Oregon jumps Auburn in the new BCS Standings

The new BCS Standings were released Sunday night, and Oregon sat atop the rankings for the first time in school history after beating USC on the road Saturday evening. Last week, Auburn claimed the top spot after former No. 1 Oklahoma fell to Missouri in Columbia. The Ducks, ranked No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, host Washington next week.

Chip KellyICONChip Kelly's Oregon Ducks are on top of the BCS standings.

Auburn checked in at No. 2 after beating Ole Miss on the road this past weekend. The BCS national championship game pits the top two in the final BCS Standings.

Boise State, which beat Louisiana Tech last Tuesday night, fell again in the rankings. This week, the Broncos check in at No. 4. TCU, meanwhile, moved up to No. 3

Here is the BCS formula — how these rankings came about: Harris Interactive Poll (1/3) + USA Today Coaches’ Poll (1/3) + Computer rankings (1/3)

Here is the top 10.

The BCS Standings

1. Oregon .9777
2. Auburn .9599
3. TCU .8911
4. Boise State .8824
5. Utah .7318
6. Alabama .7185
7. Nebraska .6869
8. Oklahoma .6849
9. Wisconsin .6740
10. LSU .6540

A few thoughts:

*This is the first time in BCS history that three non-AQ teams are in the top 5 of the standings at the same time (TCU, Boise State and Utah).

*Playing USC gave Oregon a boost in the computer rankings because of strength of schedule. That helped get the Ducks past Auburn this week. The Tigers will take a hit in the computers with their nonconference game against Chattanooga but they are a solid No. 2 in the standings.

*Boise State took a dive in both human polls—the USA Today coaches’ poll and the Harris.

*TCU lost a little human support, as well, but its computer element remained strong and it will benefit from the game against Utah.

*Alabama continues to lurk, moving up one spot this week to No. 6. The Crimson Tide still has LSU and Auburn on the schedule, two potential big-time computer boosters.

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

BCS Standings to be released at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

Auburn took care of business on Saturday night in Oxford, beating Ole Miss to remain unbeaten. Later in the evening, Oregon held off USC in Los Angeles — perhaps its toughest test left on the schedule.

How will those results affect the new BCS standings when they are announced tonight on ESPN?

Auburn currently holds the top spot after claiming it last week following Oklahoma’s loss to Missouri in Columbia. Gene Chizik's Tigers jumped Boise State and claimed the No. 2 spot in the latest USA Today coaches’ poll, which will provide a boost to their BCS stock. Oregon sits at No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls. The Ducks entered the week No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Besides Auburn, Oregon and Boise State, TCU and Utah also remain unbeaten.

ESPN will once again provide extensive and in-depth coverage leading up to the standings being released. Coverage will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET and continue on ESPNU at 9 p.m. ET.

Check back with the National Football Post as we will publish the official BCS standings when they are announced.

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

Ducks still hold top spot in new USA Today coaches' poll

Oregon remained the top team in the new Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday, and the Ducks also kept the top spot in the new USA Today Top 25 poll after their 53-32 victory at USC on Saturday night.

The big story in the coaches’ rankings, though, is current BCS No. 1 Auburn, which jumped Boise State and moved up to No. 2. The Broncos dropped to third.

The USA Today poll is one of two polls used to determine the BCS standings, which will be released later Sunday evening.

Here is a look at the complete poll.

And don’t forget that the new NFP Top 25 will be posted late Monday afternoon.

USA Today Top 25 Poll

1. Oregon (8-0)
2. Auburn (9-0)
3. Boise State (7-0)
4. TCU (9-0)
5. Alabama (7-1)
6. Utah (8-0)
7. Wisconsin (7-1)
8. Ohio State (8-1)
9. Oklahoma (7-1)
10. Nebraska (7-1)
11. LSU (7-1)
12. Stanford (7-1)
13. Arizona (7-1)
14. Missouri (7-1)
15. Michigan State (8-1)
16. Iowa (6-2)
17. South Carolina (6-2)
18. Oklahoma State (7-1)
19. Arkansas (6-2)
20. Virginia Tech (6-2)
21. Mississippi State (7-2)
22. Baylor (7-2)
23. Nevada (7-1)
24. Florida State (6-2)
25. North Carolina State (6-2)

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

Oregon remains at No. 1 in new AP Top 25

Fresh off its 53-32 victory at USC on Saturday night, Oregon remained the top team in the new Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday.

