- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

STOCK WATCH

BUY: FLORIDA STATE

Even with a quarterback carousel — Xavier Lee has usurped the starting job from Drew Weatherford after a fine relief performance in relief against Alabama — the Seminoles are in decent shape. The offense is still a bit of a question mark, but it would be no surprise if Bobby Bowden”s crew rolls into Boston College on Nov. 3 sporting a seven-game winning streak.

SELL: VIRGINIA TECH

It is officially time to wonder about the Hokies, whose blowout loss at Louisiana State last month is not nearly as worrisome as an offense that ranks 112th nationally in total yardage. Virginia Tech has a strong defense and can probably rattle off six ACC victories on that alone. But this week”s trip to Clemson could be dicey for the Hokies, and a loss would throw open the Coastal Division further.

HOLD: UCLA

A West Coast game that eluded attention this week was UCLA’s 40-14 defeat of Oregon State, a tight game that turned into a laugher because of 28 unanswered fourth-quarter points for the Bruins. UCLA slipped off the radar with its stunning loss at Utah, but its offense is legitimately good and shouldn’t be counted out as a difference-maker in the Pac-10 race just yet.

HEISMAN QUICK SIX

1. Andre Woodson, Kentucky: The interception-free streak is over, but Woodson still has led the Wildcats into the top 10 with his polished play.

2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas: Check back in when Auburn pays a visit to the Razorbacks on Oct. 13.

3. DeSean Jackson, California: Big game on big stage + multifaceted skill set + unbeaten team = Heisman surge

4. Mike Hart, Michigan: Bottled up by Northwestern for 106 yards on 30 carries, but Hart remains in the picture.

5. Kevin Smith, Central Florida: Don’t know whether anyone realizes the Golden Knights junior leads the nation in yards a game (178.2) or rushing touchdowns (10).

6. Ray Rice, Rutgers: Also considered for this spot were Matt Ryan (Boston College), Brian Brohm (Louisville). P.J. Hill (Wisconsin) and Purdue’s Curtis Painter (is this the same guy who struggled against Maryland in last year’s Champs Sports Bowl?)

SET YOUR TiVo

TONIGHT

No. 8 KENTUCKY (5-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 11 SOUTH CAROLINA (4-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m., Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C., ESPN

Outlook: Imagine the destruction Steve Spurrier could bring upon the SEC if Andre Woodson were his quarterback. Alas, everyone must settle for them being on opposite sides of a truly fascinating Thursday night matchup. The Wildcats are in the top 10 for the first time since 1977, thanks in large part to Woodson’s slick passing. He will need to maintain his play against Spurrier’s Gamecocks in a game between oft-overlooked SEC East rivals.

SATURDAY

No. 10 OKLAHOMA (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) vs. No. 19 TEXAS (4-1, 0-1)

3:30 p.m., Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Ch. 2

Outlook: With a little help from Colorado and Kansas State, the Red River Shootout has lost some of its luster. It’s only the third time since 1943 both teams arrive at the Texas State Fair coming off a loss (1997 and 1999 were the others), and this essentially serves as an elimination game in the Big 12 South chase. Oklahoma’s meltdown with a 17-point lead at Colorado last week was jarring, but the Sooners should be able to survive a Longhorns bunch that never looked like a top-10 team in September.

No. 20 CINCINNATI (5-0, 0-0 Big East) at No. 21 RUTGERS (3-1, 0-0)

8 p.m., Rutgers Stadium, Piscataway, N.J., ESPN2

Outlook: Rutgers probably could have done without a loss to get its ranking correction in tune with reality, but the Scarlet Knights might have the perfect opponent arriving. The Bearcats derailed Rutgers’ perfect season last fall, and the Scarlet Knights would love to return the favor. Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly’s installation of a high-voltage offense has worked nicely to complement a solid defense, but this is easily the Bearcats’ biggest test of the season.

No. 9 FLORIDA (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at No. 1 LOUISIANA STATE (5-0, 2-0)

8 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Baton Rouge, La., Chs. 9, 13

Outlook: In short, expect bedlam in Death Valley. Even though Florida lost last week, not much of the luster is gone from this meeting of top-10 teams. LSU quarterback Matt Flynn continues to play through an ankle injury, and aggravating him is the Gators’ top priority. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and friends are coming off their first setback after Auburn slowed down the Gators’ offense last week. The SEC’s other Tigers might be in position to do the same Saturday.

No. 25 NEBRASKA (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) at No. 17 MISSOURI (4-0, 0-0)

9:15 p.m., Faurot Field, Columbia, Mo., ESPN

Outlook: Big 12 North showdowns have carried the decided taste of an undercard in recent years, but this could be a bit different. The Cornhuskers, the only team to remain in the same spot in the Associated Press poll after a wacky weekend nationally, struggled early before dispatching Iowa State in their league opener. Things will be far more difficult in Columbia, where talented quarterback Chase Daniel and the Tigers finally have a chance to validate their ranking.

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