1. USC (8-0)…Trojans continue to roll and should do so again against Stanford at home this weekend. The final three games are all toughies, though.
3. Virginia Tech (8-0)…Dominated a solid opponent at home and now gets its toughest test of the season when a Hurricane sweeps through Blacksburg on Saturday night.
5. UCLA (8-0)…For some reason the Bruins don't get going until the going gets tough, and they've become the best fourth quarter team in America.
10. Penn State (8-1)…Nittany Lions now control their own destiny in the quest to represent the Big Ten in the BCS, and play the de facto league title game at home this week.
11. Notre Dame (5-2)…The Irish took a week off to scout its next opponent, a struggling Volunteer squad that seems to be suffering through a lost season.
12. Wisconsin (8-1)…Who would've predicted at the beginning of the season that the Badgers' visit to Happy Valley would turn out to be the Big Ten's game of the year?
14. Ohio State (6-2)…With a little help the Buckeyes can still get a share of the Big Ten title and play in the BCS, which is what was expected of them before the season began.
15. Texas Tech (7-1)…For once the Red Raiders packed a defense before they set out for the road, and they remain on track to play in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day.
17. Boston College (6-2)…The Golden Eagles are a solid team that will play in a nice bowl game, but they're just not ready yet for the upper echelon of the ACC.
18. West Virginia (6-1)…Who would've guessed that the Mountaineers' 27-14 win over the state university of New Jersey was the real Big East game of the year?
19. TCU (8-1)…The Horned Frogs are already making reservations for the Liberty Bowl as champions of the Mountain West Conference in their first season in the league.
20. Auburn (6-2)…The Tigers still have a shot to repeat as SEC champions with games against Georgia and Alabama remaining.
22. Michigan (6-3)…Again the Wolverines overcome injuries to win on the road, and now they get a bye week with a chance to heal some injuries before playing the last two games at home.
23. California (6-2)…The winner of this week's game with the Ducks gets to head to San Diego for the postseason as opposed to El Paso.
24. Colorado (6-2)…The Buffaloes remain in control of the North Division race, or – in other words – the right to get crushed by Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game.
1. Quite simply, the 42-14 victory over Texas A&M was the second biggest road win in the Dan McCarney era, ranking right behind the 1998 streakbuster at Iowa. It certainly tops the list of best ISU performances in recent memory as well.
2. That win could do for the Cyclones what the 2002 drubbing of Michigan at The Big House did for Iowa that season. Look for the Cyclones to win out – yes, that includes beating Colorado at home for the first time since 1984 – and finish 8-3 and ranked somewhere in the top 25 at the end of the regular season.
3. So, what does this mean for ISU's bowl possibilities? The Cyclones need to be rooting against Nebraska and Oklahoma, two teams the Alamo Bowl would likely covet more than ISU based on name recognition alone. That bowl game is likely the ceiling for the Cyclones if they finish 8-3, and that would be the best bowl bid ISU has ever had. The opponent would probably be the Michigan-Ohio State loser, giving ISU the chance to play one of the real paragons of tradition. A 7-4 finish would put the Cyclones in the Houston Bowl on New Year's Eve or the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando on December 27th. That latter bowl might provide ISU the chance to play a ranked opponent from the ACC like Boston College.
4. Am I the only one wishing we could go back and play that Baylor game again with a healthy Stevie Hicks? I know it's tempting to say ISU could be undefeated had he stayed healthy, but I'm not quite that greedy. I'll just take that Baylor loss because had ISU won there they'd still be right in the thick of the North Division race and 6-2 and probably still in the top 25.
5. There is simply no excuse for there to be a single empty seat at Jack Trice Stadium this weekend. The Letterwinners Club is hosting a 10-year reunion of McCarney-era players, the game isn't televised, and ISU is playing for its fifth bowl bid in six years against a greatly disliked rival. And keep in mind your fan support goes a long way in impressing bowl scouts this time of year as well. See you on Saturday.