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This week's top 20:
By kickoff, this matchup will have been dissected more than a dead John Doe on "CSI." Already I have stats overload.
|Les Miles has a better nickname and better headwear, but loses to Alabama's Nick Saban in winning percentage.|
This is LSU's first-ever regular-season 1-versus-2 game; Bama's third since 2008. During the last 40 years of this rivalry, the road team has won 27 times. The last time a No. 1 beat a No. 2 in a non-bowl game was 2006. Bama ranks first in rush defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. LSU ranks no lower than fifth in any of those categories. The Tide has allowed exactly one 100-yard rusher in its last 55 games and is 25-1 in its last 26 home games. LSU is attempting to become the first team since 2004 to begin and end the BCS standings ranked first. Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron has thrown one interception since the Tide's opener. LSU's Jarrett Lee has thrown one INT the entire season. Bama has given up one fourth-quarter TD. LSU is ranked second nationally in all-important turnover margin. Bama has given up only 14 plays of 20 yards or longer -- best in the nation. LSU is tied for third with 19.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
If we're going to break down the game, then let's look at the real coaching matchup between Bama's Nick Saban and LSU's Les Miles.
Saban: "The Most Powerful Coach in Sports" (as designated by Forbes magazine in 2008).
Miles: "The Mad Hatter."
Advantage -- Miles.
Saban: "It's a process."
Miles: "I've got a championship game to play and I'm excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play in it."
Advantage -- Miles.
Miles: White ballcap.
Advantage -- Miles.
Best Paycheck (according to available figures):
Saban: A little more than $6 million per year.
Miles: About $3.8 million per year.
Advantage -- Saban.
Best Salary Perk:
Saban: He can tell everyone he's the highest paid college coach.
Miles: Thanks to a clause in his LSU contract, if Miles wins the national championship his salary will automatically increase to $1,000 higher than the salary of the highest-paid football coach of an SEC public institution. And that would be Saban and his reported $4.85 base salary.
Advantage -- Saban.
Saban: Appearance in "The Blind Side."
Miles: Postgame news conferences, sideline interviews.
Advantage -- Miles.
Best Winning Percentage:
Saban: 72.8 percent.
Miles: 72.1 percent.
Advantage -- Saban.
Saban: Oct. 31, 1951. His players surprised him with a No. 60 Bama jersey and sang "Happy Birthday" to him. What he'd really like for his birthday is a win against LSU.
Miles: Nov. 10, 1953.
Advantage -- Saban.
|The BMOC thinks Saban's squad will be victorious Saturday.|
Best Junk Food:
Saban: Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. Eats two every morning.
Miles: Tiger Stadium grass blades.
Advantage -- Miles.
because it's at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Because not since 2001 has Saban lost in back-to-back seasons to the same coach.
Because I like Bama's suffocating defense a tiny bit more than LSU's suffocating defense.
Because Bama has Trent Richardson and LSU doesn't.
Because Saban has had two weeks to prepare for the Tigers.
Because I don't trust the BCS standings.
Because a Bama 23, LSU 20 final score sounds about right.
Because if I'm wrong, I'll need a new email address.
Spent 35 minutes of my life that I'll never get back listening to the recent West Virginia-Big 12 teleconference call.
These Welcome-To-Our-(Fill-In-The-Blank) Conference pressers are as spontaneous as planned parenthood. The WVU/Big 12 smoochfest went like this:
Step 1: Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, who serves as the chairman of the Big 12's board of directors, said he was thrilled and happy to welcome West Virginia to the league.
Step 2: West Virginia president James Clements said he was thrilled and happy to join the Big 12. And by the way, it was a great day to be a Mountaineer.
Step 3: West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said he too was thrilled and happy about joining a conference that almost ceased to exist when Oklahoma and Texas flexed their biceps a month or so ago. (OK, I added that last part.)
Step 4: Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said he also was thrilled and happy; made some odd, nervous joke about the WVU rifle team shooting in "the right direction"; and crowed about the future of the now 10-member conference.
"You watch our progress," he said. "We're on the way up."
It was a backslap-a-thon, full of "I Love You"s and undying admiration for each other.
And oh, it was one other thing: an embarrassment.
I hung up not long after someone asked about the status of the WVU men's soccer program. By then, Hargis also had signed off.
But during those 35 or so minutes, through the yuk-yuk introductory remarks and continuing on through the questions that had some meat on their bones, not once did Clements or Luck acknowledge the school's 17-year marriage to what's-her-name, the Big East Conference.
