One of the most intriguing questions coming into the season was how the innovative spread-option offense Urban Meyer (right) ran so successfully at Utah would fare against faster, tougher SEC defenses. The answer so far: not well. In its three games against nationally ranked conference foes (a win over Tennessee and losses to Alabama and LSU), Florida has averaged just 12.0 points. "We've struggled against the faster teams in the league," says Meyer. "We're not performing up to expectations." Quarterback Chris Leak's lack of running ability has caused Florida (5-2) to essentially scrap the option component of the offense, but the Gators' problems stretch across the board. The linemen have struggled with Meyer's zone-blocking concepts, and a season-ending injury to wideout Andre Caldwell has left a coach who prefers to use four- and five-receiver sets with just three experienced receivers.
HEAD TO HEAD
Oregon State QB Matt Moore vs. UCLA QB Drew Olson
As sophomores at UCLA in 2003, Moore and Olson battled most of the season for the starting job. Olson won out, and Moore spent last year at a community college before transferring to Corvallis. Olson is having a huge senior season for the eighth-ranked Bruins (6-0), throwing for five touchdowns in last weekend's 44-41 overtime victory at Washington State. Moore has been inconsistent in his first season with the Beavers (seven TDs, 10 interceptions), but his own surprising team (4-2) knocked off No. 18 Cal last weekend, and Moore would love to pull off an even bigger upset, in Pasadena against his former teammates.
THREE AND OUT
1 It's been a rough season for Urban Meyer's former team as well. While new Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was Meyer's defensive coordinator, the Utes (3-4) lost their entire offensive staff--not to mention quarterback Alex Smith--and it shows. In consecutive losses to North Carolina, Colorado State and San Diego State, Utah has failed to score 20 points.
2 Florida State's dependence on freshmen was exposed in the Seminoles' first loss, a 26-21 defeat at Virginia last Saturday. Quarterback Drew Weatherford (right) threw three interceptions; cornerback Tony Carter committed three pass-interference penalties; and frustrated wide receiver Fred Rouse threw a tantrum on the sideline.
3 Rutgers in a bowl game? It could well happen for the first time since 1978. Following a 31-9 rout of downtrodden Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights (4-2) need to win just two of their remaining five games, against Connecticut, Navy, South Florida, Louisville and Cincinnati, to become bowl-eligible.
CHRIS GRAYTHEN/GETTY IMAGES (MEYER)
SIMON BRUTY (WEATHERFORD)