Archive for year 2007

AP Top 25 Weekly Recap

USC and LSU remained a solid 1-2 and Oklahoma leap-frogged over Florida to assume the #3 ranking. Kentucky took another huge move forward (plus 7) with Georgia following right behind with their own (plus 7) move upward. Louisville took the biggest tumble, falling more than 20 slots and completely out of the rankings. Penn State fell hard (minus 11) and Arizona State and Cincinnati both made their first appearance in the AP poll this year. Don’t look now, but Michigan is charging hard to get back in the rankings.

NO. 1 USC TROJANS (3-0). The Trojans opened Pac-10 play gunning for their sixth straight conference championship — a feat never attained by any team in the Pac-10 — with a thorough 47-14 trashing of Washington State. The win gave USC a 59-8-4 historical record against the Cougars. John David Booty made a statement that he still needs to be considered in the Heisman Trophy balloting, passing for 279 yards and four touchdowns. Next on the hit list: Upset-minded Washington will entertain the Trojans in Seattle.

NO. 2 LSU Tigers (4-0). The Tigers were nothing if not entertaining in a 28-16 victory over South Carolina in Baton Rouge last Saturday. Among other things, Les Miles’ team scored on a fake field goal (kicker Colt David running it in from 15 yards out after getting a no-look flip from holder/QB Matt Flynn) and got a 33-yard touchdown run from 5-5, 160-pound RB Trindan Holliday (you know he’s really fast, or he’d be dead by now). Of course, there was the usual dose of Tigerish defense and Miles’ two-headed quarterback, with Ryan Perrilloux reprising Tim Tebow’s ‘designated runner’ role at Florida last season. It wasn’t a blowout, but it was convincing enough to keep the Tigers in second place nationally. This week’s Tiger bait is cross-state rival Tulane in New Orleans (hint: that’s really not an away game for LSU).

NO. 3 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (4-0). Oklahoma scouted Tulsa’s upset win over Brigham Young and learned all the tricks in their book. Then, they stopped them cold on the gridiron, 62-21, in an impressive performance that allowed them to jump ahead of Florida in the poll. Allen Patrick rushed for 145 yards and 2 TDs, and DeMarco Murray scored three times (once on a kickoff return) to pace the Sooners. Bob Stoops’ troops don’t seem to have much of a test left on their schedule, except for #7 Texas, and the Longhorns aren’t exactly playing like gangbusters these days. The Sooner show goes on the road to Boulder to take on Colorado this week. Yawn.

NO. 4 FLORIDA GATORS (4-0). Speaking of Tim Tebow, he enlarged his budding legend in a 30-24 victory over Ole Miss, throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 166 yards and a pair of scores. The Gators, on the road for the first time this season, spent Friday night in Elvis Presley’s hometown of Tupelo, and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium almost turned into Heartbreak Hotel the next day. Rebel QB Seth Adams exposed some flaws in the Florida pass defense, and it took a late interception to keep Urban Meyer’s Gators unbeaten. This week, Florida hosts underachieving but always dangerous Auburn.

NO. 5 WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (4-0). Meanwhile, Pat White also put on his best Tim Tebow impression — or maybe Tebow was impersonating White — scampering for two touchdowns and throwing for two more in a 48-7 thrashing of East Carolina. The Mountaineer defense completely throttled the Pirates, and given Louisville’s meltdown, West Virginia is looking more and more like an unbeaten team come season’s end. BCS pickers, get ready for your nightmare scenario. Of course, there is the little matter of playing South Florida in Tampa on Friday night.

NO. 6 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (4-0). If Cal had a defense, they could actually challenge USC for the Pac-10 title this year and have a legitimate shot at the national championship. They have no problem registering scoreboard, but then neither do their opponents. Last week, they put Arizona in their place with a 45-27 smack-down that shouldn’t have been that close. They need to learn to put their opponents away early. The true test of where this Golden Bear team is headed will come on the road this week against #11 Oregon. It’s a must-see game for college football fans.

NO. 7 TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-0). The Longhorns demolished Rice 58-14 in a yawner. It was one of those games that could only have been interesting to Texas fans. It tells us little about Texas, but a lot about Rice. Yes, they are that bad this year. Texas has had this coming week’s game against Kansas State circled on their calendars for a year now. In their last meeting, the Wildcats pulled off a wild and improbable upset of the Longhorns. Payback is coming. It could get really ugly for KSU fans.

NO. 8 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (4-0). The Buckeyes’ story for last week is about the same as the Longhorns. There wasn’t much to be learned about Ohio State as there was about how bad Northwestern is this year. You gotta feel for Pat Fitzgerald. 58-7 tells much of the story. 45-0 at the half is even more telling. For Buckeye fans, it represents the natural order of the Big Ten as they know it. They will be visitors in Minneapolis this weekend to take on the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. They will treat the Dome like their own home.

NO. 9 WISCONSIN BADGERS (4-0). The Badgers are barely hanging on to their Top 10 ranking and they just don’t look that deserving of it … yet. They struggled at home against a good, but rebuilding Iowa team 17-13 last week. Undefeated Michigan State comes to Madison this week and it should be one heckuva scrap. Wisconsin does not have an easy schedule with away games at Penn State and Ohio State looming in the future. They need to win convincingly now and gain more confidence.

NO. 10 RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (3-0). This week, we’ll know a little more about whether Rutgers will emerge as a legitimate challenger to West Virginia’s Big East hegemony. The Knights, who soundly defeated Open Date last Saturday, host a Maryland team that is capable of giving them a test. The Terps shut down Pat White rather effectively two weeks ago, only to be run over (and around, and through) by running backs Steve Slaton and Noel Devine.

NO. 11 OREGON DUCKS (4-0). The mighty Ducks have demolished some fairly tough teams already with big wins over Houston, Michigan and Fresno State. Their road victory at Stanford last week was expected, but still, it was an important step towards their Pac-10 title hopes. The schedule is in their favor this year with USC, ASU and Cal all visiting Autzen Stadium. This week is #6 Cal. It should be a high scoring battle.

NO. 12 BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (4-0). The Eagles have just about everybody back from a strong 2006 squad, and are knocking on the door of the Top 10. Early in last Saturday’s game, however, head coach and former Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski looked out on the field and saw an offense that was decidedly uncoordinated. BC was up just 16-7 on Army at halftime, and Jagodzinski let his team have it. Final score, 37-17, with Matt Ryan throwing for 356 yards. Chances are the Eagles won’t take Massachusetts lightly this week, because they don’t want Jagodzinski to yell at them again.

NO. 13 CLEMSON TIGERS (4-0). Clemson is another team loaded with veterans — except for quarterback. That hasn’t been a problem, though, as newbie Cullen Harper threw his 11th and 12th touchdown passes of the season in a 42-20 romp past North Carolina State. The Tigers’ twin backfield studs, James Davis and C.J. Spiller, also did their ‘thunder and lightning’ thing. This Saturday, though, Clemson is on the road against a Georgia Tech team that is in none too good a mood after its promising 2-0 start devolved into two straight losses.

