Fri Oct 14 10:05am EDT
There's a time-honored hierarchy to scheduling in college football, passed down through the ages: September is for fattening up on cupcakes, October for tightening the belt. After a few weeks of morbidly obese stats and inflated final scores, conference play comes to whip even the most fine-tuned contenders into shape. At least, that's how it's supposed to work.
This year, not so much. For the top four teams in the current polls — LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Wisconsin — the arrival of the heavy-hitting portion of the calendar hasn't even required any heavy breathing: All four have opened October by embarrassing a ranked conference opponent by at least four touchdowns, cementing their status as cold-blooded couriers of plague and famine to almost any team between them and the BCS championship — a path that, this week, could produce TV-MA levels of gore.
In a rare, morbid confluence, the Tigers, Crimson Tide, Sooners and Badgers are all favored by at least 17 points Saturday (as are the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in the Coaches' poll, Boise State and Stanford), as they come upon down-on-their-luck rivals — Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kansas and Indiana, respectively — just hoping to survive the encounter intact enough to pick up the pursuit of their first conference win on the other side of the massacre. For this time of year, the results could be truly ghastly.
The numbers never lie: While Indiana may suffer through the process of being swallowed whole by the Badgers for the second year in a row, and Ole Miss may not regain consciousness until the middle of next week, the fate of Kansas' defense against Oklahoma's firepower is almost certain to be unsuitable for sensitive audiences. Parental discretion is strongly advised.