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What we learned: LSU, Oklahoma still alive; Heisman race not a done deal

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OK. We're at the halfway point. The first BCS standings are out. With Alabama and Florida 1-2, the people outside the SEC's stomping grounds are already losing their minds.

One piece of advice for them: Relax. Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Oregon State? Relax. Just take care of your business and you'll be fine. We are NOT, in this reporter's opinion, going to have a repeat of an All-SEC championship game in the BCS. There are a lot of reasons why and we'll discuss them in much greater as we go along this season.

Let's take care of today's business first. What did we learn over the weekend that sets the table for the second half of the season?

LSU and OU aren't dead yet

The road losses by No. 3 South Carolina (to LSU) and No. 5 West Virginia (to Texas Tech) have cracked open the door for one-loss teams who thought they were in trouble just a week ago.

LSU (6-1) held on to beat South Carolina (23-21) in Baton Rouge and was rewarded with the highest ranking of a one-loss team in the first BCS standings at No. 6. And if the Tigers win out against a brutal schedule, which still includes a trip to No. 18 Texas A&M on Saturday and a Nov. 3 visit from No. 1 Alabama, the Tigers get back to Atlanta and play for the SEC championship.

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Oklahoma made quite a statement with its 63-21 win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners (4-1) still have some challenges ahead, including a Nov. 17 trip to West Virginia and an Oct. 27 visit from undefeated Notre Dame. But win them all and hope for Kansas State to lose twice and Oklahoma could be right there.

And what about No. 10 Southern California at 5-1? If the Trojans beat Oregon twice -- once on Nov. 3 in the Coliseum and again in the Pac-12 title game -- they would have a shot. I just don't think that is going to happen.

Tubs did it again

When Tommy Tuberville was the head coach at Mississippi and Auburn, most years he was good for at least one stunning upset in a game where nobody gave him a chance.

He was hired at Ole Miss in 1995 just after the NCAA had hammered the program with massive scholarship cuts and a two-year postseason ban. He took his first team to Georgia and won 18-10.

In 2007 Auburn was 1-2 and unranked and a decided underdog when it went to Florida to play the No. 4 Gators, the defending national champions. I saw Tuberville on the field before the game and asked what he planned to do.

"We're going to run the ball, shorten the game and hope to steal it at the end," he said.

With the score tied 14-14, Auburn got the last possession. Wes Byrum kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of the game and Auburn won 17-14.

After watching Geno Smith and the Pinball Wizards at West Virginia score 260 points in the first five games of this season, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech were given almost no chance to slow them down, much less beat them. But beat them Tech did, holding the most dynamic offense in college football to only 14 points. In case you're keeping score at home, Tuberville, who once beat Alabama six straight years at Auburn, has faced eight top-5 teams as a decided underdog. He is now 6-2 in those games.

Mack's got some 'splainin' to do

Texas had a top-20 defense (in fact, the only one in the Big 12) a year ago under Manny Diaz. They have two defensive ends, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat (now out for the season with torn pectoral muscle), who are going to be playing in the NFL. But Texas can't seem to stop anybody, and against Oklahoma, the Longhorns looked like a defense with no working knowledge of the basic concepts of tackling.

Texas trailed Oklahoma 49-8 at one point and was outgained in total yardage 677-289. Oklahoma ran for 343 yards.

"It's just unacceptable for Texas to lose to Oklahoma, much less anybody, and especially two years in a row," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "I'm disappointed for our coaches, our plans and our players because that's not who we are."

Oklahoma walloped Texas 55-19 last season.

After Brown blew out most of his coaching staff two years ago, Texas was supposed to be on an upward trajectory this season. My guess is that things are going to start to get a little testy in Austin.

Jones, Barkley, Klein back in the Heisman race

I'll admit it. I was as guilty as anybody about calling West Virginia's Geno Smith a double-platinum lock of the year to be the Heisman Trophy winner. That assumption was based on the belief Smith would stay vertical (no injuries) this season and that nobody on the West Virginia schedule could slow down this offense.

That all changed Saturday when Smith was held by Art Kaufman's defense to 275 yards passing, almost 125 yards below his average. West Virginia, which had scored 42 or more points four times and 69 or more twice, was held to just 14 points. If Kansas State looks at that Texas Tech tape and is able to hold Smith in check for the second straight week, then Landry Jones, Matt Barkley and Collin Klein really get back into the mix.

While I'm here, if you want to see a human highlight reel, watch about 10 minutes of West Virginia's Tavon Austin. Also, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, had 576 yards of total offense against Louisiana Tech. Stay tuned.

Mike Riley should be off hot seat

In his second tour of duty at Oregon State, coach Mike Riley had seen things slow down a bit the last couple of years. In 2010 the Beavers were 5-7 and last season they dropped to 3-9. There was talk Riley, the former Alabama player and coach of the San Diego Chargers, had stayed too long and it was time to bring some fresh blood to Corvallis, especially with the other school in the state (Oregon) having its best run ever.

But on Saturday, Oregon State (5-0) went to Brigham Young, which has one of the best defenses in the country, and won 42-24 with a quarterback (Cody Vaz) who hadn't taken a snap in a game since 2010 and had not started since high school. Vaz was not intimidated by his surroundings as he completed his first five passes. He completed 20 of 32 for 332 yards and three touchdowns.

Now Riley's team is 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in the first BCS standings of the season. The Beavers also play five of their last seven games at home.

They have already beaten Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona. We would assume at this point Mike Riley's situation at Oregon State is secure -- and it should be. He is a very good football coach.

Watch the Tony Barnhart Show Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET 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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