How one ballot isshaping up
TROY SMITH, OhioState, QB, Sr.
His numbers (210.2 passing yards per game, 15 touchdown passes) aren't as gaudyas those of other contenders, but he has efficiently led the No. 1 team in thecountry to convincing victories at Texas and Iowa.
ADRIAN PETERSON,Oklahoma, RB, Jr.
A blend of power and breakaway speed, Peterson is averaging 150.4 rushing yards(fourth best in the country) despite running behind a young line and playingwith an inexperienced quarterback.
GARRETT WOLFE,Northern Illinois, RB, Sr.
The mighty mite (5'7", 177 pounds) is on pace to break Barry Sanders'ssingle-season rushing record (2,628 yards), but, fighting anti-small-schoolbias, he'll need a monster game against Iowa on Oct. 28.
FIVE TO WATCH
STEVE SLATON,West Virginia, RB, Soph. Third in the country in rushing (153.6 yards pergame); BRADY QUINN, Notre Dame, QB, Sr.
Humbled by Michigan but tied for fourth in TD passes, with 16; MIKE HART,Michigan, RB, Jr. Slowed by injuries in '05, he's averaging 132.3 rushing yardsper game; CALVIN JOHNSON, Georgia Tech, WR, Jr. Tied for second in the nationin TD receptions, with eight; CHRIS LEAK, Florida, QB, Sr. Efficient leader (14TD passes, 64.7% passer) is hurt because he shares snaps with Tim Tebow.
Here are fivegames in the second half of the season that will affect the national titlerace
No. 2 Florida atNo. 11 Auburn
OCT. 14. This was shaping up as a preview of the SEC championship game untilAuburn was upset by Arkansas last Saturday. Now, facing a must-win situation ifthey want to stay in the SEC West hunt, the Tigers will attempt to knock theGators from the unbeaten ranks.
No. 5 WestVirginia at No. 7 Louisville
NOV. 2. At last, a Big East matchup worthy of the hype. Both teams should beundefeated coming into this Thursday-night game. The winner will have theinside track for the conference's automatic BCS berth and, if things fallright, could be playing for the national championship.
No. 10 Cal at No.3 USC NOV. 18.
This could be the toughest test of the season for the Trojans' defense, whichlooked vulnerable in narrow wins over Washington State and Washington. Since aseason-opening loss at Tennessee, the Bears have averaged 43.8 points in fivedecisive victories.
No. 4 Michigan atNo. 1 Ohio State
NOV. 18. In what is looking more and more like a meeting of undefeated teams,the stakes couldn't be higher. The winner figures to earn a spot in the BCStitle game; the loser will head to the Rose Bowl, but that won't be much of aconsolation prize.
DEC 2. Florida and Arkansas have the inside track, but it's anybody's guess whowill play in Atlanta. This much is certain: Any team that comes out of thetough SEC with only one loss deserves strong consideration for the nationaltitle game.
After a weekendthat shook up the highest levels of the Top 25, the race for the nationalchampionship has been thrown into chaos. While Ohio State has establisheditself as the top team in the land, there is no clear No. 2 among the handfulof undefeated teams--Florida, USC, Michigan, West Virginia andLouisville--vying for the second spot in the BCS title game. Of thoseunbeatens, West Virginia, despite having to win at Louisville on Nov. 2, is inthe best shape to run the table. That's why Steve Slaton & Co. are thefavorites to face off against the Buckeyes. For now, anyway.
USC vs. Michigan
Texas vs. Boise State
Tennessee vs. Clemson
Florida vs. Notre Dame
Ohio State vs. West Virginia
DARREN CARROLL (PETERSON)