Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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11 Sep 2008

SDA: This Week's Game of the Century

by Russell Levine

The SDA Podcast



After a ho-hum slate of games last week, this week brings the first must-see game of the 2008 season. Will the Buckeyes look better than they did in squeaking past Ohio U? Can USC be as dominant as it looked against Virginia?

There are plenty of other intriguing matchups this week. See below for picks and commentary on the best of the lot.

Come kickoff time at 8 p.m. ET Saturday night, rejoin us back here on this article page for the first-ever Football Outsiders liveblog, as I host commentary about the OSU-USC contest along with FO's other college writers, Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly. As long as you're on the couch watching the game, grab the laptop and join us. The liveblog will open up for comments a half-hour before the game, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Until then, please post your college comments here, as this article serves as the college open thread.

This Week's Guest

Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday and The Sporting Blog, and a frequent SDA Podcast guest, was kind enough to step in at the last minute this week and give his unique insights on everything from the Ohio State-USC game, to Dog the Bounty Hunter, to mullets, to last week's Washington-BYU controversy.

Plus, we chat a bit about why SEC fans love their conference so much, and whether Steve Spurrier is now mailing it in at South Carolina. Oh, and if you're wondering why fans from Ohio are so bitter, well, Orson has some opinions on that matter too.

But Orson knows his football, and he has plenty of cogent analysis about the most problematic matchups for the Buckeyes against the Trojans, as well as his prediction.

Over at Facebook

Thanks to those of you who have become fans of the SDA Podcast page at Facebook. Please click over and check it out.


Listen to the podcast, answer the question of the week, post photos. Check us out!

Find us on Facebook

Are you going to one of the big games this week? Or any game at all for that matter? Post your photos and videos of the scene on the Facebook page. Become a fan to receive notification as soon as the newest podcast episode is posted.

Plus, I want to hear your answers to this week's Facebook Question of the Week: Which conference is better top-to-bottom: The SEC or the Big 12? Post your answers on the page. The best responses will appear in this space next week.

Last week's question, "who is your all-time favorite college football player, and why?" sparked a number of good responses, none better than this, from Tim:

I never went to a big college, but growing up, my favorite player was Larry Allen. Living close to Sonoma State, you got a chance to just read all these neat stories about him and how he was just so much better than anyone else he'd see on the field. He would literally knock people out on his blocks, and there was a story that came out today in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that talked about his legend. At the time, he was somewhat obscure, but it's nice to know that he got his shot at playing in the big time. Dude's about as nice a guy as you'll ever meet, too. So he'd be my "obscure" player.

This Week's Games

No. 13 Kansas (+3.5) at No. 19 South Florida, Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

You don't just walk into Raymond James on a Friday night and walk out with a win over the Bulls, not even if you're the defending Orange Bowl champs. South Florida nearly let one slip away against Central Florida last week, but survived to keep a tiny shred of the Big East's dignity intact. After two weeks, the conference was just 8-7 and had lost games to the MAC (twice), the WAC, and Conference USA. No such trouble in the Big 12 (aggregate record: 22-2), which wants you to know that it's better than the SEC. That remains to be seen, but a solid win by Kansas would be nice for the resume.

THE PICKS -- FEI: South Florida | RUSSELL: South Florida

Michigan (-1) at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

This is still my column (go blue!) with an assist from Notre Dame grad Brian (boo!), so I'll include this game if I want to. Yes, mgoblog has labeled this matchup "Cripple Fight 2008," and with good reason. Michigan's offense remains a mess, and a 15-yard pass appears beyond its ability. Did you actually see Notre Dame against San Diego State? Generally I find the "what if" game to be a waste of time, but I'll play anyway: What if San Diego State doesn't fumble on the goal line and wins that game? Would we be having a serious conversation about Charlie Weis's job security this week? I say yes. I have a hard time believing that Michigan's offense can put up 24 points on anybody, but this might be the worst team Michigan has played so far. I'll swallow hard and take the alma mater. Weis's reaction? "To hell with Michigan."

THE PICKS -- FEI: Notre Dame | RUSSELL: Michigan

No. 16 Oregon (-7) at Purdue, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Oregon is always a tough team to get a read on. Right now, the Ducks look like world-beaters, but they get their first real test against Purdue. This should be a high-scoring affair, with Oregon's Justin Roper and Purdue's Curtis Painter trading touchdown passes. Take the over.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Oregon | RUSSELL: Oregon (Lock)

Arkansas (+23.5) at No. 8 Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Programming note: This game has been postponed until Sept. 27 due to Hurricane Ike.

