Interesting that the one time all night Tressel does NOT go conservative (right before the half) is the one that cost 'em a cheap FG before intermission that wound up being the difference. The rest of the night -- especially the second half -- OSU was dominating on the field but tightened up in scoring range and settled for a field goal. Painful to watch because USC was not playing very well and you won't get a chance like that often.
The other big loser is Penn State because they needed OSU to win out until their match in November to give them a big win. Now even if the Nits go 12-0, it's tough to see them making the title game. Very frustrating to watch as a Big Ten fan. OSU's D held SC to essentially two good drives all game (and the O gave them a TD to start) ... you have to take advantage of that with Pryor and the offense. On that last series with 1:00 left, the Buckeyes looked totally unprepared.
* MINNESOTA is really having trouble scoring - not sure what happened because the dome team had plenty of problems, but scoring was never one of them. A narrow win today and a juggernaut from Cal (the only Pac 10 team to really look impressive so far this year) up next. Ouch!So a split verdict on step-up weekend for the Big Ten ...
* ILLINOIS rebounded. Yawn. Especially given how bad Mizzou looked tonight, that loss will haunt the Illini all year.
* PURDUE is either better than expected or the Ducks really, really suck this year. (The Oregon Ducks cambe back to beat Purdue 38-36 - quack)
* THE GOOD: Michigan impressed again, Illinois and Iowa bounced back.Great Saturday of football. The SEC can crow all they want from the safety of the south - which they barely leave to play a game - and Florida and Texas can feast on creampuffs until the end of the season, but there's still nothing like a Saturday afternoon in the Big House with midwestern rivals and an evening under the lights in Columbus with a Pac 10 power in town.
* THE BAD: Michigan State blew one, Minnesota looked sloppy again and Penn State was surprisingly lifeless.
* THE UGLY: The red zone graphic (of course) ... and Ohio State's offensive play calling and composure on that final drive (did they not see the 300 Trojans crowding the line waiting to blitz??)
* THE LUCKY: Northwestern, Wisconsin and Indiana all escaped upset bids today, but in different ways. The Cats blew a big lead, the Badgers came from behind and the Hoosiers are giving new life to that classic 1983 White Sox t-shirt: "winnin' ugly." Still, 2-0 is a better place than 1-1 and they'll take it.
* THE ???: Mostly because they're the late game, but still it's tough to get a read on these guys. You gotta be impressed with anyone who can hang in there for a half at Autzen Stadium, but then again, Oregon seems to have lost more than a coach and their composure this year. Surprisingly, though, with the black wings not showing up on TV much, these may be the least offensive Duck uniforms in years for the fashion police! And they won in them!
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