Buying and selling season futures

Updated: September 28, 2009

Where Do We Stand?

Where do you begin after another wild weekend in college football?

Four teams ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press Top 25 poll fell last week. Tim Tebow, star quarterback of No. 1 Florida, suffered a concussion in a 41-7 rout at Kentucky, throwing a wrench in the Gators' hopes of repeating as BCS national champions.

With a month of the 2009 season behind us, three teams -- Florida, Texas and Alabama -- seem to be playing much better than the rest. But after the top three, as many as two dozen teams might be as good as the rest.

Here's a look at the teams we'll be buying and selling over the next several weeks:

Buying

Boise State
1. Boise State
The No. 5 Broncos are getting more and more mileage out of their 19-8 victory over Oregon in the Sept. 3 opener, and they're moving up the rankings because everyone ahead of them keeps losing. Only three of Boise State's remaining seven FBS opponents currently have winning records: Tulsa, Hawaii and Idaho. With its current position, Boise State will play in a BCS bowl game if it finishes unbeaten.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

Virginia Tech
2. Virginia Tech
What's the old adage? Lose early instead of late. The Hokies have perhaps the best loss among one-loss teams, falling to Alabama 34-24 in their opener. They've beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back games and only one of their remaining eight opponents is currently ranked. Virginia Tech plays at No. 25 Georgia Tech on Oct. 17, a game that might decide which team wins the ACC's Coastal Division.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma
The Sooners have posted back-to-back shutouts to climb back into the BCS national championship race, and they might be close to getting back Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Voters might be willing to overlook Oklahoma's 14-13 loss to BYU in the Sept. 5 opener because Bradford was hurt in the game. Oklahoma has five more chances to impress voters: at No. 17 Miami on Saturday, against No. 2 Texas in Dallas on Oct. 17, at No. 18 Kansas on Oct. 24, at No. 23 Nebraska on Nov. 7 and home against No. 14 Oklahoma State on Nov. 28.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

Ohio State
4. Ohio State
Penn State's 21-10 loss to Iowa on Saturday puts the Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes in the driver's seat in the Big Ten. Ohio State has posted consecutive shutouts since losing to USC 18-15 on Sept. 12. The Buckeyes close the regular season with three games against ranked foes: at No. 15 Penn State, home against No. 13 Iowa and at No. 22 Michigan.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

Cincinnati
5. Cincinnati
The Bearcats are clearly the team to beat in the Big East after their 4-0 start, which includes impressive road victories at Rutgers and Oregon State. They face two difficult Big East road games: at South Florida on Oct. 15 and at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. None of Cincinnati's final eight opponents are currently ranked, and it should be favored over each of them with quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard playing so well.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

TCU
6. TCU
The Horned Frogs have two road victories over ACC opponents: 30-14 at Virginia and 14-10 at Clemson. They might have a better case for an at-large bid than Boise State because of schedule strength. TCU still plays at No. 20 BYU on Oct. 24 and hosts Utah on Nov. 14. Under BCS rules, TCU will have to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings -- and ranked ahead of Boise State -- to receive an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game. The Horned Frogs will have a couple of more chances to impress voters.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Houston
7. Houston
Another potential BCS buster, the Cougars still face three potential stumbling blocks: at improving Mississippi State on Oct. 10, home against Southern Miss on Oct. 31 and at Tulsa on Nov. 7. If Houston finishes unbeaten, it's hard to imagine voters not rewarding the Cougars for their schedule strength. They already have beaten two Big 12 opponents: 45-35 at then-No. 5 Oklahoma State on Sept. 12 and 29-28 over Texas Tech on Saturday. They'll have to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings and be ranked ahead of Boise State and TCU to receive an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Iowa
8. Iowa
Perhaps no team improved more during the first four weeks of the season. The Hawkeyes had to block field goal attempts on consecutive plays to beat FCS foe Northern Iowa 17-16 in the Sept. 5 opener, and then completely manhandled Penn State on the road on Saturday night. Iowa still faces at least three difficult games: home against No. 22 Michigan on Oct. 10, at Wisconsin on Oct. 17 and at No. 9 Ohio State on Nov. 14. If the Hawkeyes finish at least 11-1, it's hard to imagine a BCS bowl game passing on them because of their rabid fan base.
Prediction: BCS bowl game

