I hope it doesn't come to this, but in the back of all of our minds, c'mon, admit it, you know it probably will. And so the beauty contest is on. Technically, it began when USC drilled a Virginia team who had just come off a bowl season. Then again, now that UVA team, er, this particular UVA team, is so poorly thought of they are almost a TD underdog to Duke.
At issue: what if there are more than two undefeated teams from BCS conferences? Who gets left out this time? USC, which is the elite powerhouse according to pollsters in the sport right now? Oklahoma? Or an SEC champ that would have to leapfrog someone to make the top two to avoid Auburn's fate a few years back? Heck, you could throw USF in the mix too, although given how far back the Bulls are and the looks of their remaining schedule and it's no sure thing they'd be ranked higher than the BYU-Utah winner.
My three cents: An undefeated SEC champ is not going to get left out, whether that means Georgia, Florida, LSU or Alabama. Any of those teams would have posted too many wins over top 15 teams not to jump up the rankings.
•Georgia's resume would include a win at ASU; over a top 10 Bama team; at LSU, against Florida; at Auburn, over a possible top 25 Ga. Tech team and then against another heavyweight in the SEC title game.
•Florida's list: A three TD win over what might become the ACC champ (Miami); LSU; Georgia; and then the SEC title game.
•LSU's list: At Auburn; at Florida; home against UGA; Alabama and then the SEC title game.
•Alabama's list: A rout of a top 10 Clemson team; at UGA; at LSU; Auburn and then the SEC title game.
The easiest of those four would be Florida's schedule and the Gators still would likely have to beat three top 10 opponents.
Oklahoma's path includes the big Oct. 11 game against Texas, which could be a top five matchup. After that there are games against Texas Tech and at (maybe a top 20) Oklahoma State and a potential meeting with Mizzou that also could be a top 5 team at that point.
USC's road doesn't appear as rough. Yes, the Trojans hammered a top 10 team in Ohio State, 35-3, but expect a lot of doubt to fall upon the merits of those Buckeyes over the next two months from SEC corners. After that, the Trojans are stuck trying to prop up a Pac-10 conference that may not have one other top 25 team and a Notre Dame squad that probably is regarded as a mid-level ACC team, and no conference title game to boost the schedule weight.
The upshot: I don't think USC can afford more than one less-than-impressive win. The Trojans must display that aura of invincibility. They need shutouts and blow outs. Beating unranked Arizona 21-14 or Oregon State 17-10 might spark some indecision in the pollsters minds. That said, I don't think a team outside of OU or the SEC champ could leapfrog an undefeated USC team, meaning I don't see Mizzou, Texas or USF have the schedule strength to make such a jump at this stage.
There is some precedent here, but it comes with a big caveat: In 2003 USC was No. 1 in both human polls but the BCS rankings had the Trojans third, behind LSU and OU, who went on to play for the BCS title, while USC played Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Two things to keep in mind: one, the formula for the BCS standings has been changed and now places more emphasis on the human polls (the Harris Poll and the coaches poll, not the AP poll btw), and two, in 2003, all three of those teams had one loss, which broaches my aura of invincibility quotient that USC needs to maintain/build up. A team that is perceived to be hands-down the best can't also be in the one-loss crowd.
•Has the young Texas defense improved? Depends on what stats you look at. UT, which had been one of the worst ranked pass defenses the past two years, ranks 103rd after three games and still has games upcoming with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell and Todd Reesing. But there is a bright side, as Suzanne Haliburton points out:
"Defensive coordinators used to covet rushing yards allowed per game and per carry. Now it's yards per pass attempt. Will Muschamp's goal is five yards per throw. So far, the Longhorns are averaging 6.18. In 2007, it was 7.61 per attempt. Third-down efficiency also is a valuable measuring stick these days. Muschamp would prefer that his defenses force a punt 70 percent of the time after a third-down play. Texas is now at 68 percent, compared to 61 a season ago. The NCAA doesn't maintain this statistic, but the Big 12 Conference does. The Longhorns are fifth in the league. Scoring defense, as always, is the ultimate defensive statistic. The Texas defense is allowing 11 points per game. That ranks 11th in the country and tops in the Big 12."
•Wisconsin has had some problems tackling thus far, writes Jeff Potrykus.
Obviously with Sam McGuffie up next, that could be a big issue.
