Now that we have reached October, we can eliminate certain teams from the BCS discussion (we think) and look forward to the games where the conferences could be decided. Some teams that appeared dead have new life, some who had opportunities have fallen flat, and some teams are shocking the country and the polls at the moment. This weekend will be a big turning point for the direction in which this season will head going into the second half. After the break we go conference by conference including the at-large possibilites and break down who's cresting, who's crestfallen, and who has a chance to crack the BCS.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have shaken off their loss to East Carolina and taken control of the Coastal division yet again. It seems familiar territory for Va Tech by getting over a tough non-conference loss and then getting tough wins in conference. The other two teams that seem to be the challengers in the Coastal division, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, both lost games to the Hokies that they probably should have won. Thus, Virginia Tech has the edge over both of those teams if it came down to a tiebreaker. That being said, Georgia Tech and North Carolina have garnered tough conference wins and blown out non-conference BCS opponents at home, Mississippi State and UCONN respectively. Duke got a reality check from Georgia Tech Saturday, but the Blue Devils are still an unknown for the year and could make some noise.
In the Atlantic division, Wake Forest holds the top spot despite losing what sliver of hope they had for the BCS title by losing to Navy. A four team log-jam exists behind the Deacs as Clemson faltered to Maryland but then the Terps inexplicably got hammered by Virginia on Saturday. Florida State may have found their stride after beating Miami and Boston College edged NC State but no one would count those teams as legitimate contenders at this point. This still should be a race between Wake and Clemson and that's why...
ACC Game to Watch this week: Clemson at Wake Forest, Thursday 7:30
South Florida opened their conference play with a complete pooch-screw against the Stache and Pitt. Shady McCoy ran all over the Bulls defense in the Thursday night victory. The loss knocked the Bulls and the Big East out of title contention, but there is still a BCS bowl bid up for grabs. Believe it or not Pitt stands atop the conference at 2-0, with UCONN and West Virginia right behind. Things could get incredibly hazy as the season goes on. Who knows if Pitt can keep this up, West Virginia has been less than stellar and Pat White wasn't even able to finish agasint Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are shades of their former selves and there is no way of knowing if South Florida will rebound or collapse like they did after the dissapointing loss they had last year. No guesses here on how this will play out, we will just have to wait and see.
Big East Game to Watch this week: Cincinnati at Rutgers, Saturday 12:00
There are many people that wanted to label the Buckeyes dead in the water after getting their backsides punted in the LA Coliseum a month ago, but Ohio State is back in the hunt after returning to the friendly confines of Big Ten conference play. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers in Camp Randall ending Wisconsin's home winning streak, BCS title hopes, and most likely their conference title chances all in one fell swoop. Michigan State also stands at 2-0 in the conference but not having faced the top teams as of yet and same can be said of Northwestern who is 1-0. This appears to be a two-team race between Ohio State and Penn State. The Nittany Lions have looked strong on offense and after holding Purdue to 6 points on Saturday, the defense may be coming along as well. The meeting in 3 weeks in Columbus, where Penn State has not had success recently could very well decide the conference and also seal the fate of Ohio State for the title game or give them an incredible boost forward.
It is fortunate for Ohio State that Penn State has jumped so high in the polls which allows a big boost by the computer polls if Ohio State wins. The problem is going to be getting the vote from the pollsters, specifically the AP. Many feel that Ohio State has had their chances in past including their match-up with USC, but OSU is a different team now. Terrelle Pryor is the full-time QB and they have Beanie Wells back, if the others in front of them fall and they win out, Ohio State may get yet another chance. On the Penn State side of things, they have impressed enough to be in position in the polls at number 6 and have given themselves a chance to slip into the title game. I don't think Wisconsin has its band back this week.
Big Ten Game to Watch this week: Penn State at Wisconsin, 8:00
Xtra Medium likes to point out how I always use the Roman Numerals when referring to the Big XII but I'm so used to it I can't stop now. It seems nothing can stop Oklahoma at the moment. Bradford gets all the press, but the Sooners are very strong up front. Texas and Missouri have also proven they can pound inferior competition, but Texas Tech, Kansas, and Oklahoma State are going to put up a fight in the conference. The conference has 3 teams in the top 5, which will undoubtedly change after this weekend but still, any of these teams has more than a legitimate shot at making the BCS title game. Mizzou looks more polished than they did last year, and luckily they don't have the Sooners on the regular season schedule and if they do face them in the conference championship, it will be at Arrowhead in Kansas City.
