Yesterday's Winners

Group Laurence Maroney with other strong Heisman Trophy hopefuls Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Vince Young. En route to a career-high 217 yards, the Minnesota running back rushed for more yards in the first minute against Purdue than the Boilermakers had given up in two previous games combined. . . . Michigan State avoided a bad loss, something that plagued the Spartans last season when they lost to Rutgers and Hawaii. This year, the Spartans followed a dramatic overtime victory against Notre Dame by scoring 61 points against Illinois in their Big Ten opener. Maybe the new Harris Interactive Poll, which will be released today for the first time, will be based more on results than the Associated Press and USA Today polls, both of which had Notre Dame ranked ahead of Michigan State.

Yesterday's Losers

Two of the nation's most high-powered offenses -- Louisville and Southern California -- kicked off around the same time last night, but their opponents jumped out to a combined 34-0 lead. The Cardinals obviously were the biggest losers of the day, and perhaps of the season, by shockingly dropping their Big East debut. . . . Was there a more overrated team than Iowa? The Hawkeyes, projected by some as a top five team, have been noncompetitive in their biggest games, defeats at Iowa State and Ohio State. . . . The number of tornadoes spotted in central Mississippi yesterday matched the number of major college football games played in the state -- two.

Spinning Ahead

Louisville's loss to South Florida virtually ensured that the two teams that will compete in the national title game will come out of one of the five major conferences -- not the Big East -- or hail from South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame (3-1) still has a shot if it somehow beats Purdue, USC and Tennessee. . . . Come-from-behind victories by Minnesota and Penn State guaranteed that next Saturday's matchup between the two schools will be viewed as the national game of the week, perhaps along with Florida at Alabama, another surprisingly undefeated school. When was the last time Penn State or Alabama were involved in the biggest game of the week?

Laurence Maroney