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Tony's Top 10: Wisconsin, prepare to be invaded

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Here is Tony's Top 10 for the first Saturday in October:

1. The Husker Nation is back in black. There were a lot of reasons the Big Ten picked Nebraska as its 12th member. But certainly among them was the fact that the Cornhusker fans are going to travel. As many as 30,000 Nebraska fans, many without tickets, are coming to Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium because they want to be a part of the Cornhuskers first game in the Big Ten. Conference rules only allot 3,000 tickets for the visiting team. More than 20,000 Nebraska fans requested them. Let us not forget Sept. 9, 2000, when more than 30,000 Nebraska fans traveled to South Bend when the Huskers beat Notre Dame 27-24 in overtime. On that day, Husker fans turned Notre Dame Stadium into "A Sea of Red."

Coach Bo Pelini says he's not much into history, but he knows better. This is big. Like in really big. It's so big that the Husker Nation will pass on its traditional red garb because that's what the home team is wearing. They will turn out in black. And they will turn out big.

It is the first meeting of top 10 teams at Camp Randall since 1962.

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2. Note to media: Don't ask coaches questions about popular culture. New Florida coach Will Muschamp has had several mentors as he has moved up the coaching ladder. He faces one of them Saturday when the Gators host No. 2 Alabama and Nick Saban. During Muschamp's regular press briefing a television reporter tried to get Muschamp to wax poetic on his relationship with Saban calling it a "Master vs. Padawan thing."

The Star Wars reference was completely lost on Muschamp. "I watched Star Wars I and after that I watched The Empire Strikes Back," he said in an attempt to lighten the moment. "I ain't seen nothing since then. I don't know what a Padawan is. You didn't call me a bad name, did you? I don't speak French, either."

Remember, for a football coach to acknowledge the very existence of popular culture is to admit that he has a life outside of football. No coach in the SEC would ever admit that. Alabama-Florida preview

3. Okay, Aggies. You want a taste of the SEC? Here come the Hogs. Earlier this week Texas A&M got its official welcome from commissioner SEC Mike Slive. Now the Aggies start learning what their new life is going to be like when Texas A&M meets Arkansas in Arlington, Texas. Both teams are coming off very tough losses. The Aggies let a 17-point lead slip away and lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State, 30-29, at Kyle Field. Arkansas was supposed to be a darkhorse in the SEC West but got taken to the woodshed at Alabama, 38-14. In that game, Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson got pretty beat up by the Crimson Tide defense. Say hello to the Aggies, who lead the nation in sacks with 14. Still, Wilson and head coach Bobby Petrino have to like the fact that Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden threw for a school record 438 yards against the Texas A&M defense. Texas A&M-Arkansas preview

4. A revenge game for Boise On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nevada and Boise State gave us one of the most dramatic moments of the 2010 season. Boise's hopes of getting into the national championship discussion evaporated when the Broncos blew a 24-7 lead and lost in overtime, 34-31. The loss cost Boise a third straight undefeated regular season and a probable spot in a BCS bowl. At 11-1, Boise was relegated to the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas. The former WAC foes now meet in a non-conference game on Saturday at Bronco Stadium. More than Boise's conference home (Mountain West) has changed. Nevada lost a lot when quarterback Colin Kaepernick moved on. The Wolf Pack is struggling at 1-2. No. 4 Boise (3-0) is again back in the BCS hunt as quarterback Kellen Moore continues his darkhorse pursuit of the Heisman Trophy with 995 yards passing and 12 touchdowns in three games.

5. More praise for RG III. Okay, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has convinced me. In fact, he had me after his five-touchdown performance against TCU in the opener. This week's best RG III stat is the fact that after three games, he has more touchdown passes (13) than he does incompletions (12).

Last week against Rice he was otherworldly, completing 29 of 33 passes for 338 yards and running for another 51 yards.

But now Griffin and the Bears take their act on the road to Kansas State (3-0), which surprised a bunch of us with a 28-24 win last week at Miami (Fla.).

You don't have to convince Wildcats' coach Bill Snyder about Griffin. He threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in beating Kansas State 47-42 last season.