Sure, Arkansas is 2-0, but just by the skin of its teeth -- despite opening against Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. If this keeps up, Bobby Petrino might actually get fired before he can quit to take a better job. I kid! I kid! Bobby, you know I love you. What would I write about if it weren't for you duping some team out of a few million bucks every couple of years? Texas looked great against UTEP and should be licking its chops against to face its former SWC foe.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Arkansas | RUSSELL: Texas

No. 2 Georgia (-7.5) at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

OK Georgia, here's your first chance to show us you're up to the national title talk. South Carolina may not look like much after getting run over by Vanderbilt, but the Gamecocks have a nasty defense -- one that completely contained the Georgia offense in a road upset last season. Worth tuning in just to here Verne Lundquist, and to see if Knowshon Moreno hurdles anybody.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Georgia (Lock) | RUSSELL: South Carolina

UCLA (+8.5) at No. 18 BYU, 3:30 p.m. ET, VS

UCLA has had a week off to revel in its win over Tennessee. Hopefully, Rick Neuheisel has used that time to convince his club that it won't win many more games if it doesn't play a lot better -- starting this week at BYU. The Cougars were less-than-overwhelming in extending the nation's longest win streak at Washington last week. No need to recap exactly how they won that game here, other than to say quarterback Max Hall has been spectacular so far this season. He'll be facing a much-improved UCLA defense that was dominant at times against Tennessee. I like BYU to win, but the line is too high for me.


No. 5 Ohio State (+10.5) at No. 1 USC, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Make sure to listen to the podcast for more in-depth analysis of this game. It has lost a little bit of luster thanks to Ohio State's close call against Ohio U, but it's still likely to be the biggest non-conference game of the regular season, and by a mile at that. A win puts either club in solid position for the BCS title game. It is questionable whether Ohio State has a chance without an effective Beanie Wells. Super-frosh quarterback Terrelle Pryor doesn't appear to be the answer, either. Despite all the hype, Senator Tressel and the University of Ohio State kept Pryor off the field in crunch time against the Bobcats. Ohio State has to keep this a low-scoring game to have a chance, because with or without a healthy Beanie, they're not going to score a ton against a USC defense that is loaded with future first-round picks.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Ohio State | RUSSELL: Ohio State

No. 10 Wisconsin (-1.5) at No. 21 Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Fresno State had a well-earned reputation as BCS-busters earlier in this decade, but things fell apart just when the Bulldogs appeared to have peaked by very nearly winning at USC in 2005. Now, Pat Hill's club has its best chance to make noise on the national scene since that game by getting Wisconsin at home. The Badgers have been taking care of business the first two weeks, but they're stepping into a hornet's nest in what should be the most raucous crowd in Fresno State history. A win puts Fresno State on the path to an at-large BCS bid, or marks Wisconsin as a serious threat to Ohio State (or even makes them the Big Ten favorite, depending on what happens in Los Angeles).

THE PICKS -- FEI: Wisconsin | RUSSELL: Fresno State

Picks Table

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home FEI Says Russell Says
Kansas +3.5 South Florida South Florida South Florida
Michigan -1 Notre Dame Notre Dame Michigan
Oregon -7 Purdue Oregon Oregon*
Arkansas +23.5 Texas Arkansas Texas
Note: Game postponed until Sept. 27
Georgia -7.5 South Carolina Georgia* South Carolina
Ohio State +10.5 USC Ohio State Ohio State
Wisconsin -1.5 Fresno State Wisconsin Fresno State
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
FEI: 1-7-0 (0-1-0) 4-12-0 (1-1-0)
Russell: 4-4-0 (0-1-0) 8-8-0 (0-2-0)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 11 Sep 2008

64 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2008, 10:12pm by Pat (filler)


by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 12:25pm

TCOAN sighting!

ND-Michigan is more a referendum on the Irish than the Wolverines. Notre Dame wasn't very good for about 53 minutes Saturday and for about seven minutes was the team they were supposed to be. Michigan isn't very good, but they can beat the Irish team that played for most the game. We'll find out whether that was just early-game jitters or if Charlie better start polishing his resume.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 12:47pm

Nooo! Oregon's been picked for the lock. NoOOOOOOO!

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 1:21pm

My picks for recreational purposes only. I'm 4 - 1 so far this year.

