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Need to Know

Checking In, A Few Thoughts, Etc.

Hey, miss you guys. Just wanted to say hello, how’s it going, how’s everything, how’s your team doing, how’s your coach, how’s your quarterback, etc. It’s been a wild year so far, right? Alabama is what we thought it’d be. Not so much with L.S.U., however. But count me among those folks who think that the Tigers will be fine; from my vantage point, I think that L.S.U. is keeping a ton under wraps, and that come November, you’re going to see a few wrinkles appear with a national title berth on the line. Florida should scare Les Miles and pals, on the other hand – the Gators can play a little defense, it seems.

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Weekly Rankings

P.S.R. 1-124: Week 5 Re-Ranking

With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, even if we’re now four weeks into the year. As promised, everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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Greetings

News: I’m Heading Over to USA Today

News: I will be joining USA Today on Oct. 1, covering college football, after spending five years at The New York Times and, most of all, the last two-plus years writing for you guys here at Pre-Snap Read. Believe me, it’s the latter stop that I’m most proud of. Think of all that we’ve been through since May 4, 2010, when Pre-Snap Read first opened its doors with a somewhat incorrect manifesto – looking back, I promised a semi-regular podcast and didn’t deliver. There have been three rounds of the Countdown; P.S.R. Op-Eds; Heisman breakdowns; Locksley breakdowns; B.C.S. conference profiles; non-B.C.S. conference profiles; news; analysis; the kitchen sink.

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Coaching Moves

The 2012 Locksley: Week 4

Important Locksley news: John L. Smith is not – I repeat, not – eligible for the 2012 award. Why? Let’s consider the first reason: Smith is an interim head coach. I can’t blame you for not being fully aware with the Locksley’s laws and bylaws, seeing that said laws and bylaws have never been put into print. But one crucial factor is that a candidate must be a real, bona fide head coach – not an interim head coach, as is Smith. A second reason is that Smith would be such a lock for the Locksley that taking him out of the running evens the playing field among a slew of other highly qualified candidates. Now, is there a chance that Smith could one day be recognized for his wonderfully inept work with the Razorbacks in 2012? I can see it now: The John L. Locksley. That’s an option. But there will be no trophy on Smith’s mantle once his tenure in Fayetteville runs its course. As recompense, Smith gets the quote of the week:

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The 2012 Heisman

P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 4

It’s not unprecedented for the eventual Heisman winner to lose at least one game during the regular season – in fact, recent history shows that it’s just as common for the winner to lose at least once than it is for him to run the table. Of the last 10 Heisman winners, not counting Reggie Bush, five have lost at least one game during the regular season: Eric Crouch lost once, Carson Palmer lost twice, Tim Tebow lost three times, Sam Bradford lost once and Robert Griffin III lost three times. So the door to the Heisman is far from closed to Matt Barkley, who was unable to lead U.S.C. past Stanford on Saturday night. But one difference between Barkley and the five quarterbacks listed above is that Barkley entered the season as the undisputed favorite; that might help, in a way, but it might also open up a path for one of his prime challengers – De’Anthony Thomas or Geno Smith, for example – to put a stranglehold on the top spot. One thing is clear: Barkley can’t lose again. Before tackling the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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Need to Know

This Must Be Rock Bottom, Houston Hopes

This is the bottom, I think – and Houston hopes. The most damning factoid that could be used to define a team is that it forced five turnovers yet lost the turnover battle, as the Cougars did on Saturday night. U.C.L.A. had five turnovers; Houston had six. What the heck is going on here? Through three weeks, there has be no more disappointing team in college football. No team has suffered a more inexplicable loss, with all due to respect to Pittsburgh, Arkansas and Wyoming, among others. Of the 27 teams that notched double-digit wins last fall, how many seem assured of not reaching that mark in 2012? I’ll say three: Arkansas State, Arkansas… and Houston.

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Need to Know

U.S.C.’s Flaws Cut Title Hopes Down to Size

Let’s run down the issues, because they’re numerous, they’re vital and they’ve suddenly risen to the surface, thanks to U.S.C.’s 21-14 loss to Stanford on Saturday night. There’s the Trojans’ offensive line, which fell apart without Khaled Holmes as its anchor at center. Tied into the line play is Matt Barkley’s inability to handle the pass rush – and this reflects more so on U.S.C.’s front than the team’s Heisman contender under center. There’s the offense’s inefficiency on third down, which went overlooked against Hawaii and Syracuse but stood front and center against the Cardinal. There’s the defensive line, an issue today just as it was in August.

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Weekly Rankings

How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Week 4

As an accompanying post to today’s re-ranking, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-124 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independent programs among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four Independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.