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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Week after week, this sport never has a letdown . . . unlike, say, UCLA

The Bruins followed last week's stunning win over Texas by struggling to beat lowly Washington State, but that, at least, was predictable, given their history. So little else in college football ever is.

October 03, 2010|Chris Dufresne
  • Bruins safety Rahim Moore stops Cougars running back James Montgomery on a fourth-and-goal play at the one-yard line in the fourth quarter Saturday.
Bruins safety Rahim Moore stops Cougars running back James Montgomery… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Don't try to make sense of college football in early October or, maybe, ever.

The sport is definitely worth the physical and emotional investment, but that doesn't mean there's order in its universe.

The beauty, in fact, is its everlasting ability to consistently confound.

— How does UCLA, a week after a shocking win at then-No. 7 Texas, almost lose at home to hapless Washington State?

You could attribute some of it to classic Bruin hubris, always thinking they're better than they are after a big victory.

Go back to Brigham Young 59, UCLA 0 in 2008. That was the game result immediately following the Bruins' shocking Labor Day win over Tennessee in Rick Neuheisel's debut.

In 2005, UCLA improved to 8-0 after a comeback win at Stanford and then lost at Arizona, 52-14.

— How does Les Miles keep getting away with it?

The Louisiana State coach tends to manage a game the way your teenager manages his room, yet Miles' Tigers are 5-0 and ranked No. 12 despite going bungle in the jungle against Tennessee.

Miles pulled a lot of this bonehead stuff three years ago when he became the only two-loss coach to win a BCS national title.

Saturday was Miles at his sideline worst, nearly blowing the end of the Tennessee game when he tried to shuffle in personnel near the goal line as time was expiring. The center botched the snap and Tennessee thought it had won. Except, LSU's confusion confused Tennessee into having 13 defenders on the field. The down was replayed and LSU scored the winning touchdown.

"I don't know that we can play any sloppier," the winning coach said. "I don't know if we could have planned it any poorer."

And then the Associated Press poll came out Sunday, with LSU paying no punitive price in holding its place at No. 12.

Meanwhile, Boise State dropped one spot, to No. 4, after a 59-0 win over New Mexico State.

The team that jumped Boise State was Oregon, which lost to Boise State last season and in 2008.

— How could the "experts" be so clueless?

Here's a list of schools and their preseason ranking in the AP poll: Florida (4), Texas (5), Virginia Tech (10), Georgia Tech (16), North Carolina (18), Penn State (19), Georgia (23).

Those schools left the weekend with a 19-15 combined record. Texas, with its second loss, dropped out of the poll for the first time in 10 years. Georgia fell to 1-4 for the first time since 1993 with a loss at Colorado. North Carolina is 2-2, while Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are 3-2.

— Why would Colorado fans storm the field in Boulder after a two-point win over four-loss Georgia?

— How did the SEC East get so bad so fast?

The East used to be the beast, with Florida, Tennessee and Georgia setting the agenda. This week, the division has an overall record of 14-14. Vanderbilt (1-3) is in third place. Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee are a combined 0-7 in league play.

The SEC West, led by Alabama, Auburn and LSU, is 24-5.

— Why would Oregon fans boo Stanford for calling timeouts?

That's a puzzler. We can understand why Ducks fans would be suspicious of Stanford players lollygagging on the field in order to slow down Oregon's fast-paced offense.

But you can't boo a team for calling timeouts — each team gets three per half.

— How does UC Davis beat San Jose State, 14-13?

OK, we actually saw that one coming. San Jose State was primed for a fall against this lower-division opponent after an early-season gauntlet that included beat-down paycheck losses at Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah.

Davis also has a history of these things, having shocked Stanford in 2005.

Weekend Wrap

— Freedom's just another word? Brigham Young, which recently announced it would leave the Mountain West and go independent in football, fell to 1-4 with a loss to Utah State. We can already hear TV sets clicking off all over America.

— Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott, who attended the Oregon-Stanford game in Eugene on Saturday, said the league is honing a plan to divide the conference when it expands to 12 teams next season. There has been heated debate over whether to split the divisions north-south or east-west. "I'm happy with the spirit of the discussion," Scott said. "We're clearly not going to have unanimity on this thing." The Pac-12 will have a championship game next year, although it hasn't been determined whether the game will be played at a neutral site or on the home field of the higher-seeded team. Scott said California's recent decision to drop several sports, including baseball, underscores the conference's need to find new revenue streams. "It brings home the significance of what we're doing," Scott said. "Unfortunately, Cal wasn't in a position to wait."

— Nevada is 5-0 for the first time since 1991 and climbed to No. 21 in the AP poll. Boise State fans need Nevada to be as highly ranked as possible when the schools meet in Reno on Nov. 26.

Nevada has won six consecutive games against in-state rival Nevada Las Vegas and retained the "Fremont Cannon," a 545-pound replica of a howitzer that explorer John C. Fremont brought west in 1843. Not the kind of thing, really, you want to pass back and forth.

— Not this time. Many USC fans blamed quarterback Aaron Corp for last year's upset loss against Washington. Corp was nowhere near the crime scene this year. He was miles away, in Virginia, leading Richmond to a 41-19 win over Coastal Carolina.

— So much for the national title race. North Carolina State's loss to Virginia Tech left every school in the Atlantic Coast Conference with at least one loss.

— But how does he really feel? Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly, who grew up in Boston, was thrilled to improve his first-year record to 2-3 after a win at Boston College.

Kelly: "We're happy. Happy, happy, happy. Everybody's happy in Notre Dame land."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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