At least when Pitt and Syracuse recently ditched the league for the ACC, their presidents had the good manners to mention the longtime relationship with the Big East. If nothing else, they made the effort.
Clements and Luck didn't utter a peep. It was as if the Big East never existed to them. You got the feeling that Clements and Luck had already ordered all the WVU stationery to be changed.
"I don't think they said the words 'Big East,'" said a Big East member official. "How about a little class, huh?"
And now we know why the Mountaineer delegation did a Harry Potter and refused to acknowledge the conference who must not be named. They were obviously lawyered up in anticipation of Monday's civil lawsuit filed by WVU against the Big East.
Why it's called a civil lawsuit, I have no idea. There's nothing civil anymore about the relationship between West Virginia and the Big East.
|WVU president James Clements plans to compete in the Big 12 next season.|
In its 14-page suit, West Virginia basically called Big East commissioner John Marinatto a dolt, the Enron of league CEOs. According to WVU, Marinatto's inability to tie a tourniquet around the conference and stop the bleeding caused by member defections is the reason the Mountaineers are Big 12-bound. And the reason it shouldn't have to abide by the Big East's 27-month waiting period.
Marinatto's public statement: "To put it simply, a contract is a contract."
You could see this lawsuit coming from a mile away. Or from Morgantown.
For example, the opening paragraph of Friday's Big 12 press release announcing WVU's move had all the subtlety of a knee to the groin:The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012. The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season.
July 1, 2012, eh? That was news to the Big East, which has been adamant about enforcing its mandatory 27-month waiting period. In fact, former West Virginia president David Hardesty, who still teaches at WVU's College of Law, helped write the provision. It was inserted into the Big East bylaws after Boston College and Miami left the league for the ACC in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
"It's kind of mind-boggling to be so brazen," said the Big East member official.
Marinatto had made it clear that the waiting period applied to every departing member: Syracuse, Pitt and, of course, West Virginia. The Mountaineers weren't going to get a free pass just because it was a great day to be a Mountaineer.
"Our team is in discussions with their team," said Clements at the time, which, in retrospect, must have meant that WVU's lawyers were telling the Big East's lawyers something to the effect of "We're going to sue the pants off you if you don't let us leave early."
Clements happily waved his Big 12 pompoms during the teleconference, but he got laryngitis whenever someone asked about the Big East.
Did he expect WVU to compete in the Big 12 next season?
And then, "I'll leave it at that for now."
Translation: incoming lawsuit.
West Virginia is right about one thing: The 2011 Big East isn't the same Big East that WVU joined in 1995. There have been major defections, and the league -- at least the football part of it -- is scrambling like Michael Vick to stay solvent and relevant.
Anything is negotiable. But isn't it interesting how selective WVU can be when it comes to those Big East bylaws? Clements wants to ignore the 27-month waiting period, yet he paid the first half of the Big East's mandatory $5 million exit fee. WVU wired $2.5 million to the Big East on Friday.
Reason? If the court won't void the waiting period, it wants the $2.5 million already paid to be the equivalent of walking-away money.
Big East member presidents are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Philadelphia to discuss a new football and/or basketball configuration for the league. An announcement could involve a 12-team or 10-team football model.
Now they have a new topic on the agenda.
It's no secret that Marinatto is romancing Mountain West members Boise State and Air Force as football-only invitees. According to The New York Times, BYU, a football independent, is also in the mix.
|A BCS bid could cost Boise State big if the Broncos choose to move to the Big East next season.|
So just for the heck of it, I emailed the MWC to see what its policy is regarding exit fees and notification periods. Sitting down, Boise and Air Force?
The good news for, say, Boise? There is no waiting period. The Broncos could leave on July 1, 2012, and be part of the 2012 Big East schedule.
The bad news? Let's say Boise played in a BCS bowl game this season. According to MWC bylaws, it would forfeit its 2011 conference-related distribution revenue and would pay either a $5 million exit fee or double the forfeited revenue -- whichever is higher.
That means Boise wouldn't collect on its share of the MWC revenue (ballpark, $7 million) and would have to pay double the distribution money ($14 million) since it's a higher figure than the $5 million standard exit fee.
In other words, Boise would stand to lose a total of $21 million. Ouch.
The Idaho Statesman did a more detailed analysis. Under a no-BCS game scenario, Boise would lose $1.9 million in conference revenue and have to pay the $5 million exit fee. And if the Broncos didn't leave until 2013, they'd only forfeit their conference revenue from next season.
