By Chris Le
1. Alabama – Looked mediocre for the first time. But when mediocre results in beating a hardheaded South Carolina team by 14 points, with Mark Ingram running for 246 yards – uh, I think you’re pretty good.
2. Florida – Four fumbles. The Gators were on their knees, pleading to lose against Arkansas. But even great teams get lucky, and perhaps the Arkansas game will be the catalyst that engenders the Florida team we all forecasted.
3. USC – Number seven in the BCS rankings? Eleven in the computers?! Add that to the never-ending list of why the BCS sucks, and as the only reason computers suck. With the ever precocious Matt Barkley nonchalantly throwing downfield, the Trojans are quickly erasing any whiff of an Achilles heel. Point to the Washington game — a game in which the Trojans played without Barkley, mind you — all you want. I say: watch them today. See how big and strong and fast and motivated they are at the present. They’ll pass any eyeball test. But unfortunately, last I checked, computers don’t have eyes.
4. Texas – Winning the Red River Rivalry is always cold-lemonade-on-a-hot-day satisfying. But a victory over a Sam Bradford-less Sooners isn’t appreciable; this win won’t look better as the weeks go by. And it’s hard to ignore the Longhorns’ infertile offense. Good thing the defense likes to go Jack the Ripper on opponents, strangling them like they’re unsuspecting prostitutes.
5. Iowa – This year’s team of destiny. No team is more opportunistic or more adept at making lemonade when football life gives them lemons (that’s two lemonade references in a 60-word span; must be a record). No matter the circumstances, the Hawkeyes drag themselves through mud and on to victory. And at the very least, their pluck is admirable. But they’re a Big Ten team. How good can they really be? That’s not an intended knock on the conference; it’s an honest question.
6. Miami – The offensive line is porous and other positions frequently underperform. But there’s talent on this Miami team. It just has to be tapped. Enter: Jacory Harris. The kid is the truth. He’s a type who can galvanize, with his words and his plays, an entire team.
7. Cincinnati – The 34-17 win over South Florida convinced me. The Bearcats are legit, and so is Tony Pike. But legitimacy doesn’t earn them an automatic BCS bowl birth, or even a win next week against Louisville, which may or may not be difficult with Pike on the sidelines. It won’t. Louisville is horrible. But Pike better be 100 percent for West Virginia next month.
8. Boise State – The BCS has a love/hate relationship with the Men of the Blue Turf. The computers underrate the Broncos when they’re deserving (ranked eighth in 2006 after a 12-0 season, and they go on to beat the Oklahoma Sooners in the memorable Fiesta Bowl). But, currently, the computers have a hard-on for the Broncos and their shiny (but shallow) undefeated record. The convoluted formula has the Broncos as the fourth-best team in the country. But love is a fickle and cold-hearted bitch, and I see the computers backstabbing the Broncos at season’s end.
9. Oregon – Last week, I said it was possible to drop without losing. Well, this week’s lesson is: you can rise without playing. That’ll happen with a bye and three higher-ranked teams (Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Nebraska) losing.
10. TCU – The Horned Frogs probably feel a lot like the Little Engine That Could. I think I can … I think I can – go undefeated. Well, I think they won’t. First of all, their mascot is a Horned Frog. How menacing can that be? I’m more intimidated that it’s a Christian school. Secondly, they approach the steepest point of the mountain this week in the form of BYU. The Frogs are getting licked.
1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida – Holds on to the pole position, but only by his finger tips, and it’s slipping. The Gators’ lack of a downfield threat is hurting both Tebow and his teams’ style points.
2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame – Clausen was one play away from being the favorite. Had Clausen come back (i.e. had his receiver not slip on the last play) and beaten the Trojans, it would’ve been the signature win of the season — the kind of win that seals the Heisman.
3. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama – With Greg McElroy impersonating Terrelle Pryor, going full-retard and tossing two interceptions, Ingram almost single handedly beat South Carolina. Ingram has piled up 558 rushing yards the last three games.
4. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati – He would’ve jumped to two or three, but his injury against South Florida might hurt his stock as much as his wrist.
5. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas – McCoy has now thrown seven interceptions and at least one in every game. But he wins. And winning not only gets the chicks, but it’s also the most important part of the formula.
6. Jacory Harris, QB, Miami – Harris has that “it”-factor. Other than Tebow, Harris is the only player who imposes his will. He’ll do anything — interceptions be damned — to lift his team.