If you can’t be a contender, you might as well be a spoiler.
California and Georgia, winding their ways through mediocre seasons, can jolt the national title chase and give fans of No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Boise State a huge gift on Saturday.
The Golden Bears (5-4) host No. 1 Oregon. The Bulldogs (5-5) are at No. 2 Auburn.
Oddsmakers are expecting the Tigers to have tougher time than the Ducks. Auburn is favored by 8½ at home against Georgia (5-5). Maybe the guys in Las Vegas think Cam Newton and the Tigers will be distracted by reports that the star quarterback’s recruitment has drawn at least some attention from the NCAA.
The Ducks are 19½-point favorites at a stadium where they have lost three straight games.
Oregon and Auburn also hold the top two spots in the BCS standings. It’s become apparent that no matter how much winning TCU and Boise State do, they need the Ducks or Tigers to lose to have a shot at playing for the national championship.
No. 1 in the AP poll has been beaten twice this season — South Carolina knocked off Alabama and Wisconsin beat Ohio State. Oklahoma was in first-place in the BCS when it lost to Missouri.
Yes, they were all upsets, but all those top-ranked teams lost on the road to ranked opponents. The last time the No. 1 team in the AP poll lost to an unranked team was Sept. 25, 2008, when Oregon State upset Southern California.
You’d have to go back to 2007 to find the last time an unranked team beat No. 1 in November. That wild season it happened twice, when Illinois beat top-ranked Ohio State on Nov. 11 and Arkansas beat LSU on Nov. 23.
Illinois and Arkansas each had seven victories at the time of their big wins. The Illini ended up in the Rose Bowl that season and Arkansas went to the Cotton Bowl.
To find an upset that would be more akin to California knocking off Oregon, turn back to 2002. Oklahoma was No. 1 on Nov. 9 when it went to College Station, Texas, and lost 30-26 to a Texas A&M team that was 5-5.
As for No. 2 losing to an unranked team, the last time was in 2007, when it happened on five separate occasions.
No. 4 Boise State (34½) at Idaho — Don’t for a second think that everyone in Idaho loves the Broncos ... BOISE STATE 45-14.
No. 1 Oregon (19½) at California — Ducks had three points with 5 minutes left in first half last week, ended up with 53 ... OREGON 45-31.
Georgia (8½) at No. 2 Auburn — Will Newton and Tigers be distracted — or angry? ... AUBURN 38-21.
San Diego State (plus 26½) at No. 3 TCU — Aztecs have second-best offense, third-ranked defense in Mountain West ... TCU 41-10.
Louisiana-Monroe (plus 32½) at No. 5 LSU — Does Les Miles only graze during big games? ... LSU 48-10.
Indiana (plus 21) at No. 6 Wisconsin — Badgers have won five straight meetings ... WISCONSIN 45-17.
No. 7 Stanford (minus 5½) at Arizona State — Andrew Luck making late push to be Heisman finalist ... STANFORD 38-14.
Penn State (plus 17½) at No. 8 Ohio State — JoePa goes for two straight in Columbus; only one team has done that during Tressel era ... OHIO STATE 34-14.
Kansas (plus 35) at No. 9 Nebraska — QB Taylor Martinez should be back for Cornhuskers ... NEBRASKA 50-10.
No. 17 Mississippi State (plus 13½) at No. 11 Alabama — Bulldogs’ Dan Mullen leads SEC coach of the year race ... ALABAMA 28-17.
No. 12 Oklahoma State (minus 6) at Texas — Can Longhorns really be this bad? ... OKLAHOMA STATE 38-24.
No. 13 Iowa (minus 10½) at Northwestern — Wildcats handed Hawkeyes first loss last season ... IOWA 34-17.
UTEP (plus 28½) at No. 14 Arkansas — Teams have met once. In 1989, Razorbacks won 39-7 ... ARKANSAS 39-7.
No. 15 Utah (minus 5½) at Notre Dame — Another first-time visitor gets to celebrate on Irish turf ... UTAH 31-14.
No. 16 Virginia Tech (minus 3½) at North Carolina — Tech’s Tyrod Taylor, Tar Heels’ Tyler Yates are top passers in ACC ... VIRGINIA TECH 28-24.
Southern California (plus 4) at No. 18 Arizona — Wildcats snapped seven-game skid to Trojans last year ... ARIZONA 38-31.
Texas Tech (plus 15) at No. 19 Oklahoma — Norman sweet Norman for Sooners ... OKLAHOMA 42-21.
Kansas State (plus 13) at No. 20 Missouri — Wildcats will have to complete more than two passes to win this week ... MISSOURI 28-14.
No. 21 Nevada (minus 8½) at Fresno State — Wolf Pack’s offense had 844 yards last week ... NEVADA 42-35.
No. 22 South Carolina (plus 6½) at No. 25 Florida — Gators trying to reach third straight SEC title game, Gamecocks trying for first ... SOUTH CAROLINA 24-20.
No. 23 Texas A&M (minus 3) at Baylor — Aggies playing some defense again, rank third in Big 12 ... BAYLOR 34-28.
Southern Miss (plus 9) at No. 25 UCF — Knights’ first game as ranked team ... UCF 31-24.
Last week: 13-5 (straight); 7-10 (vs. points).
Season: 137-43 (straight); 85-88-3 (vs. points).
Best bets: 3-3. Upset specials: 3-3.