Round And Round In The Pac-12
By Steve Barnes
The Pac-12 round robin continues.
UCLA faces Oregon this week seven days after the Bruins fell to Stanford. Stanford had fallen the week before at Utah to give the Cardinal and UCLA a conference loss. The Ducks face the Bruins this week, then Stanford to decide the Pac-12 North.
Oregon, on paper, is the best team in the league, but it is the Pac-12. Remember Jim Harbaugh taking a 41-point underdog into USC and beating the Trojans?
Look for Oregon to have learned from its past indiscretions and take care of UCLA this week and Stanford next.
After that, it is Oregon State, the league title game and a probable trip to Pasadena for the BCS title shot.
Still, this is the Pac-12.
AREN'T THEY A LITTLE BORED?: I noticed something strange about Purdue's schedule this season. Saturday marks the fourth game day in October and the Boilermakers are off. That is nothing new, Purdue only played two games in the month. Two games in 31 days will either make the Boilermakers rusty or rested.
Looking at the Purdue season thus far, bet on rusty.
QUIET IN DIXIE THIS WEEK: The SEC might be the most exciting conference in college football, but this week the schedule makers decided to take some time off. Top-ranked Alabama plays host to not-quite-good-enough-yet Tennessee, Ole Miss has Idaho, Florida Atlantic goes to Auburn and those seem to be the highlights.
But don't forget Mizzou. Here comes another chance to convert non-believers. South Carolina, in a weird geographical coincidence, leaves Columbia to go to Columbia on Saturday. Should Missouri pull this one off, it can make reservations for Atlanta in December.
Who saw that coming?
HEISMAN POSES AND POSERS: Out this week and probably for good is Georgia's Aaron Murray and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. On the outside looking in are two undefeated quarterbacks in Braxton Miller of Ohio State and Alabama's A.J. McCarron. They are great field generals, but neither has produced that SportsCenter moment that voters need. Tajh Boyd's candidacy also has taken up residence on a milk carton.
Still, the top three are quarterbacks. Jameis Winston performed on the field at Clemson last week, and maybe more importantly, ABC broadcast the redshirt freshman giving a rousing pregame speech in the Florida State locker room that got his team off to a hot start. Johnny Manziel could not pull off the comeback last week against Auburn, but does it seem as if the kid is growing up a little bit? The Heisman voters might like that.
My No. 1 remains Marcus Mariota of Oregon. By the end of the season, this guy's highlight reel will be as long as "Dances With Wolves."
A DAY TO BE IN TALLAHASSEE: Saturday will be emotional in the Florida capital. Bobby Bowden, who turned FSU from a women's college (through 1947) to a football power, will make his return to Doak Campbell Stadium after being unceremoniously dismissed four years ago.
An estimated 400 former players are expected to be in attendance to see Bobby Bowden plant the flaming spear in the turf named for him prior to kickoff.
One thing the Seminoles should remember is North Carolina State comes to town to play a little football. The Wolfpack have a habit of knocking off Florida State when it is riding high.
Florida State will enjoy the pregame festivities, but its fans should hope the Noles remember to buckle their chin straps.
THIS ONE SNUCK UP ON US: In the Big 12, there is a Top-15 battle this week. No. 10 Texas Tech goes to Norman for a shot at the 15th-ranked Sooners. While the game is intriguing, the big question is how many athletic directors will tune in to check out Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury?
His youth, enthusiasm and knowledge of how to get his team to fling the ball all over the field makes him a hot commodity to be poached out of Lubbock. Can anyone say, "poster child for the Longhorn Network?"
GOOD MID-MAJOR GAME IN BLUEGRASS STATE: The best game in the Sun Belt this week features Troy at Western Kentucky. WKU has had enough personalities to keep a team of psychologists busy this season. The Hilltoppers beat in-state big boy Kentucky to start the year, but lost at South Alabama.
Troy started well, then its season was derailed with a late loss at Arkansas State followed by losses to Mississippi State and Duke.
The winner of this one could be bowl eligible; the loser will be home for Christmas.
Watch the Trojans in this one. Record-setting quarterback Corey Robinson is in the last half of his final season at Troy. He happens to hail from Paducah, Ky., so he might be looking to make a bold statement on the field and on the stat sheet in front of a bunch of family and friends wearing Cardinal.