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Ducks are under control

With five wins after an opening loss, Oregon is in the Pac-10 driver's seat.

October 12, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Woke up Sunday never expecting to see the Angels on television right after sunrise services, or these unexpected college football story lines:

* Oregon is 3-0 and leading the Pacific 10 Conference. That's right, the program you switched off after LeGarrette Blount's punch the Thursday before Labor Day has won five consecutive games and suddenly controls its fate in the race for at least one of this year's Rose Bowls.

The Ducks came to Los Angeles without their starting quarterback and two starting cornerbacks and dumped UCLA's Bruins, 24-10. Oregon is more resilient than Flubber, yet the Ducks get no bounce? USC, which had a bye, moved up one spot to No. 6 Sunday in the Associated Press rankings. Oregon stayed stuck on No. 13.

Maybe it's true only one team matters in the Pac-10.

* Florida State is 2-4 under Bobby Bowden for the first time . . . as in ever. The inevitable is upon us, that this is going to be Bowden's last year. Florida State scored 44 points against Georgia Tech on Saturday and still couldn't win because it gave up 49.

The gushing has to stop or somebody's going to score Bowden's age on his defense. Agony was postponed Saturday night by a 78-minute delay for lightning, which may strike twice in Tallahassee this year. Not even a reprieve by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who issued a Friday press release in support of Bowden, can save the venerable coach from more defeats than victories.

Grab-you stat: Florida State is 0-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. From 1992, the year the Seminoles joined the league, through 2000, Florida State was 71-2.

* Temple is leading the Mid-American Conference. It's the first time Temple has opened 3-0 in any league since 1967, when the Owls were members of the Middle Atlantic Conference.

Most of us remember Temple from its years in the Bottom Atlantic.

Temple once combined with Rutgers in the Big East to form college football's most laughable programs. In 1999, the schools teamed to go 3-19.

Temple was 1-11 in 2003 and 2-9 in 2004, the year the Big East told the Owls to go find a new league.

Today, Temple and Rutgers are a combined 7-3 -- how could anybody break up that combo?

"I hate the word front-runner, because you don't win the league in October," Temple Coach Al Golden said after Saturday's win over Ball State.

No similar sentence is believed to have ever been uttered in Temple football history, but now we know why UCLA interviewed Golden before it hired Rick Neuheisel.

Drawing a crowd at Temple is still an issue: Saturday's attendance at Lincoln Financial Field was 13,420, only 91,881 fewer than Ohio State drew for Wisconsin.

* Idaho (5-1, 2-0) is leading the Western Athletic Conference. For improbability factor, see "Temple leads MAC." Idaho was 4-26 in four previous seasons in the WAC.

Idaho's only loss this year was to Washington, which beat USC. Idaho has defeated Northern Illinois, which beat Purdue, and Colorado State, which beat Colorado.

Obviously, Boise State (5-0, 1-0) remains the team to beat in Idaho, and maybe Oklahoma.

Still, we can't wait for the Scalloped Potato Bowl on Nov. 14, when Idaho plays at Boise State.

* California and UCLA are 0-2 in Pac-10 play and Washington is 2-1. Cal is busing down south this weekend to play UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The game, historically speaking, has no chance of producing a Pac-10 champion given that no 0-2 team has ever won it.

Meanwhile, Washington (3-2, 2-1) treks to Tempe with a chance to stick a pitchfork in the other Arizona. Saturday night's win over Arizona in Seattle produced the most incredible toe tap this side of "Dancing With the Stars."

Washington defeated Arizona, 36-33, when a pass thrown by Arizona quarterback Nick Foles deflected off the foot of receiver Delashaun Dean into the arms of Washington defender Mason Foster, who ran 37 yards for the winning touchdown.

It was a figurative kick in the gut to Arizona, which outplayed Washington and was that close to improving to 5-1.

"It was just a crazy thing," Foles said. "I don't know how to explain it."

There's no telling what impact that play will have on this year's Pac-10 race, but know that Washington, coming off a winless season, is 3-3 overall with a should-have-won at Notre Dame along with 16-13 over USC in its pocket.

Saturday's toe bounce for touchdown was the craziest since Nebraska at Missouri in 1997, when a Cornhuskers pass from Scott Frost deflected off Shevin Wiggins' foot into the outstretched arms of Matt Davison for the tying touchdown.

So how did that play out?

Nebraska beat Missouri in overtime, finished the season 13-0 and earned the coaches' share of the national championship in Tom Osborne's last season.

* Alabama jumped Texas for No. 2 in the Associated Press poll after a trumped-up, five-field-goal win over an over-ranked Mississippi team that somehow got to No. 4 this season for victories against Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana.

Ole Miss' lone Southeastern Conference win this year was against Vanderbilt, which lost Saturday to Army.

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