over the past three weeks. Before the season, there were idiot pundits trying to draw parallels with the 2010 team that lost three games and finished fourth in the West. Now? Bama is comfortably in the catbird seat and looking particularly murderous.
MSU was in sixth in the preseason consensus, not too far behind fifth place A&M but a fair distance behind Auburn. The Bulldogs' blowout win over the Plainsmen in Week 2 served notice that the Bulldogs were a pretty good team that should not be considered behind Auburn. That's a riser if I've ever seen one. Just, uh, don't look too closely at that Troy game, mmkay? It was just a classic hangover game. I think.
The Tigers have been particularly maulsome so far this year, which is about what we all expected. As a team whose preseason rank averaged to No. 2 and who is currently No. 2, it's hard to give this team a riser's rank, so we'll call them even. This is a very different even from the other two even grades, mind you; they were supposed to be terrifyingly good and appear to be so. The only thing keeping Bama higher is that Michigan is better than Washington, as far as big non-conference wins go, and the Tide got the first whack at the Arkansas piñata. Call it a scheduling thing more than anything.
Without having won anything unexpectedly, Ole Miss can't be given a riser's grade. Especially not a week after letting a previously moribund Texas offense roll up 59 points in Oxford. However, the Rebels look like they have something on offense with Bo Wallace and Donte Moncrief. They very well could ruin someone's season in one of those JP Sports time slots. They also appear to have no defense, which is definitely not an improvement over the past couple of seasons.
The Aggies really should be getting an incomplete grade here, having only played two games so far, but I wasn't sure how to make a graphic for that, so they just get the even symbol. Plus with a I-AA pushover this weekend, we're not going to learn anything more about this team after its third game. Johnny Football has looked good as advertised at quarterback in three of his four halves of play, but the one half the A&M offense stalled out bodes poorly for the team once it gets into the thick of its conference season. This team is still a bit of a mystery.
So as it turns out, that close-ish loss to Clemson in the Georgia Dome is the best of the year for the Tigers. They played one of the ACC's best teams to a respectable final score. Getting pasted in Starkville was an unpleasant root canal of a game, and escaping in overtime against ULM is nothing to be proud of for an SEC squad. This team is deeply flawed and looks like it's already on the way to another lost year in the post-Cam era.
Particularly astute preseason pundits noted that this team would be facing a crisis of motivation and direction if Alabama blew it away in Week 3, what with the interim coach and all. Well, here we are, only the team also got Kolton Browning'd the week before. Without Tyler Wilson, the offense struggled mightily. He's put it on himself to try to lead the team out of the rut it's in, which is the right move for a team leader but a very tall task. There aren't too many gimme games left, so it will be a tough slog to get the ship righted.