BCS spin doctor Bill Hancock is going to love this one.
Shoulder Pad Bracket:
LSU vs. Oklahoma
Boise State vs. Stanford
Chin Strap Bracket:
Alabama vs. Nebraska
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
In early March, 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke got a phone call at the Bradenton, Fla.-based IMG football academy.
Could he get Cam Newton ready for the quarterback's pro day at Auburn?
And could he do it all in five days?
|Like most pro scouts (and fans), Chris Weinke doesn't see many flaws in Andrew Luck's game.|
Answer: In late April, Newton was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, going to the same Carolina Panthers team Weinke once played for.
And when Newton returned to IMG to train during the late spring and early summer, Weinke, with the help of the Panthers' playbook, taught the rookie the basics of the entire Carolina offense. When the NFL lockout was lifted, Newton arrived at training camp farther ahead in the learning curve than anyone -- except Weinke and Newton -- ever expected
Why the former Florida State star, who also tutored 2011 first-rounder Christian Ponder of FSU, hasn't been hired as a college quarterbacks coach yet is beyond me. Talk to him for 10 minutes about the position and your football IQ increases exponentially.
Weinke, who finished ahead of Oklahoma's Josh Heupel, Purdue's Drew Brees and TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2000 balloting, votes annually for the Heisman. So I asked him to evaluate this season's Heisman quarterback candidates.
On Andrew Luck, Stanford: "I look for body language -- does that guy have total control of the offense when he's out on the field? Is he able to make big plays in pressure situations? Can he make the tight throws? Can he make plays with his feet? Does he make stupid throws? Can he win? Does he play fast, but not in a hurry?
"I keep trying to find something wrong with [Luck], but I can't find it. Very rarely do I see him make mistakes.
"I did spend a little time in New York with him [during the 2010 Heisman presentation]. He's not a guy who's all about the big cigars and the motorcars. The first thing he said to me is that he wanted to finish school and get his degree."
On Kellen Moore, Boise State: "If you watch him on TV, he looks tiny. But at the end of the day, he gets rid of the football as fast as anybody. And he's as accurate as anybody.
"Watching film of him, he throws the ball with unbelievable anticipation, which coaches love to see -- and at the next level you have to be able to do that. He makes accurate throws if he's in a good delivery position or not."
On Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: "I'm a little biased with him, having been in the same situation [Weinke and Weeden both played professional baseball before returning to college and playing football in their mid-20s]. I just like the way he operates out there. He throws it with arc and with pace. He just looks comfortable."
On Robert Griffin III, Baylor: "He can spin the rock. It's ridiculous how athletic he is."
On Case Keenum, Houston: "I like his game. Great command of that wide-open offense, and I believe he is going to break a bunch of records. Probably doesn't get enough credit because of who they play against. Gets rid of the ball and throws with great accuracy."
On Landry Jones, Oklahoma: "Solid. Big arm and throws the ball with anticipation. Great awareness in the pocket. Has all the tools to make the transition nicely to the next level. Great leader."
His Heisman leader? Too early to pick, said Weinke.
Joe Paterno, Penn State.
A freak late-October snowstorm. A last-minute-or-so comeback. A last-second act of the football gods. These were the circumstances of career win No. 409 for JoePa as the Nittany Lions somehow beat Illinois at Very Happy Valley, making Paterno the winningest Division I football coach in history.
|Joe Paterno joined elite company Saturday, becoming the all-time Division I wins leader.|
Paterno watched from the Beaver Stadium coaches' box as Illini kicker Derek Dimke lined up in the slush to attempt a game-tying 42-yard field goal attempt. The kick drifted ever so slightly to the right and then caromed off the right upright.
Penn State had its 10-7 win and Paterno inched ahead of the late, great Eddie Robinson of Grambling State. Hugs everywhere.
Still, even his own coaching staff will tell you: JoePa can be a Joe Pain sometimes. He's tough. He's stubborn. He's, well, Paterno.
But during the postgame news conference that was piped to the stadium crowd, Paterno was also eloquent and poignant.
Said the 84-year-old Paterno: "It really is something -- I'm really proud to be associated with Eddie Robinson. Some of you may not have heard -- I've told people many, many times -- two of the greatest people we've ever had in college football are Jake Gaither and Eddie Robinson.
"Jake was a head coach at Florida A&M. At 24 years of age, Eddie became the head coach at Grambling. Those two men opened up the doors for the African-American kid. They had no place to go. The Southeastern Conference didn't take any black kids. There were very few playing up North. Jake Gaither and Eddie Robinson went out and showed people what kind of athlete these kids could be.
