Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The season's first month is rapidly coming to a close and there has certainly been enough football played to formulate ideas on where this season is headed. Week Three was hyped as "Super Saturday" and certainly lived up to the moniker.
SOONERS SEEING RED
The most talked about game following week number three has to be the Oklahoma/Oregon matchup. It will be a great game that will forever be tarnished by some atrocious officiating down the stretch. The Oregon kickoff late in the fourth quarter clearly didn't go 10 yards before the Ducks touched the ball, but after careful review (tongue planted firmly in cheek), the hometown team was awarded possession. Everyone knows what happened after that, as Oregon completed an improbable comeback and stole one from Oklahoma. The repercussions have already begun, with the Pac-10 officiating crew getting suspended. In addition, the Sooner Nation has gone berserk. What remains uncertain, is whether or not the snafu in Eugene will ultimately cost a good Oklahoma team a shot at the national title. The BCS certainly hopes that is not the case, but only time will tell.
"Super Saturday" definitely cleaned things up in the run for a national title. Several top-25 matchups all but eliminated a few teams from consideration for the championship, as some overrated programs fell to the wayside, while true contenders stepped forward. Those teams that failed in their bid to make a positive statement include Miami-Florida, Notre Dame and LSU. Both the Hurricanes and Fighting Irish probably weren't as good as the hype, but both came up small in lopsided losses to Louisville and Michigan, respectively. LSU's loss to a really good Auburn squad did not cost the Tigers as much, but presents the team with a tough road to travel the rest of the way. Teams that made a significant move include Michigan, Louisville, Auburn and Florida. The Cardinals put up a lot of points on one of the best defenses in the nation, but it came at a huge cost. The Wolverines are better than advertised and with Henne finally waking up, the top-ranked Buckeyes better look behind them. Auburn is as good as advertised, led by a stellar defense. The young Gators got by rival Tennessee in Knoxville, a huge step in Coach Meyer's second season in Gainesville.
Head coach Bobby Petrino has to be scratching his head wondering what he did wrong to deserve the kind of luck he has been saddled with in the first three weeks. First, the high-powered Cardinals lost one of the nation's top tailbacks with Michael Bush suffering a broken leg in the season-opener. To make matters worse, the team's other Heisman candidate, veteran quarterback Brian Brohm is now sidelined for the next four weeks with a thumb injury he suffered against Miami. Louisville is loaded with talent and Petrino is an excellent coach, but he will have to be truly magnificent if his team is to beat West Virginia without its top two stars. The Mountaineers stand as the only real threat to prevent Louisville from finishing with a flawless regular season and now backups Hunter Cantwell and George Stripling will play a big part in what happens.
RUNNING AWAY WITH IT?
John David Booty has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 518 yards along with six TDs and no interceptions since stepping in for Matt Leinart.
Speaking of West Virginia, the Mountaineers may have the top Heisman candidate at this time in tailback Steve Slaton. The ultra-quick sophomore was an All-American as a freshman and has not let down yet. Slaton has the ability to do whatever he wants on the field (a la Reggie Bush) and currently ranks third nationally in rushing (167.7 ypg). He joins both Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson (171.7 ypg) and current rushing leader Garrett Wolfe (210.0 ypg) as the top three rushers in the nation. Peterson is no stranger to a Heisman race, returning to the form that had him finish second in the balloting as a freshman. Wolfe is a darkhorse at best. Although he very well could eclipse the 2,000-yard mark this year (670 yards in the first three games), Wolfe plays in the MAC and that simply doesn't excite the Heisman voters. The run for the Heisman is now up for grabs with the woes of Golden Boy Brady Quinn in September.
While he is not yet in the Heisman picture, John David Booty has more than adequately stepped in as the signal-caller for USC. Filling the shoes of Heisman winner Matt Leinart, who filled those left by fellow Heisman winner Carson Palmer, Booty has not wilted under the spotlight. Rather, he has flourished in the role, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, for 518 yards, with six TDs and no interceptions. His 158.2 passer rating ranks 19th nationally, but if he stays within himself, he will only climb the charts.
This week lacks the prime-time matchups that peppered the schedule a week ago, but there are still some big games that can define a season. First up, is Penn State at Ohio State. The Nittany Lions already have a loss on their record (at Notre Dame) and will find themselves completely out of the BCS picture with a setback in Columbus. Unfortunately for Joe Paterno's squad, the team is too young and inconsistent to win a road game of this magnitude. Someone will eventually step up and halt USC's Pac-10 dominance and this week's Arizona State/California tilt may provide a likely challenger. The Sun Devils or Golden Bears will get a leg up on the rest of the league with a victory and put themselves on a collision course with the mighty Trojans.