NO. 14 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (4-0). Holler it from the hollows: The Kentucky Wildcats are for real. A week after upsetting Louisville (which, it now turns out, has no defense), Rich Brooks’ team put on a late surge, fueled by QB Andre Woodson, and blew past struggling Arkansas, 42-29. Woodson is working his way onto the Heisman short list, where Razorback RB Darren McFadden has resided for two years. More and more, though, opponents are able to give McFadden his 175-200 yards per game and force the other Hogs to beat them. It’s not happening. This week, Kentucky hosts Florida Atlantic, a surprising 3-1.

NO. 15 GEORGIA BULLDOGS (3-1). Mark Richt’s team threw itself under Nick Saban’s bandwagon last Saturday, edging Alabama 26-23 on a Matthew Stafford to Mikey Henderson touchdown pass in overtime … obviously, it was the sort of game either team could have won — what’s impressive is that Georgia did it on the road. With the exception of Florida’s Tebow (and maybe Kentucky’s Woodson), Stafford is emerging as perhaps the SEC’s top quarterback.

NO. 16 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (3-1). We’ve already talked about the South Carolina/LSU game. Close, no cigar. But if Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks want to play their way into a major bowl this year, they need to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat — like Mississippi State, also 3-1, this Saturday.

NO. 17 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (3-1). . Ah, there’s nothing like a tasty Division 1-AA opponent (sorry, Michigan) to get over the psychic shock of a serious butt-kicking down in Baton Rouge. The Hokies gave visiting William & Mary a good taste of Beamerball, scoring on a long punt return by Eddie Royal and a 49-yard interception from Brandon Flowers. It was 27-0 after the first quarter, 44-3 at the final gun, and everybody played., This week, Frank Beamer’s team stays at home to meet 1-3 North Carolina.

NO. 18 SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (3-0). This Friday night, with West Virginia coming to Tampa, offers an up-and-coming program a chance to make a statement. Matt Grothe might be the best quarterback you never heard of, and the Bulls are prickly on defense. Can they stop Pat White, Steve Slaton and Noel Devine? The way this season is going, you never know.

NO. 19 HAWAII WARRIORS (4-0). Here’s what we learned about Hawaii last week when they steamrolled hapless Charleston Southern, 66-10: Hawaii’s a good football team and they don’t miss a beat when they change quarterbacks. The game actually says more about the Warriors program and less about Colt Brennan’s chances at the Heisman this year. It just ain’t gonna happen. WAC doormat Idaho is next on the table–the first of four bottom tier WAC schools that will be devoured by Hawaii during the next month of conference match-ups.

NO. 20 MISSOURI TIGERS (4-0). The Tigers put Illinois State in their place last week (38-17) and now get to enjoy a well-needed extra week off to prepare for a huge home game tilt with Nebraska on Oct 6. It’s a “do or die” game for Missouri and head coach Gary Pinkel. The Tigers have never been better prepared with talent and with the Cornhuskers being so vulnerable. Columbia will be rocking in two weeks.

NO. 21 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (3-1). Penn State’s offensive woes at Michigan last week might just be the tip of the iceberg of what we will see the rest of the year. All the fluff on PSU’s schedule is in the rear view mirror, except for Temple on Nov 10, so they better find some firepower quickly or the Nittany Lions will tumble out of the rankings faster than you can say Joe Paterno. They are on the road against dangerous, upset-minded Illinois this week.

NO. 22 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (3-1). Sometimes it’s the close losses, like Alabama’s 26-23 setback at the hands of Georgia in overtime last Saturday, that are the toughest to bounce back from. Now that Nick Saban’s undefeated honeymoon is over, let’s see how well he motivates his Tide to face Florida State in Tallahassee. After some slippage the past two seasons, Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles are now 3-1 and capable of giving ‘Bama a battle.

NO. 23 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (4-0). The Sun Devils could be for real, but a comeback victory at home over Oregon State and an easy away game at Stanford this weekend will not tell an accurate tale. We’ll have to wait for a grueling five-game stretch starting Oct 13 that will pit ASU against Washington, Cal, Oregon, UCLA and USC in successive weeks. Dennis Erickson seems to have injected a much needed return to tradition in Tempe, and no matter what, the Devils will make a lot of noise this year as long as they can keep Ryan Torain healthy.

NO. 24 CINCINNATI BEARCATS (4-0). The fourth Big East team in the Top 25 (and that’s without Louisville), the Bearcats have beaten up on four largely nondescript opponents so far. This Saturday, they’re on the road — way on the road — to face San Diego State on the Left Coast.

NO. 25 NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (3-1). A Ball State missed 55-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining is the difference between Nebraska being 3-1 and ranked and 2-2 and out of the polls. Following the Cornhusker meltdown on defense for a second week in a row (yielding 40 points at home to 23-point underdog Ball State?) coach Bill Callahan says he’s not happy with the way the Big Red are playing. No, really? The last time the Huskers gave up 40 points in consecutive weeks was back in 1990. Dangerous Iowa State visits this weekend, and they are capable of landing a knockout punch to the Huskers (“knockout” as in knocking them out of the Top 25).

ON THE BUBBLE: Purdue, Miami, Michigan State, UCLA, Michigan, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida State, Central Florida, Connecticut, Tennessee, Virginia.

Fourth and inches …

Will Notre Dame win a game this season? Let’s just say it’s the perfect winter for Golden Domer fans to treat their wives to a tropical island vacation. No bowl game this year. But take heart, Fighting Irish fans. Of course your boys will win this year. The way I see it, you have four more consecutive losses to endure (at Purdue, at UCLA, Boston College, and USC), then a four-game winning streak to close the season at 4-8.

►The number 6… The Irish loss was their sixth in a row, stretching back to last season, making it the second-longest losing streak in the history of Notre Dame football. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s victory last Saturday made it the first program to defeat Notre Dame six times in a row at Notre Dame Stadium.

►Biggest disappointments this season?… Michigan and Louisville share the ignominy of heading up this short list. The Cardinals began the season ranked 10th and moved up to No. 8 before their defense exposed them as an impostor. The Wolverines started out the season ranked fifth and promptly suffered one of the worst upsets in the history of college football, losing to I-AA Appalachian State in “The Big House.” While both teams will go bowling this year, it’s a far cry from the possibility both held for making it to national title game by starting the season with top 10 rankings.

►Heisman hopefuls … Kentucky QB Andre Woodson has shot to the top of my Big 5 list after the Wildcats beat Arkansas in Fayetteville with a fourth-quarter comeback. That’s Woodson’s second comeback win in a row over recently ranked opponents … Darren McFadden rushed for 173 yards and a score in the losing effort. It doesn’t help that his Razorbacks have lost two in a row, but he’s still the class of the running back set this year. Cal’s DeSean Jackson, West Virginia’s Pat White and USC’s John David Booty round out my current Big 5 list.

►23 teams still undefeated … Among the undefeated going head-to-head this week are: West Virginia at South Florida, Michigan State at Wisconsin, California at Oregon, and although Massachusetts doesn’t count among the 23 unbeaten because it’s a D-IAA school, the team still brings its 4-0 record to Boston on Saturday to take on unbeaten Boston College.

