Land mines for Texas Longhorns, more
Looking at the weaknesses of the bottom five teams in the preseason Top 25
Every team in ESPN.com/ESPN The Magazine's preseason top 25 poll made rank because they have lots of positive things going for them. But nobody's perfect, and in order to identify the things that could hold these teams back, we sent them through ESPN Insider's Eliminator model.
This week we'll examine five teams per day, picking out the statistical weakness that could trip up each team, and the three teams/games that could exploit them (the land-mine games, if you will). Each stat is drawn from our Eliminator model and thus is a category that correlates strongly to success in college football. The minimum benchmark met by each conference and BCS champ, and the average of past champs, is provided for each.
Today, we tackle the teams ranked No. 25 through No. 21.
25. USC Trojans (8-5 in 2010)
Statistical category: Defensive passing efficiency
BCS benchmark: 133.7 passer rating allowed (101.8 average)
Pac-12 benchmark: 118.8 (105.0 average)
USC in 2010: 135.9
Tracking how the Trojans will fare in the Pac-12 and BCS races may seem futile given their bowl ban, but we'll look at them here thinking in terms of how they'll fare in the conference standings.
USC had plenty of weaknesses in 2010, but none was more glaring than its inability to defend the pass (it's important to pay attention to the average figure for this BCS benchmark, as Auburn's championship run last season was an outlier in the passing efficiency D area).
The Trojans' yards per attempt allowed numbers and passing efficiency D were both poor last season, and the latter is a problem that could be exacerbated in 2011 by the fact the Pac-12 features five of the nation's 22 best QBs in passing efficiency rating (among returning passers). Losing Shareece Wright, the Trojans' leader in pass break-ups in 2010, to the NFL doesn't make things any easier for USC.
Land mines: at Notre Dame, Stanford, at Oregon
In a loss to Notre Dame last season, USC watched the Irish's star receiver, Michael Floyd, catch 11 passes, including a touchdown.
Andrew Luck presents an obvious challenge for any pass D, and Oregon's Darron Thomas is no slouch, either. The Ducks' prolific running game may get most of the attention, but check out Thomas' stats in the passing department: ninth nationally among returning starters in passer rating, and 15th in yards per passing attempt.
To see what the Eliminator model says about Missouri, Mississippi State, Texas and Arizona State, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Lunt: Gundy lifted restrictions, but too late
- Ex-PSU players support Paternos' lawsuit
- Navy to charge football players in rape case
- Manziel 'can't wait to leave' College Station
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider CFB content
Expert Takes• Insider: Can Clemson win it all? | Louisville
• Kiper: Top prospects for 2014, by position
• Haney: CFB's top 10 teams based on talent
• Kiper: Top QB prospects for 2014 | RBs | WRs
• Haney: Make-or-break QB prospect scenarios
Post-spring projections• Pac-12: Oregon, Stanford, USC on top
• ACC: Can Clemson win the league title?
• SEC: Bama, South Carolina early favorites
• Big Ten: Surprise winner in Legends
• Big 12: Two-team race for first place
RecruitingNation• Michigan No. 1 in 2014 class rankings
• Luginbill: Answering mailbag questions
• Crabtree: Urban recruits popular draft picks
• Notre Dame, Boise State trending up
• Recruiting updates for Pac-12 teams
• Recruiting updates for Big Ten teams
• Recruiting updates for SEC teams
• Recruiting updates for ACC teams
• Recruiting updates for Big East teams
• Recruiting updates for Big 12 teams
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Travis Haney's blog
Analysis and buzz from around the nation