Not many people are mentioning Texas except to say that not many people are mentioning them; they have to be the quietest 5th ranked team I can remember. Oklahoma State comes to visit Missouri this weekend in what should be a fantastic air-it-out-laser-light-show match-up, but the big game will be in Dallas. If you in anyway hold college football dear, you will be watching the Red River Rivarly.
Big XII game to Watch this week: Texas at Oklahoma, Saturday 12:00
Was there any doubt that Pete Carroll was going to light up the scoreboard against Oregon Saturday night? The Trojans took out there frustration against the Ducks, and it appears as if they will not overlook any conference opponents again this season. But looks can always be deceiving. The real challenge would seem to come from Cal, which has nipped USC in the past, but would still be outgunned against the Trojans. The Pac Ten has fallen off in terms of conference reputation this year due to some bad performances out of conference.
For this year, it is Trojan-watch to see if USC can run the table the rest of the way. The polls are kind to USC, placing them in position to scoot up if the teams in front of them fall. The media seems to be as willing to give USC the benefit of the doubt as they are to hammer down non-BCS teams or the Buckeyes. Every week from here on out, the Trojans are the game to watch; this week it's ASU's turn to try to pull the shocker.
Pac Ten Game to Watch this week: Arizona St. at USC, Saturday 3:30
If you had Vandy and Alabama at the top of the two divisions of the SEC 3 games into conference play, you are a liar...and a jerk. The Commodores have two games left, at Georgia and Florida at home, where they would be the decided underdog, if they win one or both of thsoe games, yikes. The SEC has been thrown on its head and if Kentucky could have been a little sharper against Alabama, mass hysteria could have broken out. The Tide proved they are vunurable just like everyone in the conference on Saturday, but they hold their destiny in their hands. The Tide face off against LSU in Baton Rouge November 8th as it looks as though these two will decide the west now that Auburn has slipped behind.
The East is where the proverbial "stuff" can hit the fan. Georgia will have two weeks to ponder the thumping Bama gave them, but vindication can be theirs if they run the gauntlet which includes, LSU, Vandy, and Florida. It starts for the Bulldogs this Saturday against the Vols. In a game that usually is a rivalry, this should be a statement game for Georgia. Florida is in the same boat, every game is a must win, which still could make the match-up with Georgia the deciding game in the east, unless Vandy continues its improbable run. If Vanderbilt falters, no one will blame them, it is just amazing that they are one game from bowl eligibility. Business picks up this week in the SEC with the game to watch in the Swamp.
SEC Game to Watch this week: LSU at Florida, Saturday 8:00
Notre Dame fans may be upset at not getting ranked this week, but they will have their claim if they can win at North Carolina on Saturday. After Carolina, the schedule has some "winnable" games for the Irish, but we really don't know who this team is. The bottom line is that Notre Dame's BCS chances rest on winning out, yes that includes their game at USC to end the regular season. In other words, be happy getting back to a bowl game Irish fans.
In the Mountain West, Utah and BYU have done what they need to put the BCS at-large bid in reach. They both look impressive, have multiple wins over BCS-conference opponents, and so far are undefeated. The huge match-up November 22 between the two leaves one hoping they are still undefeated at that point which would set-up the biggest clash in the state of Utah since the Mormons arrived and took on the natives. The one large road block for both teams is TCU, who although humiliated in Norman by Oklahoma, have a stout team.
Boise State appears to be on the outside looking in for a BCS at-large birth but the Broncos can only control what they do on the blue field and so far it is win. The one big win they are holding onto at Oregon depends on how the ducks make it through the rest of the season. The biggest game left for the Broncos is the last one against Fresno St., who stumbled against Hawai'i in its first conference game. The Bulldogs are tough but Boise gets the game at home, where they have been lights out in WAC games.
At-Large Bid Game to Watch this week: Notre Dame at North Carolina, Saturday 3:30