Week Seven's contenders and pretenders

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Here’s an informal poll: Do any of the traditional powers actually want to make it to the BCS title game? If they do, they are certainly testing the “one loss” rule that could still get them in over an undefeated Boise State or TCU. 

As far as conference contenders go, South Carolina (my top contender from last week) has officially been handed the SEC East on a silver platter, but like a spoiled brat, threw it down saying they wanted it on a gold platter. I still feel that, with Florida dropping yet another game, this is the year South Carolina can make it to the SEC title game. Now, they just have to capitalize.

Two contenders from week six have made another appearance, while the list of pretenders has added a couple new faces.

CONTENDERS

Michigan State (7-0 overall, 3-0 Big Ten)

Another week and another win for Sparty. This time, it was over slightly-better-than-terrible Illinois, who was coming off a surprising week six stomping of Penn State. The Spartans started slow, but rallied in the second half to upend the Illini 26-6. Barring a letdown next week against Northwestern, the Oct. 30 date at Iowa City could have Big Ten title implications. Personally, I think Michigan State is a Top-10 football team right now.

Auburn (7-0 overall, 4-0 SEC)

Yes, Ryan Mallett was hurt, but that can’t be blamed for the 65 points Auburn hung up on the Hogs. This was a game that a lot of people had as an upset alert, but the Tigers just keep on rolling through each test. In the SEC West, there’s a lot of them.

Auburn has an interesting remaining schedule. Next Saturday, undefeated LSU rolls into town and Auburn finishes the year against Georgia (who’s beginning to pick up some steam) and at Alabama. That’s a tough slate, but Auburn controls its own destiny.

West Virginia (5-1 overall, 1-0 Big East)

Because the Big East is so down this year (like, really down), West Virginia has a very good shot of running the table in conference. A win over South Florida Thursday proved that the Mountaineers can win and win with defense. The schedule is certainly manageable, but Cincinnati and Pitt will continue to be the toughest tests for the Mountaineers. Next to the Panthers, WVU has the most talented team in the Big East.

Utah (6-0 overall, 3-0 MWC)

Boise State and TCU have been anointed the “BCS Busters”, but don’t count out Utah. Kyle Whittingham is one of the best coaches in the country and consistently has his team ready to play. The Utes (ranked No. 9) are quietly going about their business while all the attention goes to TCU. However, don’t be surprised if the Utes upend the Horned Frogs at home on Nov. 6, putting Utah into the BCS discussion.

Iowa (5-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes are just one of those teams who finds a way to win, but they’ll have two more tests in Michigan State and Ohio State. Even if Iowa drops one of those, they can still contend for a Big Ten title.

PRETENDERS

Meeechigan (5-2 overall, 1-2 Big Ten)

It’s not that I think Michigan will be terrible the rest of this season, but but there’s clearly still a lot of work to do for Rich Rodriguez. The defense and special teams are atrocious and the wheels are beginning to fall off Denard Robinson‘s bandwagon.  The Wolverines still have to play Wisconsin who just knocked off, who do you know, Ohio State, who’s had Michigan’s number for the better part of the last 10 years.

After a quick 5-0 start, I would be surprised if this team finished better than 8-4.

Syracuse (4-2 overall, 1-1 Big East)

Remember how up I was on Syracuse after the Orange beat South Florida last week? Yeah, about that …

I didn’t expect the ‘Cuse to beat Pitt (although for as bad as the Big East has been, it was certainly possible), but I also didn’t expect them to get the smack down like they did. Pitt may have been 2-3 heading into that game, but the Panthers were far and away the more talented team. The loss shows that Doug Marrone still has some ground to cover before Syracuse can be taken seriously again. I still think there’s an outside shot they can get to a bowl this year, but they’ll need to play better than they did against the Panthers.

Cal (3-3 overall, 1-2 Pac-10)

The Golden Bears’ best win to date was a 35-7 win over UCLA. Outside of that, Cal just hasn’t done much and getting throttled by a 30-man USC team didn’t do them any favors. I’m not sure that Cal was supposed to be amazing this year, but for all the talent they have, it looks like Jeff Tedfords team will be no better than 7-5.

Texas A&M (3-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12)

Don’t get me started. Jerrod Johnson was supposed to be a Heisman candidate and was voted preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. The defense was supposed to be improved. The Aggies were supposed to contend for a Big 12 title.

Get back to me in a week:

Oklahoma State and Missouri (12-0 overall, 4-0 Big 12)

Missouri still faces Oklahoma and Nebraska back to back, while Oklahoma State will face the Sooners, ‘Huskers and Longhorns. Something tells me they’ll slip up against more than one of those teams.