Last week I reviewed the coaches "on the hot seat" in BCS conferences. Well, another will be headed for the unemployment line after the season. As predicted, Washington (1-7) announced coach Keith Gilbertson will be replaced after the Huskies final game, after losing to Oregon on Saturday.
Here's a look at some hot coaching candidates that will be considered for major openings after the season.
Non-BCS Conference head coaches:
Topping the list is Utah's Urban Meyer. In his 2nd season in Salt Lake City, Meyer is three games away from an undefeated season and a possible BCS Bowl.
Boise State's Dan Hawkins is also working on an undefeated season, though the Broncos will not be going to a BCS Bowl. Though he's often stated he's happy in Boise, Hawkins will be a leading candidate for the Washington job among others.
Mike Price's star is once again shining after less than a year at the helm of UTEP. The Miners were an atrocious 2-11 last year, but under Price have improved to 6-2 with losses to ranked teams Arizona State and Boise State. Price still has some baggage from his brief time at Alabama, but he's a proven winner.
Bowling Green's Gregg Brandon was 11-3 last season after replacing Urban Meyer. Brandon has the Falcons in contention for the MAC-West crown again with a 6-2 mark.
Finally, Navy's Paul Johnson has worked miracles in his 3 years in Annapolis. The Middies are a good bet to finish the year with an 11-1 record and a major bowl invitation. Johnson was a huge winner at D1AA Georgia Southern before returning to Navy where he had been an assistant. It would take an incredible offer to lure him away, though.
BCS Conference assistants:
This is an impossibly long list, so I'll go with those whose names have been mentioned the most.
Bo Pelini, Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator – He was the players choice to replace Frank Solich at Nebraska but was passed over in favor of Bill Callahan. The Youngstown, Ohio native is young and enthusiastic and his defenses have been mostly formidable.
Chuck Long, Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator – The ex-Iowa QB has had very productive offenses in Norman.
Norm Chow, USC Offensive Coordinator – Age and the lack of head coaching experience work against him, but the man knows offense.
Brian VanGorder, Georgia Defensive Coordinator – The Bulldogs defense has been solid for some time.
Randy Sanders, Tennessee Offensive Coordinator – The Vols have been winning with two true freshman QBs.
Derek Dooley, LSU Assistant Head Coach – He's considered one of the best recruiters anywhere.
Currently out of football:
Steve Spurrier – If "The Old Ball Coach" wants to return to coaching, he'll have several offers to choose from.
Rick Neuheisel – He'll be a high-risk hire, but "don't bet" against someone taking a chance on him.
Frank Solich – Most schools would have been happy with his record, but it wasn't good enough in Lincoln.
Next week, I'll take a look at how the bowl picture is shaping up. Meanwhile, here's a summary of last week's games:
#22 Virginia Tech stayed alive for the ACC crown with a come-from-behind 34-20 win at Georgia Tech. The Hokies offense was held in check for most of the game, but finally exploded with 25 points in the final period. They trailed 17-9 after 3 quarters. After an exchange of field goals to open the 4th quarter, Virginia Tech's senior QB Bryan Randall suddenly got hot. He connected with WR Eddie Royal on an 80 yard TD pass with 5:28 remaining. Randall then hit senior WR Richard Johnson with a 2 point conversion pass to tie the game at 17. On their next possession, Randall found freshman WR Josh Morgan with a 51 yard TD pass with 3:10 to go for the winning score. Redshirt freshman CB Roland Minor iced the win with a 64 yard interception return for a TD. Randall finished with 18 completions in 31 attempts for 305 yards and 3 TDs. He also ran for 64 yards on 9 carries. For the Yellow Jackets, sophomore QB Reggie Ball was 14-29 for 178 yards and a TD.
#18 Boise State improved to 8-0 with a 69-3 destruction of Hawaii. Sophomore QB Jared Zabransky led the Broncos, rushing for 123 yards and 4 TDs. He also completed 11-19 passes for 166 yards. Boise State scored an amazing 8 rushing touchdowns. For the Rainbow Warriors, senior QB Timmy Chang set an NCAA record, but not the one he was trying to break. He was 26-53 for 227 yards and 4 interceptions. He now is the NCAA's all time leader in career interceptions with 74. He failed to break the NCAA record for career passing yards, falling 14 yards short of the mark set by Ty Detmer of BYU from 1988-91.
