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McCartney: All-Out Blitz

Matt Ryan
Damian Strohmeyer/SI 
Flight Of The Eagles
Ah, to be a Boston sports fan right now. The Patriots are rolling, the Red Sox look World Series-bound, the Celtics have a star-studded lineup -- and Boston College is off to its best start (6-0) in 65 years. The Eagles have their highest ranking ever (fourth) and boast arguably the best quarterback in the country in Matt Ryan. So why aren't people buying into BC? Granted, the Eagles' biggest win was against Georgia Tech, but first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who was previously Brett Favre's offensive coordinator with the Packers, has proven a perfect fit for Ryan (1,857 yards, 15 touchdowns) and the Eagles defense has been stifling in allowing 49.7 rushing yards a game (third nationally). The second half of the season heats up with four road games (Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland) and Florida State and Miami at home. Say what you want about the ACC, but don't sleep on this very real contender to reach the national-title game.
Putting the 'Fight' Back In The Illini
Any questions about Illinois now? Ron Zook's crew undoubtedly made a believer out of anyone who was asking if they were for real in ending then No. 5 Wisconsin's nation-best 14-game winning streak. This has to be a bit of redemption for Zook, who was fired at Florida after going 23-14 in three years, then saw Urban Meyer win a national title with 22 of his recruits in the starting lineup. The Gators job was ultimately too-much-too-soon for Zook, the first-time head coach, but his Champaign Dreams are proof that with time, and a program that has allowed him to grow as a coach, he can be much more than a recruiter.
SEC's East Side Story
You know Steve Spurrier can't wipe that smirk off his face. South Carolina is seventh in the country and controls its own destiny in the SEC East (with help from the only team that's beaten the Gamecocks, LSU). SC doesn't have it easy (Vanderbilt at home and at Tennessee and Arkansas) but could be in line for an enticing clash with Florida for the division title on Nov. 11. Why is South Carolina for real? The No. 1-ranked pass D hasn't lost a beat without linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Why it's not? The offense is better behind redshirt freshman Chris Smelley, but continues to underwhelm.
Upheaval Has A Home
To say this season has been strange is like saying Tom Amstutz and Mark Mangino are a little chubby, but no conference looks more bizarre than the Big East. Unbeatens Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida are atop the conference, while the preseason favorites (Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia) are out of the national title picture. Is it a testament to parity? The conference is still getting love (ranked third in the Sagarin rankings behind the Pac-10 and SEC). After the dust settles, it could look like 2006, with everyone trading punches. Unless a real BCS-title contender emerges, this year will end up a loss for the Big East.
Kansas Jayhawks
Rock, Chalk ... Guess who's 5-0 for the first time since 39 years. The Jayhawks showed their landslide victories over a quartet of cupcakes were no fluke as they beat their in-state rival Kansas State. The Blitz's request for KU: Can we get some more volcanic Mangino eruptions?
Louisville Cardinals
A 467-yard, four-TD performance out of Brian Brohm was wasted as the Cardinals lost two straight at home for the first time since 1999 as they lost Utah at Papa John's. After a strong showing against NC State, L'ville was back to its woeful ways on defense, giving up 582 yards.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Butch Davis beat the team he resurrected, and the player he used to coach, as his Tar Heels defeated Miami and coach Randy Shannon. UNC was surprisingly effective against the 'Canes' 19th-ranked D and kicker Connor Barth, who beat Miami in '04, killed Miami with four field goals.
Texas Longhorns
Mack Brown has led the Longhorns to new heights, so eventually, there had to come some historic lows ... right? Brown's 'Horns followed up last weekend's loss to Kansas State by falling to Oklahoma in the Red River rivalry, giving them their first 0-2 start in conference play since 1956.
Stanford Cardinal
How about Jim Harbaugh's hapless Stanford team beating "the best team in the history of college football?" The Cardinal did the unthinkable, ending USC's 34-game home winning streak. Cal's Jeff Tedford needs to send Harbaugh a Christmas Card.
TCU Horned Frogs
Remember when people were talking about these Horned Frogs being possible BCS busters? Yeah ... well, TCU may have to dig deep to even make a bowl game at this point. Tommy Blake missed another game and the Horned Frogs fell to 3-3 after a loss at Wyoming.
"That was the longest 25 yards of my life."
-- West Virginia defensive tackle Keilen Dykes, who returned an interception 19 yards for a TD in the win over Syracuse. It was the first time a WVU lineman scored since Jeff Seals in '81.
"The way it sounded, not too many people here like coach Erickson. We love coach Erickson in Tempe."
--Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter on the crowd's displeasure with Dennis Erickson as ASU had its lowest-scoring game under its new coach in beating Washington State 23-20.
"I'd be lying if I wasn't upset we didn't put up the big zero. Overall, to control that offense, you know you've done something OK."
--Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, whose defense kept Purdue's offense, which came in averaging 45.4 points a game, scoreless until the last 10 seconds of Saturday's 23-7 victory.
C.J. BacherQB - Northwestern
As much as the Wildcats love throwing the ball around, to say that Bacher set a single-game record for passing yards is truly saying something. He was 38 of 48 for 520 yards and five TDs, including the game-winner to beat Michigan State.
Mike HartRB - Michigan
Considering Heisman candidates are falling like flies, it's too bad Hart's team put him out of contention. He ran for 210 yards and three TDs in the Wolverines' win over Eastern Michigan and is now the national rushing leader with 976 yards.
Danny WoodheadRB - Chadron State
The back that didn't receive a Division I-A offer is now the most prolific runner in NCAA history. The 5-foot-8 star of D-II Chadron State ran for 208 yards in breaking R.J. Bowers' all-division record in a win over Western New Mexico.
1
Notre Dame was outgained 282-140 but forced seven UCLA turnovers (including four picks) in beating the Bruins 20-6 for its first win, ending one of the program's longest skids.
3
Number of the current 11 unbeaten teams which appeared in Sports Illustrated's preseason top 20. LSU was second, Ohio State 11th and Cal 20th. UConn had the worst ranking (89th).
12
Clemson's running back tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller managed just 12 yards in a loss to Virginia Tech. In the Tigers' last two games (both losses), they have 74 yards.
Missouri at OklahomaOCTOBER 13
Chase Daniel and the Mizzou offense have been sizzling, but it's the play of the Tigers' defense (which kept Nebraska out of the end zone) that makes this one interesting. Keep in mind, OU's offense is more overpowering than the 'Huskers. Plus, it's in Norman. Oklahoma 28, Missouri 20
Purdue at MichiganOCTOBER 13
As we saw against Eastern Michigan, the spread still seems to baffle Michigan. Could Purdue be the game when UM finally solves it? The one thing Purdue is missing is a mobile QB and I don't see a suspect Boilermakers defense containing Mike Hart.
Michigan 24, Purdue 21
LSU at KentuckyOCTOBER 13
Andre Woodson showed against South Carolina he wasn't fully ready for the spotlight, making out-of-character decisions against a swarming Gamecocks defense. Big problem: Things won't get any better against the nation's best, and most headache-inducing, D. LSU 31, Kentucky 17
Louisville at CincinnatiOCTOBER 13
Despite Louisville's recent slide it has gotten highly-productive numbers out of QB Brian Brohm (even though they're going to waste), but the Cardinals may not have that to hang their hats on against a Cincinnati team that matches L'ville's firepower -- and plays D.
Cincinnati 30, Louisville 17
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