"It had that kind of dramatic effect."
So it's two precincts that take this stuff seriously.
Saturday at Owen Field they'll play for the first time since 1999, when Bob Stoops, in his fourth game at OU, suffered his first loss (34-30), to a 1-3 Irish squad, after leading by 16 in the third quarter. ND has won all but one of the nine games. The exception was 1956, when it was 40-0 in South Bend. That's the only time they played on Oct. 27 before this.
It's the fifth time they've met when both were in the Top 10. The Irish, who haven't been in national-title contention in a while, are fifth, three spots ahead of the once-beaten Sooners, who started No. 4 but lost to Kansas State on Sept. 22 at home, where they've won 43 of their last 45.
The Irish have been getting this done mainly with defense. They just beat BYU at home by a field goal, after that controversial overtime win over visiting Stanford. But if they get to 8-0, even if it's by a safety, there's every chance they'll be 11-0 heading to Southern Cal on Nov. 24. Wouldn't that be special?
Brian Kelly's last team at Cincinnati, in 2009, went 12-0 before getting clubbed in the Sugar Bowl (without him) by Florida.
Their next three opponents are Pitt (3-4) at home, at Boston College (1-6) and Wake Forest (4-3) at home. But first . . .
The Sooners, who lost the only close game they played, have won at Texas Tech and smoked Texas in Dallas. If they beat ND, and they're favored by 11, they can still dream. They're just going to need help. As might some other contenders. Like maybe even a 12-0 Notre Dame, if there's also a 12-0 Kansas State and a 13-0 Oregon. Of course we know that all probably won't happen. But just in case, can't say you weren't warned.
Poppy Livers just became the first Villanova player to return a punt for a touchdown since 1980. Who did it then? Hint: He was drafted in the NFL, played in the USFL and later got to the NFL. See Answer man.
Upon further review
In the preseason, No. 3 Florida was 23rd, No. 4 Kansas State 22nd and Notre Dame 26.
Two other unbeatens, No. 7 Oregon State and No. 13 Mississippi State, received one combined vote.
Have you noticed? *
Mississippi State's SEC wins were against Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee, which are a combined 0-14 in the conference.
* Auburn's 1-6 start is its worst since it was 1-7 in 1952.
* For the first time, Alabama is No. 1 for an eighth straight week. Bear Bryant's guys were first for seven in a row twice (1979 and '80).
* The only other time Oregon and Oregon State were both in the Top 7 was the final poll in 2000.
Kansas State was supposed to play at Oregon last year, then host the Ducks this season. But coach Bill Snyder reportedly backed out of the games. So Oregon was left with a nonconference sked of Arkansas State, Tennessee Tech and Fresno State. Sure hope that doesn't have any of those dreaded BCS ramifications.
Not rocket science
The teams with the four top scoring defenses - Alabama, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Florida - are a combined 28-0. The three best in turnover margin - Mississippi State, Ohio and 'Bama - are 21-0. So why do so many teams try to win 52-49?
Defensive back David Martin, who took a punt back 75 yards on Oct. 25 in a 17-6 win at VMI. He was taken in the ninth round by Detroit, 192 spots after teammate Howie Long went to the Raiders. Martin played with San Diego in 1986 and Buffalo in 1987.
Spotlight on ... Heisman Trophy
Or, has there been a Geno Smith sighting?
OK, forget about him. At least for now, and most likely for good. But he was everyone's bloke to beat, only 2 weeks ago. That's just how fragile this thing can be. And there's still over a month to go.
Now the focus has shifted to Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who wasn't on many projection lists in August. Neither was Cam Newton in 2010, or RGIII a year ago. As long as the Wildcats keep winning, it's probably his to lose. But last season, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden became the front-runner. Then the unbeaten Cowboys lost their next-to-last game, in double overtime at 5-4 Iowa State. And he didn't even make it to New York as a finalist. It can switch that fast. Kind of like the BCS standings.
So who else is out there? Well, it's usually a marquee name on a top team. Alabama's AJ McCarron is the only passer with a better efficiency rating than Klein. Ohio State's Braxton Miller, if he's not hurt, was emerging as a candidate. Especially if the Fighting Urban Meyers go 12-0. Ditto Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, though his position obviously makes him a longer shot. Again, if the Irish keep it going, who knows? And anymore, that's pretty much what it comes down to.
Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, the preseason fave, has Oregon and ND left. Can't hurt. Which is why one of Oregon's skill guys, if it keeps putting up pinball numbers, might not be out of it. Or maybe someone like Florida State's EJ Manuel can re-emerge. Or . . .
Check back in another 3 weeks or so.
BIG EAST BIT
Louisville has lost four straight to Cincinnati, which visits Friday night.
MAC ME UP
Kent State (6-1) hasn't been to a bowl since 1972, when it lost in the Tangerine (21-18) to Tampa, which stopped playing the sport 2 years later. The Golden Flashes also lost to Delaware (19-7) in the 1954 Refrigerator (Evansville, Ill.). That would also only last 2 more years. Their '72 team featured linebacker Jack Lambert and a d-back named Nick Saban.
The longest drought belongs to New Mexico State (1-6), which hasn't gone bowling since the 1960 Sun.
7:30 Clemson at Wake Forest, ESPN
7:30 Delaware State at Morgan State, ESPNU
8 Cincinnati at Louisville, ESPN2
8 Nevada at Air Force, CBSSN
Noon Temple at Pittsburgh, 6ABC
Noon Tennessee at South Carolina, ESPN
Noon Iowa at Northwestern, ESPN2
Noon Kentucky at Missouri, ESPNU
Noon Texas at Kansas, FCS
Noon Delaware at Old Dominion, NBCSN
Noon Indiana at Illinois, BTN
Noon Ball State at Army, CBSSN
Noon Mississippi at Arkansas, WMCN-44.2
12:30 North Carolina State at North Carolina, CW57
1 Southern Mississippi at Rice, Comcast SportsNet
3 UCLA at Arizona State, FX
3 Colorado at Oregon, Pac-12
3:30 Florida vs. Georgia, CBS3
3:30 Michigan State at Wisconsin, Arizona, 6ABC
3:30 Southern California at Arizona, ESPN2
3:30 Duke at Florida State, ESPNU
3:30 Texas Tech at Kansas State, FOX29
3:30 Towson at Villanova, TCN
3:30 Purdue at Minnesota, BTN
3:30 Boise State at Wyoming, CBSSN
3:30 TCU at Oklahoma State, WMCN-44.1
3:30 Southern Illinois at North Dakota State, FCS
5:30 Ohio State at Penn State, ESPN
6:15 Washington State at Stanford, Pac-12
7 Baylor at Iowa State, FCS
7 Texas A&M at Auburn, ESPNU
8 Notre Dame at Oklahoma, 6ABC
8 Michigan at Nebraska, ESPN2
8 Central Florida at Marshall, CBSSN
8:30 Mississippi State at Alabama, ESPN
10:15 Oregon State at Washington, Pac-12
Contact Mike Kern at email@example.com .