Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (D.J. Shockley get-well-soon cards sold separately):
They're Not Booing, They're Saying Boo
The Dash is having a huge Halloween party this weekend and is assigning costumes to some guys from the game:
Ghost: Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson (1). His disappearance has been haunting the Sooners.
Zombie: Kentucky coach Rich Brooks (2). Dead man walking the sidelines in Lexington.
Vampire: North Carolina State's Chuck Amato (3). Why else would he wear those ugly sunglasses day and night? (Not to mention the fact that he's helped suck the blood out of donors for major facilities upgrades in Raleigh.)
Werewolf: Ohio State center Nick Mangold (4). Lotta beard, lotta hair.
Mummy: New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme (5).
Spider: Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil (6). Only explanation for his 19 sacks and eight forced fumbles in seven games: He must have eight arms pawing at quarterbacks.
Frankenstein: Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis (7). The crew cut, the square head ... no bolts in the neck that The Dash can see, though.
Two-headed monster: Part Matt Leinart (8). Part Reggie Bush (9). All scary.
Great pumpkin: Phil Fulmer (10).
Boom And Bust Cycles
The Dash has heard from several after-the-fact experts who KNEW that the Big Ten preseason predictions were all wrong; that TCU would be 7-1 -- with a victory over Oklahoma and a loss to SMU; and that Tennessee's offense wouldn't be worth the Alpo they feed Smokey the blue-tick hound (11).
Now, where were you savants in August?
In this typically turbulent year of college football, preseason predictions are now a shambles in late October. Only half of ESPN.com's August Power 16 remain ranked in that poll, and the attrition rate is similar for the major wire-service polls and the preseason magazines.
A quick look at the biggest surprises. For better ...
Alabama (12). The Crimson Tide is 7-0 and ranked fifth in the latest BCS standings.
Who believed: Athlon, which ranked the Crimson Tide 16th preseason.
Who didn't: Sports Illustrated, which ranked the Tide 41st.
What we missed: Seven home games, including four of the first five, and the winning influence of senior quarterback Brodie Croyle. (Favorable schedules and senior QBs are recurring themes throughout the positive surprises.) He's now won his last 10 starts.
What's next: Two easy victories over Utah State and Mississippi State, then some tough sledding. The Tide closes the regular season with LSU and Auburn.
Penn State (13). The Nittany Lions are 7-1 and ranked ninth in the BCS.
Who believed: Phil Steele's College Football Preview, which ranked the Lions 19th.
Who didn't: Athlon, which ranked Penn State 60th.
What we missed: Seven home games, including five of the first six; returning starters all over both lines; and an offense ready to open up under second-year coordinator Galen Hall.
What's next: Purdue at home, then a possible Big Ten title showdown with Wisconsin, then a potentially dangerous season-ending trip to Michigan State.
UCLA (14). The Bruins are 7-0 and ranked sixth in the BCS.
Who believed: Blue Ribbon Yearbook, which ranked UCLA 19th.
Who didn't: The coaches, who voted the Bruins 36th in the USA Today preseason poll.
What we missed: A senior quarterback in Drew Olson (15) and an explosive tailback in Maurice Drew, some playmakers on defense and five of the first six games at home.
What's next: Consecutive road games for the first time (at a revived Stanford, then at Arizona), home against staggering Arizona State and then the possible undefeated vs. undefeated Armageddon game against USC.
Wisconsin (16). The Badgers are 7-1 and ranked 12th in the BCS.
Who believed: The coaches came closest, ranking Wisconsin 30th preseason.
Who didn't: Everybody else. Five magazines and the AP poll all had the Badgers between 40 and 49.
What we missed: A stud transfer running back in Brian Calhoun (17) and some motivation to send out Barry Alvarez the right way.
What's next: Three of the last four are on the road, but only the trip to Happy Valley should be difficult. Home game against Iowa won't be easy, either.
Notre Dame (18). The Fighting Irish are 5-2 and ranked 15th in the BCS.
Who believed: Nobody. Athlon (33rd preseason) and The Sporting News (37th) showed tepid support.
Who didn't: Phil Steele left the Irish out of his top 48.
What we missed: The restorative powers of first-year head coach Charlie Weis, working with an experienced, talented and intelligent quarterback.
What's next: Three straight home games (including Tennessee Nov. 5) and a trip to Stanford. Win out and the Irish are in a BCS bowl.
West Virginia (19). The Mountaineers are 6-1 and ranked 17th in the BCS.
Who believed: Does being ranked 35th by Sporting News count as belief?
Who didn't: Athlon ranked the Mountaineers 56th.
