Florida romps and Alabama rolls and already fans in Southeastern Conference country are wondering if it's even necessary to hold a national championship game at the Rose Bowl in January. Won't the SEC title tilt in Atlanta be enough to settle that issue?

Elsewhere _ yes, other conferences are still playing football _ Bobby Bowden takes another hit, Iowa stays unbeaten while looking very beatable and a MAC receiver rips it up.

The Big Story

Tim Tebow's return from a concussion dominated the headlines and highlight shows. Florida's defense dominated LSU.

Yes, the Tigers are in a bad way offensively these days. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson, in his first season as a starter, has a terrible case of hold-the-ball-too-long disease. The inexperienced interior of LSU's offensive line is not playing well.

But rarely has a one-touchdown game _ which is what Florida's showdown against LSU on Saturday night in Death Valley was for most of the second half _ felt so lopsided.

It seemed that Tigers coach Les Miles had a better chance to pull a rabbit from his baseball cap then coax a touchdown out of his offense in the Gators' 13-3 victory.

Florida brought back the entire two-deep depth chart from last season's national championship defense. So it's no surprise the Gators lead the nation by allowing just under a touchdown per game.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes, who passed a chance to jump into the NFL draft, led the charge against LSU. The senior had half of Florida's five sacks.

Gators defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap squeezed the pocket around Jefferson.

Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins solidified their status as the nation's best cornerback combo by locking down the best part of LSU's offense, receivers Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver.

Florida coach Urban Meyer, who made his reputation as an offensive mastermind, has an incomplete offense. Florida is short on downfield receiving threats, but has the best running team in the SEC. Defense is this team's calling card.

"I think that's what we are right now," he said Sunday during a conference call with reporters. "I'm very pleased but we need to be a little more balanced on offense."

The Gators are No. 1 in the country in total defense. And, just like in the latest AP poll, Alabama is No. 2.

The Crimson Tide's defense, with standout linebacker Rolando McClain and star cornerback Javier Arenas, stifled Ole Miss and quarterback Jevan Snead in a 22-3 victory in Oxford.

The Crimson Tide and Gators now seem to be on course to meet in an SEC title game that, same as last year, will act as a national semifinal _ and could feel like a de facto national championship game.

Sure, there are plenty of significant hurdles for each left to clear. And Texas fans might be reading this and thinking, 'Aren't you forgetting about a certain unbeaten team in Austin?'

The Longhorns might there shot at the SEC champions in Pasadena, Calif., at the BCS title game.

But by that point, the two best teams in the country might have already played.


Embattled Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

It just doesn't sound right. How can a coach who turned an afterthought program into one of the dominant powers in college football _ winning two national titles in the 1990s _ possibly be in danger of getting pushed out the door? Especially when Bowden has made it clear he's targeted 2010 for his final season.

"If I was 40 years old, I'd been shaking in my boots. But I'm 79," Bowden said after Florida State lost 49-44 to Georgia Tech on Saturday and dropped to 2-4.

Maybe university trustees chairman Jim Smith, who called for Bowden to retire at season's end, has a point. Maybe the succession plan in place, with offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher waiting to take over for Bowden, has created a leadership vacuum at Florida State.

Who really is in charge?

But after 384 victories, second-most in major college football history, Bowden should not be forced out. For all he has done for Florida State football, he has earned the right to leave when he wants.

In case you missed it

Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green caught 22 passes, one short of an NCAA record, for 278 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons' 36-35 victory against Kent State.

Tyler Jones of Eastern Michigan, another Mid-American Conference team like Bowling Green, tied the major college record with 23 catches in a game last season against Central Michigan. UNLV's Randy Gatewood also caught 23 passes in 1994 against Idaho.

The hurry-up

_ If you're having a hard time getting worked up over Iowa's 6-0 start, you're probably not alone. The Hawkeyes beat Michigan 30-28 Saturday and have now won three home games by a total of six points.

_ Army vs. Temple. Big game. Really. The Black Knights are 3-3 under new coach Rich Ellerson after beating Vanderbilt 16-13 in overtime. With games against VMI and at North Texas left, six wins and a bowl bid is a possibility for Army. Temple has won three straight and is alone in first in the MAC East.

Looking ahead

Texas has been eagerly awaiting this Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma after the Sooners took a Big 12 title and spot in the national championship game the Longhorns felt they earned by beating OU in Dallas last year.

Also, the latest referendum on Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis comes Saturday in South Bend, Ind., when Southern California comes to town.


Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at)ap.org.