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For some, the season starts in earnest this week, as several top 25 teams begin conference play. Still, most of these match-ups aren’t particularly interesting.  But a couple of games could tell the difference in how early conference races may shape up.

Here is our week 3 analysis and predictions:

#1 Florida (2-0) hosts Tennessee (1-1).

Allegations of recruiting violations and big talk from Vols coach Lane Kiffin aside, Tennessee hasn’t won against the Gators since 2004, the year before Urban Meyer became head coach. Kiffin’s group lost last Saturday to UCLA, a team that went 4-8 last year.  Florida is a better team than last year’s National Champion version.  They won 30-6 last year in Knoxville, so we figure a bit more is in order.  Gators by 31.

#2 Texas (2-0) hosts Texas Tech (2-0).

Everyone knows the history here.  Texas is on their way to a National Championship and gets side tracked when Blake Gideon misses a sure interception and Michael Crabtree makes the catch of his life.  That was in Lubbock.  This year’s Longhorn team is better on both sides of the ball, and they are playing in Austin. Not to mention the payback factor. TTU QB Taylor Potts seems like the real thing and has a competent receiving core, but their unbalanced attack will probably prove the death blow.  The key is the Tech Defense and if they’ll be able to stop the Longhorn running game without having to dedicate secondary help to do so.  We doubt it.  This will allow Colt McCoy to  hone his passing  game. We’re being conservative, thinking that Tech might play well in the first half, but this could be really ugly.  Texas by 28.

#3 USC (2-0) at Washington (1-1)

The big news here is that Freshman QB Matt Barkley may miss the game due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Ohio State game.  That determination will be made later in the week, but Coach Carroll indicated that Aaron Corp will take most of the practice snaps. Corp was top on the QB list until he fractured a cracked fibula in camp.  Even with Corp, USC should be ok.  Wash QB Jake Locker looked poor against LSU in Week 1, but better in Week 2 against Idaho. The Washington D however, gave up 349 passing yards last week which seems foreboding.  Trojans by 24.

#4 Alabama (2-0) hosts North Texas (1-1).

We’re guessing that UNT must need some facilities upgrades so they scheduled a big cashed check going to play the Crimson Tide. Bama destroyed FIU 41-14 last week and we can’t see any possible reason it’s any better this week.  Bama by 40.

#5 Penn State (2-0) hosts Temple (1-0).

The only problem I’ve found with PSU this year is that they seem to have no desire to put teams away.  Not that any team has been close, but I keep forgetting that Joe Pa just doesn’t play the big numbers game.  Temple just can’t fire enough weapons and doesn’t have the sheer manpower on defense to stop the Nittany Lion offensive attack.  Penn State by 30.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) hosts SE Louisiana (2-0) at home.

With more than 30 players suffering from flu-like symptoms, Mississippi used its bye week to focus on getting healthy ( over 400 were affected on campus). Southeastern Louisiana is off to its best start in five years but hasn’t played an FBS opponent. The Lions opened with a 41-7 win over Division II Texas A&M-Commerce on Sept. 5 and followed with a 69-20 victory over NAIA-ranked Union (Ky.) College on Sept. 10. Even a pretty sick Mississippi team should cruise this week.  Ole Miss by 40.

#7 Brigham Young (2-0) hosts Florida State (1-1)

BYU will get another big test this week as the Seminoles come to town.  Bowden’s group is fighting underachievement of the worst kind, getting surprised by Miami in week one, and then struggling to get by lowly Jacksonville State last week.  The FSU secondary was torched for 386 yards passing the first week and almost 300 the second.  This doesn’t seem to be a good potion to bring against BYU QB Max Hall who has already toppled OU from the ranks of the unbeaten. We’re thinking that Coach Bobby will need some BC Powder on the plane ride home.  Cougars by 22.

#8 California (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0)

The Jahvid Best show goes on the road to the Gophers new stadium and it might not be a pleasing night in Minneapolis.  Cal has outscored their opponents 111-20 in the first two weeks, with big numbers in the running game (6th in the nation). Minnesota is averaging only 21 points per game so you have to wonder where they’ll find the defense to stop Cal, or an offense to keep up?  Nowhere.  Golden Bears by 28.

#9 LSU (2-0) hosts Louisiana – Lafayette (2-0).

LSU is beginning to find an offense with new QB Jordan Jefferson, but they’re still struggling  for consistency, getting into the red zone five times last week and scoring only 2 TDs.  The Tigers DO have a good defense however and are getting better each week. Louisiana-Lafayette has dropped 10 in a row to ranked opponents, so it’s hard to see this going any differently.  Tigers by 24.

#10 Boise State (2-0) at Fresno State (1-1) Friday night.

BSU will get its first WAC test this weekend, and it won’t be easy.  The Bulldogs took Wisconsin to overtime before losing by a field goal. And hung 468 yards of offense on them. Boise State is heavily favored to take the WAC again after outscoring opponents by an average of 31.1 points in winning all eight league games last year. They’ll rely on QB Kellen Moore who threw for over 300 yards last week in just three quarters.  This one could be really close.  Broncos by 10.

#11 Oklahoma (1-1) hosts Tulsa (2-0)

Even though OU never loses in their own stadium (well almost never) they will have their hands full this week against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes led the nation in total offense each of the past two seasons and is one of only 11 teams with at least 10 wins in both of those years, so this is no Idaho State coming to town. Tulsa has allowed only 23 points in two games also.  OU wins, but remember that last week a C-USA knocked another team from Oklahoma from the top 5.  Sooners by 15.

#12 Ohio State (1-1) at Toledo (1-1)

Here’s another one that we can’t take too lightly.  The Buckeyes concern should be a Rockets’ offense that’s scored 85 points in its first two games behind Aaron Opelt. The senior quarterback is third in the nation with 742 passing yards and has thrown seven touchdowns passes. Four of those came last Friday against Colorado in a 54-38 win. However, OSU did play the #3 team in the nation to within 3 points, moved the ball reasonably well and played stingy defense. Plus OSU still rules in Ohio.  Buckeyes by 18.

#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) at #22 Miami (1-0)  Thursday night.

Compared to a year ago, the ACC has quite a crowd in the Top 25 and two of them square off this week.  The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a sizeable lead last week against Clemson, but had to step up the defense to hold off a Tiger rally. Miami had the week off after knocking Florida State out of the Top 25 the first week.  As with most teams in the ACC, consistency seems to be the key.  GT seems to have it though, while we’re just not sure about Miami yet. QB Josh Nesbitt completed only 21% of his passes against Clemson last week, and that won’t cut it against GT. Miami has lost four straight against Georgia Tech, matching its longest skid in the series.  This probably won’t change.  Georgia Tech by 15.

#14 Virginia Tech (1-1) hosts #17 Nebraska.

This inter-conference game should be a fun one to watch.  Virginia Tech is the epitome of schizophrenia depending on the performance of its enigmatic  QB Tyrod Taylor. The last two years he’s at times been brilliant both  running and passing, but other times just plain awful.  Nebraska QB Zac Lee completed 27 of 35 passes for 340 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Cornhuskers’ 38-9 win over Arkansas State last Saturday after throwing for 213 yards and two TDs in a season-opening 49-3 victory over Florida Atlantic. Virginia Tech has a  home winning streak over non-conference opponents of 31.  We’re picking an underdog win here.  Nebraska by 6.

#15 TCU (1-0) hosts Texas State (1-0)

TCU fields one of the pre-eminent defenses in the country each year and this year is no exception They held Virginia to only7 first downs and 177 yards of total offense last week, and a bunch of those came late in the game when the contest was decided. Texas State represents an FCS opponent that is still trying to establish their program. The Bobcats defeated Angelo State 48-28 at home in its opener Sept. 5. Bradley George threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Cedric Alexander scored on a 10-yard reverse and added a 48-yard TD reception.  The biggest question in this game will be how many points TCU will choose to put up.  Horned Frogs by 28.

#16 Utah (2-0) at Oregon (1-1)

Oregon started the year as a preseason Top 20 team in most polls and proceeded to drop off after dropped their season opener to Boise State in which they were held to their lowest yardage total in nearly 15 years. RB LeGarrette Blount was suspended for the year the next day for punching a BSU player in a post-game altercation. However,  they bounced back to beat Purdue 38-36 last Saturday, totaling 356 yards and stopping the Boilermakers’ two-point conversion with 1:01 left. Utah struggled last week, but extended its winning streak to 16 in a row, the longest such streak in the nation, and they still sport a tough, stingy defense.  Oregon seems poised to make this a game, especially playing at home.  Utah QB Terrance Cain and RB Matt Asiata will want to pound the ball at the Duck Defense which has been good against the run.  We’ll tip this slightly toward the Utes but this one is ripe for an upset.  Utah by 2.

#17 Nebraska at #14 Virginia Tech

See analysis above.  Nebraska by 6.

#18 Oklahoma State (1-1) hosts Rice (0-2)

After playing a stellar game on prime time TV against Georgia  in week 1, the Cowboys threw one away last week against Houston.  The OSU secondary must be giving Coach Gundy all kinds of heartburn allowing almost 400 yards against the Cougars.  Rice is in a re-building year and lost badly to unranked Texas Tech 55-10 last week allowing over 500 yards passing.  The OSU offense isn’t similarly suited to run those kinds of numbers, but using a decent running game along with the Xac Robinson to Dez Bryant combo, should allow OSU to get back on the winning track.  Look for this one to get ugly at the end.   Cowboys by 33.

#19 Georgia (1-1) at Arkansas (1-0)

It’s been a real struggle for Mark Richt’s  Bulldogs the first couple of weeks.  They lose to Oklahoma State then have to rely on a last second defensive tip to hold on and beat South Carolina. Georgia’s defense gave up 427 yards but stiffened in the red zone after allowing two first-quarter touchdowns. That was despite an exhausting day in which the Gamecocks ran 30 more plays than the Bulldogs. the Razorbacks, who set a team mark with 447 passing yards in a 48-10 victory over Missouri State on Sept. 5. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan, completed 17 of 22 passes for 309 yards and a TD  and backup Tyler Wilson threw for 138 yards and two TDs. The Razorbacks’ 591 yards marked their highest total since they had 651 in a win over South Carolina on Nov. 3, 2007.  With a vulnerable defense, this could be another long night for the Dawgs.  We’re looking for the upset.  Razorbacks by 4.

#20 Cincinnati (2-0) at #25 Oregon State (2-0)

The Bearcats keep showing us some really good stuff, which makes it hard to place them in the Top 25 right now. Arguably we could have put them as high as 14th, but we need to see how they perform against another Top 25 opponent, and they get that chance this week against a good Oregon State team lead by RB Jacquizz Rogers. Rogers ran for 166 yards last week against UNLV and paced the Beaver offense to over 400 total yards.  Cincinnati though has been solid so far in their first two weeks scoring 117 points while giving up only 18. This won’t be a cakewalk, but seeing that Cincy has given up only a little more that 100 yards rushing in two games, we lean that way.  Bearcats by 10.

#21 North Carolina (2-0) hosts East Carolina (1-1)

The Tar Heels really had a tough time last week against UConn, needing a 4th quarter comeback to snatch a victory, relying on a 233 yard passing game.  The defense is for real however. C-USA opponent East Carolina has built a solid program under Skip Holtz, but the defense is suspect.  While this game makes for good rhetoric, North Carolina looks to have a big game.  Tar Heels by 20.

#22 Miami (1-0) hosts #13 Georgia Tech (2-0)

See above. Georgia Tech by 15.

#23 Kansas (2-0) hosts Duke (1-1).

Kansas has shown that its offense can certainly generate the yards, just as it did last year.   Last week against UTEP the Jayhawks generated 576 yards of total offense and almost half was on the ground.  The week before, they generated 528 and 328 of it was on the ground. With a quality QB like Todd Reesing, this seems really  odd, but this year’s version of the Jayhawk offense could be better than previous years.  Duke, known for its roundball and Medical School, and for not offering Reesing a scholarship, doesn’t look to have much of anything that can throttle the their opponent’s high-power offense.  Kansas by 35.

#24 Michigan (2-0) hosts Eastern Michigan (0-2)

Michigan QB Tate Forcier is coming of age quickly, showing play beyond his years in the upset of Notre Dame last week. He threw for 240 yards and 2 TDs against the ND defense, the last TD winning the game with 11 seconds left. The Wolverine defense has been bend-not-break in its first two games. Eastern Michigan scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie Northwestern last week with 2:40 left, but the Wildcats kicked a 49-yard field goal to escape with a 27-24 win. Barring a huge hangover from last week, this looks to be another Michigan win.  Wolverines by 22.

#25 Oregon State (2-0) hosts #20 Cincinnati (2-0)

See above.  Cincinnati by 10.

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The Marquee game of the week was USC and Ohio State and it didn’t disappoint.  The game turned out to be much more of a defensive affair than anyone thought, but USC put together an outstanding drive at  the end of the game to pull the victory.  They did show, however, that they are mortal and certainly have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. However this will most certainly come.

Of particular note were two key upsets.  Houston went on the road to Stillwater and  toppled Oklahoma State soundly.  We had made a comment that it had been hard to tell if that OKST secondary had proved when the Cowboys beat Georgia last week.  Apparently it has not.  This certainly doesn’t bode well for them when they take on the likes of Texas and Texas Tech.

Michigan, coming off spirited win last week, showed both character and poise in their defeat of Notre Dame.  Despite what Lou Holtz was expounding on ESPN,  the Irish weren’t about to play for the National Championship, but now they’ll be out of the top 25 perhaps when the new polls are released.

Outside those little nuances, everything was mostly in line.

#1 Florida (2-0) defeated Troy (0-2) 56-6 at home.  Next week: Tennessee (1-1) at home.

No real surprise here. Florida managed to show up at their stadium and worse, so did Troy. The hosts took it easy in the first quarter, only leading 7-3, but then poured on 28 unanswered points and never looked back. Gators QB Tim Tebow threw four touchdowns and ran for another — the 45th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him for third in SEC history. Another day in the office.

#2 Texas (2-0) defeated Wyoming (1-1) 41-10 at home. Next week: Texas Tech (2-0) at home.

The was a bit of a surprise if you consider that the Longhorns led only 13-10 at halftime. But then, the Cowboys never scored another point. Colt McCoy got the offense in gear in the second half then finished 21/29 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Shipley had another big week with 8 catches for 180 yards.  It’s pretty hard to see where Texas is going to lose a game this year.

#3 USC (2-0) defeated #12 Ohio State (1-1) 18-15 in Columbus. Next week: At Washington (1-1).

As mentioned above, this game was everything it was billed to be, except more defensively than anyone thought. USC drove 86 yards for  TD and got the two-point conversion with 1:05 remaining, then held OSU to gain the W.  A lot of kudos go to freshman QB Matt Barkley who merely went on the road to Columbus, fought through a shoulder injury and led the team in a come-from-behind win. The USC defense allowed only 88 total rushing yards to OSU.

#4 Alabama (2-0) defeated Florida International (0-1) 41-14 at home. Next week: North Texas (1-1) at home.

