Our top three
1. Alabama: As good as they are, the Tide could not roll the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. According to the Florida Times-Union, John Ewing of PredictionMachine.com has created a complicated simulator, and the Jags win 91.4 percent of the time against Bama by an average score of 32-13. On a neutral field, that is.
2. Oregon: But the Ducks would rip the Jags 52-35. Nah, just kidding. However, the Ducks will hang half a hundred or more on Colorado this Saturday, even without De’Anthony Thomas (ankle).
3. Clemson: The Tigers travel to Syracuse for the first time. Tajh Boyd, look out: The Orange toppled great quarterbacks the past two years, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
Oklahoma: The computers value the Sooners much more than the polls, where they are 10th and 11th. Jeff Sagarin has them No. 4, other computers have them No. 5 or 6. One of just four teams to beat a non-conference Top 25 opponent on the road.
Iowa: Few expected anything out of the Hawkeyes (4-1), but they’ve rattled off four in a row and the defense has allowed three and seven points in the past two games. Physical RB Mark Weisman paces Greg Davis’ attack with 615 yards and a 5.2 average.
North Carolina: A possible ACC contender with senior QB Bryn Renner, the Tar Heels are 88th in scoring, 93rd in scoring defense and 112th in rushing. With Virginia Tech and Miami up next, the Heels are staring at a 1-5 first half.
Connecticut: Hard to believe this program played in the Fiesta Bowl three years ago. The 0-4 Huskies lost 41-12 to Buffalo and 33-18 to Towson State. Oh, yeah, they fired coach Paul Pasqualoni.
Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State): The diminutive junior leads the nation in receiving by a wide margin over Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. Cooks has 52 catches for 807 yards and an NCAA-best nine touchdowns. He’s no surprise. Last year, Cooks caught 67 balls for 1,151 yards and five TDs.
4-Ohio State at 16-Northwestern: The only matchup of unbeatens. The Buckeyes average 48.2 points. The Wildcats are no surprise, returning just about everyone from a 10-3, Gator Bowl-winning team. RB Treyvon Green, a former two-star recruit from the Metroplex (Rowlett), averages 7.2 yards per carry and has six TDs.
15-Washington at 5-Stanford: QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins make the Huskies tough to stop, but their defense has bite, too, ranking fourth with 10.8 points allowed. The bruising Cardinal, though, can inflict pain.
22-Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (Arlington): If Taylor Kelly, third nationally with 342.5 passing yards per game, and the Sun Devils knock off ND at Cowboys Stadium, the Irish will be pointed toward a 7-5 season and a lower-tier bowl.
Next Trojan horse
So who will replace Lane Kiffin at USC? Alum Jack Del Rio (Broncos defensive coordinator) wants the job and is a strong candidate. Steve Sarkisian (Washington) is another possibility as is another Pac-12er in Mike Riley (Oregon State). Some USC boosters desire Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, and there’s even a Bobby Petrino faction out there. USC AD Pat Haden loves Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald. Forget the Jeff Fisher talk, though. He makes $7 million a year with the Rams.
Like father …
Barry Sanders, son of the Hall of Fame running back, got his first real taste of action for Stanford. He showed some of dad’s moves on a 22-yard touchdown run in mop-up duty vs. Washington State. Sanders had four carries for 36 yards and one catch for 16. A four-star recruit from Oklahoma City Heritage Hall, Sanders played in the same backfield with Sterling Shepard, who is now Oklahoma’s lead receiver.
Game of the weak
Southern Miss (0-4) at Florida International (0-4). The visiting Golden Eagles are a 17-point favorite to end the nation’s longest losing streak at 16 games. That’s because the Golden Panthers have been outscored 187-13.
Extra points …
- Kiffin and Pasqualoni became only the fourth and fifth head coaches since 2000 to be removed after five or fewer games, joining Bobby Keasler (La.-Monroe, 2002), John Mackovic (Arizona, 2003) and Mike Locksley (New Mexico, 2011).
- Thursday night’s UCLA at Utah game matches two top-15 QBs in passing efficiency: the Bruins’ Brett Hundley and the Utes’ Travis Wilson.
- Oregon State’s Sean Mannion already has thrown 21 TD passes in five games.