Selling

LSU
1. LSU
The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in the country, but something just doesn't seem right about them. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson struggled to throw the football before Saturday's 30-26 win at Mississippi State, and running back Charles Scott hasn't been nearly as effective as he was a year ago. LSU plays four more ranked opponents: at No. 18 Georgia on Saturday, home against No. 1 Florida on Oct. 10, at No. 3 Alabama on Nov. 7 and at No. 21 Ole Miss on Nov. 21.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

USC
2. USC
The No. 7 Trojans rebounded from their devastating loss at Washington with a 27-6 victory over lowly Washington State on Saturday. But the three-touchdown win over the Cougars was still far from impressive. USC scored only one touchdown in the final three quarters, lost the time-of-possession battle and turned the ball over twice. With road games left at No. 24 California on Saturday, at Notre Dame on Oct. 17 and at No. 16 Oregon on Oct. 31, the Trojans could lose again.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Oklahoma State
3. Oklahoma State
After losing to Houston at home, the No. 14 Cowboys' season will basically come down to two games: home against No. 2 Texas on Oct. 31 and at No. 8 Oklahoma on Nov. 28. The Pokes are dealing with myriad injuries, too. Star receiver Dez Bryant (hamstring), tailback Kendall Hunter (leg) and cornerback/kick returner Perrish Cox (shoulder) all missed Saturday's 56-6 rout of FCS foe Grambling State.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Penn State
4. Penn State
After the Nittany Lions beat up Akron, Syracuse and Temple in their first three games, the country was anxious to see how good they really were in Saturday night's Big Ten opener against Iowa. The verdict? Not so good. Penn State turned the ball over four times in a 21-10 loss at home, which probably all but ended its BCS championship hopes. Voters will probably penalize Penn State for its soft nonconference conference, regardless of what it does the rest of the season.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Miami
5. Miami
The Hurricanes claimed "the U" was back after they opened the season with victories over Florida State and Georgia Tech. But Miami laid an egg in its 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Now, Miami coach Randy Shannon has to rally his young team for Saturday's home game against No. 8 Oklahoma. The ugly loss to the Hokies probably knocked Miami out of the BCS title race, but a 3-1 start to the season would still be a heck of an achievement.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Georgia
6. Georgia
The Bulldogs have shown a lot of grit by winning three close games, including Saturday's 20-17 victory over Arizona State at Sanford Stadium. But Georgia remains one of the most undisciplined teams in the country. The No. 18 Bulldogs average 10.25 penalties per game (third-worst among FBS teams) and they've turned the ball over three times in each of their four games. Georgia can't play that way if it's going to win in the SEC.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Mississippi
7. Ole Miss
The Rebels were a popular choice to win the SEC West during the summer, and they climbed to No. 4 in the national rankings after winning their first two games. But voters grossly underestimated the loss of left tackle Michael Oher. The Rebels' dream season came crashing down with Thursday night's 16-10 loss at South Carolina. Quarterback Jevan Snead is completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes with two interceptions and six sacks. At this point, Ole Miss looks like the fourth-best team in the SEC West.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game

Cal
8. California
Talk about a deflating loss. The Bears appeared to be the team to beat in the Pac-10 after USC fell at Washington. But California suffered the worst loss of the Jeff Tedford era in Saturday's 42-3 rout at Oregon. The Bears appeared to be completely overmatched and didn't put up much of a fight. Tedford has to be careful this team doesn't collapse. After climbing to No. 2 in the national rankings after a 5-0 start in 2007, the Bears lost six of their last seven regular-season games.
Prediction: Non-BCS bowl game




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WEEK: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

On The Mark: Precision Passers

These quarterbacks were really sharp on Saturday.

Case Keenum Keenum

1. Case Keenum, Houston
Keenum looks more like a Heisman Trophy candidate every week, completing 38 of 58 passes for 435 yards with one touchdown in a 29-28 win over Texas Tech. He also ran for the winning score with 49 seconds to go.

2. Russell Wilson, NC State
Wilson has bounced back from a slow start, throwing four touchdown passes in each of the past three games. He completed 21 of 35 passes for 322 yards in the Wolfpack's 38-31 victory over Pitt.

3. Tony Pike, Cincinnati
It's hard to imagine any quarterback being better than Pike during the first month of the season. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 300 yards with three touchdowns in a 28-20 win over Fresno State.

