Well, Oregon finally passed Boise State for the No. 3 spot in my poll after thumping Stanford 52-31 at home last Saturday. The Ducks proved that there may not be another team in the country that can score with them and that they have one of the best running backs in the nation as well. LaMichael James rushed for the second-most yards in Oregon history, going for 257 yards and three touchdowns against the Cardinal. Oregon started out slow and were down 31-24 at halftime, but then showed their uncanny scoring ability, putting up 28 unanswered points and shutting out the Cardinal in the second half. The Ducks have a legit chance at running the table and sliding up in the polls ahead of Ohio State by the end of the season if the Buckeyes end up losing a game or two, which is very likely.
No. 17 Michigan State showed they are for real after beating a very solid Wisconsin team even without their head coach Mark Dantonio, who wasn’t on the sidelines for the second straight week after having a mild heart attack on Sept. 19. The Spartans were able to dominate the time of possession, holding the ball for more than 36 minutes and rushing for 175 yards. They also held the Badgers’ offense to just 292 total yards and snapped running back John Clay’s 10-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing and at least one rushing touchdown. This coming Saturday afternoon, the Spartans face a Michigan squad that has arguably the most dynamic player in the nation in quarterback Bernard Robinson. The Wolverines haven’t had any trouble scoring, but their defense has been anything but stellar, giving up 25.4 points per game. This will be a good measuring stick for both teams, though. The Spartans will find out just how good their defense is when they face the Wolverines’ potent rushing attack, and the Wolverines will find out if their defense is good enough to stop a legit Big Ten opponent. This should be a good one.
Air Force made its way into my top 25 this week after beating Navy for the first time in eight years and holding the Midshipmen to just six points. The No. 1 rushing offense in the country (373.6 yards per game) torched Navy for 292 yards on the ground and kept quarterback Ricky Dobbs from getting in the end zone for the first time in his career as a starter (17 starts). It was a big step forward for an Air Force team with high expectations after almost knocking off Oklahoma earlier this season. They have already proved they can hang with one of the top teams in the country, and will be put to the test again when they face TCU on the road and host Utah in back-to-back weekends starting Oct. 23.
No. 14 Miami (FL) and No. 24 Florida State square off this Saturday night in Miami in what should be a very exciting game. The two quarterbacks, Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder, headline the matchup between two teams vying for position in their respective ACC divisions. Harris has excellent playmaking abilities, but has been once again plagued by turnovers and has already thrown eight interceptions in just four games. He threw 17 picks last season and is on pace to surpass that unless he finds a way to stop making ill-advised throws. Ponder, on the other hand, hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games and has been efficient in those games as well, all of which have been Seminole wins. He has bounced back very nicely after throwing two interceptions and looking very shaky in the 47-17 thumping his Seminoles received at the hands of Oklahoma a few weeks ago. There is a tremendous amount of talent on both teams, but I think the team that turns the ball over the least will come out on top and slide up in the poll next week.
Submitted by Steve Giles