My Annual Trip To The Graveyard

It very nearly didn’t happen this year.

With a new Urban Meyer rumor to chase down virtually every day, family Thanksgiving obligations outside the city and tomorrow’s Ann Arbor travel plans to finalize, I very nearly skipped my annual Michigan Week ritual.

Then I thought about how I would feel if I didn’t go on my annual pilgrimage, so while everyone else in my family settled in to watch another football game on Thursday evening, I sneaked away to drive past the little white house on Cardiff Road. Then it was on to Ohio Stadium for some reflection before traveling a well-worn path north on Olentangy River Road to Union Cemetery.

I arrived just as darkness was beginning to fall and I knew the cemetery would be closing soon. The freshening breeze caused a swirl of falling yellow and brown leaves as I made my way through the main entrance and down an ever-narrowing blacktopped road to Section 12.

It was a milder-than-usual Thanksgiving Day in central Ohio this year, so I left my coat in the car as I made my way to a familiar place – Lot 37, Space 4 – beneath the large pine trees off to the side of a black granite marker. I soon wished I had taken that coat as a cold wind began to blow, gently at first but growing into a chilly bluster.

I started back to the car when I heard a familiar sound.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Half-startled, I turned around and squinted against the dying daylight. It was the silhouette of a man that has become familiar to me over the years. He was stockily built and slightly hunched over, and as my eyes slowly adjusted to the increasing darkness, I could make out the red windbreaker, the gray trousers, the silver-rimmed glasses and the black baseball cap jammed low over his gray hair. I could also make out an angry scowl, lips tightly pressed together, and a jaw locked firmly into position.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he repeated. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Waiting for me?” I replied. “I’m sorry. I’ve always got the impression that you thought I was kind of a pest, showing up every year about this time and bending your ear like I do. I just kind of thought …”

“The only thing that bothers me,” the man interrupted, “is that you talk when you should be listening. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given your profession. My experience always was that people in your line of work thought they knew more than they really did.”

With a sheepish grin, I nodded. But before I could say anything else, the old man began again.

“I’ve had a lot on my mind these past several months and I’m not very happy about what I’ve seen. Not very goddamned happy at all. Just what in the hell is going on over there? Has everyone lost their minds?”

“Well,” I said, “it is kind of mind-boggling to think all of this started when a couple of guys wanted some free tattoos.”

“Free tattoos?” he thundered. “Do you think that’s what this is all about? A couple of kids wanted free tattoos?”

He began to clench and unclench his fists as he inched toward me. His mouth drew even tighter, and his hollow eyes seemed to pierce right through me.

“It has nothing to do with any goddamned tattoos. I’m talking about doing the right thing. I’m talking about honor. I’m talking about leadership. I’ve seen none of that during this whole thing – at least none of it from the people who should have been showing it. Of course, I really shouldn’t be surprised. When the going gets tough, the cover-your-ass, ivory-tower crowd gets hard to find. Let me tell you something: I wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for any of them.”

“Well,” I interjected, “the university hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in terms of damage control.”

“Damage control?” he said with a laugh. “Their idea of damage control is fighting a forest fire with a goddamned squirt gun.”

He shook his head and looked at the ground. After a few moments, he looked at me again and I thought I could detect a glistening moistness in his eyes.

“A goddamned shame,” he said softly. “It’s just a goddamned shame what this great and wonderful institution has been through. I feel sorry for those players who had nothing to do with this mess. They are the ones who are suffering. Those players and that fine coach are the ones I think have lost the most.”

“That fine coach?” I said.

“Yes. Jim Tressel,” he said. “A fine, fine man. He didn’t deserve what happened.”

“Well,” I offered. “There are those who believe Tressel got what was coming to him.”

“Those people are goddamned fools and you can tell them I said so,” he said sternly.

I tried again. “He did knowingly use players that would have been ineligible and lied to the NCAA when … ”

I was quickly cut off.

