Some football food for thought now that lawnmowing won't interfere with the really important things on Saturdays:

Because of preseason rankings, Alabama may lose out on a chance for a national championship.Consider: The Crimson Tide is 7-0 and ranked fourth in the UPI poll and fifth in the AP poll; Nebraska is 7-0 and ranked third in both. OK, fine so far, but now compare their schedules. The Tide has victories over Tennessee, 6-1 and ranked in the Top 10 when the two met; Penn State, 5-2 and ranked in the Top 15 when the two played; Mississippi, 6-2, and Kentucky, 4-3.

The 'Huskers have played only two Division I-A teams with winning records - Minnesota, 4-3, and Oregon State, 4-3-1, neither of which would rate as a grid power. Their other five wins are against Northern Illinois, Utah, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

True, the 'Huskers face No. 2 Colorado Saturday, but if both Alabama and Nebraska finished the season undefeated, the 'Huskers would be playing for the national championship on New Year's Day and not Alabama. That's because No. 1-ranked Notre Dame wants to play the next-highest-ranked team in a bowl, which figures to be the winner of the Colorado-Nebraska game. Had Alabama been ranked higher in preseason than Nebraska, it might be the Sugar Bowl calling the shots instead of the Orange. In other words, too much weight is given to preseason rankings.


It's too bad this isn't Ty Detmer's junior year. Detmer has received little mention in what is a wide-open Heisman Trophy chase. Yet the BYU sophomore quarterback's numbers through eight games - 3,071 yards and 10.85 yards per pass attempt - project to one of the greatest single-season efforts in NCAA history. Few outside of Utah, however, know much about him because, until late in fall practice, it wasn't a sure thing that he'd be the starter. Detmer didn't benefit from the preseason buildup that he will undoubtedly get next year. Of course, he'll have a tough time matching this year's totals next season.


WAC Coach of the Year honors and some consideration for national Coach of the Year honors should go to Earle Bruce of Colorado State. The ex-Ohio State coach has transformed a perennial losing program into one of respectability in his first year. The last two years the Rams won a total of two games. Going into Saturday's game with Wyoming, Colorado State is 4-4-1, with all four of its losses coming against teams that are or were nationally ranked: Tennessee, Colorado, BYU and Air Force.


Another man deserving of consideration for coaching honors is Dave Kragthorpe of Oregon State. The former BYU assistant coach/Utah State athletic director has the Beavers over .500 (4-3-1) and among the Pac-10 leaders at 3-1-1 despite a murderous schedule. Non-conference games included Nebraska at Lincoln and Fresno State at Fresno. Still to come is a non-conference game at Hawaii. Then there's the game this Saturday that could put the Beavers in position to go to the Rose Bowl. All Kragthorpe has to do is beat USC at USC.