******Since jumping into the meat of their conference schedule, the Minutemen have found success against familiar faces to be a bumpy road, regardless of their opponents record. Standing undefeated, UMass was certain to receive everyone's best shot. After defeating defending conference champion USF in dominating fashion and gaining the inside track to the Big East Title, UMass took on Temple. Against the Owls, the Minutemen thrived on through the air with Ernest Lee and Chris McCall both went over 120 yards receiving and Donte Gaston finished with 99, as the Minutemen blew a 21-7 lead heading into the 4th quarter. The Owls tied the game at 28 with 1:31 left in the game behind Romon Deloatch's 3rd touchdown of the quarter, and the Minutemen frantically had to scramble in the remaining time to snatch the game from the jaws of upset. The next week, in the "U Game", the Minutemen took a more methodical and deliberate approach to victory over archrival UConnas they leaned heavily on the legs of HB Jordan Broadnax, who rushed for over a hundred yards, and a stingy defense to salt away victory that was not certain until McCall provided the final margin early in the 4th quarter to secure a 24-13 victory for the UMass. Next up, the Minuteman faced off against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers and rode a rousing and all-around inspiring performance in delivering a convincing 24-7 victory behind a 99-yard, two touchdown performance by freshman Josh Leonard and a 97-yard kickoff return by Quayvon Smith. However, victory came at a cost, as seniors Jordan Broadnax and Marken Michel both went down with rib injuries and are expected to be out until the bowl game. With the increased level of difficulty was especially evident as the Minutemen traveled to Louisville, Ky., to battle the Cardinals. After spotting the Cardinals a 17-3 lead at the half, the Minutemen defense awakened in the 3rd quarter and sparked the offense. First, safeties Ed Saint Vil and Lance Wilkerson combined to strip backup quarterback Will Gardner. DE Anthony Espinosa recovered the fumble and rumbled 55 yards for a touchdown. On Louisville's next possession, UMas CB Roderick Cox came up with an interception. On the ensuing possession, Randy Palmer connected with Anthony Hopkins on a 55-yard seam route for a touchdown to tie the game at 17. UMass would extend the lead to 10 after a touchdown run by QB Randy Palmer and a Willie Hill field goal. The only points the Cardinals scored in the second half came in the waning minutes of the game on a kickoff return by Eli Rogers, which made the game appear closer than what it really was. The Minutemen now stand at 10-0 with games remaining against Cincinatti (5-4) and in-state rival Boston College (2-7), who spoiled UMass BCS hopes last season in an upset in the Tea Party. ******The Minutemen currently sit 3rd in the BCS standings behind the undefeated California Bears and Texas Longhorns. Barring an upset by #22 South Carolina, California appears to be a lock to grab one of the spots in the BCS National Championship. On its resume are blowout victories over everyone they've faced (their smallest margin of victory was 17 points over Oregon) and three victories over teams currently ranked in the top 25. UMass' best chance to grab a spot in the BCS is hope #2 Texas stumbles against #14 Oklahoma State, #7 TCU or West Virginia. UMass should be favored in its remaining games; it's biggest challeneg, moreso than its opponents, will be staying focused on the task at hand and not being distracted by what Texas is or isn't doing. ******Don't look now Amherst, but after bringing UMass from utter unknown to legitimacy to national contender in its third season in the BCS, Coach W.D. Franklin's name is being bantied about as a candidate at some big time schools looking to go separate ways with its current coaches. Michigan (Bradie Hoke), Clemson (Dabo Swinney), Penn State (Bill O'Brien), and Alabama (Nick Saban) all have coaches on the hot seat who may not see the next year of thei contracts and Franklin's name is floating around as a desired candidate amongst the fanbases and local talking heads. To his credit, Franklin has bluntly no commented the subject when questioned about it, only saying, "I've got a National Championship I'm trying to win...."