But Saturday's loser definitely becomes a real longshot.
The visiting Cowboys, a few years removed from coach Mike Gundy's legendary postgame rant, actually finished 11-2 last season. It just kind of got lost in the overall because their losses were to Big Ten-bound Nebraska (by 10 at home) and Oklahoma (by six, also in Stillwater).
This is Mike Sherman's fourth season at College Station. He was the guy who wouldn't let the Packers go for it on fourth-and-short against the Eagles in that playoff game in January of 2004, then got beat on fourth-and-26. Yet he won nine times in 2010, up from six the year before and three in his college debut. The Aggies haven't won more than nine since going 11-3 in 1998, which was also the last time they won the conference title.
The last time OSU even tied for first was 1976, with Oklahoma and Colorado at 5-2 in the Big 8. But Colorado went to the Orange Bowl, while the Cowboys settled for the Tangerine (and a 49-21 victory over Brigham Young).
Neither team has beaten anyone, unless you count OSU's 23-point home win over 1-2 Arizona. Both have senior quarterbacks who can get it done, in Brandon Weeden and A & M's Ryan Tannehill. Never hurts.
The Aggies, who get Arkansas next week in Cowboys Stadium, have to go to Oklahoma (on Nov. 5). They'll host Baylor, Missouri and Texas. OSU has Oklahoma at home (Dec. 3) but visits Texas and Missouri in back-to-back weeks in the middle of next month followed by Baylor at home.
The Cowboys won last year by three on a last-play field goal (set up by an interception), their series-high third straight victory. In those they've average 43 points.
Penn coach Al Bagnoli, on the chaos created by all this expansion: "I thought it's interesting. There's so much talk about athletes wanting more. And everybody has an issue with that. You turn around and teams are leaving. And the only reason they're leaving is money. So there seems to be a contradiction there. You throw away 100 years of [tradition] to make an extra $10 million. You get down to three or four super conferences, hopefully it's not the death [for the rest of us]. Because what happens then?"
BREAK UP COMMODORES:
Vanderbilt, coming off twin 2-10 seasons, is 3-0 (all at home), coming off a 30-7 win over Mississippi, for first-year coach James Franklin, who'd been the coach in waiting at Maryland.
The Commodores have been to one bowl since 1982. That was 3 years ago, when they started 5-0 and ended up 7-6 for Bobby Johnson. Now they're at South Carolina. Then, after a bye, they're at Alabama. They'll also go to Florida and Tennessee, while hosting Georgia and Arkansas. So who knows where this leads?
But they have intercepted 10 passes, one more than last year. And returned three for touchdowns, already a school season-record.
Franklin is the first Vandy coach to start 3-0 since World War II, and that was a guy (E.H. Alley) who was filling in while Red Sanders served in the military.
Three members of the staff - Bob Shoop, John Donovan and Sean Spencer - are former Villanova assistants.
LaMichael James just tied the Oregon career record for touchdowns, with 42. Who did he catch? Hint: He played in the NFL (1990-99), with three teams. See Answer man.
HAVE YOU NOTICED?:
Michigan is ranked ahead of Ohio State for the first time since the 2007 preseason poll.
That would be Derek Loville
SPOTLIGHT ON FAMILY TIES:
C.T. Alexander was Penn's public-address announcer for the last 50 years. Now that he's retired, it's finally someone else's turn. It just happens that his replacement has the same last name.
His son, John, has been spending time in the booth alongside the voice of Franklin Field since he was 12. So this transition has been 35 years in the making.
"My earliest memories were going there with my sisters and sitting in the first row," John recalled. "And these ancient security guards, the nicest guys, were like our grandfathers. They'd watch over us.
"When I got older, I started helping out. It's something that just evolved. Originally, I figured he'd be doing it forever. Then, I started thinking if I could be the next guy that would be awesome. I don't think there's any way I can get to 50; still being alive, much less the voice. But 25 would be neat. I have a son who seems to be excited by Penn football. Who knows? Maybe it can be a three-generation thing."
He made his debut last week. Villanova travels to West Philly on Saturday night, but will be the designated home team. So the Wildcats are bringing their PA guy with them.
"I can just show up as a fan . . . " Alexander said. "It's funny, but I think I was more nervous last year, because there was a lot riding on it. My sister [Linda Rocca], who helps, was there to spot for me. That made me very comfortable.
"I was worried I wouldn't cough, and that my voice would hold out the whole game. I think it went well. I made a few minor mistakes, but I was pretty proud of myself."
He probably wasn't the only one.
MAC ME UP:
Ohio is 3-0 for the first time since 1976. That year the Bobcats started 4-0, en route to 7-4. They're at Rutgers.
Widener, under second-year coach Isaac Collins, is 3-0 for the first time since 2002, which was also the last time it won its first four. The Pioneers are at 0-2 Wilkes. Sophomore Laquan Robinson ran a punt back for a touchdown last week, already his fourth career score on a return.
COUCH POTATO GUIDE:
8: N.C. State at Cincinnati, ESPN
8: Central Florida at BYU, ESPN
Noon: Eastern Michigan at Penn State, ESPN2
Noon: Central Michigan at Michigan State, ESPNU
Noon: Cornell at Yale, Versus
Noon: Eastern Michigan at Penn State, ESPN2
Noon: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Channel 6
Noon: North Carolina at Georgia Tech, ESPN
Noon: San Diego State at Michigan, Big Ten Network
Noon: Louisiana-Monroe at Iowa, Big Ten Network
Noon: Old Dominion at Delaware, Comcast Network
3:30: Arkansas at Alabama, Channel 3
3:30: Florida State at Clemson, ESPN
3:30: Kansas State at Miami, ESPNU
3:30: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, Channel 6
3:30: Western Michigan at Illinois, Big Ten Network
3:30: South Dakota at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network
3:30: Florida A&M vs. Southern, Versus
3:30: New Hampshire at Richmond, Comcast Network
7: James Madison at William & Mary, Comcast SportsNet
7: Florida at Kentucky, ESPN
7: Vanderbilt at South Carolina, ESPN2
7: Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State, ESPNU
7:30: Nebraska at Wyoming, Versus
8: Missouri at Oklahoma, FX
8: LSU at West Virginia, Channel 6
10:15: USC at Arizona State, ESPN
10:15: Oregon at Arizona, ESPN2