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The College Football Report

By Mike Luce

This week's Report is dedicated to Ed Smith, Frank Eliscu, Sam Bradford, SEC officiating, Michigan's letter of inquiry from the NCAA, and Sam Bradford's shoulder.

We have reached an important milestone in the college football season. The BCS standings have been out for two weeks. Nearly every team has played at least seven games. The season for some is all but over. Teams such as Illinois (1-6), Louisville (2-5), Maryland (2-6), Vanderbilt (2-6) and Washington State (1-6) can only hope to play spoiler in their remaining games. Some coaches can stir up some plucky wins, or at least moral victories, in tough times. Others seem to have one eye on the indoor driving range. This past weekend saw a number of teams (Mizzou, Louisville, Hawaii) roll over and play dead. Keep an eye on such teams - as being mathematically eliminated (i.e. with no hope of finishing .500 or better) from post-season play can sap all the fight from such heavy underdogs.

Meanwhile, teams such as 'Bama, Florida, Texas, Boise State, Iowa, Cincinnati and TCU hope to hang on. The phrase "controls their own destiny" will come up a lot in the coming weeks. (I'm putting the O/U at about . . . 900 times.) Each will likely survive at least one close scrape and undoubtedly at least one will blunder into a surprising upset. The Tide and the Gators each avoided huge upsets in the past two weeks. If my sources are correct, only Boise plays unranked opponents for the duration of the season - each of the other teams still must face one (if not two, ahem . . . Cincinnati) teams currently among the Top 25. The BCS standings will come under intense scrutiny as the HAL 9000 works its magic.

In addition to the controversy that will inevitably swirl around the BCS, conference championship games (or lack thereof), and issues like strength of schedule, we should expect to see a favorite emerge from among a surprising field of candidates for the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. If you lost track of the Heisman race, don't feel bad. You're not alone. Most college football fans could be excused for expecting that, by now, the bronze statuette would have been melted down and recast in the likeness of Tim Tebow.

Not so, however. Rather, a year projected by many as a three-man competition has turned into a wide-open horse race. Remember The Year of the Quarterback? Of the big three, one (Bradford) has been lost to injury, another (Tebow) has not been his usual Superman-like self, and the third (McCoy) has yet to blow anyone away. Much like participants in the various Top 25 polls, Heisman voters are fickle. Familiarity doesn't so much breed contempt, but disinterest. Thus the door has opened to some unexpected candidates . . .

The College Football Report Highly Unscientific Heisman Projection, Week 8

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Ingram has followed up a strong freshman season with some impressive performances. Prior to last weekend against Tennessee, Ingram had yet to lose a fumble and had scored in every game. While Ingram broke the 1,000-yard mark, he failed to distinguish himself as the front-runner. If he can hold off the inevitable challenges by McCoy and Tebow, he may become the second true sophomore to take home the trophy.

2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: McCoy is a very good quarterback, and excels as a pure passer compared to Tebow's multi-dimensional attack. He also plays for an excellent team, which never hurts. And he's sooo dreamy.

3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: The concussion dominates most "What's wrong with Tebow?" theories, but you can trace Florida's offensive woes back even further, at least to its humdrum result again Tennessee. And if we hadn't seen Tebow absolutely dominate last season, would he even crack the top five?

4. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: Clausen probably appears higher on some Heisman projections than Tebow at this point. And while he helped his chances by breaking BC's hold on the Irish last week, Clausen might be the second-best offensive player (next to WR Golden Tate) on his own team. Toss in his inability to close the deal in crunch time versus USC, and I think Clausen ends up in the mix but just short.

5. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee: Berry must be looking forward to cashing his NFL checks. And for good reason.

6. Honorable mentions: Quarterbacks Keenum (Houston) and Pike (Cincinnati), defensive linemen Cody (Alabama) and Suh (Nebraska), and Mr. Everything, C.J. Spiller (Clemson).

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Here is a quick rundown of last week's action: TCU and Georgia Tech turned in the most impressive performances, while 'Bama and Southern Cal had to hold off comeback bids. Iowa eked out a win on the road to keep BCS dreams alive for the Big 10, and Boise wrapped up Saturday with a late game out in Hawaii.

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Finally, I'm sad to note that the offices of The Report seem a little less bright, the air a bit stale, and the High Life a tad flat. The Hurricanes lost again. Miami, our darling one-loss team, fell to Clemson in overtime. I can only compare the feeling around here to that sensation you get when seeing your girlfriend in a sweatshirt for the first time. A little bit of the magic is gone forever.

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Tennessee 10 @ #1 Alabama 12 (-14)*
#2 Florida 29 (-22) @ Mississippi State 19
#3 Texas 41 (-13.5) @ Missouri 7
Oregon State 36 @ #4 USC 42 (-21)**
Louisville 10 @ #5 Cincinnati 41 (-17)***
#6 Boise State 54 (-25) @ Hawaii 9****
#7 Iowa 15 @ Michigan State 13 (-1.5)
Clemson 40 @ #8 Miami (FL) 37 (-4.5)
Auburn 10 @ #9 LSU 31 (-7.5)
#10 TCU 38 (-2.5) @ #16 BYU 7
#11 Georgia Tech 34 (-6) @ Virginia 9
#12 Oregon 43 (-9.5) @ Washington 19
#13 Penn State 35 (-4) @ Michigan 10
#14 Oklahoma State 34 (-9.5) @ Baylor 7
Southern Methodist 15 @ #17 Houston 38 (-16.5)
Minnesota 7 @ #18 Ohio State 38 (-17)
Air Force 16 @ #19 Utah 23 (-9)
South Florida 14 @ #20 Pittsburgh 41 (-6.5)
Texas A&M 52 @ #21 Texas Tech 30 (-21.5)
Connecticut 24 @ #22 West Virginia 28 (-7.5)*****
Vanderbilt 10 @ #23 South Carolina 14 (-14)
#25 Oklahoma 35 (-8.5) @ #24 Kansas 13

* Yikes!
** Double yikes! What's happening around here? Don't these teams know that the BCS HAL 9000 is watching?!
*** Probably the last time you could safely bet on Cincinnati this season.
**** What does it mean when you talk to your bookie on Sunday and he's disappointed not to have heard from you the night before? I mean, hypothetically. Is that a problem? Or just good customer service?
***** West Virginia may be my rebound team. We'll see if it turns out to be more than just a one-weekend thing.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week. He welcomes your comments.

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