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College football gameday: A look at the Saturday ahead

A look at this week's college football scene.

Coaches at Minnesota and North Texas already have been fired. Six others on the hot seat:

Dan Hawkins, COLORADO: In his fifth season, he is 19-37. The Buffaloes are 3-4 overall, 0-3 in the Big 12 heading to Oklahoma this week, and the season finishes at Nebraska.

Paul Wulff, WASHINGTON STate: In his third season, he is 4-28. At 1-7 with no victories against Division I-A teams this season, it might be hard to sell the fact that the Cougars are improving.

Mike Locksley, New Mexico: In his second season, he is 1-18. Locksley was suspended last season and embarrassed the program when it was learned that he hit an assistant coach during an argument. Add that to the Lobos' terrible play: They are 117th in scoring and 120th (last in I-A) in scoring defense.

Rich Rodriguez, MICHIGAN: In his third season, he is 13-18. Lingering NCAA issues could factor into this situation. The Wolverines are 5-2 and it would seem that three more victories would make Rodriguez a lock to return, barring some sort of devastating sanctions handed down by the NCAA. Problem is this season is starting to feel a bit like last season, when Michigan started 4-0 and ended up 5-7 with one Big Ten victory. Today's game at Penn State is big.

Bill Lynch, Indiana: He is 18-26 in his fourth season. Lynch took over after Terry Hoeppner died in June 2007 and led the team to a bowl game. For that, Lynch earned the right to have a couple of years to keep the program moving in the right direction. The Hoosiers are 4-3, but all their wins have come against teams with losing records. Two more victories and a bowl bid at a basketball school might get Lynch another season.

Dennis Erickson, Arizona State: In his fourth season, he is 22-22. The Sun Devils went 10-3 in Erickson's first season and haven't been back to a bowl since. Arizona State's 3-4 record this season includes two victories against Division I-AA teams. Another factor: The Sun Devils may not be expecting Erickson, at 63, to stick around much longer anyway.

Five things

1. This is the third consecutive season that South Carolina is 5-2. The Gamecocks finished 7-6 a year ago and in 2008. In 2007, they started 6-1 before losing their last five. The No. 17 Gamecocks have Tennessee, Arkansas and Troy at home, Florida and Clemson on the road.

2. The last time Baylor played Texas when the Bears were ranked and the Longhorns weren't was Nov. 22, 1986. The Bears won that one at home 18-13. The No. 25 Bears (6-2) are in the Top 25 for the first time in 17 years. They haven't been to a bowl since 1994 and haven't beaten Texas since 1997.

3. Michigan State (8-0) hasn't won in Iowa City since 1989. If the No. 5 Spartans beat the No. 18 Hawkeyes today, the path to 12-0 is possible. The Spartans next host Minnesota and Purdue and close out the season at Penn State, a team that just isn't as good as it has been in the past.

4. Air Force (5-3) enters its game against No. 8 Utah (7-0) with the top rushing attack in Division I-A, averaging nearly 327 yards.

5. South Carolina has only beaten Tennessee three times, twice with Steve Spurrier as coach and the other to his benefit. In 1992 Spurrier's Gators had to have outside help to win the SEC East, and the Gamecocks, in their first season as SEC members, obliged with a 24-23 upset of the No. 16 Vols. The wins under Spurrier came in 2005, his debut season with S.C., and in 2008.

Quotable

"The Tampa 2 (defense) isn't exactly what you shut down the triple option with. That's for a whole different deal."

Monte Kiffin, Southern Cal defensive coordinator, above, and formerly of the Bucs, on his defense's adjustments for Oregon's spread attack

No easy path

Oregon sits atop the Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in the BCS ranking, but the road to a BCS title game holds much peril:

• Today, at Southern Cal. The Trojans had been the Pac-10's dominant team, winning seven consecutive conference titles heading into last season. Oregon ended that run last Halloween in a 47-20 rout at Autzen Stadium. The No. 24 Trojans would love to return the title-ending favor.

• Nov. 6, vs. Washington. The Huskies have been inconsistent this season, and Washington's defense will likely have a hard time matching up with the Ducks, but QB Jake Locker has the arm and legs to keep the Huskies in the game.

• Nov. 13, at California. The Bears have made Washington seem consistent with their up-and-down season. Catch the Bears on one of their good days and the Ducks could be in for a shootout.

• Nov. 26, vs. No. 15 Arizona. The Wildcats have an explosive offense led by the nation's most accurate passer, Nick Foles, and an athletic, game plan-altering backup QB in Matt Scott. The defense, once the side holding Arizona back, has caught up to the offense and keyed Arizona's rise in the polls this season.

• Dec. 4, at Oregon State. The Civil War is always a tough game. The Beavers have extra motivation against Oregon after the Ducks prevented their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1965 with a win in Eugene last season.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

College football gameday: A look at the Saturday ahead 10/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 9:51pm]

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