There was no bigger winner yesterday than Steve Spurrier, who has to be considered the favorite for national coach of the year honors. The general belief before the year was that Spurrier would likely win four, maybe five, games during his first season at South Carolina. His team now has seven victories, including five in a row against Southeastern Conference opponents. Does it get any better for Spurrier than to beat his alma mater, Florida, the team that he led to glory as coach throughout the 1990s? Spurrier has repeatedly said he wanted to beat one of the big three SEC East schools -- Georgia, Tennessee and Florida -- this year. He wound up beating two and nearly defeated Georgia as well. The Gamecocks lost to the Bulldogs, 17-15, on Sept. 10.


Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez's home finale was ruined yesterday by Iowa, which came back to beat the Badgers. Alvarez will retire from coaching after this season but remain the school's athletic director. Alvarez's impact on the football program shouldn't be overlooked. Before Alvarez came to Wisconsin, crowds of less than 30,000 fans were typical at Camp Randall Stadium. Yesterday, a record 83,184 fans were on hand. . . . Those who watched the Southern California-California game in its entirety lost. The best game of consequence was Alabama-Louisiana State. The game that displayed the most awe-inspiring play was Texas-Kansas. And the game that provided the most fascinating subplot was Florida-South Carolina. This was the topic of conversation that persisted in the press box at the Cal-USC game among reporters who may have wished they were covering a different game.

Spinning Ahead

It's almost official. All the school presidents and Bowl Championship Series supporters can rejoice because Alabama is out of the way. Only two undefeated teams remain, and both figure to stay unbeaten until the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4. If you think Texas A&M, one of the nation's most disappointing teams, truly has a chance against Texas on Nov. 25, think again. And don't expect anyone in the inferior Big 12 North Division to put up much of a fight in the conference title game. As for USC, maybe it's time for Fresno State to get back at the BCS. How? The Bulldogs could cause havoc with the national title picture by upsetting USC next week. That would send analysts into a tizzy debating which one-loss team deserves to be in the Rose Bowl against Texas. If mid-major programs such as Fresno State want to get back at a system that seems stacked against them, the best way would be to shake it up.

Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez ends his last home game with a loss against Iowa.