Not a lot to say here really.  FIU isn’t exactly the premier level football team, but Alabama struggled in the first quarter. They got on track behind QB Greg McElroy (18/24 for 241 yards and 1 TD) and RB Trent Richardson (15 carries/ 118 yards 2 TDs). The Tide Defense allowed ONE  yes UNO  yard rushing by FIU all night.

#5 Penn State (2-0) defeated Syracuse (0-2) 28-7 at home. Next week: Temple (1-0) at home.

Business as usual for the Nittany Lions, but somewhat unimpressive, even though they scored one TD in every quarter and held Syracuse to just 65 yards rushing and 200 overall. QB Daryll Clark paced a passing attack that was 20/31 for 240 yards and 3 TDs. However PSU again turned the ball over three times,  up one from last week. That’s a trend that they need to stop.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) was idle.  Next week: SE Louisiana (2-0) at home.

#7 Brigham Young (2-0) defeated  Tulane (0-2) 54-3 at the Superdome. Next week: Florida State (1-1) at home.

The Cougars ran and passed for 527 yards of offense while holding the Green Wave to 162 total yards. QB Max Hall was 24/32 for 309 yards, 2 TDs and 1 Interception. BYU took advantage of Tulane’s 3 fumbles and 1 interception to run away in the second half.

#8 California (2-0) defeated Eastern Washington (1-1) 59-7 at home. Next week: At Minnesota (2-0).

Division II teams don’t often match up well to their Div 1 opponents, and this was no exception. Cal used RB Jahvid Best (17 carries, 144 yards) to pace a 342 yard ground game. The Golden Bear defense limited the Eagles to just 14 yards rushing.

9 LSU (2-0) defeated Vanderbilt (1-1) 23-9 at home. Next week: Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0) at home.

The Tiger’s needed a late TD to put away a stubborn Vandy, but played outstanding defense holding them to 122 rushing and 88 passing yards on the game. The LSU offense was consistent, balanced and  had the ball 13 minutes more than the Commodores.

#10 Boise State (2-0) defeated Miami (OH) (0-2) 48-0 at home.  Next week: At Fresno State (1-1) (Friday night)

The Broncos never let the Red Hawks into the game running up 441 yards of total offense, paced by  QB Kellen Moore’s 16/26 for 207 yards and 4 TDs.  WR Austin Pettis was the leading receiver posting four catches for 115 yards and a TD.

#11 Oklahoma (1-1) defeated Idaho State (0-2) 64-0 in Norman.  Next week: Tulsa (2-0) at home.

After getting embarrassed on prime time TV by BYU and losing their starting QB, the Sooners reminded us that they have plenty of depth. The OU defense only allowed 6 first downs all night, while Oklahoma’s backup quarterback Landry Jones looked sharp in his debut, going 18-of-32 for 286 yards and three scores.  The telling statistic? Idaho had negative yardage on the ground and only 44 total yards of offense.

#12 Ohio State (1-1) lost to #3 USC (2-0) 18-15 at home. Next week: At Toledo (1-1).

For the Buckeyes, it was another big-game disappointment, maybe the toughest one yet. Ohio State has now lost six straight against top-five teams, including two national title games and last season’s 35-3 loss to USC in Los Angeles.

#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) defeated Clemson (1-1) 30-27 at home.  Next week: At #22 Miami (1-0) (Thursday).

Credit Clemson for a tough, hard fought game, which we should have remembered.  The last few games of this series have been very close and this one was no different. Yellow Jacket kicker Scott Blair threw a 34-yard TD pass in the first quarter, but his last-minute clinching field goal was what sealed the win for Tech. RB Anthony Allen rand for 127 yards on 5 carries, including an 82-yard TD in the first quarter.

#14 Virginia Tech (1-1) defeated Marshall (1-1) 52-10 at home. Next week: #17 Nebraska (2-0) at home.

VT literally ran away with this one chalking up 444 yards of their 605 on the ground. For the first time in school history, two Hokies rushed for 160 or more yards as Ryan Williams (169 yards) and David Wilson (160 yards) led the Virginia Tech rushing attack. Tyrod Taylor, largely ineffective the week before against Alabama, had a much better night going 9/16 for 161 yards and 2 TDs.  But it was hardly needed.

#15 TCU (1-0) defeated Virginia (0-2) 30-14  at Charlottesville, NC.  Next week: Texas State (1-0) at home.

TCU scored 30 unanswered points, while letting their defense dominate. Virginia managed just seven first downs,  three of them coming in the final quarter, and two on long touchdown passes after the outcome had long been decided. The Cavaliers finished with just 177 yards of total offense, and 83 of those came on Jameel Sewell’s late TD passes.

#16 Utah (2-0) defeated San Jose State (0-2) 24-14 at San Jose. Next week: At Oregon.

The Spartans, who lost badly in their season opener to USC 56-3, played much better and gave the Utes all they could handle. This game was knotted at 7-7 going into the final quarter, but two TDs within 4 minutes sealed the outcome for Utah. The Utes offense was impeccably balanced (251 rushing, 248 passing) but repeatedly had trouble finishing drives until the 4th.

#17 Nebraska (2-0) defeated Arkansas State (1-1) 38-9 at home.  Next week:  At #14 Virginia Tech.

Nebraska jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the first half and never looked back. The Huskers’ D allowed Arkansas State just one field goal in the second half. QB Zac Lee went 27-of-35 by spreading out the offense to 11 receivers. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.

#18 Oklahoma State (1-1) lost to Houston (1-1) 45-35 at home. Next week: Rice at home.

After a brilliant first week performance that saw the Cowboy defense control Georgia’s running game, that same defense showed the same vulnerabilities it did in 2008. Despite a very decent 18/31 for 240 yards by Zac Robinson,  the defense allowed unranked Houston to pile up 512 yards of total offense, mostly in the air (366 yards). Baylor and Texas Tech could be licking their chops.

#19 Georgia (1-1) defeated South Carolina (1-1) 41-37 at home. Next week: At Arkansas.

LB Rennie Curran broke up Gamecock QB Stephen Garcia fourth-down pass from the 7-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, and the Bulldogs got away with the narrowest of victories. Georgia QB Joe Cox completed 70 percent of his passes for 201 yards and two scores. Oddly enough SC controlled the ball for nearly 10 more minutes and picked up 10 more first downs than the Dawgs.

#20 Cincinnati (2-0) defeated SE Missouri State (1-1) 70-3 at home. Next week:  At  #25 Oregon State (2-0)

What’s to say other than when Cincinnati was left off the preseason Top 25 polls, they might have been really upset.  The Bearcats have taken it out on their opponents, outscoring them 117-18 in two games. The offense racked up 578 yards of offense and the defense allowed 54 yards of rushing and 7 first downs. Ouch!

#21 North Carolina (2-0) defeated Connecticut (1-1) 12-10 at East Harford, CT. Next week: East Carolina (1-1)  at home.

Behind most of the game, the Tar Heels, Connecticut’s Dan Ryan was flagged for holding defensive end Robert Quinn in the end zone with 1:32 left in the game giving the No. 19 Tar Heels a safety and a 12-10 comeback win over the Huskies. The Huskies had led 10-0 going into the final quarter. North Carolina’s offense recorded 233 passing yards, compared to a mere 35 rushing yards.

#22 Miami (1-0) was idle.  Next week: #13 Georgia Tech (2-0) at home (Friday).

#23 Kansas (2-0) defeated UTEP (0-2) 34-7  at El Paso, TX.  Next week:  Duke (1-1) at home.

The Jayhawks accumulated 576 yards of offense, but what was surprising was that 255 of it was on the ground. QB Todd Reesing had his normal outstanding day going 25/41 for 260 yards and a TD, but RB Jake Sharp ran for 104 yards and scored three touchdowns. They also got two big punt returns from Daymond Patterson. UTEP managed only 4 yards rushing on the night.

#24 Michigan (2-0) defeated Notre Dame (1-1) 38-34 at home. Next week: Eastern Michigan (0-2) at home.

The Wolverines waited until the last possible second to put away the Irish. QB Tate Forcier’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Mathews with 11 seconds left capped a game-winning drive that thwarted a 4th quarter comeback by Notre Dame.  Forcier was 23/33 for 240 yards and 2 TDs while RB Brandon Minor ran for 106 yards on 16 carries and a TD.

#25 Oregon State (2-0) defeated UNLV (1-1) 23-21 in Las Vegas. Next week: #20 Cincinnati (2-0) at home.

Beaver RB Jacquizz Rogers ran for 166 yards on 26 carries as Oregon State snuck by a pesky UNLV team. The Beaver offense generated almost 400 total yards, but the defense gave away 310.  Justin Kahut’s 33 yard FG with 0:07 on the clock completed the come back win.

Most impressive: USC, BYU, Cal, Cincinnati

Least impressive: Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, North Carolina.

Dropping out: Notre Dame, Missouri

On the Bubble: Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

Top 25 Composition: SEC: 5, Big-12: 5; ACC: 4; Pac-10: 3; Big-10: 3; MWAC: 3; Big East: 1; WAC: 1.

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Not much to get too excited about in Week 2.  An early season showdown will pit USC and Ohio State in Columbus, but plenty of time for either team to falter or recover no matter what the result.  LSU- Vanderbilt could be interesting seeing that LSU wasn’t exactly convincing in their opening game. Georgia-Tech- Clemson on Thursday night should be an early tell for the their respective ACC divisons.

Other than that, most teams in the T25 are either idle or have pretty easy opponents.

#1 Florida (1-0) hosting Troy (0-1).

Another scrimmage game for the Gators who dominated Charleston Southern last week.  Troy is a better team than  Charleston, but not by much. The Trojans have dropped eight straight against ranked opponents, and it will take a near miracle for that streak not to jump to nine. Gators by 45.

#2 Texas (1-0) At Wyoming (1-0).

Colt McCoy was 21/29 for 317 yards and 2TDs, while Jordan Shipley caught 8 passes for 180 yards against La-Monroe last week. The Longhorn running game added another 199.  It just works that way.  Which one will be established first is immaterial. The Cowboys’ offense sports a new, no-huddle spread that could present a challenge to the Horns’  D, but we seriously doubt it.  Texas by 40.

#3 Alabama (1-0)  hosts  Florida International (0-0)  at home.

The Tide’s offense was just good enough to beat Va Tech last week but will be much more than enough to take on Florida International.  Alabama wasn’t perfect last week by any stretch, but FIU won’t provide much threat. Look for the Bama D to want a good solid game after giving up plays to VT to keep them in the game.  It won’t take much.  Alabama by 32.

#4 USC (1-0) At #8 Ohio State (1-0).

Ohio State will definitely need to be better defensively than they were last week against Navy The Navy OL pushed the Buckeyes around the field all day long.  If it was that bad against Navy, it could be downright scary against USC. OSU will have to decide whether to put 8 in the box to stop McKnight and his fellow stable of RBs, and leave QB Matt Barkley to throw all day, or drop back and cover the pass, and see  USC do another Navy.  Barring major mistakes, this one could get out of hand. USC by 18.

#5 Oklahoma State hosts Houston (1-0) .

The Cowboys used a balanced offensive attack  and a stingy defense to dominate the Georgia last week.   But Houston amassed 538 yards of total offense last week, 447 of that was in the air.  OSU has a fast defense, but last year their secondary  was pretty suspect. They didn’t get much of a chance to show anything against ground-based Georgia team.  This shouldn’t be close, but watch out!  Cowboys by 24.

#6 Mississippi (1-0)  Idle.

#7 Penn State (1-0)  hosts  Syracuse (0-1).

The Nittany Lions didn’t get a lot of a test of their team against a pretty mediocre QB and defense at home against Akron.  They scored all their points in the first half and then cruised, in fact.  That might be a bit troubling.  Syracuse will be a better test.  They hung in all the way to overtime before losing to a pretty good Minnesota team by a FG.  Daryll Clark and company will have a tougher test this week.  PSU by 14.

#8 Ohio State (1-0) hosts #4 USC (1-0).

See above analysis.  USC by 18.

#9 California (1-0) hosts Eastern Washington (1-0).

California beat up Maryland in its season opener, and the Bears expect to do the same against Eastern Washington. The game will give Jahvid Best & Co. an opportunity to pad their stats before Cal’s conference schedule begins. Cal by 42.

#10. Brigham Young (1-0) At Tulane (0-1).

After upsetting Oklahoma last week, BYU’s biggest challenge in Week 2 will be avoiding the victory’s hangover.  If the offense can move the ball without turnovers, the Cougars’ defense shouldn’t have problems with a Tulane offense that managed just 16.7 points per game last season. BYU by 31.

#11 Boise State (1-0) hosts Miami (OH) (0-1).

Boise State survived the toughest part of its schedule, defeating Oregon 19-8 in Week 1 in an exceptional defensive effort. Miami (Ohio) was shut out by Kentucky 42-0. It doesn’t get easier for Mike Haywood’s team, as Boise State boasts the ninth-ranked rushing defense in the country. Broncos by 32.

#12 Oklahoma (0-1) hosts Idaho State (0-1).

Sam Bradford or no Sam Bradford, this should be a laugher.  Idaho State lost its first 11 games of 2008 before capping the season with a win over Sacramento State. It opened the 2009 campaign with a 50-3 loss at Arizona State last Saturday, committing five turnovers and managing 37 yards — zero in the first half.  That defeat was Idaho State’s 16th straight on the road. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 24. The Sooners are one home win shy of the team record, a run that ended with a season-opening loss to Notre Dame in 1953.

#13 TCU (0-0) At Virginia (0-1).

After losing to William & Mary in Week 1, Virginia is looking to save face (W&M isn’t Div I). The good news is that the Cavs play at home. The bad news is that they’re hosting TCU in its season opener. The Horned Frogs have won their past six games and didn’t give up a touchdown in their past two.  Ouch.  TCU by 21.

#14 LSU (1-0) hosts Vanderbilt (1-0) .

LSU begins its SEC schedule by playing host to Vanderbilt.  LSU gave Tiger fans hope last week after showing signs of having an offense.  After finishing worse than .500 in conference play last season,  LSU hopes to make a statement. Vandy, on the other hand, had no offensive woes, running up 620 total yard in their season opening against Western Carolina, and their defense held them to only 115 total yards.  This might be a tough game with possible upset in the making.  LSU by 8.

#15 Notre Dame (1-0) At Michigan (1-0).

Both teams lived up to the hype against their less-than-stellar Week 1 opponents. The true test comes in this week. Irish QB Jimmy Clausen needs to show that he can throw 315 yards against a real defense like he did against Nevada. Michigan will need a solid offensive effort and a tighter defense.  The Wolverines gave up 301 total yards against Western Michigan.  Irish by 17.

#16 Utah (1-0) At San Jose State (0-1).

The nation’s longest winning streak is on the line at San Jose State, as the Utes go for victory No. 16.  The Utes showed a balanced offensive last week led by Matt Asiata’s  156 yards on 36 carries.  San Jose State on the other hand, was demolished by USC. Utah should have a relatively easy week.  Utes by 31.

#17 North Carolina (1-0) At Connecticut (1-0).