Meanwhile, current BCS No. 1 Auburn closed the gap on Boise State but remained at No. 3 after its win at Ole Miss. The Broncos still sit at No. 2.

Most importantly for the Tigers, they jumped Boise State in the USA Today coaches’ poll, which is one of two polls used to determine the BCS standings. The Broncos dropped to third.

Oregon reached a new high for first-place votes (49) and points (1,487) from the media panel while Boise State received seven first-place votes and 1,403 points. Auburn lost a first-place vote to Oregon but received two votes as No. 1 and is now just seven points behind the Broncos.

Here is a look at the complete poll.

And don’t forget that the new NFP Top 25 will be posted late Monday afternoon.

AP Top 25 Poll

1. Oregon (8-0)
2. Boise State (7-0)
3. Auburn (9-0)
4. TCU (9-0)
5. Alabama (7-1)
6. Utah (8-0)
7. Wisconsin (7-1)
8. Ohio State (8-1)
9. Nebraska (7-1)
10. Stanford (7-1)
11. Oklahoma (7-1)
12. LSU (7-1)
13. Arizona (7-1)
14. Missouri (7-1)
15. Iowa (6-2)
16. Michigan State (8-1)
17. Arkansas (6-2)
18. South Carolina (6-2)
19. Oklahoma State (7-1)
20. Virginia Tech (6-2)
21. Mississippi State (7-2)
22. Baylor (7-2)
23. NC State (6-2)
24. Florida State (6-2)
25. Nevada (7-1)

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

Sunday post game notes: early kickoffs

Some quick notes from the Week 8 Early kickoffs…

More Bradford: The rookie QB continues to develop. You can see it when you watch him play because of the decisions he makes with the football. Doesn’t force the ball, can make plays out of the pocket and is reading coverages like a veteran player. 25-32 for 191 and 2 TDs. Impressive.

Chiefs’ running game: Had to work to get that OT win against Buffalo, but how can we not talk about the combo of Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones? This is Charlie Weis’ offense right now. Charles (who is very patient for a speed back) carries 22 for 177-yards and Jones racks up 77-yards on 19 carries. Matt Cassel and rookie TE Tony Moeaki make some plays in OT to set up the winning field goal, but this is an offense that is predicated on running the football.

Charles Woodson ICONWoodson and the Packers shut out the Jets.

Packers’ DBs: Love watching defensive backs challenge receivers, and that is what I saw from the Green Bay secondary today. Woodson, Williams, etc. They broke on routes in the 3-step game, made plays on the ball and were part of a defense that put Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez (16-38-256-2 INTs) in 3rd down situations—which led to the shutout. Great game plan from defensive coordinator Dom Capers that we will get into more tomorrow. Big time road win for the 5-3 Packers.

Calvin Johnson: Won the majority of one-on-one matchups vs. Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall. There is no reason he shouldn’t be featured in every game the Lions play because he is so strong once the ball is in the air—especially in the red zone. The fade, the slant, the inside seam and the 7 route. A number of options for Johnson inside of the 20-yard line. 9 receptions for 101-yards and 3 TDs in the Lions win over the Redskins.

Carson Palmer/ Bengals: Forget the numbers. Down by eight and driving, Palmer throws a pick that seals the win for Miami. Can make a case that WR Terrell Owens (who showed his age in the underneath game) didn’t finish the route, but it still goes back to the QB. I’m shocked at how inconsistent Palmer has played this entire season.

More Dallas mistakes: This time it was backup quarterback Jon Kitna who threw 4 INTs, but we can also talk about this Dallas defense that gave up four TD passes and allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to run for 135-yards. The Cowboys are a bad football team right now.

