1. Fooling the computers
Five teams from the Big Ten are in the top 20 of this week's BCS rankings.
What they don't tell you is that all five are ranked from 11th to 19th, thanks to low rankings from the six computers that grade strength of schedule. Michigan State, 11th in the BCS, was only 15th in what is called "the overall computer component," but that still was good enough to lead its fellow conference teams. Penn State, the lowest-ranked of Big Ten squads in the BCS at 19, saw a computer component of 17th, second to the Spartans. As for No. 15 Wisconsin, one computer didn't even rank the Badgers in the top 25, and their component came in 24th.
2. Contender? Pretender?
While we eagerly await next week's matchup of No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, we examine Oklahoma State, now No. 3 after last week's shocking loss by Oklahoma.
The Cowboys have a crowd-pleasing offense with 28-year-old Brandon Weedun at the controls, ranking second in average points (48.6) and third in total offense (548.6 yards per game). But what could cost them is a defense that is 103d in FBS, allowing nearly 432 yards per game, and now Baylor is coming to town with an even higher average (549.7) in total offense and the nation's top-rated quarterback in Robert Griffin III.
3. Needs more luck
We're not talking about Andrew Luck, who has smoothly led Stanford to a 7-0 mark going into Southern California while remaining the leading Heisman Trophy candidate.
We're talking about the Cardinal's fraught-with-peril run to a possible BCS championship-game berth. Currently ranked sixth in the BCS, Stanford has to get by Southern Cal on the road, and then faces Oregon, archrival California, and Notre Dame on consecutive Saturdays (all at home) in November, followed by the Pac-12 title game. Obviously, the Cardinal will need a few teams ahead of them to fall, but they are right there.
4. Sooners stinker
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops could see the warning signs before last week - sloppy practice habits and a lack of focus that had him questioning his team. But the Sooners' upset loss last week to Texas Tech brought these concerns out into the open.
"I don't have a magic trick to make them want to play," Stoops said. "They need to understand . . . it's about doing the work to be ready."
Now the 11th-ranked Sooners have to deal with undefeated Kansas State on the road, and the question is: Will they be fired up after last week, or continue to be plagued by a lack of execution and concentration?
5. Baffled Badgers
Another team that took a big fall last week was Wisconsin, which appeared assured of at least overtime before Michigan State's Kirk Cousins unleashed an incredible, Hail Mary touchdown pass that handed the Badgers their first defeat.
The Badgers, who play at Ohio State, now have no margin for error if they wish to play in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.
Quarterback Russell Wilson said his first loss in Wisconsin colors was tough to take. "When you're one of the leaders on the team, the quarterback, it's definitely difficult just to say: 'Ah, that's OK.' It's not that way," Wilson said.
6. What a moment
There may not be a dry eye anywhere at Rutgers when Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down while attempting a tackle on a kickoff return last season, leads the Scarlet Knights out of the tunnel for its game against No. 25 West Virginia.
"I think it's the perfect time to fire up the team, inspire the crowd, and hopefully lead us to a victory," LeGrand said this week on ESPN-AM (1050) in New York. LeGrand, who does radio work for Rutgers football, has made remarkable progress in his recovery and now can stand for as much as 40 minutes.
7. Expatriate of the week
Logan Ryan, a junior cornerback from Berlin, N.J., and Eastern High School, is one of the mainstays of the defensive backfield for a Rutgers team that leads the nation with 25 takeaways. Ryan is third on the team with 32 tackles, and has chipped in with two interceptions. He also leads the Scarlet Knights in passes broken up with seven.
The Knights will try to end a 16-game losing streak against West Virginia.
8. The invisible SEC
With all the attention given to the powerhouses of the SEC West, the SEC East has given new meaning to the term flying under the radar.
But one East team will reach the conference's title game, and the division's coleaders at 4-1 - South Carolina and Georgia - will try to sustain their pace away from home. The Gamecocks, who meet Tennessee, have the tiebreaker over Georgia but must go the rest of the season without injured star tailback Marcus Lattimore. The Bulldogs have recovered from an 0-2 start to win five straight but have a treacherous contest against archrival Florida in Jacksonville.
9. No anonymity here
Jerry Rice is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His son, Jerry Jr., is a sophomore walk-on for UCLA who plays mainly on the scout team.
But Rice has the work ethic of his father, and it has paid off. With four wide receivers suspended for their role in a fight last week against Arizona, Rice gets to move up and will be part of the game plan when the Bruins play California.
"I'm overwhelmed, I'm excited, I'm very nervous," Rice told the Los Angeles Times. Better yet, he has earned a scholarship beginning next semester.
10. Coming up next . . .
Even though they don't play for another seven days, we can't ignore Louisiana State and Alabama.
Let's take a look at some off-field stuff. A check Friday of StubHub, the secondary ticket seller, listed more than 2,100 seats available at Bryant-Denny Stadium at prices ranging from $333 to $1,475. CBS, which already had televised its one contracted SEC night game this season, maneuvered to get this one moved to the night as well, agreeing to a deal with ESPN for some 2012 scheduling considerations, according to the Associated Press.
Real Top 10
1. Louisiana State 8-0
2. Alabama 8-0
3. Oklahoma State 7-0
4. Stanford 7-0
5. Clemson 8-0
6. Boise State 7-0
7. Oregon 6-1
8. Arkansas 7-1
9. Kansas State 7-0
10. Oklahoma 6-1
- Joe Juliano
Games of the Week
Stanford at Southern California, 8 p.m., 6ABC: Finally, a chance for the nation to watch the Cardinal's Andrew Luck, the Heisman Trophy front-runner, at a decent hour. But even with Luck and USC's Matt Barkley (no slouch himself), this game might be won in the trenches. Stanford rushed for 446 yards last week against Washington, but the Trojans have allowed only 76 yards on the ground the last two games, including 41 against Notre Dame.
Michigan State at Nebraska, noon, ESPN: The 11th-ranked Spartans better not have celebrated last week's miracle win over Wisconsin for too long, because the No. 13 Cornhuskers have a solid rushing attack and are at home.
Baylor at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. (no local TV, available on ESPN3.com): Two of the nation's best quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III (Bears) and Brandon Weedun (Cowboys), prepare to poke holes in the opponent's mediocre defense.
Oklahoma at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m., ESPN: The Sooners' upset loss and severe damage to their BCS title-game hopes mean nothing to the 10th-ranked Wildcats, who want to keep their magical unbeaten ride going.
Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., 3:30 p.m., CBS3: The Bulldogs are tied with South Carolina in the forgotten SEC East, but Gators fans will be quick to point out that their team is 18-3 in this rivalry since 1990.
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 8 p.m., ESPN: As with Oklahoma, the Badgers cannot bemoan their fate after taking a blow to their national championship hopes; the Buckeyes are relishing their role as spoiler.
Clemson at Georgia Tech, 8 p.m., (no local TV, available on ESPN3.com): The Tigers put up 59 points in an impressive showing against North Carolina, but the Yellow Jackets' triple option can confound any defense.
- Joe Juliano