Hats off to three traditional powers that took significant steps toward reemerging among the elite. Alabama, Penn State and Nebraska might all be ranked when the polls are released today. Nebraska established itself as a favorite to win the Big 12 North by beating Iowa State in overtime. Second-year coach Bill Callahan has been under considerable pressure after scrapping the option offense for the West Coast attack. He'll have a good week. As for Penn State, the Nittany Lions remained on top of the Big Ten standings with an offense that hardly resembles the one from last season in Happy Valley. Remember, Penn State lost to Iowa, 6-4, last year. The confidence of the standout freshmen, Derrick Williams and Justin King, has become contagious. . . . Idaho (1-4) beat Utah State, so the Vandals might receive even more votes in the Harris Interactive Poll.


It was a bad day for Florida fans as well as old-school Florida fans. Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team got rocked by Auburn, and the Gators looked lost against Alabama. It seemed like Urban Meyer's spread-option offense was starting to click when Florida pounded Kentucky last week. Yesterday, Gators quarterback Chris Leak was sacked four times and started out very poorly against an Alabama defense with a particularly strong linebacking corps. Star wide receiver Chad Jackson picked up only 49 yards. Meyer had been concerned about his offensive line play; now we know why. . . . Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, neither Mississippi school could earn a signature victory against Tennessee and LSU, which both seemed vulnerable after playing a highly emotional game Monday night. . . . The fans who watched last week's thrilling Minnesota-Purdue game lost. The Golden Gophers were thoroughly outplayed yesterday and the Boilermakers lost to Notre Dame, 49-28.

Spinning Ahead

Each week seemingly brings more anxiety for Southern California, the so-called greatest team of the century. USC fell behind Arizona State 21-3, the Trojans' largest deficit during their 26-game winning streak. Early on, the game looked a lot like the Sun Devils' 1996 upset of two-time defending national champion Nebraska. But the Trojans, for the second consecutive week, found a way to outscore an opponent in the second half. The Oct. 15 USC-Notre Dame game has become even more enticing with USC vulnerable and Notre Dame's offense capable of moving the ball often against the Trojans. . . . Alabama could be headed to the SEC title game. The Crimson Tide gets its two toughest remaining games -- Tennessee and LSU -- in Tuscaloosa.