Before the season, ESPN's Lee Corso said the following games would determine the national champion:
BYU vs. Miami, Virginia vs. Clemson, Miami vs. Florida State, Miami vs. Notre Dame, Florida State vs. Auburn, Nebraska vs. Colorado and Notre Dame vs. USC.Not a bad forecast. Note that two of the matchups - Miami at Notre Dame and Florida State at Auburn - are today.
Going into the second half of the season the following two contests need to be added to the list:
Georgia Tech at Virginia on Nov. 3 and Notre Dame at Tennessee on Nov. 10.
FIRST HALF OF SEASON'S MOST SURPRISING TEAM - Kansas State. The Wildcats have four wins already after just one the previous two years, and only four from 1983 to 1990, according to their sports information office. The 4-2 Wildcats, who will have representatives from the Independence Bowl for their game this week with 2-4 Missouri, have a freshman runner from Woods Cross High School in their backfield, Kitt Rawlings. Rawlings, a second-team tailback, played the whole second half against Oklahoma State last week and scored a touchdown in the Wildcats' 23-17 victory - their first Big 8 win since 1986. For the season Rawlings has 72 yards on 21 carries and 2 touchdowns.
Runner-up - Georgia Tech. The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets are one of six Division IA unbeaten and untied teams (Wyoming, 7-0; Nebraska, 6-0; Virginia, 6-0; Houston, 5-0; and Toledo, 6-0, being the others) and have a shot at the national championship should they defeat No. 1 Virginia on Nov. 3. Others worth noting: Mississippi (5-1), TCU (5-1) and Indiana (4-0-1).
FIRST HALF OF SEASON'S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM - Given its national stature and lofty preseason ranking, the pick is Arkansas. With its unimpressive nonconference schedule (Mississippi, Colorado State and Tulsa), the Razorbacks were given a shot at the national championship. But they've given up more than a hundred points the last two games (a 54-26 loss to TCU and a 49-44 loss to Texas Tech) and have a 2-3 overall record.
PAC-10 RUNNER-UP NATIONAL CHAMP? - That's a scenario being suggested in Los Angeles. And it's not without merit. In 1984, the Pac-10 runner-up, Washington, came close to No. 1 by going to the Orange Bowl and defeating No. 2 Oklahoma. The Huskies wound up No. 2 behind BYU. The Pac-10's dream scenario this year has USC finishing the season with a 10-1 record, second in the Pac-10 (Washington, the lone undefeated Pac-10 team in conference play would have to lose twice for USC to go to the Rose Bowl), ranked No. 3 or 4 in the country, and then meeting and beating No. 1 Virginia in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
BLOCKBUSTER DEAL - If you have a couple of million dollars you can have bowl named after you. The Sunshine Football Classic, a first-year bowl that is slated for Dec. 28 in Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, has had a name change already. It is now known as the Blockbuster Bowl, thanks to a $2.5 million sponsorship by Blockbuster Video. That, coupled with the money already allocated to the bowl, reportedly make the Blockbuster Bowl the sixth richest in its first year, only behind the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Cotton bowls.
LOCAL FORECASTS: Utah tries to return to the win column against UTEP, Utah State plays its biggest game since Chuck Shelton took over the program five years ago, and Weber State will try to sneak up on Division I-A's Wyoming Cowboys.
Utah 27, UTEP 21
The Utes are rested mentally as well as physically. It will be like starting the season all over again, which is not good for UTEP, since the Utes began with two impressive victories. Coach Ron McBride is still looking for his first win at Rice Stadium. He should get it today with either Jason Woods or Mike Richmond at quarterback.
San Jose State 31, Utah State 21
The Aggies lived up to their preseason billing with their 24-24 tie against league power Fresno State last week. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the Spartans appear to be better than Fresno State. They defeated Stanford, 29-23, barely lost to California, 35-34, and gave Pac-10 leader Washington a scare before bowing 20-17. This game could decide who goes to the California Raisin Bowl.
Wyoming 42, Weber State 20
It would be easy for the Cowboys to underestimate the Div. I-AA Wildcats as they prepare for WAC showdowns with Colorado State and BYU on Nov. 3 and Nov. 10. For that reason Weber State, which leads the I-AA division in total offense and has the individual total offense leader in quarterback Jamie Martin, may be able to stay close for awhile. Another Div. I-AA team, Arkansas State, scared Wyoming earlier in the year, losing just 34-27.