10. Navy @ Notre Dame (Saturday 2:30 PM EST, NBC)
Well, week nine didn’t bring us the surprises at the top of the polls that almost became commonplace during October, but they did bring us a rather definitive statement as to who has a shot at playing for the national title in New Orleans. Thanks to numbers nine through twelve all getting knocked off, the line between contenders and pretenders has been neatly drawn under the Kansas Jayhawks (yes, Kansas!) at number eight in the new BCS poll.
10. #4 Montana @ Northern Arizona (Saturday 6:05 PM EST)
Weren’t expecting to see an FCS game here, were you? Well, the Grizzlies have a one-game lead on the Lumberjacks in the Big Sky, and the winner stands to gain a lot in the conference title hunt. The Grizz, led by quarterback Cole Bergquist (1348 yards, eleven touchdown passes) and running back Lex Hilliard (570 yards and ten rushing touchdowns), possess a balanced offensive attack and have won seven games by a margin of 22.6 points per game. NAU will have their hands full, but at least this one’s in Flagstaff.
Another week and another top ten team falls hard to an unranked opponent. This week brought Vanderbilt winning at South Carolina, 17-6. Both Gamecock quarterbacks, Chris Smelley and Blake Mitchell, performed poorly in this one, and the Commodores move to 4-3. Vandy is no longer a pushover in the SEC, and as Steve Spurrier pointed out in his post game comments, he knew that. It’s just a shame that his players didn’t seem to get the message. With one weekend left before the season’s final month, top teams should be alert each weekend and not just for the “big” games.
10. Penn State @ Indiana, Saturday Noon EST (ESPN)
The Lions, fresh off their blowout of Wisconsin, head to Bloomington to take on the 5-2 Hoosiers, who look to be on their way to reaching that elusive bowl game. The key to this one will be how the Indiana offense, led by quarterback Kellen Lewis and wide receiver James Hardy, deals with a stout Penn State defense led by standout linebackers Dan Connor and Sean Lee.
9. Texas A&M @ Nebraska, Saturday 2:05 PM EST
Well, yet another wild and unpredictable weekend of college football is in the books, followed by the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings that paint a picture of just how crazy things have been. Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma in the top five is something that is almost expected, given the proud histories of these programs. But South Florida and Boston College at two and three, respectively?
10. East Carolina @ UTEP (Saturday 9:05 PM EST, MASN Regional)
The two leaders in Conference USA get together for what could be a wild affair. While the Pirates have struggled offensively (106th nationally), they have been tested on the road. And UTEP has given up 45 and 47 points in their last two games, both wins.
9. Bowling Green @ Miami-Ohio (Saturday 3 PM EST, ESPN GamePlan)
Well "Gut-Check Saturday" was focused on some major battles that would stand to have a major impact on conference and national title races. And while we learned some important things about some of the nation's best, as well as some who hadn't been tested yet, did anyone expect USC's 35-game home winning streak to end against...Stanford?
After the rash of upsets last weekend, some of the marquee games for this upcoming Saturday take on a whole new meaning. Instead of harboring national title ambitions, teams such as Florida, Oklahoma and Texas are looking to stay in control of their conference races. All of a sudden, the Big 12 North looks a lot stronger than anticipated, with two key games this weekend setting the pace for the remainder of the season. In the SEC, two important Eastern Division games will serve as eliminators for the division race.
Well, one of the craziest weekends in the recent history of college football is in the books with five of the top ten teams in the country losing. In addition to this LSU passed USC in the AP poll following the Trojans' 27-24 win at Washington. The two favorites in the Big 12 were caught looking ahead to their showdown next weekend, and the defending national champ fell at home to Auburn. The best team (as of right now) in the Big East resides in Tampa, and fans in Kentucky are talking Top Ten without mentioning the hardwood. Here are some of my observations from this past weekend.