#15 West Virginia remained unbeaten in Big East play with a 35-30 road win over Rutgers. Senior QB Rasheed Marshall paced the Mountaineer win, completing 9-13 for 165 yards and 2 TDs. Marshall also rushed for 79 yards and a TD on 17 carries. Despite four 1st half turnovers, the Scarlet Knights only trailed 21-14 at the break. After Rutgers closed to 21-17 on a 3rd quarter field goal by freshman Jeremy Ito, WVU broke the game open in the final period on Marshall TD passes to senior WR Miquelle Henderson and junior WR Chris Henry. For Rutgers, junior QB Ryan Hart completed 35-46 passes for 324 yards and 3 TDs, but was picked off twice.
Syracuse evened their record at 4-4 with a 42-30 win over Connecticut in the Carrier Dome. Sophomore QB Perry Patterson passed for two TDs for the Orange, while senior RB Walter Reyes rushed 15 times for 121 yards and two more scores. The Orange defense allowed 566 yards of total offense, but forced five Husky turnovers. For UConn, senior QB Dan Orlovsky threw for 445 yards and 3 TDs. Navy is now 7-1 after defeating D1AA Delaware 34-20. Senior QB Aaron Polanco led the way for the Middies, rushing 15 times for 64 yards and 3 TDs and passing for another. Senior RB Kyle Eckel added 143 yards and a TD on 23 carries. The loss snapped the Blue Hens' 6 game winning streak.
#3 Auburn clinched their 3rd SEC-West title, defeating Mississippi 35-14 in Oxford. The game was scoreless until a one yard run by the Tigers' senior QB Jason Campbell gave Auburn a 7-0 lead with 26 seconds remaining before the half. After another Tiger score in the 3rd quarter, the Rebels closed to 14-7 on a 64 yard TD pass from sophomore QB Ethan Flatt to senior WR Bill Flowers. Auburn again pulled ahead by 14 and Flatt responded with a 25 yard TD toss to junior WR Taye Biddle early in the final period. The Tigers then iced the win, scoring the final two TDs. Campbell completed 11-22 passes for 234 yards and a TD and ran for two more. The Tigers' senior RB combo of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown once again proved tough to stop. Williams carried 16 times for 95 yards and a TD, while Brown had 101 yards and a TD in 16 rushes. For Mississippi, Flatt completed 12-20 for 225 yards.
In the upset of the day, #4 Miami fell from the ranks of the undefeated after a 31-28 loss at North Carolina. The winning points came on a 42 yard field goal by freshman Connor Barth on the final play of the game. The Tar Heels scored 14 unanswered 2nd quarter points to take a 21-14 lead into the locker room. Miami tied the game late in the 3rd quarter on an 8 yard TD run by sophomore RB Tyrone Moss. North Carolina responded with a 9 yard TD run early in the 4th quarter by RB Chad Scott. The Canes then pulled even at 28 on an 11 yard TD run by sophomore Devin Hester with 2:25 remaining. The Tar Heels answered with a 65 yard drive orchestrated by senior QB Darian Durant that resulted in the game winning field goal by Barth. Durant completed 21-29 passes for 266 and 2 TDs. He also carried 13 times for 67 yards. Scott had a career game, rushing 25 times for 176 yards and 2 TDs. With Miami's ground game held to a season-low 77 yards, senior QB Brock Berlin threw 35 times, completing 20 for 338 yards and 2 TDs.
In another shocker, Maryland snapped their 3 game losing streak with a 20-17 win over #5 Florida State. The loss ended the Seminoles' 6 game winning streak, and was also their 1st ever to the Terps. FSU had been 14-0 in the series. With Maryland nursing a 13-10 lead in the 3rd quarter, sophomore QB Joel Stratham hit junior RB Josh Allen with a 72 yard TD pass to extend the margin to 20-10. Seminoles' coach Bobby Bowden switched QBs in the 4th quarter, replacing struggling sophomore Wyatt Sexton with his former starter, senior Chris Rix. In his 2nd series, Rix connected with senior WR Chauncey Stovall on a 14 yard TD pass with 7:43 left to close the gap to 20-17. On the next possession, Rix moved the Seminoles into position for a tying field goal, but senior Xavier Beitia's 45 yard attempt sailed wide left with 4:45 remaining. It was Beitia's 3rd miss of the game. With both teams' running games ineffective, most of the game's offense came via the air. Statham finished with 21 completions in 40 attempts for 333 yards and a TD. Rix was 8-21 for 140 yards and a TD.
