Goose Eggs, Grambling and Ferentz's Magic Potion: The Top Ten Questions We're Asking Entering the Weekend
1. Will everything keep coming up Dabo? - After starting 19-15 in his first two-and-a-half seasons at Clemson, Dabo Swinney is 27-6 since the beginning of the 2011 season, winning the program's first ACC championship in two decades and a current seven-game winning streak that includes wins over LSU and Georgia. Will college football's most enthusiastic coach hug another sideline reporter on Saturday night?
2. Where does UCLA stand in the Pac-12 hierarchy? - Washington took its turn through the Stanford-Oregon Turnpike and wound up 0-2. Now it's UCLA's turn, as the Bruins make the first of consecutive road trips to Palo Alto and Eugene. Two wins makes UCLA a top five team and likely in control of its own destiny for another Rose Bowl home game, either on January 1 or January 7. One win keeps UCLA about where it is in the national rankings and makes them the heavy favorites for their third straight Pac-12 South title. Two losses has them hanging out with Washington, unfairly in the back half of the top 25.
3. Can Stanford manufacture enough offense outside of Ty Montgomery? - Stanford's dynamic wide receiver opened the Washington win with a 99-yard kickoff return, compiled 56 of the Cardinal's 100 passing yards (including another touchdown) and rushed for 30 yards two weeks ago, and then returned another kickoff for a touchdown while hauling in 131 of Stanford's 246 passing yards in the loss to Utah a week ago. Put simply, he's carried the offense over the last two weeks. Can Stanford find enough offense elswhere?
4. Does Ferentz magic travel to the Horseshoe? - Kirk Ferentz has morphed into the grim reaper for top five foes over the past half-decade, going 3-for-3 against highly-rated foes since 2008. Can his magic potion give Urban his first loss at Ohio State?
5. Speaking of undefeateds, who's getting upset this week? - Previously undefeated Oklahoma, Michigan and Stanford bit the dust last week, bringing our total of unbeaten teams down from 17 to 14. We know one of Florida State or Clemson is going down on Saturday, but who else is joining them? UCLA, Texas Tech, Missouri and Houston all feel like prime candidates?
6. Can anyone leave Goose Egg Island? - If you're betting on any of the nine winless teams left in FBS to get their first win (and by God, you need help), Hawaii (vs. Colorado State), Temple (vs. Army), Miami, Ohio (vs. Akron) feel like the best bets.
7. Who's going back to the drawing board? - By 2:30 p.m. local time on Saturday afternoon, either James Franklin or Mark Richt will walk off the field muttering to himself, "This wasn't supposed to happen." Vanderbilt enters Saturday hoping to avoid an 0-4 start to SEC play - with a trip to Texas A&M waiting next week - a year after they finished 5-3 in the SEC for what felt like the first time since the Martin Van Buren administration. Georgia, on the other hand, sat front and center in the national and SEC championship races, even with the Clemson loss, with September victories over South Carolina and LSU. A mountain of injuries and one loss to Missouri later, and they're one loss away from bringing a 4-3 record with them to the Cocktail Party.
8. Is there anything Louisville can do to get back in the voters' good graces? - Sum up Louisville's season thus far with this: Charlie Strong's team has won its six games by anywhere from 14 to 72 points - and moved up all of one spot in the AP poll. Tonight, the Cardinals will once again have a national audience all to themselves as Central Florida comes to town for an ESPN-televised game. The Knights, you'll recall, suffered their only defeat at the hands of South Carolina in a game they led 10-0 at the half. They're good. But is there anything Louisville can do to sway the mind of the voting public? 35-0? 42-0? 63-0?
9. Can Oregon State and Cal combine for 1,000 passing yards? - Two weeks ago, Washington State and Cal combined for 1,042 passing yards in the Cougars' 44-22 win. That's the bar we'll shoot for this week as the nation's top-ranked passing offense faces off against the nation's second-worst passing defense. Oregon State throws for 433 yards per game, and Cal allows 322 per game. After throwing for a career-high 493 yards in last week's defeat of Washington State, Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion may get to 1,000 by himself.
10. Does Grambling show up in Jackson? - After firing interim head coach George Ragsdale on Thursday, Grambling is now on its third head coach in five weeks after promoting defensive coordinator Dennis Winston to the top spot. The Tigers have boycotted two practices this week. They're scheduled to visit Jackson State at 2 p.m. local time on Saturday. Will they show? And if so, can they snap their 17-game losing skid?
"We plan on going to Jackson this afternoon. I couldn't tell you how many players will show up." - A.D. Aaron James— The Gramblinite (@TheGramblinite) October 18, 2013