It’s been a tough two weeks for the West Virginia University football team. First, the Mountaineers lost all credibility as a national-title heavyweight by being embarrassed by Big 12 middleweight Texas Tech. OK, that was bad, but not entirely unexpected. Holes in the WVU defense made the squad vulnerable to a pass-happy team with a veteran quarterback playing before its home crowd.

But the latest blow … it’s kind of a crushing one. Remember that lead-pipe lock of a Heisman Trophy for Mountaineers senior Geno Smith, the one that you just had to bequeath to him no matter what the scoreboard said because of the eye-popping and mind-bending numbers he consistently put up? Yeah? Um, well … forget about it – because it’s gone, probably for good.

When you throw two picks, throw for half the amount of yards you usually do, get drastically outplayed by the other team’s QB – who, by the way, also happens to have Heisman aspirations – and your team gets waffled 55-14, at home no less, well, kiss that trophy good-bye. It doesn’t matter how truly legit Smith’s campaign was – and it was most certainly legit. He’s just dropped like a rock lately.

From surefire victor three weeks ago, Smith has gone to the outside looking in now as fellow signal-callers AJ McCarron of Alabama and Kansas State’s Collin Klein, the orchestrator of the Wildcats’ whipping of WVU in Morgantown on Saturday, zoomed past him on the QB-rating chart. As did Baylor’s Nike Florence.

Put it this way, while others’ stock has been rising since October started, Smith’s is sinking quickly as the calendar prepares to flip to November.

Right now, McCarron and Klein should top every list, due to being outstanding players and leaders of their respective unbeaten squads, both rated among the country’s top three in the latest BCS poll. Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller, a true dual-threat QB, should be up there, too, but sanctions against the Buckeyes will put a damper on how he’s viewed and, frankly, he faces a much tougher challenge this week against vastly underrated Penn State than he has all season.

Oregon RB Kenjon Barner and Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o also rank up there, being the best players on teams in the top five of the BCS.


- Can we chill out on this Florida domination of South Carolina silliness? The Gators benefitted from sloppy ballhandling by the Gamecocks en route to posting a 44-11 victory. The score is as deceiving as any you’ll find this season. Though hardly dynamic in moving the ball, Carolina’s offense was more successful at doing so than Florida’s attack all night long, and finished with more total yards, 191-183. The Gamecocks turned the ball over four times while the Gators never coughed it up. Honestly, what was so impressive about the win, other than the misleading score?

- Truth be told, the BCS poll does seem off-kilter if you go by the eye test. Florida, which checks in at No. 2, has not looked nearly as good as No. 3 Oregon. Granted, playing in the SEC demands some special consideration, but the Ducks are hardly some newbie with no backbone. They’re been through the wars. They play in the second-best conference (Pac-12). Frankly, a case could be made that they’ve looked better than top-ranked Alabama. Their overall team speed, improved defense and senior RB Kenjon Barner make them legit title contenders.

- Temple, clearly, isn’t ready for the big time, as evidenced by its “roll over, play dead and actually be dead” act against Big East foe Rutgers in the second half of a 35-10 loss. The Owls led 10-0 at the break and probably should have been up double that against the nation’s 15th-ranked squad. As soon as the Scarlet Knights scored on the first of four Gary Nova TD passes to complete the opening possession of the third quarter, though, the tide completely shifted. Would be nice if Temple figured out how to utilize the talent it has on offense.

- Mississippi State has rolled to a 7-0 start and finally gets the chance to show whether it is legit or not, really, for the first time this coming Saturday … Against ’Bama … At Bryant-Denny Stadium, no less. Yeesh. Well, at least the Bulldogs get a breather the following two weeks, facing No. 20 Texas A&M and then traveling to No. 6 LSU. Gotta love the SEC.