Here are a number of thoughts I have stored up after last night's impressive season opening win over Washington:
* I joked that Craig Krenzel is the walking, talking reincarnation of Rex Kern on a radio show earlier in the week.
If only Kern had played this well …
I am now wondering if we may not be watching Johnny Heisman ply his trade week in and week out. Those two touchdown runs, for instance, were wicked. He pump faked the defense on that second one, and even I got a groin pull stopping in my tracks on that one.
I spent the first half on the sideline. The only thing I would hold against Krenzel was the first possession. Yes, he converted a first down with a third-down toss to Michael Jenkins. But he was 1 of 5 passing on that first possession and clearly was not himself. Even with the first pass – a deep ball to Drew Carter – discounted, Krenzel wasn't playing his game.
He was clearly upset when he came to the sideline. But to his credit he settled down and had a huge night (again). By my count, he completed passes to nine different receivers.
* Ohio State's other Heisman candidate, flanker/cornerback Chris Gamble, also had a nice showing. I had a premonition yesterday that Gamble would score with a reverse, an interception and a punt return.
I could not believe my eyes as Gamble was headed to the end zone on that reverse, only to get tripped up at the 4. He was trapped on the sideline at about the 12, but he suddenly found another gear you normally don't see out of human beings and got everything he could out of it.
Then, he jumped that quick pass to the receiver and nearly had a pick for touchdown.
OK, so he didn't come close on a punt return. But with Santonio Holmes' fumble of a punt later in the game, I think we can put to rest for a while all the talk of "Why is Gamble returning punts and not Holmes." It's just like why David Boston did it in 1998, when he clearly didn't have to: Gamble (as Boston was) is OSU's most dependable return man. That's more important than having that extra quick step.
* And, as for OSU's third Heisman candidate, Maurice Clarett, I will say he waves a mean towel. Whatever ill feelings he had for Lydell Ross, those must be in the past because he practically mugged Ross (in a good way) after his screen pass helped set up OSU's first TD.
Of course, cheering for the Buckeyes is a role Clarett became accustomed to several games a year ago. Here's hoping he can get back on the field sooner rather than later.
* I heard you grousing about the running game and openly wondering if Clarett would have done as a better job than Ross and Maurice Hall.
People, that was not Bowling Green or Ohio U. out there. That was the University of Washington. That was like a Big Ten-type intensity on Aug. 30. Relax. If OSU is proven to not be able to run the ball over a several week period, then you can push the panic button.
* How about Roy Hall, who looked like Cris Carter with that leaping grab along the sideline.Simon Fraser and A.J. Hawk led the team with seven tackles each. Fraser met UW's Rich Alexis in the backfield as he took one handoff. Hawk had several blowups, also stopping Alexis on a key third-and-short play. Salley, Ashton Youboty and Brandon Mitchell also got heavily involved.
Guys and gals, that defense was playing at a different level. I personally like the way Mark Dantonio and his people shuttle players in and out and change roles constantly. It's hard to keep track of who is lining up where, and I think that's by design.
* As best as I can figure, seven true freshmen saw action in the opener – Youboty, Donte Whitner, Tony Gonzalez, David Patterson, Devin Jordan, Ira Guilford and Louis Irizarry. Patterson was pretty keyed up after he sacked UW's Cody Pickett late in the game, wasn't he?
* Also noted, OSU has now won 15 straight games – the second longest winning streak in school history. Plus, the Buckeyes have now won 30 straight home nonconference games dating to the 1990 loss to USC, when God interceded.
Now, for around the Big Ten:
* Nobody expected Gerry DiNardo to turn Indiana around overnight. But a season opening 34-10 loss at UConn (hey, isn't that a basketball school?) has to dampen everybody's enthusiasm.
Notre Dame transfer Matt LoVecchio was 13 of 29 for 211 yards and was sacked five times. Ouch. Indiana has now lost seven straight. Double ouch. Next stop for the Hoosiers: 2,500 miles due west from Storrs, Conn., at Washington. Triple ouch.
* Speaking of ouch, what was more hideous: Illinois' play in a 22-15 loss to Missouri or the Illini's awful orange uniforms. I could be wrong but the jerseys were a different shade of orange than the pants. That's just wrong. They looked like Clemson.
Michigan State's Jeff Smoker went from off the team, to he won't start the opener, to starting the opener to directing the band after his team's opening win over Western Michigan. Smoker, following the lead of Tennessee's Peyton Manning by directing the band after the game, followed Manning's lead on the field, too: He was 21 of 34 for 324 yards with three TDs and two INTs in his team's all-too-close 26-21 win over the Broncos.
* Wisconsin needed a late rally to turn back West Virginia 24-17. Give the Badgers credit because WVU is a tough place to play. Lee Evans returned in fine fashion, catching seven passes for 70 yards and a TD. Anthony Davis chipped in 167 yards and the game-winning 1-yard TD with 2:57 left. Jim Sorgi looked good (20 of 34 for 215) in his first win as the Badgers' starting QB.