North Carolina beat up on The Citadel in Week 1, and if the Tar Heels’ defense plays as well against UConn, it could be a long day in East Hartford. The Huskies won their opener against Ohio, but the offense was ground oriented 259 yards of the 386. If UConn has any chance at an upset, it will need an improved performance from QB Zach Frazer. Tar Heels by 20.

#18 Virginia Tech (0-1) hosts Marshall (1-0) .

The Hokies offense was  pitiful against Bama last week managing only 155 total offensive yards. Herd QB Brian Anderson made a statement in Marshall’s win against Southern Illinois, completing 75 percent of his passes.  Marshall may make this one competitive, but Tyrod Taylor should have an easier defense to work against. Hokies by 18.

#19 Nebraska (1-0) hosts Arkansas State (1-0) at home.

Suspect for the Cornhuskers, was the fact that they gave up 358 yards of offense against Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves posted a 61-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State, scoring 40 points in the first half, so Nebraska may have to work at not being embarrassed.  Huskers by 20.

#20 Georgia Tech (1-0) hosts  Clemson (1-0) Thursday.

After a sloppy performance against Jacksonville State that included five fumbles, Georgia Tech looks to prove it has the mental toughness to compete for a division title. With C.J. Spiller back in the lineup for Clemson, the Yellow Jackets’ defense will have to contribute.  Georgia Tech by 13.

#21 Kansas (1-0) At UTEP (0-1).

Todd Reesing was a one-man show  going 13/20 for 208 yards (2 TDS)  and carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards and 2 TDs.  UTEP will just have no answer for anything that Kansas does.  This one truly could get nasty. Jayhawks by 40.

#22 Cincinnati (1-0)  hosts Missouri State  (1-0).

With a  564 yards of total offense on the road at Rutgers, Cincy proved that they were ready to establish that they are the team to beat in the Big East.  Don’t look for Missouri State to even be a speed bump here.  Bearcats by 38.

#23 Georgia (0-1) hosts South Carolina (1-0).

In losing to Oklahoma State,  the Bulldogs managed only 95 rushing yards on the day. That’s going to have to change really fast.  SC’s defense is fast, but there isn’t much offensive punch.   Look for Georgia to establish the run, and get substantially more than 95 yards in their home opener.  Dawgs by 10.

#24 Miami (Fla) (1-0) Idle.

#25 Missouri (1-0)  hosts Bowling Green (1-0) at home.

Missouri trounced Illinois in Week 1, and the young Tigers shouldn’t have any problems with Bowling Green. Missouri is very young, but if sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert continues to manage the game well, the Tigers should even the series with the Falcons. Tigers by 21.

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Week one of the 2009 campaign, resulted in a few interesting turns of  events, but it was largely punctuated by predictable wins (even predictable upsets), terrible officiating and some really bad broadcasting. I’m not sure if I’m just getting more critical in my old age, but my goodness, if you work for someone like ESPN you should be expected to speak distinctly, comment on games without using a list of clichés, and for heaven’s sake ask intelligent halftime questions to coaches! I digress…

Obviously the biggest story out of week one was the injury to Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford’s shoulder. Much speculation was going around about how serious it was and how long he would be out. ESPN was reporting that similar injuries called for 3-4 weeks of rest. The fact is that as of 9:00am Wednesday its unknown other than the fact that its a 2nd or 3rd degree sprain. Or so they are saying. What is known, is that Sam Bradford’s exit from the game was hardly a factor. While he WAS in the game the OU offense put up a whopping seven points. After his departure, they put up six… so…OU fans, quit whining.

Florida, Texas, USC, Penn State and Cal all had impressive first week wins, but only in the sense that they did what they were supposed to do. There were a few top 25 matchups and their results really don’t’ change things that much. A few disappointments and surprises dropped out a couple and we added a couple…such is the way of college football!

#1 Florida (1-0) defeated Charleston Southern (0-1) 62-3 at home. Next week: Troy (0-1) at home.

This one was over the moment that the Gators were allowed to take the field. They amassed 624 yards of total offense, 255 in the air and 369 on the ground. Florida ran by committee with eight different rushers carried the ball. The Gator D only allowed 228 total yards.

#2 Texas (1-0) defeated Louisiana-Monroe (0-1) 59-20 at home. Next week: At Wyoming (1-0).

Colt McCoy was 21/29 for 317 yards and 2TDs, while Jordan Shipley caught 8 passes for 180 yards. The Longhorn running game added another 199. Both teams were somewhat sloppy, committing 3 turnovers each, but, like Florida, this one was decided early.

#3 Alabama (1-0) defeated #18 Virginia Tech (0-1) 34-24 in Atlanta. Next week: Florida International (0-0) at home.

The Crimson Tide showed just enough offense to win, but the story of the game was the lack of same from Va Tech. The Hokies maintained a 17-16 lead into the 4th quarter but the Alabama running game took over. Mark Ingram had 150 yards rushing on 26 carries, while QB Greg McElroy was a respectable 15/30 for 230.

#4 USC (1-0) defeated San Jose St. (0-1) 56-3 at home. Next week: At #8 Ohio State (1-0).

For those that were wondering how Freshman QB Matt Barkley would do, the stats pretty much say it all: 620 yards of total offense, 15/19 for 233 yards, 1 TD, no interceptions. USC started slow, but kicked in into gear in the second quarter and never looked back. Joe McKnight had 145 yards on 14 carries.

#5 Oklahoma State (1-0) defeated #23 Georgia (0-1) 24-10 at home. Next week: Houston (1-0) at home.

The Cowboys used a balanced offensive attack (135 rushing / 172 passing), and a stingy defense to dominate the Bulldogs. OKST used their trio of Zac Robinson (11/22 for 135 and 2 TDs), Dez Bryant (3 catches, 76 yds and 2 TDs), and Kendall Hunter to keep Georgia’s offense off the field.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) defeated Memphis (0-1) 45-14 at Memphis. Next week: Idle.

For more than three quarters, Memphis kept it close, down only 24-14 with a little more than nine minutes to play. The Rebel defense was the key to the game, holding Memphis to 14 points and getting three interceptions. Jevan Sneed had a tough game going 12/22 for 175 yards and 2 TDs but also 2 INTs.

#7 Penn State (1-0) defeated Akron (0-1) 31-7 at home. Next week: Syracuse (0-1) at home.

If you left at half time, you didn’t miss much since all the scoring for PSU was done then. It was disappointing to see the Nittany Lions not finish the game out, but there was more than enough points to go around. QB Daryll Clark was 29/40 for 353 yards, 3 Yds and 1 INT. Evan Royster added another 61 on the ground. The defense held Akron to under 200 total yards.

#8 Ohio State (1-0) defeated Navy (0-1) 31-28 at home. Next week: #4 USC (1-0) at home.

It was touch and go for the Buckeyes against a Navy team that just didn’t know the meaning of the word quit. The game wasn’t decided until Brian Rolle intercepted a two point Navy try that would have tied the game. Disturbing was the OSU defense that gave up 342 yards of offense. Navy turned the ball over 3 times, otherwise, this might have been very bad for OSU.

#9 California (1-0) defeated Maryland (0-1) 52-13 at home. Next week: Eastern Washington (1-0) at home.

Jahvid Best ran for 137 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs, while QB Kevin Riley threw 17/26 for 298 yards and four TDs. They amassed 542 yards of total offense helped along by WR Marvin Jones (3 catches/74 yards).

#10. Brigham Young (1-0) defeated #12 Oklahoma (0-1) 14-13 in Dallas. Next week: At Tulane (0-1).

In maybe the biggest shocker of the week, not only does BYU beat the then #3 in the rankings, but they knock out Heisman QB Sam Bradford for a few weeks with a sprained AC-joint. BYU did it mostly on the strength of its defense. Sam DID play the first half and managed to get only 7 points. This is the same offense that put up over 700 last year, an NCAA record. BYU QB Max Hall over came 2 INTs to finish 26/38 for 329 yards including the game-winning TD with 3:03 remaining.

#11 Boise State (1-0) defeated Oregon (0-1) 19-8 at home. Next week: Miami (OH) (0-1) at home.

It was a low scoring game, but the Broncos’ defense limited Oregon to 151 total yards and 6 first downs, while the offense played ball control, possessing the ball over 42 minutes of the 60 total minutes of  the game. Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount was suspended by the university for the rest of the season for throwing a post-game punch at a Boise State player.

#12 Oklahoma (0-1) lost to #10 Brigham Young 14-13 in Dallas. Next week: Idaho State (0-1) at home.

There was little to be happy about going back to Norman after losing to BYU. A Sam Bradford offense generated 7 points, then he’s knocked out of the game and his replacement leads them to 6. The pass defense looks worse than it did last year, which is saying something, and your tight end is out now for an unknown period of time. Holding BYU to 14 points might be something to build on, but giving up 329 yards passing is something to be scared of when you have to play Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

#13 TCU (0-0) Did not play. Next week: At Virginia (0-1).

#14 LSU (1-0) defeated Washington (0-1) 31-23 at Seattle. Next Week: Vanderbilt (1-0) at home.

It wasn’t the run away that most thought it would be, but a road win is a road win for Les Miles’ crew. For a first game, LSU does show some sign of QB life with Jordan Jefferson going 11/19 for 172yds and 3 TDs. WR Terrance Tolliver was the star receiver picking up 4 receptions for 172 yards. Troubling for LSU was the fact that the defense gave up 321 passing yards. This bodes no good for SEC play.

#15 Notre Dame (1-0) defeated Nevada (0-1) 35-0 at home. Next week: At Michigan (1-0).

The Irish recorded their first shutout in seven years taking advantage of a uninspired Nevada team. QB Jimmy Clausen finally looks like the real thing going 15/18 for 315 yards and 4 TDs. WR Michael Floyd finished with 4 carries and 189 yards and 3 TDs. The ND defense also picked off 3 INTs on the day.

#16 Utah (1-0) defeated Utah State (0-1) 35-17 at home. Next week: At San Jose State (0-1).

This vintage of Ute football started with a balanced offensive punch of 286 yards in the air and 233 yards on the ground. Matt Asiata ran for 156 yards on an astonishing 36 carries. Of particular concern tho: three turnovers made this game closer than it should have been.

#17 North Carolina (1-0) defeated The Citadel (0-1) 40-6 at home. Next week: At Connecticut (1-0).

RB Shaun Draughn rushed for 118 yards on 20 carries while QB T. J. Yates threw for 2 TDs to lead the Tar Heels in their home opener. The Defense looked impressive holding The Citadel to 156 total offensive yards, 8 first downs and only 30 yards rushing.

#18 Virginia Tech (0-1) lost to Alabama (1-0) 34-24 in Atlanta. Next week: Marshall (1-0) at home.

Stat of the game: 498-155. The Crimson Tide ended the night with 498 total yards compared to the Hokies’ 155. QB Tyrod Taylor looked like he hadn’t learned much over the off-season going 9/20 for 91 yards.

#19 Nebraska (1-0) defeated Florida Atlantic (0-1) 49-3 at home. Next week: Arkansas State (1-0) at home.

It was a good news – bad news game for the Cornhuskers. Good news was that they open with a lopsided win at home where QB Zac Lee went 15/22 for 213 yards and 2 TDs. RB Roy Helu, Jr. rushed for 152 yards on 16 carries and 3 TDs. The bad news was the hopefully-improved defense allowed 358 total yards, but got 2 INTs.

#20 Georgia Tech (1-0) defeated Jacksonville State 37-17 at home. Next week: Clemson (1-0) at home.

Georgia Tech rushed for 335 yards and totaled 497 yards en route to an easy win. Twelve different players ran the ball for Georgia Tech. RB Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 95 yards on seven carries for the Yellow Jackets. Seventy four of those yards came on a TD run in the first quarter.

#21 Kansas (1-0) defeated Northern Colorado (0-1) 49-3 at home. Next week: At UTEP (0-1).

The star of the show was Todd Reesing who was 13/20 for 208 yards and 2 TDs, but he also carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards and 2 TDs. We wished we had fantasy players like that! Nuff said.

#22 Cincinnati (1-0) defeated Rutgers (0-1) 47-15 at Rutgers. Next week: SE Missouri State (1-0) at home.

The Bearcats generated 564 yards of total offense on the road with QB Tony Pike going 27/34 for 362 yards and 3 TDs. The Cincy defense was tough on the ground game allowing the Scarlet Knights only 30 total rushing yards in the game.

#23 Georgia (0-1) lost to #5 Oklahoma State (1-0) 24-10 in Stillwater, OK. Next week: South Carolina (1-0) at home.

Georgia lost its second consecutive regular-season game (lost to Georgia Tech last November) and fell to 30-5 in true road games under Mark Richt. While QB Joe Cox had a reasonably decent day (15/30, 162 yds, 1 TD), the Bulldogs managed only 95 rushing yards on the day.

#24 Miami (Fla) (1-0) defeated Florida State (0-1) 38-34 at Gainesville. Next Week: Idle.

Probably the best game of week one in terms of pure competition and enjoyment. There were 7 lead changes and the game wasn’t decided until the last play of the game which was reviewed. The Canes and Noles combined for 43 first downs and 880 yards in the shootout. QB Jacory Harris was 21/34 for 386 yards and 2 TDs in the mild upset.

#25 Missouri (1-0) defeated Illinois (0-1) 37-9 in St. Louis. Next Week: Bowling Green (1-0) at home.

Blaine Gabbert threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a stellar starting debut to lead a rebuilding Missouri Tiger team over the Illini. Danario Alexander led Tiger receivers with 10 catches and 132 yards.

Dropped: Oregon, Iowa

On the Bubble: Oregon State, Iowa, Michigan State

Performances of the Week: BYU, Oklahoma State, Alabama,  Boise State, Miami

Disappointments of the Week: Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Oregon

T25 Composition: Big-12: 6, SEC: 5, ACC: 4; Big Ten: 2; Pac-10: 2, MWAC: 2; WAC: 2, Big East 1; Ind: 1

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As expected, week 13 had earth shattering effects on the BCS and the bowl post season.

Texas Tech proved to be a not-ready-for-primetime player as they were completely dominated by a truly National Title contender Oklahoma. Utah and Penn State both dominated their opponents also, assuring their presence in the BCS season.

The way it sits right now, it surely looks like the BCS ranking will MORE than determine the teams to the National Championship.  There are for all practical purposes, 4 teams in play according to the BCS: Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida.  With the final regular season week coming up,  you’d think thats what it would all be about.  But there are a few more teams that might have a say in it.

Just this week, Oklahoma must get by Oklahoma State in Stillwater, which historically has been a real bloodbath for OU. Texas must get by Texas A&M, which any other year would be a toss up. Let’s not forget that Alabama plays Auburn this week also, which again, you can throw the records of the two teams out. Finally Florida hosts a very much improved Florida State, which could easily throw a wrench in the works.

Any slip ups of these could dash national title hopes.

Example:  If Oklahoma were to lose to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech would move on to the Big-12 Championship (at #7) and play Missouri (at #13), the winner of which goes to a BCS bowl. Not to mention the fact that OU would drop in the standings.

