Philadelphia, PA – With November approaching, the BCS picture is starting to take shape. The usual suspects are lingering around the top of the rankings, staking their claim with each decisive victory.
Still, the idea behind the term "Any Given Sunday" should be taken to heart on Saturdays as well, as one ranked team with its sights on a conference title found out the hard way.
JOCKEYING FOR POSITION: Let the game of leapfrog begin. By virtue of its impressive victory in Death Valley a couple of weeks ago against Clemson, Florida State opened up the BCS rankings in second place behind two-time defending champion Alabama. Despite another lopsided win, this time over North Carolina State (49-17), the Seminoles fell to third in the rankings, as the second spot now belongs to the Oregon Ducks. After a slow start against UCLA, the Ducks turned on the jets in the second half and ran away from the Bruins in a 42-14 romp.
The Ducks are idle this week and provided Florida State does to No. 7 Miami (Fla.) what it has done to pretty much everyone else this season, the Seminoles will likely take over the coveted second slot in the third edition of the BCS rankings next Sunday.
However, there is no reason for the Oregon faithful to fret as the Ducks close out the season with Stanford, Utah, Arizona, Oregon State and then perhaps an additional showdown with a quality opponent in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The strength of schedule should find the Ducks back in the No. 2 slot heading down the stretch if they continue to win games.
If Oregon does in fact run the table, it may not matter if FSU does the same, as the Seminoles follow the clash with Miami by playing Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and a currently unranked Florida squad. The best case scenario in Tallahassee sees the Seminoles take on Miami again in the ACC Championship Game, but that probably won't be enough to overcome the Ducks for the right to play Alabama (providing the Crimson Tide run the table) for the national championship.
CUTCLIFFE'S CREATION: The mind-set in Durham, N.C., these days regarding football is no longer just trying to be competitive. Thanks to head coach David Cutcliffe, the Duke Blue Devils not only hope to win each and every week, but now expect to win.
After posting a huge road victory at Virginia two weeks ago (35-22 after falling behind 22-0), the Blue Devils took their act on the road again, this time besting No. 16 Virginia Tech, 13-10, in Blacksburg. It marked their fourth straight victory and moved the team to 6-2 on the year. The Blue Devils are now bowl eligible for the second straight season and have never played in back-to-back bowl games in school history. Even more proof of the watershed moment that occurred in Blacksburg, Duke had not beaten a Top 25 opponent since 1994 (Virginia) and hadn't done so on the road since 1971 (Stanford).
The win over the Hokies was a game in which looking at the stat sheet, the Blue Devils had no business winning. Duke gained just 198 yards of total offense and went 0-for-11 on third downs. In addition, they turned the ball over four times. Still, Cutcliffe's gritty squad found a way to pull out a victory, the program's first ever in Blacksburg.
To say that Duke will enjoy a well-earned bye this week is probably an understatement.
"I'm awfully glad we got an open date," Cutcliffe said following the win over Virginia Tech. "I think everyone's a little bit on cloud nine now. They deserve to stay up there a few days."
STATEMENT VICTORIES: Duke wasn't the only school that made a statement this past week. Yes, Alabama rolled once again, as did Florida State and Oregon, setting up a mad dash to the BCS finish line.
However, other schools are still in play outside the big three. Ohio State is currently ranked fourth in the country and its BCS fate is out of its hands. Despite boasting the nation's longest win streak (20 games), coach Urban Meyer's squad continues to improve, as evidenced by the team's total domination of a good Penn State team this past weekend in Columbus. The Buckeyes were unstoppable on both sides of the ball, finishing off the Nittany Lions in the first half and then cruising to a 63-14 victory.
Stanford got its feet back on solid ground after a second straight impressive win. Since their stunning loss at Utah a couple of weeks ago, the Cardinal have served notice in the Pac-12 that they are still in the hunt, knocking off UCLA (24-10) and Oregon State (20-12) in succession.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma served notice in the Big 12, upending previously unbeaten Texas Tech (38-30) in Norman. The Sooners hope they can make another statement following this week's bye, with a showdown with Big 12 frontrunner Baylor in Waco next on the docket.
TOP PERFORMERS: SMU's Garrett Gilbert set the benchmark for production at the quarterback position this week, torching Temple to the tune of 538 passing yards and four TD passes, while amassing 97 yards rushing and an additional two scores. Arizona's B.J. Denker had quite a performance in a win over Colorado as well, passing for 265 yards and one TD, while rushing for 192 yards.
