Question of the week in the Power Poll: Does Pac-12 South Division title count if no one recognizes it?
That’s a significant question as USC moves up to No. 17 this week. Most of us can agree that the Trojans are overachieving at 6-1 to this point. They were supposed to be distracted, discouraged at this point with nothing to play for. Then along came Notre Dame. USC’s 31-17 win wasn’t that surprising considering the Trojans have won nine of the last 10 over the Irish.
But look at the Pac-12 standings. The Trojans are tied with Arizona State at 3-1 atop the South Division. The Sun Devils hold the tiebreaker having embarrassed USC 44-23 on Sept. 24. Since then the Trojans have won three in a row by an average of two touchdowns.
These Trojans look like the Trojans of old. One problem: It doesn’t matter in the big picture. This is the second year of USC’s NCAA postseason bowl ban. Not only can it not go bowling, it also can’t win the South even if it, well, does. That’s part of the postseason ban.
So there is a chance the second-place team in the South will play the North Division winner (probably Oregon at Stanford) in the first Pac-12 championship game. That means that with five games remaining Arizona State just about has the South locked up. First or second, doesn’t matter.
USC is ineligible. Third-place UCLA (3-4, 2-2) is a mess but, strangely, controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South and Pac-12. The division could come down to the Nov. 5 Arizona State-UCLA game. At least the Sun Devils will get to play once in the Rose Bowl.
--At 4-3, Notre Dame is officially out of the BCS race. Brian Kelly is now blaming players. Wow.
--OK, I’ll say it. The LSU-Alabama bye week is overshadowing Florida-Georgia in the Cocktail Party.
--Talk about overshadowed, Houston’s Case Keenum threw for six touchdowns against Marshall and became the FBS career total offense leader. But how does he compete with Albert Pujols, Michigan State and Texas Tech for headline space?
--Anyone notice that Penn State (7-1, 4-0) has a 1 ½-game lead over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Leaders Division?
--Let’s give credit to the Big Ten for getting it right. The league that created and refined replay review looked fantastic Saturday night in making the right ruling on Michigan State’s Hail Mary “Rocket” play.
--Best $30 million spent: On Pujols by the Cardinals (per year) to sign the pending free agent or the exit fee Missouri is going to have to fork over to join the SEC?
This week’s Power Poll
- LSU – Can’t get any “higher” in the rankings. Synthetic Three (Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware, Tharold Simon) ready to make return vs. Alabama.
- Alabama – Caught sleeping through wake-up call for the third week in October.
- Stanford – Is there any more physical team in the country?
- Oklahoma State – Cowboys now rule the Sooner State.
- Clemson – Let’s just go ahead and call this the best offense in the land.
- Boise State – Lost style points for struggling with Air Force and wearing hideous gray uniforms.
- Oregon – No Darron Thomas, no LaMIchael James, no problem at Colorado.
- Kansas State – Another destruction of Kansas impacts Turner Gill’s job security.
- Michigan State – Can we please have a Big 12 champ game rematch between the Badgers and Spartans?
- Wisconsin – You could see on Bret Bielema’s face: We blew it. The lead, last play of the game, national championship hopes.
- Oklahoma – Sooners never left the lockerroom (mentally) after 90-minute lightning delay.
- Virginia Tech – David Wilson is the best running back you never heard of.
- Nebraska – Bye week, er check that, win over Minnesota sets up Legends Division clash with Michigan State.
- South Carolina – Still in control of SEC East but UGA coming on.
- Arkansas – You just knew trailing Ole Miss 17-0 the Hogs would come back.
- Michigan – Little Sisters have to watch Big Brother Spartans win again.
- USC – Irish had shiny new helmets. Trojans had the goods.
- Texas A&M – Still included in Big 12 promo commercials. Guys, it’s over. The Aggies are going to the SEC.
- Penn State – Let me get back to you on this one. I don’t know how Joe is doing it either.
- Texas Tech – The Riverboat Gambler is back.
- Houston – The case for Case. Next stop, statistical immortality as NCAA career passing leader.
- Cincinnati – Bearcats closing in on third BCS bowl in four years. Might literally keep Cincinnati in a BCS league (Big 12?)
- West Virginia – What. Was. That. Against. Syracuse?
- BYU – Season will be defined by Friday neutral site game vs. TCU at Cowboys Stadium.
- Georgia Tech – Consecutive, embarrassing ACC road losses.