It could be that the Big 12 Conference has arrived. The league that has belonged almost exclusively to Oklahoma and Texas since 2000 has four teams in the top seven of the Associated Press poll and six in the Top 25.
1. USC demoted defensive linemen Averell Spicer and Everson Griffen after the Oregon State loss. At least USC has options. UCLA inserted 17-year-old freshman Derrick Coleman at tailback in the second half against Fresno State because of injuries to four other backs. Coleman rushed for 86 yards on 10 carries and set up one touchdown. But he fumbled at the Bulldogs' 10 yard line in the fourth quarter of the 36-31 loss. What do you expect? He's 17!
2. In Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson's four seasons, he has seen the Crimson Tide finish 10-2 in his freshman year, and then start the last two seasons with records of 5-2 and 6-2, respectively, only to finish 6-7 and 7-6. That's the context for his smart comments as No. 2 Alabama prepares for Kentucky. "I think keeping it consistent is going to be the task for us.
If we start going up and down like we have before it's going to be bad."
3. Maryland has been outgained three times, lost time of possession four times and committed nine turnovers in five games. Yet the Terrapins are 4-1 and have provided hope that the ACC may have some good teams after all. How has Maryland won? The Terps' offense is balanced -- recording 912 rushing yards and 920 passing yards -- and the kicking game is sound -- with a 39.7-yard net punting average and two blocked kicks.
Meet Me In Miami?
Before the season, I picked Georgia and Oklahoma to play for the national championship. My podcast partner Beano Cook picked Florida and Ohio State. With three of our preseason picks having fallen out of the top 10, Beano now believes No. 10 South Florida has a good chance to play for the national championship this season.
Not that Beano has relatives in Tampa or has overdosed on Andy Capp's cheese fries (a Beano vice). But Beano worships the gods of scheduling, and with the way West Virginia has foundered, that Dec. 6 game in Morgantown doesn't look so daunting for the Bulls.
South Florida gets two tough games at its own Raymond James Stadium: The Bulls host Pittsburgh on Thursday night (ESPN, 7:30 ET
) and No. 25 UConn on Sunday, Nov. 23 (ESPN, 8 ET
). The road game that looks like a trap is a Thursday, Oct. 30 visit to Cincinnati (ESPN, 7:30 ET
That's Beano's take. Mine is not so full of Bulls. Last week notwithstanding, I still don't believe the traditional powers will fall apart the way they did last season. Beano's theory is dependent upon teams in the Big 12 and the SEC knocking each other off. That's a long shot. No. 8 BYU already is ahead of South Florida, and the Cougars' schedule looks stronger. They must play at TCU (Oct. 16) and at No. 15 Utah (Nov. 22). BYU would be my longshot.
However, if I had to pick a team to replace Georgia in my game, I'd take the Alabama-LSU winner. The game is in Baton Rouge, where the Tide has lost three of its last four games after going 14-0-1 in Tiger Stadium during 1971-1998. No, I'm not exactly going out on a limb. But with Beano sitting out there, I don't think it will support both of us.
Podcast: Ivan and Beano
Beano Cook joins Ivan in the ESPNU College Football Podcast to discuss Missouri-Nebraska, Ohio State-Wisconsin, a big anniversary at Notre Dame, and more. Listen
State Of Discovery
Iowa State followed two tough road losses -- at cross-state rival Iowa 17-5 and at UNLV 34-31 in overtime -- by getting last week off. Cyclone coach Gene Chizik used the time to take a deep breath, take a step back and look at his team with eyes unclouded by the Saturday-to-Saturday regimen of playing games.
What Chizik and staff discovered is they are paying the price demanded when 10 true freshmen play this early in their careers. That's oddly reassuring for the coaches -- at least they know it's a problem that can be corrected with time.
"So many of our mistakes came from young guys," Chizik said. "We're not playing perfect with our veteran guys, either.
Our quarterback has only played in four games. Our starting corners are making mistakes. It's everywhere."
The logical answer is to simplify. But the Cyclones already have done that.
"We're pretty simple right now," Chizik said. "It's a lot of technique issues. Offenses move around a lot, jump around a lot. That's a lot for young guys to digest.
Tailbacks must be able to read blocks and make the cut back. Quarterback-tailback exchanges get hairy at the beginning of the year. Dropped balls really could have become big plays."
This week, the Cyclones play No. 16 Kansas. Chizik's assessment: "We're going to have to play a perfect game to be in the game with them."
"President Hank," says the current issue of The Economist. "King Henry," smirked the Sept. 29 cover of Newsweek.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the man struggling to shepherd a Wall Street bailout through Congress, is showing the same tenacity in Washington that he demonstrated as an All-Ivy League offensive lineman at Dartmouth 40 years ago. So says Jake Crouthamel, the retired Syracuse athletic director who served as the top defensive assistant on Paulson's teams.
"He was a tough, tough
player," said Crouthamel, who moved up to become head coach of Dartmouth in 1971 and went 41-20-2 (.667) in seven seasons. "He was good, sturdy. Remember now -- those weren't the times we are playing in now. He was 215, 225 pounds and he could move. He wasn't afraid. He went after people."
Two former presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford, played major college football at Army and Michigan, respectively. Paulson isn't quite president. Yet that same issue of The Economist declares him "the most important man in Washington." Offensive linemen, the anonymous men of the sport, are smiling.
Shock To The System
Schools on the quarter system began classes last week. Freshmen at Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and other schools have had nearly two months of football camp without those pesky academic worries. Surely that has been a boon to the development of Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Bruin tailback Derrick Coleman, Cardinal kick returner Delano Howell, etc. But adjusting to the academic rigor of college overwhelms everyone -- even those who don't have the full-time job of playing football.