Other quarterbacks of note included San Jose State's David Fales (482 yards, 5 TDs), Baylor's Bryce Petty (430 yards, 3 TD passes, 1 TD run), Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty (387 yards), Texas Tech's Davis Webb (385 yards, 2 TDs), Washington's Keith Price (376 yards, 2 TD passes, 1 TD run), Virginia's David Watford (376 yards, 2 TDs), Houston's John O'Korn (364 yards, 5 TDs), Nevada's Cody Fajardo (357 yards, 2 TDs), Hawaii's Sean Schroeder (349 yards, 2 TD passes, 1 TD run), Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (344 yards, 3 TDs), LSU's Zach Mettenberger (328 yards, 3 TDs), Ohio's Tyler Tettleton (306 yards, 3 TDs), Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (305 yards, 4 TDs), Temple's P.J. Walker (293 passing yards, 4 TDs; 92 rushing yards, 1 TD), Notre Dame's Tommy Rees (284 yards, 5 TDs), UCF's Blake Bortles (286 yards, 4 TD passes, 1 rushing TD) and Ohio State's Braxton Miller (252 passing yards, 3 TDs; 68 rushing yards, 2 TDs).
Washington's star running back Bishop Sankey led the charge on the ground this past weekend with 241 yards and two touchdowns in a win over California. Also eclipsing the 200-yards mark were Wyoming's Shaun Wick (234 yards, 1 TD) and Oklahoma State's Desmond Roland (219 yards, 4 TDs).
Other backs with solid efforts included UTEP's Alvin Jones (186 yards), Buffalo's Branden Oliver (185 yards, 4 TDs), N.C. State's Shadrach Thornton (173 yards, 2 TDs), Boston College's Andre Williams (172 yards, 1 TD), Ohio's Beau Blankenship (172 yards), Miami's Duke Johnson (168 yards, 2 TDs), Akron's Jawon Chisholm (166 yards, 1 TD), Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (165 yards), Clemson's Roderick McDowell (161 yards, 2 TDs), Rutgers' Justin Goodwin (161 yards, 2 TDs), Rice's Charles Ross (152 yards, 1 TD), Boise State's Jay Ajayi (151 yards), Ohio State's Carlos Hyde (147 yards, 2 TDs), New Mexico State's Germi Morrison (146 yards, 2 TDs), Stanford's Tyler Gaffney (145 yards, 3 TDs), Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews (144 yards), LSU's Jeremy Hill (143 yards, 2 TDs) Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs (137 yards, 3 TDs), Marshall's Essray Taliaferro (134 yards, 2 TDs), Oregon's Byron Marshall (133 yards, 3 TDs), Georgia Tech's Zach Laskey (133 yards, 2 TDs) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (119 yards, 4 TDs).
Two receivers went toe-to-toe in SMU's shootout win over Temple. The Owls were led in defeat by Robbie Anderson, who had nine catches for 239 yards and two TDs, while SMU's Keenan Holman finished with 10 catches for 209 yards and three scores. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. was also masterful in the Tigers' win over FCS foe Furman, finishing with six catches for 204 yards and two TDs.
Other wideouts with big games included Rice's Jordan Taylor (4 catches, 185 yards, 3 TDs), San Diego State's Ezell Ruffin (10 catches, 181 yards), Washington's Jaydon Mickens (6 catches, 180 yards, 2 TDs), Penn State's Allen Robinson (12 catches, 173 yards, 1 TD), San Jose State's Tyler Winston (9 catches, 171 yards, 1 TD), Houston's Deontay Greenberry (8 catches, 168 yards, 3 TDs), Clemson's Sammy Watkins (14 catches, 163 yards), Hawaii's Chris Gant (8 catches, 159 yards, 1 TD), Maryland's Levern Jacobs (8 catches, 158 yards, 1 TD), Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders (6 catches, 153 yards, 2 TDs), Nevada's Richy Turner (8 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD), Wyoming's Robert Herron (5 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD), Florida State's Rashad Greene (8 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD), South Carolina's Bruce Ellington (10 catches, 136 yards, 2 TDs), Colorado's Paul Richardson (7 catches, 132 yards, 1 TD), Ball State's Jordan Williams (12 catches, 124 yards, 2 TDs) and Ohio's Donte Foster (8 catches, 122 yards, 3 TDs).
SNEAK PEEK: A trio of Top 25 matchups highlight Week 10 in the FBS, including the Top 10 ACC showdown between seventh-ranked Miami and third-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. Big Ten action pits 23rd-ranked Michigan at 24th-ranked Michigan State, while Big 12 play features 18th-ranked Oklahoma State at 15th- ranked Texas Tech.
Other games of interest include No. 22 Wisconsin at Iowa, Tennessee at No. 10 Missouri and, of course, Georgia rivalry game with Florida in Jacksonville, dubbed the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."