- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2008

WHO’S OVERRATED

Vanderbilt — Well, this is a first. Yes, the Commodores are 3-0 and close to their first appearance in the rankings since 1984. But victories over Miami (Ohio), South Carolina and Rice shouldn’t be construed as Vanderbilt’s emergence as a nationally credible team. Bobby Johnson has done a fine job, and the Commodores are probably bowl-bound, but they easily could be deflated this week against Mississippi.

WHO’S UNDERRATED

No. 16 Penn State — Looks like Joe Paterno might have another trick up his sleeve yet. Regardless of the number of offseason arrests, the Nittany Lions look like a top-10 team. Penn State is averaging 55.3 points a game, and Southern Cal’s dismantling of Ohio State last week makes the Big Ten look wide open. Don’t be stunned if this is the start of a season that ends in a BCS game.

PLOT WORTH WATCHING

Mountain West spoilers — There’s already talk of a Brigham Young-Utah showdown late in the season that could determine who crashes the BCS. But who spoils the spoilers? Take a look at Air Force, which has won consecutive road games and gets the Utes in Colorado Springs on Saturday. With an efficient running game, the Falcons could be poised to spring an upset.

HEISMAN QUICK SIX

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

1. QB Chase Daniel, Missouri (1): Not giving up the top spot so long as he continues chucking for 400 yards in a game.

2. QB Mark Sanchez, Southern California (4): Perfectly capable of joining Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart as recent Trojans quarterbacks in Heisman lore.

3. QB Max Hall, Brigham Young (NR): Completing an absurd 77.8 percent of his passes. Oh, and he tied the BYU record with seven touchdown strikes against UCLA.

4. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (3): Staying out of the spotlight despite a series of routs, Bradford already has a dozen touchdowns to his credit.

5. TB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (2): Every ‘Dawg has his day, and Moreno could use a statistical flourish to bolster his candidacy.

6. WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (NR): That’s more like it. The statistically prodigious wideout snagged three scores against Southern Methodist.

SATURDAY PLANNER

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

Iowa (3-0) at Pittsburgh (1-1), noon, ESPN2: The Hawkeyes are 3-0, just like they’re supposed to be, and are in fine shape to continue a bounce-back season - especially since Dave Wannstedt mans the other sideline.

Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Chs. 9, 13: Time for the Fightin’ Tebows to start a run at an SEC title. And by the way, just how in the world did the Great Pumpkin lose to UCLA a couple weeks ago?

Virginia Tech (2-1) at North Carolina (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Chs. 7, 2: The Butch Davis rebuilding project advanced past the Home Depot stage with last week’s win at Rutgers. It might be time to add a new wing if the Tar Heels take control of the Coastal Division against the Hokies.

Wake Forest (2-0) at Florida State (2-0), 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Demon Deacons are coming off a bye week, and the Seminoles might as well be (they played Chattanooga). The winner becomes the best bet to deny Clemson the Atlantic Division crown.

LSU (2-0) at Auburn (3-0), 7:45 p.m., ESPN: If it weren’t for that squeeze bunt in the eighth, Auburn never would have held off Mississippi State 3-2 on Saturday. Auburn will need a bit more on the Plains against the SEC’s much scarier Tigers.

Georgia (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1), 8 p.m., Chs. 7, 2: Football mercenary Dennis Erickson probably didn’t see the Sun Devils’ loss to UNLV coming. On the flip side, everyone east of the Mississippi is anticipating another one this week.

FIVE FEARLESS FORECASTS

Five predictions for the coming weekend

1. Minnesota and Northwestern will be 4-0 entering Big Ten play. The Golden Gophers are a surprising 3-0 and will need to play well to top Florida Atlantic. Same goes for Northwestern against Ohio. But both should win. The last time both started 4-0: 1940.

2. UCLA will find a middle ground. The Bruins aren’t so good they should be beating ranked teams. They also shouldn’t be losing 59-0 to anyone. Their afternoon showdown with Arizona at the Rose Bowl will be telling for both teams.

3. Greg Robinson will be unemployed if Syracuse loses. Sorry to keep beating this drum, but the Orange are terrible. If they lose to Northeastern at the Dome, it officially will be time to put an end to the Robinson Error.

4. Ohio State won’t lose two straight. The Buckeyes happily return to the Midwest, where there aren’t any of those scary ultra-athletic and vastly more talented opponents like Southern Cal, Florida and LSU to expose them as frauds. Troy is not in the class of those teams.

5. Charlie Weis will be conscious of where all 22 players on the field are at all times. Wouldn’t you? That’s especially true if one of your own guys barreled into you, a collision that left the Notre Dame coach with a torn ACL and MCL.

LOCAL SCHEDULE

Georgetown (1-1) at Yale (0-0), 12:30 p.m.

Florida A&M (1-1) at Howard (0-2), 1 p.m.

E. Michigan (1-2) at Maryland (2-1), 1 p.m.

McDaniel (1-1) at Catholic (2-0), 1 p.m.

Gallaudet (0-2) at Greensboro (1-1), 1 p.m.

Chowan (1-2) at VMI (1-1), 1:30 p.m.

Maine (2-1) at Richmond (2-1), 3 p.m.

Rutgers (0-2) at Navy (1-2), 3:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech (2-1) at North Carolina (2-0), 3:30 p.m.

North Carolina A&T (2-1) at Hampton (2-1), 6 p.m.

Morgan St. (1-1) at Winston-Salem (0-2), 6 p.m.

Towson (1-2) at Coastal Carolina (1-2), 7 p.m.

Appalachian St. (1-1) at James Madison (2-1), 7 p.m.

Norfolk St. (2-1) at William & Mary (1-1), 7 p.m.

Bowie State (1-1) at Livingstone (0-3), 7 p.m.