Professor’s Picks

One and done.

Make that Number #1 and done.

Continuing a season long trend of upsets involving highly rated teams, top-ranked LSU lost at Kentucky last week. Second-ranked Cal joined the pratfall parade by tripping over the Beavers of Oregon State.

Next up – Ohio State.

Take roll of the upset roster this season … Michigan, USC, LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Florida, Texas … quite a group.

So many teams getting upset actually serves the victims well.

Since it seems more and more unlikely a team will make it through the season unscathed, all those one-loss teams are still in title contention.

It’s difficult to see a TWO-LOSS team making it to the title game, but hey Florida is lurking just outside the Top Ten in the AP poll.

With the initial 2007 BCS rankings out this week, let’s analyze the teams from the BCS conferences with the best chances of reaching the title game in New Orleans.

ACC: Unbeaten Boston College holds the best cards in the conference, but don’t forget Virginia Tech (6-1) just yet. The Gobblers host BC in a huge game on October 25th.

Big East: South Florida is undefeated and #2 in the AP poll, so they have the league’s best opportunity, but Rutgers will be a challenge for them this week. Don’t count out West Virginia (1 loss).

Big Ten: Ohio State is in the driver’s seat, but the Buckeyes have five strong challenges left and have not beaten a really good team yet. No other team appears a title contender.

Big 12: Oklahoma is in perhaps the best shape of any team nationally to reach the title game. With a very manageable schedule, the Sooners should win out. Kansas is undefeated, but I don’t see that happening.

PAC 10: This conference gets a bit more respect than it deserves, but four teams are in the running. If any team wins out from among undefeated Arizona State, and once-beaten Cal, Oregon, and USC they likely get to the big game.

SEC: LSU still gets the nod for best title hopes, with once-beaten South Carolina and Kentucky in the East holding out hope.

If you want an out-on-the-limb prediction … how does another BCS title game between LSU-Oklahoma sound?

Around the Nation

The Thursday night matchup between South Florida and Rutgers has huge implications (strange as that might sound).

Should the Bulls get past the Scarlet Knights an undefeated season looks probable. The question then becomes whether an unbeaten USF team gets the BCS nod over a once beaten team like LSU or Oklahoma.

The Big Ten features top-ranked Ohio State hosting tough Michigan State. The Spartans (5-2) blew out a pretty good Indiana team last week, so this could be a real challenge for the Buckeyes.

USC travels to Notre Dame in a game that has historical significance if not much else this season.

Around the South

The SEC has a host of games with conference championship implications.

Auburn visits LSU for a Saturday night game. Each team has one loss in the conference and the winner is the West favorite. Tennessee is my favorite in the East at this point, but the Volunteers have a tough task in Tuscaloosa against Alabama. Florida travels to Lexington (along with the ESPN Game Day crew) for an East showdown with the Cats. Great weekend.

The ACC has quite a few non-conference games, but Florida State and Miami is always competitive, even when it is just for bragging rights like it is this year.

Professor’s SEC Picks

(2007 Record: 44-12; 3-2 last week … missing Auburn and Kentucky wins)

Tennessee at Alabama (12:30 ET LFS)
See SEC Game of the Week.
Game Ball: Tennessee

Arkansas at Ole Miss (2:00 ET)
Maybe Arkansas should just start with the trick plays at the beginning of the game. Hog-tied by Auburn’s defense for the entire game, the Hogs finally scored a late touchdown to take a 7-6 lead after passes by RB Darren McFadden and WR Robert Johnson helped get them downfield. The lead didn’t last long as Auburn’s Wes Byrum kicked another game-winner in the waning seconds for the 9-7 win. McFadden saw his Heisman hopes take a dent with only 43 yards rushing. Ole Miss is like a baseball team without a closer. The Rebels can take a game into the late innings but cannot get the last out. Ole Miss fell for the third straight time to Alabama by 3 points, with each being decided on the last play of the game.
Game Ball: Arkansas

Auburn at LSU (9:00 ET ESPN)
Suddenly Auburn is the league’s hottest team. The Tigers continued their road warrior success by winning at Arkansas, and now share the SEC West lead with LSU and Alabama. The Tiger offense could do little with the Hogs, but freshman kicker Wes Byrum booted the winning field goal with 21 seconds left. The Auburn defense was outstanding, shutting down the Arkansas duo of McFadden and Jones. LSU lost at Kentucky and the season could go either way for the Bengal Tigers at this point. Combine the inability of the LSU defense to contain Kentucky with the somewhat baffling offensive play-calls in overtime and there might be a confidence crisis in Baton Rouge. Lose this one to Auburn and the SEC’s leading national contender is likely out of the BCS picture. This game should worry LSU fans because Tommy Tuberville has earned more trust than Les Miles in big games. Still, Auburn only scored 9 points against Arkansas, so go with the angrier bunch of Tigers in this one.
Game Ball: LSU

Florida at Kentucky (3:30 ET CBS)
Florida had a week off to prepare for this one and to heal the wounds of two straight losses. Florida fans should hope that Urban Meyer found some offensive rushing help to go with one man gang QB Tim Tebow. Kentucky won one of the year’s best games by upsetting #1 ranked LSU. QB Andre Woodson played himself back into Heisman contention with 250 yards passing and 3 TDs, and the Wildcats are in the thick of the SEC East race with only one conference loss. As impressive as the Cats were in whipping LSU, it’s tough to see Florida losing three straight games. Gators win and it might be by a bigger margin than we expect.
Game Ball: Florida

Georgia (Idle)
Next Game: Florida in Jacksonville 10/27/07

Mississippi State at West Virginia (3:30 ET)
We can’t accuse the Bulldogs of scheduling a cupcake can we? Of course, not sure that playing a Top Ten team and what will end up being the best Big East team will do much for MSU’s bowl hopes either. State lost a competitive 33-21 decision at home to Tennessee in the first game of a brutal schedule stretch (UT, WVU, Kentucky, Alabama). At 3-2, the Bulldogs need three more wins to get bowl eligible. The Mountaineers have bigger goals. At a quiet 5-1, the only loss coming in Tampa to undefeated South Florida, WVU is still in contention for not only a Big East title but also have an outside shot at a national title. The schedule is conducive to winning out, but they must get by MSU first. State could make a tough game of it.
Game Ball: West Virginia

Vanderbilt at South Carolina (12:30 ET)
South Carolina was the Game Day Weekly pre-season choice to win the SEC East, and as of now the Gamecocks are on top of the division at 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference. SC won the battle of the Carolinas last week with a hang-on 21-16 victory over North Carolina. In the game, the Roosters jumped on the Tar Heels 21-3, then got conservative and barely held on for the road win. Last season Vanderbilt beat Georgia on a late field goal, but last week saw the tables turned when the Dogs kicked the game-winner at the buzzer. The league is so deep that a Commodore win would only be a mild upset, but expect the Gamecocks to keep their streak going.
Game Ball: South Carolina

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