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Week 6: Florida looking like a safe BCS bet

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Now that Florida has proven it can win the big games even while protecting Tim Tebow with a conservative dive-and-defense game plan, it's already crystal clear that the Gators will land in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game on Jan. 7. Of course, we previously thought that would happen, but with the way the Gators can run the ball and play defense these days, this sure feels like a race for No. 2, as teams vie for a chance to get beaten by Tebow and the Gang in Pasadena.
Next Sunday, the first of the BCS polls will be released, creating what would appear to locked-in 1 and 2 for the foreseeable future. Granted, upsets are part of the deal, and we're sure to see plenty of them the rest of the season. Yet, it's quite plain to see that Florida and Texas are a cut above the rest of the teams in the country. Every other team already has a loss or a significant flaw that will keep it from being able to pass either Texas or Florida. In the case of No. 3 Alabama, the Tide would have to beat Florida in the SEC title game — and that surely won't happen this season; not with the inconsistent Bama offense and the Gators' ability to play great in big games. The same can be said for Kansas in the Big 12: Nice, exciting team, but the Jayhawks are not going to run the table, and even if they did, they wouldn't beat Texas in the Big 12 championship game. The other undefeated teams are Iowa, Boise State, this week's Cincinnati-South Florida winner in the Big East, and TCU, none of which can rise enough to threaten to break in if the Top 2 remain unbeaten. It would take a complete meltdown of the best teams, which is what we had last year. Bring it on. Ah, but if two-loss Oklahoma were to beat Texas, then a whole world of possibilities opens up. Suddenly, those unbeaten teams gain some hope, and even one-loss teams like Virginia Tech, USC, Oregon, and even Miami, would see paths to Pasadena in front of them.

Despite everything ...

Despite losing twice with Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford on the sideline, Oklahoma's season starts now. Should the Sooners beat Texas on Saturday, all would be forgiven and they'd gain not only the early inside track to the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champion, but a national championship game appearance would not be completely out of the question (especially since their losses were on the road at BYU and Miami, teams with a combined 9-2 record). Despite losing to Alabama at the start of the season, 34-24, Virginia Tech looks like the third-best team in the country right now. No, 'Bama fans, that doesn't mean they deserve to be ranked ahead of the Tide, it just means that they have improved significantly and are showing outstanding balance in all phases of the game (yes, more so than Alabama) ... and that whoever gets to face Frank Beamer's team in a bowl game (Orange Bowl?) is going to have a tough time. Tyrod Taylor has given the Hokies the deep pass threat they desperately needed. Despite losing to Washington a few weeks ago, USC steps into the section of its schedule when it can regain a measure of national respect. This week at Notre Dame will be interesting, and then they visit Eugene, Ore., to face the hottest team in the Pac-10. Should the Trojans come out on top of those two, they'll certainly pull back into the top five, and then see how things shake out. Despite losing to Boise State in their season opener, Oregon has gotten more impressive every week since then. The Ducks' 24-10 win at UCLA was accomplished Saturday without quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who sat out with a knee injury. Now the Ducks get a bye to get Masoli and others healed up, then they visit Washington before hosting USC on Halloween night, which promises to be one of the wildest nights in college football this season. Despite losing to Florida, 13-3, LSU's season is far from lost. The Tigers acquitted themselves well on defense, but their offense was hopeless for much of the night. Thing is, they now have a month to get things sorted out preceding their SEC West showdown at Alabama. Jordan Jefferson seems to be more effective in the two-minute offense than in the run of the game, and by the time they face the Crimson Tide defense, LSU will have to be able to count on their quarterback for more consistent play. Get it then, and they have every reason to think they can match Florida hit-for-hit and win with a big play or two, which currently are not a part of their offensive repertoire.

While you were sleeping

It was appropriate that much of the nation was fast asleep by the time Georgia Tech finished off Florida State on Sunday morning. The 49-44 Georgia Tech victory was almost too painful to watch. The game was delayed more than an hour by lightning, and the game dragged on for almost five hours, as the Seminoles gave up seven touchdown drives, got two turnovers, and never forced a punt. Actually, they took the ball away three times, but on one critical fumble return in the fourth quarter, Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt stole it back, setting up what would prove to be the put away touchdown. With all of the attention given to Bobby Bowden and his troubles with the university's board of trustees, it was shocking how the defense appeared to be distracted, unprepared and generally overwhelmed against the Tech option attack. The FSU offense, led by QB Christian Ponder, stayed in the game, putting up 35 first-half points, but the defense never really gave Bowden and the rest of the team any hope. By the end, Ponder and FSU's 539 yards had been trumped by the seven touchdowns and 532 yards by Tech.

Our luck has changed

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Perhaps the most dramatic ending Saturday actually happened Sunday morning. After spending much of the week gnashing their teeth at their bad luck at Notre Dame, Washington got the breaks this time. The Huskies used a goal-line stand to stay close, but still trailed by 12 with four minutes to go. That's when Jake Locker drove them to a touchdown to close the deficit to 33-28 with 2:55 remaining. On the first play after that, Arizona QB Nick Fokes passed to a falling Delashaun Dean, and the Arizona wideout had the ball go off his foot and bound into the hands of UW linebacker Mason Foster. A surprised Foster snatched it out of the air — Washington had gotten the break it was aching for in last week's dramatic loss to Notre Dame — and spun around and ran 37 yards for the winning touchdown. Suddenly the Huskies are 3-3, and a bowl game following last year's 0-12 season is very much in their sights.

A glance ahead

Wednesday, Oct. 14
  • Boise State at Tulsa: Can 4-1 Hurricane (only loss is to Oklahoma) derail the Broncos?

  • Thursday, Oct. 15
  • Cincinnati at South Florida: Two ranked, undefeated teams in Big East game of the year.

  • Saturday, Oct. 17
  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas) : Bradford vs. McCoy, et al.; The season begins now for these guys.
  • Arkansas at Florida: Hogs hope to get into a shootout, but Gators won't allow it.
  • South Carolina at Alabama: Gamecocks are playing well enough to catch Bama at the right time.
  • Ohio State at Purdue: Defense is everything to Buckeyes, and that's enough.
  • Iowa at Wisconsin: Hawkeyes are the class of the Big Ten, but Camp Randall is tough.
  • USC at Notre Dame: Are the Irish for real? There's only one way to find out.
  • Texas Tech at Nebraska: Cornhuskers haven't beaten Red Raiders since 2001.
  • Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech: Game of the year in the ACC.
  • Missouri at Oklahoma State: Cowboys rolled a 36 even without WR Dez Bryant, can they keep it up?
  • Tagged: Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Kansas, Texas, Boise State, Arizona, Alabama, Washington, LSU, South Florida, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Florida, Georgia Tech, Florida State

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