Note: These rankings differ from the official week 3 rankings because the Monday meets will not be included until next week, but I took them into account here because they’ve already happened as I write this so…it would be weird to pretend they haven’t?
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previous ranking: 1
Oklahoma retains the #1 spot in the rankings despite a “bad for Oklahoma” 197.000 at the North Carolina tri-meet. It wasn’t a tragic performance by any means—it’s still a 197—but Oklahoma did count a fall on floor and did not vault up to the level of the previous weeks, really feeling the absence of Maggie Nichols. Nichols was withheld from the meet with a bruised heel but is not expected to be out for any lengthy period. Oklahoma is going through a similar process to last season on floor where there’s a core group that we know will score well, but that group does not yet have six members. Many of the people auditioning for the role have not been hitting, so watch that space. As happened last season, I’d expect Showers to take that leadoff role eventually, but she’s been out on floor for a few weeks now.
2. UCLA Bruins
Previous ranking: 2
With its massive Monday score, UCLA nearly managed to catch Oklahoma, something that doesn’t typically happen during the regular season. Now, of course all the top teams get massively overscored especially at home, but UCLA’s Monday competition was next-level. That means we basically have to throw out the 197.775 for what was a very nice performance, a good progress point for late January particularly on bars and floor, but also nowhere near the kind of postseason performance that score would indicate. UCLA did get two new 10.0 starts into the vault lineup from Poston and Wright (Wright in particular will have earned a spot with that vault), so while the vault lineup is still clearly in the experimental phase—with some very experimental landings—the pieces are coalescing faster and more realistically than they have before. You could actually see UCLA showing up to nationals and counting five 10.0 vaults this year.
3. Florida Gators
Previous ranking: 3
Florida upped its average by a tenth this week to stay in third place, though the big news will not be the score but the victory over LSU at LSU—a big deal because of like SEC things or whatever. Also a big deal because it was super exciting, the tightly matched contest we all wanted it to be, where the difference seems to have been Florida’s exceptional beam performance that outscored LSU’s floor total in the final rotation. It’s not an easy feat to win a meet on beam, an event that is evaluated much tighter than floor is. With lineups like UCLA’s, Oklahoma’s, and Florida’s, we are living in the golden age of beam in NCAA right now.
4. Utah Utes
Previous ranking: 4
Utah retains its #4 ranking with another low 197, this one earned away at Oregon State. All of Utah’s scores this season having broken the 197 barrier, and only UCLA and Florida have higher basement scores than Utah in the young season. Utah will feel pretty comfortable about what’s been happening so far on floor and on vault (especially with some 1.5s still to get into the lineup from people like Tessen), the next step being to prove that the bars and beam 9.9s exist to keep pace with the teams fighting to make the last day. So far, Utah has just 1 beam routine of the 18 competed so far that has reached 9.900, which is going to keep the total scores away from the high 197s that we’re starting to see elsewhere.
5. LSU Tigers
Previous ranking: 4
All is not lost for LSU, recording a season high and perfectly usable 197.425 over the weekend. Nonetheless, a second-consecutive defeat, LSU’s first loss at home since falling to Alabama in March 2013, marks this as a disappointing start to a 2019 season that has so far failed to meet the lofty expectations we have for LSU. LSU did look pretty good on bars and vault against Florida, getting five 10.0s into the vault lineup including the introduction of Kelley and the Priessman 1.5. Like UCLA’s vault introductions this week, they provide an encouraging look at what LSU may be able to do down the line. But there will be some second guessing the decision to put Priessman in the floor lineup for a routine that looked like it hurt. A lot. The question of the hour: what actually is LSU’s best floor lineup? And how different is the reality from the ideal?
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Previous ranking: 10
A two-meet weekend of 196.875 in a loss to Alabama, followed by a 197.000 in a victory over Iowa State, has lifted Georgia up to 6th in the rankings. We’re seeing a Georgia roster emerge that still needs to resolve floor (getting Megan Roberts back there will be a help), but on the other events, these are starting to look like very believable postseason lineups without a lot of “you’re going to have to get her out there by March.” The team is still making plenty of January mistakes, but they’re mistakes from routines you definitely want in that lineup when it comes to the end of the season. Next task: getting a road score. Georgia heads to Auburn this weekend and needs to show that it can record a competitive score outside the friendly confines, otherwise this is all just a fiction.
7. Denver Pioneers
Previous ranking: 8
Denver followed its headline-grabbing victory over Michigan and Alabama by returning home to break the 196 barrier once again, done while counting TWO FALLS on beam. Denver was looking at a possible 197 for a while there, experiencing a very different scoring landscape from the first meet. We still need a few more road data points to see who the real Denver is. With many of Denver’s peer teams dabbling in the 195s here and there as they try to get their bearings, Denver’s faster start in terms of scores is earning this impressive ranking.