Let’s assume that all four teams do their job and win. It now puts the choice of not only the national title teams in the hands of the BCS, but also the Big-12 Championship.  That’s right. Currently Texas and OU are separated by 0.0084 in the standings. So if both teams win against their opponents, Oklahoma would most likely get the nod to move up because they would be playing a ranked team (#12 Oklahoma State).  It seems just a little bit tacky that all this doesn’t get settled on the field, but thats the way the Big-12 rules read for tiebreakers.  Even though, officially, Texas, TTU, and OU would be co-champions.

We’re not done.  Let’s say after this week, its Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida in the BCS. We now move into Championship week. We now need to look at what possibly could happen as a result of the Big-12 and SEC Championships.  there are only 4 possible results of the two games, and as such each has its corresponding effect on the BCS:

Alabama and Oklahoma Win:  This would be the easy scenario.  They would play for the National Title.

Alabama and Missouri Win:  Possible BCS result?  Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida? Alabama-Texas for the National Title.

Florida and Oklahoma Win:  Would this result in Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama?? Probably.  That gets us OU-Florida.

Florida and Missouri Win:  Easy.. that gets you Florida – Texas.

Well enough of hypothesizing.  Let’s take a look at OUR new rankings:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Did not play. Next week: Auburn (5-6) at home. Bama still must take care of business this Saturday against an underachieving Auburn to make their date with Florida in the SEC Championship a National Title Qualifier game.  All bets are off with this rivalry!

#2 Florida (10-1). Defeated The Citadel (4-8) 70-19 at home. Next week: #20 Florida State at home. As predicted this was no contest. Tim Tebow, who may now be the leading Heisman candidate, threw for 201 yards and three TDs.  The Gator offense generated over 700 yards of offense, 394 yards of it on the ground. RB Chris Rainey had  142 yards on 7 carries while Emanuel Moody had 13 carries and 116 yards.

#3 Texas (10-1). Did not play. Next week: Texas A&M (4-7)  at home. We give the benefit of the doubt here to Texas above Oklahoma, seeing that they beat OU soundly earlier in the year. Depending on the next two games, this could change.

#4 Oklahoma (10-1). Defeated #7 Texas Tech (10-1) 65-21 in Norman. Next week: #11 Oklahoma State (9-2) in Stillwater. There certainly was no doubt of the better team in Normal this past week end, as the OU rushing attack exposed a not-so-improved Texas Tech defense.  Add with this the fact that the Raiders couldm’t execute on offense, it added up to a complete domination by the Sooners. OU QB Sam Bradford was 14/19 for 304 yards while RB DeMarco Murray ran for 125 yards and two TDs

#5 USC (9-1) Did not play. Next week: Notre Dame (6-5) at home. The Trojans fate is in the hands of Oregon State, even if they win out. If Oregon State beats Oregon this weekend, USC will go to the Fiesta Bowl probably against either Texas or OU (whoever doesnt go to the national title).

#6 Penn State (11-1) Defeated  #20 Michigan State 49-18 at home. Next week: Idle. If there was any doubt about who should win the Big-10, it was laid to rest in Happy Valley.  The PSU defense throttled Javon Ringer and harassed Brian Hoyer all night long, while QB Daryll Clark threw for 341 yards and 4 TDs. Yeah that ought do it.  Rose Bowl bound!

#7 Texas Tech (10-1) Lost to #4 Oklahoma (10-1) 65-21. Next week: Baylor (4-7). See above.  The Red Raiders are on their way, most likely, to the Cotton Bowl against Mississippi unless Oklahoma loses. Then who knows.

#8 Utah (12-0) Defeated #17 Brigham Young (10-2) 48-24 at home. Next week: Idle. The Utes came to play on Saturday and play they did. QB Brian Johnson was 30/36 for 303 and four TDs, while the Utah defense sparked 6 Cougar turnovers. Ouch!  Utah is probably on the way to the Sugar Bowl against the loser of the SEC Championship.

#9 Ohio State (10-2) defeated Michigan (3-9) 42-7 at home. Next week: Idle. It used to be you could always count on a great game between these two, even if one or the other was having an off year. This, however was no contest and was almost like a controlled scrimmage.  Beanie Wells had 134 yards rushing to pace the 434 total offensive yards for the Buckeyes. Next stop, perhaps the Capital One Bowl vs Georgia.

#10 Boise State (11-0) defeated Nevada (6-5) 41-34 at Nevada. Next week: Fresno State (7-4) at home. The broncos needed the whole game to get the victory as a last minute hail mary was batted down. The star of the game was BSU’s Austin Pettis who had 9 receptions for 126 yards and 2 TDs. QB Kellen Moore threw for 414 yards. You gotta feel for the Broncos, probably an undefeated season, and no better than the Humanitarian Bowl agianst maybe a Maryland or Wake Forest team with 3 losses.

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2) did not play. Next week: #4 Oklahoma (10-1) at home. The whole world’s watching this battle next week, because the ramifications could be profound.

#12 Missouri (9-2) did not play. Next week: Kansas (6-5) at Arrohead Stadium. The traditional end to the season is a bit of a moot point.  Missouri is going to the Big-12 Championship against well, either OU or Texas Tech depending on the OU-Oklahoma State game.

#13 Georgia (9-2) did not play. Next week: #22 Georgia Tech (8-3) at home. The Bulldogs look like prime candidates for the Capital One Bowl probably against Ohio State.

#14 TCU (10-2) defeated Air Force (8-4) 44-10 at home. Next week: Idle. The Horned Frogs held Air Force to just seven first downs and 161 yards of total offense, whilethey amassed 504 yards of total offense in the rout. TCU will probably get a bid to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl possibly against Arizona.

#15 Ball State (11-0) defeated Central Michigan (8-3) 31-24 at C. Mich. Next week: Western Michigan (9-2) at home (Tuesday). It’s an early week season finale for the Cardinals against Western Michigan, coming off their come from behind win over Central Michigan. MiQuale Lewis was the leader of the Cards in this game rushing for 177 yards.  A victory over Western Michigan sends Ball State to the MAC Championship against Buffalo.

#16 Cincinnati (9-2) defeated #25 Pittsburgh (7-3) 28-21 at home. Next week: Syracuse (3-8) at home. Despite all adversity this year, the Bearcats find themselves one win away from a BCS bowl game. Their home victory over Pittsburgh puts them a game up on West Virginia, who they defeated earlier this year. QB Tony Pike threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns.

#17 Brigham Young (10-2) Lost to #8 Utah (12-0) 48-24 at Utah. Next week: Idle. See above.  The Cougars are likely headed to the Armed Forces or Poinsettia Bowl.

#18 Oregon State (8-3) defeated Arizona (6-5) 19-17 at Arizona. Next week: #19 Oregon (8-3) at home. The Beavers needed a last second, literally, field goal to beat Arizona, and to keep their dream season alive.  Justin Kahut’s 24-yard field goal won the game and allowed him to get redemption after missing an earlier extra point that would have tied the game. OSU needs only to beat Oregon next week to get an invitation to the Rose Bowl against #6 Penn State. Hmm #18 vs #6 or #5 vs #6. We wonder who the Rose Bowl is rooting for?

#19 Oregon (8-3) did not play. Next week: At #18 Oregon State (8-3). See above.

#20 Florida State (8-3) defeated Maryland 37-3 at Maryland. Next week: At #2 Florida (10-1). The Seminoles’ offense had almost 12 minutes more possession time, which allowed the defense to hold Maryland to 252 yards of total offense. Maryland turned the ball over 4 times, which usually spells defeat for most teams. A loss by FSU this weekend against Florida opens the door for Boston College to win the ACC Atlantic if they can beat Maryland.

#21 Michigan State (9-3) Lost to #6 Penn State (11-1) 49-18 at State College, PA. Next Week: Idle. See above.  The Spartans are probably looking at an Outback Bowl appearance against South Carolina.

#22 Boston College (8-3) defeated Wake Forest (6-5) 24-21 at Wake. Next Week: Maryland (7-4) at home. DeLeon Gause picked off Christian Ponder in the end zone in the fourth quarter with BC leading 24-17 which sealed the game late for the Golden Eagles. Montel Harris rushed 25 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, while the defense picked Chris Ponder off 3 times. BC needs to beat Maryland next week for the ACC Atlantic title.

#23 Georgia Tech (8-3) defeated Miami (7-4) 41-23 at home. Next week: At Georgia (9-2). Just when we thought Miami was the thing, up pops the GT offense for 518 yards and puts the Hurricanes in their place. The Jackets rushed for 472 yards in the game, the most that Miami has ever allowed. Even though GT is done, they must wait for the winner of the Virginia-Virginia Tech game to see their fate.  A win by VT gets them to the ACC Championship, otherwise the Jackets go.

#24 Northwestern (9-3) did not play. Next week: Idle. Northwestern had a most successful year, and is most likely on their way to the Alamo Bowl (probably against Oklahoma State).

#25 West Virginia (7-3) defeated Louisville (5-6) 35-21 at Louisville. Next week: At Pittsburgh (7-3). QB Pat White was a one man army, rushing for 200 yards on 21 carries amd three touchdowns. He also threw for another 122 and 2 touchdowns.  West Virginia still has a bowl shot but its a long one, as Cincinnati would need to lose to Syracuse, and the Mountaineers would need to beat both Pittsburgh and South Florida.

WORTH NOTING: The Abilene Christian Wildcats beat West Texas A&M 93-68 in Division II qualifying play.  Yes folks, thats a football score. ACU running back Bernard Scott ran for 292 yards while Quarterback Billy Malone threw over 400 yards in the record setting event (47 records were surpassed at the NCAA D1 and D2 levels). The Wildcats generated 810 yards of offense. Next up for ACU is NW Missouri State who ACU defeated earlier in the season 44-27.

Dropping out: Miami, Maryland

On the bubble: Mississippi, Iowa

Most Impressive: Oklahoma, Penn State, Utah, Florida State

Least Impressive: Texas Tech

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), Big-10 (4), SEC (3), Pac-10 (3), MWAC (3), ACC (3), Big East (2), MAC (1), WAC (1)

BCS Bowl Projections:

National Title:  Florida  v.  Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Oregon State  v. Penn State

Sugar Bowl:  Utah v. Alabama

Orange Bowl:  Cincinnati v. Florida State

Fiesta Bowl: USC v. Texas

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As we alluded earlier this week, the 12th week games showed many teams either resting or playing under-achievers.  While there were some lackadaisical performances,  there were few things to get excited about. As per usual, the bottom tier teams jostled around a bit, but overall, not much has changed.  But whoa boy wait till next week!

Here’s our top 25 for the12th week:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Defeated Mississippi State (3-8) 32-7. Next week: Idle. While Miss State had one the last two against an ailing Bama team, this outing was much different. The game started slow, and State was actually up 7-5 at one point. But this Tide team is much to good, everywhere, to keep the lid on for too long.  Alabama lingered around at 12-7 until Javier Arena returned a punt 80 yards to start the runaway. While the Tide offense took the night off for the most part, the defense  gets the game ball by holding Mississippi State to just nine first downs and 167 yards of total offense, and only 1.6 yards average per rush.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0). Did not play.  Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (9-1).

#3 Florida (9-1). Defeated #24 South Carolina 56-6 at home. Next week: The Citadel (4-7) at home. We’re almost sure that Florida could easily be the #1 team in the nation, and will eventually get there after the SEC Championship game, where they will almost certainly beat Alabama by 3-4 touchdowns. But for now, we’re left with the memories of a total annihilation of Spurrier’s Gamecocks. For the most part this game was close until  South Carolina played stupid for about 3 minutes toward the end of the 1st quarter and found themselves down 21-0. Two interceptions and a dump kickoff lateral play did the trick. We’re disappointed with Spurrier. Florida’s Percy Harvin, who could jump into the Heisman race this week, rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Right now we can’t see anyone that can beat Florida.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1). Did not play. Next week: #2 Texas Tech (10-0) at home.

#5. Texas (9-1). Defeated Kansas (6-5) 35-7 at Kansas. Next week: Idle. Kansas has been such a let down this year after a phenomenal BCS year last year. The Longhorns were up 14 at half and blew the 3rd quarter open with 21 Texas QB Colt McCoy passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards and a score.Texas’ fate is not in their control. They sit at #3 in the BCS Standings behind Alabama and Tech and just ahead of Florida. Texas must have a few complicated things happen if they are to get to a title game.  Tech has to lose to Oklahoma, and then OU must lose to Oklahoma State the following week, while Texas would need to beat A&M and then go to to Big-12 Championship and beat Missouri. Anything less probably punches their ticket to the Fiesta Bowl against Utah.

#6 USC (9-1). Defeated Stanford (5-6) 45-23 at Stanford. Next week: Idle. Well Stanford did their best to buck all the trends.  They scored 23, against a defense that has been averaging 4, and they stuck with the Trojans, mixing up their defense just enough to keep the SC offense sputtering. They were down only 24-17 going into the 4th Quarter, but by this time, the Cardinal defense was shot and tired. As such, the balanced USC offense kicked into gear for 21 4Q points to run away. Stafon Johnsons, USC RB  rushed 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter. Stanley Havili caught a 50-yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez to give USC a 38-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter putting an un reconcilable distance between the Trojans and Stanford.  USC is in a unique situation that could get them to a National Championship, while losing the Pac-10.  If Oregon State wins out, and USC does also… and Texas, Oklahoma and Tech all lose, USC could possibly garner some points to get to the title game (its doubtful that this could happen tho, on many levels).

#7. Utah (11-0). Defeated San Diego State (1-10) 63-14 in San Diego. Next week: #15 Brigham Young (10-1) at home. This one was never in doubt, as we expected. Utah QB Brian Johnson threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Utah’s season is on the line against BYU next week.  A win by the Utes will get them, in all likelihood, to the Fiesta Bowl. A loss could throw the MWAC into a three way tie between Utah, BYU, and TCU.  This would really be disastrous for the MWAC, as most likely Boise State would get the non-BCS autobid, and then Ball State would be in line for a possible invitation to a BCS. All MWAC teams would go to thei respective bowl games (BYU to the Las Vegas Bowl, Utah to the Poinsettia Bowl, and TCU to the Armed Forces Bowl.  Ugh.

#8 Penn State (10-1). Defeated Indiana (3-8) 34-7 at home. Next week: #16 Michigan State (9-2) at home. As we predicted, the Nittany Lions were eager to get back home and put on a nice performance to prove that the Iowa loss was an irregularity. QB Daryll Clark passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, while the PSU defense held Indiana to only six first downs. PSU needs only to beat Michigan State at home next week to seal a bid to the Rose Bowl. A loss, sends Ohio State.

#9 Ohio State (9-2). Defeated Illinois (5-6) 30-20 at Illinois.  Next week: Michigan (3-8) at home. Both Tyrellle Pryor and Beanie Wells ran for more than 100 yards in carrying the Buckeyes to an easy victory. Illinois scored a late TD to make the score more respectable.  OSU will be rooting for Michigan State next week in hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, otherwise, its probably the Capital One Bowl.

