It’s getting to be put up or shut up time in college football. Some teams are running out of space to win a championship, others running out of space to save a season.
Both are represented in this week’s Tense 10 — 10 games with something to be proven.
1. Stanford at USC: The Trojans are unranked with a 7-3 record, and that has only happened six other times in history. But then, how good can you be if your coach gets canned? Still, USC has shown considerable signs of life, especially on defense, and suddenly is a genuine threat against a Stanford team that has the Rose Bowl on its mind.
2. Michigan State at Nebraska: One minute, Bo Pelini is fighting for his job at Nebraska. The next, if the Cornhuskers win this game, he’s in the car pool lane to Indianapolis and the Big Ten championship game. If the Spartans win, the Legends Division is nearly in the bag. But they’ll have to do something about that 0-7 all-time record against Nebraska.
3. Michigan at Northwestern: It can’t get much worse for either, but it will for one. The Wolverines have lost three of their last four games and — somewhere Bo Schembechler must be scowling — has minus-69 yards rushing the past two games. Northwestern has dropped five in a row. Without a speedy recovery, the Wildcats will collapse from a 4-0 start and top 25 ranking to not even playing in a bowl.
4. Florida at South Carolina: Will Muschamp needs some good news fast, before he becomes as unpopular in Florida as frost on the orange crop. The Gators have not lost five games in a row in 34 years. But they might Saturday. Injuries have not helped the cause. Only five Florida players have started all nine games.
5. Texas Tech vs. Baylor in Arlington: The air space should be busier than rush hour at O’Hare, with Texas Tech averaging a nation-leading 408 passing yards a game and Baylor nearly 391. The Bears yearn to stay unbeaten and remain the mystery guests in the BCS hunt, hoping a couple of the big guys ahead swerve off the road. And they have the all-time NCAA scoring record in their crosshairs. Army of 1944 averaged 56 points a game. Baylor is at 61.