"So for me, a kid from Brooklyn, whose grandfather was an immigrant, to be something like this really means a lot to me. An awful lot.
"There's a lot of people I have to thank. As I walked in here, [son] Jay Paterno said, 'Hey, don't forget to thank the groundskeepers, they've been here for 25 years doing things.' Also, the coaching staff and a really good bunch of kids that I think proved today that they got they're good kids. I don't know for crying out loud, you've got me making a speech. To all the fans out there, thanks for sitting through that today. You've got to be nuts."
Years from now, Dimke can win bar bet after bar bet with this question: What was the name of the finance major who helped Paterno win his 409th game?
But until then, Paterno should consider himself lucky.
Dimke entered the game as the nation's third-most accurate kicker. He was 81-for-81 on extra points, 7-for-7 on field goals and 10-for-10 dating to last season. In the 2010 Illini win against Penn State, Dimke was 4-for-4, from 50, 31, 41 and 38 yards.
Can't blame Dimke for this one, though. Illinois had two interceptions, two lost fumbles and two absolute killer penalties.
After a 6-0 start, Zook-mania has subsided dramatically, thanks to three consecutive losses. And the Illini next face Michigan and Wisconsin on consecutive Saturdays.
Seated in the front row at Best Buy Theater:
Alabama RB Trent Richardson -- Look for LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis to put 31 players in the box and perhaps even Mike VI in an effort to stop Richardson this week. The Tigers don't want Richardson to win the Heisman on their watch.
Luck -- Yeah, he threw an interception that USC returned for a go-ahead TD with 3:08 left in regulation. But he also led Stanford to a game-tying score with 38 seconds remaining, threw a TD pass in the third overtime and the two-point conversion pass to give the Cardinal the lead. He finished 29-of-40 for 330 yards, three TD passes and one rushing TD. And undefeated Stanford won 56-48.
Keenum -- No. 1 in the FBS in total offense, passing yards per game, total passing yards and points responsible for. He's No. 2 in passing efficiency. He's averaging a ridiculous 14.77 yards per pass completion, while completing nearly 72 percent of his pass attempts. He has 32 TD passes and just two interceptions. And Houston is 8-0.
Keep a coat and tie handy:
Moore, Weeden, Jones, Griffin III.
Long shot: Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson.
Thanks for stopping by the booth: Texas Tech QB Seth Doege.
When trying to make sense of conference realignment (is that possible?), always consult an expert.
I called the godfather of conference expansion, former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, who added Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991 to create a 12-team league and the first-ever SEC championship game. Even Kramer is having a hard time wrapping his arms around the chaos.
|Roy Kramer is the godfather of conference expansion.|
"I'm not sure anybody has a real take on it," he said. "It has developed so rapidly. I hope everybody has looked at all of the issues and factors involved.
"But I have a feeling you're going to see more activity. I wonder if you'll see more activity where schools are jumping back and forth."
For example: TCU, which has bounced around like it's paying month-to-month on its rent. The Horned Frogs left the Mountain West for the Big East, but left the Big East for the Big 12 before actually playing a game in the Big East.
Of course, no conference is under more duress than the Big East. It has been cherry-picked to near-death.
Kramer didn't predict the future of Big East football, but he did say that Big East partner (sort of, kind of) Notre Dame, which uses the conference for everything but football, isn't going anywhere soon. Interesting, since I see the Fighting Irish eventually looking long and hard at an ACC alliance.
"I would anticipate they would be an independent for the foreseeable future," said Kramer, citing ND's basketball relationship with the Big East and its fondness for the Northeast market. "At some point, could that change? Maybe. But I don't see it as imminent."
And the ACC and Notre Dame?
"If they want that basketball relationship," he said. "But geographically it doesn't fit, to a great extent. Of course, the Big Ten has been the most logical place for it to work out."
True. But Notre Dame also has stiff-armed the Big Ten twice. Personally, I think the Big Ten plane has likely left the terminal.
"I've been around this game so long that I hear, 'That will never happen,"' Kramer said. "But five or six years later, something happens."
Kramer watched with a certain sadness and amusement as actual United States senators injected themselves into the recent Big 12-West Virginia-Louisville dynamic.
WVU was supposedly a lock to join the Big 12. But that was before Louisville, with some heavy-hitter lobbying from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made a late run at the opening created by Missouri's impending departure to the SEC.