1. Ohio State +10.5 over USC. As I've stated previously, I think OSU wins outright.

2. South Florida -3.5 over Kansas. Classic case of underrated vs overrated.

3. Tulane +13 over East Carolina. Upset alert.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 2:01pm

It's hard for me to believe that the line is up to 11 now for OSU/USC. Even though I think USC will win the game, these are two highly ranked teams - 11 points? That's a huge number.

That said, given the goal of the line is to affect the betting, not necessarily to predict the score, that may be the line that they need to get the bets they want.

by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 3:43pm

I loved the discussion about the SEC and how much fervor there is. It does seem to dominate discussions during the week and how excited people are for their teams. Of course, a local high school sometimes draws 10,000 or 20,000 fans so it is not completely limited to college football.

Before the season, USC was favored to win the game. They had a little bit better talent and were playing at home. USC seemed very strong in their opening game, while Ohio State looked weak in their game without Wells. The 11-point line does not shock me as it is about the point where I might consider picking Ohio State.

I think the call at BYU was correct. I understand why people do not like the rule. I wonder why some people want to take discretion out of rules, but still seem to prefer the current punt rule rather than the clearly defined "halo" rule. I expect Willingham and Weis may be gone after this season. (Skip Holz to Notre Dame in the next year or two makes sense)

I also agree that Spurrier is not as invested as in the past. I think it has affected his performance. However, he also has to admit that he probably has never had a Top recruiting class, yet he is often getting his team on the cusp of the Top 25.

I think the PAC-10 may be the best at the Top. The SEC seems like they are better at the bottom (Mississippi, Mississippi State, Arkansas in the West and Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the East). These teams may be able to beat almost any other team and this can take a toll.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 3:46pm

Beanie Wells is now listed as doubtful.


by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 4:48pm

I really hope that FEI gets more accurate as the season goes along. How can I take a system seriously if Russ "be afraid if I pick your alma mater" Levine kicks its ass routinely with picks? :)

by AVTom (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 5:23pm

USC v. OSU line is 11? All that is telling me is that USC is a hell of a lot closer to Las Vegas than Columbus.

by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 6:04pm

I have no allegiance to USC (I went to Cal), but I live in LA and see a lot of their games on TV. Pete Carroll always has them ready in big games, and they have made a habit of trouncing top teams from other conferences (with the lone exception being the championship game against Texas a few years ago). Remember what USC did to a supposedly great Oklahoma team in the championship game? Remember how USC demolished Iowa in the Orange Bowl and pounded Michigan in the Rose Bowl in recent years? Those opponents were simply outclassed by USC's speed and athleticism.

I also have seen tOSU get boatraced in the past few years by superior (i.e., faster and more athletic) teams from Florida and LSU. I saw tOSU struggle mightily last week against Ohio, which no one would confuse with a top team.

All of this leads me to believe that USC is going to destroy tOSU, whether or not Wells plays. I really don't see how tOSU can score a lot of points against USC's defense, and I think USC's talent and speed on offense will lead to a lot of big plays and points for USC. I really wouldn't be surprised if the game is over by halftime.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 6:55pm

#7: Well, you could pull the old "Russell-Vinny" trick. Last week FEI was 1-7, the week before, 3-5. If you had picked against FEI on every pick, you'd be 12-4 and pretty happy.

by Gary (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 8:59pm

#2: There's still hope. The Ducks may win by 6.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:13pm

#10- That's definitely an option. I do think that FEI will get more accurate as the season goes along, although I am pulling for Russ to beat the machine.

Is Mike Teel merely a bad QB, or the worst QB in college football this year?

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:26pm

I don't want to speak for Brian, but I do get the sense that the early season FEI picks are far more speculative and that the data will only get stronger as the year goes on.

Wow, I wonder what's happened to Teel. He's always had a penchant for INTs, but he seems to be getting worse as his career goes on.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:52pm

#13: Isn't this the first year that Brian's doing FEI rankings way early in the year (i.e. combining weekly results plus forecasts)? It may be that there're still some problems doing that. There are teams moving around in FEI rankings who haven't even played a game yet, and I don't understand how that would be possible.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:57pm


I definitely agree. There's no way for FEI to truly account for teams that had lots of roster turnover. Take VT for example- they are replacing something like 16 starters. They have very little in common with last year's team. They just aren't very good. (This doesn't apply to factories like USC, who apparently can replace their entire offense and still be obscenely good.) I mainly just wanted to take a cheap-shot at your picking skills. :)

Teel throws another INT, although this one is only partially his fault since his receiver deflected the pass to a UNC player and it's run back for a TD. I wonder if Schiano wishes he took the Miami job right about now?

