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The top two teams in the nation got a major scare last week. One came on the field and the other off.

No. 1 Oregon was a 20-point favorite at Cal and struggled like we haven’t seen all season in a 15-13 win. Over at No. 2 Auburn’s camp, the Tigers rolled Georgia 49-31 but it was all the speculation away from the field that could possibly burn their season.

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton, who was the leading Heisman Trophy contender, has been linked to reports of he and his father having been paid $200,000 to get Newton to sign with Auburn. The NCAA and FBI have both been investigating the matter for months, but the time table of the results is not known.

Because of not knowing when the issue will be settled, Las Vegas sports books will have to be glued to any news regarding Newton from here on out because of his worth to the team, which could equate to over a touchdown in the spread.

Last week, as all the reports were coming out, there was the possibility that Auburn themselves might suspend Newton. Auburn opened a 9½-point favorite against Georgia and dropped to as low as -7 with bettors anticipating a possible suspension.

Several books took the game off the board briefly until confirmation that Newton would in fact be playing. Yeah, as if Auburn – who “allegedly” paid Newton $200,000 – would take their employee out the game when they have big BCS title game money on the horizon.

There is no way Auburn sits Newton until the NCAA tells them they have to. Because this story is so huge nationally, the NCAA might speed up their process a little more, but these are the same folks who took five years to finalize their Reggie Bush investigation.

The fact that Newton has said little on the matter and hasn’t denied the story leads me to believe it happened, but so what. No one who follows college football is naïve enough to believe that payments to players don’t happen quite regularly, especially with the big time schools.

The NCAA rule book for student-athletes was made years before the colleges received money for televising their sports. It’s archaic and needs to be revamped to include something for the employees, or rather student-athletes, for their contribution to the billions of dollars they bring in.

Why shouldn’t Terrelle Pryor get a cut for the millions made off his jersey sales? Sure they get an education for free, but why should they be stymied by the rules for making some cash for their own pocket?

Would it take the whole college experience away? Even a regular student can go out and make cash on the side, but the athlete can’t. What is wrong with a school that makes millions off the players to pay for their services?

The better the player, the more you pay. Just bring it out in the open. But right now, it’s like legal free labor. I could just see the child labor laws being argued by the big business side in 1916 saying that it’s fair because it’s in their rule book.

Anyway, both Oregon and Auburn have the week off before tough games the following week that will likely decide their fate. Oregon gets No. 22 Arizona while Auburn travels to No. 11 Alabama for the Iron Bowl.

Utes’ Offense Offensive

As if the Mountain West Conference needed any more help from the experts about where their teams deserve to be, Utah goes out and sinks the conference ratings even worse as kind of a going away present as they depart for the Pac-10.

In their first eight games of the season, Utah was averaging 45.2 points a game. In their last two losses to TCU and Notre Dame, The Utes scored only one touchdown, combined.

The Utah loss, coupled with TCU just skating by San Diego State, dropped TCU three percentage points in the BCS ratings. The Horned Frogs are still No. 3, but what was a commanding lead over No. 4 Boise State is now very slim.

It’s likely to get worse for TCU because they play lowly New Mexico to close out their season which will do nothing to improve their rating, while Boise State plays No. 18 Nevada on Nov. 26.

From a betting standpoint here in Las Vegas, The Utes were being cussed out as well. Their 28-3 loss at Notre Dame as 5½-point favorites knocked out nearly half the Las Vegas parlays on Saturday. It was one of the larger public plays on the day.

Books do well Saturday

The combination of TCU, Oregon, Stanford and Utah not covering knocked off several links to the day’s parlays and was capped off by Nevada not covering the final game posted on the day.

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