Troy Smith/ Niners: Perfect game plan for Smith’s first career start. Run the ball with Frank Gore (29-118) against a soft Denver defensive front and limit the amount of chances he has to take. Is it good enough to get him another start for Mike Singletary’s team? I think that 12-19 for 196 and the win is better than this team has had for the most of 2010.

Another Tebow TD: You know it is going to make the highlights, so let’s discuss it really quickly. Bring Heavy personnel on the field, put Tebow in the gun, and run the Power O (FB kick out, Guard pull). The same running scheme he scored on against the Jets. Only difference? Different personnel and a different alignment. Window dressing.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

NFL Sunday: 5 things to watch

Five things to keep and eye on during this Week 8 NFL Sunday…

1. Steelers’ Mendenhall: On Friday, we talked about the importance of Darren Sharper becoming that playmaker in the secondary for the Saints, but that only happens if New Orleans can get Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers into passing situations. Pittsburgh is averaging over 118-yards a game on the ground, and RB Rashard Mendenhall has over 500-yards on the season. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will use multiple fronts tonight (even some “46” looks), but they have to limit the production of Mendenhall to play their style of game on 3rd downs. Make the Steelers one-dimensional.

Brett FavreICONDoes Brett Favre get the start today in New England?

2. Favre’s status: Will Favre go today for the Vikings out in New England? Plenty of talk, opinion and speculation on Favre this week. But, regardless if we see No.4 or backup Tarvaris Jackson, let’s not forget how crucial this game is to Minnesota. At 2-4, the Vikings need to put a run together. That’s the ultimate decision for Brad Childress. Play the QB who gives him the best chance to get a win against Tom Brady and the Patriots—or get on that plane tonight with a 2-5 record.

3. V.Y. gets the start: Titans QB Vince Young is expected to start out in San Diego today. Outside of watching his mobility coming off of the knee injury, we should look to see if he can keep WR Kenny Britt involved in the game like backup QB Kerry Collins did. This Titans’ offense is much more tougher to prepare for because of Britt and his ability to win outside of the numbers. A true deep ball player that will require safety help in certain situations of the ball game.

4. McDaniels’ job security: Might be too soon to start talking about head coaches on the hot seat. But after the Raiders thrashed the Broncos, what do we hear out of Denver if McDaniels’ squad drops another game against the Niners over in London? The Broncos are 2-5, and since that 6-0 start in ’09, look very soft up front. Coaches in the NFL are judged on wins and losses—that’s it.

5. Packers’ special teams: Play big in the return game. Field position is big against Rex Ryan’s Jets. Tough to continually drive the length of the field to produce points. Green Bay needs to flip the field on a return and set up QB Aaron Rodgers in plus territory. Plus, it opens up the offensive playbook. Easier to call plays when you aren’t backed up against a pressure defense.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

Fantasy live chat today at 11:20am

Before you head out to the bars or settle in on the couch, be sure to get those fantasy rosters in check and ready for battle in Week 8.

Join NFP fantasy analyst Joe Fortenbaugh Sunday for a one-hour gameday live chat that kicks off at 11:20am eastern. We'll be talking starts and sits, injury updates, line movements, predictions and more.

To join the chat simply log in to the “Total Access Pass” portion of the website and click on the “Live Chat” tab at the top of the page.

NFP Sunday Blitz

Chiefs coach Todd Haley and Bills coach Chan Gailey will oppose each other today at Arrowhead Stadium. But last training camp, they were opposing each other as coaches on the same staff.

When the Kansas City offense sputtered in preseason, Gailey, then Haley’s offensive coordinator, wanted to use more of the spread offense he ran at Georgia Tech. He is sure to try to show Haley how effective it can be today. But Haley wanted nothing to do with it. He decided to make a change and become his own offensive coordinator for a year.

In firing Gailey, he took a huge step in the turnaround of the Chiefs.

“When I made the Chan change when I did, it wasn’t the best Todd Haley decision,” Haley told me. “The easy thing would have been to get through last year like I did in a number of other areas, knowing it was a two-year process of getting all the kinds of coaches I wanted. But it was critical for us to get a foundation laid last year across the board offensively that that change be made.”