#10 Boise State (10-0). Defeated Idaho (2-9) 45-10 at Idaho. Next week: At Nevada (6-4). No problems, as expected against Idaho for Boise State. RB Jeremy Avery ran for 156 yards on 11 carries and 2 TDs.  BSU has Nevada and Fresno State, then waits to see what BCS Bowl they go to (Orange or Sugar most likely),

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2). Defeated Colorado (5-6) 30-17 in Colorado. Next week: Idle. The Cowboys come off their drubbing by Texas Tech, with a solid win over the Buffaloes on the road. QB Zac Robinson threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards and another score. The win marked the first time the Cowboys have had 9 wins in a season since 2003.  Unless something very unusual happens, OSU is probably headed for the Alamo Bowl, perhaps against Michigan State.

#12 Missouri (9-2). Defeated Iowa State (2-2) 52-20 at Ames, IA.  Next week: Idle. QB Chase Daniels was 32-of-40 passing for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Daniel’s two touchdowns gave him 102 total TDs for his career (92 passing, 10 rushing), tying him with Brad Smith for the Tigers’ all-time record.  More importantly, the win locks the Big-12 North title for them. The Tigers end their season in two weeks against Kansas.  They’ll wait patiently to see who they’ll play for the Big-12 Championship.

#13 Georgia (9-2). Defeated Auburn (5-6) 17-13 at Auburn. Next week: Idle. The Bulldogs escaped a come back victory by Auburn by the skin of their teeth. Auburn QB Kodi Burns overthrew RB Ben Tate in the end zone with one second left to allow Georgia to escape. Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno torched the Tigers for 134 yards and caught a touchdown pass. The Bulldogs are going through the motions right now, ending their season in two weeks against Georgia Tech.  The ‘dogs are eying a possible Cotton Bowl bid.

#14 TCU (9-2). Did not play. Next week: Air Force (8-3) at home. TCU needs the win over AF and for Utah to lose, to have a choice in bowl games.

#15 Brigham Young (10-1). Defeated Air Force (8-3) 38-24 at Air Force Academy, Colorado. Next week: At #7 Utah. QB Max Hall was 28 of 37 for 354 yards and 2 TDs while RB Harvey Unga had another 88 yards and 2 TDs. BYU’s super bowl comes next week as they will attempt to derail Utah’s chance for a BCS bid.

#16 Michigan State (9-2) did not play. Next week: At Penn State (10-1). Unfortunately, the Spartans can’t really play for anything definitive next week when they travel to Happy Valley. One month ago, MSU lost badly to Ohio State 45-7 which hurt their chances for a possible Rose Bowl berth.  However, anything can happen MSU must win and hope for a Michigan upset of Ohio State to gain that berth now.

#17 Ball State (10-0). Defeated Miami (OH) (2-8) 31-16 at Oxford, OH. Next week: At Central Michigan (8-2). QB Nate Davis threw for 289 yards and a TD, while RB MiQuale Lewis had 216 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs.  The Cardinals end up the next two weeks against their closest foes in the MAC West, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

#18 LSU (7-3). Defeated Troy (6-4) 40-31 at home. Next week: Ole Miss (6-4) at home. As the 3rd Quarter wound down to 2:00 left , the Tigers gazed at the scoreboard in disbelief, down to Troy 31-3. But Jarrett Lee, the much maligned QB led a 30 point 4th quarter comeback, taking advantage of a muffed punt and 3 turnovers along the way.  Lee, who was benhed in the first half, eventually went 20/34 for 216 yards and a TD. It was the largest come from behind victory at home for the Tigers in the history of the program.

#19 Pittsburgh (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At #20 Cincinnati. Show down time in the Big East next week. A win against Cincy next week would be the first step on a tough road to get the Big East Crown. They would still need to beat West Virginia and Connecticut in the following weeks.

#20 Cincinnati (8-2). Defeated Louisville (5-5) 28-20 at Louisville. Next week: #19 Pittsburgh (7-2) at home. We are constantly amazed how a team riddled with injuries can continue to flourish. The Bearcats get their 3rd conference win in a row by gutting out a 4th quarter TD with six minutes remaining.  Junior QB Tony Pike went 19/33 for 250 yards and  2 TDs as part of a 400+ yard offensive night. The Bearcats put it all on the line next week when then play Pittsburgh. A win there and win the following week against Syracuse, would hand Cincy the Big East Crown.

#21 Oregon (7-3). Defeated Arizona (6-4) 55-45 at home. Next week: Idle. The score looks close, but Oregon had a 45-17 halftime lead and cruised in the second half, though Arizona QB Willie Tuitama did his best to bring the Wildcats back, throwing for 2 TDs on a 328 yard night.  Oregon allowed Arizona 527 yards of total offense, but also put up 507 of its own. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for a career-high 298 yards and accounted for five Oregon touchdowns,  rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more, all in the first half. The Oregon-Oregon State finale could be a big one, should USC trip up and lose to either Notre Dame or UCLA.  That would put Oregon, Oregon State and USC at two losses.  A win by Oregon in the last week, would send them to the Rose Bowl under those circumstances.

#22 Miami (7-3). Defeated Virginia Tech (6-4) 16-14 at home. Next week: At Georgia Tech (7-3) Thursday. Randy Shannon’s team got a hard fought victory at home over the weekend, and in doing so, racked up their 5th straight win, 3 of which over conference opponents. Miami did the trick defensively, holding VT’s rushing game to a total of 77 yards, forcing them into an uncomfortable passing game. VT used both Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and still managed only 173 yards total for the game, Miami finishes with Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, the former of which will decide the ACC Coastal Division Champion.

#23 Oregon State (7-3). Defeated Cal (6-4) 34-21 at home. Next week: At Arizona (6-3). Cinderella Oregon State, who beat #6 USC early in the season, continues to roll on to a possible Rose Bowl bid. However, they will need lots more effort the last two weeks to do so. Getting by California this past week was a major step however. The Beavers did it on the ground, as they usually do. RB Jacquizz Rodgers chewed up 145 yards on the ground and got 1 TD.  The trouble facing Oregon State in the next 2 weeks is a road game to Arizona, and then home to Oregon, both teams playing well. Arizona has an excellent run defense, but not a particularly great passing defense. Oregon, has an amazing passing offense.  Both bode ominous for Oregon State.

#24 Maryland (7-3). Defeated #25 North Carolina (7-3)  17-15 at home. Next week: Florida State (7-3) at home. With the current condition of the ACC Atlantic, next week’s game with FSU should decide the division rep to the ACC Championship game. Both Florida State and Maryland have not been able to puta string of victories together. The Terps. however, scratched out a victory over previously favored NC through the gutsy play of QB Chris Turner who threw for only 141 yards but engineered a 19-play, 73-yard drive that led to the go-ahead field goal. By doing so, Maryland set a school record with its sixth consecutive win over a ranked opponent.

#25 Boston College (7-3). Defeated Florida State (7-3) 27-17 at FSU. Next week: At Wake Forest (6-4). Boston College gets into the T25 by virtue of beating Florida State. Well for right now. The Eagles intercepted FSU QB Christian Ponder three times, the fifth time this season they’ve forced at least three INTs in a game. BC back Montel Harris chewed up 121 yards on the ground to spark the Eagles offensive attack. By winning out against Wake and Maryland, the Eagles could really throw the Atlantic Division of the ACC  into a mess. Then it depends on what Florida State does.

Dropped Out: Florida State, Tulsa, South Carolina

On the Bubble: North Carolina (7-3), Florida State (7-3), Northwestern (8-3)

Most Impressive Teams: Florida, Miami

Least Impressive Teams: Florida State, North Carolina

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (3), Pac-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big-East (2), MAC (1), WAC (1)

BCS Bowl Projections This Week:

National Title: Florida vs. Texas Tech

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC

Fiesta Bowl:  Utah vs. Texas

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl: Pittsburgh  vs.  Maryland

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Week 11 games find many crucial conference match-us that could begin to shape the BCS and Bowl Picture. Beginning next week, we’ll be starting to look at possible BCS Bowl alignments and who might have inside tracks.  In the meantime, lets take a look at the games!

#1 Alabama (9-0) at #13 LSU (6-2). We could make some major case of this being the “Battle of the Week”, but in all reality it really won’t be.  That’s not to say there isn’t something on the line however.  When you are #1, every game is an ambush, and this one won’t be any different.  It’s Saban-bowl 2008, which is certain to foster not-so-great feelings in Baton Rouge.  However, Bama has a commanding lead in a division that boast them and not much else. The Tide has played extremely well, and with relative consistency, though their resume this year boasts very little competition (Georgia and Clemson both have proven to be nothing of what was promised). LSU is the last partial test. But the Tigers haven’t fared well all season. The once touted LSU defense has proven to be overly pourous against ranked teams, allowing 50+ points against both Florida and Georgia. Granted a great deal of this is due to a poor, under-performing offense.  LSU does seem to fare well when they can control the ball on the ground. This happens when the O-Line can dominate the opponent’s D-line as they did against Tulane (231 yds rushing), South Carolina (164 yards), and North Texas (216 yards). LSU has struggled all season long with consistent QB play also.  Bama can put points on the board at times, but usually does so only when opportunity presents itself… the offense would rather play a steady ball-control offense, which plays against LSU here.  To beat Alabama, LSU will have to push the Bama line around, on both sides of the ball, which we think isn’t possible. Barring sloppy play by the Tide, we think this is a rather ho-hum game.  Alabama by 14.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0) hosts #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Easily the game of the week in the country, not only for both teams, but for the top 10.  Tech showed a remarkable defense last Saturday against Texas, and against perhaps the best defense in the Big-12, was able to move pretty much at will, including taking only 1:29 at the end of the game to score the winning TD. However, let’s also remember that Texas didn’t play with usual intensity and came back and almost won the game.  The key to beating Tech is, and always has been, offensive ball control.  We’re pretty convinced that in a normal game situation, Tech can/will score when they have to. So, Oklahoma State’s key to this game is to buck with last year’s strategy (outscore TTU) and control the ball in large globs of time, to wear out the TTU defense and reduce the number of possessions. One thing that OSU brings to the table is a mobile QB in Zac Robinson, and a great running game.  Tech will need a huge game from their defensive tackles to shut down the running game, put pressure on Robinson, and get turnovers.  Tech MUST win this game to have any chance to get to a BCS game, since their next game is against Oklahoma IN Norman. The biggest question we have is if the Tech defense can put together 2 great games in a row, or will defensive coach Ruffin McNeil choose to play a loose, bend-but-not-break defense and tempt OSU to get out of a ball-control offense.  In their game against Texas in a losing effort, OSU held the Longhorns to 28 points.  They’ll assuredly mix up their defenses  and need turnovers.  On the basis of the uncertainty of the Tech defense, we have to put this game on Upset Watch, however, we like the play making ability of Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and the TTU offense to win out in the end.  Red Raiders by 7.

#3 Penn State (9-0) at Iowa (5-4). The Nittany Lions got the week off, and found themselves down a spot. However, there’s little they can do, because of the relative ease of conference and non-conference opponents.  We think that while Iowa has the ability defensively to cause PSU trouble, the question is if they can muster the offensive punch to get it done against a very daunting PSU defense who allows only 11 points per game. Penn State’s lack of schedule forces their hand from here on out, and they’ll have to bury their opponents and hope for a miracle to get them in National Title Contention. So, look for PSU to run the score up when possible.  Penn State by 16.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1) at Texas A&M (4-5). Certainly on paper, this looks like a lopsided victory for the Sooners, and it may well be. However, We remind folks that A&M actually outperformed Texas Tech in the first half of their game earlier this season and led Tech at halftime. A&M has a powerful rushing game, and a decent passing game, when given time to throw. The A&M defense plays with intensity and at home in Kyle Field, its a perfect scenario for a trap game as OU might look past A&M to #2 Tech.  However, Bob Stoops is no fool, and he’ll instill the discipline needed.  OU QB Sam Bradford will just have too many weapons for the A&M secondary to keep up with.  This has the potential to get ugly. Sooners by 28.

#5 Florida (7-1) at Vanderbilt (5-3). The Gators have been perhaps the most consistently improving team of the 2008 campaign.  Since their week 4 loss to Mississippi, they have outscored their opponents 201-43 in those four ensuing games, which averages out to a 50-10 victory/game.  They’ve not only shown a potent offense, but an amazing defense that qualifies them as a front runner for a BCS or National Title game participant.  After starting 5-0, Vanderbilt has gone the other way, however, losing three straight and scoring no more than 14 pts/game.  This one probably will be a blow out.  Gators by 27.

#6 Texas (8-1) hosts Baylor (3-6). Alot has been made about the lack of Texas to play its game in the first half last week against Texas Tech, but let’s not forget that the Longhorn’s fought back and came within 1:29 of winning the game. All of this after a grueling slate of top 25 games. Now Texas can relax and watch everyone else beat up on each other as they get a bit of a break.  However, how big a break?  Baylor’s record might not be completely indicative of the quality of their team.  Last week, the Bears nearly straight-up beat Missouri, except for a last minute field goal. The Freshman QB sensation, Robert Griffin was 26/35 for 283 yards and 2 TD’s last week against the Tigers. There’s no reason why he can’t do the same against Texas, as Zac Robinson (OSU) and Graham Harrell (TTU) had absolutely no problem exploiting the Longhorn defensive secondary.  However, we’re pretty sure that since this game is in Austin, and Texas would like to wash the taste of last week out of its mouth, Baylor might be in for a long afternoon.  Longhorns by 31.

#7 USC (7-1) hosts #22 California (6-2). Almost stealthily, the Trojans have risen from the ashes, after their week 3 embarrassment to Oregon State, and have emerged, not as the offensive juggernaut of the past, but arguably the best defensive team in the country.  In the 5 games following the Beaver loss, USC has allowed 20 points, and recorded 3 shutouts.  Now folks, we don’t really care who those teams are, if you average giving up 4 pts a game over 5 games that’s really good. Now, if the offensive side could just gain a little composure and chemistry.  USC had chosen lately to go back to basics and get it done on the ground, and why not?  They have a stable full of backs, including C.J. Gables and Stafon Johnson who both average over 5 yds/carry. Mark Sanchez still needs some work with control. The Cal Bears have equally been quiet as they have worked their way into contention in the Pac-10. The Trojans are 24-0 in November under Pete Carroll. Cal has won four of its past five games, including a win over No. 24 Oregon last week. We love the former stat and think that continues.  USC by 10.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1) at #2 Texas Tech (9-0). See above.  Tech by 7.

#9 Ohio State (7-2) at Northwestern (7-2). We must admit that we’re putting our necks on the line by ranking a 2-loss team so high in the rankings. This week will tell where  Ohio State really is. The Buckeyes have been consistently getting better, and sports a very fast, scary-good defense that held Penn State to only 13 points. In fact OSU has held opponents to around 7 pts/game in the past 3 games. The trouble with the Buckeyes has been putting together a consistent offensive attack. Freshman QB Tyrelle Pryor, has worked hard all season to lead the offense, and performed well in a come-back role against Wisconsin.  Northwestern, on the other hand, has been terribly inconsistent, splitting their last 4 games, losing to Michigan State (understandable) and lowly Indiana (not understandable).  The Wildcats stole the game from the Gophers last week on a last second interception return for a TD, so that, too, was a bit disconcerting. We think that the Buckeyes might be way too much for Northwestern on both sides.  Ohio State by 17.

