Title game pink slips were handed out left and right last weekend to former contenders including the Oregon Ducks, Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers, and Georgia Bulldogs … the Auburn Tigers are almost toast, unless they can throttle the Florida Gators this weekend and win out the rest of the way to claim the SEC title … on the flip side, the Gators could afford to lose to Auburn in a close game, and they’d still have a shot at the national title, depending on how other match-ups play out over the last half of the season.

Who stands to be eliminated from the national championship picture this week? Auburn is the only team facing a stout enough opponent to worry about elimination … any other teams eliminated this week would be considered huge upsets … can you imagine Baylor knocking off Texas, or Cincinnati upending Louisville?  Conversely, a close loss to Michigan State would not knock the Buckeyes out of the title chase, nor would a close loss to Penn State push the Michigan Wolverines out of contention … it sure would make the picture a lot fuzzier, though.

It will be very interesting to see how Michigan reacts to the loss of the Big Blue M&M (Mario Manningham) in their road game against the Nittany Lions.  The Wolverines have enough receiving talent to take care of business at State College … but this should be a close game with the edge going to the team displaying greater mental toughness and the ability to capitalize on turnovers.

One of the better Thursday night games of the season takes place this week when Boston College hosts the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Both teams have a conference loss and cannot afford to lose this contest if they hope to make the ACC championship game … it should be a barn burner … Josh Hyman, the second-leading receiver for the Hokies (13 receptions) has been suspended indefinitely by Frank Beamer for violating team rules and will not play …

Pssst…wanna know who the two yahoos are that are casting first place votes for West Virginia in the AP poll? You can find out the weekly ballots of all the AP voters at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/external/onlinenews.ap.org/collegefootball_rankings/voters.php

Or, I can save you the time … Kevin Pearson from the Riverside Press-Enterprise and Scott Wolf from the Los Angeles Daily News are the two football writers who actually think a Mountaineer team with zip wins over ranked teams this year should be #1 over an Ohio State team with three quality wins over ranked teams.  Wolf also has a Southern Cal football blog where he posts his weekly AP poll votes and gets ragged on by his readers (www.insidesocal.com)

Did you know that Frito Lay, the largest snack company in the universe, bought the naming rights to the national championship game for the next four years from FOX Sports for their Tostitos brand?  Don’t get confused … this year there will be a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game followed a week later by the Tostitos National Championship game staged in the same venue.

Halloween came a bit early for the Trojans … as if the thriller in Pullman wasn’t enough to send USC fans into cardiac arrest, Troy’s boys did it again to their fans last week—in the Coliseum, of all places—when Washington ran out of time on the Trojans’ 15-yard line as they were driving for the winning score. Now, USC has to face a well-rested Arizona State Sun Devils team coming off a bye week, and anxious to make a statement after their blowout losses to Cal and Oregon. One catch  … ASU’s Dirk Koetter has lost all eleven Pac-10 games he has coached that were played in California.

A tip of the cap to Ty Willingham for the solid turnaround he is engineering at Washington … Coach Willingham is a class act and he didn’t deserve the type of treatment he received from Notre Dame boosters and administrators.

Cal might very well benefit from the USC scare in Pullman two weeks ago. There’s an advantage to knowing that you are shark bait. I guess Wazzu would prefer the term “cougar bait,” but regardless, Cal knows what’s lurking in Pullman and they can take all necessary precautions … it should be a close game, but Cal is beginning to smell the Roses right now and that’s a mighty powerful antidote against a letdown.

QuickSnap Question presented by Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Beverly Hills: What two teams own an undefeated record over the Texas Longhorns (minimum two games played)? The winner will be announced in next week’s Fourth and inches

And the winner of last week’s QuickSnap Question is … Chris Kelly, of Indianapolis…Chris was the first to correctly answer the question:  What particular stat line drove Penn State Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno absolutely nuts in the 1989 Holiday Bowl?   The correct answer was Ty Detmer passing for 576 yards, 594 yards total offense (both Holiday Bowl records) in BYU’s 50-39 loss to Penn State.

Heisman’s Dark Horse: Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois Huskies … The Wolfe Man actually had a down week with only 162 yards rushing, but he remains tops on my list … Signature game versus Ohio State: 272 all-purpose yards, 172 of those yards coming on the ground, 1 TD. Season Stats: #1 ranked running back in Division 1: 156 carries, 1,343 yards, 8.6 ypc, 223.8 ypg, 13 TDs. Last week: 162 yards, 2 TDs at Miami (Ohio).  This week: at Western Michigan.

Streaking in the wrong direction … Colorado Buffaloes are now 0-6 … Stanford Cardinal are 0-6. Colorado’s overall losing streak of 10 games, which extends to last season, has equaled the longest losing streak in the history of the Buffaloes program (set in 1963-64). I still expect the Buffs to win 2-3 games this season. Stanford has two shots at winning a game this year: this week at home against Arizona and Nov 18 at home versus Oregon State.

BYU’s John Beck was named the Mountain West Conference’s offensive player of the week for the third time in four weeks after going 16-21, 267 yards, and 4 TDs in the Cougars 47-17 rout of San Diego State … the 6’2” 212 senior is looking more and more like a first round draft pick with many of the NFL draft watch lists rating him a top 3 QB prospect.

Pad the Stats Games of the Week: Texas Longhorns (plus 28) stampede the Baylor Bears … Louisville Cardinals (plus 27) drop some bird doo-doo on the Cincinnati Bearcats … Boise State Broncos (plus 26) stomp the New Mexico State Aggies, and the Clemson Tigers (plus 44) chew up and spit out feathers versus the Temple Owls.

Best Games of the Week: Virginia Tech Hokies @ Boston College Eagles … Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Navy Midshipmen … Ohio State Buckeyes @ Michigan State Spartans … California Golden Bears @ Washington State Cougars … Florida Gators @ Auburn Tigers … Michigan Wolverines @ Penn State Nittany Lions … Wake Forest Demon Deacons @ North Carolina State Wolfpack … Colorado State Rams @ Air Force Falcons … Missouri Tigers @ Texas A&M Aggies.

This Week’s Upset Specials … Wyoming Cowboys have a trap set for the Utah Utes. The Cowpokes have a tough defense, they’re battle hardened, and, they are tough to beat in Laramie … It doesn’t seem like much of an upset, since Auburn was #2 just last week, but they are currently nine spots down from Florida and the underdogs at home. I like them to bounce back with a furious effort against the Gators.