NCF Nation: Dante Love
Think you've got the bowl situation all figured out? Of course you don't. No one does. That's why there are coaches across the country screaming for a playoff or some sort of change in the BCS system.
But as John Saunders said during Wednesday's College Football Live, we don't see any of those protesting coaches giving their national championships back.
What's in store for the non-BCS? Well, there's no doubt that over the next few weeks each team in the Top 25 will be keeping a close eye on the others.
And what about Boise State? The team with the best shot of gaining a BCS berth? The Honolulu Advertiser states that even their fate is not certain and either are the fates of the rest of the teams in the WAC.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said his team is ready to open some voter eyes during Thursday's Mountain West clash with Utah. TCU could be the first one-loss non-BCS team to earn a BCS berth.
Tonight's game between Northern Illinois and Ball State will go a long way toward clearing up the BCS picture and it might give voters a better idea of how good this Ball State team really is and really, how good Northern Illinois is. Northern Illinois is one of just two teams the Cardinals have played this season with a winning record.
And while all of the above teams are focused on bowl games and the BCS, San Diego State critics are wondering whether the team can continue to play in the FBS. San Diego Union-Tribune columnists Nick Canepa and Tim Sullivan tackle the subject.
1. Upset special: With Southern Cal falling out of the No. 1 spot with a loss to Oregon State on Thursday, No. 2 Oklahoma looks poised to become the leader of the pack. This might be a perfect time for TCU to sneak in the upset.
2. Offensive explosion: Buffalo's Drew Willy and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour are two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the MAC and when they get together this weekend, both defenses better be on high alert.
3. Catch more, Passmore: If you don't know the name Darius Passmore, you will by the second half of Marshall's game against West Virginia. Passmore leads all receivers in receiving yards per game and should have a field day against WVU's 86th-ranked pass defense.
4. Dominance of the Pac-10: The Mountain West and the WAC have a chance to continue to kick the Pac-10 while it's down. Fresno State will attempt only its second win in the eight times it's met UCLA, and Colorado State will look to extend the Mountain West's streak over the Pac-10 to 6-0 with a win at Cal.
5. Crazy finish: Arkansas State and Memphis have had some crazy finishes the last two seasons and considering the way Memphis' season is going, it wouldn't be surprising to see another one. The Tigers' last two loses have been by a touchdown or fewer.
6. Notre Dame, good or bad?: After its first loss of the season last week, there's no telling how the Irish will play this week when it hosts Purdue. This is one of many winnable games on their schedule, but you never know when thoughts of last year could creep in.
7. Moving on: Ball State played with great emotion after the loss of receiver Dante Love, but a week after his injury, how will the Cardinals respond against Kent State? The Cardinals are already in the midst of one of the best starts in school history and that should continue if they don't get in their own way.
8. Six more touchdowns: Tulsa quarterback David Johnson could throw six more touchdowns when the Golden Hurricane play FCS opponent Central Arkansas. Smith has thrown six touchdowns in each of the last two games -- a C-USA record.
9. Movin' on up: BYU could find itself in the top 10 this week even though it's idle. After Southern Cal's loss to Oregon State, every team below the Trojans figures to move up until the Trojans find their spot. A couple more upsets, which is possible, could put the Cougars in the top 10 for the first time since Dec. 2, 2001.
10. Success story: UNLV has burst onto the scene as a one-team BCS wrecking crew, but what happens when it drops back to non-BCS earth? We'll see this weekend when it meets in-state rival Nevada. Nevada has won each of the last three meetings, but might still be smarting from a thrashing at Missouri two weeks ago.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's nice to see that Chris Adkins' Indiana teammates are doing whatever they can to support him this week. Catastrophic football injuries are terrible for all involved, and my thoughts are certainly with Ball State wide receiver Dante Love and his family. There's the other side, too, the guys who walk away from collisions like the one Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Adkins has to be going through a lot right now, and this is the time when he needs his teammates the most. The cornerback also will spend some time with a sports psychologist who regularly comes to the Indiana campus.
A few happenings around the league:
- Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi has been told he'll play the full game Saturday against Northwestern, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Holy sweater vest! Jim Tressel had some choice words for Ohio State's underperforming offensive line.
- A very interesting piece from the Star Tribune's Kent Youngblood about Minnesota star wide receiver Eric Decker, who recalls the shooting at his high school five years ago.
"There was a heavy cloud over the community for about a year or so," Decker said. "People were sad for the families; everybody knew them. Every once in a while we'll talk about it. But, to be honest, it's something you don't want to remember. You want to learn from it."
- Better blitzing and surprising secondary play have highlighted Michigan State's defensive resurgence, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- It's still early, but Indiana's meeting on Saturday against Michigan State could be a must-win game, The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens writes.
