Here are 10 things I'm buzzing about at the outset of Week 9:
1. Mike Gundy's a man. He's 40. And the Oklahoma State head coach is beginning to earn a reputation as one of the brightest young offensive minds in college football. But it's the Cowboys' defense that has impressed me the most over the past couple weeks. Oklahoma State contained Missouri's high-octane offense and then completely shut down a dangerous Baylor unit. Can the Pokes' D continue to flourish against Mr. Heisman, Colt McCoy? McCoy torched Oklahoma State two years ago. Last season, he directed an unbelievable comeback win over the Cowboys in which Texas overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit. It's easy to fawn over McCoy's multiple talents. Just ask Chase Daniel.
2. One player to watch closely in Penn State-Ohio State: Aaron Maybin. The Nittany Lions' sophomore defensive end has come out of nowhere to record 10 sacks (second nationally) in eight games. Ohio State's offensive line has carried much of the blame for recent embarrassments. Will Maybin be the latest pass-rusher to terrorize the Buckeyes?
3. Eight games into the season, Texas Tech finally faces its first Top 25 opponent. Although I'm not convinced Kansas is truly the 19th-best team in the nation, the Jayhawks should test Mike Leach's bunch. And this is just the beginning for the Red Raiders, who still have to face No. 1 Texas, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Oklahoma State. If Texas Tech's a true title contender, a statement will be made today in Lawrence.
4. Where'd you go, Charles Scott? The 233-pound bruiser averaged 134 rushing yards in LSU's first four games, but managed just 96 combined yards in the past two. Les Miles recently moved Scott to fullback, giving Keiland Williams more carries. (Side question: Is there a university bylaw against feature backs at LSU?) I wouldn't bet on Scott getting back on track against Georgia. The Bulldogs allow just 61 rushing yards per game (third nationally).
5. Georgia Tech's rise has brought a lot of attention to Paul Johnson's triple-option offense, but the Yellow Jackets' strength is a stout D that ranks fifth nationally in total defense. The strength of this unit is undoubtedly the D-line, which is overflowing with NFL talent. Bookends Michael Johnson and Derrick Morgan may be the best pass-rushing combo in the nation, and DTs Vance Walker and Darryl Richard wreak havoc up the middle. Virginia OT Eugene Monroe is projected as a top-10 pick in the '09 NFL draft. Let's see how he fares against this loaded Jackets line today.
6. Eric Berry on offense? Pretty please! With 397 return yards on 10 career interceptions, this dude's obviously electric with the ball in his hands. At 3-4, Tennessee has nothing to lose against No. 2 Alabama. Unleash the "Wild Berry" package, Phil!
7. It's no secret Michigan players have no respect for their counterparts in East Lansing. Brandon Graham reiterated this by guaranteeing a win over Michigan State immediately following UM's 46-17 loss to Penn State. Is this the year the Spartans finally rise to the occasion or will the Wolverines make it seven straight over the school they've dubbed "Little Brother?"
8. A Vandy-Duke game with buzz? Somebody check the temperature in Hell.
9. Houston Nutt's return to Arkansas should be satisfying for the former Hogs head man. Ole Miss and Arkansas have identical 3-4 records, but Nutt's Rebels have been far more competitive on weekly basis.
10. Sunday night's Tulsa-UCF game will pit the best offense in the country vs. the worst offense in the country. Seriously. The Golden Hurricane rank No. 1 with 624.71 yards per game, while the Knights rank No. 119 at 248.33 yards per game. Can't wait to see these two drive charts side-by-side ...