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Alabama’s next three opponents are No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. McCarron is already tops in the country in passer rating with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

He won’t put up gaudy, Big 12-like stats, but he’s more than just a `game manager.’

As for Barner, spectacular teammate D’Anthony Thomas gets a lot of attention for the Ducks, but he is the engine of their prolific offense. The senior is 10th in the nation in rushing (124 yards per game) and has scored 13 touchdowns.

With games against No. 10 Southern California, No. 19 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State still to come, the guy who spent the last three years backing up 2010 Heisman finalist LaMichael James could earn a trip to New York for himself.

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QUICK HITS

_ Duke (6-2) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994 by beating North Carolina on Saturday (talk about a double-bonus for the Blue Devils). Put David Cutcliffe, the former Mississippi coach who was run out of Oxford after only one losing season in six years, on the short list of coach of the year candidates. The ACC Coastal Division-leading Blue Devils are at No. 11 Florida State, which leads the Atlantic Division.

_ It’s best not to get too worked up over college football’s positional awards. Lots of deserving players always get overlooked. The Butkus Award, however, made a particularly egregious mistake Monday by leaving Khaseem Greene of Rutgers off its list of 12 semifinalists for top linebacker. Greene has not just been one of the best linebackers in the country, he’s got a case for best overall defensive player.

_ Michigan’s defense, led by linebacker Jake Ryan, has quietly become one of the best in the country. The Wolverines rank 10th in yards allowed per game (285.3) and 13th in yard per play (4.46).

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LAST WORD

“I’m 73 years old. I hardly remember what happened yesterday, let alone 1998.” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder when asked Monday to compare his current team to the one that came within a victory of playing in the BCS title game.

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AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Auburn, Ala., contributed.

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Story Continues →