Virginia Tech - The ACC may have a national championship contender this year in Virginia Tech after all. Their opening day loss to Alabama is already almost forgotten, as the Hokies are already up to No. 6 in both polls. Frank Beamer's squad caught a huge break from the Blacksburg weather Saturday, as Miami's speed and passing ability were neutralized by a downpour. Number 25 Georgia Tech is the only ranked team left on VT's schedule. Are the Hokies one of the five best teams in the country? Not a chance. Could they back into a title shot? Under the terms of college football's ridiculous system for determining a champion, absolutely.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa head coach - Ferentz's Hawkeye teams have been in constant trouble off the field and mediocre on it the past four years, winning one bowl and going .500 in the Big Ten. It was surprising he was given a contract extension through 2015 after last season, but Ferentz is making the most of it. By beating Penn State and improving to 4-0, Iowa looks to have a chance to do something significant. In three games against BCS teams, the Hawkeye defense has allowed just 30 points combined. Their visit to Columbus November 14 could be for a trip to Pasadena.
Eric Norwood, South Carolina linebacker - The senior put on a clinic Thursday night, with two sacks and a partially blocked punt against Ole Miss. He leads the SEC in sacks with six and will affect the offensive gameplan of every team South Carolina plays the rest of the way. Eric Berry may still win SEC Defensive Player of the Year, but Norwood's impressive display on national TV turned it into a race.
Houston - The Cougars defeated their second straight Big 12 team by edging Texas Tech 29-28. Mississippi State is the third BCS conference team on their schedule, mixed in with a bunch of Conference USA opponents the Cougars should handle with ease. If Houston beats MSU, it's hard to imagine they won't get the edge for this year's "BCS Buster" spot over a Boise State team whose only quality win would be their opening night home victory over Oregon.
Baylor - There was hope in Waco that this season would see the Bears return to a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Losing sensational sophomore QB Robert Griffin to a torn ACL means that's a dead issue even though they're 2-1. No single player may have been more important to his team in all of college football.
Michigan State - Most believed that Mark Dantonio had finally moved the Spartan program out of its historic pattern of mediocrity by taking them to bowls in each of his first two seasons with the program, including a New Year's Day appearance last season. In year three, it's back to Same Ol' Sparty in East Lansing. After last minute losses to Central Michigan and Notre Dame, MSU opened conference play by falling to a mediocre Wisconsin squad.
The Sporting News - The folks at TSN this week declared Matt Leinart to be the player of the decade in college football. This might have made a little more sense if they'd waited for the decade to actually end, particularly with two candidates for a second Heisman Trophy still playing. Beyond that, wouldn't logic say the Sporting News player of the decade should have been its player of the year at some point? The Sporting News never chose Leinart for that honor during his college career.
Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox manager - College football's popularity continues to grow nationally, but not with the White Sox skipper. Guillen went nuts when he learned his players were watching a pair of games after a loss to Detroit, calling it "stupid [expletive] football when those [expletive] football players don't give a [expletive] about you". With Ozzie's Sox six games under .500 this year with a week to go in the season, why would anyone?
FSU's coaching staff - After falling 17-7 to USF, FSU has lost four of their past five home games with the only win a last minute come from behind effort against FCS team Jacksonville State. FSU has now lost to UF, Miami and USF in their most recent meetings, meaning if there is a Big 4 in the state of Florida they're Ringo and if not they're on the outside looking in. The staff restructuring before the 2007 season and naming of Jimbo Fisher as head coach in waiting appears to have succeeded primarily in creating tension between "Jimbo's guys" and "Bobby's guys". Will they really tolerate another year of this mess in Tallahassee just so Bobby can coach his final regular season game at home?