Posted 09/25/2009 at 01:16 PM
The Pac-10 is the ‘it’ conference this week even though the flagship program was the victim of the biggest upset of the week. USC went down but the Pac-10 champion could still be in great shape for a run to the national title run even with a loss. This conference often gets left out but this year the non-conference results have been promising and the depth of the conference minus Washington State looks very strong.
California and UCLA are both undefeated while owning excellent non-conference resumes. Cal will get to host USC next week so the Bears are the team with the best chance to run the table though that will be increasingly difficult as there are few easy dates on the schedule. UCLA will have a favorable path as well as the toughest games will be at home except for the finale against USC. Arizona and Oregon State missed chances last week to really solidify the strength of the conference but Arizona State will get an opportunity this week against Georgia.
The conference hurt the most last week was certainly the Mountain West. Utah snapped its win streak at the hands of Oregon and Florida State completely dismantled BYU’s hopes. TCU will be the last remaining hope for the conference and a big opportunity is there this week as the Frogs travel to Clemson. Colorado State is still undefeated as well and could be a sleeper team. For BYU to lose as badly as they did at home likely eliminates any chance for the conference in a national title conversation although TCU would probably have a strong enough resume to get some mention if they run the table.
Boise State is still on track to be a BCS-buster but the conference that could rise up in the coming weeks could be Conference USA. Although Tulsa was crushed by Oklahoma last week, Houston has a big win in its pocket and another great opportunity this week hosting Texas Tech. In the East Southern Miss will have a big opportunity heading to Kansas and a win there would put the Golden Eagles on the map. This is a conference that has struggled to gain credibility so a win this week in one of those two big games would be a huge boost to the league. There are still plenty of rotten teams at the bottom of C-USA however.
The ACC and Big East could also be producing a couple of standout teams that will have a chance to rise to national relevance. In the ACC Miami is 2-0 with two high quality wins and there is a big opportunity for the Hurricanes to seize control of the conference and become a national power again this week playing at Virginia Tech. North Carolina is the only other still undefeated team in the conference and the Tar Heels are climbing the rankings as well with back-to-back wins over solid programs. One loss teams like Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Clemson also appear good enough to make some noise. The ACC is at a bit of a disadvantage in the early season rankings as several conference games have already been played so there have been losses even between good teams.
The Big East also has three undefeated teams although none of the three are generating serious buzz. Cincinnati plays an impressive non-conference schedule and the Bearcats passed the first test last week winning at Oregon State. Cincinnati played in the Orange Bowl last year but returned a very inexperienced defense but so far they have to be considered the favorite in the conference. Pittsburgh has been impressive so far although the competition has not been too severe. This week the Panthers play on the road against the ACC’s NC State and also will face Notre Dame later in the year so there might be enough weight to get some attention. South Florida will have a great chance for a major upset this week but the Bulls lost long time QB Matt Grothe last week so there will be a much tougher journey the rest of the way. The Bulls have had big non-conference wins each of the past two seasons however so they should not be counted out. Everything will still run through the SEC however as Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi are still undefeated and the champion of the league is almost certainly headed to the BCS championship game. Penn State and Iowa face off in an undefeated battle in the Big Ten but the conference has lost too much credibility at this point.