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CONFERENCE SCORECARD

Amid debate over which conferences are strongest, our USF blog (blogs.tampabay.com/usf) will track interconference matchups among BCS conference schools this season. The SEC took the early lead Thursday night with South Carolina's 7-3 victory over North Carolina State of the ACC. There are 49 more games between BCS league teams this season. Each week, we'll review the results of those games and preview the next week's. Among the 50, 32 come this month, including USF against FSU on Sept. 26. The breakdown:

Conference......Teams......Games

ACC..................12...........20

Big East.............8............16

Big Ten.............11..........14

Big 12...............12..........11

Pac-10.............10...........15

SEC...................12..........14

Notre Dame.......1...........10

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Five things

1. Tennessee SEric Berry needs 15 yards to set the career NCAA interception return-yardage record. He holds the SEC record with 487 return yards on 12 interceptions.

2. Kentucky enters today's opener against Miami (Ohio) in Cincinnati with a 14-game nonconference winning streak, the second-longest in the nation. UK's last nonconference loss was against Louisville in 2006.

3. Former Navy fighter pilot and Ohio native John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and wifeAnnie will dot the "i" today when Ohio State hosts Navy. Only a handful of nonband members have dotted the "i," including comedian Bob Hope and legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes.

4. Wisconsin'sCurt Phillips is expected to play early against Northern Illinois as a redshirt freshman. Its last freshman QB to see action in the first half of a season opener was Brooks Bollinger in 1999.

5. Missouri has opened the past two seasons with high-scoring victories over Illinois, 52-42 and 40-34. Coach Gary Pinkel insists he has no idea if this year's game, against Illinois in St. Louis, will be the same but knows it will be intense. "It's like a bowl game at the beginning of the year," he said.

* * *

Quotable

"It's great for fans, bad for coaches, maybe, for getting sleep and feeling good about things."

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen on his team hosting five teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, including top-ranked Florida, where Mullen was an assistant last season

* * *

Heisman race? Already?

The Los Angeles Times' Chris Dufresne handicaps this year's Heisman Trophy race. His top three contenders:

1. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: The senior has to be considered the preseason favorite because of his astounding body of work and the other top candidates, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow, already have won Heismans.

Why he'll win: It's his turn.

Why he won't: Tebow puts up huge numbers for a Florida team that doesn't lose.

2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: The senior returns for his last season with a chance to win his third BCS title and second Heisman Trophy and etch his name among college football's most acclaimed players. Tebow won the Heisman in 2007, the only season the Gators didn't win the national title since he has been in Gainesville. Tebow's career numbers: 67 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 2,037 rushing yards, 43 touchdowns.

Why he'll win: Did you take a look at those career numbers?

Why he won't: Florida doesn't cover the "spread" against Charleston Southern and/or loses to Mississippi State.

3. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma: Had he declared, the junior was a cinch top-five pick after aseason in which he threw 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. A loss to Florida in the BCS title game should provide plenty of motivation for Bradford and an Oklahoma program that has lost five consecutive BCS bowl games.

Why he'll win: Florida loses at least once, Bradford has an off-the-charts day in a win over Texas and he ends up with 50 touchdowns again.

Why he won't: The loss of four starting offensive linemen means Bradford can't come close to matching last season's numbers.

Information from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

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