8. California Golden Bears
Previous ranking: 12
Cal moves back up into the top 10 after taking another step forward in its home debut, snatching a 196.575 in victory over Stanford. Bars continues to be Cal’s go-to score, but the half-point improvement over last week was built primarily on improved rhythm and sureness in those beam routines—as well as the floor scores starting to come for routines like Clausi’s, which should be a standout this season. It was just an unexpected case of Random Leg Death for both Williams and George on floor that took away the possibility of a stunning final rotation number.
9. Michigan Wolverines
Previous ranking: 9
Well it was a less dramatic week for Michigan, so that’s something. Still, Michigan will be frustrated by the continued inability in these early meets to get out of the friend zone for 196.0s. I mean, they’ve been trying to casually text a 197 for weeks, but then…ghosted every time. These 196s are fine scores—not disasters—but also nothing that Michigan would be OK with hanging around for RQS. It always seems to be something: a weird fall, crazy scoring, this week an ability to get out of the 9.7s on floor for some reason. The scores should come for this Michigan team—there’s plenty of time, nine more meets, and this isn’t a 196.000 team—but it hasn’t happened yet.
10. Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous ranking: 17
Alabama will breathe easier at being up closer to where the team belongs following a 196.900 victory over Georgia. That’s the kind of result that gets a team back on track, but Alabama will know that the performance was just OK and that the landings still aren’t there on the leg events to get that kind of score in a harsher context—as made clear by the first couple meets of the year. They’ll have to be more under control this coming Friday hosting an out-for-blood LSU team. Alabama has just three home meets left already, and you have to think they need to get some good home numbers at these meets to be RQS competitive later on.
11. Boise State Broncos
Previous ranking: 7
Boise State’s second showing was not as strong as its first, counting a fall on bars of all places. Since we still expect bars to be Boise State’s big event, that makes it easy to chalk this result up as one of those January things, but we did see a lot of 9.7s for hit routines in this one as well, and for Boise State to be truly competitive this season for a spot in the regional final, hit routines can’t be going 9.750. Encouragingly, beam continued to be BSU’s strongest piece, by a large margin in this one, with all the counting routines breaking the 9.8 mark.
12. Washington Huskies
Previous ranking: 20
Washington zooms up the rankings this week following a big 196.525 away against Arizona. That’s already a very useful road score for this team in only its second meet of the season. Beam was the highlight event, as we expect, but being able to record a 49.400 even without people like Goings and Burleson—those who were snatching the biggest beam scores in years past—is a feat. That’s when you start attributing a strong event to a team’s identity rather than just a super-talented class or two.
13. Auburn Tigers
Previous ranking: 13
Auburn is making a really compelling early push for the title of most frustrating team in NCAA. We saw the gigantic potential in that 196.700 victory over LSU, but a disaster on floor took away Auburn’s score in the first meet, and a wobble-a-thon on beam took away Auburn’s score in the third meet, landing the team at 195.825 for a performance that should have been in the mid 196s. That’s why we see Auburn still stuck at 13th, but the real question is whether Auburn is destined to be merely a dangerous floater this year, or whether the top-8 potential will come to fruition as we go along. Home against Georgia on Friday should be fascinating.
14. Ohio State Buckeyes
Previous ranking: 17
Ohio State is doing well to hang around the mid-teens, recording a 196 away score for a second consecutive week. That’s going to take a lot of pressure off the late-season results as teams urgently jockey for placement in regionals by trying to get those 196s away. The laudable score, however, sort of misstates what a nail-biter of a performance this was, with falls to work against and eventually drop on three events, including in the leadoff position on both beam and floor. Ohio State will still be the death of you, is what I’m saying.
15. Missouri Tigers
Previous ranking: 10
Missouri drops five spots this week following a missed meet at home against Auburn, a meet in which a counting fall on beam brought the total all the way down into the 194s. What may be of more concern, however, is that Missouri was only on 195 pace even before beam after counting several 9.6s and 9.7s on vault and bars. Missouri still needs to find its competitive 9.8s on vault, though those vault and floor lineups were without freshman Hannah McCrary, and it showed. McCrary and Ward are the ones that can lead vault into the land of competitiveness.
16. Arizona State Sun Devils
Previous ranking: 19
Let’s be honest, Arizona State benefited from its visit to the UCLA score-scape to snatch its first total over 196. You knew when that first bars routine went 9.875 that ASU was going to enjoy this meet just as much as UCLA. Still, seeing Arizona State at #16 in the rankings is nonetheless quite believable, especially given the ability in the beam lineup and what looks like it should be a more competitive slate of difficulty than last season on events like vault. The worry now is that the injury to Katelyn Lentz that took her out of floor is serious because this team very much needs her in a floor lineup that doesn’t have a ton of 9.8s to play with.
