There was no OSU game this week, but here were some thoughts I have stored up this week:
* The weekend of Oct. 4 whittled the number of unbeaten Division I-A teams down from 14 to 11. The unfortunates were Air Force, which fell to Navy; Tennessee, which lost at Auburn; and Louisville, which fell to Central Florida 31-28 in overtime.
Minnesota became the nation's first 6-0 team by pounding Northwestern. Northern Illinois needed overtime to get past Ohio U. and get to 5-0. Others at 5-0 include TCU, Nebraska, Florida State, Oklahoma, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, LSU and Ohio State. Arkansas was idle and remains 4-0.
* Like many of you, I watched the Thursday night game between Miami (Fla.) and West Virginia with more than just a passing interest.
It seemed early on that Miami was going to be in a dogfight all night long. The Mountaineers took the lead on a miraculous 33-yard catch-and-run from Rasheed Marshall to Quincy Wilson with exactly two minutes left. But the Hurricanes, behind a great fourth-and-13 conversion from Brock Berlin to Kellen Winslow Jr., drove for the game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left to secure a 22-20 win .
There is so much football that remains to be played, but it has to hurt that OSU needed that result and then, of course, to win its last seven games (much easier said than done, naturally) to go the Sugar Bowl. I elevated Ohio State over Miami in my rankings. Will others do the same? Hmmm.
And, honestly, I think Miami, like Ohio State, perhaps, is going to have a hard time running the table -- particularly if Brock Berlin throws a few more ill-advised picks. The ‘Canes go to Florida State this week (be ready, because FSU could vault over OSU with an impressive win) and they still have to play Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Top-ranked Oklahoma looks like the team to beat -- provided it can beat Texas next week in Dallas.
* If you're anything like me, I'm sure you paid to watch the Wisconsin-Penn State game on pay per view.
I thought Wisconsin, OSU's next opponent, played a solid game in its win 30-23 win over Penn State. Yes, there were some turnovers. But as everybody thought UW was able to grind its way to victory with 234 yards on the ground, 119 of them coming from Booker Stanley.
The running game will be the litmus test as the Buckeyes and Badgers collide next week. OSU leads the nation in run defense, while UW will vault into the top 10 in rushing offense after this showing.
UW coach Barry Alvarez laid it all out after his team's win over the Lions.
"It's a big game for us, defending national champ and a night game," Alvarez said. "It should be a nice atmosphere. We're going to have to a play a lot better. I know that. Ready or not here we come. Isn't that what they say? We are going to play them. We just have to try to get our guys ready. We have done a lot of good things. We have been through spurts. We have got to clean them up. We cleaned up some things on the kicking game. We have to hope all our guys are healthy. We will give them our best shot."
Obviously, we are planning blow out the budget coverage leading up to and on through the game in Madison.
Now, for around the Big Ten:
* Iowa's stunning 30-27 victory over No. 9 Michigan rates as the Game of the Week.
The 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes fell behind 14-0, but with determination and a raucous homecoming crowd behind them, they fought back to tie the game at 20-20, take the lead at 23-20, extend it to 30-20 and finally hold off a furious late UM charge to win one of the biggest games in Iowa City in some time.
Michigan outgained Iowa 463-295, led by quarterback John Navarre, who threw for a school record 389 yards. Navarre‘s 41-yard touchdown to Braylon Edwards, who had seven catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, closed the gap to 30-27 with 3:43 left. UM then forced an Iowa punt and moved to midfield in the final minute. But three straight incomplete passes ended the threat.
"We needed to execute," said Navarre, who fell to 0-6 in his career against ranked teams on the road. "We had some plays we didn't get done."
Iowa defeated Michigan for just the fourth time ever in Iowa City. It marked Iowa's first back-to-back wins over UM since 1984-85.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys than I am right now," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Nathan Chandler threw for two touchdowns and ran for another for the Hawkeyes. Chandler was 17-of-34 for a career-high 195 yards. Fred Russell ran for 110 yards and Nate Kaeding added three field goals.
