CONFERENCE RACES HEADING INTO THE FINAL WEEKS
Below is a look at each of the major conferences and who looks to be in the running for the title at this point...
I'VE GOT MAIL
Q : "Can Jason White win the Heisman for the second straight year?"
A : Yes he can, but I don't think it will happen this fall. Though he still has good numbers (17 TDs, 4 INTs, 1617 YDs, 65% COMPLETION), he's not the flashy-type player that usually wins the Heisman. I also think many voters regretted awarding him the Trophy last year, which could hurt his chances in 2004. What's ironic is this: White will actually vote for this year's Heisman Trophy winner. However, he has publically stated that he will not vote for himself.
A few of my top candidates at this point: QB Kyle Orton (PUR), QB Andrew Walter (ASU), QB Matt Leinart (USC), RB Cadillac Williams (AUB), RB Cedric Benson (TX), RB Adrian Peterson (OU), RB J.J. Arrington (CAL), RB Marion Barber III (MN).
THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN WEEK NINE
(1) One of the top contenders for the 2004 national title could be bumped out of the race this week. Oklahoma, currently ranked second in the BCS after being ranked third in the initial poll, will travel across the state to take on rival Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have had major success against Bob Stoops in recent years. A win over the Sooners this year would give teams like Miami and Auburn a chance to move up in the rankings alongside Southern Cal.
(2) It's a huge weekend in the SEC East as that division's top four teams meet on the field. Tennessee will visit South Carolina, while Georgia and Florida will go head-to-head in Jacksonville. USC has been less than impressive this month but was still favored to knock off the Vols at the beginning of the week. Florida is coming off a humiliating loss at Mississippi State last week and now is in search of a new coach. This appears to be the year Georgia could finally knock off UF. If either UGA or UT loses, the other should be in control of the East heading into the final month of the season.
(3) There's a PAC 10 showdown in California this weekend as the Golden Bears host Arizona State in a matchup of one-loss teams. Each team's loss came to Southern Cal earlier in the year. Though it's unlikely either will win the conference title with the Trojans dominating so far, it is possible that the team who finishes second in the PAC 10 could earn a BCS berth providing that team still has one loss. It's a quality win like this that can capture the attention of those BCS bowl executives.
WHAT WE WATCHED LAST WEEK
(1) We wanted to see how teams who got big wins in Week Seven would follow up their performances in big games last week. The answer turned out to be "very well." Seven of the nine teams we mentioned also won last weekend; just two were not able to get the job done. Miami, Boise State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Florida State all came away with victories. Notre Dame looked to be in good shape against Boston College but lost the game in the final minute. Stanford hung right with Oregon but couldn't take down the Ducks in Palo Alto.
(2) Another big question answered in Week Eight was who would stay in the Big Ten race with Wisconsin. That was answered emphatically by Michigan, as Lloyd Carr's team picked up a big road win at Purdue, the Boilers' second straight loss at home. Though UM has lost this year, that defeat came to Notre Dame, meaning the Wolves and Badgers are still unbeaten in the conference and sitting atop the Big Ten standings heading into the final week of October.
(3) The biggest game in the Big XII last week had Texas traveling to Texas Tech. It didn't turn out to be much of a contest, however. The Red Raiders' offense never got going, and when that happens, it usually spells trouble for Texas Tech. If the Longhorns can get some help from Oklahoma State this week, they could get back in the Big XII South race and make things interesting over the final few weeks of the season.
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