In Jacksonville, #10 Georgia ended six years of frustration, finally overcoming Florida 31-24. It appeared the Bulldogs would coast to victory, as they led 24-7 in the 3rd quarter. The Gators then mounted a comeback with sophomore QB Chris Leak tossing a 57 yard TD pass to sophomore WR Andre Caldwell. Leak then hit Billy Latsko with a 3 yard TD pass early in the 4th quarter to pull within three points at 24-21. Georgia's senior QB David Greene responded with a 15 yard TD strike to senior WR Fred Gibson to put the Bulldogs ahead by ten at 31-21. Florida had a final opportunity after senior Matt Leach connected on a 52 yard field goal, but the Bulldogs recovered the on-sides kick and ran out the clock. Greene completed 15-23 passes for 256 yards and 3 TDs, two to sophomore TE Leonard Pope. Freshman RB Danny Ware rushed 18 times for 103 yards. For the Gators, Leak was 22-34 for 242 yards and 2 TDs and junior RB Ciatrick Faison carried 17 times for 139 yards.
#11 Tennessee remained in control of the SEC - East race with a 43-29 road win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks jumped out to an 8-0 lead after a safety and two field goals by junior Josh Brown. The Vols tied the game before halftime, as freshman QB Erik Ainge hit WR David Holbert with a 21 yard TD pass and fellow freshman QB Brent Schaeffer ran for the 2 point conversion. Schaeffer later broke his collarbone, and will be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season. Tennessee broke the game open in the 3rd quarter, as Ainge connected on TD passes of 24 yards to junior WR Chris Hannon and 20 yards to WR Chris Brown. Ainge was 9-16 for 109 yards and senior RB Cedric Houston rushed for a career-high 190 yards on 15 carries. For South Carolina, senior QB Dondrial Pinkins was 30-42 for 306 yards and 2 TDs.
#19 LSU used a strong ground game to wear down Vanderbilt 24-7. LSU opened up a 10-0 lead on a 26 yard field goal by sophomore Ryan Gaudet and a 7 yard run by Alley Broussard. The Commodores' junior QB Jay Cutler scored on a one yard run to close the gap to 10-7 before the half. The Tigers then broke the game open with two 3rd quarter TDs. Senior QB Marcus Randall tossed a 34 yard TD pass to sophomore WR Craig Davis. Junior Skyler Green then returned a punt 65 yards for the final score. Broussard finished with 80 yards on 9 carries. For Vanderbilt, Cutler completed 10-20 for 111 yards before leaving the game in the 3rd quarter with a stiff neck.
Sophomore Jed Dean booted four field goals as Clemson held off mistake-prone North Carolina St. 26-20. The Wolfpack turned the ball over 6 times, five on interceptions thrown by junior QB Jay Davis. The last was the most costly, coming on the final play of the game on a 4th down play from the Tigers' 12 yard line. For Clemson, junior QB Charlie Whitehurst completed 14-33 passes for 183 yards and a TD. Davis was 24-45 for 255 yards and a TD.
Wake Forest notched their first ACC win of the year, edging Duke 24-22. Junior RB Chris Barclay led the Demon Deacons with 26 carries for 134 yards and a TD. For the Blue Devils, sophomore QB Mike Schneider was outstanding in defeat, completing 28-45 for a career-high 300 yards and 2 TDs.
Mississippi State won their 2nd in a row, topping Kentucky 22-7. The Bulldogs rolled up 340 yards on the ground, led by junior RB Jerious Norwood. Norwood carried 24 times for 165 yards. Senior RB Fred Reid added 109 yards on 11 carries including the clinching TD on a 34 yard run with 3:34 to play. For the Wildcats, senior QB Shane Boyd completed 11 of 24 passes for 103 yards and carried 15 times for 54 yards and their only TD.
