September 29, 2012
The only thing more endangered than being Arkansas' head coach is being undefeated.
Stanford found out Thursday night what others will discover Saturday.
The Cardinal sin of losing at Washington leaves 26 unbeatens as the season winds toward an Agatha Christie finish of "And then there was none, one, two or (God forbid) three."
Conference USA and the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences have no unscathed schools and are eliminated from the title pool — but you knew that already.
The Atlantic Coast and Mid-American each cling to one no-loss representative. The difference is No. 4 Florida State has a chance to win the national title while Ohio has a chance to win the MAC.
The Big 12 leads the way with seven undefeated teams, followed by the Southeastern (six), Big East (three), Big Ten (three), Pac-12 (two) and Western Athletic (two).
Five teams with bye weeks — Notre Dame, Rutgers, Kansas State, Florida and Mississippi State — can relax for now.
Two Saturday matchups are guaranteed to produce a first loss: Baylor at West Virginia and Texas Tech at Iowa State. Las Vegas suggests first losses will be hung on Baylor and Iowa State.
We examine the threat levels elsewhere:
• Towson at No. 3 Louisiana State (4-0): LSU survived a scare in last week's 12-10 win over Auburn, but this game won't produce so much as a "boo." If Towson thought losing to William & Mary was tough, wait until it gets a load of Baton & Rouge. LSU only loses style points if the mighty Tigers let the not-so-mighty Tigers hang around longer than the experts deem appropriate.
• Mississippi at No. 1 Alabama (4-0): Ole Miss is 0-8 against top-ranked opponents and hasn't defeated Alabama since 2003. Alabama's defense has allowed 21 points in four games and Coach Nick Saban isn't happy about any one of them.
• Oregon (4-0) at Washington State: Oregon is coming off a 49-0 win over Arizona. Washington State lost at home to Colorado, which had been considered among the worst teams in major college football. This game is at "neutral" site in Seattle, but look for Oregon to quickly stick the gear shift into "drive."
• Ohio (4-0) at Massachusetts: It's nice the New England Patriots are letting UMass borrow Gillette Stadium to transition into college football's top division, but unfortunately the winless Minutemen aren't allowed to borrow any Patriots players.
• Indiana at Northwestern (4-0): Indiana isn't horrible, but we expect Northwestern to hold serve in Evanston. The Wildcats have scored wins against the SEC (Vanderbilt), Big East (Syracuse) and ACC (Boston College). How hard can the Big Ten be?
• South Carolina (4-0) at Kentucky: Steve Spurrier's old school, Florida, is coming off a 38-0 win over Kentucky. Spurrier's new school has an even better defense.
• Florida State (4-0) at South Florida: There is a slight chance Florida State will be flat coming off last week's big win over Clemson. South Florida's best boast is a win at Nevada.
• Louisville (4-0) at Southern Mississippi: The Cardinals struggled last week against Florida International, but the University of Brett Favre is an odorous 0-3.
• Tennessee at Georgia (4-0): Georgia is the better team, but how long can the Bulldogs keep scoring 40 or more points?
• Louisiana Tech (3-0) at Virginia: Louisiana Tech can't understand why it's not in the top 25 as the only team to score 50 or more in every game. Virginia is coming off consecutive road defeats but is 2-0 in Charlottesville with a win over Penn State.
• Texas San Antonio (4-0) at New Mexico State: Four-and-0 sounds great, but two of the Ws came against schools we didn't know existed — Texas A&M Commerce and Northwestern Oklahoma State.
•Texas Christian (3-0) at Southern Methodist: Don't forget SMU handed TCU one of it its two losses last season, and that game was in Fort Worth.
• Oregon State (2-0) at Arizona: Oregon State and Oregon are the last Pac-12 unbeatens left standing, but that could change with this tough Tucson trip. Arizona's 49-0 loss at Oregon last week was misleading in that it was only 13-0 at halftime and the Wildcats failed to score six times in the red zone.
• Minnesota (4-0) at Iowa: The Gophers have overachieved while the Hawkeyes are a 2-2 mess coming off a home loss against Central Michigan. We think that makes Iowa more desperate.
• Texas (3-0) at Oklahoma State: Texas leads the all-time series, 22-4, and has lost only once in Stillwater, but we don't need to tell Longhorns fans they should be on high alert.
• Ohio State (4-0) at Michigan State: The Buckeyes are lucky to be unbeaten, but maybe the luck ends in East Lansing.
• Cincinnati (2-0) vs. Virginia Tech: Bearcats all the way, right? Virginia Tech lost to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati defeated Pitt. Wrong. Virginia Tech, rightly so, is a touchdown favorite at this not-so-neutral-field game at Landover, Md.
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