It would be premature to count UM out of the Big Ten picture or the Rose Bowl. If the Wolverines can somehow win out -- and somebody else can beat Iowa and Wisconsin along the way, UM would still be in position to possibly go to Pasadena.
* Wisconsin's Jim Leonard returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, and big plays on special teams set up two more scores as the Badgers cruised to their win at Penn State.
``I was really pleased with our special teams,'' Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. ``We made some mistakes with special teams, but they had some big plays today -- caused two turnovers, had a big kickoff return and a punt return -- and I was really pleased with that.''Badgers QB Jim Sorgi completed only 9 of 26 passes, but two of his completions were for touchdowns. Penn State led 9-7 after Sean McHugh's 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. But that's when the special teams troubles began. Brandon Williams' returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to set up Mike Allen's 46-yard field goal, putting Wisconsin up 10-9.
The Badgers had a chance to increase their lead when Traison Lewis hit Calvin Lowry, forcing a fumble on the kickoff return, but Allen's field goal try hit the left upright. But Lowry fumbled again, this time when Jeff Mack hit him on a punt return, giving Wisconsin the ball on the Penn State 23. Sorgi's 20-yard touchdown pass to Williams made it 17-9.
``We used to have a saying about fumbles, that it's either a lack of courage or a lack of concentration,'' Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. ``It's either one or the other, and I don't think it's a lack of courage. Some of them are young players, and they try to make some things happen, and they get careless with the football.''
Leonhard's punt return in the third quarter made it 23-9.
PSU cut the lead to 23-16 on Michael Robinson's 73-yard touchdown pass to Matt Kranchick late in the third. But the Nittany Lions couldn't stop the run. UW ran 13 consecutive running plays on the next possession, most up the middle, ending with Stanley's 6-yard touchdown run for a 30-16 lead with 9:42 left.
Penn State, at 2-4, needs four wins in its last six games just to get to 6-6 and qualify for the postseason.
* Minnesota outscored Northwestern 35-3 in the middle two periods on its way to a 42-17 win in Evanston. Asad Abdul-Khaliq threw for three touchdowns, including a game-changing 96-yarder to Jared Ellerson, as Minnesota roared back from an early deficit. The Gophers improved to 6-0 for the first time in 43 years.
Marion Barber III ran for two scores as the Gophers piled up 572 yards and improved to 6-0 for the first time in 43 years. Abdul-Khaliq was 12-for-17 for 331 yards. Two of his TDs came on long passes to Ellerson, the school-record 96-yarder and another for 82 yards.
* Purdue's Jerod Void ran for a career-high 119 yards and four touchdowns as the Boilermakers buried Illinois 43-10 in Champaign. The Boilermakers have won four straight overall and seven straight conference openers under Joe Tiller, who became just the second Purdue coach to win 50 games. The Illini lost their fourth straight.
PU's John Standeford caught six passes for 101 yards -- all in the first half -- and moved into second on the Big Ten's career reception list with 215. He also set a school record for yards receiving (3,062) and moved into fifth on the Big Ten list.
* QB Jeff Smoker tied a Michigan State record with 32 completions and accounted for three touchdowns as the Spartans crushed Indiana 31-3 in East Lansing. Michigan State has won three straight games in a season for the first time since starting 3-0 in 2000. The Hoosiers lost their 11th straight road game, dating to a win at Michigan State on Nov. 10, 2001.
Smoker was 32-of-40 for 351 yards with two TDs, a rushing score and no interceptions. He tied the school mark for completions set by John Leister, who threw 46 passes in a loss to Michigan in 1982.
Now, on to the nation at large:
* The runner-up for Game of the Week was in Austin, where No. 13 Texas turned back No. 16 Kansas State 24-20. Young, a freshman, shook off a sore right ankle, relieved Chance Mock and helped rally the Longhorns to the win. He scored the winning touchdown from a yard out on fourth down with five minutes left.
