Week eight's contenders and pretenders

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Another week, another 1 bites the dust. For the third time in a row, the No. 1 team in the country in a major poll has gone down on the road. As mentioned here, it seems 2010 is shaping up to be a lot like 2007, where there are a handful of really good teams, but it’s hard to determine who’s the best. So, for week eight, we try to dissect who’s for real and who’s not. So far, that’s been a tricky task.

CONTENDERS

Auburn (8-0 overall, 5-0 SEC)

Getting this far in the SEC undefeated alone should get Auburn on this list, which the Tigers have been a part of for three straight weeks. It’s actually getting to the point where it’s hard to come up with original, great things to say about Auburn. Cam Newton is playing at a Heisman-esque level (sorry, Deb) and the Tigers keep handling stiff competition (insert Brett Favre joke here).

Everyone knows the showdown with Alabama this season has the potential to resemble the beginning scene of Gladiator, but I think Auburn could get a test from Georgia. That’s right, Georgia. After starting the season 1-4, the Bulldogs have won three straight and are second the SEC East. All I’m saying is, in the SEC, you can never look ahead.

Michigan State (8-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten)

Sparty has guts. Period. Michigan State remains undefeated and, despite Iowa losing to Wisconsin, the Oct. 30 showdown in Iowa City remains one of the Big Ten’s biggest games. There’s a lot of talk (rightfully so) about Auburn and Oregon, but Michigan State has been finding ways to win. Still, Sparty doesn’t have to play Ohio State. Oh, if only there were two divisions in the Big Ten …

Baylor (6-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12)

WHA WHA WHAT!?!?!?!?!?! Baylor? The Baylor Bears? For the first time in who knows how long, Baylor is … bowl eligible? What’s this … Baylor’s leading the Big 12 South? I honestly don’t know what to say other than …

SIC ‘EM

Virginia Tech (6-2 overall, 4-0 ACC)

Yes, the same Virginia Tech who lost to Boise State. Yes, the same Virginia Tech who lost to James Madison. After being kicked to the curb and forgotten, the Hokies are back in the ACC title hunt. Since starting 0-2, Tyrod Taylor has led the offense to 41 points per game and the defense looks more like a signature Bud Foster group. This, 100 percent, has to be attributed to Frank Beamer and the job he’s done there. From being considered preseason national title contenders to going 0-2, it takes a great coach to keep his kids believing.

Oregon (7-0 overall, 3-0 Pac-10)

Did you watch Thursday night’s game? If you didn’t, here’s my completely biased, subjective crush on the Oregon Ducks.

Wisconsin (7-1 overall, 3-1 Big Ten)

Time to give credit where credit is due. Wisconsin has played great football, beating two of the Big Ten’s three other great teams in Ohio State and Iowa. What more can you say about the job Bret Bielema has done?

Well, other than the guy likes to go for two.

PRETENDERS

Oklahoma State (6-1 overall, 2-1 Big 12)

Let me go out on a limb and say the Cowboys finish 9-3. Oklahoma State is a good team, but they can’t ever seem to get over the hurdle. It’s so formulaic: start out the first half of the season undefeated/one loss. Lose a game against the big-time opponent you need to beat. Drop another game you should have won then blame it on injuries. Finish the season losing to Oklahoma and wondering how you missed a chance to play in the Big 12 title game as you get clobbered in the Holiday Bowl.

Sound about right?

Texas (4-3 overall, 2-2 Big 12)

Rather than go off on all the reasons why Texas is underachieving (believe me, there are a lot), I’ll just say this:

Modeling yourself after the way your basketball team failed last season is not a good philosophy.

LSU (7-1 overall, 4-1 SEC)

I guess at some point, LSU was bound to drop a game. I am mildly impressed, though. For as atrocious as the offense has been, their defense has kept them in all of their games. Heck, Les Miles‘ team even had a chance to beat Auburn.  I’m not actually going to go so far as to say that LSU isn’t as good as their 7-1 record indicates, but they definitely weren’t the sixth best team in the country.

SO CLOSE … ALMOST THERE …

Missouri (7-0 overall, 3-0 Big 12)

Hey, Mizzou passed a huuuuuge test beating Oklahoma and I am fully ready to give them credit for that. However, if they can get past Nebraska next week, then I will fully be able to believe them. Remember, beating the ‘Huskers is for Big 12 North supremacy. Win that game and the road to the Big 12 championship gets a little easier.