Four-down territory: BCS new bloods

…Three of last season’s six champions from AQ conferences don’t currently have winning records. Texas, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati have all had their share of struggles. The Longhorns (4-6, 2-5) have lost four straight and six of seven after falling to Oklahoma State. The Longhorns' four home losses this year equal the total amount of losses in Austin for the ‘Horns since 2000. Mack Brown’s squad needs to win their final two games to become bowl eligible. Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets (5-5, 3-4) have lost three straight, will be without quarterback Josh Nesbitt for at least the rest of the regular season and have not made the strides expected under new defensive coordinator Al Groh. And Butch Jones’ first year at Cincinnati (3-6, 1-3) has been a disaster. The two-time defending Big East champions are sitting at the bottom of the league and must win their final three games against Rutgers, Connecticut and Pittsburgh to become bowl eligible.

Mark RichtICONWould Mark Richt be interested in leaving Athens?

…Former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti and current Georgia head coach Mark Richt are among the candidates reportedly being considered to replace Dan Hawkins at Colorado. The 59-year-old Bellotti wants to get back into coaching and has had preliminary talks with Colorado about the opening. In a story in The Denver Post on Saturday, Bellotti said he has been contacted by other schools, as well — some of which don't have an opening yet. The 50-year-old Richt has been on a warm seat since going 8-5 last season in Athens. And after this weekend’s loss to Auburn, Georgia is 5-6 overall and 3-5 in league play. Even if the Bulldogs don’t make a move, would he seek a change of scenery? Maybe, but don’t expect him in Boulder. He makes about $2.8 million, and Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said going over $2 million for its new coach is unlikely. CU is expected to name a search committee next week.

…So Utah is a fraud after back-to-back losses? To me, that’s a bit laughable. Kyle Whittingham may not have received strong efforts the past two weeks in blowout losses to TCU and Notre Dame, but the Utes didn’t start 8-0 because they were an average football team. The one team that had been average — and sometimes even below — was Brian Kelly’s squad. But the Fighting Irish deserve a ton of credit for playing very physical Saturday against the Utes to finally break the skid against ranked teams. Kelly talks about toughness all the time. And ND finally showed it, both mentally and physically, on Senior Day.

…The news of Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa being done for the season remains extremely disappointing less than 48 hours later. The dual-threat signal caller ruptured his Achilles tendon on his game-winning touchdown toss that beat Iowa on Saturday. Not only is Persa NU’s best running threat, but he was one of the more exciting and gritty players in the nation. And I had the pleasure of watching him during home games at Ryan Field. Most disappointing is that he won’t be able to participate in next Saturday’s historic showdown with Illinois at Wrigley Field. However, it’s fitting that local product Evan Watkins will be under center for a game that is really generating a lot of buzz here in Chicago. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in town, and feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you’re headed to the game. We’ll grab a beer at Houndstooth.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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