►Talk about courage… and you’d have to include the latest nomination for this year’s FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, Danny Langsdorf, the offensive coordinator at Oregon State. Langsdorf donated one of his kidneys over the summer to Laurie Cavanaugh, the wife of his offensive line coach, Mike Cavanaugh. Laurie had been looking for a donor for over a year. Langsdorf tested out to be a match and he didn’t hesitate to help out. Two other nominees announced so far this year are Brian Kajiyama (Hawaii), and Terry Clayton (Kentucky). Last year’s award winner was Ray Ray McElrathbey, the Clemson running back who is raising his little brother on his own.


► The one team that has JoePa’s number… Michigan has a nine-game winning streak against the Grand Old Master of Happy Valley. Before the streak began in 1997, Penn State had a three-game winning streak of its own against the Wolverines (1994-96).

►Whom would you start this week? … Chad Henne, senior QB with an 0-2 record this season, and recovering from an injured knee, or Ryan Mallett, freshman QB with a 2-0 record (wins over Notre Dame and Penn State)? Do you hand the job back to Henne just because he’s a senior, or do you stick with your winning ways? I would stick with my winner, Mallett. If he falters down the road, then you’ve got a solid veteran to relieve him.

►When a Buckeye really is a nut … Ohio State’s third-team QB, Antonio Henton, was arrested this week for soliciting a prostitute. Obviously, this young man doesn’t believe that being a member of the Buckeye football team offered any advantage to help him find a date for the homecoming dance next month.

►Nebraska fans are up in arms after close shave win over Ball State … They ought to be thankful they don’t have Oklahoma on their schedule this year. Forty points by Ball State is the equivalent of 80 by the Sooners. The way I see it, Cornhusker fans should be bracing themselves for losses to Missouri on Oct. 6 and Texas on Oct. 27, and maybe — just maybe — to Kansas on Nov. 3.

►Potential BCS Busters … Hawaii is the only one left, unless, and it’s a big one … unless Boise State wins out the rest of its games this year. With only one loss early in the season to Washington, BSU could do it. Right now, the Broncos are No. 32 in the coaches’ poll and not ranked in the AP poll or the Harris poll. Hawaii cannot afford to lose at all with its weak strength of schedule.

►Best reunion game of the week? … I didn’t mind losing PlayStation NCAA Football to my oldest son, Andrew, last weekend. We hadn’t been able to play against each other in over three years, since he moved to the opposite coast.

Quick Snap Question … presented by the 83rd East-West Shrine Game, Jan.19, 2008, in Houston, on ESPN2:

What is the jersey number that has been worn most by Heisman Trophy winners?

Be quick and be correct. The first email received with the correct answer wins you a limited edition two-card set of 2007 Rose Bowl Game trading cards. The winner will be announced in next week’s Fourth and inches…

►Best Games of the Week … West Virginia Mountaineers at South Florida Bulls … Air Force Falcons at Navy Midshipmen … Michigan State Spartans at Wisconsin Badgers … Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Scarlet Knights … Clemson Tigers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets … California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks … Alabama Crimson Tide at Florida State Seminoles … Colorado State Rams at TCU Horned Frogs … UCLA Bruins at Oregon State Beavers … Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Cavaliers … USC Trojans at Washington Huskies … Auburn Tigers at Florida Gators … BYU Cougars at New Mexico Lobos …

►Upset Specials of the Week … Last week (3-0, season 7-9) … Florida State Seminoles over Alabama Crimson Tide … South Florida Bulls over West Virginia Mountaineers … Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets over Clemson Tigers

Fourth and inches …

Was it really upset weekend, or does South Florida really have a shot at the national championship game? Let’s face it, there’s greater parity in college football than ever before. Skills are being learned and talent is being developed at an earlier age across the U.S. than in the past. And there’s only a total of 10,115 Division I-A scholarships available each year. That means there are some pretty good football players walking on and playing without scholarships around the country at the school of their choice, as well as others who opt to compete at the D-IAA level or below.

If you scan the NFL rosters, it’s an eye-opener regarding how many pros come from outside the D-IA level. Take the Dallas Cowboys, for instance. They have 10 players from outside the D-IA ranks, including QB Tony Romo, who is a product of D-IAA Eastern Illinois.

Out of 32 NFL team rosters (including their injured reserve lists), there are 199 players who did not come from a Division I-A program. That’s an average of 6.2 players per team. The Chiefs had the most with 12, and the Rams had the fewest with three.

Since the NFL rosters have an average of 10 to 11 percent of their players who didn’t even play at the D-IA level of competition, you have to ask yourself if that is evidence of more parity at the highest level of college football. If there are that many good football players outside of D-IA ball, doesn’t it stand to reason that there must be a pretty good base of talent spread throughout all 119 D-IA programs?

►Do you think the Big Ten and Pac-10 would like to call it a season right now? Their teams occupy four of the five top spots in the polls this week. I’m sure the Rose Bowl Game officials would be elated if they knew they could pit Cal against Ohio State or Wisconsin in the “Granddaddy” on Jan. 1.

►Heisman hopefuls … Kentucky QB Andre Woodson maintains his number one spot and he could ice it away with three straight Heisman-caliber performances against South Carolina, LSU and Florida … Darren McFadden remains steady but needs big-game attention to shine brighter … Cal’s DeSean Jackson moves up to a solid No. 3 with his great effort against Oregon last week. Rounding out my top five are Michigan’s Mike Hart and BC’s Matt Ryan.

►Worth reading … If you’re a college football junkie, then you’ve got to make Stewart Mandel’s College Football Mailbag on a part of your regular weekly reading. He’s got a keen football mind and is always interesting. This week, he comes up with three classifications for what would normally be termed “upsets:” Level 1–Stunners, Level 2–Surprises, and Level 3–Weird Ones. He also has a great idea for dealing with highly paid coaches who haven’t delivered on their promises. I think I have a better idea than the Celebrity Crush, though …


►How many Colts does it take to toss nine interceptions in one day? The answer is two. Hawaii’s Colt Brennan surrendered the ball five times to the Idaho Vandals last Saturday and Colt McCoy of Texas coughed up four picks to Kansas State later the same day.

►Top Graduation rates?… Is it any wonder the top graduation rates in Division I-A belong to Navy, Air Force, Northwestern, Duke, Stanford, and Notre Dame? All six programs were above 92 percent.

►Worst Graduation rates?… The two worst graduation rates belong to Arizona and Georgia (41%), closely followed by Texas (42%), Michigan State (43%) and Oklahoma (44%). Ouch.

►Fifteen teams still undefeated … down from 23 last week … The only undefeated teams going head-to-head this week are Ohio State and Purdue …

►Is it really possible that either Oklahoma or Texas will be knocked out of the Big 12 title race by this Saturday? The loser will be two games back in the loss column with only six conference games remaining after this weekend.

