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Week Five Headlines

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It is only the first week of October, but there are already some national powers that find themselves out of the national title hunt, not to mention conference title consideration. The Sunshine State takes center stage this week, with the resurrection of one program and the possible demise of another. Finally, a possible re-instatement in Eugene could have the Ducks primed for a Pac-10 title run.

THESE CANES ARE DEFINITELY ABLE: There is little argument that the Miami Hurricanes had the toughest early-season schedule in college football. With Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma on the docket to kickoff the 2009 campaign, few people, including head coach Randy Shannon, could have envisioned Miami being 3-1 after a month of action. Still, following a thrilling 21-20 victory over the Sooners this past weekend, that is exactly where the Hurricanes stand. Already with big wins over FSU and Georgia Tech, Miami is in good standing in the ACC. Sophomore Jacory Harris is much further along than anticipated and his maturation under center is a big reason for the team's resurgence. Only time will tell, if the Hurricanes can stay focused and run the table the rest of the way, but with confidence growing each week and a favorable schedule the rest of the way, 10+ wins is a real possibility.

THE NATIVES ARE GETTING RESTLESS: Everything is not sunny in the Sunshine State, as there are rumblings in Tallahassee about Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden's job security. The head of Florida State's Board of Trustees has gone on the record and said that 2009 could be the last for Bowden, who is in his 34th season at the helm. The Seminoles, who have lost two straight games, fell to 2-3 on the season and 0-2 in ACC play with last weekend's 28-21 loss at Boston College. After winning double-digit games in 14 straight seasons from 1987-2000, FSU has not posted a 10-win season since 2003. Bowden, who has won two national titles and 384 career games (second only to Penn State's Joe Paterno among FBS-level coaches), could be on borrowed time, a notion thought to be preposterous even last year. With offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher waiting in the wings to take over, it could only be a matter of time before Bowden is forced into retirement.

All-American candidate Jahvid Best has been neutralized in Cal's two losses.
REVERSAL OF FURTUNES: Just two weeks ago, the California Golden Bears looked unbeatable and posed a real threat to USC's reign atop the Pac-10. However, with a 30-3 rout at the hands of the Trojans, Jeff Tedford's team has gone from championship mode to survival mode. The problem has been a complete lack of offense in the last two games, as the team has managed just six combined points in back-to-back lopsided losses to Oregon and USC. All-American candidate Jahvid Best has been neutralized in the two losses and if he can't get going on the ground, the passing attack has little chance of working.

The other team in the country that saw its national title hopes dashed was Oklahoma. The Sooners have a built-in excuse with the injury of Heisman winner Sam Bradford. Still, despite the loss to BYU in the season-opener, OU could have run the table in the Big 12 and found itself playing for a national championship. However, a 21-20 loss to Miami this week will leave the Sooners on the outside looking in. Now the team must find a way to regroup, with or without Bradford, as the team takes on Baylor this week before getting back-to-back ranked opponents in Texas and Kansas outside of Norman.

SECOND CHANCES: It was revealed late last week that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly was considering reinstating standout tailback LeGarrette Blount. Of course, everyone knows that Blount was suspended for the year for throwing a punch at the end of the Boise State loss, and then subsequently losing his mind as he left the field of play, arguing and getting into a physical confrontation with fans. While the actions of Blount certainly stepped way over the line, it shouldn't have cost him the season and in turn the rest of his collegiate career. Blount, who was allowed to remain with the team for practice, has done all the right things since the incident and should be given the opportunity to redeem himself. It would not be a move of necessity with the emergence of youngster LaMichael James in the backfield, but rather a move of compassion by Kelly, who has been nothing short of a stand-up guy in his short tenure in Eugene.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: It was a week for running backs to show their worth, starting with Louisiana Tech's Daniel Porter, who rushed for 160 yards and two TDs in leading the Bulldogs to a big win over Hawaii to kick off the week on Wednesday. West Virginia's Noel Devine was masterful the next night, with a career-high 220 yards and one TD in a win over Colorado. Wisconsin's John Clay ran for a career-high 184 yards and three TDs in a close win at Minnesota. Temple's freshman tailback Bernard Pierce posted 180 yards and two TDs in a win at Eastern Michigan. UCF's Brynn Harvey put up a career-high 219 yards and one TD in a win over Memphis. UL-Monroe's Frank Goodin ran for 163 yards and three TDs against Florida International. Finally, Stanford's Toby Gerhart rushed for 134 yards and three TDs for the Cardinal, who are surprisingly sitting atop the Pac-10 at 3-0.

The Notre Dame pitch-and-catch combination of QB Jimmy Clausen and WR Golden Tate was too much for Washington in an overtime win for the Irish. Clausen threw for 422 yards and two TDs, with more than half of that going to Tate, who hauled in nine passes, for 244 yards and one TD.

In a losing effort, Houston signal-caller Case Keenum continued his torrid pace, passing for 536 yards and five touchdowns against UTEP.

SNEAK PEEK: There are three top-25 matchups on the schedule for week number six, but none bigger than top-ranked Florida at fourth-ranked LSU. The Gators may or may not be without Tim Tebow, who is still suffering from lingering effects of a concussion. The Tigers meanwhile, are quietly proving to be one of the most complete teams in the nation.

Thursday night's affair between 21st-ranked Nebraska and 24th-ranked Missouri may lack the allure of the Florida/LSU bout, but it will give the winner a leg up in the wide open Big 12 North.

The last top-25 clash features third-ranked Alabama at 20th-ranked Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide (5-0) are certainly looking the part of a national title contender, but cannot look past anyone, especially the Rebels (3-1) in Oxford.

Other key games include 17th-ranked Auburn at Arkansas, Boston College at fifth-ranked Virginia Tech, 15th-ranked Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, undefeated Wisconsin at ninth-ranked Ohio State, 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech at Florida State and Michigan at 12th-ranked Iowa.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes
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