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/11/2008 - 10:13pm

I do get the sense that the early season FEI picks are far more speculative and that the data will only get stronger as the year goes on.

I get the same sense, only since it would be almost mathematically impossible for them to get weaker.

Written in fun. We're guys, let's pick on each other.

This game justifies why I didn't think Fresno State should have been ranked based on their win over Rutgers, and why Miami shouldn't have gone over the top to aquire Schiano.

Butch Davis is a hell of a coach.

by Solomon (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 12:00am

Are you open to bringing back the print version of this column instead of the podcasts? I listened to my first SDA podcast, and it was really weak. Y'all spent too much time on tangents and not enough time on football. Yes, I need to hear more about mullets and about how bitter Ohio folks are who drink cheap scotch. Sure, Ohio State folks do not like to lose (who does?), but I would hardly call them bitter. The School Up North does not have the most festive crowds itself.

by t.d. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 12:49am

I wouldn't take OSU at +20.5. Like Marko said, USC really seems to bring it under Carroll in big games. It seems like the FEI is bound to have problems early in the season, before the balence of power has been established. Roster turnover and unbalenced schedules make college much harder to evaluate than the pros. I don't think the top of the Pac 10 is on par with the top of the SEC, but USC sure is.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 8:15am

How can USC-OSU be the game of the century with an 11 point line? Games of the century should feature evenly matched teams.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 9:24am

Re: 17

I encourage you to check out a couple other episodes of the podcast. Orson has a perspective that could be described as "unique" and my conversations with him often stray from the games at hand. That's not always the case.

But the podcast will stay, and I hope you'll continue to listen.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 7:07pm

How can USC-OSU be the game of the century with an 11 point line? Games of the century should feature evenly matched teams

IIRC the line for USC vs Texas- the REAL game of the century- was USC -8.5.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 7:07pm

How can USC-OSU be the game of the century with an 11 point line? Games of the century should feature evenly matched teams

IIRC the line for USC vs Texas- the REAL game of the century- was USC -8.5.

by Anonymous (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 8:05pm

Jim Leavitt drinks a 12-pack of Pepsi a day? His heart could explode at any minute. This may be the first time that Mark Mangino is the healthiest coach in a football game.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 10:38pm

Wow, these two halves could not be more different. I thought USF was gonna get blown off the field early on.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 10:47pm

Also, I feel like Mangino's coronary arteries are like a ticking time bomb that could detonate at any moment.

by Solomon (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 11:08pm

Re: 20
Russell -- OK, I will listen to a couple more future podcasts and see what I think. Maybe I am being defensive about the Ohio bitter commment.

by Joe (not verified) :: Fri, 09/12/2008 - 11:11pm

I think tUSC is going to roll over tOSU.

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:01pm

Testes, testes, one, two... three?

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:18pm

I don't think a quick screen should ever convert a 3rd and 10, but Cal pulled it off on their first drive, sort of. A completely unnecessary hold by a receiver downfield brought it back, and the Turtles held on the next 3rd down. Then Maryland had no problem at all running over the Cal defense to take the early lead.

A bad interception, and Maryland now has it first down inside the 5. ACC power!

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:20pm

Turtles up two touchdowns now, and my wife, who is really getting into this whole sports-watching thing, is highly amused that there's a team with a turtle for a mascot.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:22pm

Cal deserves to lose just for wearing those pants. Awful.

I know we've done some NFL studies about teams from the west coast playing at 1 p.m. ET. Would love to see what the numbers would show in college. Cal looks like they have yet to wake up.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:26pm

OK...if you're the Athletic Director at Cal, why are you OK with a NOON start? After a 3,000 mile trip and three time zone changes, I'd insist on a 3:30 start at the earliest.

It's not like they're in the NFL and have no say in their schedule.

by Androo (not verified) :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:45pm

I can't believe how good the Terps look compared to last week. Could not be a better start. I was tailgaiting before the game and the general hope among fans was to keep it within 40 points.

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:57pm

Cal shouldn't be having so much trouble punching it into the end zone with such a mobile QB. It really shouldn't be that hard to get those last few yards when the first 50 are so effortless, especially with a weapon like a running threat at quarterback.