- Wisconsin's defenders are tough critics, and despite holding Fresno State to 10 points on Sept. 13, they lamented several missed tackles, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On one hand, I'm so happy that he's going to be OK and doctors say he's going to live a perfectly normal life. On the other hand, I'm wrecked over the fact that he can't play football again.
Every once in awhile, I run into a young man who exudes a love and passion for the game by the way he speaks. Love was one of those players. I spoke to him last week and he talked about trying to become a more well-rounded player that both his coaches and teammates could respect.
We all knew that he had big-play ability, but he was devoting this season to showing that he wasn't afraid to do the grunt work. He really was committed to making himself a better teammate and a better prospect for the future.
Love would have played in the NFL. There's no doubt. And this makes me very sad, probably more so because I just talked to him and he was full of so much enthusiasm for this season.
These are the perils of the game we all love and the pitfalls of my dealing with so many of these guys on a one-on-one basis. Injuries are part of the game. We all know that. But some seem more unfair than others.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Love, his family and the entire Ball State community.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Only eight games on the slate this week, but there's no shortage of subplots, especially on the defensive side.
Let's take a look:
1. Ringer vs. the world: Notre Dame will do all it can to stop Michigan State's Javon Ringer on Saturday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). Ringer likely can expect to see eight or nine men in the box, as the Fighting Irish dare Brian Hoyer to beat them. The overloading still might not be enough, as Ringer has racked up 417 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games.
2. Pryor's coronation in Columbus: Terrelle Pryor and Todd Boeckman will split snaps for Ohio State against Troy, but this game is a chance for the freshman to take control of the offense. If Pryor continues to show good poise and playmaking ability, he'll continue to be featured when the Buckeyes enter Big Ten play. Boeckman will get his opportunities as well, but with the top goal off the table for the Buckeyes, they have to look toward the future.
3. Iowa D takes on real McCoy: The Hawkeyes have already collected eight takeaways without allowing a touchdown this season, but they face their first major test in Pitt running back LeSean McCoy. Expect McCoy to run away from Iowa star tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul, which will put pressure on less proven players to step up.
4. Indiana on the defensive: I've already heard from several furious Hoosiers fans about my upset pick of Ball State against their unproven team. Let's see if an improved Hoosiers defense proves me a fool when it faces dynamic quarterback Nate Davis and FBS receiving leader Dante Love. There's no doubt Kellen Lewis will make plays for Indiana, but the team's fate, as usual, rests with the defense.
5. Northwestern chases history: Nonconference losses have been Northwestern's biggest bugaboo, even during the program's renaissance in the mid-1990s. The Wildcats can sweep their nonleague slate for the first time since 1963 by beating Ohio at home. It won't be easy, as the Bobcats are much better than their record indicates and athletic quarterback Boo Jackson spells trouble for an improved Northwestern defense.
6. Tiller gets record: Joe Tiller already should be Purdue's all-time winningest coach, but his team lost another winnable big game last Saturday against Oregon. Tiller sets the record this week as Curtis Painter and the Boilermakers pick apart a Central Michigan defense that looks overmatched against BCS foes. Dan LeFevour makes the game interesting for a while, but Purdue beats the Chippewas for the third straight time.
7. Gophers secondary tested: No one would mistake Minnesota's nonleague schedule for, say, Washington's, but the Gophers deserve a ton of credit if they go 4-0 after winning one game all of last season. Standing in their path is Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith, who will perform much better than he did in the rain last week in East Lansing. Minnesota's new-look secondary of Tramaine Brock, Traye Simmons, Marcus Sherels and Kyle Theret have shown good playmaking skills so far and need continued progress against the Owls.
8. Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen: Coach Kirk Ferentz seems to be telling Christensen, "Take the job already, will ya?" The junior gets a great chance to do so on the road against a desperate Pitt team already knocked off its preseason perch. Christensen steadied the offense in the clutch last week against Iowa State but will need to make more pressure plays against the Panthers.
9. Penn State's defensive line: Coach Joe Paterno admits his team hasn't faced any adversity so far this season, at least on the field. Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele should be a good challenge for Penn State's defensive linemen, who have held together nicely despite injuries, dismissals and suspensions. Paterno also should address the status of linemen Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma after the game.
10. Michigan State safety Otis Wiley: Wiley once again looks like the guy who led the team in tackles (94) and pass breakups (10) as a sophomore in 2006. The Spartans need him at his peak against Notre Dame because of lingering personnel issues in the secondary. Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen will look to stretch the field with Golden Tate, and it's up to Wiley to limit the damage.