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CHRIS DUFRESNE ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Experts were wrong? Anyone could've predicted that

These days, each and every weekend seems to bring a re-shuffling of the national deck. But even by those standards, this week's results were stunning.

September 28, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE | ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

In pool it's called a re-rack, in cards it's a re-shuffle, in the wilderness it's retracing your tracks and in college football, well, it's just ridiculous.

Toss your preseason magazines in the recycle bin because it's time to reconsider just about everything.

September put Phil Steele back on his heels and had Jeff Sagarin staggering.

Steele didn't include Oregon in his preseason magazine's top 50, which looked prescient after the opener against Boise State but not so smart after the Ducks improved to 3-1 with a 39-point win over Jeff Tedford's team: California Dreaming.

Sagarin's No. 1 team last week, Miami, lost a 31-7 squeaker at Virginia Tech.

And these, folks, are your experts.

Four of the top-10 teams losing didn't just jumble the picture for the vanquished -- even the winners left us wondering.

Florida was a near-unanimous preseason No. 1 choice under the assumption Tim Tebow was going to play quarterback, not . . . who's the Gators' backup? Wait, we just looked it up, it's sophomore John Brantley.

Tebow's leaving Saturday's win over Kentucky in an ambulance was the last thing anyone wanted to see, and if a head blow causes him to miss the Gators' trip to Louisiana State on Oct. 10, the rest of the season becomes one big toss-up question.

Tebow was released Sunday from a Kentucky hospital with what Coach Urban Meyer said was a concussion. If Tebow misses significant time, Florida may be released from the Bowl Championship Series pool.

The weekend had biblical overtones: rain, mud, muck, mire, with a pepper shake of pestilence and plague. "Heaving" this week wasn't just a quarterback throwing a deep pass downfield -- the real BCS champion this year may turn out to be swine flu.

Here's to the winners?

USC got back in the national race with a double-digit win over Washington State, and got booed doing it at the Coliseum. The Trojans, though, certainly covered the spread Sunday, moving up to No. 7 in all the important tracking indexes: USA Today, Associated Press and Harris Interactive.

Even gum-on-your-shoe Ohio State, the program you can't get rid of, took advantage of the mayhem and rejoined the top 10.

Louisiana State needed a goal-line stand to beat Mississippi State but, because the top 25 needs seat-sitters, got bumped up three spots to No. 4.

Some contenders earned their merit raises. Texas clobbered Texas El Paso, 639-53, in the biggest romp since John Heisman' s Georgia Tech squad beat Cumberland, 222-0, in 1916. A few years earlier, a Clemson team coached by Heisman defeated Guilford, 122-0, in a game shortened to 30 minutes.

It should be noted that the famous trophy named after Heisman is not awarded for good sportsmanship.

OK, the Texas-UTEP score was actually 64-7. The 639 to 53 advantage was in total yards.

If you do the long division on that, though, Texas gained 12.0566 yards for every one UTEP gained.

Alabama handily disposed of Arkansas in what appeared to be, for Razorbacks defenders, a hog-wrestling contest in which the pigs won.

Arkansas players missed so many tackles on Trent Richardson's 52-yard scoring run, it almost looked like a scene from "Flubber."

Boise State looked rock solid with its win at Bowling Green, moving the Broncos to No. 5, but the long-term question is whether Chris Petersen's team has enough schedule strength to make a national-title run (doubtful), or even hold off Texas Christian and Houston in a possible three-way battle for one BCS bowl spot.

Remember: For these three schools, from non-automatic qualifier leagues Western Athletic, Mountain West and Conference USA, only the highest-ranked team in the top 12 is guaranteed a major bowl bid.

Boise State's opening win against Oregon has gained legs in context of Oregon's victory over No. 6 Cal, but the rest of Boise State's schedule is more strained peas than meat and potatoes.

Winning at Tulsa on Oct. 14 would have more traction had Tulsa not lost to Oklahoma, 45-0. Throw in UC Davis, Idaho, Utah State, New Mexico State and Nevada, a disappointing 0-3, and you can imagine what kind of drag this might have on Boise in the BCS computers.

Charging hard might be TCU, which has already won at Virginia and Clemson, with Brigham Young and Utah left to play, and Houston, which has defeated two Big 12 teams, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Who knows, though, if enough power conference guys keep losing, maybe this is the year the Rose Bowl hosts Boise State-Houston for the Astro-Bluebonnet BCS championship.

One positive about the weekend was the clearing out of impostors looking to sneak into the BCS after-party using fake IDs.

Mississippi, the myth not far from Memphis, which had risen to No. 4 with wins against Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana, got exposed Thursday night at South Carolina.

Penn State parlayed a Rose Bowl season and opening games against Akron, Syracuse and Temple to slither its way toward the top, but then Iowa came to town Saturday and won a slop-fest in the rain, 21-10. It wasn't as ugly as the 6-4 game Iowa won in Happy Valley in 2004, but it was close.

Cal actually looked legitimate for a minute or two when Jahvid Best was running the ball, but that was before the Autzen Drive-In played that Science Non-Fiction classic "Soylent Uniform Green."

Oregon's jerseys . . . they're made out of people!

Cal fans, despair not. Saturday's little setback did not completely wreck this weekend's tailgate plans involving a team from Southern California.

There's still a big game coming to the Bay Area: UCLA at Stanford.

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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