September 18, 2014

You Name It: The Football Four

So far it appears that the name for college football’s new playoff format is, flatly, the “College Football Playoff.”

Makes us want to watch from before kickoff to after probation.

Granted, it’s football and people will watch it even if it’s called by some other lame name like “night golf” or “neck shaving.”  But can’t we come up with something a little spicier for the loudest thing to happen to football since the tear-away jersey?

Regrettably, “Final Four” has long been appropriated and so has “Frozen Four” which would not make a lot of sense for football anyway but is still a splendid name.

 

What can we come up with?

 

“The Football Four.”  Simple, direct, honest, old school.

 

“The Pigskin Quartet.”  It has a classy ring to it but also would be a reminder that an animal, many animals, died for us to have so much fun.

 

“The Chosen Foursome.”  This sounds like something out of a martial arts movie or a religious ceremony, two things which, when combined, create football.

 

“The Stanley Cup.”  Umm…

 

“The Bryant-Schembechler-Rockne-Roosevelt.”

 

“Last Four Leatherheads.”  (Imagine the marketing!)

 

“January Is Not For Juco.”

 

“Quarternity For Eternity.”

 

“Ha-Ha, Boise State Will Never Be Here.”

 

“Alabama-FSU-Auburn-Ohio State.”

 

“Sugar Rose Cotton Orange.”  Who, incidentally, is the protagonist in a Faulkner novel.

 

“Joe Namath.”

 

“The Gorgeous Four.”

 

“Proof That Your Vote Counts.  Especially If You’re From a Power Conference.”

 

“For God and Saban.”

 

“Nobody Cares About Basketball Until After the Super Bowl, Anyway.”

 

“The Fonzie Four.”

 

“Keyser Soze.”

 

“As Above, So Below.”

 

“The Jim Thorpe Four.”

 

“Alabama Plans a Parade.”

 

“E Pluribus Champion.”

 

“We Don’t Call It Soccer.”

 

“The Freedom Four.”

 

“Four Teams and a Cloud of Losers.”

 

“The Few, The Proud, The SEC.”

 

“Four.”

 

“The Only Four.”

 

“Death Race 2015.”

 

“Union?  We Don’t No Stinking Union!”

 

“ESPN.”

 

“Eight Is Too Much, Three Would Be Silly.”

 

“The Four With More.”

 

“IV, But Not the Ivy League.”

 

“IV.”

 

“The Glory Four.”

 

“The Righteous Remaining.”

 

Any others? Surely you can do better. Send us your thoughts. Let’s give the event we’ve been waiting for a name worthy of the mighty stage. Just, please, don’t use the words “Super” or “Packer.”

Leatherheads Top 16 Before the Bowls

With Navy beating Army on Saturday, the end of the regular season is official. Next up are the bowls, starting on December 21. The season ends with FSU facing Auburn on January 6 in the BCS National Championship Game.

Here are the latest rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Florida State (9)   13-0   144        1
   2 Auburn   12-1   135        2
   3 Alabama   11-1   124        4
   4 Michigan State   12-1   116        8T
   5T Baylor   11-1     99        8T
   5T Stanford   11-2     99        7
   7 Ohio State   12-1     91        3
   8 Missouri   11-2     80        5
   9 South Carolina   10-2     72      10
 10 Oklahoma   10-2     55      16
 11 Oregon   10-2     54      12
 12 Oklahoma State   10-2     39        6
 13 Clemson   10-2     27      14
 14 LSU     9-3     26      15
 15 UCF   11-1     18      NR
 16 Fresno State   11-1     17      NR


Others receiving votes
: Arizona State – 11, Louisville – 10, Northern Illinois – 6, UCLA – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Crimson in the Face and No Game To Play Today for Alabama

Well…Well…Well. The Crimson Tide became Crimson in the face. The prospect of a third consecutive national championship went away (we think) with just a second on the clock. Rivalry week is always a special week in college football and this year was no different. Auburn shocked the world or should I say Chris Davis shocked the world with his amazing return. As expected, the Leatherheads Top 16 has a slightly different look after weeks 13 and 14.

