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TRADITIONAL POWERS LOOKING GOOD
October 12, 2005

SCS.com Another week passes by, and the traditional powers find more success while recent powerhouses falter. Penn State and Alabama may have big tests in front of them still, but both teams have to be considered the new surprise favorite for a league title (Penn State has an outright conference lead already!). Notre Dame did lose to Michigan State and has a tough battle against USC this week, but nobody can deny Charlie Weis has this team looking like Notre Dame of old times, smashing high level competition. Nebraska did falter this week to Texas Tech, but they will face no other great test other than Texas this season assuming they continue their run through the Big XII North division. Each of these teams could have been written off for dead, and now they could be budding new dynasties. It's amazing how college football goes in cycles.

Speaking of cycles, the other side is not pretty as Michigan is 3-3 and looking terrible going into their big game with Penn State this week. Oklahoma is an embarrassing 2-3 after a killing by Texas, and Ohio State (the last team to win a national title before USC) may not be a dynasty but has taken unexpected lumps already. Hopefully the rest of the season will be as unexpected and exciting as the first half!

There are many great games this week, including Wisconsin at Minnesota, Michigan State at Ohio State, Florida at LSU, Penn State at Michigan, and Florida State at Virginia. Despite all of this great football, I must select three top games of the week, and I may pick games which may not be as close as these but they still have huge bearing in their own ways.

I begin with the Big East championship game, also known as Louisville at West Virginia. WVU plays really well at home and the loss to Virginia Tech was expected, but the Mountaineers were not very impressive in their wins. Louisville is on and off this season, dropping a conference game to South Florida but nothing else. I think Louisville has more talent and desire, but West Virginia is tough to beat in Morgantown. A virtual toss-up, I'll take the Mountaineers by 3.

Colorado is the only Big XII conference unbeaten left alongside Texas and Texas Tech, and the Longhorns will be more challenged by the Red Raiders and the Buffaloes than the Sooners this year. Texas should defend the home turf here, but Colorado could be a letdown game coming off the Red River Rundown. If Texas allows Colorado to have a 14-21 point lead early, I do not know if they will recover. Of course this is a worst-case scenario, but for Texas this is one of their few remaining games which might be close between them and a Rose Bowl appearance. I'll still take Texas by 20.

Hands down the game of the week hype-wise and in my article is USC traveling to South Bend to play Notre Dame. The Gold Domers are a lot better than the last few years, and Charlie Weis could bury USC if the Trojans come out to their fourth straight slow start. UND's extra week to prepare is also bad news for the Trojans, but the rivalry will not be overlooked by USC. The target on the champion's back is tough to shake off, and I would not be surprised if this game is won by either team. Expect a close battle which will determine bragging rights for years to come, and my pick is USC by 10.

ACC
When the prettiest game to talk about this week is Florida State at Virginia, you know it's an off week in the ACC. Florida State and Virginia Tech are on a collision course for the title game, but don't discount Miami!

Big XII
Other than the Colorado-Texas showdown, the only other notable matchup is Texas Tech hosting Kansas State. K-State could get back on the map with a win in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders might be looking ahead to next week's battle with the 'Horns. Nebraska at Baylor is also another game of minor interest this week.

Big Ten
Who would have thought Penn State would be the only undefeated conference team at this point in the season, while pre-season conference favorites Iowa, Purdue, Ohio State, and Michigan all have two or more losses? This conference may get a lot of attention, but every week there seems to be great games on the national spotlight. Penn State has two tough games remaining in the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines could ruin a dream season for Joe Paterno this year (a role the cornered Wolverines are very good at). Michigan State and Ohio State are jockeying for Big Ten conference position this week in a vital game with both teams sitting with a loss already, and Wisconsin visits Minnesota in a battle for second place in the conference. A great week to admire the Big Ten race!

Big East
Well there's Louisville at WVU, and then there's not much. South Florida and Connecticut have tough road tests at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this week, respectively, but they should overcome them and stay in the conference lead no matter what happens in Morgantown this weekend.

Conference USA
UTEP at Tulane is a critical West division battle, as all those teams already have a conference loss. The East has some shake-down games as well among their four powerful teams as UAB visits Marshall and Central Florida gets a tough night game at Southern Miss. There could be no undefeated teams in the conference after this week, making a Big Ten type free-for-all for the rest of the season.

MAC
This past week was very enlightening, as Toledo and Bowling Green won close games against their toughest division competition and now hold leads by themselves. Toledo could have a tricky game at Ball State this week, but I'll be paying more attention to Ohio and Eastern Michigan who have tough road games this week and must not get down about losing the conference lead before they end up out of the race entirely in two weeks.

Sun Belt
Yes I cover this conference, and the only two conference unbeaten teams clash this week when Troy goes to Louisiana-Monroe. I think this is where Troy will establish their status as the best in this conference, at least for the first half of the season.

SEC
Florida at LSU is a very important inter-divisional matchup, as both teams cannot afford a second conference loss with Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia all running away currently. Vanderbilt was slammed to reality this week, and Georgia visiting this week will not stop the Commodores' bleeding. If Florida manages to escape LSU, then the Cocktail Party will be rocking in a couple weeks with tons on the line.

Top 3 Games of the Week record to date: 7-11 (2-1 last week - don't call it a comeback)

Fitzy's Top 10 - Week 7
1. USC (5-0) NC
2. Texas (5-0) NC
3. Virginia Tech (6-0) NC
4. Georgia (5-0) NC
5. Florida State (5-0) +1
6. Alabama (5-0) +1
7. Penn State (6-0) NR
8. Notre Dame (4-1) NR
9. Miami (4-1) +1
10. UCLA (5-0) NR
Dropped Out: #5 Ohio State (3-2), #9 Tennessee (3-2), #9 California (5-1)

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