SEC upholds call in booth
It's been a tough year for video replay in college football, with the gaffes in the Oregon win over Oklahoma the prime example of the system failing.
But a controversial replay call in the Florida-Auburn game, won 27-17 by Auburn, was upheld by SEC supervisor of officials Rogers Redding.
On the play, which came in the fourth quarter with Florida trailing, 18-17, and at the Auburn 6-yard line, quarterback Chris Leak pump-faked a pass, then started his arm forward again, seeming to stop as the ball came free.
Auburn's Tray Blackmon recovered.
Replay official Al Ford reviewed the play and let the fumble call stand.
"Al Ford did a major bowl game for us; he's not some guy we brought in from the streets," Redding said. "It was a tough call. But after looking at the different angles, there simply was not enough evidence to reverse the call. His arm was going forward, but it looked like he was trying to stop it when it came out."
The only concession from Redding was that Florida should not have had to call a timeout to get the play reviewed, but that Ford should have buzzed the officials on the field immediately.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, whose conference pioneered replay in the college ranks, thinks the concept is working out well, despite some complaints. He likened the current climate to the end of a multi-year honeymoon concept when replay had been embraced despite any apparent failings.
"Now we're in a period where mistakes, when they're obvious, they're reported on," Delany said.
Delany believes one problem the college system has is failing to make the distinction between itself and the pro model.
"The guy up in the box has very little jurisdiction, unless the video tells him that the mistake on the field is an obvious and clear mistake," Delany said. "We should only go to replay if three things happen. Is it a reviewable play• Did it have a competitive effect• And is there enough video evidence to think that maybe the mistake was made?
"Then you shut it down, you look at it (and look for irrefutable evidence). To me, that's a standard where 95 out of 100 people would agree that it's wrong."
Southern California is 6-0, and the Trojans came in at No. 2 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings, but the team has more than its share of doubters.
USC has had three consecutive tough wins against average competition: 28-22 over Washington State, 26-20 over Washington and 28-21 over Washington State.
"Maybe you want me to be disappointed in 6-0, but I'm not," coach Pete Carroll told the media this week. "Maybe we end up on the cusp of getting better and maybe we don't."
Trojans defensive end Lawrence Jackson reminded that all was not easy in 2005.
"Nobody talks about how Oregon was a close game for a half, or how Arizona State shellacked us in the first half, or how Fresno State was a really close game," he said. "We had some low points last season."
Carroll on the BCS ranking: "I don't think this is any marker for us other than what we've done up to now has been respected to that degree and that we're chosen second."
The top two teams in the final rankings play in the BCS championship game.
On the road
When the Texas Longhorns play at Nebraska on Saturday, it will be their first game played out of the state of Texas this season.
Coach Mack Brown downplayed the significance of Nebraska's home crowd.
"I think that stuff's overblown," he said.
Texas has won 15 consecutive road games and 27 of the past 28.
Hawkins breaks through
First-year Colorado coach Dan Hawkins finally got his first win in Week 7, by a 30-6 over Texas Tech.
Hawkins wasn't celebrating.
"I'd degrade the Buffaloes tradition if I was doing back-flips over being 1-6," he said.