Elsewhere, sophomore QB James Pinkney threw 3 TD passes to WR Bobby Good as East Carolina defeated Army 38-28. Marshall limited winless Central Florida to just 104 yards of total offense as the Thundering Herd prevailed 20-3. Middle Tennessee QB Clint Marks completed 22-32 passes for 317 yards and 2 TDs, both to WR Kerry Wright, as the Blue Raiders shut out Utah State 21-0. Finally, senior RB DeWhitt Betterson carried 16 times for 184 yards and 2 TDs as Troy State thumped Idaho 47-7. Betterson broke the Trojans' record for career rushing yards.
In the day's most exciting game, #12 Michigan needed triple overtime to get past Michigan State 45-37. The Spartans held a 27-10 lead with 8:43 to play before a furious Wolverine rally tied the game. Sophomore Garrett Rivas connected on a 24 yard field goal to narrow the margin to 27-13. Michigan gambled and recovered an on-side kick. Freshman QB Chad Henne capped off the ensuing drive with a 36 yard TD pass to senior WR Braylon Edwards. Henne then found Edwatds with a 21 yard TD pass to tie the game with 2:59 to play. The Spartans had a chance to win the game in regulation, but senior Dave Rayner's 50 yard field goal attempt into the wind was short as time expired. Rivas and Rayner traded field goals in the 1st overtime. Michigan State pulled ahead 37-30 on a 3 yard TD run by junior RB Jayson Teague, but the Wolverines answered on a 5 yard TD pass from Henne to junior WR Jason Avent. In the 3rd overtime session, Michigan scored on a 24 yard Henne to Edwards pass and added a 2 point conversion on a pass from Henne to junior TE Tim Massaquoi. The Wolverines then held on downs for the hard-earned win. The Spartans lost starting QB Drew Stanton to a separated shoulder late in the 2nd quarter. His replacement, Damon Dowdell, completed 8-13 passes for 72 yards. The offensive star for Michigan State was senior RB DeAndra Cobb, who carried 22 times for 205 yards and 2 TDs. For the Wolverines, Henne completed 24-35 passes for 273 yards and 4 TDs, three to Edwards who had 11 receptions for 189 yards. Freshman RB Michael Hart rushed for 224 yards and a TD on 33 carries.
#17 Purdue lost their 3rd game in a row, 13-10 at Northwestern. Senior RB Noah Herron scored the winning TD on a 3 yard run with 38 seconds left. Purdue had a final shot at pulling the game out, but sophomore Brandon Kirsch's desperation pass was batted away from senior WR Taylor Stubblefield in the end zone as time expired. Kirsch had replaced struggling senior QB Kyle Orton in the 3rd quarter. The former Heisman Trophy hopeful was 15-33 for 143 yards, with one TD and one interception. For the Wildcats, Herron carried 19 times for 82 yards.
#23 Iowa kept their faint Big 10 title hopes alive with a 23-13 road win over Illinois. The Hawkeyes broke open a 7-7 halftime tie with 16 unanswered 3rd quarter points. Sophomore QB Drew Tate hit junior WR Ed Hinkel with a 19 yard TD pass, an Illini punt was blocked out of the end zone for a safety, and Tate ran 5 yards for another score. Tate finished the day with 24 completions in 34 attempts for 243 yards and 2 TDs, both to Hinkel. For the Illini, still winless in Big 10 play, senior QB Jon Beutjer was 12-25 for 129 yards and a TD.
Indiana rallied from a 14-0 deficit after the 1st quarter to upset #24 Minnesota 30-21. The victory broke a 5 game losing streak for the Hoosiers. Senior QB Matt LoVecchio completed 13-26 passes for 161 yards and 2 TDs for Indiana. For the Gophers, sophomore RB Laurence Moroney carried 16 times for 89 yards and a TD.
Ohio State extended Penn State's losing streak to 5 games with a 21-10 win in Columbus. As has been the case most of the season, neither team could generate much offense. Both passing games were hampered by strong swirling winds all afternoon. The Buckeyes scored twice in the 1st period on a 67 yard punt return by true freshman Ted Ginn and a 24 yard interception return by junior SS Tyler Everett. The Nittany Lions closed to 14-7 on a 3 yard TD run by sophomore RB Tony Hunt, but Ohio State answered before the half on a 4 yard TD run by senior FB Branden Joe. Senior RB Maurice Hall led the Buckeyes with 65 yards on 14 carries. For Penn State, Hunt rushed 20 times for a game-high 85 yards.