#10 TCU (9-1) at #12 Utah (9-0). Most likely, this match-up will go a long way in deciding who the BCS Buster will be this year.  In the BCS, TCU actually sits 3rd behind Utah and Boise State, with Utah somehow making it to #8 in the country. Utah has played no ranked teams, and barely got by New Mexico last week.  There’s no doubt that the Ute offense can put points up, but the Frog defense doesn’t allow many of those. In the 5 games since their loss to Oklahoma, TCU has allowed 7 points in 4 of the 5, and just 14 last week on the way to a 44-14 romp.   This one is on Upset Watch, as we think that this one could be close, but that the TCU defense will be the deciding factor.  Frogs by 6.

#11 Boise State (8-0) hosts Utah State (2-7). BSU might find going undefeated wont be enough this year, especially if TCU beats Utah.  With no remaining ranked teams on their schedule, and the only ranked win was Oregon, who has since departed the T25, the Broncos have their work cut out for them to get to a BCS bowl this year  They’ll need to take apart their remaining opponents with big numbers and large win margins to overtake Utah/TCU.  Against Utah State, this should easy, especially at home.  Boise State by 23.

#12 Utah (9-0) hosts #10 TCU (9-1). See above.  TCU by 6.

#13 LSU (6-2) hosts #1 Alabama (9-0). See above.  Bama by 14.

#14 Missouri (7-2) hosts Kansas State (4-5). The Tigers are just trying to get through the remainder of their season, and gear up for a final challenge against the winner of the Big-12 South. Their remaining schedule will offer them little in the way of movement up, unless there is mass chaos above them. But at 14th in the BCS, that will be difficult to get to a BCS bowl unless they do win the Big-12. Kansas State should offer very little resistance, and may offer Chase Daniels a chance to pad his stats.  Look for an opportunity to run the score up to help in BCS points.  Missouri by 32.

#15. Georgia (7-2) at Kentucky (6-3). Next year, when we are tempted to YET AGAIN, put Georgia in the top 10, please remind us that every year they start there and end up around 15-16.  The Dawgs travel to Lexington to take on a pretty good Kentucky team that’s managed to do well overall, but is 2-3 in SEC East play meaning that while bowl eligible, they stand no change for anything in the SEC. Georgia needs Florida to lose twice to have any shot at the SEC Championship but that’s not likely. The Dawg defense has been thumped twice this year now, once by Florida and once by Alabama. However, the rest of the time, it’s held up quite well.  We think that this could be the deciding factor in the game. Kentucky gave up 63 to Florida, so we don’t have alot of confidence that it can stop Matt Stafford.  Georgia by 17.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1) hosts San Diego State (1-8). Not much analysis here. SD State’s defense is just dismal giving up 41 to TCU, 35 to Air Force, 38 to Colorado State, and 70 to New Mexico.  BYU QB Max Hall should have a field day.  Cougars by 35.

#17 Michigan State (8-2) hosts Purdue (3-6). Now here’s something to think about.  If the Spartans, Penn State and OSU all finish with one loss, MSU will take the Big Ten on a tiebreaker. Purdue, which has won its past two visits to East Lansing, needs to win its final three games to become bowl-eligible. To do this they will need to try to snap an 18-game losing streak to ranked opponents. Ouch. We’d take this a little more seriously, if they were playing at Purdue..but they aren’t.  Purdue is tough against the run, and thus Javon Ringer may find the going a bit tough. This will put a bit more pressure on QB Brian Hoyer who had only a 91.29 rating against Wisconsin last week.  We’re putting this one on Upset Watch, but are giving home field advantage to MSU.  Spartans by 3.

#18 Ball State (8-0) hosts Northern Illinois (5-3). The Cardinals have beaten the nation’s top-ranked rushing offense, the Indiana Hoosiers’ fast-paced, no-huddle strategy and everyone else’s attempt to play keep the ball away from their own potent attack. The next daunting challenge for Ball State comes Wednesday night, when the Cardinals face the Mid-American Conference’s best defensive team in Northern Illinois. Since by the time you read this, the game will be over,  our prediction might be a bit untimely, but we think that Ball State is really LOTS better than people think they are.  They will prove this against No Illinois.  Cardinals by 18.

#19. North Carolina (6-2) hosts #23 Georgia Tech (7-2). The two leading teams in the ACC Coastal meet to gain an inside track to the division title. A Tar Heels win would guarantee a winning season for the first time since 2001. The Yellow Jackets are 8-1 in the past nine meetings between the schools. This makes the meeting all the more interesting. It was thought that Tar Heels QB T.J. Yates might be able to return for the game (he fractured his ankle against Virginia Tech on 9/20), but he won’t be playing. Junior Cameron Sexton will remain at the helm. and perhaps that’s good. He went 19/30 last week against Boston College for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets are off a hard fought victory against Florida State last week 31-28. It should be a great game.  A game obviously on Upset Watch, our take on it is that GT probably has the better defense here and in close games its a good way to go.  Georgia Tech by 6.

#20 Maryland (6-2) at Virginia Tech (5-3). Another ACC battle, this time cross divisional. Maryland is in a tie with Florida State for the lead in the Atlantic Division, and has a tough row to hoe in the next few weeks: Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State.  The Terrapins have gotten back on track since a 31-0 pounding 3 weeks ago by Virginia, while the Hokies are tying to stop a 2-game skid. Maryland is 3-0 against ranked foes this season but just 3-2 versus unranked schools. Defense, again, will play a pivotal role, and we think that at home, that makes the difference for VT, and so this one goes on Upset Watch also.  Hokies by 4.

#21 West Virginia (6-2) hosts Cincinnati (6-2). It’s a battle of quarterbacks in West Virginia, where Pat White hosts whomever Cincinnati has healthy. The Bearcats have gone through three quarterbacks, with Tony Pike playing the past two despite a broken non-throwing arm. West Virginia has won three straight against Cincinnati and leads the all-time series 14-1-1. There’s not much discussion here we think, as the Mountaineers should prevail easily. West Virginia by 17.

#22 California (6-2) at #7 USC (7-1). See above. Trojans by 10.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2)  at #19 North Carolina (6-2). See above. Georgia Tech by 6.

#24 Northwestern (7-2) hosts #9 Ohio State (7-2). See above. Ohio State by 17.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2) hosts Louisville (5-3). Ironically, Pittsburgh has played like a Top 25 team on the road this season, going 4-0 including a win over a top 10 opponent. However, inside Heinz Field,  it hasn’t looked nearly as comfortable. Pitt comes off a come-from-behind, 4-OT win over Notre Dame, but the week before got thumped by Rutgers 54-34. Louisville junior wide receiver Scott Long tore his right ACL in practice on Tuesday night and is out for the season, so call that a major blow before a big conference game.  We think Pitt is just playing better right now, and if they can put together enough defense, they’ll break the Heinz curse.  Pittsburgh by 4.

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Last year, in 2007, the upsets began the first week of November and continued through to the end of the season.  It looks as if we are in for another down to the wire run again this year too. Everything is getting bunched up early and its for sure that the BCS system will again come under fire when all is said and done.

Week 10 of 2008 will go down as a week of great games and great performances. It started early with Florida’s impressive, unexpected, 49-19 blowout of Georgia. It has seemed now for a few weeks that Florida was emerging as one of the best 1-loss team in the nation and they proved it.  Northwestern intercepted a pass with time running out, to snatch a victory over a recently charging Minnesota.  Georgia Tech did the same against Florida State, and even some non T25 games were thrilling, such as last minute wins by Purdue over Michigan and Illinois over Iowa.

Of course the game of the week, was the shootout in Lubbock between two undefeated Big-12 teams, #1 Texas and #5 Texas Tech. We’ll own up to the fact we thought this game was way overhyped, but we and most of the world had no idea that TTU’s defense would play the game of their lives, and Texas would totally underperform.  The win by Tech will most certainly get them to the top 3 in the country, and from there, they are in control of their destiny. The variations on just the Big-12 South are unbelievable.  There are scenarios that could see three teams be 11-1 at the end of the regular season. We aren’t even exactly sure how they break that tie, but four Big-12 South Teams all have shots at not only a BCS Bowl Game but also a National Championship.

A handful of games seem to point the way to the remainder of the season.  Texas Tech has Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on it schedule the next 2 weeks. If they run the table, there’s a compelling case for title bid, since they would have beat, in succession #23, #1, #8 and # 4.   We don’t know how the pollsters or BCS computers could keep them out of a title bid if they also beat Missouri in the Big-12 championship. However things could shape up to be very scrambled, should TTU beat Oklahoma State and lose to OU (and beat Baylor), and both OU and Texas win out.  That would put 3 Big-12 South teams at 11-1. Or consider if OU beats Tech, and loses to Oklahoma State?  The mind boggles!

Penn State and Michigan State will lock up in a few weeks, that could position the Nittany Lions for a Title invitation, but chances are, they’d need some help to get there, even if they were undefeated, due to their non-competitive schedule. Florida, Texas Tech, and probably Alabama would all have to lose for PSU to be considered for a title bid. Not out of the question, however.

Florida, after trouncing Georgia, now has clear sailing to the SEC Championship from the East side, while Alabama has some work to do against LSU in Baton Rouge next week and then Mississippi State and Auburn.  If Alabama runs the table (including the SEC Championship) there’s no one going to keep them out of a title bid.

Oklahoma and Texas both have paths to BCS Bowls, with possible title game hopes. OU gets Texas Tech in Norman. However they must end with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and anything could happen there. Because of the prior loss to Texas, OU would need for Texas to lose once more, which is unlikely against very mediocre teams. So, Texas has the easiest freeway to the Big-12 Championship against Missouri.

So with all the hubbub, let’s take a stab at the new rankings.

#1 Alabama (9-0). Defeated Arkansas State (4-4) 35-0 at home. Next week: At #13 LSU (6-2). On a day that saw most all the top 10 teams perform well, the Tide did their job in workman-like manner. Alabama improved to 9-0 for the second time in the last four years (2005). Dating back to their bowl game last season, the Crimson Tide has won 10 straight games. It is the 21st double-digit winning streak for Alabama, an NCAA record. Alabama freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game. Freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0). Defeated #6 Texas (8-1) 39-33 at home. Next week: #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Tech gets to 9-0 for the first time since 1938 on the strength of a brutal defense in the first half, and riding the Harrell-Crabtree train in the final 1:29. The numbers in the game were staggering on both sides, as 854 yards of offense were put up.  Harrell ended up 36/53 for 474 yards and 2 TD, while Michael Crabtree had 10 receptions for 127 yards and the game winning TD. Special recogntion goes to Texas WR Malcolm Williams who had 4 receptions for 182 yards and a 91-yard TD. The Tech running duo of Shannon Woods and Baron Batch accounted for 122 yards rushing. The Tech defense had better put equal effort next week against OSU.

#3 Penn State (9-0). Did not play. Next week: At Iowa (5-4). Playing in a weak conference with no conference championship game will hurt the Nittany Lions down the road, even if they finish undefeated. Probably just as hurtful was their non-conference schedule. Too many other teams, if successful, will keep PSU out of any title hopes barring some freakish circumstances.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1). Defeated Nebraska (5-4) 62-28 at home. Next week: At Texas A&M (4-5). Despite his defensive prowess at LSU, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini must be wondering what his team can do to show up against ranked opponents.  OU put up 14 points inside the first 3 minutes of the game on the way to a 35-point 1st quarter, and never looked back. QB Sam Bradford put up 311 yards and 5 TDs. OU has a narrow path to a title bid, but they would need to run the table (against 2 Top 10 teams) and hope that Texas loses. Best bet for them is a BCS bowl game, but thats only guaranteed if they win out.

#5 Florida (7-1). Defeated #15 Georgia (7-2) 49-10 at Georgia. Next week: At Vanderbilt (5-3). Any other day in college ball, the Gators would be headed upward. Clearly we have a log jam of 1-loss teams now that could easily be ranked in all 6 possible permutations.  Florida, however, has to be playing the best overall and improves more each week. Heisman winner Tim Tebow accounted for 5 TDs (3 Passing, 2 Running), and the Gator defense just hounded Georgia all day.  Florida does have a problem down the stretch, playing very marginal opponents, so the BCS system won’t be kind to them. However, it looks more and more like an Alabama-Florida SEC Championship, the winner, going to the National Title game.

#6 Texas (8-1). Lost to #3 Texas Tech (9-0) 39-33 in Lubbock. Next week: Baylor (3-6) at home. The road gets much easier for Texas now, who could be in the driver’s seat while they stand back and watch OU, Tech and Oklahoma State beat up on each other the next few weeks.

#7 USC (7-1). Defeated Washington (0-8) 56-0 at home. Next week: California (6-2) at home. It wasn’t a great miracle that the Trojans rolled over the Huskies, but the fact is that they did win big, which was vital to their possible title hopes. Like Penn State, they are a victim of a weak conference, and as such, will have a tough time moving up unless they put lots and lots of points up against the weaklings. SC did the job against Washington mostly on the ground, using 7 different backs to rush for 297 of their 485 yards of offense. C.J. Gables lead the way with 108 yards and 2 TDs. By the way, don’t look now, but the Trojans have recorded shutouts in 3 of the last 4 games.  That’s a pretty impressive stat. They look Rose Bowl bound.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Defeated Iowa State (2-7) 59-17 at home. Next week: At #3 Texas Tech (9-0). the Cowboys took a 28-10 halftime lead and rode that to an easy victory. QB Zac Robinson had 395 yards passing and 5 TDs on the night, while RB Kendall Hunter ran for 104 yards on 13 carries. OSU stll can get to a Big-12 Championship, but it wont be easy.  They’ve alrady lost to Texas, so if both win out, Texas gets the nod. So, OSU must win out to go 11-1, then they must hope that Texas loses. A pretty remote possibility. However, if they DO win out (over TTU and OU) they’ll probably get a BCS bid.

#9 Ohio State (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At Northwestern (7-2). We might be the only rankings that place OSU ahead of a a few non-BCS teams, but we’re still pretty sure that Ohio State has what it takes to finish out in a good position for a bowl bid.  Keep in mind that Penn State must still get by Iowa and Michigan State to get to the Rose Bowl. So, things aren’t over yet in the Big-10.

#10 TCU (9-1). Defeated UNLV (3-6) 44-14 at UNLV. Next week: At #12 Utah (9-0). Again we break with tradition here and put the 1-loss Frogs ahead of a couple of undefeated teams. We simply think that TCU is just a better overall team than BSU and Utah, but we’ll see next week. In the meantime, TCU  used its powerful running game and stifling defense to easily tame the Rebels. Next week’s game v. Utah could be the biggest game of TCU’s history, and a ticket to a BCS bowl, but probably only if the pollsters somehow fall out of love with Boise State.  However, a Frog win over a ranked Utah team, might bolster them in the BCS rankings enough to get by, as BSU has no ranked teams remaining on their schedule.