Florida State easily became our new #1 while Ohio State continues to sit in the #3 spot with Auburn grabbing the #2 spot, despite one first-place vote for Ohio State. No love for the Big Ten.

Championship week has now began and the poor Northern Illinois Huskies lost last night to the Bowling Green Falcons. No undefeated season, No MAC title, No BCS selection for the Huskies and Jordan Lynch’s Heisman hopes disappeared.

Florida State should easily take care of Duke in the ACC championship game and find themselves in the BCS National Championship Game. The games that will decide their opponent will of course come down to the SEC and Big Ten games with the potential opponents for FSU being Ohio State, Auburn, Missouri and perhaps Alabama. Yes I said Alabama. It is unlikely but if Michigan State beats Ohio State and Mizzou beats Auburn, anything can happen and history has been on Alabama’s side the last few years. It is unfortunate that Alabama lost to Auburn since the two best teams in college football are FSU and Alabama. I rather see that matchup more than any other this season but chances are that will never happen.

If Ohio State wins tonight, I would put them in the big game. I know the Big Ten is less talented than the SEC but undefeated for two seasons deserves some respect. Besides, I wouldn’t count an Urban Meyer team out in any game. When I think of the best coaches in college football today, the first name that comes to mind is Nick Saban but Urban Meyer is not too far behind.

So instead of reading my boorish comments on what might happen, get your living, man cave or bar area ready for a huge day of college football.

 

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 13:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (8)   11-0   128        1
   2 Florida State   11-0   119        2
   3 Ohio State   11-0   106        4
   4 Auburn   10-1     97        6
   5 Clemson   10-1     94        7
   6 Missouri   10-1     86        8
   7 Oklahoma State   10-1     81      10
   8 Michigan State   10-1     63      12
   9 Stanford     9-2     60      11
 10 Baylor     9-1     59        3
 11T Oregon     9-2     45        5
 11T South Carolina     9-2     45      13
 13 Fresno State   10-0     33      14
 14 Arizona State     9-2     27      NR
 15 Wisconsin     9-2     15      NR
 16 Northern Illinois   11-0     12      16


Others receiving votes
: LSU – 11, UCF – 4, Texas A&M – 2, Louisville 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, RUFANJerry,  Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams.

 

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 14:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Florida State (9)   12-0   159        2
   2 Auburn   11-1   142        4
   3 Ohio State (1)   12-0   140        3
   4 Alabama   11-1   130        1
   5 Missouri   11-1   122        6
   6 Oklahoma State   10-1   104        7
   7 Stanford   10-2     96        9
   8T Baylor   10-1     83      10
   8T Michigan State   11-1     83        8
 10 South Carolina   10-2     82      11T
 11 Arizona State   10-2     54      14
 12 Oregon   10-2     49      11T
 13 Northern Illinois   12-0     37      16
 14 Clemson   10-2     35        5
 15 LSU     9-3     18      NR
 16 Oklahoma     9-2       9      NR


Others receiving votes
: Fresno State – 8, UCF – 6, Louisville – 2, Duke – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie ForemanChris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

A Husky Heisman

 

lynch-jordan-11-23

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is the best player in college football and deserves to win the Heisman Trophy.

Lynch ran through bitter cold and persistent snow for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-14 victory over Western Michigan in DeKalb on Tuesday night, breaking his own NCAA record for single game rushing yards for a QB.

Lynch now has 1,755 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns for the season and, with Tuesday’s victory, the Huskies completed a 12-0 regular season and will face either Bowling Green or Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference championship game on December 6.

Number 6 also threw one TD pass against the Broncos, giving him 22 for the year against just five interceptions and he has passed for more than 2,200 yards.  Lynch is now just the fifth FBS quarterback with at least 4,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards passing for his college career.

NIU never lost a home game with Lynch at quarterback, has never lost to a MAC opponent and he is 24-2 overall as a starter.

Jordan Lynch is tough as a bull, nimble as a deer and humble as a Buddhist.  His teammates love him and he makes everyone better.