►Florida leading Texas … for most players arrested in a 12-month period. Gator safety Tony Joiner was arrested a couple nights ago and charged with a felony. Although it will most likely be reduced to a misdemeanor trespassing charge, Joiner is the eighth Florida player arrested in the past seven months, giving the Gators a two-arrest lead over the Texas Longhorns, who have achieved six arrests since June.

►Potential BCS Busters … Hawaii lucked out with last week’s upsets and moved up three slots in the AP poll to No. 16, despite playing WAC bottom feeder Idaho. Their star QB blew his slim chance at nabbing the Heisman Trophy when he threw five INTs against the Vandals. The Warriors cannot afford to lose one game this year with the Twinkie schedule they are playing.

►As if Irish fans needed to be reminded … Notre Dame lost its seventh game in a row dating back to last season. The Irish are now 0-5 this year and still have UCLA, Boston College and USC coming up, beginning this weekend.

►Quick Snap Question … presented by the 83rd East-West Shrine Game, Jan. 19, 2008 in Houston, on ESPN2:

What college football programs have received the NCAA’s “death penalty” since 1965?

Be quick and be correct. The first email received with the correct answer wins you a limited edition two-card set of 2007 Rose Bowl Game trading cards. The winner will be announced in next week’s Fourth and inches…

►Best Games of the Week … Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks … Kansas Jayhawks at Kansas State Wildcats … Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini … TCU Horned Frogs at Wyoming Cowboys … Oklahoma Sooners versus Texas Longhorns … Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers … Virginia Tech Hokies at Clemson Tigers … Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers … Florida Gators at LSU Tigers … Cincinnati Bearcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights … Nebraska Cornhuskers at Missouri Tigers …

►Upset Specials of the Week … Last week (3-0, season 10-9) … Illinois Fighting Illini over Wisconsin Badgers … Purdue Boilermakers over Ohio State Buckeyes … Wyoming Cowboys over TCU Horned Frogs …

AP Top 25 Weekly Recap

Upset weekend brought seismic action to the AP poll for Week 6. LSU leapfrogged over USC to the Numero Uno spot, and now holds a razor-thin 2-point lead. Cal moved up three notches to #3. Ohio State followed suit and jumped four to #4, with Wisconsin right behind, up four to #5. Biggest gainers were South Florida (plus 12) and Kentucky (plus 6) with the biggest drops felt by Texas (minus -12), Rutgers (minus -11), West Virginia (minus -8) and Oklahoma (minus -7). Kansas State joins the AP poll this week for first time this season.

NO. 1 LSU TIGERS (5-0). The Tiger offense was obviously looking past Tulane last week to the upcoming SEC war with Florida, but it didn’t matter. The LSU defense clamped down on the Green Wave until the struggling offense could get untracked, and Les Miles’ team pulled away in the second half, 34-9. LSU now leads the nation in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense. The fact that they haven’t truly been tested could be a negative factor when the Gators come to town, but the noise and the general menace of a Baton Rouge Saturday night should be a counterweight. One disturbing stat from the Tulane game: LSU QB Matt Flynn was sacked six times.

NO. 2 USC TROJANS (4-0). The men of Troy looked very beatable in Seattle last weekend; hence, their fall to #2. Don’t think for one Washington minute that the Huskies are anything like what we’ve seen of them the past couple years. They are a much improved team and tough to beat in their own crib. Ask Boise State, if you don’t believe us. The Trojans suffered several injuries in the game, but they get Stanford at home this week. Nothing like hosting the Cardinal when you really need a bye week to heal up those wounds. There’s a good chance you’ll see USC back on top again next week, but that will depend solely on the Gators pulling off an upset in Baton Rouge.

NO. 3 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (5-0). The Bears’ game at Oregon last week lived up to all they hype and came down to one big play at the end to preserve a road win. With 22 seconds remaining. defensive back Marcus Ezeff laid the wood to Duck receiver Cameron Colvin at the 1-yard line, knocking the ball into the end zone for a game-winning touchback. Heisman candidate DeSean Jackson got back on track and had a huge game with 11 receptions good for 161 yards and 2 scores. It was the first time Cal had won at Autzen Stadium since 1987. The Bears will entertain Oregon State at home this weekend.

NO. 4 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (5-0). The Buckeyes rolled over the hapless Minnesota Golden Gophers 30-7 in Minneapolis last weekend, and benefited from the upset weekend to jump up four spots. Quite frankly, it’s really difficult to imagine Ohio State being ranked this high this early in the season, considering the smack-down they suffered against Florida last January. They’ve only impressed us once this season and that was an impressive win at Washington. Playing on the road at undefeated Purdue this weekend will provide a better test to the Bucks’ claim to #4.

NO. 5 WISCONSIN BADGERS (5-0). We said last week that the Badgers didn’t look deserving of a Top 10 ranking and yet they held off a feisty Michigan State squad and moved up four slots. Nobody expected Wisconsin to beat the Spartans if they gave up 34 points, but *Voila* and Bielema’s Boys managed to conjur up 37 points. The Badgers’ rivalry with Illinois will be at a fever pitch in Champaign-Urbana this weekend since all of a sudden the Fighting Illini are a factor, and perhaps even a contender for the Big Ten title. PJ Hill will need to rush for at least 120 yards for the Badgers to win this game.

NO. 6 SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (4-0). The Bulls’ meteoric rise this season is reminiscent of one of the memorable lines from the classic film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Pursued by a mysterious posse, Sundance keeps wondering: “Who are those guys?” To which Butch replies: “I don’t know, but they’re very good.” Now, though, after consecutive victories against Auburn and West Virginia, the word has gotten around, and Jim Leavitt’s team won’t be sneaking up on anybody the rest of the season, starting with Florida Atlantic this Saturday.

NO. 7 BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (5-0). The Boston College Eagles just keep winning – which is more than all but a handful of other Division 1-A teams can say. This week, the Eagles host Bowling Green, a final oasis before what could be a rough stretch drive – Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson and Miami. Sure, Notre Dame is awful, but the Irish undoubtedly remember all the times BC has ruined their season, and would love to reciprocate. Bowling Green shouldn’t be much of a problem, although the Eagles have shown a tendency (one coaches hate) of playing either up or down to their opposition. Through it all, though, Matt Ryan is emerging as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks.

NO. 8 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (5-0). You may want to read that again, just for the novelty effect. Kentucky, No. 8? Yup. The SEC should start to sort itself out on Thursday night, however, when the Wildcats travel to 4-1 South Carolina. Both teams may be for real, but one will emerge as more real than the other. It could well be Kentucky, whose QB, Andre Woodson, is already getting lots of Heisman love.

NO. 9 FLORIDA GATORS (4-1). Quarterback Tim Tebow does it all for Urban Meyer’s Florida team – and last week against Auburn, that was part of the problem. Auburn kept Tebow at least partially under wraps, produced just enough offense to hang around and beat the Gators in their beloved swamp, 20-17, on a last-second field goal from Wes Byrum. This week, it’s LSU in Baton Rouge. “I think there is a lot that guys are going to take as motivation,” Tebow said to reporters. The Tigers, who lost to Florida last season, have some motivation of their own.