What we missed: A coach, Rich Rodriguez, who could replace every starter at the skill positions and not flinch. And a bad conference.
What's next: Four games in which West Virginia should be solidly favored, then a likely BCS bid.
TCU (20). The Horned Frogs are 7-1 and ranked 18th in the BCS.
Who believed: Sporting News carried the TCU banner (at half mast), ranking the Frogs 53rd.
Who didn't: Everyone. Fifty-nine teams got votes in the first USA Today poll, including Washington (now 1-6), Arizona (1-6) and Duke (1-7). Not a soul put TCU on his ballot.
What we missed: Switching leagues so often has left the Horned Frogs in serially unfamiliar territory. But we should have recognized a coach, Gary Patterson, whose method is firmly established, a senior quarterback and a defense capable of leading the nation in takeaways.
What's next: A possible Mountain West Conference title showdown with Colorado State Nov. 5 in Fort Worth.
Northwestern (21). The Wildcats are 5-2, and less than a minute removed from being the only unbeaten team in the Big Ten.
Who believed: Sports Illustrated was the wild-eyed optimist of the preseason publications, ranking Northwestern 55th.
Who didn't: Like TCU, the Wildcats failed to receive a single preseason mention from either AP or USA Today voters.
What we missed: We undervalued Brett Basanez, a senior quarterback who runs the spread offense like Alex Smith Jr. And we had no idea about Tyrell Sutton (22), a true freshman running back who is fifth in the nation in rushing, was Mr. Football in Ohio and today stands as a major recruiting mistake by Ohio State.
What's next: A rugged three-game run of Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State. Then again, this team already survived a three-game run of Arizona State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
... And for worse:
Purdue (23). The Boilermakers are 2-5 and winless in the Big Ten.
Who was deceived: Phil Steele ranked Purdue No. 3. Ouch.
Who wasn't: Everyone fell for the Boilers. Closest things to cynics were Blue Ribbon and Sporting News, both of which ranked them 17th.
What we missed: Too many people were seduced by the no-Ohio-State, no-Michigan schedule. And nobody could have predicted the wholesale capitulation of a defense returning all 11 starters.
What's next: Trip to Penn State Sunday should officially terminate bowl aspirations.
Oklahoma (24). The Sooners are 4-3 and fortunate to be that good, holding off Tulsa and escaping Baylor in overtime -- both at home.
Who was deceived: Street & Smith's and Athlon had the Sooners No. 4 preseason.
Who wasn't: OU was a universal Top 10 team. ESPN.com's Power 16 rated it lowest at 10th.
What we missed: The holes in the offensive line, the unpreparedness of redshirt freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar (25) and the deficiencies in the secondary.
What's next: Next three opponents all have winning records, and two are on the road. It could get worse before it gets better.
Tennessee (26). The Volunteers are 3-3 and haven't scored a first-half point since Oct. 1.
Who was deceived: Athlon and Sporting News both picked the Vols No. 2.
Who wasn't: Phil Steele had Tennessee 15th.
What we missed: Who knew Phil Fulmer would spin the quarterback merry-go-round so fast that his team threw up? Or that the offensive line would be crippled by early injuries? We do know this: Fulmer without a solid offensive line is like the supermarket mags without Jennifer, Vince, Brad and Angelina: lost.
What's next: After hosting Steve Spurrier and visiting Touchdown Jesus, the Vols commence their Season Reclamation Tour (Memphis, Vanderbilt, Kentucky).
Iowa (27). The Hawkeyes are 5-3, with the five victories coming against teams with an average ranking of 97th from Jeff Sagarin's computer.
Who was deceived: Athlon ranked Iowa third.
Who wasn't: Lindy's ranked the Hawks 15th.
What we missed: Problems in the secondary, and an offense that hasn't scored a second-half touchdown in any of Iowa's three defeats.
What's next: An off week, followed by games at Northwestern and Wisconsin and a home finale against Minnesota. Could go 3-0, 0-3 or anywhere in between.
Louisville (28). The Cardinals are 5-2, the record smudged by a 31-point loss to South Florida and coughing up a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to West Virginia.
Who was deceived: Phil Steele looked at the marshmallow schedule and ranked the Cards fourth.
Who wasn't: Sporting News looked at the upgrade to the Big East and ranked the Cards 19th.
What we missed: A program not yet mature enough to overcome the loss of six NFL draft picks, and a defense that lacks soundness at critical times.
What's next: Three straight home games -- where Louisville has averaged 64 points per game -- and a closing contest at UConn.