Firing Gailey when Haley did was taking one step backward to take two forward. It enabled the Chiefs to get a jump start on 2010, because the offensive system and style Haley used last year is the one he knew he wanted to use going forward. Hence, his hiring of Charlie Weis to run the offense this year. Weis and Haley worked together on the Jets from 1997-99, even sharing an office.

“What was critical coming into this year is we were able to continue building on the foundation we put down last year,” Haley said. “That’s where the Charlie factor came in because he and I still use the same terminology. We didn’t have to change again. Changing after the third preseason game last year was difficult enough. For Charlie to be available was a big item.”

The presence of Weis and newly hired defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel changed the dynamic for Haley in another way this year. He doesn’t have to run the offense or worry about the defense so much anymore. Now he can run the team — oversee all areas, and focus on game management and big-picture issues.

“Where it’s helped me the most is I wanted to be the head coach,” Haley said. “I did not want to be the coordinator. Working for Bill [Parcells] all those years and all the different people I’ve worked with, I had a certain vision of the way I wanted to do it if I ever got the opportunity, and that was to coach the team — the offense, defense, special teams and coach the coaches. This has allowed me to do that faster than any other situation would have because these are experienced guys who have been in the NFL, have had success, but more importantly they’ve been in a system that I’ve been a big part of where the head coach was the head coach.

“Having the past relationships with them has been huge because obviously I’m opinionated and am not afraid to let my opinion be known. They’ve both been great, as has [special teams coach] Steve Hoffman, about assimilating my ideas when they’re good ones, and not been afraid to tell me when they don’t think they are good ideas.”

After going 4-12 in his first season, Haley has the Chiefs sitting pretty in the AFC West with a 4-2 record in his second season. But they probably wouldn’t be where they are if Gailey hadn’t been fired when he was.

Things I didn’t used to know

Dallas ClarkICONReplacing Dallas Clark won't be easy for the Colts, but they believe they have a player who is cut from the same cloth in Jacob Tamme.

*The Colts don’t plan on making many concessions in their offense despite the loss of tight end Dallas Clark. The reason is they believe Jacob Tamme is a very similar player to Clark. Obviously, the 2008 fourth-round pick is not as talented as Clark. He isn’t quite as fast, and he isn’t quite as powerful a blocker. But he can be used in a like manner. “He is similar in style,” Colts president Bill Polian told me. “We drafted him specifically to be Dallas’ backup. He can do similar things. I’ve said you’re never going to find another Dallas Clark. He’s a once in a career player. He’s right up there with [Antonio] Gates and [Tony] Gonzalez in my opinion. Those guys are rare. But Jacob is similar in style, so we won’t have much of an adjustment to make.”

*Not everyone is convinced the Texans are doing the right thing by moving Brian Cushing to Mike linebacker from Sam. One coach said he thought they might miss his speed off the edge. Cushing likely will still be blitzing up the middle, but as the coach said, it’s easier to pick up and neutralize an inside blitz than it is an outside blitz.

*Something happened to Albert Haynesworth in his two-game absence. One opposing coach who studied the Redskins DT said Haynesworth made four “wow” plays against the Bears after making one previously all season long. Part of it is that Redskins coach Jim Haslett is aligning him differently and trying to take advantage of what Haynesworth does best. But the bigger part is Haynesworth looks like he wants to play again, perhaps because he realizes the trade deadline has passed and he isn’t going anywhere.

*Pete Carroll has been very hands-on with the Seahawks defense, and his impact has been noticeable. He has concocted a number of creative packages and found ways to utilize almost every player at his disposal.

*Also on the subject of the Seahawks defense, Earl Thomas is a legitimate candidate for defensive rookie of the year. He has four interceptions, more than any Seahawks safety has had since 2004. Some teams thought Thomas should be a cornerback because he isn’t a physical tackler. But the Seahawks prefer him at free safety because he’s a ballhawk. My Seattle peeps tell me Thomas sees the field well, is sudden out of his plant, has great range and solid hands. That explains his interception total.