•Touching story in the Miami Herald on Canes' DE Eric Moncur coping with the loss of his mother:
"Edwina Moncur, only 5-3, was a talented point guard for Carol City High and then Miami Central High. She met Benny Moncur, also 42, in high school and became his sweetheart at 15. Benny Moncur, 6-9, played two years of basketball at the University of Houston. He said he now has heart problems and was unable to continue working bus maintenance for Broward County Transit. Edwina was a phone operator at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. Both saw their son graduate from UM with a liberal arts degree in December, a month before Edwina was diagnosed with the cancer. ''She was more excited than I was,'' Moncur said of his diploma.
Benny said Edwina "lived for Saturdays and was looking forward to the Florida game all of last year. She died the Saturday before, but she wanted him to play there. He said he could barely get through that game. Last Saturday was easier. Moncur now wears wrist tape with the handwritten words "Rest in Peace.''
''I used to be a little embarrassed of her screaming from the stands,'' Moncur said. "But that was just my mom showing love for me.''
•Linemen are bigger these days. How much bigger? Doug Robinson examines the growth at BYU:
In 1972, LaVell Edwards' first year as head coach, BYU's offensive line averaged 6-foot-2, 226 pounds; this year's line checks in at just under 6-foot-6, 326 pounds -- 100 pounds heavier per man. The runt of the litter is right tackle Travis Bright -- a mere 313 pounds.
•An update on some high-profile small college players: Through three games former Miami/Louisville LB Willie Williams has 35 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks and a blocked kick for NAIA Union (KY) College.
In three games at Jacksonville State, Ryan Perrilloux has completed 58 percent of his passes for 396 yards and has 5 TDs and 2 INTs while also rushing for two TDs and has a 2-1 record.
One-time Ohio State QB Rob Schoenhoft is completing 58 percent with three TDs and six INTs at 1-2 Delaware.
In four games, former OK State QB Bobbie Reid has completed 50 percent for 580 yards with four TDs and four INTs for a 2-2 team.
LaMarcus Coker, the former Tennessee RB, has run for 254 yards in four games at Hampton.
•Army coach Stan Brock continues to search for positives from an offense that has produced 20 points and a Division I-A high 10 lost fumbles in the first three games, writes Sal Interdonato:
"Twenty points is ridiculous," Brock said. "We need to give ourselves opportunities to score. To have 13- or 14-play drives that look very successful and look very promising and to come away with no points, it gives you a little bit of a good feeling and a sour taste in your mouth."
•Quote of the Day: "We got a freshman on him? That's not good," Mark Richt said in mock surprise about the prospect of freshman center Ben Jones blocking 365-pound Terrence Cody. "Ben's a tough kid but I've not seen anybody that would be a match for this guy on Saturdays or Sundays probably."
•What makes LSU's Charles Scott such a force? Chris Low digs into the issue here:
"He runs through a lot of arm tackles and keeps his legs moving," LSU senior center Brett Helms said. "He's such a load to bring down. He just needs a little crease and he's gone, and that makes our job so much easier."
•Sounds like TCU has another converted RB making plays at defensive end, as Bobbi Roquemore writes.
Jerry Hughes a 6-2, 250-pounder "has taken everyone by surprise, including himself. Hughes played in all 13 games as a sophomore and emerged in the 26-3 victory over New Mexico, winning the Mountain West Conference player of the week after collecting six tackles, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In TCU's 48-7 victory last Saturday at SMU, Hughes returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown."
•Darian Hagan is expecting to be targeted this weekend by a Colorado State team that offers a deep-threat offense, writes Rusty Simmons.
"I can't wait," Hagan said. "They'll try to attack me, because of what happened last year, and that's what I hope for."
With Cal leading 34-14 at Colorado State last season, Hagan was a late replacement. He got burned for two big passes, including a 66-yard touchdown play. He was pulled and didn't play any snaps at corner in the final 11 games.
•Towering prep QB Brock Osweiler, the one-time Gonzaga basketball recruit, plans on enrolling early at ASU, Jeff Metcalfe reports.
"ASU proposed this idea," Osweiler said. "I thought about it and ever since I made the decision, I have no regret. I'm having a blast now, we just finished Homecoming week. When January rolls around, I'll be ready to move on to something different."