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Coaches getting juiced up on chips
By Jack Arute
Special to

Happy Valley isn't so happy this week.

But before anyone buries Penn State, could it be that Toledo and the MAC are a bit better than people think? The last I checked, Marshall has done a pretty good job out of conference and so has Toledo. We will know more about the MAC this weekend when the Thundering Herd tackle the Michigan State Spartans.

But this column is supposed to focus on the BCS and while those all-important BCS numbers are more than a month away, Alabama is already wondering what it can do to get back into the hunt.

Computer age
In a recent column, I made light of the need for football staffs having a computer guru, but it is becoming more and more important. There are teams out there that scrutinize the Internet. They do it for a number of reasons: For one, the Internet has become a terrific recruiting tool (a terrific place to scan for recruits). Coaches have also been known to assign graduate assistants to surf the Net and check opponents' Web sites, fan message boards and any and all locations that might have fact or rumors concerning teams they will play.

Some very forward-thinking coaching staffs have already gone so far as to develop BCS projections. This is certainly a black art, but if hackers can close the Pentagon, they can certainly crack the mysterious BCS codes.

This computer concentration parallels one's season. Right now, it's all speculative. Factoring a Twinkie opponent's strength-of-schedule has a wide margin of error, but keyboards are singing across college campuses.

This weekend's games
  • Marques Tuiasosopo
    Miami's defense will have to contend with Marques Tuiasosopo.
    This week's transcontinental contest pits the No. 4 Miami Hurricanes against the No. 15 Washington Huskies. Short of playing Hawaii, there is no longer plane ride in the NCAA. Miami's defense will have to bring it's A game to contain Marques Tuiasosopo.

    Washington prides itself in two things: junkyard dog defense and "not in our house." They will have to practice both to come out on top.

  • The game under the Golden Dome has added significance considering Notre Dame's defeat of Texas A&M. The Irish will come back to Earth when Nebraska's 350-pound corn-fed linemen hit them. Notre Dame is better than most people think, but the Irish are not Nebraska.

    Battle vs. Crouch? Advantage Nebraska. Notre Dame offense vs. Nebraska defense? Advantage Nebraska. Home vs. away? Advantage Notre Dame. Any questions?

  • No. 2 Florida State rides into Atlanta feeling like General Sherman. Before Georgia Tech battled back against Central Florida, it looked like the Seminoles' game against the Yellow Jackets would be a lost scene from Gone with the Wind. Last year's Tech game in Tallahassee was the coming-out party for Joe Hamilton. George Godsey will need more than a coming-out party against FSU's defense. It's a good thing that this game is early. Mickey Andrews' FSU defense is still trying to find its personality.

    But the Seminoles' offense will use this game to polish its performance. Look for a big day from Chris Weinke and his offensive teammates.

  • It is difficult to get totally pumped up about the season while we still play out of conference "pastry games." If last week was Twinkie Saturday for many, like Texas and its "Battle of the Ages" against Louisiana-Lafayette (now there's a football powerhouse), this should be Cupcake Saturday. I can't wait for conference play to start and the accompanying steak-and-potatoes competition.

  • My Top Ten is coming at the end of the September. Polls at this time of year are just an exercise in futility.

    Jack Arute writes a column every Monday for

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