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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Notre Dame benefits from, yep, luck of the Irish

And help from the Washington offensive brain trust didn't exactly hurt either.

October 05, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Back from Berkeley in time for a landscape recap, with inspiration from Joe Kapp.

* Luckiest weekend team: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as in "the luck of the . . . "

Joke: How many Irish players does it take to stop Washington (twice) on the goal line?

Answer: One Washington offensive coordinator.

* Weekend's laziest teams: No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Texas (they didn't play).

* Weak end: After jumping to a 3-0 start the previous week at Eugene, Ore., California gave up 62 unanswered points in losing to Oregon and USC by the combined score of 72-6.

As for the rest of Cal football's season, what's the unanswered point?

* Best weekend wrap: Scallops wrapped inside bacon, held together by toothpicks, at a Cal tailgate party.

* Can they weather it report: Boise State. The Broncos got a taste of what they're going to get fed the rest of the year after rising last week to No. 5. Boise State beat I-AA UC Davis on Saturday and got jumped in the polls by Virginia Tech, which struggled to defeat Duke.

Boise State seems destined to stay stuck on the Bowl Championship Series hamster wheel in the four, five, six hole as teams above and below the Broncos move back and forth. With not much schedule left to lean on, grabbing attention is going to be a lot like grabbing air.

* May not weather it report: Florida State dropped to 2-3 for the first time since 1976 after Saturday's loss at Boston College. Coach Bobby Bowden turns 80 in November. Jimbo Fisher, the already named successor, is ready to succeed.

Tallahassee Democrat writer Steve Ellis wrote Sunday that Bowden needs to step down at the end of the year. "It is time," Ellis wrote.

When you lose Tallahassee, what's left?

* Not this time, Trojans. Last week, USC jumped five poll spots to No. 7 after a so-so home win against so-sorry Washington State. Sunday, a day after the Trojans pitched a complete game against Cal, they stayed at No. 7.

* We warned you guys: Houston, susceptible to tripping over its press clippings after defeating Texas Tech the previous week, went to Texas El Paso and lost, 58-41. Texas El Paso had scored 62 points combined in its four previous games.

* Sneaking up on the rail: Kansas. Uh-oh, the 4-0 Jayhawks are back and they've brought their nonconference schedule: Northern Colorado, Texas El Paso, Duke and Southern Mississippi.

Over and under on overrated and underrated teams:

Overrated

* 1. Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 5-0 and ranked No. 12 because they blocked two field-goal tries to stave off defeat to I-AA Northern Iowa in the opener and then, on Saturday, manhandled Arkansas State? OK, Iowa also beat Arizona and Penn State.

* 2. Louisiana State. The Tigers may turn out to be good, but does their play so far warrant a No. 4 ranking? Louisiana State beat Washington by eight points, needed a goal-line stand to beat Mississippi State and benefited Saturday from Georgia receiver A.J. Green's unsportsmanlike penalty to mount a game-winning drive in Athens, Ga.

* 3. Oklahoma State. Why are the Cowboys still hanging around the top-15 livery stable? Oklahoma State gave up 45 points at home in a 10-point loss to Houston, a team that just gave up 58 points in a double-digit loss to Texas El Paso.

* 4. Penn State. The Nittany Lions are No. 14 in this week's Associated Press poll. They lost to Iowa at home and defeated four schools -- Akron, Syracuse, Temple and Illinois -- with a combined record of 6-12. The only school in this grouping without a losing record is Temple (2-2).

* 5. Notre Dame. The Irish are 4-1 but could easily be 1-4. The team's last four games have been decided in the last minute. Yet, if Notre Dame can creep to nine wins and the top 14, the Irish will swipe a BCS spot away from a more deserving BCS school, maybe undefeated Texas Christian.

Underrated

* 1. Stanford. The Cardinal just defeated, soundly, the only undefeated team left in the Pacific 10 Conference (UCLA).

Stanford delivered a 20-point win against Washington, which beat USC by three points. Stanford's only loss came in the last two seconds at Wake Forest. Stanford senior tailback Toby Gerhart should be hip deep in the Heisman Trophy race.

Stanford is not ranked in this week's AP poll.

Can anyone explain?

* 2. South Carolina. Is this a Steve Spurrier backlash issue? The Gamecocks grounded top-five Mississippi in Columbia, S.C., and were staring at the game-winning touchdown before falling short in their only loss, at Georgia.

* 3. South Florida. People kicked the Bulls to the curb two years ago when they rose to No. 2 in the country in Week 8 and then dropped off the face of Florida. Yet, the Bulls are 5-0 and won at Florida State after losing starting quarterback Matt Grothe to a season-ending injury.

* 4. Boston College. Not much was expected of the Eagles under first-year coach . . . can you even name him? His name is Frank Spaziani, and he has led Boston College to a 4-1 start with a huge credibility check upcoming at Virginia Tech.

* 5. Notre Dame. The Irish are 4-1 but could easily be 5-0. Junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen is leading the nation in pass efficiency. If Notre Dame gets to nine wins and a top-14 ranking, a BCS bowl would be crazy to pass on the golden dome goose of television ratings. If you have the chance to take 9-3 Notre Dame at the expense of undefeated Texas Christian, you do it 10 times out of 10.

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.comdufresnelatimes

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