- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2008

WHO’S OVERRATED

No. 15 LSU

The defending national champions’ resume can be described thusly: won a tight game at 5-3 South Carolina and watched Florida and Georgia both hang half a hundred on them in a 15-day span. The Tigers might be the SEC’s fourth-best team, but the chasm between the top three and the rest of the league is wide. This is maybe a top-20 team. Maybe.

WHO’S UNDERRATED

No. 23 OREGON

The Ducks have losses to Boise State (at home) and Southern California (in Los Angeles) to their credit and already have plowed through the Pac-10’s two bye weeks (the Washington schools). But they’re 3-1 on the road and continue to remain a factor in the league race despite virtually no stability at quarterback. They will play a telling game Saturday at California.

PLOT WORTH WATCHING

A HUSKY HIRE

Washington joined Clemson as schools getting a head start on the hiring process when it jettisoned Ty Willingham effective at the end of the season. Former Oakland Raiders coach (and Southern Cal assistant) Lane Kiffin is interested — and why not? The Huskies shouldn’t be this bad, and it’s possible to turn things around quickly in the Pac-10.

HEISMAN QUICK SIX

A look at the contenders for the Heisman Trophy (last week’s rank in parentheses):

1. QB Colt McCoy, Texas (1): How sharp is McCoy these days? If he happens to be 21-for-28 in a half, that constitutes a slow start.

2. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (2): It must be a world of fun to watch Big 12 football every week, a league in which at least one team has scored 50 points in all but one week (Oct. 11).

3. TB Javon Ringer, Michigan State (NR): National MVP? With 300 carries already, Ringer is the reason the Spartans are lurking in the Big Ten race.

4. QB Graham Harrell, Texas Tech (NR): Yes, it’s the system. But Harrell has mastered Mike Leach’s scheme better than any of his predecessors.

5. QB David Johnson, Tulsa (5): The Golden Hurricane are coming off a slow offensive night after dropping just 49 points on Central Florida.

6. TB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (6): Dominated LSU. Up next for the top ‘Dawg: Florida on a neutral field.

SATURDAY PLANNER

Six suggested games to devour during an afternoon on the couch:

Northwestern at Minnesota, noon, ESPN2: Tailback Tyrell Sutton is gone for the season with a wrist injury, a setback that hampers Northwestern but gives Minnesota a chance to get to 8-1.

Miami at Virginia, noon, Chs. 20, 13: Lord Groh protected the manor in October, winning three straight at home as the Cavaliers vaulted to the top of the ACC’s Coastal Division. A victory against the Hurricanes would make Virginia bowl eligible after a 1-3 start.

West Virginia at Connecticut, noon, MASN: On principle, it probably isn’t worth listing any more Big East games in this space. But it’s a so-so viewing day, and the winner has a decent chance at a BCS berth eventually.

Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30, Chs. 9, 13: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party doubles as a national-title elimination game. Barring a total collapse in the next few weeks, the winner also will claim the East Division’s spot in the SEC title game.

Tennessee at South Carolina, 7, ESPN2: As the fall of the Great Pumpkin nears its completion, there would be no one better to deal the Volunteers their sixth loss than the Ol’ Ball Coach himself.

Texas at Texas Tech, 8, Chs. 7, 2: The mad genius of Mike Leach faces its biggest test of the season so far: a visit from the nation’s No. 1 team. After waxing Kansas last week, the Red Raiders look more like a credible challenger than before.

FIVE FEARLESS FORECASTS

Five predictions for the coming weekend:

1. Navy will be bowl eligible for the sixth straight season when Saturday ends. The Midshipmen must defeat Temple to collect their sixth victory and earn a spot in the Dec. 20 EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium. Count on it happening.

2. Tyrell Fenroy will join some exclusive company. The Louisiana-Lafayette tailback needs 30 yards against Florida International to become the seventh rusher in major-college history to run for 1,000 yards in four different seasons.

3. Alabama will not lose a late-season game to a Sun-Belt team. Last year, the Crimson Tide fell to Louisiana-Monroe as part of a November collapse. Plucky Arkansas State will not be so fortunate in Tuscaloosa.

4. A Mountain West power will receive a scare. Let’s see: BYU (at Colorado State), Texas Christian (at UNLV) and Utah (at New Mexico) all have to go on the road? This isn’t going to go smoothly, no matter how well these teams have played.

5. Southern California will not yield more than seven points. In the Trojans’ seven wins, they have given up 30 points total. They probably possess the nation’s best defense and should obliterate Washington in their last truly easy game of the season.

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