4. Greg McElroy, Alabama
Could the first-year starter challenge Florida's Tim Tebow for All-SEC honors? McElroy passed for 291 yards with three touchdowns on 17-for-24 passing in the Tide's 35-7 rout of Arkansas.

5. Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon
Masoli was criticized mightily during the Ducks' first three games, before he completed 21 of 25 passes for 253 yards with three touchdowns in the 42-3 upset of California.

Off The Mark: Second-Guesses

1. Kentucky
By the time the Wildcats awoke on Saturday, they trailed No. 1 Florida 31-0 at the end of the first quarter.

2. Miami
So much for "The U." being back. The Hurricanes had 59 rushing yards and fell behind 21-0 in a 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech.

Mississippi State
3. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs are playing well under first-year coach Dan Mullen, but they failed to score from inside the LSU 2-yard line on four straight plays near the end of a 30-26 loss.

4. Wake Forest
After a fabulous comeback, quarterback Riley Skinner fumbled on a busted play at the Boston College 4-yard line in overtime of a 27-24 loss.

5. Purdue
First-year coach Danny Hope is being second-guessed for calling timeout with 36 seconds to go, which helped Notre Dame set up the winning score in its 24-21 victory.

On The Mark: Ground-Churning Tailbacks

These runners carried their teams on their backs Saturday.

1. Darius Marshall, Marshall
The junior ran 25 times for 203 yards with three touchdowns in a 27-16 victory over Memphis.

Toby Gerhart Gerhart
2. Toby Gerhart, Stanford
There might not be a more difficult runner to bring down than Gerhart, who ran 27 times for 200 yards with a touchdown in the Cardinal's 34-14 upset of Washington.

3. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
Dwyer and Georgia Tech's triple-option offense rebounded in a 24-7 upset of North Carolina. Dwyer ran for 158 yards on 19 carries.

4. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
Williams ran all over the Hurricanes, with 150 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 34 attempts.

5. Joe Martinek, Rutgers
Martinek ran 19 times for 147 yards and scored two times in the final five minutes of a 34-13 win over Maryland.

Off The Mark: Coaches On The Hot Seat

These coaches better turn their teams around quickly.

Steve Kragthorpe Kragthorpe

1. Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville
The Cardinals are off to another 1-2 start after their 30-14 loss at Utah on Saturday.

2. Mike Price, UTEP
The Miners had only 53 yards of offense in a 64-7 loss at Texas.

3. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
Friedgen has already named his successor, but the Terps looked awful again in the loss to Rutgers.

4. Tommy West, Memphis
The Tigers are 1-3 after losing to Marshall, and West has already changed quarterbacks.

5. J.D. Brookhart, Akron
The Zips are 28-36 during his six-year tenure, including 1-3 this season after a 48-21 loss to Central Michigan.

On The Mark: Big-Play Receivers

These receivers were all over the field.

1. Jeremy Williams, Tulane
Williams caught each of the Green Wave's 10 completions against FCS foe McNeese State, finishing with 222 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a 42-32 victory.

2. Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
Pike's favorite target caught nine passes for 177 yards with two touchdowns against Fresno State -- and the Bulldogs only had possession for about 16½ minutes.

Danario Alexander Alexander
3. Danario Alexander, Missouri
Alexander caught nine passes for a career-high 170 yards with two touchdowns in Friday night's 31-21 win over Nevada.

4. A.J. Green, Georgia
The sophomore caught eight passes for 153 yards with one touchdown -- and blocked Arizona State's potential go-ahead field goal in a 20-17 victory.

5. Ed Dickson, Oregon
The Ducks tight end caught 11 passes for 148 yards with three touchdowns against Cal. He caught three touchdowns all of last season.

Off The Mark: Injuries

Injuries continue to sideline many of the country's best players.

Robert Griffin Griffin

1. Robert Griffin, Baylor
The Bears quarterback will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, seriously hampering Baylor's chances at a bowl game.

2. Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
A knee injury could cause the Crimson Tide linebacker to miss the rest of the regular season. He'll undergo surgery this week.

3. Tim Tebow, Florida
Gators fans are breathing a sigh of relief because Superman's head injury could have been much worse.

4. Matt Asiata, Utah
The Utes will be without their senior running back, who ran for 12 touchdowns last season, because of a season-ending knee injury.

5. Nick Reveiz, Tennessee
The Vols' starting middle linebacker and a former walk-on, Reveiz suffered a season-ending knee injury against Ohio.

Highlights: Saturday's 10 Best