Texas Tech improved to 5-3 with a 35-25 road win over Kansas State. Red Raiders' senior QB Sonny Cumbie completed 27-39 passes for 326 yards and 2 TDs and junior RB Taurean Henderson added 93 yards and 2 TDs on 14 carries. For the Wildcats, sophomore QB Dylan Meyer completed 26 of 41 passes for 248 yards and carried 16 times for 84 yards and a TD. Senior RB Darren Sproles rushed 18 times for 83 yards and 2 TDs and had 10 receptions for 79 yards.
Nebraska moved into sole possession of 1st place in the weak Big Twelve–North with a 24-3 win over Missouri. The loss was the 3rd in a row for theTigers. The Cornhuskers snapped a 3-3 tie in the 2nd quarter on a 16 yard blocked punt return for a TD by Adam Ickes. Nebraska broke the game wide open in the 2nd half on two TD runs by junior RB Cory Ross, including an 86 yard scamper in the final quarter. Ross finished with a career-high 194 yards in 19 carries. For the Tigers, junior QB Brad Smith was 24-56 for 277 yards.
Iowa State opened up a 13-0 lead and held on to defeat Kansas 13-7. The Cyclones led 10-0 at intermission on a 22 yard field goal by Bret Culbertson and a 30 yard fumble return for a TD by sophomore DT Brent Curvey. Culbertson added a 34 yard field goal in the 3rd period. The Jayhawks finally got on the board with 3:04 to play on a 20 yard TD pass from junior backup QB Jason Swanson to junior WR Mark Simmons. For Iowa State, sophomore RB Stevie Hicks rushed 30 times for a game-high 110 yards.
Cincinnati scored 3 first half touchdowns en route to a 21-10 win over TCU. Senior RB Richard Hall led the Bearcats, rushing 29 times for 143 yards and a TD. For the Horned Frogs, senior QB Brandon Hassell completed 15-33 passes for 221 yards and a score.
In other games, RB Garrett Wolfe rushed 36 times for 280 yards and 3 TDs including the winning score in overtime as Northern Illinois edged Ball State 38-31. The win moved the Huskies ½ game ahead of idle Toledo in the MAC-West. Bowling Green remained one game behind Northern Illinois with a 41-20 win over Eastern Michigan. QB Omar Jacobs led the Falcons, completing 30-44 passes for 333 yards and 3 TDs. Central Michigan nipped Western Michigan 24-21 in overtime on a 25 yard field goal by Ronald Budd. The Chippewas scored three 4th quarter TDs, the last two in the final 2:13, to overcome a 21-0 deficit and force overtime. Finally, QB Joshua Cribbs had a sensational game for Kent State as they routed Ohio 42-16. Cribbs completed 18-26 passes for 150 yards and a TD and rushed 20 times for 223 yards and two scores.
#2 Oklahoma hung on to edge #20 Oklahoma State 38-35 in Stillwater. The issue was in doubt until Cowboys' kicker Jason Ricks missed a 49 yard field goal with 11 seconds left. For the Sooners, senior QB Jason White completed 14 of 26 passes for 221 yards and 3 TDs, all to WR Mark Bradley. Freshman RD Adrian Peterson had another huge game, rushing 33 times for 249 yards including an 80 yard TD run in the 3rd quarter. Junior RB Vernand Morency led the Cowboys with 17 carries for 93 yards and 2 TDs.
