Due to the ultimate inactivity in the UCSB athletic ranks this week, here at the Nexus sports desk we decided instead to test the loyalty of our readership and take them on a trip around the Big West. The amount of angry e-mails we get this morning will give a healthy indication as to how many people actually are loco for the Gauchos, and better yet, loco for the ol’ sports page.

First Place? We’ll see about that.

The Northridge men’s soccer team recently toppled the Gauchos on the top of the Big West rankings over the weekend. They sit ahead of Santa Barbara by percentage points. Are you as underwhelmed as I? The Matadors (9-2-3 overall, 5-0-1 in the Big West) have one more win than the Gauchos (8-3-3 overall, 4-0-2 Big West). So they can chuckle all they want down in L.A. for now, but come No. 2 when Santa Barbara rolls into town as the visiting team – the game is at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday so don’t expect the crowd to have much of an impact – the bout will likely dictate who will take home the Big West crown this year.

First Place? Sounds about right.

While most around these parts will likely be ecstatic to celebrate Halloween over the weekend, the UCSB women’s volleyball team likely wishes that just maybe, they could defy the laws of space and time remaining in the month of October for the rest of eternity. The Gauchos haven’t lost thus far in October, winning eight straight and notching a season-defining sweep over archrival Cal Poly over the weekend. The victory catapulted Santa Barbara to a comfortable one and a half game lead over both the Mustangs and Long Beach.

The “My eyes deceive me” headline of the week.

“UC Irvine Stuns No. 25 Long Beach State 2-0.” The Irvine women’s soccer team has made a habit this season of hanging out in the cellar all season in the Big West. Going into the weekend with a not-so illustrious record of 4-11-1, 0-4 in the Big West, conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that when #25 Long Beach (12-4-1, 3-2-0 Big West) rolled into Irvine, that record would only continue to plummet. Instead, the Anteaters shocked Orange County, whipping the Vandals 2-0, and mustered up a tie with first place Riverside (10-3-3 overall, 4-0-2 Big West). Don’t call it a comeback.

Cow Tipping.

With the exit of staples in the Big West, Utah State and Idaho, one might notice Davis has made more frequent visits to the central coast. In 2003, Davis accepted an invitation into the Big West as it continues to move towards an exclusively Californian conference. However, the Aggies competition in the Big West, for now at least, is purely provisional. It is not until the 2007-2008 season that Davis is even eligible for postseason play.

The door’s open.

Unlike the women’s basketball spectrum of the Big West where the Gauchos are the proverbial Atlanta Braves of basketball – a surefire bet to win the Big West – the men’s side is wide open this season. While eminent powerhouse Pacific seemed destined to become the Gonzaga of the Big West, the Tigers graduated all but one of their starters, although, the one holdover is senior Christian Maraker, a two time first team all Big West selection. Annual bully Utah State was banished out of the new look California Big West, the rest of the Big West is licking their chops at knocking Pacific off of their pedestal. And if the Big West really wants to be noticed, Santa Barbara has the chance to do so with a visit to Tobacco Road to take on defending National Champion North Carolina. A stunning upset of the storied Tar Heels would surely turn a few heads.