No team in the nation relies on one player more than Northern Illinois leans on Jordan Lynch; therefore he’s the most valuable player in college football.  Or does that just reflect the thinking that NIU is in a lower-tier conference and if Lynch played in the SEC he would be a second-string fullback?

Lynch is six-feet tall, 216 pounds and routinely outruns defensive backs.  They are MAC defensive backs but he’s more than the MAC Daddy.  There are 71 MAC players on NFL rosters this year including last spring’s top overall pick, Eric Fisher.  The MAC is a good conference and Lynch is a transcendent player.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has a better team than Lynch, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has more press, (good and bad) so does Florida State signal caller Jameis Winston.  They are great players, as are many others.  But Lynch has outplayed all of them.

The Heisman Trust says the Heisman Memorial Trophy “annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.  Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work.”

In other words: Jordan Lynch.

 

Leatherheads Top 16 After Week 12

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 12:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (9)   10-0   144        1
   2 Florida State   10-0   134        2
   3 Baylor     9-0   121       3T
   4 Ohio State   10-0   119       3T
   5 Oregon     9-1   103        6
   6 Auburn   10-1   100        8
   7 Clemson     9-1     93        7
   8 Missouri     9-1     82        9
   9 Texas A&M     8-2     56      10
 10 Oklahoma State     9-1     54      12
 11 Stanford     8-2     50        5
 12 Michigan State     9-1     42      14
 13 South Carolina     8-2     40      11
 14 Fresno State     9-0     33      13
 15 UCLA     8-2     20      15
 16 Northern Illinois   10-0     15      NR


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma – 9, Wisconsin – 6, UCF – 2, Arizona State – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Leatherheads Top 16 After Week 11

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 11:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (10)    9-0   160        1
   2 Florida State    9-0   148        3
   3T Baylor    8-0   132        5
   3T Ohio State    9-0   132        4
   5 Stanford    8-1   123        6
   6 Oregon    8-1   103        2
   7 Clemson    8-1     98        7
   8 Auburn    8-1     93        8
   9 Missouri    9-1     85        9
 10 Texas A&M    8-2     62      13
 11 South Carolina    7-2     51      14
 12 Oklahoma State    8-1     48      NR
 13 Fresno State    9-0     35      15
 14 Michigan State    8-1     32      16
 15 UCLA    7-2     21      NR
 16 Miami    7-2     11      12


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma – 10, Northern Illinois – 9, LSU – 3, Texas – 3, UCF – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

The Seminoles Stake Their Claim

The big game last week was the battle of the undefeated Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes. FSU took care of business and beat Miami 41-14, solidifying the #3 ranking in the Leatherheads Top 16.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the rankings after Stanford beat Oregon and Baylor trounced Oklahoma last night.

The matchup to watch this weekend, of course,  is LSU at Alabama. If LSU can beat the Tide, FSU will be sitting in the top spot unless the Wake Forest Demon Deacons can put a spell on Jameis Winston.

Leatherhead Brandon Williams told me “Forget the ’93 and ’99 National title teams; this may be the best ‘Noles team since ’87.”

As for Ohio State’s claim to the top spot, Leatherhead Terry Keshner states “Being the best team in the Big Ten is like being the best looking among the Three Stooges.”

And let us not forget the men in black, Baylor dominated Oklahoma last night and are now 8-0. They play a slumping Texas Tech next week before a big game with Oklahoma State, followed by TCU and Texas. They have a tough schedule but could end the regular season undefeated.

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 10:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (11)    8-0   176       1
   2 Oregon    8-0   161       2
   3 Florida State    8-0   156       3
   4 Ohio State    9-0   143       4
   5 Baylor    7-0   133       5
   6 Stanford    7-1   110       6
   7 Clemson    8-1   104       8
   8 Auburn    8-1   100       9
   9 Missouri    8-1     84     10
 10 Oklahoma    7-1     64     11
 11 LSU    7-2     55     12
 12 Miami    7-1     45       7
 13 Texas A&M    7-2     42     13
 14 South Carolina    7-2     29     15
 15 Fresno State    8-0     26     16
 16 Michigan State    8-1     20     NR


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma State – 18, Texas Tech – 13, Northern Illinois – 7, Texas – 5,  UCLA – 2, UCF – 2.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, RUFANJerry, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon WilliamsJoe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Top 5 Stay Undefeated While Missouri Takes A Loss

Week 9 was dominated by great performances from the top five teams in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16. Alabama easily took care of Tennessee 45-10, Oregon trounced UCLA 42-14, FSU put a hurting on North Carolina State 49-17, Ohio State embarrassed Penn State 63-14 and Baylor spanked Kansas 59-14.