McConnell's back-channel work prompted Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to express their outrage over the process.
In short, how dare Louisville and McConnell do a better job lobbying for a conference switch than West Virginia!
"Politicians like to get their names in the paper," Kramer said. "They get involved in things like that because they know a lot of people are looking at it. This [the issue of realignment] will be solved by university presidents and institutions."
Kramer gave a thumbs-up on the SEC's decision to add Texas A&M and possibly Mizzou to the league. Similar types of institutions and geographically workable.
Thumbs down, though, to the football merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA.
"You're not going to have a conference in that relationship," Kramer said. "You might have a consortium, or whatever you want to call it. The strength of a conference -- and this is one of the things you need to look at long and hard -- is built on the relationships with a limited number of institutions. When you lose that, I think you've gone outside of what you want to do.
"I don't think that [merger] really, in the long term, solves very many problems."
According to Kramer, only four conferences are in true positions of strength and stability: the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC.
"You've got a great deal of flux in the rest of the landscape," he said.
"And it's your fault," I told Kramer. "You started all of this."
Said Kramer: "They blame me for everything else. They might as well blame me for this."
Arkansas squeaked out a 31-28 win at Vanderbilt, but the Commodores won the battle of celebrity spectators.
Vandy alum Jay Cutler was in attendance, thanks to a Chicago Bears bye week. And Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, also on a bye, was there too.
Rodgers watched his brother Jordan nearly pull off the upset against Arkansas, which trailed Vandy by as many as 14 points late in the second quarter. Jordan, making his third career start, completed 15 of 27 passes for 240 yards and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
With Jordan in the lineup, Vandy almost rallied against Georgia, beat Army 44-21 while piling up 550 yards of total offense, and helped produce 462 total yards in the loss against Arkansas (the Commodores missed a 27-yard game-tying field goal with eight seconds left).
And no, Jordan doesn't do the championship belt thing like Aaron does after a TD.
"Obviously there won't be the phone interviews for players and the attention on campus, and we go back to reality. And sometimes you have to have that."
-- Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville after a 41-7 loss to Iowa State. The defeat came just one week after Texas Tech upset then-No. 1 Oklahoma to jump into the top 20.
Bama over LSU, Stanford over Oregon State, Oklahoma State over K-State, Boise over UNLV, Oregon over Washington, OU over Texas A&M, Nebraska over Northwestern, Michigan over Iowa, Houston over UAB, Michigan State over Minnesota, Wisconsin over Purdue, Arizona State over UCLA, Georgia over New Mexico State, West Virginia over Louisville, Pittsburgh over Cincinnati and Southern Miss over East Carolina.
Flyer pick: South Carolina over Arkansas.
I've been tough on Lane Kiffin, who employed the scorched-earth policy when he left Tennessee for USC after one screwy, divisive and wasted season. And Kiffin deserved every bit of criticism he received.
|Lane Kiffin earns points for motivating his team, even if his outburst cost him in the end.|
But little by little, Kiffin is beginning to distinguish himself as a coach who might -- might -- be worth keeping around.
He still has his knucklehead moments, but they come less frequently. Credit USC athletic director Pat Haden for reading him the Trojan riot act and showing some tough love. That's what Kiffin needed at Tennessee, but he never got it from enabler UT athletic director Mike Hamilton. Hamilton is now the former UT AD.
Because of NCAA sanctions, the Trojans are ineligible for the postseason and, in many ways, have nothing to play for except pride. But give Kiffin credit for pushing them to a 6-2 record, which could have been 7-1 had they not fumbled the ball away in the third overtime against Stanford.
Kiffin will tell you that an official's broken promise at the end of regulation cost USC the upset win. And Kiffin would be wrong.
Even if USC had been granted a timeout with one second to play in regulation -- as Kiffin insisted he was owed -- there was no guarantee that the Trojans would have made a game-winning 50-yard field goal. And it's not like the entire final play of the second half, when USC wide receiver Robert Woods was tackled just as time expired, wasn't reviewed by replay officials.
But Kiffin felt wronged and said so Saturday night and again Sunday.
"I was basically lied to," he said the day after the 56-48 loss.
Whatever. USC still had a chance to win in OT but didn't do it.
Kiffin had to know the comments were going to cost him. Sure enough, on Monday the Pac-12 fined him $10,000.
It was a heartbreaking loss for a team playing with a lot of heart. Kiffin deserves kudos for keeping the Trojans focused and, with rare exception (the Arizona State game), competitive this season.
