As October opens on the Shortlist in 2010 almost two-thirds of all programs are out of it and exactly 44 teams remain in contention grouped again in no particular order with their conference peers as follows:
Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas State, Miami, Virginia, Florida State, Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, NC State, Southern Cal, Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, West Virginia, USF, Rutgers, Syracuse, TCU, Utah, Boise State, and Nevada.
Another week means a usual suspect shows me not to doubt them so frequently as they remain on the Shortlist for another game at least:
1) Nevada goes on the road to the BYU and comes home with an impressive 27-13 victory as the Wolf Pack refuses to exit stage left on the Shortlist this year. Chris Ault has more victories than anyone at his alma-matter currently coaching and despite the lower division lean to most of those wins, his bowl subdivision record still isn't anything to scoff at in Reno. They will press their luck in Sin City this week but this team will be a tough out for anybody in 2010, including the current number three team in the land who will face them in Reno on a Friday night late in November with stakes as high as they come most likely.
A trio of teams lost games that removed them from the Shortlist this week without me calling for them to and the unforeseen exits for last week are:
1) Purdue watches the expatriated Hurricane savior quarterback Robert Marve get taken out with a re-tweaked left knee before having Toledo do the same to their Shortlist stay this year at home 31-20. Losing all-Big 10 receiver Keith Smith put this team behind the eight-ball already, now with Marve possibly done for the year their bowl hopes might be sunk in a corner pocket as a result as well.
2) Georgia Tech falls behind early and then remembers why Frank Solich was ditched in Lincoln as they can't catch up to NC State at home in Atlanta despite the Wolfpack's best efforts to hand the game back 45-28. Paul Johnson's defending ACC champs can't be counted out of the conference crown race just yet, but there will be no happy anniversary for the Wreck to celebrate their only national split title with another one this year two decades later.
3) Fresno State loses in Oxford to Mississippi 55-38 as Pat Hill's Bulldogs go down the only way they know how, swinging for the jaw of a BCS automatic qualifier wherever they can get a scheduled opportunity. The schedule lightens up this month so he'll have plenty of time to prepare his charges to lockjaw a few big name jugulars in November in conference play in what should still be a successful season for the man in the game who most resembles in program-building-philosophy the retired Bobby Bowden now.
I expect seven teams to fall out of Shortlist contention this week, among them the gold-standard for college coaches, and each one is a BCS automatic qualifier school:
Kentucky, Penn State, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Virginia, and Clemson.
With nine days to prepare for their toughest road game left on the schedule, the Miami Hurricanes have a chance to eliminate the team that banished them from the Shortlist last year as they go on the road to Clemson to face the Tigers in yet another shortlist elimination game for both teams. Clemson presents strength along both lines, much like the Hurricanes, but at the skill positions there is a discernible difference favoring Miami taken as a whole.
Last week saw the Hurricanes finally develop some offensive consistency on the road in a hostile environment and they will need to sustain that consistency for the entire four quarters, and if history is to inform us of anything between these two programs, probably overtime as well. The Tigers are coming off a bye week and have been licking their wounds physically and mentally after falling to a hungrier breed of Tiger from the plains of Alabama in a grueling game filled with high-impact collisions two weekends ago.
Whether Miami can exploit whatever mental fatigue is sure to still be lingering in the opposition from such a tough loss in their last outing will go a long way to deciding whether the Hurricanes can silence the raucous crowd at the other Death Valley and seize an important first conference victory over suspect 1-A to win the ACC's other division this year, so whatever the outcome the possibility is distinct that this game is just round one and a two match set between these teams this year.
Personally, I expect nothing less than the best game of the year from coach Randy Shannon's team this week as payback is distributed in a surgical manner and the defensive line forces Tiger's quarterback Kyle Parker to take a seat with a hard hit to his previously tenderized ribs. Coach Rick Petri has his front four in Coral Gables terrorizing offenses behind the line of scrimmage and if his gang of heavy hitters can come up big again for Miami, Death Valley shouldn't prove to be the death of the Hurricane's slim championship hopes this year after all.
Enjoy the games this week and join me back here next week as the Shortlist begins to draw ever closer to the magic number of 25 teams and actual rankings based on merit instead of expediency here on the Shortlist to the Site of the Shanghied 'Ship.
Copyright 2010 by Christopher Whelpton for Canespace.com