Jam.'s Tri-Weekly Team Grades Welcome everyone to Jam.'s Team Grades. This tri-weekly article will be outlining how the season is going for every team involved in BfR. I'll be giving a brief overview of the season, acknowledging the good things that each team is doing, and suggesting what is needed to get even better. So without further ado, let's get started! 1) #1 Boise State Broncos (BobJR) Overview: Boise State is the top dog of the college football world entering into week 4, and with good reason. The Broncos started the season off with relatively easy games against inferior competition (Colorado and Nevada), but their signature win is against the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks held the top spot in the Top 25 poll, but were dethroned by Boise in a 21-12 win at home. Why They're Successful: Having a Heisman front-runner in QB Kellen Moore definitely doesn't hurt, but a defense that causes sacks and doesn't allow the opposing team to run the ball easily (194 rushing yards allowed in 3 games) might be the secret to their success. How They Can Improve: There's not much one can do to critique the number 1 team in the nation, their offense averages 28 PPG and they have an extremely balanced offense. If they can improve their passing defense, the National Championship Game might be in their future. SEASON GRADE: A+ 2) #6 Oregon Ducks (ControllerAbuser) Overview: The #6 Oregon Ducks go into week 4 with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths. After losing a close one to the Boise State Broncos, they have dropped in the rankings to #6. However, they have given #15 Iowa the only loss of their season, and if they win the rest of the games on their schedule, the National Title game might not be completely out of the picture. Why They're Successful: The Oregon Ducks seem to be a very disciplined team, with only 2 penalties during the entire season so far. Their rushing defense is also extremely effective, as is their turnover differential of +6. It seems the Ducks win games simply by making less mistakes than their opponents. How They Can Improve: Suprisingly, there's quite a few areas the Ducks need improvement, especially on offense. They have only been in the Red Zone 7 times on the season, and only scored 1 touchdown, with 3 FGs...that's only a 58% conversion rate in the red zone! 24.6 PPG doesn't seem like enough to win a National Title. SEASON GRADE: B+ 3) #8 Wisconsin Badgers (Onaradio) Overview: The Badgers have only played 2 games thus far in the season, but they were decisive victories over Utah and ASU, the only losses recorded by both of those teams. Their next game against undefeated Stanford looks to be a marquee matchup. Why They're Successful: Their running back J.Clay has been a beast so far this season. In only two games he has recorded 305 yards on 58 attempts. Also, their defense can boast the best run defense in the Big Ten. How They Can Improve: It's difficult to judge a team based only off two games, but if the Badgers can get their passing game on par with their running game, they could prove to be a force to reckon with in the Big Ten. SEASON GRADE: A 4) #13 Penn State (Sdunlap) Overview: The Penn State Nittany Lions have started the season off on fire, winning their first 3 games and defeating two ranked teams in the process (#5 Alabama & #18 USC). The Top 25 poll is an absolute joke for having Penn State ranked so low, when they should certainly be in the top 5. Why They're Successful: The Nittany Lions have a very balanced team, but it seems like their offense is the main cog of the team. Their QB K. Newsome has recorded 600 passing yards in 3 games, and Evan Royster has an average of 101.0 YPG on the season, with 5 touchdowns scored in 3 games. How They Can Improve: If K. Newsome can keep the interceptions to a minimum (1-1 TD to INT ratio) then the sky is the limit for Penn State. They have started off as good as any team could hope for, and have gotten their (arguably) hardest games of the season out of the way. SEASON GRADE: A+ 5) #15 Iowa (H22) Overview: The Hawkeyes have started the season off with a 2-1 record, with their only loss coming to the formidable Penn State Nittany Lions. Their two wins have been decisive victories against undefeated teams. Why They're Successful: The Iowa offense rests on the shoulder of QB Ricki Stanzi, who has a whopping 686 passing yards on the season. Iowa is also money in the red zone, converting each of their opportunities with points, 7 out of 9 with a touchdown. How They Can Improve: Simply put, the Hawkeyes have to score more than 24.0 PPG if they plan on making a BCS Bowl game. Also, if Iowa could work on improving their turnover differential of 0, they could go places in the Big Ten. SEASON GRADE: A- 6) #16 TCU Horned Frogs (Tuco) Overview: TCU holds the #16 spot in the rankings after rebounding after a opening week loss against #17 Oregon State. Their win over undefeated Baylor was rather decisive, with the win over TAMU decided only by a touchdown. TCU lost by a touchdown the the Oregon State Beavers. Why They're Successful: TCU's offense revolves around their running game, having over 650 yards for the season. They average 26.3 PPG, but have given up 58 points on the season. Their offense has a lot of trick plays in the playbook, which could be key to catching unsuspecting defenses off guard. How They Can Improve: The Horned