He also has a right to be frustrated and exasperated with the no-timeout call. It doesn't mean the officials made a mistake; it just means he can be upset about it.
Most of all, Kiffin has the right to be proud of his team. And Haden and the Trojans have reason to be proud of Kiffin.
He still isn't a polished head coach, but the difference between Tennessee Kiffin and USC Kiffin are significant. And overdue.
There are some things you simply can't make better.
|Ohio State debuted new uniforms Saturday. The BMOC is not a fan.|
The Sistine Chapel. Seats on the 50-yard line. The ending of "Casablanca."
And Ohio State's unis.
So what was with the 2060-futuristic uni look the Buckeyes wore Saturday against Wisconsin? Woody Hayes would have slapped the designer.
I get it: Programs want their uniforms to pop. They want recruits and players to consider their programs cutting-edge. They want to sell products.
But you don't mess with one of the 10 best unis in all of college football. Ever.
Oregon, sure. Knock yourself out. Ohio State? Please don't do that again.
What's next for the Buckeyes? No more dotting the i?
No contest -- it's Houston's Keenum.
Keenum needs just 267 yards at Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday to surpass Hawaii's Timmy Chang and become the NCAA career yardage passing leader. He already owns four other major NCAA career records.
Runner-up: Keenum's teammate, UH wide receiver Patrick Edwards.
This is not a misprint: Edwards averaged 45 yards per catch in last Thursday night's 73-34 win against Rice. He had seven receptions for 318 yards. Five of the catches went for touchdowns.
The Big 12's Neinas didn't rule out future expansion in the conference, but said the 10-team format provided round-robin scheduling and a "true championship." In other words, no return of a Big 12 conference championship game anytime soon. Despite a 1-6 record this season, Minnesota gave Jerry Kill a seven-year contract -- and four days later the Golden Gophers upset Iowa. If Minnesota is smart, it will give him another extension before this week's game at Michigan State and an additional extension before the Nov. 12 Wisconsin game. Now that Notre Dame's Brian Kelly has apologized to his team for blaming Charlie Weis' recruits for not buying into his system -- and instantly creating more controversy within the program -- maybe the Fighting Irish can concentrate on, you know, actual football. There's no reason ND can't go into its season finale at Stanford with an 8-3 record. I asked Ivan Maisel this on our weekly podcast: Since 2005, which team has begun the BCS standings at No. 1 and ended the season at No. 1? Answer (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information): none. That isn't good news for LSU. Sure, I dissed Ohio State's Saturday unis, but huge props to coach Luke Fickell and quarterback Braxton Miller for the 33-29 win against the Badgers. Miller's 40-yard TD pass with 20 seconds remaining in the game was the longest completion of the season for OSU. Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, OU's Ryan Broyles and Clemson's Sammy Watkins get lots of national wide receiver love, as they should. But USC's Woods is the only guy to be ranked in the top five nationally in receptions, yardage and all-purpose running. Best moment of the season: Eric LeGrand leading his Rutgers teammates out of the tunnel. The former RU defensive tackle suffers from paralysis caused by a 2010 collision, but his appearance in a motorized wheelchair Saturday was a sight to behold.
Played like p-i-g-s for large chunks of its games against Ole Miss and Vandy. But the Razorbacks escaped, which counts for something.
Tajh Boyd-for-Heisman campaign now has same chance as Ron Paul-for-President effort. Loss to Georgia Tech, two-interception night and 23-of-40 completion performance does him in. But he's only a sophomore.
Rex Burkhead. Sounds like a soap opera name or a running back name. Anyway, Rex can run.
Sooners lose leading rusher Dominique Whaley to a broken ankle on the second play of the game against K-State. They win 58-17. That one was for the former walk-on.
U of O now has all its ducks in a row. Sorry, couldn't help it. They need to get past trap game at U Dub before Nov. 12 game at Stanford.
5. Boise State
With win at UNLV on Saturday, Moore will become winningest quarterback in NCAA history.
Like many of you, I stayed up to watch Luck lead the Cardinal in triple-OT win against USC. The Indianapolis Colts stayed up, too.
3. Oklahoma State
Billionaire OSU booster T. Boone Pickens said I had to rank the Cowboys this high or else he'd buy ESPN and replace BMOC.
Angry LSU fans want to know why I have Tigers ranked below Bama. Answer: I don't know. Too much Dreamland sauce?
National Championship Jr. takes place Saturday night in the houndstooth capital of the world: LSU at Bama.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
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