Coach Who Earned His Comp Car This Week
Steve Kragthorpe (29), who is proving that coaching at Tulsa is not a death sentence. He's 17-16 at the school in two-plus seasons -- and although that might not sound dazzling, consider that the Golden Hurricane was 2-21 the two years before Kragthorpe got there. Tulsa has handled the upgrade to Conference USA just fine, standing 5-3 overall and 4-1 in league play -- including a win at Southern Miss and at home over Memphis. Kragthorpe's work is no mystery in the college ranks, which means a job upgrade could be coming within the next couple years.
Coach Who Should Take The Bus To Work
Kirk Ferentz (30) of Iowa, who went conservative at the end of regulation against Michigan and paid for it. Down three in the final minute, he refused to make a good-faith effort at a touchdown, going with timid play-calling and game management in the red zone (a handoff and a shovel pass, and a refusal to call a timeout until two seconds remained). When the Hawkeyes lost in overtime, they had to wonder why their coach wouldn't play to win in regulation.
Guys In Need Of More Pub, The Final Chapter
The Dash was being fed grapes by groupie Eva Herzigova (31) the other day when she said she wanted to be cut in on the All-Underappreciated Team nominations. We gave Eva special teams. She gave The Dash the following names:
John Deraney (32), punter/place kicker, North Carolina State. Handles all three kicking duties for the Wolfpack, hitting nine of 10 field goals, 100 percent of his PATs, averaging 40.9 yards per punt and kicking off. Eighteen of his 30 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks, and 19 of his 35 punts have been downed inside opponents' 20-yard line.
Ryan Plackemeier (33), punter, Wake Forest. He's second in the nation in punting average at more than 46 yards per kick, which is good. His hang time helps the Demon Deacons lead the nation in net punting at 40.6 yards per kick, which is even better. He jacked an 82-yard kick against NC State last week.
Brandon Williams (34), kick returner/wide receiver, Wisconsin. He's fourth in the nation in punt returns at 17.2 yards per return, with two touchdowns. And he's sixth in the nation in kickoff returns at 31 yards per runback.
Stephen Gostkowski (35), kicker, Memphis. The nation's leading active scorer among kickers with 319 points. He'd made 11 straight field goals until a wobbly stretch the last two games, and he's 57-of-79 for his career.
Anthony Smith (36), Syracuse. His six career blocked kicks are an Orange record.
Putting Out An APB For ...
... Lindsay Scott (37), the former Georgia wide receiver and hero of the 1980 Cocktail Party game against Florida. The Bulldogs' undefeated season looked as though it was going to end against the Gators before Scott took a Buck Belue pass 93 electrifying yards for the winning touchdown, prompting legendary Georgia radio man Larry Munson (38) to simply bark, "Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!" The 'Dogs went on to win the national title. Anyone with information on Scott's whereabouts, please apprise The Dash.
The Dash is pleased to report that last week's APB subject, eternal Alabama running back Major Ogilvie, is alive and well and living in his hometown of Birmingham. The Major works as an executive at Block USA, a company owned by Bear Bryant's son, Paul Jr., and watches his three kids play sports of all kinds. His son, Morgan, is a quarterback at dad's alma mater, Mountain Brook High School.
Morgan has some work to do to match his dad's career. In his final two years at Mountain Brook and four years at Alabama, he was on the losing side in four football games. That included playing on two national championship teams under Bear Bryant.
Asked what playing for Bryant was like, Ogilvie said, "I've never been able to come up with what I consider an adequate answer. Next to my father, he had the greatest impact on me. Fifty times a day, things I learned under Coach Bryant can be applied today. At times I use his exact words."
One legacy from his early years at Alabama cannot be handed down: the tearaway jerseys that all the Crimson Tide running backs wore. Ogilvie seemed to be forever slashing through defenses with one shoulder pad flapping, after his jersey was shredded by frustrated tacklers.
"The first couple of years we packed them [extra tearaways] in the back of our linemen's pants, the guards and tackles," Ogilvie said. "We'd put on a new one in the huddle. Then they made the rule that you had to come out [of the game] to change jerseys, and that kind of stopped it."
When hungry and thirsty in the beyond-cool city of Austin, Texas, The Dash highly recommends the smoked ribeye and Mexican martini at El Arroyo (39). For general nightlife, it's hard to beat the scene on Sixth Street, unless it's the clubs on Fourth. And when you need to watch sports, grab a booth at Ringers (40) and check the array of plasma screens.
Funny thing last Saturday night: 95 percent of the TVs were tuned to the World Series (where the Texas fans were dying with the Astros). But when Baylor took Oklahoma into overtime, they emotionally switched off the baseball to cheer lustily for the Bears and, more honestly, against the hated Sooners.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.