Louisville took a giant step toward Glendale with their win on Thursday night. They showed their offensive capabilities. The other side of the ball remains a question mark though. Ohio State and Michigan remained on track for a mammoth showdown in two weeks. The winner will be the top ranked team and the favorite for the crown.
There is still an outside shot the other spot will become available. Louisville likely needs to drop a game for the SEC, Big 12, or Pac 10 to place a team in Glendale. Or they could be so unimpressive over the next few weeks that voters drop them a slot or two. Louisville and the Michigan/Ohio State winner have to be considered the favorites.
Tier 1--The Favorites
- Ohio State 10-0--For the first time all season, the Buckeyes were unimpressive. They needed to recover an onside kick late to preserve victory. It doesn't matter though. One more road trip before the Wolverines visit. Next up: at Northwestern.
- Louisville 8-0--The Cardinals passed their first real test of the season but still have four games left on their schedule. Two more big road games remain though starting with another Thursday night showdown against an undefeated Rutgers squad. Louisville is second in the nation in total offense, while Rutgers is second in the nation in total defense. However, Pittsburgh is the best team Rutgers has faced so far. Next up: at Rutgers Thursday ESPN.
- Michigan 10-0--For the second week in a row, the Wolverines were not sharp. Michigan was a 35 point favorite on Saturday but had to prevent a late Ball State touchdown that could have tied the game. Michigan did pound out an impressive 352 yards on the ground. Manningham is back but not yet back to his old self. They will need more production from their star wideout to beat the Buckeyes. Next up: at Indiana.
- USC 7-1--The Trojan backups would have provided a better test than Stanford did. In the beauty contest among one-loss teams, Saturday's win did nothing to impress the voters. But there are plenty of opportunities to impress just around the corner. Although, USC won't leave LA, their remaining schedule is filled with landmines. Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame are the next three opponents. Running the table could catapult them up the rankings. Next up: Oregon.
- Florida 8-1--It would be easy to get down on the Gators after only a six point win over Vandy. Their defense gave up nearly 400 yards and the offense turned the ball over three times. But road wins in the SEC are not easy and Vanderbilt is not that bad. The Gators must be more impressive over the next four games if they hope to hold off the Horns. Steve Spurrier visits this weekend. Next up: South Carolina.
- Texas 9-1--The Oklahoma State game reminded me of last year's home games: total domination. With the Aggies loss, clinching the South is right around the corner. The national championship game remains a stretch but would anyone be upset with back to back conference championships and a trip to a BCS bowl for the third straight year? I wouldn't. Next up: at Kansas State.
- California 7-1--Cal gets the nod for the last spot over the Golden Domers. They already have wins over Oregon and Washington State. The Bears' defense is far from dominant but their offense is really clicking. Remember the Pac 10 title goes through Los Angeles though. Next up: at Arizona.
Close: Arkansas 8-1 & Auburn 9-1--I expect the Razorbacks to drop a game soon and Auburn shouldn't be in the discussion unless they win the SEC West.