On the Rise:
Iowa - Drew Tate and the Hawkeyes continue to get it done. Kirk Ferentz is a fantastic coach, and Iowa is a really easy team to root for because they always seem to be playing hard. The best game of the upcoming weekend, other than A&M/Tech, is Ohio State and Iowa. The winner of that game will be on the fast track to the Big Ten title and perhaps the national championship. If Ohio State doesn't take Iowa seriously, they have a serious chance of getting upset at home. Iowa, on the other hand, has a chance to prove that they deserve some national respect. I don't really have anything against Ohio State as a team or school, but I'm pretty sick and tired of hearing about them, as I'm sure many of you are as well. Go Hawkeyes.
Nebraska - When a team's only loss is in a respectable game at USC, I'm going to give them a little slack. Last week, they absolutely slaughtered Troy 56-0. The Troy Trojans are a team with a reputation for giving ranked teams all that they can handle. Prior to last week, their past three games against ranked opponents were an upset over then #17 Missouri, a close 24-20 loss to then #17 LSU in Baton Rouge, and a close 24-17 loss this year against #9 Florida State in Tallahassee. Knowing all this, I was curious to see how the 'Huskers would handle them. Nebraska avoided the slip-up and absolutely dominated the whole game. This, in addition to the rest of their season, is a good indication that Nebraska is for real. They will undoubtedly challenge for the North and possibly Big 12 title. Maybe they will even upset Texas.
Missouri - The Tigers are the other Big 12 North team making a statement with their resurgent play. Missouri is the only Big 12 team other than A&M that is currently undefeated, and they haven't played the wimpy schedule that A&M has this year. I can't say enough about Chase Daniel. The kid is simply tearing it up out there. Mizzou gets to beat up on the hapless Colorado Buffaloes this week, and in all likelihood, will put CU at 0-5. Our Red Raiders' game against them next week is looking more frightening by the minute. The Tigers play Nebraska on November 4th, and the result of that game could quite possibly determine the North champion. Also, for the first time in a while, it appears the the Big 12 Championship game will be worth watching with the way MU and NU are playing.
Rutgers - Go underdog! This is the feel-good story of the year so far. Rutgers is a team battling injuries, and they are one of the surprise undefeated teams. The nation got a taste of how their team was on the rise last season, and it has carried over to this year. It's hard not to root for a team that looks like they are on their way to their first big season since the mid-70s. The Scarlet Knights crept into the polls this week, and they will get their shot at an upset of Lousiville and West Virginia this season. Rutgers is one of the best storylines of the year, and only time will tell how far they will go. Imagine Rutgers in the BCS and how much fun that would be. Keep up the good play, Scarlet Knights; I'll be cheering you on the whole way.
Purdue - Maybe there's something to this pistol offense. Purdue is in the top ten in nearly every offensive category, and has a shot at upsetting Notre Dame this weekend. However, their defense needs to step it up. They have looked extremely vulnerable, with their best performance coming against Minnesota in allowing 21 points. This simply will not get it done against the good offense that Notre Dame and Iowa will bring in their next two games. The Boilermakers still look like they are en route to a good season, and are preparing to return to their good 'ol days as a legitimate contender for the Big Ten title year after year. It will be fun to watch how long they will continue their winning streak this season.
On the Decline:
Colorado - I'm not a fan of the Buffs, but even I'm starting to feel sorry for them at this point. They were so close to getting a huge upset over Georgia, but couldn't get it done. I consider them still on the decline even despite this effort, because the fact that they threw away the game in the waning moments is demoralizing to a team that desperately needs to improve morale. The fanbase continues to get worse and worse as well. 68 people were ejected during their last home game, and more students are showing up to the games under the influence of drugs or alcohol than ever before. I'm not making this up, either. This data is coming directly from the Colorado police. It is a sad state of affairs in Boulder.
Mississippi - The Rebels seem to be rebelling against winning. Their downward spiral continued in a 27-3 loss to Wake Forest. This is something that should be happening in basketball, but not football. Ole Miss moved to 1-3 last week, and things aren't looking up for this weekend when Georgia comes to town. The only thing that fans of the Rebs have had to get excited about so far was the the play of their multi-named running back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Yes, that's his real name. However, even he struggled last week, so Mississippi fans are rapidly losing hope. It looks like there is another losing season in store for the Mississippi Rebels, and the fans in Oxford have to suffer through the whole thing.
