Scatter-shooting around the college football scene while wondering if No. 1 Southern Cal's remaining schedule is akin to playing in the Big Sky instead of Pac-10 — Notre Dame included ...

THUMBS UP: The Mountain West has finally grown some fur with UNLV knocking off Arizona State and Iowa State on consecutive weekends and the league getting BYU, Utah and TCU ranked in the Top 25 while the Pac-10 has only one, USC.

The MWC is 18-6 against non-league foes and an impressive 7-3 against BCS competition.

THUMBS DOWN: Potential BCS buster East Carolina, which gave up 30 points to a North Carolina State team that had scored just nine combined points to Clemson and South Carolina.

THEY SAID IT: SuperPrep Magazine named UCLA's 2006 offensive line recruiting class No. 6 in the nation, but today the Bruins are last in the nation rushing the football and tackle Nick Ekbatani said: "I believe when it comes to game time, guys try to act like Superman and try to do something special. We just need to block. Don't fall down. That's our story right now, don't fall down."

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Nationally, TCU (183 ypg) and Utah (199.5 ypg) rank first and third in total defense while TCU (7.8 ppg) and BYU (11.0 ppg) rank first and 11th in scoring defense. The Cougars are tied for first in the country in sacks allowed, at zero in four games. BYU still leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage at 67.9 percent, down from 78 percent the previous week.

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: What MWC team is losing the turnover margin battle? Wyoming is negative 1.75 and ranks last in the league, followed by San Diego State (-0.67, then Utah and New Mexico are tied at -.050. TCU leads the league at 3.0 and are No. 2 nationally.

MY MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Good thing Utah got this guy early because he could give BYU trouble now that he's in a rhythm. UNLV's Omar Clayton passed for three touchdowns and rushed for another in leading UNLV to a 34-31 overtime win against Iowa State. The sophomore from Normal, Ill., completed 15-of-21 pass attempts without an interception for 235 yards, capped off by a game-winning 25-yard strike to wide receiver Phillip Payne in overtime. On the ground, Clayton ran seven times for 24 yards, including a 20-yard score in the first quarter that put the Rebels up 7-0. Clayton, who has not committed a turnover this season, has made a school-record consecutive 139 pass attempts without throwing an interception, a feat that currently ranks third in the nation.

DUMB AND DUMBER: Rutgers QB threw a punch at a teammate trying to encourage him in the closing minutes of Rutgers 23-21 loss to Navy on Saturday. Apparently, it was a misunderstanding.

YEAH, BUT: The Horned Frogs have an incredible turnover margin of 13-1 and are 4-0 on some spectacular defense. Now comes Oklahoma and we'll see how that holds up.

TRENDSETTERS: UNLV won two games in each of the past four seasons but now stand 3-1 with the loss to Utah. The Rebels beat Pac-10 preseason challenger ASU and Iowa State.

OVERRATED: Any and all Pac-10 teams outside the campus of Southern Cal. QB injuries to UCLA, Washington State and Oregon have proved costly. The Pac-10 is 0-6 against the MWC and WAC.

UNDERRATED: Colorado (3-0), TCU (4-0), Penn State (4-0) and South Florida (4-0).

BOTTOM LINE: If TCU beats No. 2 Oklahoma on the road in Norman this Saturday, the Frog should, in a fair world, leapfrog over Utah and BYU in the rankings.

MY TOP FIVE: 1. Southern Cal, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Florida, 4. Georgia, 5. LSU.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com