*There are a number of reasons Chris Johnson’s average per carry has gone from 5.6 last year to 4.1 this year. One is that the Titans have expanded his role so he’s getting short-yardage carries now. Another is that the Titans blockers, including their wide receivers, haven’t always helped him get to the second level. Yet another is the Titans have played against three 3-4 teams already. It’s more difficult to get a runner on the edge against a three man front. And the final factor is Johnson sometimes gets impatient. He’s one of those runners who always is looking for the home run, and as a result he sometimes gets 1 yard when he could have gotten four or five.

My Sunday Best: All-time wide receivers

At 33 and with 13-plus NFL seasons behind him, Randy Moss makes his return to Gillette Stadium today with his place secure as one of the all-time great wide receivers. Here are my best seven wide receivers in history (in alphabetical order). Any disagreements?

Lance Alworth. Here are some incredible facts about Bambi. The former Charger and Cowboy averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards per year over his nine-year career back when they were playing 14-game seasons. He averaged more than 100 yards per game for three straight seasons. And he had five games with more than 200 receiving yards — still an NFL record.

Don Hutson. The greatest ever in my book, Hutson is credited with being the first receiver to run several modern routes and thus “inventing” the modern passing game. He was ridiculously productive in an era that did not support throwing the football. He had 488 career receptions, which at
the time of his retirement was 200 more than the next closest receiver. He led the NFL in receiving in eight of his 11 seasons and retired with 18 major records.

Michael Irvin. He was part of a new breed of receiver — big, physical and fast. He could beat a cornerback in many ways, and often did. Irvin forced the league to tweak its rules so receivers couldn’t push around defenders. He also was a tremendous clutch performer whose will lifted the Cowboys to many, many victories.

Dante Lavelli. He benefitted from catching passes from Otto Graham, perhaps the best quarterback ever, but Lavelli also made Graham better. “Gluefingers” had some of the best hands in football history, and he attacked every ball as if it belonged to him.

Randy Moss. His combination of size, speed, ability to extend and coordination make him probably the best deep threat ever. He has been his own worst enemy at times, but there is no disputing his ability or the impact he has had on games.

Jerry RiceICONJerry Rice was the best at getting away from defenders.

Jerry Rice. The best all-around receiver of the modern era, Rice was the best at creating separation to get open and creating separation after the catch. Rice was a thorough professional, and it showed in his every route. Think about this: he played in 13 Pro Bowls. Wow.

Numbers Games: Moss’ allegiance

When Randy Moss walks out on the field at Gillette Stadium today, he may have mixed feelings. Part of his legacy was written as a Patriot. And part was written and is being written as a Viking. His most enduring achievement — catching an NFL-record 23 touchdowns in a single season — was accomplished in New England. But his production as a Viking dwarfs his production as a Patriot.

He has caught 327 more passes for 5,404 more yards, and scored 42 more touchdowns as a Viking. But most of that was because he was a Viking for so much longer than he was a Patriot. Moss has played 60 more games for the Vikings. His average per catch as a Viking is 15.8 compared to 15.07 for the Patriots.

Moss has made the Pro Bowl five times as a Viking and two times as a Patriot. He never made it as a Raider.

His all-time favorite quarterback should be Tom Brady though. Moss caught a touchdown pass from Brady once every 4.8 throws, compared to once every 6.6 throws from Daunte Culpepper.

Scout Talk: TE Class of 2011

Teams in need of a tight end next year had better hope they can get one in free agency, because the draft crop of tight ends does not look very promising. It’s possible a few underclassmen could spice up the position, but the senior group is well below average. From the way it looks now, it could be the first year since 1999 that a tight end is not taken in the first round.

Kyle RudolphICONNotre Dame's Kyle Rudolph could improve the tight end class.

