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Things are becoming much clearer in the college football landscape as we can now dismiss a couple of previously unbeaten teams in Michigan State and Missouri.

The losses essentially take the Big 10 and Big 12 conferences out of the BCS title game chase. That leaves only five unbeaten teams, while in the process moving one loss Alabama back into the mix. Oregon’s impressive road win at USC jumped the Ducks past Auburn for number one in the BCS polls even though the Tigers pounded Mississippi.

Things will get thinned out even more this week as TCU travels to Utah for a great Mountain West matchup of undefeated top-five teams. Utah got all they could handle at Air Force last week in what was perhaps a look ahead game while TCU handled UNLV quite easily.

The big question with this game is how much of a quality win will it be for each team as far as the BCS computers are concerned? With both being ranked so high, conventional wisdom would have the win being a major boost in either team’s rating but, as we’ve seen before, the BCS computer doesn’t use conventional wisdom.

Should TCU beat Utah, it would seem logical that the Frogs would stay firmly entrenched in the No. 3 slot until Oregon or Auburn lose. If Utah were to pull off the upset, that win would seem impressive enough to move the Utes up as well, but they have nowhere to go.

Utah currently sits fifth in the nation and its average is well behind Boise State’s. Also, if Alabama wins at LSU, the computer is going to go batty with glee and might move the SEC team further than the Mountain West-represented Utah.

As for No. 4 Boise State, the Broncos don’t exactly have a cake walk this week with Hawaii (7-2) visiting in a huge WAC showdown.

Saturday in the Sports Books

The Nevada sports books probably wish they could have called it a day before the evening games after a very strong start. The books won most of the key daytime decisions early, but the combination of Auburn, Oregon, Ohio State, TCU and Hawaii covering in the late games gave most of the winnings back to make the day about break even.

Double-digit dogs bark loud

We’ve only seen one double-digit favorite lose outright all season in the NFL, but in last week’s college football card, we saw 4.

UAB was getting 10 points at Southern Miss and won 50-49 in double overtime. Virginia knocked out Miami quarterback Jacory Harris early and didn’t need the 15 to beat Miami 24-19.

Navy was a 14-point favorite over Duke and lost 34-31 while the biggest dog to win outright did so with ease as Louisiana-Monroe shocked 17-point favorite Troy 28-14.

There were other major upsets as well with Notre Dame losing at home to Tulsa as 9-point favorites and Clemson falling at Boston College favored by a touchdown. The Irish name isn’t being represented too proudly by either Brian Kelly or Notre Dame this season.

Heisman race

Oregon running back LaMichael James made a major push to get his name mentioned with Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton in the Heisman chase with a 239 yard, 3 TD performance at USC last Saturday night. It was the third time this season that James has rushed for over 200 yards and gives him 1,210 and 14 touchdowns on the year.

Newton helped his cause further by keeping his team undefeated, throwing for two touchdown passes and catching a touchdown pass. The latter is the stuff that the Heisman voters will be influenced greatly by because it’s a unique twist to a player’s game we don’t see too often. I’m sure that was on the coaching staff’s minds when calling the play.

Statistically, Newton has all the momentum and it’s his to lose. We can’t offer odds in Las Vegas because it’s a voted-on event (so is boxing with less voters and we can bet that!).

I would make Newton a huge -500 favorite with small limits just because I’d be afraid of being pounded on too cheap a price.

Cameron Newton Auburn 1-5

LaMichael James Oregon 9-2

Denard Robinson Michigan 10-1

Taylor Martinez Nebraska 10-1

Kellen Moore Boise State 10-1

Robert Griffin III Baylor 15-1

Ricky Stanzi Iowa 18-1

Andrew Luck Stanford 25-1

Terrelle Prior Ohio State 30-1

Syracuse back

With their 31-7 win over Cincinnati, the Orange has six wins before Halloween for the first time since 2001. The victory was also their largest margin in a conference game since 2004. Their rise may be attributed more to how bad the Big East is.

Syracuse could still be eligible for the automatic BCS by bid winning out should Pittsburgh lose two games. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the WAC and MWC considering they have three teams currently undefeated and ranked within the top-6, with neither getting automatic BCS bids.

Player of the Week

Nebraska running back Roy Helu Jr. ran for 307 yards and three scores Saturday, numbers that would have gained him honors even if it had been against South Dakota State. The fact his output came against an undefeated Missouri, a team whose defense had carried them to big wins this season, makes Helu’s day all the more impressive.

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