#11 Boise State (8-0). Defeated New Mexico State (3-5) 49-0 in Las Cruces, NM. Next week: Utah State (2-7) at home. BSU keeps on track for a bowl bid, and perhaps even a BCS bowl, if Utah and TCU both fail down the stretch.  QB Kellen Moore threw for 246 yards and 3 TDs.

#12 Utah (9-0). Defeated New Mexico (4-6) 13-10 at NM. Next week: #10 TCU (9-1) at home. This week was a good example as to why we still don’t get on board the Ute bandwagon. Were it not for a last minute tackle to end a driving New Mexico, Utah could easily have come to an abrupt end. However, that being said, there’s little doubt that next week’s game against TCU will be a BCS bowl-qualifier for one of the two teams.

#13 LSU (6-2). Defeated Tulane (2-6) 35-10 at home. Next week: #1 Alabama (9-0) at home. The Tigers pretty much walked their way to a victory over their cross-town rival.  LSU generated almost 2/3rds of their offense on the ground, with RB Charles Scott running for 114 yards on 12 carries, but highlighting the continual problems with their QB situation.  Defense was solid, but after getting torched by Georgia and Florida for over 50+ each, an improvement was in order!  We’re wondering if Alabama will hang 50 on LSU next week?

#14 Missouri (7-2). Defeated Baylor (3-6) 31-28 in Waco. Next week: Kansas State (4-5) at home. Perhaps one of the tragic stories of the year. The Tigers will probably win the Big-12 North, but only because they play in a division that’s the weakest of any teams in the country.  They are now 1-2 against their South opponents, and had a tough time getting by an ever-improving Baylor Bear team. The Tigers needed a late FG, and a good defensive effort to thwart a comeback. Once Heisman worthy Chase Daniels threw for over 300 yards, and 3 TDs, but keeping with recent trends, had 2 interceptions. Mercifully, Missouri has a breeze schedule to get to the Big-12 Championship game against either Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. Ouch.

#15 Georgia (7-2). Lost to Florida (7-1) 49-10 at home. Next week: At Kentucky (6-3). It was a nightmare come true for the Bulldogs.  It was clear from post-game comments, that the little (very little) stunt last year that Georgia coach Mark Richt orchestrated by having his entire team storm the field after their 1st TD, was remembered and remembered with a vengeance. There’s no place in College Football for a no-class organization, and Urban Meyer’s group went to Georgia, laid them in ruins like Sherman did. Maybe Richt will think twice about the shenanigans and concentrate on trying to get his team to avoid choking, as they’ve done the last two years.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1). Defeated Colorado State (4-5) 45-42 in Colorado. Next week: San Diego State (1-8) at home. The Cougars again had to rally with a 17 yard TD to Dennis Pitta with 22 seconds left to beat the Rams, again showing some signs of vulnerability as they did when TCU took them to the woodshed 3 weeks ago. However, this one turned out a bit different. QB Max Hall had a huge night, going 28/35 for 389 yards and 5 TDs.

#17 Michigan State (8-2). Defeated Wisconsin (4-5) 25-24 at home. Next week: Purdue (3-6) at home. Spartan kicker Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give the Spartans a come from behind win in a thriller. Wisconsin out-offensed MSU, but sheer determination won this game for MSU. WR Blair White had the big day with 7 receptions for 164 yards.  Javon Ringer was held to 54 yards, but scored twice.

#18 Ball State (8-0).  Did not play. Next week: Northern Illinois (5-3) at home.

#19 North Carolina (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: #23 Georgia Tech (7-2) at home.

#20 Maryland (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: At Virginia Tech (5-3).

#21 West Virginia (6-2). Defeated Connecticut (6-3) 35-13. Next week: Cincinnati (6-2) at home. Its taken a while, but the Mountaineers came up with a great game against the Huskies, and are vying for the Big East Title again. QB Pat White ran for two TDs (109 rushing yards) and threw for one (121 passing yards).

#22 California (6-2). Defeated Oregon (6-3) 26-16. Next week: At USC (7-1). Nate Longshore was the star of the game going 13-for-27, 136 yards and a TD, and filled in for the injured Kevin Riley. With a driving rainstorm prevailing most of the game, it was a slop-fest where there were a combined 8 turnovers.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2). Defeated Florida State (6-2) 31-28 at home. Next week: At #19 North Carolina (6-2). In another thriller, the Yellow Jackets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, when  FSU’s Marcus Sims fumbled on second-and-goal and the ball was recovered by Tech in the end zone with 0:45 left. GT will have a bit of a showdown next week against NC for possibly a trip to the ACC Title game representing the Coastal division.

#24 Northwestern (7-2). Defeated Minnesota (7-2) 24-17 in Minnesota. Next week: #9 Ohio State at home. Another thrilling ending to go along with many this weekend. Minnesota had controlled the game, but Northwestern fought back to tie. As the clock wound down in regulation, Northwestern’s Brendan Smith returned an interception 48 yards for a TD with 12 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the win. Give the game ball, tho, to NU’s backup QB, Mike Kafka who ran for 217 yards and threw for 143 yards and 2 TDs.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2). Defeated Notre Dame (5-3) 36-33 in 4 overtimes at South Bend. Next week: Louisville (5-3) at home. In still another nailbiter, the Panthers took 4 OT’s to beat an inspired Notre Dame team that lead most of the game.  RB LeSean McCoy had 169 yards rushing on the night and a TD. The Panthers won, despite committing 3 turnovers.

Dropped out: Oregon, Connecticut, Minnesota, Tulsa, Florida State

On the Bubble: Florida State, Kansas, Minnesota.

Most Impressive:  Texas Tech, Florida.

Least Impressive: Missouri, Georgia.

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (4), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big-East (2), Pac-10 (2), WAC (1), MAC (1)

Personal Authors Notes:  The ACU Wildcats haven’t been able to lay claim to a Lone Star Conference championship in football since 1977. Saturday night in Javelina Stadium, the second-ranked Wildcats won at least a share of the title with a 42-17 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville.  The Wildcats are now 9-0 overall for the first time since 1950, but more importantly improved to 8-0 in the LSC and 5-0 in the LSC South Division.

The Wildcats – ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II Super Region Four – can clinch the program’s first outright LSC football championship since 1973 next Saturday when they close out the regular season at 2 p.m. at home against Midwestern State.  ACU can win the title with a win over the Mustangs or a Tarleton State win over West Texas A&M.

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Week 9 will be our first make or break week of the season. While we’ve had some key games already, this week tends to be a conglomeration of alot of pivotal games that quite literally could shape the rest of the season for all of CFB, as well as some teams.

So, lets get after it:

#1 Texas (7-0) hosting #9 Oklahoma State (7-0). After OKST “upset” Missouri, they turned alot of heads. We had pegged the Cowboys to be spoilers at least in the B12 this year, and they’ve certainly done that.  Now they’ll try to be even more  It’s safe to say that if OKST can beat Texas, that throws the whole B12-South into a mess. However, we don’t see this happening.  Why?  Well, all the things that went wrong for Missouri, just arent apt to happen at Texas. Colt McCoy isnt likely to be throwing 3 interceptions, and the Texas defensive line is apt to play a bit more havoc than Missouri’s did.  However, it might now be a runaway for once, and how Texas handles this aspect, could be interesting.  Texas does have a very vulnerable secondary that can be exploited.  The question is whether Zac Robinson will have time to throw.  OKST also relies on its running game to complement the pass, and Texas has good strong tackles to stop that. We look for a tight game, but in Austin, it’s nearly impossible to win in a close conference game.  Texas by 8.

#2 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-4). On paper this doesn’t look like much of a test for the Tide.  Nick Saban’s bunch has a habit of buckling down and winning, even if its not all that compelling. One thing we just hate though, is that Alabama is making a habit of playing down to the level of competition.  We’d like to think that Tennessee has a complete game in them somewhere, but they just haven’t proved it yet.  When the defense plays over its head, the offense just misfires and vice versa. So, we can’t really see much of a scenario of the Vols being competitive here, unless Tennessee plays the game of their life, and Bama is looking two weeks ahead to LSU…doubtful.  Alabama by 17.

#3 Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (4-3). The Sooners have some issues to get by to get where they need to be.  The least of which is their special teams performance of late allowing WAY to many yards. The second, is the replacement of their LB Ryan Reynolds who fell victim to an season-ending knee injury. Thirdly, the team needs to get back to running the ball effectively, which they have failed to do in their last two outings. Lastly, they need to shore up what seems to be a very porous pass defense. Despite these things, OU has the talent and speed to contend. but they have to rely on two Texas losses between now and the end of the season…not likely. K-State has the capability to put up big numbers in the passing game with Freshman sensation Josh Freeman, but at the same time their defense gives up more than the offense scores. This isnt a real good situation, and should lead to an easy day for Bob Stoops’ crew.  Oklahoma by 24.

#4 Penn State (8-0) at Ohio State (7-1). Perhaps the game of the year with regard to bowl implications so far.  Penn State has been playing at a fairly high level all season, and performed up to expectations, if not exceeding them. However, this week’s game is without a doubt their toughest test. Ohio State has steadily improved each week since their thrashing by USC early on. Tyrelle Pryor has taken over the offense there and with a healthy Beanie Wells at RB, forged a very productive offense. However, at times they have been erractic…having to come from behind at the last minute to beat an underachieving Wisconsin, and only putting up 16 against a less than impressive Purdue. But then hanging 45 on a pretty good Michigan State team. The Nittany Lions lead with QB Daryll Clark who passes and runs effectively, and then pile on with RB Evan Royster.  They have a very balanced offense, and a really stubborn defense.  Its hard for us to pick one here, but with OSU #9 and PSU #2, we’re VERY comfortable to put this one on Upset Watch, tho we’re not sure that qualifies for the term.  Whoever wins this probably wins the Big-10 and at LEAST a trip to Rose Bowl. For Penn State, a victory could help them run the table to a possible title match. So what decides it?  Perhaps tradition? The Nittany Lions are looking to snap a 10-game road losing streak against ranked opponents and beat OSU in Columbus for the first time since 1978. The Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 13 conference home games against ranked opponents. With that on their side, we are edging toward the Buckeyes. Ohio State by 3.

#5 USC (4-1) at Arizona (5-2). The Trojans seem to have found their level against after their disastrous defeat at Oregon State. This is a top notch defensive team, but prone to allowing big runners to dominate them. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 141-10 since falling to Oregon State, while the Wildcats are riding high after taking out Cal last week. USC has won six straight over Arizona also.  We think this probably would be a rout if played in the Colliseum, but in Arizona, it might be another story. Against Cal. the Wildcat defense allowed 315 yards passing with simlar numbers in other games this year.  One thing that Arizona will try to do, is make USC one dimensional by stopping their running game, which they HAVE done well this year.  This game might be closer than everyone thinks, but we still like USC.  Trojans by 10.

#6 Texas Tech (7-0) at #20 Kansas (5-2). Heres maybe the biggest trap game for TTU this year. Next week they host Texas in what will probably decide the Big-12 South, so it might be easy to look past a #20 team. However, TTU has lots of problems that could come home to roost this week.  First, the defense has been allowing way to much yardage. They were much better last week against A&M, but turned the ball over twice and gave the Aggies 10 points. Secondly, the Tech defense must find a way to rush Todd Reesing or this game degenerates into an air show. What may decide the game is the kicking.  The Raiders have perhaps the worst T25 kicker, and maybe the worst in the country. Just this week Coach Leach actually pulled the winner of a kicking contest in for a tryout and decided to start HIM instead of his two scholarship players. Kansas has a very potent offense and an improving defense.  This one for SURE goes on Upset Watch, and we actually lean towards that upset. But, we’re hoping that the Raiders will prevail to set up the showdown with Texas.  Texas Tech by 7.

#7 Florida (5-1) hosting Kentucky (5-2). As much as we’d like to think this could be interesting, it probably wont. The Gators aim to continue their dominance of Kentucky and its at home in the Swamp. Florida, who comes off a bye week, has won 21 straight against the Wildcats. Kentucky, which is 3-24 in this series when the Gators are ranked, has not defeated a top-10 opponent on the road since beating No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977. That kind of record bodes no good.  Gators by 18.

#8 Ohio State (7-1) hosting #4 Penn State (8-0). See above analysis.  Buckeyes by 3.

#9 Oklahoma State (7-0) at #1 Texas (7-0). See above analysis.  Texas by 8.

#10 Georgia (6-1) at #11 LSU (5-1). Here’s another huge game for both teams.  Both unexpectedly lost earlier in the season, and both humiliated.  Georgia has bounced back from the Alabama game, but LSU looks to find some face after being humbled by Florida two weeks ago. LSU has struggled all season with a consistent offense while Georgia has gradually improved. The loser of this game has a really tough hill to climb but certainly not out of it. A loss for LSU would be more catatrophic seing that Alabama is undefeated. Playing in Baton Rouge may make a difference, but we think that Georgia has too good an offense, and LSU doesn’t.  Edge to the Dawgs. Georgia by 9.

#11 LSU (5-1) hosting Georgia (6-1). See above analysis.  Georgia by 9.

#12 TCU (7-1) hosting Wyoming (2-5). Quite simply this is very good Horned Frog team, both offensively against a really bad Wyoming teams that averages less than 10 pts a game.  After TCU destroyed BYU last week, we can’t imagine what they’ll do against Wyoming.  Frogs by 31.

#13 Utah (8-0) does not play.

#14 Boise State (6-0) at San Jose State (5-2). BSU still is the cream of the WAC and they should have very little trouble disposing of SJS even though the Spartans are enjoying a very successful year. The key here will be defense. Points could be hard to come by for SJSU as they rank 94th in the country in scoring, while the Broncos rank 2nd in scoring defense.  Ouch.  Boise State by 17.

#15 Tulsa (7-0) hosting Central Florida (2-4). Tulsa quietly is building quite a name for itself this year. The game promises to be a contrast in offenses as Tulsa is No. 1 in the country at 56.6 ppg and UCF is No. 108 at 17.7. Tulsa QB David Johnson has one of the best passing rating in the country at 212.82 (266.5 last week against UTEP!) and 31 TDs this year!  Though UCF won twice last year, we’re pretty sure that won’t happen this year.  Tulsa by 14.

#16 Missouri (5-2) hosting Colorado (4-2). Two humbling losses by Oklahoma State and Texas have pretty much put Missouri out of any title chases, but they are still the name of the game in the Big-12 North. A loss to Colorado would necessiate drastic actions, but Colorado is only one game out.  Playing at home, its hard to think that the Tigers cant’ outscore an underperforming, inconsistent offense in Colorado. We like Missouri to get back on track this week, perhaps in a big way.  Tigers by 24.

#17 South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2). This is a big game in the Big East. The Bulls’ only loss came at the hand of Pittsburgh, but both have 1 loss. UConn, Louisville, and West Virginia are all two-loss teams so USF doesnt want a part of that group right now. Playing in Louisville could certainly make things harder also since Papa John’s isn’t very cozy to visiting teams. The Bulls lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 3-2, winning the most recent matchup 55-17 at home Nov. 17. Both of South Florida’s losses to Louisville, however, have come on the road. These are the Big-East’s two best offenses, but we think that So Florida has the better defense.  Bulls by 6.