Baylor put a major dent in #16 Texas A&M's hopes for a Big Twelve-South title. The Bears handed the Aggies their 1st conference loss with a thrilling 35-34 overtime win. In the process, Baylor snapped a 13 game losing streak to Texas A&M. Trailing 27-20, Baylor scored the tying TD late in the game on a 6 yard TD pass from sophomore QB Shawn Bell to Trent Shelton. The Aggies scored on their 1st possession of overtime on a 16 yard run by senior FB Keith Joseph. The Bears responded with a 12 yard TD pass from Bell to WR Dominique Ziegler. Baylor coach Guy Morriss, sensing his team was near exhaustion, elected to go for the win. Bell came through, again hooking up with Ziegler for the winning 2 point conversion. Bell finished with 32 completions in 50 attempts for 261 yards and 4 TDs. Ziegler was on the receiving end of two of the TD passes and had 12 receptions for 121 yards. For Texas A&M, junior QB Reggie McNeal completed 20-31 for 268 yards and 2 TDs, but also suffered his first interception of the season.
Elsewhere, Houston broke their four game losing streak with a 24-3 thumping of Tulane. Sophomore QB Kevin Kolb paced the Cougars, completing 14 of 24 passes for 267 yards and running for a TD. Junior RB Uril Parish rushed 17 times for 114 yards and a TD as Tulsa topped Rice 39-22. Finally, freshman Jamario Thomas tied an NCAA record with his 4th 200+ yard game of the year to help North Texas defeat Louisiana-Monroe 45-30. Thomas carried 41 times for 218 yards and 3 TDs as the Eagles won their 4th in a row after starting the season 0-4.
#1 USC traveled to Pullman and emerged from the rain and cold with a 42-12 rout of Washington State. The Trojans were in control from the start, leading 35-0 at intermission. Junior QB Matt Leinart completed 23-28 passes for 235 yards and 2 TDs, both to freshman WR Dwayne Jarrett. Sophomore RB LenDale White added 77 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries. Meanwhile, USC's defense gave the Cougars fits all game, sacking freshman QB Alex Brink 5 times and holding them to minus 9 yards on the ground.
#7 California posted their 2nd consecutive shutout, 27-0 over Arizona State. The Golden Bears' defense forced 5 turnovers and sacked the Sun Devils' senior QB Andrew Walter 5 times. California got all the points they needed in the 1st quarter on a 24 yard TD pass from junior QB Aaron Rodgers to Robert Jordan. Rodgers finished with 15 completions in 29 attempts for 165 yards. Senior RB J.J. Arrington added 188 yards and a TD on 30 carries. For Arizona St., Walter was 25-41 for 238 yards.
#8 Texas crushed Colorado 31-7 in Boulder. The Longhorns trailed7-0 after the 1st quarter on a 37 yard interception return for a TD by Terrence Wheatley. Texas responded with TD runs by sophomore QB Vince Young and senior RB Cedric Benson to take a 14-7 lead at the half. The Longhorns put the game away with 17 points in the 3rd quarter, including two more TD runs by Young and Benson. Benson was the game's leading rusher with 139 yards on 31 carries. For the Buffaloes, junior QB Trent Klatt completed 17 of 28 passes for 142 yards.
#9 Utah improved to 8-0 with a 51-28 road win over San Diego State. Junior QB Alex Smith led the Utes, completing 21 of 32 passes for 294 yards and a career-high 5 TDs. Senior WR Paris Warren and sophomore WR Steve Savoy each caught two of Smith's TD tosses. For the Aztecs, freshman QB Kevin O'Connell completed 21-43 for 252 yards and 2 TDs and Brandon Bornes gained 112 yards on 17 carries.
In Pasadena, UCLA shut out Stanford 21-0. The Bruins got the only score they needed on a 2 yard TD run by senior RB Manuel White in the 1st quarter. UCLA put another score on the board before halftime on a 68 yard punt return by sophomore Maurice Drew. Drew completed the scoring in the 4th quarter, catching a 3 yard TD pass from junior QB Drew Olson. Drew finished with 105 yards on 12 carries and White also rushed 12 times for 87 yards. For the Cardinals, sophomore QB Trent Edwards was 24-46 for 224 yards, but threw 3 interceptions.
Oregon won their 4th game in a row, crushing hapless Washington 31-6. Junior QB Kellen Clemens led the "Quack Attack", completing 21 of 34 passes for 134 yards and 2 TDs, both to Cameron Colvin. Junior RB Terrence Whitehead added 122 yards and a TD on 25 carries. The Huskies turned the ball over 7 times, including 4 interceptions thrown by junior QB Casey Paus.
