Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh is clear in explaining the importance of the Cardinal’s game at Oregon, ranked No. 4 by the AP, so clear that even we at Top 10 Topics can understand it. “As one of the great philosophers of the 20th century, Ric Flair, would say, ‘If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man,’ ” Harbaugh said, forgetting to add Flair’s trademark “Woooo! at the end of the sentence. Ninth-ranked Stanford is seeking its first 5-0 start since the Truman administration, or seemingly around the time Flair started wrestling professionally.
3. Lovin’ the Swoosh
The Cardinal-Ducks game also could be called the Phil Knight Bowl. The chairman of Nike graduated from Oregon and received his master’s degree from Stanford. Published reports say Knight has donated more than $300 million to the Ducks’ athletic department, and more than $100 million to the business school at Stanford. So would Harbaugh like a few million to trickle to his side of campus? “As long as we’ve got good shoes and quality equipment and maybe a grease board to do diagrams, we’re good,” Harbaugh said in the San Jose Mercury News.
4. Pryor the passer
For all of you who think Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor is all legs and no arm, here are the statistics through four games: 66 percent completion rate, 10 touchdowns, two interceptions. “I’m very comfortable standing in the pocket,” Pryor said this week. “I was very young last year and even my freshman year, so I obviously wasn’t going to really, really stand there.” Pryor gets his first taste of Big Ten play, not to mention his initial road game of the season, when the second-ranked Buckeyes take on Illinois.
It seems as if that Sooner Schooner is squeaking a little bit. Oklahoma is 4-0 and No. 8 in AP rankings heading into its game against archrival Texas, but it has won three contests by less than a touchdown, including last week’s 31-29 victory at Cincinnati.
The Sooners have led each of their opponents by at least 15 points but have maintained that control only once, a 47-17 win over Florida State. They have been outscored 41-10 in the fourth quarter. Even though the 21st-ranked Longhorns are reeling from last week’s upset loss to UCLA, they have defeated Oklahoma four of the last five years.
6. Better late than never
The opposite of the Sooners is the Auburn Tigers, who are unbeaten despite having trailed Clemson by 17 points and South Carolina by 13 in the first half the last two weeks. At least the No. 10 Tigers can be proud of their second-half efforts – a 21-point third quarter against Clemson and four takeaways in the final quarter against the Gamecocks. They’ll have a tune-up against Louisiana-Monroe before a game at Kentucky and back-to-back ranked foes in Arkansas and LSU.
7. Out of step
The mess at North Carolina keeps spreading, and it could end up costing head coach Bruce Davis his job. After the latest news, that former associate head coach John Blake received payments and a credit card from sports agent Gary Wichard while Blake worked for the Tar Heels, Davis said he would not resign. “I mean, as the head football coach, you’d like to think you would know,” he said in the Raleigh News & Observer. “But the answer . . . is I did not know” about Blake’s misdeeds. The NCAA is investigating the UNC program for violations related to agents.
8. Quietly rolling
When discussing the best ACC quarterbacks before the season, the name of North Carolina State junior Russell Wilson was mysteriously absent. Now, however, Wilson is showing the experts what they’ve missed as he has led the Wolfpack to a 4-0 start and a No. 23 national ranking. Wilson is second in the nation with 11 touchdown passes going into Saturday’s game at home against Virginia Tech. And maybe he’ll gain for his team a little respect; the Wolfpack are underdogs at home to the unranked Hokies.
9. Heartwarming tale
Kudos to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio on his return for Saturday’s game against Wisconsin just two weeks after suffering a mild heart attack after beating Notre Dame on a fake field goal in overtime.
The play of the No. 24 Spartans (4-0) has boosted his spirits in some areas, such as the fact they’ve rushed for more than 200 yards in every game. But it also can cause stress, especially when Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien tests a secondary that has allowed more than 252 yards per game through the air. As for the 54-year-old Dantonio, his diet has changed. “Wings on Monday at lunch are out,” he said.
10. Salute the (future) troops
Do you know that the three service academies that play FBS football are a combined 8-3 thus far, their best record this far into the season since 1996? Navy begins its drive for an eighth straight Commander-in-Chief Trophy when it travels to Air Force. The Mids (2-1) have defeated the Falcons (3-1) and Army (3-1) a combined 15 in a row, but these games are never easy.
In their seven-game winning streak over Air Force, they have an average victory margin of 5.7 points, counting a field goal in overtime last season. The quarterbacks in Saturday’s game – Navy’s Ricky Dobbs, the Falcons’ Tim Jefferson – are both from the Atlanta area.