Young's fourth-down dive over the top of the line capped an 88-yard drive that started after Texas recovered Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson's fumble. Roberson ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 1-yard run that gave the Wildcats a 20-17 lead. But he also had three turnovers with two interceptions, including one in the end zone that killed a scoring chance late in the first half.
The UT win sets the stage for next week's Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas as the Longhorns meet top-ranked Oklahoma, which pounded Iowa State 53-7 for its 23rd-straight win in Ames.
* Auburn's Carnell Williams ran for 185 yards and resurgent Auburn made a late defensive stand to beat previously unbeaten Tennessee 28-21. Jason Campbell had two touchdown passes for Auburn, which has won five of its last seven games against Top 10 teams. UT QB Casey Clausen led a late rally, throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes before a late interception.
* Also in the SEC, Georgia scored 37 points by halftime -- the most Alabama has given up in a half in the modern era -- then held on for a sloppy 37-23 victory. The Bulldogs returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and scored another TD after recovering a fumble, building a 37-10 lead at the half. At that point, Georgia already had put up more points on Alabama than it had scored in any of the previous 62 games between the schools. Also, Alabama officials said it was the most points given up by the Tide in a half since at least 1933.
* UCLA scored 39 unanswered points, reversing a 16-7 Washington lead and trouncing the Huskies 46-16 at the Rose Bowl. Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle returned from a first-half suspension to score on a fumble recovery and intercept a pass for the Bruins. Leisle was suspended for the half for punching a San Diego State player in the stomach last week.
The senior star made an impact on his very first play, pouncing on the ball in the end zone after defensive end Dave Ball knocked the ball out of quarterback Cody Pickett's hand. Drew Olson was 16-for-24 for 258 yards and had a 1-yard TD run for the Bruins (3-2, 1-0 Pac-10). Craig Bragg caught eight passes for 142 yards, and Manuel White had 19 carries for 83 yards. * Ole Miss QB Eli Manning stayed in the Heisman Trophy hunt by directing a late 50-yard touchdown drive to lift the Rebels to a 20-17 win over Florida at The Swamp. For the second straight season, Ole Miss held Florida scoreless in the second half to earn an ``upset'' victory, adding this to a 17-14 home win last year.
The loss dropped Gators coach Ron Zook to 11-8 in the 19 games since he took over for Steve Spurrier.
Manning finished 17-for-29 for 262 yards.
"He claimed after Peyton left that he'd never come back to Gainesville or The Swamp. So, he had one last trip and he got to end it on a good one,'' Manning said of his father, Archie, who attended the Rebels' victory at Florida. Eli finished his career 2-0 against the Gators, while brother Peyton went 0-3 against them while at Tennessee.
Vashon Pearson nudged over from 1 yard with 1:10 left to give the Rebels the winning score. Pearson finished with 48 yards, Ronald McClendon had 107, including a 52-yard touchdown, and Ole Miss ran for 223 total yards. Florida was stymied by three Chris Leak interceptions in the fourth quarter.
This marks the first time the Gators have lost consecutive games at The Swamp since 1988-89.
* Baylor shocked Colorado 42-30 for the Bears' second Big 12 win in their last 39 conference games.
"The defense was fired up, the offense was fired up and the crowd was fired up. That's what wins you games," said Baylor linebacker Justin Crooks.
* Also in the Big 12 -- in a game that ended well past 1 a.m. Eastern time -- Texas Tech's B.J. threw a Big 12-record eight touchdown passes and topped 500 yards passing for the third straight game as the Red Raiders beat Texas A&M 59-28. Symons, who was 34-of-46 for 505 yards, broke the conference mark of seven TDs set by A&M's Dustin Long last year in Tech's 48-47 overtime win in College Station.
* Northern Illinois' P.J. Fleck, Northern Illinois, had 14 catches for a school-record 234 yards, and a touchdown as the No. 17 Huskies rallied late in regulation to force overtime and went on to beat Ohio U. 30-23 in overtime.
