Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Week nine provided plenty of action. Lengthy win streaks and losing streaks came to an end on opposite sides of the country, while passing the ball off the mainland is still the desired mode of travel. Several undefeated teams looked flat, both in winning and losing, and preventing the same fate in Week 10 will be the top task for many high profile programs.
FALL OF TROY: It really wasn't a question of if, but rather when USC would lose its stranglehold on the Pac-10. The Trojans have dominated the conference for four years and coming into last weekend, had won 27 consecutive Pac-10 affairs. However, unlike the last couple of seasons, the team lacked a Heisman Trophy winner and the kind of All-American supporting cast necessary to win 27 straight league games. Pete Carroll's team had survived several close calls this season, but the magic ran dry this week, with a 33-31 loss to Oregon State. Now the Trojans are in unfamiliar territory, looking up at California (5-0) in the league standings. USC has Stanford this week and should probably rebound with a victory, but closes out things with home games against Oregon, California and Notre Dame and finally a showdown with rival UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Preventing a second or even third loss in the month of November will not be easy.
FINALLY: All good things come to an end and I guess the same can be said of bad things. Congratulations to Al Golden and the Temple Owls for bringing an end to an ugly 20-game losing streak this past weekend, with a 28-14 win over Bowling Green. I'm not sure if it is more an indictment of the state of affairs within the Falcon roster, or that the Owls are finally playing better. Temple did score in every quarter of the football game and although they got abused on the ground (249 yards allowed), they were able to get in the win column thanks to the play of Travis Shelton, who tied the game in the first quarter with a 43-yard TD reception and put the game away with a fourth quarter 96-yard kickoff return. Next on the docket is a home game against a good Central Michigan team, followed by road tilts at Penn State and finally Navy. Getting a second win on the season will be difficult, but "baby steps" are perhaps a good thing for Golden and his Owls as they enter MAC play in 2007.
Mack Brown may need to find a way to make his team focus for 60 minutes every Saturday from here on out.
IT DOESN'T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE PRETTY: There are no extra points given anymore for winning games in impressive fashion, although Notre Dame's Charlie Weis may believe there are penalties for winning ugly. Still, the Irish coach excluded, winning is the name of the game and several contenders did just that, despite not looking good doing it. The Texas Longhorns spotted Texas Tech 21 points, before roaring back for a 35-31 victory. Falling behind by three scores is unacceptable against the better teams in the country. Mack Brown may need to find a way to make his team focus for 60 minutes every Saturday from here on out. Off to their best start since 1976, Rutgers had a golden opportunity to make a statement on national television on Sunday. The statement they made however, is probably not the one that Coach Schiano had envisioned all week long. Despite avoiding the upset against UConn and remaining undefeated on the year, the Scarlet Knights looked flat at times. Louisville is next following a bye week, so Rutgers better rest up for its clash with the Cardinals. Finally, the mighty Michigan Wolverines looked anything but against Northwestern this past weekend. In Ann Arbor, Michigan should have rolled over the Wildcats, but instead, needed a supreme defensive effort to post a 14-point win (17-3). Perhaps Lloyd Carr's squad has already fixated on the top-ranked Buckeyes on November 18th. It still shouldn't cost them the next two weeks against Ball State and Indiana.
COLT IS A THOROUGHBED: No I am not talking about Colt McCoy, who leads the fourth-ranked Longhorns into battle every week. This Colt is getting it done in the South Pacific. Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan is surely a product of June Jones' pass-happy offense, but the product is a good one. This past weekend, Brennan completed 31-of-38 passes, for 333 yards and five TDs in a 68-10 win over Idaho. During the Warrior's current five-game win streak, Brennan has thrown for almost 2,000 yards and 24 TDs, with only one interception. On the season, Brennan leads the nation in pass-efficiency (185.0), completing 74-percent of his passes, for 2,934 yards with 33 TDs and five picks. Extrapolate the numbers over the final five games of the season and Brennan could throw for nearly 5,000 yards and over 50+ TDs.
WEEK TEN SNEAK PEEK: The premier matchup this week is a top-5 extravaganza, with third-ranked West Virginia invading Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Thursday to take on fifth-ranked Louisville. This Big East battle features two of the best offenses in the nation. The Mountaineers have a pair of Heisman candidates in QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton. The Cardinals have survived the losses of their own Heisman-hopeful duo of Michael Bush and Brian Brohm to remain undefeated in 2006. Brohm has returned however and is poised to finish the year strong. West Virginia is second in the nation in scoring (40.9 ppg), while Louisville ranks fifth (38.7 ppg), so there is a good chance of a shootout in this one. It is a good week for top-25 matchups, with 13th-ranked LSU taking on eighth-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville, 16th-ranked Boston College going on the road to take on 22nd-ranked Wake Forest and 18th-ranked Oklahoma traveling to 21st-ranked Texas A&M. Other games worthy of mention include Penn State at 17th-ranked Wisconsin, Washington at 24th-ranked Oregon and 23rd- ranked Virginia Tech at Miami-Florida.