NO. 10 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (4-1). “Yawn.” That’s what we said about the prospects of Oklahoma being challenged by 23-point underdog Colorado last weekend in Boulder. Boy, were we wrong. The Buffs finally showed some signs of life in their program with the upset win. As for the Sooners, they have no time to mourn their loss. They play Texas in the Red River Shootout this weekend in Dallas and both teams are ornery and desperate to win. A loss will put either the Sooners or the Longhorns two games back in the loss column with only six conference games remaining.

NO. 11 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (4-1). South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is 14-0 lifetime coaching against Kentucky, and seems as amazed as anyone else that a game between these two perennial SEC bottom-feeders could the second most-watched conference match-up on the schedule this week. It used to be, Spurrier mused, that when UK and USC met, “somebody won, somebody lost, somebody was still in position to win six games and maybe go to a bowl.” Now, a BCS bowl is a least an outside possibility for the winner, especially given the spark provided recently by Gamecock QB Chris Smelley. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Smelley Stinks” T-shirts aren’t already being cranked out in Lexington.

NO. 12 GEORGIA BULLDOGS (4-1). Georgia RB Thomas Brown, who was all but written off for this season after a severe 2006 knee injury, dashed and plowed for 180-yards and three touchdowns last Saturday in a 45-17 victory over Mississippi. The Dawgs may have had their minds elsewhere during a 17-17 first half (like in Knoxville, where they’ll face Tennessee this week), but then simply bulldozed the Rebels for four straight second-half touchdowns. Tennessee is probably better than it’s demonstrated to date – and Rocky Top, as the name implies, is no picnic.

NO. 13 WEST VIRGINIA (4-1). A couple of Heisman campaigns may have gone up in smoke down in Tampa last week – West Virginia QB Pat White got hurt and RB Steve Slaton rushed for just 54 yards and fumbled twice. Overall, the Mountaineers lost three fumbles and threw three interceptions in a 21-13 loss to South Florida. This week, WVU gets to feast on Syracuse – and since the Orange upset Louisville a couple of weeks ago, the Mountaineers probably won’t be taking them lightly.

NO. 14 OREGON DUCKS (4-1). This is one tough Duck team this year and they would have beaten Cal were it not for their turnovers in the second half. It will be very interesting to see how they handle visiting USC in three weeks, but lest we get ahead of ourselves, the Ducks get to lick their wounds with a bye this Saturday and then welcome Washington State next weekend. The Cougars are beginning to look like one of the two weakest teams in the Pac-10 and shouldn’t present much of a challenge for the big O. The Ducks still have a chance to win the conference but they need to regroup and guard against a letdown.

NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH (4-1). This Saturday – a game at Clemson — could determine whether Virginia Tech is a legitimate ACC title contender. The Tigers look uncomfortably like another group of Tigers – LSU – on offense, and Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, while talented, is still just a true freshman. A Hokie victory here could give Frank Beamer’s team all the confidence it needs.

NO. 16 HAWAII WARRIORS (5-0). Hawaii moved up three slots from last week and not because of themselves. They can thank the upset committee that arranged for some of the big dogs ahead of them to take a tumble. Colt Brennan appeared on the cover of ESPN magazine this week and promptly tossed 5 Picks (yes, you read that correctly, 5 Picks) to one of the WAC’s lowliest teams, the Idaho Vandals. Those 5 INTs wrote him right out of the dark horse role in the Heisman race script. The Warriors get to munch and crunch on an even worse WAC team this week, the Utah State Aggies.

NO. 17 MISSOURI TIGERS (5-0). The Tigers had the week off at just the right time in preparation for a must-win game with Nebraska. It’s a must-win because the Tigers are about as loaded with talent and experience as they’ll ever be, and they have home field advantage to boot, not to mention the extra week of healing and game planning that came with last weekend’s bye on the schedule. If they can’t knock off the Cornhuskers this week, it probably ain’t ever gonna happen.

NO. 18 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (5-0). The Sun Devils went on the road to Palo Alto and throttled Jimmy Harbaugh’s Cardinal, 41-3 behind stellar performances from WR Rudy Burgess (7 grabs, 137 yards, 1 TD) as well as RBs Ryan Torain and Keegan Herring (combined 186 yards on 24 carries with a score by Herring). Word has it that the victory was dedicated to a Super Fan and his birthday Bride who had ventured in for the game from the Central Valley. Stanford averaged 28 ppg in three previous games against UCLA, San Jose State and Oregon, so this #6 ranked Sun Devil defense just might be for real. They’ll be on the road this weekend at Washington State, which is always a tough Pac-10 road game, no matter how bad the Cougars might appear to be.

NO. 19 TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-1). Boy, were we wrong on the Longhorns last week. We said that K-State fans would be in for a long day of payback from Texas, but this game wasn’t even close, thanks to four Colt McCoy interceptions. The Wildcats led 24-14 at the half, and just piled it on in the last two quarters to thrash Texas with their worst home defeat in the Mack Brown era, 41-21. QB Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game with a mild concussion and now UT gets to try and recover in time for the Red River Shootout with Oklahoma this weekend. Look for Texas to absorb a second consecutive loss.

NO. 20 CINCINNATI BEARCATS (5-0). The Bearcats appear to be this year’s Wake Forest – complete with a former Wake Forest quarterback, Ben Mauk, who threw four second-half touchdown passes in a 52-23 rout of San Diego State. The knock on Cincinnati is that it hasn’t played anybody yet, but it will this Saturday – No. 21 Rutgers.

NO. 21 RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (3-1). The Scarlet Knights tumbled 11 spots in the Top 25 with their loss to Maryland last Saturday, nearly sliding out of the rankings altogether. They hope to begin their climb back up the ladder by beating the team one rung above them, Cincinnati, on Saturday. Rutgers will be home, and Greg Schiano’s team remembers that the Bearcats handed them their first loss last season, 30-11.

NO. 22 CLEMSON TIGERS (4-1). Clemson’s high-octane offense turned into biodiesel last week against Georgia Tech, as the Tigers struggled through a 13-3 nightmare. Tech’s Tashard Choice looked like LaDainian Tomlinson against the Clemson defense, which might have Brenden Ore of Virginia Tech – this week’s opponent – salivating. On the other hand, this Death Valley – like the one at LSU – is an exceedingly tough place to play.

NO. 23 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (5-0). Purdue enjoyed adding to Notre Dame’s dismal season last week with a 33-19 win, but this team still is a big question mark in many pollsters’ minds. All of that will be settled this weekend when #4 Ohio State comes to town. A Boilermaker win will set them up as the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference because they don’t have Wisconsin on their schedule this year. Look for defensive coordinator Brock Spack to have some tricks up his sleeve on Saturday to trip up the Buckeyes.

NO. 24 KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (3-1). Despite hooking the ‘Horns last week, it seems a bit too early for the Wildcats to appear in the Top 25. They lost on the road to Auburn and knocked off San Jose State and D-1AA Missouri State. Kansas State will host archrival and currently undefeated Kansas this week. It’s for state pride and respect outside the Big 12. Thanks to a fairly easy schedule so far, the Jayhawks have had the same problem getting the respect they feel they deserve, so look for this to be one heckuva fight with the ‘Cats coming out on top in their own lair.

