Ducks on top

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The Oregon Ducks are college football’s new number one team in the latest Associated Press (AP) and USA Today polls, following Ohio State’s loss at Wisconsin last week. Oregon had the week off, but moved up the ladder to the top spot for the first time in school history.

This is the second week in a row that the top ranked team has fallen, with preseason No. 1 Alabama taking the fall two weeks ago. Next up for the Ducks – as they try to avoid making three straight weeks of No. 1 losing – is a home game against UCLA.

It’s kind of refreshing to see new blood atop the charts. Four of the top-five teams aren’t your typical college football giants like we normally see. While perennial power Oklahoma is ranked third, we have Boise State (second), TCU (fourth) and Auburn (fifth) joining Oregon in the AP and USA Today polls.

The last time we saw a fresh team ranked No. 1 for the first time ever was 20 years ago with Shawn Moore and Virginia.

Interestingly, the first BCS Poll of the season was released Sunday with Oklahoma in the top spot, followed by Oregon, Boise, Auburn and TCU. Of course, much of the BCS Poll is based on computer rankings, and who would trust a computer over a live sports writer?

The Ducks will have a tough road ahead them trying to avoid being upset in the tough Pac-10. Their six game stretch as No. 1 starts against unpredictable UCLA, a visit to USC, Washington, at Cal, Arizona and then close it out with a road contest against in-state rival Oregon State.

Second ranked Boise State is set up nicely for a championship game appearance as their toughest game looks to be a road contest Nov. 26 at Nevada, a team that was just knocked out of the top-25 with their loss to Hawaii.

Even though the BCS rankings have the Broncos third behind Oklahoma and Oregon, there appears to be a much better chance of them running the gauntlet than the other two ahead of them.

Vegas Line Moves Of the Week

If following the line moves last week, you should have done well as moves of two points or more went 9-6. There were two games that accounted for 1-1 records each as the move went down and then back up again. Pittsburgh opened 2½-point favorites and action came in on Syracuse pushing the game to pick, but then a late run came back on Pitt pushing the game to its original line. The late move was the winning side as Pitt destroyed Syracuse, 45-17.

Florida opened 9½-point favorites and Mississippi State money came in, dropping the line to -7½; and then the other move came late pushing the game back to its original line. This time the early move got there as Mississippi State beat Florida straight up in the swamp, 10-7.

Two different betting groups had different opinions on the game and each went 1-1 in those instances.

One of the largest moves of the week saw Washington bet from the opener of +2½ all the way to making them the 1½-point favorite at home against Oregon State. Most everyone got there, but those who got there at the tail end of the move lost as Washington won by one point, 35-34, in double overtime.

Ball State was bet up a point-and-a-half from the opener to a closing number of -15 and ended up losing in overtime to Eastern Michigan. Another game the Sharps were wrong with was betting against Louisiana Tech, who opened 2½-point favorites and closed as 1-point dog. Tech beat Idaho 48-35.

Player of the Week

In a little over two quarters of play, USC’s Matt Barkley had the game of his career against Cal. At half-time, his five touchdowns led USC to a 42-0 lead en route to a 48-14 final. Barkley completed 25 of 37 passes for 357 yards.

Heisman Watch

I suppose this is about the time of the year when we can start looking seriously at legitimate candidates to win the Heisman. Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton helped himself in the running with a four touchdown game against Arkansas, keeping his team undefeated. Not only is Newton fourth in the nation in rushing yards, he also has a QB rating of 180.5 – good enough for second best in the country. Michigan’s Denard Robinson still leads college football in rushing and has a terrific passer rating of 159.09, but he’s being talked about less around the country due to two losses in a row. Robinson’s numbers should stand alone and make him the leading contender, but as is the case every year with the Heisman, it’s popularity contest. It’s about what school campaigns the best and the player who captures the voters’ fancy. Right now, the publicity machine is churning Newton’s name out above all others.

 

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