Minnesota - There was a time when Minnesota and their goofy Golden Gopher mascot were not to be trifled with. Now, that silly-looking gopher and the football program that it represents might once again become the subject of ridicule. Sure, their only two losses have come to decent teams, Purdue and California. However, considering the difficulty of their schedule, they will be in for a rough season if this trend continues. They have Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa left on their schedule. Good luck with all of that. If they win half of those games, I will be impressed. In my opinion, with the way that they played thus far, it will be a tough road to a winning season.
Penn State - The media wants so badly for Penn State to be good so they can talk about how JoePa has still got it. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions aren't particularly good. The only two talented teams that they have played, Notre Dame and Ohio State, have dominated them on both sides of the ball. Sure, I, like most football fans, have a little bit of a soft spot for the "old-school" that Paterno represents. I understand that he wants to keep coaching because that is what he loves. However, I think it will be sadder to see JoePa go out after a few poor seasons, which might end up happening. In my opinion, Joe should have left his legacy after last year's great season. I don't want to see Penn State struggle, but I think it's going to happen.
Iowa State - Their only wins, Toledo and UNLV, were both way too close to be impressive. Their past two opponents, Iowa and Texas, have taken care of them pretty well. This Cyclone team, who was supposed to be a contender for the Big 12 North title, is not looking like they have what it takes. That being said, I'm fairly worried about our Red Raiders going into Ames with our road ineptitude. It is still early enough for Iowa State to rebound and have a good season, but it will take an improved effort. They have to make it past Missouri and Nebraska to get to a North title, and have the tough side of the South, with their previous loss to UT and potential upcoming losses to OU and TTU. If ISU makes the Big 12 title game, they will have earned it.
Notre Dame - I don't know why anyone would want to place a bet on a Notre Dame game. There's no telling how the Fighting Irish are going to play each week. Michigan State had the game against them completely won last week until they threw it away. Now, I get to hear about Notre Dame's great comeback for another year. Hooray. Still, I can't for the life of me figure out if Notre Dame is a good team or not. Brady Quinn is a supposed Heisman candidate who has looked incredibly mediocre at times. Darius Walker is averaging under four yards a carry. Jeff Samardzija is the only one who has played to his hype. Once again, it seems like they are overrated, and yet, they are winning games against talented opponents. I don't know what to think.
Oregon - We will see if Oregon is overhyped in their next two games against a decent Arizona State team at home followed by an away game against a hot Cal Bears team. Last weekend, the Ducks had a bye week after onside-gate against OU, in which the Sooners continued their whining. At least this time, they had a legitimate gripe. And hey, now they have quit complaining about the TTU game. I have to be honest, I'm rooting against Oregon. If they struggle the rest of the season, it makes OU look bad, which is always fun. Also, I want the Pac-1 joke to keep holding true. Furthermore, it's hard to root for any team who is wearing those hideous threads. Still, Oregon hasn't done anything to really indicate that they are a bad team, so I'll put them here for now.
Texas - I'm confused. Colt McCoy is looking awfully mediocre, yet they keep winning games. Jamaal Charles is talented, but shouldn't even be in college. Their defense is fantastic, and yet Ohio State imposes their will on them in Austin. Their cheerleaders are extremely attractive, yet you hardly ever see any girls that look like that around their campus. Okay, so that last one's unrelated, but UT is a land of contradictions. Maybe Texas is a good team, and maybe they are going to lose three or four more games this year. I can't tell at all. They have looked impressive and vulnerable at the same time. Can we beat them? Who knows. I can't even figure out our own team at this point, much less UT's.
Georgia - Okay, I always suspected that Georgia isn't that great on offense. They are, after all, in the SEC. However, the massive failure that is the Colorado football program almost pulled an upset on them. This is not what top ten teams do. They should have dropped several spots for being behind for most of that game. Still, their defense is good, as is usually the case. Maybe their place in the top ten is just an indication that the entire college football nation is having a bit of a down year. I highly doubt they finish the season in the top ten, but then again, they are 4-0. Maybe I'm too judgmental. Maybe I just really want Florida to run the table and win the SEC, and have everyone else in the conference have a down year so the Big 12 looks better.
Texas Tech - Well, we beat up on a DI-AA opponent last week. It was a complete and utter beat down, but it was supposed to be. The good part of it was that the offense looked strong, and that we finally have Jarrett Hicks back. I have no doubt this will help us against A&M. As much as neither Tech or A&M fans want to admit it, this game is big for both of our programs. Many Tech fans are a little worried about road games and the potency of our offense against talented opponents, while the Aggies are worried about going through another coaching change and losing season. However, the fans don't get to decide the outcome, as much as they will try on both sides. It should be a tough game that will be won by the team whose players want to win more. I just hope that it's us and not them.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)