#18 Brigham Young (6-1) hosting UNLV (3-4). After being humiliated by TCU, the Cougars have to be feeling a bit down and out.  Fact was, they had been underperforming for a couple of weeks, and you could almost see the fall coming. Even so, there wont be much resistance when the Rebs come to town.  Look for BYU QB Max Hall to have a big day.  Cougars by 24.

#19 Florida State (5-1) hosting #23 Virginia Tech (5-2). Another pretty pivotal game at this point of the season. The ACC is the weakest we’ve seen in years, and to say these two teams make up the best might be close to true, but its hard to tell.  To be truthful, these two teams could switch place in the rankings and it might be just as right. FSU’s lone loss was to a now unranked Wake Forest, which VT has loses against ECU (remember them?) and last week at Boston College. So its anyone’s guess.  Last season the Hokies blew out the Seminoles, ending Bobby Bowden’s 15-0 run against Virginia Tech. The Seminoles lead the all-time series with the Hokies 21-11-1. We like FSU’s chances this year, but are putting this game on Upset Watch.  Seminoles by 4.

#20 Kansas (5-2) hosting #6 Texas Tech. See above (#6) for our analysis. Texas Tech by 7.

#21 Pittsburgh (5-1) hosting Rutgers (2-5). Pitt looks to strengthen their Big East standing by hosting the Scarlet Knights, in what should be a rather easy test.  Rutgers, from the git-go this season, just hasn’t found the success as in previous years.  They sorely miss a good running game and the defense has been humbled in almost every game.  There’s not much more to say.  Pitt by 21.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1) hosting Virginia (4-3). GT has had a rejuvenation over the past few weeks and quietly here they are a 1-loss team leading the ACC Coastal. Virignia has no problem getting up for games and if they can play as well as the last three weeks (one of which was a 31-0 shutout of Maryland) then the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full.  This game also goes on the Upset Watch list, with us edging toward GT.  Georgia Tech by 3.

#23 Virginia Tech (5-2) at # 19 Florida State (5-1). See analysis above. FSU by 4.

#24 Michigan State (6-2) at Michigan (2-5). We can’t figure out why both polls dropped MSU in favor of unproven teams. They did get dominated by OSU, but dropping them out seems a bit ridiculous. Now going to Ann Arbor, won’t be a walk in the park, but MSU has plenty enough talent to take care of the Wolverines, unless there is a total breakdown somewhere. Michigan has been vulnerable against the run all year and with Javon Ringer doing those honors, this could mean a long day for Michigan.  Spartans by 10.

#25 Ball State (7-0) hosting Eastern Michigan (2-6). The Cardinals are led by QB Nate Davis, the nation’s 9th-leading passer. Eastern Michigan is 0-3 versus Top 25 squads since 2002. We’ll take Ball State in a runaway.  Cardinals by 18.

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Well, it just goes to show you that you have to play em all. The top 10 (and the top 25) turned itself on end this week with some very impressive performances as well as some important upsets. Lack of performance by others added to the mix.

In the marquee game, Texas and Oklahoma battled hard offensively, producing the most points scored in the series. Texas, however, pulled away late, being able to take advantage of a late Sam Bradford interception. As far as OU is concerned, their defense dropped off perceptibly after their MLB went out with a season-ending knee injury.  It’s hard to tell if the sub will be fine in the long run (likely) or if their defense is permanently reduced to merely above average.  We certainly never envisioned Texas putting up 45 on ‘em.  McCoy played probably the best game of his life at just the right time.  OU could find themselves in that odd position Kansas did last year; a one loss-top ten team but not even in the conference title game.

The Mizzou outcome surprised us, though we knew their defense scared no one.  We had expected the Tigers to win a 48-35 kind of game, kinda like Texas-OU turned out. But kudos to Coach Gundy and his QB Zac Robinson for exploting the Tiger defense where Illinois couldn’t in week one, and forcing Chase Daniel into a gunslinger mode, rather than the calm, cool Heisman candidate.

In another key matchup, Penn State did take care of business in Wisconsin, winning a critical road game over the Badgers to get to 7-0. Coach Paterno, even from the booth seems to still have it goin on!. Interesting to note that in his first 18 games, Coach Bielema was 17-1; since then he’s 7-7.  That has all the earmarks of not being able to sustain the recruiting level.  He’ll finish out this year, and probably be fine next year as well, but if he keeps coaching .500 ball after that, it’s gonna get uncomfortable in Madison.

Where did MissSt muster enough offense to score 17?  LSU got a wake up call.  While one of their DE’s stayed home with injury, the rest of the defense was there & held Tebow in check from a running standpoint.  But Fla finally got enough contributions from others to bust out offensively, limited the turnovers, and revealed the Bayou Bengal offense to be…well…merely above average.  That’s one trend you can’t tell about by getting to see them once or twice a year; their defense quite often gives them a short field, so you don’t know if the offense can regularly sustain long drives.  Turns out they can’t, at least against a really good defense.

Oh, and while they aren’t anyone’s idea of a Top 25 threat, note that Ol’ Miss upset a Top 25 team for the second consecutive week.  Houston Nutt continues to convert new disciples to the Rebel cause, while Razorback fans spend yet another week trying to remember what it was about him they didn’t like.

On a bit of a somber note, Cinderella-would-be Vanderbilt was unable to go 6-0 for the first time since 1928, as they lost to Mississippi State.

So, on to the new rankings. When so many things happen in one week, it causes all of us pollsters to give a thought about the state of things overall, and re-evaluate. We are sure that many of you will have a couple of eyebrows curl, but keep in mind that when so much happens in one week, and the BCS rankings iminent, its time for everyone to re-evaluate and re-rank according to where we are right now.

#1 Texas (6-0). Defeated #4 Oklahoma (5-1) 45-35 in Dallas. Next week: #11 Missouri at home. We’ll admit that the Longhorns are much better than we ever thought they’d be this year. We’ll also admit that we must begin to think of the combo of Colt McCoy, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, might be superior to anything that Missouri or Texas Tech or anyone else can put up. Credit also the Texas Defense in rising to the occasion when it had to. Too many losses in the top 5 make Texas’ ascension natural.

#2 Alabama (6-0). Did not play. Next week: Mississippi (3-3) at home. Well, with the implosion by Missouri, the Crimson Tide can stay here for another week, but we’re still skeptical.

#3 Penn State (7-0). Defeated Wisconsin (3-3) 48-7 in Wisconsin. Next week: Michigan (2-4) at home. for those of you (and you know who you are) that have been waiting for the Nittany Lions to play a tough team on the road, I wonder if this might qualify? While we don’t think that Wisconsin is anywhere near a top 25 team, they were ranked high earlier, and with P.J. Hill, always are a threat. In this game however, it was perhaps one of the most impressive performances overall by a top 10 team we’ve seen this year. Daryll Clark was 16/25 for 244 yards and a TD, and added two more rushing TDs.

#4 Oklahoma (5-1). Lost to Texas (6-0) 45-35 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Next week: #15 Kansas at home. Despite a 387-yard passing day by Sam Bradford, the Sooners can’t stop Texas. The OU Defense needs much improvement. This is still a very dominant team, and good enough to get to the title game despite the loss.

#5 Brigham Young (6-0). Defeated New Mexico (3-4) 21-3 at home. Next week: At #22 TCU (6-1). BYU was business-like in disposing of New Mexico, with QB Max Hall going 22/34 for 258 yards. Slightly underachieving by the Cougars, but there was never any doubt in the game.

#6 USC (4-1). Defeated Arizona State (2-4) 28-0 at home. Next week: At Washington State (1-5). In a game marred by 9 turnovers (5 by USC), the Trojans dominated and throttled the Sun Devils in every possible way. All in all it was a bit of a lackluster performance, but ASU has fallen so far, it was not only a poor game, it was a low energy game also. Sanchez, who was questionable for most of the week, was 13/26 for 179 yards but three interceptions. The Stars of the game were the USC defense who perhaps played the best game of their year.

#7 Florida (5-1). Defeated #12 LSU (4-1) 51-21 at home. Next week: Bye. The Gator offense finally erupted, and did so in a major way against an inept LSU Tiger team. The once defensive juggernaut of LSU had no answer to the vicious assault of a well balance offensive attack. Tebow pulled a modest 14/21 for 210 yards, while Freshman RB Jeffrey Demps ran for 129 yards and scored on a 42-yd run. With a rejuvenated offense, and Kentucky and Georgia still on the schedule, who would have thought that the Gators could still make a run at the SEC East and perhaps a title.

#8 Texas Tech (6-0). Defeated Nebraska (3-3) 37-31 in overtime at home. Next week: Texas A&M (2-4) at home. The Raiders move down, yes down, following what we thought was a pure lucky win, and a scary defense that merits their drop more. The pure magnitude of how Nebraska dominated the Tech defense was remarkable. The Raiders, giving up 471 yards of offense, had no defensive answers, except a gimme interception in overtime that sealed the win. Graham Harrell was 20/25 for 284 yards (we can’t remember the last time he threw for less than 300) and Michael Crabtree had 89 yards receiving and 2 TDs.  We think that Coach Leach needs to teach his high-power offense how to be a defensive weapon by staying on the field longer so that his D won’t be gassed at the end of the game. One thing is for sure, however, if Tech doesn’t find a defense, they’ll finish 4th in the Big-12 South and way out of the top 25. Oh by the way, get rid of Corona…easily the worst kicker in the country.

#9 Ohio State (6-1). Defeated Purdue (2-4) 16-3 at home. Next week: At #17 Michigan State (6-1). OSU had a hit and miss offense, but the defense was solid and special teams got a blocked punt returned for a touchdown to allow the Buckeyes

#10 Georgia (5-1). Defeated Tennessee (2-4) 26-14 at home. Next week: #23 Vanderbilt (5-1) at home. The Bulldogs generated over 450 yards of total offense, and though the Volunteers defense got 2 interceptions of Matt Stafford, the Georgia offense was too much. The Dawg defense held Tenn to 209 total yards.

#11 Missouri (5-1). Lost to #12 Oklahoma State (6-0) 28-23 at home. Next week: At #1 Texas. Watching this game was truly painful. We’ve been harping on the fact that in week 1 Illinois exposed a very vulnerable Missouri defense. Each week, Missouri has been scoring enough to win, but this was the first quality opponent since the Illini, and our doubts still aren’t allayed. Cowboy QB Zac Robinson used a variety of receivers to pick apart the Mizzou defense. Chase Daniels had a statistically significant night going 39/52 for 390 yards, but had three interceptions.

#12 Oklahoma State (6-0). Defeated #11Missouri (5-1) 28-23 in Columbus. Next week: Baylor (3-3) at home. We commented above on the game above, and we’ll see which team goes up in the next few weeks

#13 LSU (4-1). Lost to #8 Florida (5-1) 51-21. Next week: At South Carolina (5-2). See above under #8 Florida. Not a great night for LSU.

#14 Utah (7-0). Defeated Wyoming (2-5) 40-7 at Wyoming. Next week: Colorado State (3-3) at home. The Cowboys came into the game averaging 9 points per game, and they underachieved. Utah was perhaps one of the few top 25 teams to do exactly what was expected. Statistically it was a draw however, with the Cowboys actually out gaining the Utes in total offense. However, they gave up 2 fumbles and 3 interceptions that helped the runaway Ute train.

#15 Kansas (5-1). Defeated Colorado (3-3) 30-14 at home. Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (5-1). Todd Reesing again had to rally the Jayhawks from an early deficit. However, this one was much less (7 points). The KU QB was 27/34 for 256 yards, a TD and no interceptions. Jayhawk RB Jake Sharp had 119 yards on 31 carries and 3 TDs.

#16 Boise State (5-0). Defeated Southern Mississippi (2-4) 24-7 at So Miss. Next week: Hawaii at home (Friday). BSU QB Kellen Moore threw three touchdown passes leading the Broncos to an easy win, with a scoring flurry in the second quarter. There’s not alor more to say, except that Southern Mississippi fell to 1-8 all-time at home against ranked teams.

#17 Michigan State (6-1). Defeated Northwestern (5-1) 37-20 at Northwestern. Next week:#10 Ohio State (6-1). Despite 459 yards of total yards by the previously undefeated Northwestern Wildcats, MSU took advantage of 3 turnovers and a 124 yard performance by Javon Ringer (2 TDs) to pace the victory.

#18 Virginia Tech (5-1). Did not play. Next week: At Boston College (4-1).

#19 South Florida (5-1). Did not play. Next week: Syracuse (1-5) at home.

#20 North Carolina (5-1). Defeated Notre Dame (4-2) 29-24 at home. Next week: At Virginia (3-3). We can only say that this was an epic win for NC over a much improved Notre Dame team. The Tar Heels had to rally from a 17-9 halftime deficit, and then survive a last minute drive that came down to a recovered fumble to end the game. Quan Sturdivant had the momentum-changing 32-yard interception return to start the third quarter, only to be answered by a TD by the Irish. NC scored the winning TD at the beginning of the 4th quarter and their defense held on.

#21 Wake Forest (4-1). Defeated Clemson (3-3) 12-7 at home. Next week: At Maryland (4-2). There was a thought in putting the Demon Deacons into the top 25 last week, but we just couldn’t do that on a loss. The fact is that WF has played solidly every week and sports a mean, fast defense. QB Riley Skinner has had his ups and downs, but certainly his 4th quarter leadership and TD makes up for alot of ills. We’re still not seein a clear cut leader in the ACC, but at least defensively the Deacons have got to be at the top.

#22 TCU (6-1). Defeated Colorado State (3-3) 13-7 in Fort Collins. Next week: #5 Brigham Young (6-0) at home. In a less than inspiring performance, TCU found a way to put up 317 yards of total offense and only 13 points. Turnovers seemed to keep the game score low (2 for TCU and 3 for CSU).

#23 Vanderbilt (5-1). Lost to Mississippi State (2-4) 17-14 in Starkville, MS. Next Week: At #10 Georgia. As previously mentioned, the Commodores couldn’t snuff the 80 year old curse and go 6-0. This was a game where Vandy could only manage 107 yards of total offense, and MSU still only won by three. Two costly interceptions hurt scoring efforts.

#24 California (4-1). Did not play. Next week: At Arizona (4-2).

#25 Tulsa (6-0). Did not play. Next week: UTEP (3-3) at home. With the drop out of a couple of teams, its gotten down to looking for teams to fill the lower places, and Tulsa has it locked here.  We like the Golden Hurricanes a bit more than Pitt (4-1) and Ball State (7-0) right now, though that could change in a heartbeat.

Dropped from Top 25: Auburn, Wisconsin.

On the Bubble: Pitt (4-1), Ball State (7-0), Minnesota (6-1).

Most impressive: Texas, Florida, Oklahoma State

Least impressive: Texas Tech, LSU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (6), SEC (5), Big-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Pac-10 (2), WAC (1), Big East (1), C-USA (1).

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