The last two weeks of the college football season have separated contenders from pretenders and helped set the field for the national championship race.
There is still much whittling to do, and a few teams are just getting to their first really stiff tests more than halfway through the season.
Oregon State and Texas Tech have a chance to take big steps forward this week.
The Beavers’ record-breaking passer and the Red Raiders’ rising star coach are among the five things to know about Week 9 of the college football season.
Mannion for Heisman
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion leads the nation in yards passing (2,992) and touchdown passes (29), and last week he set a Pac-12 record for most yards passing in consecutive games with 974. The Beavers (6-1, 4-0) started the season ranked 25th, lost to FCS Eastern Washington and haven’t been beaten since. The competition has been less than so-so (Sagarin computer ratings have the Beavers’ strength of schedule at 79th). But Mannion and his favorite target, Brandin Cooks, have chance to seriously enter the Heisman discussion and get back in the national rankings when No. 8 Stanford comes to Corvallis on tonight.
King of Lubbock
Kliff Kingsbury got a lot of attention when he became the coach at his alma mater, Texas Tech, because he was young (now 34), handsome (he looks like actor Ryan Gosling) and stylish (slim-fit suits, skinny ties, Ray-Ban shades). He can also really coach. The 10th-ranked Red Raiders (7-0, 4-0), picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12, are currently in first. And Kingsbury, who was previously offensive coordinator at Houston and Texas A&M under Kevin Sumlin, is 30-3 as a head coach or play-caller. The Red Raiders (Sagarin strength of schedule No. 87) face their toughest test at No. 17 Oklahoma today.