Giv­ing it a re­al­ity check

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - CHRIS DUFRESNE

Be true to your school but please don’t ditch class, or re­al­ity.

Twenty-five ma­jor col­lege schools re­main un­de­feated, not all are equal, and only one is go­ing to win this sea­son’s na­tional cham­pi­onship.

In fact, the ti­tle might not go to any of the 25. A one-loss team — say Iowa, which was brave enough to risk a non­con­fer­ence game at Ari­zona — might have the back­bone to fight back.

Know this: Early-sea­son records and statis­tics in col­lege foot­ball are only slightly less fraud­u­lent than pro wrestling. The way you stock­pile canned goods in ad­vance of a twis­ter, the big dogs load up early on yardage, points and vic­to­ries.

Pass com­ple­tions against Ge­or­gia State — which plays at Alabama on Nov. 18 — count just as much as they do against Ge­or­gia Tech.

Wis­con­sin just scored a

school-record 70 points … against Austin Peay.

“It was good to have a game where we were click­ing on full cylin­ders,” Wis­con­sin run­ning back Bradie Ewing said.

Austin Peay Coach Rick Christophel agreed the dif­fer­ence may have been tur­bine en­gines.

“You laugh about things like this, but I have 10, 12 play­ers who have never been on an air­plane be­fore,” Christophel said.

Ore­gon leads the nation in scor­ing, with 141 points earned against New Mex­ico and Port­land State.

Cal­i­for­nia scored 52 points against UC Davis (wow!) and nine last week against Ari­zona (oh).

Peo­ple ar­gue that polls shouldn’t be re­leased un­til mid-Oc­to­ber … but what about statis­tics? The NCAA does a ter­rific job in Septem­ber com­pil­ing mean­ing­less mounds of mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Texas ranks No. 2 in to­tal de­fense, a week af­ter UCLA ran roughshod for 264 yards against the Longhorns.

Six Big 12 Con­fer­ence schools have a com­bined record of 23-0. Ter­rific, but 21 of those were staged at home against lessthan-in­spir­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

The Big Ten Con­fer­ence, too, has six un­beaten teams — but 18 of its 22 wins were home cooked, many against “di­rec­tional schools.”

“This may be the best the Big Ten has been in a long, long time,” Michi­gan Coach Rich Ro­driguez said this week. Based on what? The Pa­cific 10 Con­fer­ence only has four un­de­feated teams, but half of those teams’ 16 vic­to­ries were on the road. The South­east­ern Con­fer­ence’s four un­de­feated teams have a to­tal of six road wins.

The se­ri­ous stuff starts now, with con­fer­ence play kick­ing in, and the num­ber of un­de­feated teams is about to melt away like rub­ber soles this week on the streets of Los


An as­sess­ment:


In­di­ana, Texas A&M, Mis­souri, North­west­ern, Ok­la­homa State.

These guys have put the “non” back in non­con­fer­ence.

It would have been a “Hoosiers” se­quel in Bloom­ing­ton only if any of the teams In­di­ana has de­feated so far — Towson, Western Ken­tucky, Akron — had won.

The most im­pres­sive win among this group is … we can’t find one. Maybe it’s Mis­souri need­ing a last-minute mir­a­cle touch­down to beat San Diego State.

Other cher­ished vic­to­ries in the books for the “Fraud Five” in­clude McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, Florida In­ter­na­tional, Troy, Washington State, Rice, Cen­tral Michi­gan and Mi­ami of Ohio.

Good luck in con­fer­ence play — you’re go­ing to need it.

Need more in­for­ma­tion

Florida, Kansas State, Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, USC, Ne­braska.

Florida seems to have found its foot­ing af­ter an aw­ful opener against Mi­ami of Ohio and skit­tish per­for­mances against South Florida and Ten­nessee. The Ga­tors’ trip to Alabama on Satur­day should bring us up to date on Florida’s progress.

Kansas State’s open­ing vic­tory against UCLA sud­denly seems more im­pres­sive than it was at the time. Wis­con­sin, which strug­gled at home against San Jose State and Ari­zona State, is get­ting way more love in the polls than it has earned.

Michi­gan started 4-0 last year, too, and fin­ished 5-7. USC is off to the most pre­dictable 4-0 start in school his­tory and now faces the least pre­dictable re­main­ing nine games.

Ne­braska’s re­ally big win at Washington (56-21) was coun­tered by its re­ally tiny home win against South Dakota State (17-3).

Im­pressed/not yet con­vinced

Ok­la­homa, Utah, Auburn, Ari­zona, Ne­vada, Michi­gan State, North Carolina State, Louisiana State.

Ok­la­homa is un­de­feated de­spite be­ing outscored in the fourth quar­ter, and Utah hasn’t been tested since es­cap­ing the over­time opener against Pitts­burgh. Auburn could have/should have lost at home to Clem­son but re­bounded im­pres­sively against South Carolina. Ari­zona showed moxie in last drives to beat Iowa and Cal, but has tough Pac-10 work ahead. Ne­vada is ranked for the first time since 1948 but can’t be trusted. Michi­gan State needed a trick play at home to beat medi­ocre Notre Dame.

North Carolina State, led by mar­velous quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son, could be the best team in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence, but what does that mean? And Louisiana State has this funny habit (2003, 2007) of sneak­ing up on peo­ple to win na­tional ti­tles.

The whole 10 yards

Alabama, Boise State, Ore­gon, Stan­ford, Texas Chris­tian, Ohio State.

Alabama es­caped at Arkansas and is only go­ing to get bet­ter as the sea­son and the de­fense pro­gresses, so Florida (this week) or South Carolina (next week) had bet­ter take their best shots. Boise State has proved it be­longs in this group, al­though the Bron­cos’ next big test prob­a­bly won’t come un­til a late-Novem­ber trip to Ne­vada. The win­ner of Stan­ford at Ore­gon on Satur­day be­comes the Pac-10 team to beat, al­though it’s hard to see how the cham­pion gets out with­out a loss or two. Texas Chris­tian is well po­si­tioned in the top five, but needs a Boise State bob­ble to be­come this year’s gate crasher. Ohio State can’t play ev­ery game at home this year (only eight), so its fate will likely be de­cided by trips to Wis­con­sin (Oct. 16) and Iowa (Nov. 20).

Mike Ransdell

SMOKE AND MIR­RORS: Mis­souri, which needed a game-win­ning 68-yard touch­down run by T.J. Moe, above, to beat San Diego State, is among the un­de­feated teams that be­longs in a “Fraud Five” group.

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