Despite sharingtwo Big Ten titles and winning 10 or more games three times since 2002, Iowahasn't played in many high-profile games under coach Kirk Ferentz. ThisSaturday the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes (4--0) host No. 1 Ohio State in a prime-timeshowdown. "It's going to be a six-ring circus," says Ferentz. Iowacould pose the biggest challenge to date for the Buckeyes, greater even thandefending national champ Texas, which started a freshman, Colt McCoy, at QB inits Sept. 9 loss to Ohio State. The Hawkeyes' quarterback is Drew Tate (above),a third-year starter who leads a balanced attack featuring All--Big Ten runningback Albert Young. That said, Iowa's offense has yet to get untracked. In lastweek's win over Illinois, the Hawkeyes scored 21 of their 24 points during afour-minute span in the second quarter. However, Ferentz's teams have areputation for improving as the season goes on, and Iowa has won its last sixconference home openers. "We're hardly a finished product," saysFerentz. "We're going to need to get much better in a lot of areas thisweek."
On the day he washired as Houston's coach in late 2002, Art Briles made one of his first callsto his former quarterback at Stephenville (Texas) High, Kevin Kolb. LastSaturday, Kolb, making his 40th consecutive start, finished 21 of 28 for 313yards and four touchdowns in the Cougars' 34--25 win over Oklahoma State, theBig 12 school to which Kolb had committed before reuniting with Briles.Houston's career leader in total offense and passing yards, Kolb (above) hascompleted 69.6% of his passes this season for 1,193 yards, with 12 TDs and justone interception. "He's as hot as anyone in the country," says Briles.Kolb, considered one of the top five quarterback prospects in next spring's NFLdraft, gets a showcase opportunity this Saturday when Houston, 4--0 for thefirst time since 1990, visits Miami. "The scouts think I'm kind of raw,like a Brett Favre," says Kolb. "Hopefully they can see thepotential."
THREE AND OUT
1 For the secondstraight year Notre Dame (3--1) could reach a BCS bowl without beating a rankedopponent. The Irish's lone remaining ranked foe figures to be USC on Nov. 25.Even if Notre Dame loses that game, a 10--2 record would more than likely beenough to secure an at large berth.
2 Ole Miss nevershould have fired David Cutcliffe. The Rebels, who fell to Wake Forest 27--3last Saturday, are 4--11 under Ed Orgeron, while Cutcliffe, Tennessee's newoffensive coordinator, has helped the Vols improve from 90th in total offenselast year to 30th.
3 USC coach PeteCarroll handed over his defensive coordinator duties to Nick Holt last winter,and the move appears to be paying off. The Trojans (3--0), who were mediocre ondefense last season, have allowed just 9.0 points and 217.3 yards per gameunder Holt, the coach at Idaho the past two seasons.
CHARLIE NEIBERGALLL/AP (TATE)
BOB LEVEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (KOLB)