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 12:57pm

Cal shouldn't be having so much trouble punching it into the end zone with such a mobile QB. It really shouldn't be that hard to get those last few yards when the first 50 are so effortless, especially with a weapon like a running threat at quarterback.

by Trogdor :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 1:05pm

OK, that was the one thing Cal really needed. Maryland had scored easily on every possession (I think), but a fumble finally stops them inside Cal territory. Now if Cal can score, this one goes into halftime fairly close.

by lionsbob :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 1:20pm

Oh wow,Jahvid Best vomits after a huge hit, looked awesome in high-definition.

by lionsbob :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 1:26pm

Cal gets boned, holy cow the Maryland dude was freaking one yard deep in the end zone.

by Rocco :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 2:07pm

Dave Meggett is old enough to have a son in college? I feel so old right now.

by lionsbob :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 2:49pm

So is Maclin a Heisman candidate yet? 172 yards receiving and 3 TDs and the 3rd quarter has barely begun...

by bradluen (not verified) :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 2:50pm

Although Maryland's pass rush also has something to do with it.

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 2:51pm

Join a star-studded cast of your favorite FO posters for IRC football chat! cognet.catch22.org, channel #fo

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 3:39pm

Come on rain, that can only help my team which can't pass under favorable conditions.

These teams may be horrible to mediocre, but I don't care. I'm jacked up. Go blue!

by Rocco :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 3:51pm

It's going to be very hard for VT to stop GT today. Their D-line has not played well this year and now has to deal with this goofy run-heavy offense. Last year's defense would handle things easily, but VT's defense this year is a far cry from that. I miss Vince Hall.

by Dales :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 3:55pm

Michigan seems to want to give this game to Notre Dame.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 4:05pm

Ugh, this was not the start I had in mind. Three fumbles, two lost, and a personal foul in the first 5 minutes or so.

by Rocco :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 4:12pm

It's early, but Purdue is up 14-3 on Oregon. Russ may want to prepare himself for angry hate mail from the Pacific Northwest.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 4:49pm

Michigan's safeties are killing them.

BYU 35, UCLA 0, mid 2nd. At least Michigan isn't having the worst day of anyone out there.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 4:56pm

Ok, who had over-44 first-half points in Michigan-ND?



by Kevin Eleven :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 6:02pm

I have to say (again) that I'm not surprised Michigan's early struggles. EVERYONE graduated, they have a new coach, new system, etc. 5 - 7 would not surprise me.

Despite BYU's hot start, Utah is still my pick as the favorite to crash the BCS.

by t.d. :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 6:42pm

Georgia is playing tight against USC

by Rocco :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 6:49pm

VT pulls out the win. The defense still worries me, and Tyrod has a ways to go as a passer (which isn't helped by the lack of receivers).

Is UGA trying to give the game away to SC? And speaking of giving games away, Purdue is hanging on by a thread.

by Tom Gower :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 7:10pm

Can we use BYU's victory over UCLA as proof that Tennessee and therefore also the rest of the SEC is terrible?

Great weekend for the Pac-10 so far: Washington State loses to Baylor, Cal loses to Maryland, the aforementioned UCLA loss, Stanford loses to TCU. Thank goodness for Hawaii playing Oregon State, at least, plus Oregon is going to OT against Purdue, so that could be another win.

by Nate :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 7:19pm

The Illini are not good (and I need to test my new name)

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 7:25pm

I'm firing up the liveblog now. Feel free to submit questions or comments now, and I'l be back right around 8 p.m. to start things up for the OSU-USC kickoff.

by Crosseyed and Painless (not verified) :: Sat, 09/13/2008 - 7:38pm

Why did Purdue not even try for a closer field goal before the end of regulation?

Why is Javon Ringer carrying it 43 times against Florida Atlantic in a monsoon?

Why does fortune always shine on the Irish?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 1:55am

I hate, hate, hate Fresno State's punt at the end of the game. Two minutes left, down 3, with a field goal kicker not worth a damn, you freaking go for it. I don't care if it's 4th and 14. Just do it.

Best case scenario, they were still going to have to complete 10+ yard passes trying to get from wherever they get the punt back (the 40 or 50) into field goal range. So if you're assuming you can do it then, do it now, and don't ask the defense to keep a team from getting a first down.

Wisconsin's really lucky to win that game.

by Solomon (not verified) :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 1:57am

Wow, the Ohio State-Southern Cal game really sucked. Like, really, really sucked. I would have liked to see Pryor play the entire second half. It was already 21-3 at that point, and Boeckman did not look good. USC is good, but OSU should be able to play a more competitive game than that.