In other games, Junior QB Corey Bramlet completed 19-27 for 256 yards and 2 TDs as Wyoming grounded Air Force 43-26. Jordan Palmer threw for 2 TDs and ran for another to lead UTEP to their 5th win in a row, 38-20 over San Jose State. Junior RB DonTrell Moore carried 29 times for 154 yards and a TD as New Mexico defeated Colorado State 26-17 in Fort Collins. Junior QB Paul Pinegar completed 14 of 20 passes for 191 yards and 3 TDs as Fresno State shut out SMU 42-0. Finally, senior QB Buck Pierce threw for a career-high 367 yards and 3 TDs to lead New Mexico State past Florida International 56-31. The teams combined for 1144 yards of total offense, 646 by the Aggies.
Here's a preview of this week's key games:
Toledo @ Miami (Ohio) – The Rockets can tie Northern Illinois for 1st place in the MAC-West with a win, and they meet the Huskies next week. Miami is one game behind Marshall in the MAC-East.
Marshall @ Akron – The Thundering Herd is leading the MAC-East with a 5-0 mark. The Zips are on a 3 game winning streak.
Rutgers @ #24 Boston College – The Eagles have just one Big East loss and play 1st place West Virginia next Saturday in Morgantown.
Pittsburgh @ Syracuse – Both teams have one Big East loss. The loser is almost certainly out of the title hunt.
#8 Georgia @ Kentucky – The Bulldogs need to win out and hope for a miracle to either win the SEC-East or receive an at-large BCS Bowl berth.
Notre Dame @ #9 Tennessee – The Vols are trying for their 5th straight win. With victories over Vanderbilt and Kentucky, they'll win the SEC-East. The Irish must win to have a realistic shot at a Gator Bowl invitation.
Clemson @ #11 Miami – The Canes must fix their defensive woes before visiting Virginia the following week in a game that could decide the ACC title.
Maryland @ #12 Virginia – The Cavaliers can't afford to look past the Terps, who finally got their offense in gear against Florida State last week.
Duke @ #13 Florida State – Pity the Blue Devils. The Seminoles will not be happy warriors after being eliminated from both the ACC race and BCS Bowl consideration after last week's upset by Maryland.
Temple @ #15 West Virginia – The Mountaineers shouldn't have much trouble with the Owls.
#18 Virginia Tech @ North Carolina – The Hokies are also very much alive in the ACC race. They end their season with games against both Virginia and Miami. Can the Tar Heels retain their momentum from last week's upset of Miami?
Cincinnati @ #21 Southern Mississippi – The Bearcats have won their last two games in impressive fashion. The Golden Eagles need a win to remain undefeated in CUSA play.
Navy @ Tulane – The Middies are 7-1 and face Rutgers and Army in their final two games. A 10-1 Navy team would be a big bowl draw.
Minnesota @ #5 Wisconsin – With a win, the Badgers will tie Michigan with 6-0 Big Ten records. The Gophers have dropped 3 of their last 4 games after a 5-0 start.
Purdue @ #20 Iowa – The Hawkeyes have won 4 straight and still have faint hopes for a Big Ten title. The steam has gone out of the Boilermakers, who have dropped their last 3 games after opening 5-0.
Nebraska @ Iowa State – The Cornhuskers lead the awful Big Twelve - North. They need a win against the Cyclones with Oklahoma coming up next week.
Western Michigan @ Bowling Green – The Falcons still have a chance to win the MAC-West. The 1-7 Broncos should present little opposition.
#2 Oklahoma @ #22 Texas A&M – Fans from quite a few schools will be "scoreboard watching" while rooting for an upset by the Aggies.
#19 Oklahoma State @ #6 Texas – Can the Cowboys rebound from their heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma last week to knock the Longhorns out of the BCS Bowl picture?
#1 USC @ Oregon State – Four more wins and the Trojans are in the Orange Bowl. The Beavers must play a mistake-free game to have any chance.
Oregon @ #4 California – The Ducks have a four game winning streak, and this one could turn into a shoot-out. With three more wins, the Golden Bears will be Rose Bowl bound.
Colorado State @ #7 Utah – The Utes are 6th in the BCS rankings and probably need to win their final three games impressively to have a shot at a BCS Bowl bid. Who said life was fair?