There’s not really such thing as an elimination game the first full Saturday of the season. After all, teams have played for the national championship with one loss.

Still, No. 6 Auburn is all but done and No. 8 USC announced it’s in the game with a thoroughly convincing 23-0 victory at Auburn in the Trojans’ first game without Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer.

Auburn was the Sporting News preseason No. 1 and received a first-place vote in the Associated Press poll, but USC’s defense held the vaunted Auburn running game to a mere 43 yards. The Tigers, a trendy choice to contend for the title, limp out of their own Jordan-Hare Stadium all but out of the national championship picture.

Elsewhere, defending national champion Ohio State reminded everyone the Buckeyes can win without Maurice Clarett. After all, they managed to get by undefeated when he was injured last season.


What few expected was that No. 2 Ohio State could keep 17th-ranked Washington’s passing combination of quarterback Cody Pickett and Reggie Williams off the scoreboard.

A worse omen for the Huskies was that their troubled running game was no better: Washington had zero yards on the ground by halftime in a 28-9 loss.

And listen up: Nebraska is still kicking. The powerhouse that turned puny with a 7-7 record last season isn’t out of anything yet, after a 17-7 victory over No. 24 Oklahoma State.



-- Robyn Norwood