Weekend Primer

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Another weekend of top-five BCS teams crashing and burning has left us staring down the barrel of a second consecutive Ohio State-SEC national title showdown. The conventional wisdom says that like last season, the one-loss SEC representative will expose a slow, overrated Buckeye team to grab the crystal football. That seems like the smart bet, since everything else this season has gone exactly like we all expected.

Illinois at Ohio State. Sure, the Big Ten might be a joke of a conference this season, but it's a joke with great tradition. And what's more tradition-rich than a game with national title implications at the Horseshoe? Ron Zook has revitalized the Illinois football program (I know, I'm just as surprised as you are) and awakened the ghost of Red Grange ... or at least the ghost of Jeff George. Spurrier Bowl III (Florida-South Carolina) was going to occupy this spot, but the maximum number of combined losses for this category is capped at five. Pick: Buckeyes by 15

South Florida at Syracuse. USF, you little tease. You got us all excited about your prime time win over West Virginia and your 6-0 start and shiny No. 2 ranking in the BCS. But now you've been exposed for what you really are: a decent little program that would struggle for bowl eligibility in the SEC. This week the Bulls take on Syracuse, a not-so-decent little program that would struggle for bowl eligibility in the SWAC. Pick: Bulls by 16

As the SEC continues to back up Les Miles' claim that USC has an easier road than if it played in Dixie, LSU hosts middle-of-the-pack WAC-ers Louisiana Tech. Sure, it's an in-state rivalry game, but if Oregon manages to leapfrog LSU in the BCS standings it will be because of non-conference games like this. Well, that and the fact that the Tigers' once-vaunted defense can't seem to stop anybody. Pick: Tigers by 36

USC's quest to fulfill Jim Harbaugh's now-Nostradamus-esque prophecy as the greatest college football team ever (to get shut out in the second half at home by Oregon State) continues in Berkeley, where the Trojans face Cal. Jeff Tedford only seems to be able to beat Pete Carroll when the Golden Bears are mediocre, so he's got Troy right where he wants them. As loyal reader Lawrence from Los Angeles points out, this one has all the high stakes the experts predicted prior to the season: two West Coast titans facing off for the right to go to the Sun Bowl. Pick: Pac-10 underachievers by 4

Tracking the fortunes of college football's greatest corporation, Notre Dame, we find the stock to be ... down, after losing to Navy for the first time in roughly 850 years. It's not clear who should have been more embarrassed, though: the Irish for losing at home to the Middies, or the Middies for giving up 44 points to the team with the smallest "decided schematic advantage" in all of football. In yet another indignity in a season that's treated them like a speedbag, ND finds itself underdogs at home to Air Force (aka "the good service academy team"). Pick: Maverick and Iceman by 3

Penn State may be visiting Temple this week, but our law enforcement roundup must first make a pit stop in the Nittany Lions' hometown of State College, Penn. A number of students are in hot water after they were recorded firing beer bottles at visiting Ohio State fans and the video ended up (surprise, surprise) on YouTube. What's noteworthy about this case is not that college students acted like drunken obnoxious jerks toward opposing fans, but that those bottle tosses were the only good passes thrown by a Penn Stater the entire day. Pick: Nittany Lions by 24

This week's Heisman candidate who played himself right out of trophy contention is Boston College's Matt Ryan. Matty Ice played like Vanilla Ice last Saturday against Florida State, after he clinched the game by throwing a touchdown pass with a minute left ... to the Seminoles. Thus continues a disastrous winter of bad luck for Boston-area sports fans. The Heisman rankings -- well, whatever's left of them, anyway - look something like this:

1. Darren McFadden (yeah, an SEC rushing record tends to have that effect)2. Dennis Dixon3. Tim Tebow4. Whoever's playing QB against Notre Dame5. Whoever's playing QB against LSU

The program formerly known as Quarterback U, Miami, completed ONE pass last weekend in a loss to NC State. On the positive side, though, it was for 84 yards, giving them the highest average per completion in the nation ... Which group of fans are less thrilled about having to face their former coach in a big divisional showdown each season, LSU's or Florida's? ... The SEC East has been so nutty that Saturday opponents Kentucky and Vanderbilt have gone from also-rans to serious contenders back to also-rans, and that's just in the last month alone ... As dark as things looked for Northwestern after losing to Duke and getting thrashed by Ohio State, they are still just one win away from bowl eligibility ... Seriously, Miami, just ONE pass completion?... Tennessee center Josh McNeil vehemently denied reports that Knoxville police investigating a potential burglary found three women in his bed. Every college guy in America thinks McNeil doth protest too much ... Pretty disappointing that Colt Brennan and the Hawaii offense haven't scored 70 on anyone yet. But then again, it's not like they get to play cupcakes like Nebraska.

"We played about like three tons of buzzard puke this afternoon."-Spike Dykes, former Texas Tech coach