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Now is the time to prove the nation wrong. For 8½ seasons, Texas Tech has won games. But the Red Raiders haven't won enough to convince the voters that Texas Tech belongs among the powers of the game. The fans chafe at the commonly held notion that head coach Mike Leach's offense picks on the afflicted and melts in the glare of the spotlight.Now is the time to prove the nation wrong. Under Leach, the Red Raiders are 10-26 against ranked teams, 63-11 against everyone else. Now is the time to prove that Texas Tech has not bulked up its record on bought victories. In Leach's nine years, the Red Raiders have played five nonconference games against teams from automatic-bid conferences during the regular season, none since 2003.
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Mike Leach and the No. 7 Red Raiders can reach new heights Saturday with a win over No. 1 Texas (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).
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Illinois center Ryan McDonald is a finalist for the Draddy Trophy.
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Bobby Bowden has No. 15 Florida State pointed in the right direction.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at email@example.com.
1. I spent several days thinking that the sentiment to give Joe Paterno a last hurrah would cause the poll voters to push an undefeated Penn State into the BCS National Championship Game regardless of what happens in the Big 12 and SEC. Now that I've looked at the schedules of the teams in both leagues, my self-delusion has ended. Penn State, I think, needs a lot of help. But there are six Saturdays left. Who knows?
2. While Florida and Georgia play a BCS Championship elimination game on Saturday, Auburn and Ole Miss will play a bowl elimination game. Both teams are 4-4, and both have two games remaining against ranked teams and/or archrivals. Two more teams in postseason trouble: Clemson, at 3-4, will have to win at least two of three on road trips to Boston College, No. 15 Florida State and Virginia to become bowl eligible. Stanford (4-4) must defeat Washington State and either No. 24 Oregon, No. 5 USC or archrival Cal (5-2).
3. Arkansas looks a lot better at the end of October, after narrow losses to Kentucky and Ole Miss, than it did at the end of September, following blowout losses to Alabama and Texas. Coach Bobby Petrino's five losses are more than half of the nine he suffered in four seasons at Louisville. But the Razorbacks look as if they are starting to understand what he wants from them. Keep an eye on the Hogs.
Beano Cook joins Ivan in the ESPNU College Football Podcast to discuss Texas-Texas Tech, Florida-Georgia, Penn State's title chances and more. Listen
Anyone for USC-Minnesota in the Rose Bowl? Anyone? Hello? Is this mike working?We'll get to that in a minute. First, this note isn't meant to degrade the No. 17 Golden Gophers' turnaround from 1-11 to 7-1. Take a look at the other teams that won one game last season. The transformation from losing to winning: Duke 4-3
Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Art Thiel, writing Tuesday about the mess that Washington football has become under Tyrone Willingham, said in reference to legendary Husky coach Don James, "Even James in his prime could not have parachuted into the 2008 season and made it a winner."James, 75, retired from Washington when he was 60 years old, two years removed from taking the Huskies to a share of the 1991 national championship. In April, I asked James what he thought about himself when he looked at his contemporary, 81-year-old Joe Paterno, still going strong. "I think I could still do it," James said. But then he explained why he doesn't. "The thing I thought about when I was about ready to retire," James said, "[was] in order to keep it going, you have an idea about what it takes: hours in the office, and recruiting, and I've seen coaches as they got older say, 'Well, I just won't have the night meetings any more. I'll let the assistants handle it.' And I knew you couldn't stay successful. I'd done it for 38 years." Of the four coaches who have succeeded James, only one, Rick Neuheisel, has challenged for a national championship, when the Huskies won the Rose Bowl and finished third in 2000. Washington could use a little Don James these days.