Cus Words: Better Not Look Down

After Ohio State's tougher-than-expected tangle with Youngstown State and Michigan's disastrous defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, staffer Marcus Hartman thinks blues master B.B. King might have some advice for the Buckeyes and the rest of major college football.

What we learned this week

In Columbus, the offensive line might not be as dominant as some of us thought it would be. Might, of course, is an important word for anything gleaned from watching just one performance, but any group of offensive linemen at Ohio State should be able to blow just about any group from anywhere off the ball on a consistent basis when it has to. Let alone teams from another subdivision...

In news out of Ann Arbor, we learned the answer to the question, "What's in a name?"

It may not be Division I-A and I-AA anymore, but does a win over a Top 5 team by an opponent from any level lower than the top of the top still smell as sweet?

Judging by the raucous cheers of fans watching the final seconds on the big screen at Ohio Stadium, "Yes."

Is it just me, or is it at least a little bit ironic Appalachian State shocked Michigan on the first full day of competition since the teams from lower tier of NCAA Division I began calling themselves the "Championship Subdivision"?

The Mountaineers, with more national championships to their credit in the last two seasons than the vaunted Michigan program has claimed in the last half-century, showed the nation just what can happen on any given day.

Fun Stat Of The Week

The last two seasons against D-IA opponents NC State, Kansas and LSU, the Mountaineers scored a total of 18 points. They had 28 against Michigan at the half and scored 34 in 60 minutes of football against the Wolverines after barely getting half that in 180 minutes against one elite program (LSU) and two that qualify for middle-of-the-road at best.

What we're looking to learn this week

You better not look down if you want to keep on flying,
Put the hammer down, keep it full-speed ahead,
You better not look back, or you might just end up crying,
You can keep it moving if you don't look down

(BB King and The Crusaders, "You Better Not Look Down")

Just how much does attitude count for?

Although one could make the argument the talent level is not what it used to be in Ann Arbor - check the last five NFL drafts and get back to me - the general consensus seems to be Michigan overlooked Appalachian State, a team that turned out to have entirely too much talent to take lightly.

Unanticipated speed let the Mountaineers make plays here and there - attitude let them essentially dominate the bulk of the game. Lloyd Carr said as much by claiming his team was not ready to play, and the coach took the blame for that shortcoming.

Given Michigan's reputation for arrogance and the fleeting regard for Carr's coaching acumen, this should come as no surprise.

But it should be a lesson to the boys in scarlet and gray. Most prefer to think Jim Tressel is a better coach than Lloyd Carr (the head-to-head record lends credence to that idea), but the man in the sweater vest's teams have not been above overlooking teams. Rory Nicol made quite an admission last week when he told reporters it was a fact the Buckeyes did not prepare as hard as they could have for Florida.

Ohio State got crushed in that game, which shows what happens when teams with similar talent levels approach a game with varying levels of seriousness.

On the other hand, huge upsets are the result of Goliath underestimating David, and that would be Ohio State's more immediate concern with Akron on the docket next.

I say this because while the Buckeyes walked out of their home stadium with a comfortable 32-point win, they did not enjoy the physical dominance one might have expected.

With the Buckeyes and Wolverines both expecting visits from better teams than those they faced last week, we should learn a lot about both.

After both teams admitted to being less than totally focused in week one, it stands to reason motivation will not be a problem a week later.

That means if Ohio State fails to manhandle the Zips the way we thought they might push around the Penguins, it could be time for some genuine concern, especially with a trip to Washington looming.

Meanwhile, if Michigan fixes its attitude problem but can't hold off Oregon, a team that figures to bring into the Big House a similar attack but better athletes than ASU, it really is time to reconsider any assumptions that the talent level is as elite as most observers generally have assumed.

All-Buckeye Beaters nominations

Also known as the Most Outstanding Opponents around the office at BSB world headquarters, this is our yearly measure of those opposing players who look the best against the Buckeyes.

Last year's squad featured such big names as Mike Hart and Michael Griffin, unknowns Vontae Davis and Sherrick McManus also found their way on.

This season we start with an easy pair to pick.

Not only did YSU linebacker Roshon Simons lead all tacklers with 12 total stops, but when Beanie Wells carried four times inside the YSU 10 on the opening drive and came up with a net of two yards, Simons was leading the charge. The Columbus Eastmoor graduate was credited with partial stops on three of Wells' four carries. On the other, safety Vince Gliatta led the charge. Gliatta, a senior from Canton who transferred to YSU from Penn State, had 11 total stops, including three for loss. One of those was a sack that caused the only turnover of the game, a fumble by Todd Boeckman.

One other note - Simons is the younger brother of former Michigan strong safety Marcus Ray, a starter for the 1997 Associated Press national champions.

Fit For DVR

The obvious national draw is Virginia Tech's primetime trip to Death Valley to take on LSU, but that game is not until 9 p.m. EST, so in the mean time worth a gander is Bowling Green-Michigan State at noon, Oregon-Michigan at 3:30 and Notre Dame-Penn State.

The Spartans were dominant against lesser competition last week, while the Falcons downed Big Ten foe Minnesota, so we might get a better gauge of how improved Mark Dantonio's team is (and maybe how bad the Gophers are).

If Michigan can slow down Oregon, maybe the ASU upset was just a fluke. But if not...

And lastly, if PSU is going to be a contender, the Nittany Lions better make Notre Dame look at least as bad as did Georgia Tech.

Cus Words Weekly Big Ten Power Poll

1. Wisconsin (Good reviews for new QB Tyler Donovan but neither P.J. Hill nor the defense was quite up to expectations.)
2. Ohio State (Boeckman a nice debut as the starter, but what about that running game? The defense was as strong as expected)
3. Penn State (Who knows? Even with I-AA teams on the schedule, this might have been the worst nonconference opponent of the year for any Big Ten team.)
4. Purdue (The offense did anything it wanted - 244 yards passing and the same total rushing - and the defense wasn't bad in a throttling of Toledo)
5. Illinois (Illini plagued by turnovers, poor special teams play in loss to Missouri)
6. Iowa (Defense played well, as did the rushing offense, but the passing game struggled with a new QB and minus top receiver)
7. Michigan (The first and the worst but not the last for this fading prgram)
8. Indiana (So far, so good: The Hoosiers did what they should do with a weaker opponent. They buried Indiana State)
9. Michigan State (Defense improved, offense phenomenal with 593 total yards in blowout of UAB)
10. Northwestern (Not as dominant as Indiana or PSU against weaklings, but beggars can't be choosy and a shutout is still a shutout)
11. Minnesota (Showed some resiliency - and perhaps more than expected early from the spread offense - but defense was shredded by first-year starting QB)

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