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Road to Glendale, Oct. 16th Edition

As predicted the SEC cannibalized itself. After Florida's loss at Auburn, not a single undefeated team remains. The big dogs of the Big Ten marched on, and USC struggled, once again, to put away another Pac 10 foe.

West Virginia and Louisville also continued their perfect runs. I can almost hear the gripping from a one loss SEC team at the end of the season, especially if a Big East team makes the championship game.

Let's take a look at where we stand.

Tier 1--The Favorites

  1. Ohio State 7-0--The Buckeyes coasted past the hapless Spartans on Saturday. Troy Smith did nothing to derail his Heisman campaign throwing for 234 yards and two scores. The rebuilt OSU defense isn't looking to shabby either. Michigan State was held under 200 total yards. Four more wins before Michigan visits Nov. 18th. Next up: Indiana.
  2. Michigan 7-0--To me, the Wolverines are clearly the second best team in the country and have to be considered a favorite for Glendale even if they have to travel to Columbus. Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and the Michigan defense carried them to victory in Happy Valley without star wideout Mario Manningham. The defense held Penn State to negative 14 yards rushing (including sacks). WOW! Four more very winnable contests before the big showdown with the Buckeyes. Next up: Iowa.
  3. West Virginia 6-0--The Mountaineers put up video game numbers on the ground vs. Syracuse. As a team, they rushed for nearly 500 yards. QB Pat White alone gained 235 yards on just 14 carries. Star tailback Steve Slayton added another 178 yards in a supporting role. WVU gets another nationally TV audience to make its case as a premier team. Next up: at UConn on Friday night.
Tier 2--The Contenders
  1. USC 6-0--Yes, they are undefeated but unlike the three teams above, opponents are staying close and making the Trojans play four quarter games. USC has survived Washington State, Washington, and now Arizona State in the last three weeks. Their off week couldn't come at a better time. Their offense is simply not clicking well enough to outscore Oregon, Cal, or Notre Dame. A non-BCS bowl remains a possibility. Next up: Bye.
  2. Louisville 6-0--For the first time all year, the Cardinals played a close game, escaping 23-17 over Cincinnati. That was the bad news. The good news is QB Brian Brohm is back. He gets another outing and an off week to regain his sharpness before West Virginia visits. Next up: at Syracuse.
Tier 3--Need Help
  1. Texas 6-1--It's hard to knock a 32 point win but all of us know that was not a grade A performance by the Horns. Our toughest road tests awaits this Saturday. Our secondary, hopefully with Marcus Griffin and Tarell Brown, must play better if we are to stop Zac Taylor. On offense, Colt will need to be more comfortable in the pocket and put a little less touch on some of his passes. Next up: at Nebraska.
  2. Notre Dame 5-1--The Irish were off this past weekend. Their schedule sets up very nicely. With AP out, could Brady Quinn challenge Smith for the Heisman? Probably not. Five winnable games before a trip to USC. Next up: UCLA.
  3. Auburn 6-1--Their remaining schedule, the win over Florida, and their computer strength puts them in this category. Their inability to score offensive touchdowns could still be their downfall though. Like Florida, they will be favored in all their remaining games and could reach the SEC title game with some help. Next up: Tulane.
  4. Florida 6-1--I only got a chance to see the end of the Auburn contest. Turnovers and the blocked punt proved too much to overcome. The Gators get a chance to regroup this week with a bye week. I know the Georgia contest is a rivalry game but I haven't seen anything from the Bulldogs to make me think that one will be close. Florida should run the table and win the East. Next up: Bye.
  5. California 6-1--The Golden Bears finally let someone hang within three touchdowns. Unfortunately, their 21-3 win at Washington State, where they hadn't won in 27 years, still wasn't close. Three Pac 10 games and an off week remain before a trip to USC for the Pac 10 title. Next up: Washington.
Dropping Out: Tennessee 5-1