NO. 25 NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (4-1). The Huskers should have moved up several slots in the poll after defeating Iowa State 35-17 and coupled with all the upsets last weekend. That goes to show you what everyone’s thinking about this team–it could be the last we see of Nebraska for a while if they lose to Missouri on Saturday. Their conference schedule does not get any easier after seeing the pain K-State and Colorado inflicted on the Big 12’s upper crust.

ON THE BUBBLE: Florida State, Miami, Illinois, Auburn, UCLA, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Michigan, Connecticut, Alabama.

AP Top 25 Weekly Recap

For the second week in a row, the AP Top 25 was severely shaken by upsets, with none more disturbing than USC’s loss to Stanford. Wisconsin’s defeat at Illinois dropped the Badgers 14 spots and ushered the Illini back into the AP poll for the first time in seven years. Biggest gainers this week include Kansas (plus 20), Tennessee (from Not rated to #25), and West Virginia and Oregon both moved up 5 spots. Biggest drops besides Wisconsin were Georgia (minus 12), Kentucky (minus 9), and USC (minus 8).

NO. 1 LSU TIGERS (6-0). Les Miles rolled the dice, his team rolled on the ground, and the Tigers barely kept their claws dug into the No. 1 spot, beating defending national champion Florida, 28-24 on a late touchdown by Jacob Hester. LSU converted five fourth down plays and a fake field goal before a record crowd in Baton Rouge, but still needed Jacob Hester’s short touchdown run inside the three-minute mark to hang on. Hester had his first 100-yard rushing game for the Tigers, who next travel to No. 17 Kentucky.

NO. 2 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (5-0). Cal had the week off and enjoyed another bump upstairs, thanks to cross-town rival Stanford’s upset of Pac-10 foe USC. The Golden Bears have not been ranked this high since 1951 and signs are popping up on campus that read “New Orleans or Bust.” The perfect recipe coming off a bye week is a home game against a middle of the road conference opponent, and that’s just what Cal will be served with the Oregon State Beavers coming to Berkeley on Saturday. Cal blew the Beavers (3-3) away in Corvallis last year, 41-13. Expect more of the same in front of a frenzied fan base this week with speedster DeSean Jackson leading the charge.

NO. 3 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (6-0). The Buckeyes notched their second statement win of the season last week with the thorough dissection of Purdue’s offense, 23-7. The Boilermakers’ only score came in the last minutes of the game, long after they had been rendered helpless. While Ohio State’s offense doesn’t have comparable weapons to last year’s Heisman-winning version, they are getting the job done and letting a much improved defense dominate their opponents. The Bucks get a breather this week, hosting Kent State. The rest of the schedule is shaping up to be a very good test of the Silver and Red’s path to the national championship. Five successive conference games against the Big Ten’s current upper crust: Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.

NO. 4 BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (6-0). Like a race driver adept at avoiding pileups, Boston College continues to steer upward around the wreckage of former Top Five teams. Matt Ryan threw four TD passes (doesn’t he do that every week?) in a 55-24 rout of Bowling Green, setting up an intriguing matchup at Notre Dame on Saturday. If you’ll recall, Boston College has made a tradition out of ambushing higher-ranked Irish teams, and the Golden Domers would love some payback.

NO. 5 SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS (5-0). This is the No. 5 team in the nation? For now, it is. The Bulls didn’t exactly cruise against Florida Atlantic, winning 35-23, but they found a new offensive weapon in running back Benjamin Williams — built more like a sheep than a Bull at 5-7, 190 pounds. With leading rushers Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor out, Williams bolted for 186 yards and four touchdowns while QB Matt Grothe added 120 yards on the ground as the Bulls set aside a sputtering passing game and ran FAU ragged. This week, they host Central Florida.

NO. 6 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (5-1). The Sooners won the Red River Shootout over Texas for the first time in three years and with USC’s unexpected tumble, they were rewarded with an immediate 4-step gain up the national title chase ladder. Freshman QB Sam Bradford went 21-32 for 244 yards and 3 TDs against the Longhorns, and he is clearly the key to Oklahoma’s success. Witness their only loss to Colorado two weeks ago when he was 8 for 19, 112 yards and 2 picks. Undefeated and #11 ranked Big 12 foe Missouri visits this weekend and they will provide the Sooners with their toughest test of the season. Oklahoma is lucky this game isn’t on the road.

NO. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (5-1). The defense bailed Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks out in a key (who’d have thought it?) matchup with Kentucky. Sophomore defensive end Eric Norwood returned two fumbles for touchdowns, redshirt freshman QB Chris Smelley (who is blossoming into a Spurrier-style passer) provided just enough offense to win, and the Gamecocks moved up into rarefied poll territory. That shouldn’t change after a trip to North Carolina this weekend, although the Tar Heel appear to be making progress under Butch Davis.

NO. 8 WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (5-1). Syracuse held West Virginia RB Steve Slaton under 100 yards and knocked QB Pat White out of the game last Saturday, and still lost 55-14. Fullback Owen Schmitt provided the offense with a couple of touchdowns, WVU’s defense held the Orange to five (that’s right–5) pass completions, and the Mountaineers stayed close to the top of the pack in the Big East. White, who hurt his shoulder, will have a bye week to heal and is expected to be ready for Mississippi State.

NO. 9 OREGON DUCKS (4-1). The Ducks had a much-needed week off following their disappointing loss at home to Cal two weeks ago. They will entertain Washington State this week and it should be a good tune-up for getting back into the conference race. With USC’s loss to Stanford, anything can happen in the Pac-10. Oregon will get to host the Trojans in three weeks. Fans are even talking BCS, seeing that their green and yellow troops are situated within the Top 10 at this point in the season. We advise caution in looking ahead, as the Cougars gave Oregon a tough battle last week and they are dangerous when cornered…and boy, are they cornered right now (2-4 record, 0-3 in Pac-10). They beat the Ducks soundly last October, 34-23, so beware.

NO. 10 USC TROJANS (4-1). Last week’s shocking loss to Stanford in front of a SRO Los Angeles Coliseum crowd will either shake this sleeping giant out of its doldrums or lead to the demise of its Pac-10 stranglehold. USC couldn’t ask for a better antidote to their problems than Mike Stoops and his bumbling 2-4 Arizona Wildcat team coming to LA this week. If Pete Carroll is smart, he’ll keep his Booty on the bench and play the Mark Sanchez card this week. Booty intends to play with a broken middle finger, claiming it didn’t bother him against the Cardinal last week. Yeah, right. Much has been made of USC’s ability to remain in the Top 10 of both major polls following the Stanford collapse. This week’s game with new look Air-i-zona will do much for settling pollsters’ minds where the Trojans really belong. Anything short of demolishing the Wildcats should bring about a drop in the polls next week.