Last week’s number six team didn’t have such an easy go of it. Missouri took their first loss of the season against South Carolina and dropped to ten in the Top 16. The Gamecocks had something to prove and they did. They are still a team to be reckoned with in the SEC. Mizzou had the lead at halftime but let South Carolina come back, forcing two overtime periods with the game ending on a Mizzou missed field goal. The Gamecocks sit in the #15 spot in the poll.

While undefeated Missouri had to face South Carolina, undefeated Texas Tech had to face Oklahoma. The Sooners, led by quarterback Blake Bell and senior wide receiver Jalen Saunders, beat the Red Raiders 38-30. Texas Tech dropped in the poll from #9 to #14 while the Sooners rose from not being rated to the #11 spot.

Perhaps the biggest upset of Week 9 was Duke beating Virginia Tech 13-10. It was a game that included eight interceptions, four by each starting quarterback. The Hokies, ranked in the sixteenth spot last week, are no longer ranked.

Games to watch in Week 10 include Miami at Florida State, Oklahoma State at Texas Tech and Michigan at Michigan State.

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 9:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (9)    8-0   144        1
   2 Oregon    8-0   133        2
   3 Florida State    7-0   125        3
   4 Ohio State    8-0   118        4
   5 Baylor    7-0   108        5
   6 Stanford    7-1     93        8
   7 Miami    7-0     91        7
   8 Clemson    7-1     77      10
   9 Auburn    7-1     69      13
 10 Missouri    7-1     54        6
 11 Oklahoma    7-1     50      NR
 12 LSU    7-2     46      11
 13 Texas A&M    6-2     37      14
 14 Texas Tech    7-1     22        9
 15 South Carolina    6-2     19      NR
 16 Fresno State    7-0     17      15


Others receiving votes
: Michigan State – 8, Northern Illinois – 5, Oklahoma State – 4, Louisville – 2, UCLA – 2.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

100 Years Ago, Notre Dame-Army Changed Football Forever

On the afternoon of November 1, 1913, a pair of football teams representing all-male institutions of higher learning met on the Cullum Hall field at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. On that day, it is said, football changed forever.

For 18 students from the University of Notre Dame, a small Catholic college in northern Indiana, the trip began two days earlier, when they boarded a day coach in downtown South Bend, headed East on the longest football trek ever attempted at a school that began playing the game 25 years earlier. The captain of the Notre Dame squad, 25-year-old Knute Kenneth Rockne, reflected on his journey of the previous two decades. As a five-year-old, he was a new immigrant from Norway, learning English at the spanking new Brentano Elementary School in an area recently annexed to Chicago.

Now, he stood at the very heart of American pride – ready to take on the accomplished young men to represent an entire nation on the playing field. For most of them, it was a prelude to the battlefields on which they would fight in coming years. Men like Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley were honing their skills.

The game of football was evolving, from brutal “mass play” in which bodies crashed together on each play, hoping to gain a few inches, or feet, in the battle for position. Too often, the result included cracked skulls, busted limbs, bloodied faces. Death was one possible outcome. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt convened a meeting of football leaders and declared the game needed to change, or it would die.

Over the next few years, rules and strategies changed, and gradually an “open game” was played by more colleges. One element of change, the forward pass, was attempted by handful of schools, most notably by Coach Eddie Cochems at St. Louis University in 1906. But passing, by rule, was a risky proposition, and seen more as a desperation move than a means of consistently advancing the football.

