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Looking for a leader


Our previously unflappable leader, Purdue's Kyle Orton, threw an interception and coughed up two fumbles, one of which was returned 40 yards for the game-winning TD in a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin.

Our young gun at No. 2, Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, had only one good half (the second one) against Kansas State, not exactly an "assume-the-throne" afternoon in Manhattan, Kan. And four, count 'em, four, contending quarterbacks whose last names weren't Orton had solid, four-TD Saturdays: Cal's Aaron Rodgers, USC's Matt Leinart, OU's Jason White and Utah's Alex Smith.

Sorting all this out didn't make for a pleasant Sunday morning. There is no longer a clear leader, so in a cheaply symbolic gesture, the five best candidates are assigned Nos. 2 through 6. Orton's campaign is not dead, as I've heard quite a few times in the past 15 hours. It is only nearly dead. Give it a week before calling the coroner's office, folks. If Orton leads Purdue past Michigan next Saturday -- a massive if at this point -- the Boilers are right back in the Rose Bowl hunt.

On to the adjusted rankings:

Last week (at Kansas State): 36 carries, 130 yards in 31-21 win Season (6-0): 155 carries, 901 yards (150.2 yards per game), 6 TDs

White was the difference on Saturday against K-State, but A.D. is having the better season. He did post his sixth straight 100-yard game and play a big part in wearing down the Wildcats' D in the second half -- again, not "assume-the-throne" stuff, but this week, it'll do.

Last week (vs. UCLA): 19-of-29 passing, 260 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs 45-28 win Season (4-1): 91-of-121 passing (75.2 percent), 1,141 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs

With his No. 1 receiver out for the season, all Rodgers did was throw a career-high four TDs. And afterward, he made a reasonable request of a portion of his home-field fans:

"I'm going to call out the alumni a little bit," he told the San Francisco Gate. "It seems like they're sitting on their hands. ... You've got to stand up and cheer."

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Last week (vs. Arizona State): 13-of-24 passing, 224 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, rushing TD in 45-7 win Season (6-0): 112-of-172 passing (65.1 percent), 1,411 yards, 14 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 rushing TDs

I'm starting to believe Leinart is a Heisman candidate again; he may be one more big week away from leading this thing. But you can't make me believe he actually writes "his" blog.

Last week (vs. Wisconsin): 25-of-45 passing, 235 yards, TD, INT, rushing TD, two fumbles in 20-17 loss Season (5-1): 144-of-217 passing (66.4 percent), 1,877 yards, 19 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 rushing TDs

On the good side, those Erasmus James nightmares should subside soon.

Last week (vs. Arizona State): 5 carries, 21 yards; 2 catches, 45 yards, TD; 49 punt return yards; 1-of-1 passing, 52 yards, TD in 45-7 win Season (6-0): 374 rushing yards, 52 passing yards, 274 receiving yards, 483 return yards, 9 total TDs (184 all-purpose yards per game)

Apparently Bush decided "all-purpose back" meant he had to become a star passer, too: The box score computes his mythical QB rating from Saturday as 866.8: one pass, one completion, 52 yards, one TD.

In this order: Smith, Utah; White, Oklahoma; Cedric Benson, Texas; Vernand Morency, Oklahoma State; Stefan Lefors, Louisville; Jason Campbell, Auburn; J.J. Arrington, Cal.

Special mention ...

Goes to Wisconsin's Erasmus James, whose showing against Purdue was simply game-changing -- and played a big role in Orton's downfall. The odds of Lee Corso calling this guy "Eraser Jones" in the next few weeks are excellent.