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Road to Glendale, October 23rd Edition

What might have been? Saturday was almost a huge day of upsets, but it was all for naught. Nebraska, UCLA, Alabama, and Washington all came close, yet all ended up with losses. The road to Glendale is a little clearer today than it was a week ago. The winner of Michigan / Ohio State should almost certainly be undefeated and claim one spot in the national championship game. The other spot favors the Louisville / West Virginia winner but a couple of Pac 10 teams, a couple of SEC teams, and even Texas remain in the hunt.

Tier 1--The Favorites

  1. Ohio State 8-0--The Buckeyes continued to cruise by destroying Indiana 44-3 at the Shoe. At this point, OSU can almost take a nap and still get to 11-0. Their next three opponents have the three worst conference records in the Big Ten. Also, barring an injury Troy Smith has locked up the Heisman trophy. Next up: Minnesota.
  2. Michigan 8-0--Some of you questioned Michigan inclusion as a Tier 1 team last week (along with OSU from the same conference). On one hand, they are unlikely to get a rematch for the title if they lose to OSU but they do control their own destiny. Win out and they will be favored for the national title. The Wolverines are also the second best team in the country and have the nation's best defense. Last, they have three cupcakes to devour before heading to Columbus. Next up: Northwestern.
  3. West Virginia 7-0--The Mountaineers ran past UConn on Friday night. Pat White and Steve Slayton continued to impress on the ground with more than 100 yards each. It wasn't total domination but the game was never close either. Rich Rodriguez's club gets a week off before a Thursday night showdown with Louisville. The real question is can WVU win if their rushing attack is ever contained. Next up: Bye.
Tier 2--The Contenders
  1. USC 6-0--The Trojans are the only team in the top 25 who has only played six games. They still have six regular season games remaining. USC's schedule is daunting. They have two road games before three straight tough home games: Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame. Check out Building the Dam for the upset pick this week. Next up: at Oregon State.
  2. Louisville 7-0--Brian Brohm is back but the offense has been held in check by Cincinnati and Syracuse in back to back contests. Louisville needed a 4th quarter touchdown to ice the win over the Orangemen. Like WVU, Louisville is off this week. The Cardinals offense better find their rhythm during practice this week or it will be a long Thursday night. Next up: Bye.
Tier 3--Need Help
  1. Texas 7-1--Kicking game and a few breakdowns in the secondary aside, the trip to Lincoln was an impressive one. Colt McCoy looked more poised and capable than he has all season, Limas Sweed continues his Roy Williams impression, and the Texas run defense dominated all game. Tackling and our pass defense will need to improve if we are to survive Lubbock, Mike Leach, and TBS on Saturday night. Next up: at Texas Tech.
  2. Auburn 7-1--A 25 point home win over Tulane proves nothing. Tiger fans had to be pleased with Brandon Cox and the Auburn passing attack though. They will need the ability to move the ball through the air if they are to win out. Remember, Tommy Tubberville's team still needs Arkansas to lose twice down the stretch. Next up: at Mississippi.
  3. Florida 6-1--It's Cocktail Party week in Jacksonville. The Gators have had a week to shake off the disappointing trip to Auburn. Florida's defense should be able to dominate this weekend. Even though Tennessee has a tougher remaining schedule, Florida can't drop another conference game if the expect to take the SEC East title. Next up: Georgia in Jacksonville.
  4. California 7-1--The Golden Bears escaped in overtime 31-24 over Washington. After a slow start to the season, Marshawn Lynch has gone over 100 yards in six of the last seven games. If he didn't play on the west coast, he might be receiving some Heisman love. Cal gets a week off before hosting UCLA in two weeks.  Next up: Bye.
Dropping Out: Notre Dame 6-1
Close: Clemson 7-1