Until that November day on the Plain of West Point. Rockne and his pal, senior Notre Dame quarterback Charles “Gus” Dorais, operated as coaches on the field for Irish boss Jesse Harper. And when Dorais declared, “Let’s open it up,” his teammates were ready. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Dorais began flinging a series of passes, increasingly longer, to receivers running defined pass routes. When he let loose a spiral that followed a long arc into the arms of a racing Rockne, who finished the 45-yard-play in the Army end zone, the crowd – yes, the crowd at West Point – roared.

“Everybody seemed astonished,” Rockne would later write. “There had been no hurdling, no tackling, no plunging, no crushing of fiber and sinew. Just a long-distance touchdown by rapid transit.”

Dorais and Rockne, who had practiced their pitch-and-catch routine on the Lake Erie beach while working at Cedar Point resort in Ohio that summer, led Notre Dame to a shocking 35-13 upset of the Army.

Notre Dame, and college football, would never look back.

No longer would the game need to be a slugfest, a battle over small scraps of turf, in which only when positioned in the shadow of the opposition’s goal could an attempt for a score be made.

Now, the game had become artistry on an emerald canvas. Brains triumphed over brawn. A pair of small men – Rockne himself was just 5-foot-8, 165 pounds – could excel among giants. Deception, evasion, speed…these could be the answer to sheer muscle.

It all came together for Rockne that day. Before the month was over, he would have played in his final collegiate game. Now, he began to see his future as a coach, an innovator, and promoter of the game. A new game. Much more entertaining to those in the stands, those reading about it in the newspaper, and in a few years, those listening on the new invention, the radio.

The next fall, as assistant coach to Harper, a position that become essentially co-coach, Rockne was instrumental in implementing the Notre Dame shift, which positioned the four backs in such a way as that any of them could take the snap from center, and become runner, passer or receiver on the play. Teamwork, speed, precision, unpredictability. These became the four pillars of the Notre Dame backfield.

The goal was, yes, to win football games. But for Rockne, it was the start on another amazing journey. Before it ended, he became the unofficial spokesman for the sport. Traveling from coast to coast, he openly shared the “Notre Dame system” – detailing to aspiring coaches every detail of how he guided the Fighting Irish, after taking over as head coach in 1918.

His rise as a successful coach — his .881 winning percentage remains the highest ever among major-college coaches ¬¬— coincided with a period in which Americans had more leisure time and dollars than ever, and began flocking to sporting events as never before. Rockne took his teams to the nation’s major stadia, from Yankee Stadium in New York to Soldier Field in Chicago to the Los Angeles Coliseum. His “Ramblers” became a national phenomenon.

He was an advocate on anything that improved the fan experience at the game: contrasting jerseys for the teams; numbers on the backs of jerseys, and information game programs; announcers over loud speakers detailing the play; reasonable ticket prices, so that maximum number of people could be accommodated.

Between the years 1919 and 1929, under Rockne’s guidance, the season-long attendance for Notre Dame games grew nearly tenfold, from 56,000 to more than 550,000. Millions more followed along by radio. College football took its place alongside baseball, horse racing and prize fighting in the pantheon of favorite American pastimes.

In catching that first long pass from Dorais, Rockne noted “life for me was complete.” Perhaps so. Because the course for his career and life — like a long pass pattern on the Plain of West Point — was set in motion. There was no turning back.

 

 

Jim Lefebvre is an award-winning author and sports historian. This fall, he released his comprehensive biography Coach For A Nation: The Life and Times of Knute Rockne, available at www.CoachForANation.com. His first book, Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions, received three national honors for excellence. Jim also operates the website Forever Irish at www.NDFootballHistory.com.

Losses, Upsets and the Rolling Tide

It is Saturday which means it is time again for college football. Last week’s action was full of upsets which shook up the Leatherheads Top 16. One constant did remain: Alabama sitting at the #1 spot. Until the Crimson Tide lose, I don’t think that will change.

The Tide easily took care of Arkansas 52-0. Both sophomore Kenyan Drake and freshman Derrick Henry ran for 100 yards, including Henry running 80 yards in the final minute to cap a dreadful day for the Razorbacks. The Tide are 7-0 and playing Tennessee later today.

