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September 26, 2008

Eye on the Other Nine

1. USC

On paper, there was no reason for Oregon State to come close to beating USC. The Trojans simply have more talent. That talent, however, has to show up in the first half, which it did not do for USC against Oregon State. An upset loss was the result.

The Trojans' past of winning big games? That's meaningless now. It means nothing when you blow it against a team you are heavily favored against. Mark Sanchez's Heisman hopes? Don't put much stock there either for the time being.

USC looked like it was sleepwalking in the first half. That's a cardinal sin for any team hoping to win a national title. Oh you can come out flat sometimes or have a bad day, but it's not well-advised to put yourself in a hole too deep to dig out of.

As a result, the USC loss has thrown the door wide-open for a leading contender for the national title.

Don't count the Trojans out of the BCS schedule yet, though. They still have a soft schedule with which to pad stats and records. Then again, one team on that schedule was Oregon State.

TeamRecord
1USC(62)2-1lost to Ore. State 27-21
2Oklahoma3-0vs. TCU(4-0)
3Georgia(2)4-0vs. Alabama(4-0)
4Florida(1)3-0vs. Ole Miss(2-2)
5LSU3-0vs. Miss. State(1-3)
6Missouri4-0bye
7Texas3-0vs. Arkansas(2-1)
8Alabama4-0at Georgia(4-0)
9Wisconsin3-0at Michigan(1-2)
10Texas Tech4-0bye
11BYU4-0bye
12Penn State4-0vs. Illinois(2-1)
13South Florida4-0at NC State(2-2)
14Ohio State3-1vs. Minnesota(4-0)
15Auburn3-1vs. Tennessee(1-2)
16Wake Forest3-0vs. Navy(2-2)
17Utah4-0vs. Weber State(3-1)
18Kansas3-1bye
19Boise State3-0bye
20Clemson3-1vs. Maryland(3-1)
21Vanderbilt4-0bye
22Illinois2-1at Penn State(4-0)
23East Carolina3-1vs. Houston(1-3)
24TCU4-0at Oklahoma(3-0)
25Fresno State2-1at UCLA(1-2)
2. Oklahoma

By nine votes, the Sooners are ahead of UGA in the No. 2 spot this week. We know that Oklahoma has soon good weapons on both sides of the ball that are fairly good. But that's the great thing about this time of the year we're about to find out how good a lot of teams are. Are they good, pretty good or great? We'll find out that answer about many teams this weekend.

The answer about the Sooners will come in two weeks against Texas. OU, however, gets the closest thing to a challenge that it has seen all season long Saturday when TCU visits Norman. Odds are that the Horned Frogs, despite being unbeaten so far this year, won't pull off an upset. But if they can hang with the Sooners for a half, it may expose the Sooners as more flash than substance.

4. Florida

For a team boasting a high-octane offense, the Gators certainly didn't look like it last week against Tennessee, which is currently fighting to keep its head above water. All the deep passes and big plays? Not many of those existed last week for Florida compared to what was shown a year ago. Florida instead has opted to drag things out, rely more on short yardage and less on the deep pass.

That hasn't produced a lot of style points. Then again, getting attention isn't hard to do when you have Tim Tebow running your offense. That said, Florida needed to make a statement against Tennessee last week and failed to do so. Face it, Tennessee isn't very good. If Florida is a title contender, it needs to do more than taking an early lead and easing to the finish line.

It'll have better chances to put teams away with authority the next two weeks against Ole Miss and Arkansas. But it may not be enough to move ahead of UGA if the Bulldogs can put together a win over a very good Crimson Tide team this weekend.

5. LSU / 6. Missouri

The AP has LSU fifth and Missouri sixth. The ESPN poll has it the other way around. The AP poll got this one right. Let's do a quick comparison. LSU went on the road and won a knock down, drag-out against Auburn. Missouri faced a pedestrian Buffalo team and struggled in the first half before waking up from its sleepwalk.

Winning in Auburn at night isn't easy. LSU faced plenty of adversity and fought back from the brink of defeat against the Tigers while Mizzou showed a lack of punch against a team far below its talent level. Hey, you can pad the stats all you want against directional schools from Missouri. But all of that is meaningless if you fail to win a big game, which the Big 12's Tigers have to still prove they are able to do.

7. Texas

If what Arkansas showed last week against Alabama is a barometer, then the Longhorns are in for a cakewalk this week against the Razorbacks. But it's hard to pile on Texas for a soft schedule. Consecutive away games against Colorado and Oklahoma and home date with Mizzou after this week provide a pass for the Longhorns for this week's patsy of an opponent.

If Texas wins these next three, it could be primed for a shot at a national title.

8. Alabama

You can only get so much mileage off of one win, especially the further in the past it gets. That's where the Crimson Tide finds itself right now. Many were impressed in the first game of the season when Alabama completely dismantled Clemson. That Clemson team, however, has proven to be not as good as preseason predictions said. The question is still unanswered whether or not Bama was that good or Clemson was just that bad.

The Crimson Tide have taken down Tulane, Western Kentucky and a rebuilding Arkansas team, which they were expected to do.

Alabama is not back to the form of its past championship glories yet. One game doesn't get a team to that level. To show that it is a legitimate team to contend with, Bama needs another signature win. That opportunity is Saturday in Athens.

No. 9 Wisconsin

Power football that isn't very exciting. If that's what you desire, then Wisconsin is right up your alley. What isn't boring is the fact that the Badgers play Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State the next three games.

Sure a win over the Wolverines ain't what it used to be, but anytime you win in The Big House, it attracts national respect. That's what Wisconsin needs to get this weekend against Michigan.

No. 10 Texas Tech

As bland as Wisconsin is, Texas Tech is just as exciting. The good news is that the Red Raiders score a lot of points. The bad? They give up a lot of points too. Realistically, Texas Tech is a second-tier team in a conference with traditional powers such as Texas and Oklahoma. The Red Raiders are in a position similar to UGA in the late 1990s when the Bulldogs were on the cusp of breaking through but had to contend with Florida and Tennessee each year.

The Red Raiders need a string of wins against either Texas or Oklahoma to have people take them more seriously. Until that happens, they'll be a fringe top-15 program.



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