17. BYU Cougars
Previous ranking: 6
BYU drops to 17th after heading out on the road for a mid-194 against Utah State. The score, and its difference from the opening meet, was less a function of counting falls and more a function of counting 9.6s and 9.7s to go sub-49 on all four events. Bars and beam were the hardest hit with no scores reaching into the 9.8s. BYU will be happy to get back home for a back-to-back weekend rematch against Utah State this coming Friday. Those MRGC teams have very weird schedules, all meeting each other for two dual meets (home and away) during the season as well as the conference championship, basically “you can’t sit with us”-ing all the other teams.
18. Kentucky Wildcats
Previous ranking: 16
Kentucky needed to take the opportunity of its home opener to get out of the weaker half of the teens, but it didn’t happen. A beamtastrophe for two falls and a total of 47.775 against Arkansas ensured that Kentucky would remain at this unexpectedly low ranking for at least another week. With a hit beam, this would have been a 196 performance. Beam still should be Kentucky’s best event, so there’s no need to raise the alarm, but Kentucky certainly has started slower than expected. Getting Ella Warren back on floor this past weekend was an important boost.
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Previous ranking: 15
Another team ranked far lower than it should be, Nebraska had to eat a 194.800 against Rutgers over the weekend. For the most part, we can chalk up that score to being without Crouse and Schweihofer on both vault and bars. This year’s Nebraska team is exceptionally reliant on Crouse, Schweihofer, and Houchin, and when two out of the three are not available on an event, the score is going to suffer. The backup routines just aren’t there right now. Though it should be mentioned that Schweihofer and Crouse did both compete (and hit) beam, yet that ended up Nebraska’s lowest score of the day because of a counting fall.
20. Oregon State Beavers
Previous ranking: 21
Oregon State actually improved on its first-meet 195.225 by recording a 195.450 on Saturday in a loss to Utah, though that mostly tells us about the wildly variable scoring scenarios in NCAA gymnastics because Oregon State hit in the 195.225 and counted a fall in the 195.450. Great. Oregon State probably would have reached 196 with a hit on beam this time considering the composed, comfortable, March-looking floor performance. Still, OSU will be a bit concerned about the depth and competitiveness of the vault and bars lineups, with some 9.700s that have to be used and make it harder than it should be to break 49.
21. Stanford Cardinal
Previous ranking: 24
It’s a January miracle. Stanford scored 196.125 in its loss to Cal, which doesn’t sound like much, but Stanford hadn’t scored a 196 in the month of January in three years. So it’s a big deal. They didn’t even count a fall on bars. I mean, it was still 48.800 and the lowest rotation score of the bunch, but everyone stayed on the apparatus, and all the other events broke 49. This is encouraging progress, as is the crazy-dance that Tabitha Yim and Kyla Bryant do before beam.
22. Arkansas Razorbacks
Previous ranking: 10
Arkansas experienced a “let us never speak of this again” versus Kentucky on Friday, counting falls on both bars and beam to end up with a 193.875. That score is low enough that Arkansas will have to wait for RQS to kick in to climb back up the rankings since this number will be pulling the team down as long as we go by average. One of those meets. Arkansas has been sub-196 in all of the first three meets and will be looking for a recovery score next time around. Fortunately, that’s basically the motto of Metroplex. Need a score? We got you.
23. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Previous ranking: 25
Minnesota improves two ranking spots this week, though did get stuck in the 195s again this weekend because of lower numbers on vault and floor that kept the team out of the money. Typically we’re seeing Ramler on bars and beam (and Lu on bars) save the scores on those events, but there are more 9.6s and 9.7s to work against on the other pieces. Sometimes inexplicably, as we saw Ona Loper go 9.750 for a Y1.5 that would have been 9.850 at most meets and 9.900 at the crackiest.
24. Arizona Wildcats
Previous ranking: 29
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Arizona hanging out in these parts. A 195.650 home score against Washington got AZ over the 195 hump on average, a score mostly built on bars, which is clearly the team’s best event. Although, breaking 49 on floor was the bigger deal since that has been a depleted, question-mark event for this roster. With all the lost routines, I legitimately didn’t know if there would even be enough 9.7s for Arizona’s floor lineup this year, so a 49 is a big step.
25. Penn State Nittany Lions
Previous ranking: 27
Penn State is moving up in the world despite a fairly disappointing loss to Ohio State with a score of 194.850, nonetheless improving its ranking because MANY teams are struggling right now. Several fewer teams have an average over 195 right now than did at the equivalent point last season, which is unexpected. Penn State will have enjoyed going over 49 on bars despite counting a 9.625, though it was a counting fall on beam that took the total out of usable territory after Hosek had an ouchie in the anchor position, following a fall earlier in the lineup.