The game of the week was supposed to be Florida State at Clemson. Well, Clemson didn’t show up and FSU took care of business on both sides of the ball. The defense created 4 turnovers while Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards, 3 scores and ran one into the end zone. Yet, another amazing day for the redshirt freshman. The kid shows great leadership ability and has all the talent in the world. He is fun to watch. With the win, FSU moved up to the third spot in the poll behind the Oregon Ducks who also keep winning and beat Washington State 62-38.

For Clemson, the Tigers dropped from third in the poll to #10. Today they travel to Maryland and try to redeem themselves. Maryland is 5-2.

While #4 Ohio State had to rally to beat Iowa 34-24, Baylor took care of business by beating Iowa State 71-7. The Bears are leading the nation in scoring with almost 65 points per game. The defense is not too shabby either, ranking seventh in points against at 16 points a game. Baylor was ranked 11th last week in the poll but find themselves in the #5 spot. Today they go against the 2-4 Charlie Weiss-led Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks gave up 54 points to Texas Tech on October 5th. The Bears might beat that number.

Sitting in the #6 spot is Missouri. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that the Tigers would be 7-0 at this point in the season, especially with Georgia on their schedule? Today they should be tested by South Carolina who are looking to makeup for their loss last week to Tennessee. If they can get by the Gamecocks today as well as Tennessee next week, they could be undefeated going into their last regular-season game against Texas A&M on November 30th.

Have you noticed yet that Louisville is not ranked in the Top 16? All it took was one loss and they fell from #6 to nowhere. Central Florida scored with 23 seconds left to beat the formerly undefeated Cardinals. UCF will have their hands full today when they face the UConn Huskies (sarcasm).

The game of the week turned out to be Auburn at Texas A&M. Auburn beat up on Johnny Manziel, forcing him out of the game at one point with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Still, Manziel was Johnny Football and almost won the game. A feisty Auburn team kept pace and finally scored and then shut down Manziel with less than a minute to go. Manziel, with injury, still managed 454 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Mike Evans had a huge day himself, catching those 4 TD passes while receiving for 287 yards. Remember a month ago when Evans had 279 yards against Alabama? Can you say first-round draft pick?

Anyway, Auburn makes is debut in the Top 16 at #13 while the Aggies drop from #8 to #14.

While Miami, Texas Tech and Fresno State (yes, Fresno State) are all undefeated and ranked in the Top 16, LSU, UCLA, Georgia and Washington all took losses with only LSU and UCLA remained ranked.

Enough about last week. The games to watch this week include Tennessee at Alabama, UCLA at Oregon, Penn State at Ohio State, South Carolina at Missouri, Stanford at Oregon State and Texas Tech at Oklahoma.

If the Buckeyes are not careful, I can see Penn State stealing victory from them and ending their winning streak. A few undefeateds will fall today but one will not be Northern Illinois who will host Eastern Michigan.

Did you notice I mentioned the Volunteers five times if you count this sentence?

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 8:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (11)    7-0   176        1
   2 Oregon    7-0   164        2
   3 Florida State    6-0   152        5
   4 Ohio State    7-0   143        4
   5 Baylor    6-0   120      11
   6 Missouri    7-0   109      14
   7 Miami    6-0   103      10
   8 Stanford    6-1     88      13
   9 Texas Tech    7-0     80      15
 10 Clemson    6-1     74        3
 11 LSU    6-2     51        7
 12 UCLA    5-1     45        9
 13 Auburn    6-1     37      NR
 14 Texas A&M    5-2     34        8
 15 Fresno State    6-0     28      NR
 16 Virginia Tech    6-1     26      NR


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma – 17, Louisville – 14, Florida – 8, Georgia – 6, Michigan – 5, Northern Illinois – 5, Notre Dame – 4, Texas – 3, Virginia – 2, Oklahoma State – 1, USC – 1.

Participating voters: Jon Blayne, David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon WilliamsJoe Williams, Tony Williams.