NO. 11 MISSOURI TIGERS (5-0). If you couldn’t see the storm clouds gathering East of Nebraska before last week’s game, then you had your blinders on. This Tiger team is the best version assembled in the past 25 years and they are loaded with experience and confidence. There was no way the Cornhuskers were going to invade Columbia last week and escape with yet another win, and the Tigers made that certain from the start on their way to a 41-6 thrashing of Big Red. QB Chase Daniel was 33-47 for a career high 401 yards and 2 TDs. He added another 72 yards on the ground good for two more TDs. Nebraska came into the game averaging 36 points, and Mizzou held them without a touchdown for the first time in nearly three years. This week’s clash at Oklahoma will be the true test of where this Tiger team is headed this year. Will it be a BCS game, or a second-tier bowl? Lest you think playing on the road bothers these cats, Missouri has already won twice this year in hostile environments (Illinois and Mississippi).

NO. 12 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (5-1). The Hokies’ passing game sputtered against Clemson last Saturday and the running game was off and on. No problem: There’s always Beamerball. Macho Harris hauled a kickoff back 100 yards for one touchdown, Eddie Royal returned a punt 82 yards for another, and D.J. Parker scored on a 32-yard interception return. That’s why they call them “special teams.” Frank Beamer’s team travels to Duke this weekend, a traditional “W.”

NO. 13 FLORIDA GATORS (4-2). Florida coach Urban Meyer gave his best Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation after a 28-24 loss LSU last Saturday, telling reporters: “The Gators will be back, smoking.” He must have wondered what Tiger counterpart Les Miles was smoking during the game, but a series of fourth-down gambles and a fake punt helped kill Florida’s hopes of repeating as national champions. Tim Tebow played well again, although the young Gator secondary continues to experience some growing pains. The Gators now have a bye week to lick their wounds…(do gators lick?).

NO. 14 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (6-0). The biggest question arising out of this week’s AP Top 25 poll is: “How in the world did this undefeated Sun Devil team not leapfrog over USC after they throttled the Cardinal in Palo Alto 41-3 the previous week and the Trojans choked at home last week?” It boggles the college football fan’s mind. Anyway, while the Trojans were getting their butts kicked by Jim Harbaugh’s boys, ASU did have a struggle of their own on the road in Pullman, barely eeking out a 23-20 win. Don’t let that score fool you, though. Despite sporting a losing record, Washington State has been one of the toughest road games in the Pac-10 for years. Rare is the day when opponents ride into town and wallop the Cougars, so a win is a win and a good one at that. The ‘Devils get Washington at home this week and it could be one of the best games of the week. Ty Willingham’s Huskies are giving opponents fits this year. It won’t be easy, but you gotta like ASU on their home turf.

NO. 15 CINCINNATI BEARCATS (6-0). The hospitable folks in East Rutherford, NJ were hollering “Overrated!” at the Bearcats when Rutgers took a 17-7 halftime lead last Saturday, but in the end, that label seemed more appropriate for the home team. Heisman hopeful Ray Rice failed to gain 100 yards, Scarlet Knight QB Mike Teel had his worst game of the season, and Ben Mauk rallied UC from behind to a 28-23 victory. This week: An interesting matchup with Louisville at home.

NO. 16 HAWAII WARRIORS (6-0). The pollsters got this one right last week, refusing to move Hawaii up the chart after they struggled at home against a hapless Utah State squad, 52-37. Island Poster Boy Colt Brennan got hurt again, and backup QB Tyler Graunke promptly proved June Jones’ system works no matter who’s at the helm by going 9 for 11, 246 yards (22.4 yards per attempt!) and 3 TDs. Hawaii returns to the mainland this week for a Friday night game against San Jose State. Last year, the Warriors devastated Dick Tomey’s team, 54-17. Expect more of the same bloodletting, as the Spartans are a shell of what they were 12 months ago.

NO. 17 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (5-1). Let’s hope UK fans enjoyed the first half of the season. The next two weeks, their heroes host LSU and Florida. QB Andre Woodson and RB Rafael Little can move the chains with anybody, but the Wildcat defense needs to step up. End of story.

NO. 18 ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (5-1). We’ve been hearing about it for a few years now that Ron Zook is working miracles in Champaign-Urbana, but now we have proof. Barring their nail biting, season opening loss to #11 Missouri, Illinois could easily be in the Top 10 right now. These kids are for real. Last week’s gritty win over a battle-tested Badger clan is just the stepping stone the Orange and Blue needed to plough into the final half of the season. Looking ahead, after this week’s road game at Iowa, the Illini will host Michigan next week and face Ohio State on the road Nov. 3. It could be a miracle season in the making.

NO. 19 WISCONSIN BADGERS (5-1). Where do the Badgers go from here? There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in their Big Ten conference schedule with a loss this early in the season. Wisconsin heads to dangerous territory this week to take on Penn State in Happy Valley, and a loss would squelch any talk of a Big Ten title, especially with back-to-back games coming up in the next month with Ohio State (in Columbus) and Michigan. The loss to Illinois was devastating–unless Brett Bielema can rally and regroup the team for a furious charge through the last six weeks of the season.

NO. 20 KANSAS JAYHAWKS (5-0). Quick, take a look at where these Jayhawks are sitting. Not many prognosticators gave them a chance on the road against instate rival K-State last week but they managed to pull off the win, 30-24. QB Todd Reesing gained 267 yards through the air, good for 3 TDs; just as important, his teammates survived his three picks. He’ll need to sharpen up his game from here on out. Kansas should remain in the poll thru next week after hosting Baylor this Saturday. After that, their conference schedule hits treacherous turf with back-to-back road games at Colorado and Texas A&M.

NO. 21 FLORIDA STATE (5-1). The tomahawk chop is back, along with the nasty Seminole defense. In disposing of N.C. State 27-10 last Saturday, FSU created four turnovers and notched six sacks. Meanwhile, coach Bobby Bowden has apparently grown tired of waiting for QB Drew Weatherford to turn into a star and gone with the more mobile Xavier Lee, instead. This week: At Wake Forest.

NO. 22 AUBURN TIGERS (4-2). Like extra sugar dumped into southern sweet tea, the SEC — Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee – has sunk to the bottom of the Top 25 this week. There is reason to hope for Tiger fans, though, especially the play of RB Brad Lester. Coming off a lengthy probation, Lester rushed for 77 yards in an easy victory over Vanderbilt and now gives Auburn three good backs — Lester, Ben Tate and Mario Fannin — to soften up opposing defenses for QB Brandon Cox. Auburn has won three straight, including a last-second upset of Florida, but will be tested at Arkansas this Saturday.

NO. 23 TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-2). It’s been years since the Longhorns were in a position of fighting for their lives just to get into the Big 12 title game. Following last week’s loss to Oklahoma, Texas is now two games back in the loss column to archrival Texas A&M, and to make matters worse, the sophomore jinx has hit Colt McCoy smack-dab between the eyes. And guess who the home team is for that season finale against the Aggies? Gulp. Yep. The Aggies. Well, strap on your boots and get back to business, boys. If you let your current situation get you down, Iowa State might just pull off the unthinkable in Ames this weekend and knock you clear outta the Top 25.