* In one three-hour football game, Iowa ended Miami (Ohio) QB Ben Roethlisberger's Heisman hopes. The Hawkeyes picked Ben R. four times in a 21-3 win over the RedHawks.
* Chris Perry had 232 yards and two TDs as Michigan trampled Central Michigan 45-7.
* Penn State beat Temple 23-10 to improve to 31-3-1 all-time against its instate, ahem, rival.
Now, on to the nation at large:
* Did anybody see Florida State running back Greg Jones absolutely waste North Carolina free safety Dexter Reid with a forearm shiver while Jones was carrying the ball. Wow, Jones knocked the would be tackler back into two other players. The blow forced Reid's helmet off. That's what you call delivering some punishment.
* The Sporting News, ESPN The Magazine and Mark May are all off and running (downhill) again this year. They all touted Auburn. That is, they liked the Tigers before they were blanked and humiliated by USC 23-0.
This is the same May who said yesterday that OSU doesn't have the same type of chemistry it had last year. Right. How does this clown keep his job with comments like this week in and week out. You may not like Trev Alberts, but Trev Alberts looks like Albert Einstein next to Mark May.
As for Auburn, the Tigers talked all this smack about how mad they were over losing at USC last year. They were all talk and no game.
How sad is it that the entire state of Alabama has been eliminated from the Sugar Bowl race and it's Aug. 31? Remember, Alabama is on probation and Auburn, well, they've got one loss.
* We've found something as hideous as Illinois' all-orange unis: Those God forsaken yellow roadies that Oregon unveiled at Mississippi State last night. What a disaster. They looked like something you'd see in one of those hybrid sports on Spike TV or something out of a movie (like "Any Given Sunday").
* If Auburn laid an egg, so did Clemson. Tommy Bowden desperately needed a win over Georgia for credibility sake. He didn't get it – or any points, for that matter, as the Bulldogs rolled 30-0.
* My pick for game of the week was the Colorado-Colorado State game, won by the Buffs 42-35. Joel Klatt led CU with 402 yards passing and four TDs (hey, CSU, don't be afraid to mix in a pass rush and some coverage on the receivers). Bobby Purify's 9-yard TD run with 40 seconds left was the difference maker.Exiled Buffs RB Marcus Houston (you know, he of "Sportscentury" fame even though he's never done anything of note) did have over 100 yards for CSU.
* Eli Manning's Ole Miss helmet is in the Heisman race, too. He threw for 275 yards in an all-too-close 24-21 win over Vanderbilt. Vandy has now lost 18 straight SEC games. Ouch.
* Nebraska "upset" Oklahoma State 17-7. The Cowboys were rated 24th, so Nebraska's string of six straight losses to ranked teams is apparently over. By the way, the Huskers were a touchdown fave so I'm not sure how that equates as an upset.
* Move over, Woody: South Carolina's Lou Holtz notched his 239th career win as the Gamecocks crushed Louisiana-Lafayette 14-7. Holtz moved by Woody Hayes into seventh place on the all-tine wins list.
* There is more exciting action today as Louisville and Kentucky clash. Plus, Cincinnati tackles East Carolina tomorrow.
Here are some key match-ups for next Saturday: Washington State-Notre Dame, Boston College-Penn State, Maryland-Florida State (Terps need to rebound), Oklahoma-Alabama (Sooners face tough task) and Florida-Miami (Fla.) (ought to be a great one with Berlin going against former mates).
* We will wrap up each week with a look at how OSU's opponents fared and check out who they face next week.
Date (Time, TV), Opponent (Record), This Week's Result, Next Week's Game
Aug. 30 (8 p.m., ABC), Washington (0-1), lost to Ohio State 28-9, vs. Indiana, Sept. 6.
Sept. 6 (12:10 p.m., ESPN-Plus Local), San Diego State (1-0), beat Eastern Washington 19-9, at Ohio State, Sept. 6
Sept. 13 (noon, ABC), N.C. State (1-0), beat Western Carolina 59-20, at Wake Forest, Sept. 6
Sept. 20 (12:10 p.m., ESPN-Plus Local), Bowling Green (1-0), beat Eastern Kentucky 63-13, at Purdue, Sept. 6
Sept. 27 (TBA), Northwestern (1-0), beat Kansas 28-20, vs. Air Force, Sept. 6
Oct. 11 (9 p.m., ESPN), at Wisconsin (1-0), beat West Virginia 24-17, vs. Akron, Sept. 6
Oct. 18 (3:30 p.m., ABC), Iowa (1-0), beat Miami (Ohio) 21-3, vs. Buffalo, Sept. 6
Oct. 25 (TBA), at Indiana (0-1), lost to Connecticut 34-10, at Washington, Sept. 6
Nov. 1 (TBA), at Penn State (1-0), beat Temple 23-10, vs. Boston College, Sept. 6
Nov. 8 (TBA), Michigan State (1-0), beat Western Michigan 26-21, vs. Rutgers, Sept. 6
Nov. 15 (TBA), Purdue (0-0), idle, vs. Bowling Green, Sept. 6
Nov. 22 (noon, ABC), at Michigan (1-0), beat Central Michigan 45-7, vs. Houston, Sept. 6