Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The weeks are starting to dwindle down and the cream is supposed to rise to the top at this time of the year. Last weekend was filled with statement games and close calls, all of which should set up a wild finish in the next couple of weeks.
IT MAY BE IN THE CARDS: The clash of the Big East titans lived up to the hype, as then third-ranked West Virginia and fifth-ranked Louisville put on a show on national television last Thursday. Going back and forth in the first half, Bobby Petrino's Cardinals took over in the third quarter and held on for the 44-34 victory at home. The win pushed Louisville to third in the nation and into position to move into the national title game picture, with next week's Ohio State/Michigan matchup all but eliminating the loser from contention. Of course, Louisville will have to avoid a letdown this week, as the Cardinals travel to Piscataway to take on a rested and very dangerous Rutgers squad. Both teams are undefeated and the winner will be all alone atop the Big East standings.
TEDFORD'S BEARS SEEM GOLDEN: With USC's recent loss, California had an opportunity to make a statement against a good UCLA program this past week. The Golden Bears did just that as Nate Longshore passed for 266 yards and three TDs in Cal's 14-point victory at home. The Trojans made a statement of their own with a 42-0 whitewashing of a winless Stanford team. The stage is almost set for a monumental showdown in L.A. next week. That is provided that both teams take care of business this weekend. The Golden Bears will take on Arizona in the desert, while USC will host a tough Oregon team.
ONE GAME AT A TIME: The top two teams in the country said all the right things, but didn't exactly buy into the mind set. Ohio State and Troy Smith struggled in Illinois, amassing just 224 yards of total offense and needed a staunch defensive effort to remain unbeaten on the season, with a rather bland 17-10 win in Champaign. Meanwhile the Wolverines got all they could handle at home against Ball State. Michigan prevailed 34-26, but needed a goal-line stand late to preserve the lead and earn the win. Both teams have winnable games this week with Michigan traveling to Indiana and Ohio State hitting the road to take on Northwestern. Expect a much more focused effort from both squads, setting up what could be the best game of the year next weekend in Columbus.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: While Michigan and Ohio State both kept their dream seasons alive, there were a few teams that have let things slip away. The first that comes to mind is the Clemson Tigers. A drab 13-12 loss to Maryland, the team's second straight defeat, all but prevents Tommy Bowden's squad from winning the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Tigers are now two games back in the loss column. The Tennessee Volunteers had the LSU Tigers right where they wanted them late in last week's clash in Knoxville. However, LSU scored with just nine seconds left to steal one at Neyland Stadium. With the loss, the Vols fall a game behind rival Florida (in the loss column) in the always tough SEC East.
Last week against Wisconsin, Joe Paterno got rolled up on by one of his players. The result was a broken leg and torn knee ligaments.
IRONMAN IN HAPPY VALLEY: Joe Paterno's legend at Penn State continues to grow even though his distinguished career is certainly coming to an end soon. Last week against Wisconsin, Paterno got rolled up on by one of his players, as he couldn't get out of the way on the sidelines. The result was a broken leg and torn knee ligaments. Those kind of injuries would sideline much younger men for weeks, but word out of Happy Valley is that Paterno may not miss a game. They certainly don't make em the way they used to.
WEEK 11 SNEAK PEEK: Next week's Ohio State/Michigan game will garner almost all the attention from the national media and hopefully the game lives up to the hype. It may be hard to believe, but there is still plenty of intriguing matchups this year and this week specifically. Third-ranked Louisville and 15th-ranked Rutgers will kick things off on Thursday, with this game representing the biggest game in Rutgers' football history. Fayetteville is the site for 11th-ranked Arkansas against 13th-ranked Tennessee. I'm still not sold on the Razorbacks, but they certainly could make an impression with a victory in this one. The 21st-ranked Oregon Ducks can all but eliminate the seventh- ranked USC Trojans from Pac-10 contention and that in and of itself is fairly significant since Pete Carroll's team has won four straight conference crowns.