Some scouts were hoping Notre Dame underclassman Kyle Rudolph would enter the draft after the season, but a torn hamstring has clouded his future. He still probably will rank higher than any of the seniors should he decide to declare for the draft. But Rudolph isn’t the kind of freakish athlete or field stretcher that usually is taken in the first round. He is more of a tough, all-around tight end with good hands.

One player who has come on is Miami’s Richard Gordon. He has the size, speed and ability to get down the seam and make big plays in the pros, but is more of a receiving tight end.

Former wide receiver Lance Kendricks is an interesting prospect from Wisconsin. He’s been a very productive pass catcher, but doesn’t have ideal size. He won’t fit every system, but some teams will love him. Arkansas D.J. Williams is built similarly. He’s been wildly productive, but he’s too small for some teams. Both players could be considered H-backs.

Tennessee’s Luke Stocker has the frame and hands, but he doesn’t play with the kind of sizzle that will excite offensive coordinators. He hasn’t been overly productive in college, and his speed is nothing special.

One Man Yelp: NFL Matchup

This Wall Street Journal article reminded me why I usually don’t watch network pregame shows. If I want to watch a variety show, I’ll borrow my father’s Dean Martin DVDs.

But if I want to watch a football show, NFL Matchup on ESPN is the best there is, and it has been since it was conceived by Steve Sabol of NFL Films in 1984. Ron Jaworski and Merrill Hoge, with help from host Sal Paolantonio and producer Greg Cosell, break down game tape and uncover things you can’t find anywhere else (except maybe in Matt Bowen’s columns here at the Post). This isn’t just three guys talking off the tops of their heads. Everything they present has been meticulously researched.

This is pure football. They don’t just talk about trends, they show you trends. They give you visual evidence as to why a player might have trouble against a certain scheme. They allow the tape to demonstrate why a player is suddenly excelling, or why a coach is having success with a particular attack.

The only thing I don’t like about this show is the time slot—Sunday morning at 8:30 eastern. This should be what all pregame shows are like.

*Check out this article on rapper Jay Z. It’s a fascinating story about an entrepreneur who has taken the road less traveled. Now here is a guy I would like to see own an NFL team—an out of the box thinker who sees the big picture.

Hot Reads

*Raheem Morris says the Bucs are the best team in the NFC. Antrel Rolle claims it’s the Giants. Tony Dungy vouches for the Seahawks. The truth? There is no best team in the NFC. Not yet, anyway.

*The 49ers officially enter desperation mode in London today with Troy Smith as their starting quarterback. This does not bode well for the futures of Mike Singletary, Alex Smith, or the Niners.

*You can talk about a London franchise all you want, but unless travel somehow dramatically changes in the future, there is no way an overseas team could compete with the rest of the NFL on an even playing field.

*What would the week be like without a little Brett Favre drama, anyway?

Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.

Notre Dame QB Crist out for the season

Now it really is “Next man in” for Notre Dame at quarterback.

Head coach Brian Kelly’s mantra has never been more true than with the current state of the Fighting Irish, who will now have to finish the season without starter Dayne Crist.

Crist will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured left patella tendon, an injury suffered Saturday afternoon during the team’s game against Tulsa in South Bend.

The junior injured his leg on a long rush and never returned to the field. Backup Tommy Rees entered the game and was able to move the ball, looking like a completely different signal caller than the one who was overwhelmed in Week 2 against Michigan. The freshman completed 18-of-29 passes for 179 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the first half.

However, Rees tossed a pick near the end of the first half that was taken back 55 yards for a touchdown. The Golden Hurricane trailed 20-18 at the half.

But the major story from this contest is the loss of Crist. Rees, who started 16-of-19 and is just 2 of his last 10, likely will assume starting duties the rest of the season.

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

The Bump & Run Podcast: Week 8 Predictions

Want to check out something that will scare the hell out of you?

Just take a look at Fortenbaugh's 2010 pick 'em record.

Welcome to the Week 8 Bump & Run Podcast where Bowen and Fortenbaugh make their picks, talk Halloween and bring in Wes Bunting to preview some of the top college football matchups on the Saturday schedule.

Follow us on Twitter: @MattBowen41 @JoeFortenbaugh