Despite this calamity, OSU will rebound, win the Big Ten, and play in the Rose Bowl. This is still a very talented team.

Btw, Ohio State has never finished behind Penn State in the Big Ten standings since Tressel arrived (they tied once).

The Colts need to win Sunday to salvage something from my weekend.

by lionsbob :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 2:28am

Bad day for PAC-10 teams not named USC. Oklahoma beats down Washington, Baylor beats down Washington State, BYU beats down UCLA. Then Stanford loses to TCU, Cal loses to Maryland, Arizona loses to New Mexico...and Arizona State loses to UNLV. I guess at least both Oregon and Oregon State won as well.

by Richard (not verified) :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 2:38am

The USC-OSU result was a little surprising. I didn't think it would be that close.

by Kevin Eleven :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 9:47am

1. Southern Cal- there's no argument for any other team at this point.
2. Oklahoma
3. Florida- the next "Game of the Century" is Florida vs Georgia.
4. Missouri- Chase Daniel for Heisman?
5. Georgia
6. Penn State- remember back when Penn State vs Syracuse was actually an important game?
7. LSU
8. South Florida
9. Alabama
10. Wisconsin
11. East Carolina
12. Auburn- a 3 - 2 loss is the ultimate Mississippi State game.
13. BYU- they beat UCLA 59 - 0?!?!?!?!?
14. Ohio State- they've done NOTHING this year. This rating is based 100% on potential and 0% on production. As harsh as that sounds, I still expect tOSU to go 11 - 1, but we no longer have to worry about seeing them in the BCS Championship game.
15. Utah- don't be surprised to see Utah, BYU, and TCU cannibalize each other SEC-style.
16. Texas Tech- I know the Big-12 South is brutal, but scheduling UMass? C'mon.
17. Oregon
18. Texas
19. Wake Forest- this really could be the best team in the ACC.
20. Kansas
21. TCU
22. Oklahoma State- good enough to potentially upset Texas or Oklahoma.
23. Virginia Tech
24. Nebraska
25. Fresno State- the close loss to Wisconsin proved they're for real.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 10:28am

So let me understand correctly. Wisconsin runs the ball effectively, avoids turnovers, and has an active defensive line throughout the game that generates eleven loss yardage plays including three sacks and Wisconsin is termed "lucky"?

The three missed field goals by Fresno State? I don't think field goal attempts from 47 and 51 yards are "locks" so it comes down to a guy missing a 35 yarder. Which would have tied the score.

And this doesn't even begin to discuss the obvious fumble that was reversed based on some bizarro world assessment of what constitutes "possession". Wisconsin had a 13-7 lead and the ball at the Fresno State 26 yard line if the call had not been changed. That's potentially a 16-7 game or even 20-7. Thanks to this call, which even the broadcasters termed "bad"/"incredible"/"wrong" Fresno State enjoyed a six point swing getting a field goal after a big play down the field.

Nor does this broach the fact that Pat Hill has made superior special teams play his calling card and it was Fresno that got "outreturned" on kicks and Fresno who had a turnover on special teams. And it wasn't Wisconsin that turned a partially blocked punt into zero points in the second half.

And if I recall correctly it was Wisconsin backed up inside its one yard line with 1:55 left, the backup quarterback in the game and a frenzied end zone crowd going nuts around it that generated a first down that sealed the deal. The FSU defense had its chance. And whiffed.

I know there are folks in these parts who hate the Wisconsin head coach with a passion of a 1000 burning suns. But I would like to think FO posters could still recognize a solid effort on the road.

Wisconsin wasn't perfect. Nor were they "lucky".

They made more positive plays than the opposition. Period.

by Kevin Eleven :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 2:48pm

It's SCARY that the Coaches' Poll is 1/3 of the formula used to determine the National Championship. I'll bet half the pollsters went ahead and voted without knowing that Arizona State lost to UNL-freakin-V.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sun, 09/14/2008 - 10:12pm

Wisconsin runs the ball effectively, avoids turnovers, and has an active defensive line throughout the game that generates eleven loss yardage plays including three sacks and Wisconsin is termed "lucky"?

Wisconsin was lucky because they pretty noticeably outplayed Fresno State, and Fresno State was still in it at the end, and if Fresno State would've made those field goals, they easily could've lost.

Wisconsin looked like the better team, and they nearly lost. That makes them lucky.