Injuries have brought added intrigue to the Big 12 and Pac-10 races while also opening the door for new Heisman Trophy contenders.
TBS college football analyst Charles Davis joined Rivals.com for his weekly question-and-answer session to discuss those topics, as well as the upcoming Texas-Nebraska and Rutgers-Pittsburgh matchups.
TBS will not air a college football game this week, but will return with coverage on Oct. 28.
8 Q&A with TBS Analyst Charles Davis
1. How does the Heisman race shake out following the injury to Adrian Peterson and a poor day from Garrett Wolfe?
"With Ohio State being No. 1, Troy Smith is the unquestioned front-runner. But you have so many teams that are right there. If anyone gets hot, you have to look at them. I'm not sure who that will be. The tough part with the Heisman Trophy is once people lock onto people as candidates it's very difficult for people to add candidates as the season goes on. Anthony Gonzalez is having a terrific season at wide receiver at Ohio State, but because Ted Ginn Jr. was kind of anointed the guy before the year, I don't see anyone saying Anthony Gonzalez will hit the Heisman candidacy. I would think that Calvin Johnson at Georgia Tech is a guy everyone has to look at and respect based on what he has done so far and the opportunity he has at Clemson. He's scintillating. He's one of the two best receivers in the country, with Dwayne Jarrett being the other one."
2. Entering their matchup with Texas, what kind of strides have you seen from Nebraska since the USC game on Sept. 16?
"Playing the USC game only helps some of the younger players understand what it's like to play in that environment. The good thing was that was out of conference. Now you're in conference with Texas at home. I think Nebraska has a belief they can play with anyone now because they played USC tough out there. Nebraska now is kind of a solidified program. Defensively, they can't have a game like they did against Kansas, where they gave up a bunch of yards and a bunch of points after having the upper hand for a good portion of the game."
3. How can Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops keep the Sooners motivated for the remainder of the season despite the loss of Peterson and all the other issues of the last six months?
"It's a similar situation to what he had last year when Adrian Peterson was hurt for most of the year. He was playing with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Rhett Bomar, and the other quarterback, Paul Thompson, was shifted to receiver. The way they finished last year in beating a good Oregon team in the bowl game will serve as a blueprint for where they are headed this year. They're not going to win the Big 12, but in college football, does that mean you have nothing more to play for? No. Obviously the old pride thing kicks in and there's still a bowl game out there. Oklahoma has a chance to finish strong and has a chance in every game. I'm not sure they will be the underdog in any game they play."
4. In the Pac-10, Washington and UCLA are each down to backup quarterbacks. Which of those teams is best equipped to meet its goals despite the injuries?
"I'd like to say both are equipped, but UCLA is a little bit more because of the running game. Chris Markey is the type of back that can handle a bigger load than Washington's backs can, based on what I saw in the two games early. (Washington's) Isaiah Stanback did a lot of things to open up their run game. Markey is more of pure running back. Maybe that can take some of the pressure off Patrick Cowan."
5. Rutgers will face Pittsburgh on Saturday. How important is this game to the Big East?
"It's huge for the Big East because a third team has to emerge to make this conference stronger. Rutgers has to keep doing what they've been doing with a dynamic running duo and throwing the ball to tight end Clark Harris. They have some good things going on there. They're playing with a lot of emotion and a lot of spirit, which is exactly how Greg Schiano would have it. As for Pittsburgh, I was worried about them when they got whacked at home by Michigan State. I really did not expect that kind of a loss on them. Since that time, they've recovered and showed what Dave Wannstedt is all about, which is toughness and running the football. That is opening up the passing game for Tyler Palko. Last year we thought Palko was a Heisman Trophy candidate, but it didn't work out because they didn't have a good year. Now, this is the kid we liked so much last year. That's a heck of a good ballgame."