"Who completes 90 percent of their passes? That's unheard of," said Snyder. "Robert might be the best quarterback in football, exclusive of what level." Inside College Football: Who is Robert Griffin III?

6. The Champions Schedule continues for Clemson. "Back in the summer a lot of people were shaking their heads when they saw our schedule," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. "I know because I was one of them."

Swinney called it the "Champions Schedule" because in the first four weeks of the season the Tigers were scheduled to meet Troy (Sun Belt champion), Wofford (Southern Conference champion), Auburn (SEC and national champions), and Florida State (ACC Atlantic Champions). Clemson (4-0) beat them all and is now ranked No. 13 and headed to No. 11 Virginia Tech (4-0), the defending ACC champions.

Clemson has not won at Virginia Tech since 1989. Clemson-Virginia Tech preview

7. Mark Richt coaches up the Bulldog Nation. Last week, Alabama coach Nick Saban requested -- actually demanded -- that the Crimson Tide fans show up early and make a lot of noise for the Arkansas game. It worked so well that Georgia's Mark Richt used part of his weekly press briefing to give some instructions for the 90,000-plus fans at Sanford Stadium for Saturday's game with Mississippi State.

"I want to talk to our fans and educate them a little bit," said Richt, who was feeling some heat after Georgia's 0-2 start. "When [Mississippi State quarterback Chris] Relf looks to the sideline, that's the time when we need the fans to go beserk ... So, UGA fan base, that's the time when we want you to go crazy, when he looks to the sideline after he starts his cadence." Mississippi State-Georgia preview

We'll see how well the Georgia fans take instructions. Georgia (1-1 SEC) has a chance to get back in the SEC East race with a win over Mississippi State.

8. The Fighting Zookers make history. It wasn't until after a way-too-nervous 23-20 victory over Western Michigan that Ron Zook learned that the Illini was 4-0 for the first time since 1951.

"That happened before I was born," said Zook, in his seventh season at Illinois. "But we'll take it because I know there are a lot of teams out there who would love to be 4-0."

Zook hopes the momentum will continue Saturday when the Illini open Big Ten play by hosting Northwestern. At stake is the state championship and the "Land of Lincoln" Trophy.

Illinois has a quarterback that Zook can rely on in Nathan Scheelhaase and a trio of good running backs. Two of them went over 100 yards (Donovonn Young,Troy Pollard) last week.

"I'm more concerned about their quarterback, because he looks ready to go," said Zook.

Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is scheduled to return after being out since last November when he tore his Achilles' tendon against Iowa.

9. The Head Ball Coach likes Stephen Garcia. He really does. Playing quarterback for Steve Spurrier is very much a double-edged sword. It's good because Spurrier remains one of the best play callers of his generation. It's bad because his standards are so high and Stephen Garcia continues to come up short. Garcia threw four more interceptions in South Carolina's dreadfully ugly 21-3 win over Vanderbilt. Garcia has seven interceptions on the season and it appears the more frustrated Spurrier becomes, the worse Garcia plays. But the Head Ball Coach told The State Newspaper of Columbia that he has confidence that Garcia can bounce back, starting with Saturday's game with Auburn at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I'm the best friend he's got at South Carolina," Spurrier said. "I don't know why people say I don't like him. If I didn't like him he wouldn't be here."

Well, I guess we got that cleared up. Auburn-South Carolina preview

10. Prayers for Jerry Kill. It's not often when one coach prays for the opposing coach but that will be the case Saturday when Michigan opens the Big Ten schedule against Minnesota. Gophers' coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure at the end of a Sept. 10 game against New Mexico State and was hospitalized for five days. Then last Sunday Kill said he suffered multiple seizures and was admitted to the Mayo Clinic for treatment. He left the hospital and returned to practice on Wednesday. He is expected to be on the sidelines when his 1-3 team goes to the Big House in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

"I can't control what I can't control," Kill told reporters last week. "I'm going to go like hell until I go down and when I go down, and they can do whatever they do and I'm going to go again. That's who I am."

Hoke, who coached against Kill when he was at San Diego State and Kill was at Northern Illinois, said he will be praying for the Minnesota coach. "He's a great person and a terrific coach," said Hoke.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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