Frog's QB needs to step up his game a bit, and complete more passes. He has lower than a 50% completion percentage, but has done a good job keeping the interceptions to a minimum. If their running game keeps up the good work, TCU might turn a few heads this season. SEASON GRADE: B+ 7) #17 Oregon State Beavers (Cimmy) Overview: Oregon State only has 2 recorded games, both wins. They won their first game against #16 TCU by a touchdown, giving TCU their only loss of the season. Week 2 against UL was a laugher, winning by 40 points. Why They're Successful: Their running back J. Rodgers deserves a lot of the credit. He's averaging a whopping 140.5 YPG with 3 touchdowns. Every time they hand this kid the rock he is a threat to break one off for a huge gain. How They Can Improve: Again, it's hard to critique a team that I can only see two games for. Barring an injury to J. Rodgers, the Beavers seem to be in prime position to cause some trouble in the PAC-10. SEASON GRADE: A 8) #18 USC Trojans (Sdid) Overview: The Trojans had cupcakes for their first two games of the season, with wins against Hawaii and UVA. However, the game against Hawaii was closer than one might think for a powerhouse. Against their first real competition of the season, USC fell to the Nittany Lions 21-19. Why They're Successful: So far it seems that USC is successful because of the inadequacy of their opponents. Their QB Matt Barkley has a pitiful TD to INT ratio, with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, while their starting running back is averaging only 64 YPG. However, their defense seems to be the strong point of the team. How They Can Improve: Offense, offense, offense. The defense is doing their job for the Trojans, but their offense needs to pick up the slack if they want to compete in the tough PAC-10. SEASON GRADE: B- 9) Michigan Wolverines (Pepper) Overview: The Michigan Wolverines started the season off strong, with 2 wins, including a 54-51 OT win against Notre Dame. However, an injury to Tate Forcier in the Notre Dame game, could hamstring them for a few weeks, as it certainly did in the loss to BYU in week 3. Why They're Successful: Their passing offense has been the main cog of their entire team. Their running game is meager at best, with their leading rusher averaging 40.3 YPG. However, Tate Forcier had 577 yards and 6 TDs in 2 weeks before his injury, so their passing game is sure to take a hit. How They Can Improve: They gotta pick up their running game. Whether it's their lack of commitment to running the ball, of the ineffectiveness of their offensive line, something must be done to balance out the offense some more to keep opposing defenses guessing. SEASON GRADE: B+ 10) Stanford Cardinal (RYTY) Overview: The voters seem to have forgotten about Stanford, as they have been omitted from the Top 25 poll even with an undefeated 3-0 record. However Stanford has a chance to prove itself with it's next three games being the 3 hardest on it's schedule with games against #8 Wisconsin, #6 Oregon, and #18 USC. [Editor's Note: CA I don't know why you hate Stanford, three tough user games in a row?!] Why They're Successful: Heisman contending QB Andrew Luck has been absolutely on fire this season, with 925 yards through 3 games and a 2:1 TD to INT ratio. Couple that with a 96.0 YPG effort from their leading rusher, and you will have defensive coordinators frustrated, for sure. How They Can Improve: Their glaring weakness is their turnover differential of -3, which could really come back to haunt them, especially in their next three games. SEASON GRADE: A+ 11) Utah Utes (Frisk) Overview: Utah suffered an opening week loss to the hands of the #8 Wisconsin Badgers, but made a strong comeback with impressive wins over UNLV and UNM. They play the formidable Penn State Nittany Lions this week, in a game that might decide their season. Why They're Successful: The Utah defense has been carrying the team all season, as they have the best defense in the MWC. Any team that plays Utah should be braced for tough game, as their offense isn't that far behind, (2nd in the MWC). How They Can Improve: Simply put, it's hard to zero in on one thing that they really need to improve on. If Utah managed to win their opening game, they could really be turning heads in college football. At this point, they're a sexy sleeper pick to make some noise. SEASON GRADE: B 12) BYU Cougars (Jam.) Overview: The BYU Cougars are a strange little team. They have not really faced any top tier competition, but have won all their games, albeit by closer margins than voters would like. They have shut down Jake Locker from Washington, stifled the Air Force Falcons, and beat Michigan in a nail biter in Ann Arbor. If the Cougars manage to stay undefeated and defeat #16 TCU in week 7, then they could finally turn some heads in the NCAA. Why They're Successful: Junior QB Reggie Nelson is clutch under pressure, winning all three games for the Cougars in the 4th quarter, with his latest feat of heroics comprising of a drive that lead to a game winning FG with time expiring against Michigan. How They Can Improve: BYU has to improve it's scoring defense if they plan to make a BCS Bowl game this season. 65 points in 3 games is simply too much to be giving up, especially against low-tier competition. SEASON GRADE: A- EDIT: Btw, please comment. This took A LOT of work, and about 2 hours of my time.