NATIONAL TOP 25
(Note: This is not a talent ranking of how good these teams are, but rather a look at how they'll perform against their remaining schedules and where they'll be ranked on January 9.)
1. USC (1-0, Last: 1)
Last: Won at Arkansas, 50-14, Sept. 2
Next: vs. Nebraska
With the Pac-10 tripping over itself left and right (see: Oregon State, Arizona, Stanford, Cal, Washington, Washington State), USC better keep winning before this conference gets lumped in with the Big (L)East.
Mississippi State still has not scored this season, and Kenny Irons is still a freak at tailback. This week, Auburn puts it all on the line against LSU, as a loss here will likely cost them not just national glory, but also a shot at the SEC title.
I guess just two returning defensive starters was not such a big obstacle after all. Making the win all the more impressive: Texas' only touchdown came off a clean sack ruled 'roughing the quarterback.'
Just when you did not think it possible, this past week was even uglier than the Miami win. Two fourth-quarter scores save the day for a team that needs a new offensive coordinator desperately.
5. Oklahoma (2-0, Last: 5)
Last: Won vs. Washington, 37-20
Next: at Oregon
After a sloppy first half, Oklahoma ran away from the Huskies in the third quarter. But such a slow start will not work at Autzen. No matter, for I do not think Oregon has the bodies up front to stop Adrian Peterson. On the plus side, Texas looks beatable.
The defense continued to look tough as nails, and the offense played to its 2005 level against a Penn State team that may not be all that good, last year not withstanding. This week, Michigan has slightly more talent, but the Irish have a better coach, a better focus and a better team.
The special teams returned to their old standards and no one else in the ACC exactly looks dominant. Watch out.
The annual early-season meltdown came a week early for the Hawkeyes, who survived the scare. Now comes an archnemesis that has had their number for years. A win sets up a huge tilt, with Ohio State on the horizon.
Brianiac school update: at least Top 10 opponents will clobber Rice and Duke this week. (And think Texas might hang 60?) Meanwhile, Northwestern and Stanford seem to go down a little easier.
12 of the top 20 teams in the AP poll play each other this week, and this match-up might be the most interesting of all. Louisville's schedule is basically this game and West Virginia, so a win here has them halfway to a perfect season.
All I have learned from the first two weeks is that Michael Hart can run the ball and the defense is better than in years past. Better show more this week in South Bend. By the way, Michigan has not won a road opener since the last millennium, or finished September unblemished since the 1997 national-title season.
Which Tennessee will the Gators visit this week? The team that beat Air Force by one point or the team that demolished Cal the week earlier?
After a gritty, but hardly flashy, victory over Fresno State, maybe the Ducks are a little less talented than we thought. And if the Bulldogs could run for 204 yards, watch out for Adrian Peterson.
15. Boise State
What a huge romp over Oregon State! Now Fresno State and Utah are the only opponents with a pulse that separate the blue-turfed Broncos from the newly expanded BCS.
Tennessee's first three games? Cal, Air Force, Florida. So this past week's easing off the gas had all the makings of a traditional letdown game.
17. West Virginia
With a 49-point victory against Eastern Washington and 32-pointer against Marshall the week earlier, gamblers in the greater Morgantown area are becoming richer by the week. Meanwhile, Rich Rodriguez has taken the lead for this year's Steve Spurrier: Lack of Sportsmanship and Offensive Restraint Award.
The Pac-10 continues to impress in its early-season showdowns against the SEC. Thought Arizona's two-deep was chockfull of blue chips?
With a weak defensive line and no passing game, Minnesota played right to Cal's strengths. So after two season-opening blowouts, we still have no idea how good this team really is.
When Texas Tech comes calling this Saturday, every TCU player who got passed over for that Big 12 scholarship (okay, pretty much all of them) better be fired up.
Miami, a Big East expatriate, battles Louisville, one of its replacements, Saturday. Seeing as the game has no impact on Miami's conference title or national title hopes (the ‘Canes are all but out of the national picture, having already lost), has facing a top-15 opponent ever meant less?
22. Texas Tech
The new kid, Graham Harrell, threw for 342 and five scores, and TCU looks beatable in two weeks - as does Oklahoma. Why did we not interview Mike Leach again?
Nebraska has been waiting for years to announce its reemergence as a football power, and what better opportunity than this week, in national primetime? But as Stanford fans know, USC has not lost at home since 2001.
24. Arizona State
And, in the Pac-10/Big 12 match-up no one cares about, the Devils will visit Colorado. Looks like Dan Hawkins' start in Boulder just got rockier.
25. Boston College
It took double overtime, but the Eagles picked up a huge win at Clemson Saturday. With BYU and Maine the next two weeks, look for Boston College to cruise before the ACC schedule heats up.
RAMBLINGS 'ROUND THE COUNTRY
Weekly BCS Projection:
ACC: Florida State
Big East: West Virginia
Big 10: Ohio State
Big 12: Texas
At-large: Notre Dame
At-large: Virginia Tech
At-large: Boise State
Projected Heisman finalists, and order of finish:
BIG GAMES ON TAP
Season: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU.
1. Michigan at Notre Dame – Michigan's offensive line will not be strong enough against one of the best fronts in the country. On defense, Leon Hall is an All-American candidate at cornerback for Michigan, but Notre Dame is good enough through the air to exploit whoever is slotted into that second cornerback spot. Notre Dame 31, Michigan 20
2. LSU at Auburn – LSU looked fired up last week (and in that bowl against Auburn), but Auburn is no Arizona. I do not trust LSU's quarterback, and I think Kenny Irons kicks off his Heisman campaign here. Auburn 21, LSU 7.
3. Florida at Tennessee – Florida's first road game of the season is also a night game, which makes the task infinitely harder. They do have better talent and coaching than the Vols, but both of those gaps look smaller now than they did three weeks ago. Plus, Tennessee has already played a Top 25 opponent in Cal, which should give them a preparation edge. Still, this one takes overtime. Tennessee 27, Florida 24 (OT)
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