* My new Heisman Trophy ballot (subject to change, of course, before I have to send it in): Virginia Tech‘s Kevin Jones, Oklahoma's Jason White (threw for 384 yards, five TDs in OU's rout of Iowa State), N.C. State's Philip Rivers (he throws for 344 yards in a 29-21 loss to Georgia Tech, but it was the Pack's third defeat), Pittsburgh‘s Larry Fitzgerald.
* My new top 10: Oklahoma (any more questions?), Ohio State (up one spot after that great Miami showing), Miami (Fla.), Florida State, LSU, Virginia Tech, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska (almost by default).
* Here are some key match-ups for next week, which is by far the best weekend of college football all year: Michigan-Minnesota (Michigan crabbed about playing on a Friday night; hey, just take care of your own business; can Gophers remain unbeaten?), Ohio State-Wisconsin (the moment of truth has arrived downtown at the stadium), Oklahoma-Texas at Dallas (should be a great one; Vince Young gives UT a glimmer of a chance), Miami-Florida State (the Hoolicanes‘ regular season winning streak is in serious peril), Florida-LSU, Georgia-Tennessee, Auburn-Arkansas, Notre Dame-Pittsburgh (ND staring at 1-7 start, potentially), Penn State-Purdue (the slide continues for PSU), Stanford-USC, Bowling Green-Western Michigan.
We will wrap up each week with a look at how OSU's opponents fared and check out who they face next week, followed by the Big Ten standings.
Date (Time, TV), Opponent (Record), This Week's Result, Next Week's Game
Aug. 30, Washington (3-2), lost to UCLA 46-16, Oct. 4; vs. Nevada, Oct. 11
Sept. 6, San Diego State (3-3), lost to BYU 44-36, Oct. 4; at Utah, Oct. 11
Sept. 13, N.C. State (3-3), lost to Georgia Tech 29-21, Oct. 4; vs. Connecticut, Oct. 11
Sept. 20, Bowling Green (4-1), beat Central Michigan 23-3, Oct. 4; at Western Michigan, Oct. 11
Sept. 27, Northwestern (2-4), lost to Minnesota 42-17, Oct. 4; at Indiana, Oct. 11
Oct. 11 (9 p.m., ESPN), at Wisconsin (5-1), beat Penn State 30-23, Oct. 4; vs. Ohio State, Oct. 11
Oct. 18 (3:30 p.m., ABC), Iowa (5-1), beat Michigan 30-27, Oct. 4; idle, Oct. 11; at Ohio State, Oct. 18
Oct. 25 (TBA), at Indiana (1-5), lost to Michigan State 31-3, Oct. 4; vs. Northwestern, Oct. 11
Nov. 1 (TBA), at Penn State (2-4), lost to Wisconsin 30-23, Oct. 4; at Purdue, Oct. 11
Nov. 8 (TBA), Michigan State (5-1), beat Indiana 31-3, Oct. 4; at Illinois, Oct. 11
Nov. 15 (TBA), Purdue (3-1), beat Illinois 43-10, Oct. 4; vs. Penn State, Oct. 11
Nov. 22 (noon, ABC), at Michigan (4-2), lost to Iowa 30-27, Oct. 4; at Minnesota, Oct. 10
Big Ten StandingsTeam (Overall, Big Ten) Minnesota (6-0, 2-0) Michigan State (5-1, 2-0) Wisconsin (5-1, 2-0) Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) Purdue (4-1, 1-0) Iowa (5-1, 1-1) Michigan (4-2, 1-1) Northwestern (2-4, 0-2) Penn State (2-4, 0-2) Illinois (1-5, 0-2) Indiana (1-5, 0-2)
Oct. 4 ResultsWisconsin 30, Penn State 23 Minnesota 42, Northwestern 17 Michigan State 31, Indiana 3 Iowa 30, Michigan 27 Purdue 43, Illinois 10
Oct. 10 ScheduleMichigan at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Oct. 11 ScheduleMichigan State at Illinois, noon (ESPN or ESPN2) Northwestern at Indiana, 12:10 p.m. (ESPN-Plus) Penn State at Purdue, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) Ohio State at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN)