Eye on the BCS

While Badgers wait out bye, championship hopefuls fall

The top of the Bowl Championship Series standings became a little less crowded Saturday. While BCS No. 7 Wisconsin absorbed its bye week, No. 3 Miami (Fla.) and No. 5 Florida State both suffered defeat.

The October surprises—at the hands of North Carolina and Maryland, respectively—benefit teams like Auburn, Utah, Wisconsin and California. The Tigers will almost certainly move from No. 4 to No. 3 when the updated BCS standings are released Monday. The Utes, Badgers and Bears could all find themselves in the top five, depending on how the pollsters and computers react to Saturday's events.

Miami, however, may stick around. The Seminoles, after all, had been No. 5 despite one loss, and the Hurricanes entered the week No. 1 in the computer rankings.

But all that will be sorted out Monday. What follows is a glance around the college football landscape, beginning with the BCS' top 10, with an eye on how Saturday's results could affect Wisconsin's standing.

No. 1 USC 42, Washington State 12

Dwayne Jarrett caught two Matt Leinart touchdown passes and LenDale White ran for two scores as the Trojans (8-0 overall, 5-0 Pac-10) cruised to their 17th consecutive win and further entrenched themselves as the runaway No. 1.

No. 2 Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35

The Sooners won the Bedlam rivalry game to remain undefeated (8-0 overall, 5-0 Big 12) in what was likely their toughest matchup before the Big 12 Championship game. Oklahoma State kicker Jason Ricks missed a 49-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, preserving the win for Oklahoma, which should maintain a fairly large lead over Auburn for the No. 2 slot in the BCS.

North Carolina 31, No. 3 Miami 28

The Tar Heels won a game versus a top five opponent for the first time in history when Conner Barth knocked through a 42-yard field goal as time expired. Miami (6-1) lost despite 338 yards passing and two touchdowns from quarterback Brock Berlin. North Carolina (4-4) benefited from Chad Scott's 175 yards rushing and two scores and Darian Durant's 266 passing yards and two touchdowns.

No. 4 Auburn 35, Mississippi 14

Jason Campbell threw for a touchdown and ran for two more as the Tigers improved to 9-0 and moved closer to contending for a BCS title game berth. The Tigers have a bye upcoming, giving them two weeks to prepare for Georgia.

Maryland 20, No. 5 Florida State 17

The Seminoles bid for a second consecutive come-from-behind win fell short, as kicker Xavier Beitia missed three field goals, including a 45-yarder with less than five minutes left to play.

Maryland took a 20-10 lead when quarterback Joel Statham hooked up with Josh Allen for a 72-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Florida State narrowed the lead to three on Chris Rix's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Chauncey Stovall but could not pull out a win.

No. 6 Utah 51, San Diego State 28

Alex Smith threw for 298 yards and five touchdowns as the Utes continued to roll, improving to 8-0 this season and 4-0 in the Mountain West. All eight of Utah's wins have been by at least 14 points.

On the receiving end, Paris Warren caught 10 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns and Steve Savoy notched 69 yards and two scores.

No. 8 California 27, No. 15 Arizona State 0

The Golden Bears made a statement, trouncing the Sun Devils behind J.J. Arrington's 188 yards rushing and Robert Jordan's 116 yards receiving. Arrington and Jordan each notched a touchdown and Cal's defense shut out its opponent for the second consecutive week. The Golden Bears topped Arizona 38-0 last week.

No. 9 Georgia 31, Florida 24

David Greene threw for 255 yards and three touchdown passes as the Bulldogs held on to end a six-game losing streak versus the Gators. Georgia improves to 7-1 overall and has to face Kentucky next week before a Nov. 13 showdown with Auburn.

No. 10 Texas 31, Colorado 7

Cedric Benson carried 32 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns as the Longhorns scored 31 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to improve to 7-1. Buffaloe tailback Bobby Purify was held to 13 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Rose run remains tight

Michigan State gave No. 12 Michigan all it asked for Saturday, but in the end the Wolverines prevailed, 45-37, in triple overtime to move a half-game ahead of Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings with a 6-0 conference mark. The idle Badgers are 5-0 in the Big Ten, 8-0 overall, while Michigan is 8-1 overall.

Chad Henne threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns and fellow freshman Michael Hart ran for 224 yards and a touchdown for Michigan.

Eye on the BCS – top wins lose luster

The following sentence is so absurd it is painful that it is true. Utah and Wisconsin both suffered glancing blows to their BCS hopes Saturday after the best teams they have beaten all season were upset.

The Utes' strength of schedule stature took a big hit when Texas A&M—a team that had been playing very well since being dismantled by Utah, 41-21, in each team's season opener—lost in overtime to Baylor, 35-34, after Bears successfully went for a game-winning two-point conversion.

The best team Wisconsin has faced this season, Purdue, has lost a lot of its luster of late. The Boilermakers followed their dramatic loss to the Badgers with a heartbreaking loss to Michigan. After Noah Herron rushed for a score with less than a minute to play, Northwestern chalked itself up as Purdue's latest tormentors, in 13-10 fashion.

Suddenly, however, the Badgers have not beaten a team with fewer than three losses. This is superficial stuff, but it matters to pollsters and, more so, computers.

Wisconsin also took a knock when its next opponent, Minnesota, had the audacity to lose, 30-21, to Indiana. The Gophers now stand little chance of being considered a quality opponent in BCS terms.

Oh that non-conference slate

And speaking of strength of schedule, Central Florida and Arizona lost again Saturday, while UNLV had a bye. Wisconsin's non-conference trio is now a combined 3-21. Again, this has nothing to do with how good the Badgers are, but it does affect their standing.

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