NO. 24 GEORGIA BULLDOGS (4-2). Mark Richt’s club ran into a chainsaw up at Rocky Top last Saturday, taking it on the chin from Tennessee, 35-14. “Our goal now is to beat Vanderbilt,” said Richt after watching his Bulldogs surrender 411 yards of real estate and prove unable to turn off the UT running game. QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno still fuel a potentially explosive offense, however.

NO. 25 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (3-2). A lot of “Also Receiving Votes” teams were no doubt grumbling about Tennessee’s ascension into the national ranking — albeit as the caboose — but Philip Fulmer’s club definitely looked like a Top 25 pick in decimating Georgia, 35-14. Just three weeks after absorbing a 59-20 pounding from Florida, the Vols are tied for first (with two other teams) in the SEC East. This week’s game with Mississippi State will be no walk in the swamp, however — MSU is 4-2 (including an upset of Auburn) and has decided that it likes winning too much to give it up easily.

ON THE BUBBLE: Texas A&M, Colorado, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Texas Tech, Rutgers, Virginia, Connecticut, Kansas State.

Fourth and inches …

It’s really tempting to not make Stanford’s upset of USC the lead this week … because the way this season is going, we’ll probably witness several more shockwaves in college football during the next seven weeks … Besides, it’s not like the Trojans were knocked out of the polls, or truly hurt by their loss.  They are still ranked in the Top 10 in both polls and in prime position to move up and play for the national title this season with #2 Cal, #9 Oregon, and #14 ASU on their schedule.

What the polls are telling us … Every national sports talk show had their phone lines crammed this week with confused and angry fans wondering why USC didn’t fall harder in the polls after losing at home to Stanford, while #5 Wisconsin tumbled 14 spots after a close loss on the road to a very good Illinois team.  For that matter, why is an undefeated ASU squad still ranked behind the Trojans when they went to Palo Alto and kicked Stanford all over the stadium, 41-3?

It’s all about perception of each program’s strength.  Pollsters look at the USC loss as an aberration, whereas the Wisconsin loss wasn’t happenstance.  Even if USC were to lose again, you wouldn’t see them fall out of the Top 25.  Certainly not with a host of two-loss teams like Florida, Auburn, Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee currently holding poll positions.  It would probably take four losses to knock the Trojans out of the polls altogether.

Prediction: Look for USC backup QB Mark Sanchez to play well in place of the injured John David Booty this week.  So well, that you’d question replacing him when Booty is healed … but there’s no way Pete Carroll would replace Booty for the rest of the season, even if the Trojans lose again.

Heisman hopefuls … Kentucky QB Andre Woodson falls out of the top slot in my book to #3.  He has two big games against LSU and Florida this week and next to make his case.  Shooting to the top this week is Mike Hart.  He is carrying the Wolverines on his back right now and if he keeps it up, it would be difficult to deny him the statue.  Arkansas’ Darren McFadden holds at #2, with Cal’s DeSean Jackson at #4 BC’s Matt Ryan at #5.

Franchione on his way out at A&M? … News reports are indicating he violated his contract by not reporting the additional income he was making from booster subscriptions to his insider newsletter.  The cost for each subscription was $1,200, and the school is reporting that Franchione netted over $37,000 from the side business.  It’s impossible to imagine A&M keeping DF on board after this year.

Another coach who looks really stupid right now … Tom O’Brien of North Carolina State.  He left behind the best team Boston College has had since the days of Heisman winner Doug Flutie.  What on earth was he thinking?

Talk about courage… The Naval Academy’s Zerbin Singleton is the most recent nominee for the FedEx Orange Bowl- FWAA Courage Award that will be announced at the end of the 2007 season. Singleton didn’t know his father until he was a senior in high school and a year later, his father committed suicide. He had been living with cousins in Georgia since he was 11, when he left his home in Alaska because his mother went to jail for a parole violation. Wanting to pursue military aviation and his dream of becoming an astronaut, Singleton was accepted by the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy, and chose the Navy.  Unfortunately, Singleton was hit by a drunk driver one week before he was scheduled to graduate high school (as valedictorian) and his injuries prevented him from enrolling at Navy.  After a year at Georgia Tech, Singleton transferred to Navy where he’s been a two-year starter with a 3.2 GPA in aerospace engineering.


Gotta love Paterno … After a woman ran a stop sign on campus this week, JoePa pulled up beside her and shook his finger, saying that he had taken down her license plate number.  Moments later, someone knocked on Joe’s window and said “That’s my wife.”  The coach’s response?  “Boy, that’s your problem.”

The Gipper makes a comeback … There is no truth to the rumor that Fighting Irish fans have dug up the body of George Gipp to get DNA that can be used for breeding Notre Dame football players, although ESPN did send a news crew to Traverse City, Michigan to cover the exhumation.  Not all Gipp family members are happy about the event, calling it a desecration.  The reason for the exhumation will be made public at a future date.

Only 11 teams still undefeated … and the Big East has three of them with Cincinnati, Connecticut, and South Florida.  The Big 12 has two with Missouri and Kansas, while the Pac-10 has two with Cal and Arizona State.

Did you know … that Missouri hasn’t defeated Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma since 1966.  Yes, I’m going out on a limb and predicting that streak will end this week (see below upset specials)…

Angels in the outfield? … Well, sort of.  Is the spirit of former Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner living on in his players this season?  The 5-1 Hoosiers are enjoying their best start since the miracle 1968 Rose Bowl team, and will be bowl-eligible with one more victory.  I expect them to win three more regular season games and finish at 8-4.  That will put them in a decent bowl game … you gotta like the fact that they do not have either Michigan or Ohio State on their conference schedule this year.

Potential BCS Busters … Hawaii stayed at #16 after struggling with Utah State. 52-37. QB Colt Brennan left the game after taking a big hit … no big deal, backup QB Tyler Graunke came in and didn’t miss a beat, going 9 for 11, 246 yards, three TDs and running for another.

Irish fans relieved/UCLA fans irate … Notre Dame scooped up their first win of the season, on UCLA’s home turf, no less.  Bewildered and angry Bruins fans are wondering why head coach Karl Dorrell had an empty cupboard at the QB slot.  Patrick Cowan was already out with a serious hamstring injury when Ben Olson suffered a knee injury against the Irish, forcing the Bruins to rely on a redshirt freshman, McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Best Games of the Week … LSU Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats … Central Florida Knights at South Florida Bulls … Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan Wolverines … Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Miami Hurricanes … Illinois Fighting Illini at Iowa Hawkeyes … New Mexico Lobos at Wyoming Cowboys … Texas A&M Aggies at Texas Tech Red Raiders … Wisconsin Badgers at Penn State Nittany Lions … Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils … Missouri Tigers at Oklahoma Sooners … Louisville Cardinals at Cincinnati Bearcats … Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks …

Upset Specials of the Week … Last week (2-1, season 12-10) … Mississippi State Bulldogs over Tennessee Volunteers … Colorado State Rams over Air Force Falcons … Missouri Tigers over Oklahoma Sooners