“He didn’t lie to anyone. He did what he had to do.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “What do you mean he did what he had to do?”

“He did what he had to do,” the man repeated. “If you knew what I know, you’d say the same thing. He did what he had to do, what we all would do given the same set of circumstances – if we had the guts.”

“Are you saying we don’t know the whole story? I asked.

Just then, I heard another sound. A lone car had appeared and a man rolled down the window.

“The cemetery’s closed,” he said. “You’ll have to leave.”

I nodded my head in his direction and then turned back to the man in the black ball cap. But he was gone.

“Hey!” I shouted. “Wait a minute. There’s so much more I wanted to ask you. So much more I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Who are you talking to?” the man in the car asked.

I turned around again as the wind began to rustle the trees.

“No one, I guess,” I said softly as I began to shuffle slowly toward my car.

The man drove off, and as I opened my car door, I looked back one last time, trying to make out the black gravestone in the darkness. Out of the shadows and gathering ground fog, the old man walked toward me.

“I have so many questions,” I said. “What did you mean about Tressel doing what he had to do? What do you think about the job Luke Fickell has done? What do you think about Urban Meyer?”

“I know you have a lot of questions,” he said softly. “I’ve been getting a lot of visitors these past few months and they all have the same questions. The best advice I can give them is among the words that are written right over there.”

He pointed back at the granite marker on which these words are inscribed: “And in the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love hears the rustle of a wing.”

I heard a familiar church bell chime in the distance and I knew what that meant.

“Well, I have to getting back,” he said. He turned and began walking toward the shadow of the trees before turning around to face me one last time.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” he said. “There is one thing you could do for me. You tell those boys who are going to put on those scarlet and gray uniforms tomorrow that I’ll be watching. You tell ’em if there’s something they’d like to do to warm the soul of an old coach, they can go up there and knock the living daylights out of those sons-a-bitches.”

“I’ll tell them, Coach,” I said. “I’ll tell them.”

With that, he nodded and walked off into the mist, faintly talking to himself – words that sounded an awful lot like “Fight that team across the field, show them Ohio’s here.”

OSU-MICHIGAN TIDBITS

** Ohio State and Michigan will buckle it up tomorrow for the 108th renewal of what is known simply as The Game. The teams first met in 1897 and have played every season since 1918. The Wolverines lead the overall series by a 57-44-6 margin, including a 30-20-4 advantage in Ann Arbor – 4-0-1 at Regents Field, 5-2-0 at Ferry Field and 21-18-3 at Michigan Stadium.

** In the last 60 meetings overall, Ohio State holds a 32-26-2 advantage.

** Since 1919, when Ohio State scored its first-ever victory over Michigan, the overall series is dead even at 44-44-3.

** The Buckeyes have won each of the last three games in the series played at Michigan Stadium. They haven’t enjoyed that kind of streak in Ann Arbor against the Wolverines since winning four in a row between 1961 and 1967.

** Ohio State has won nine of the last 10 games in the series for the first time ever. The Buckeyes are also gunning for an unprecedented eighth straight victory over Michigan.

** OSU head coach Luke Fickell is making his first appearance vs. Michigan as a head coach, but he is 9-4 lifetime against the Wolverines. Fickell was 1-3 against U-M as an Ohio State player from 1993-96 and 8-1 as an assistant coach on Jim Tressel’s staff from 2002-10.

** Only four Ohio State head coaches enjoyed winning records against Michigan – Woody Hayes (1951-78) at 16-11-1, Jim Tressel (2001-10) at 9-1, Earle Bruce (1979-87) at 5-4 and Francis A. Schmidt (1934-40) at 4-3. Hayes, Bruce and Schmidt are all members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

** Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is making his first appearance vs. Ohio State as a head coach, but he is 5-3 lifetime against the Buckeyes. Hoke spent eight seasons from 1995-2002 on Lloyd Carr’s coaching staff at U-M.

** Six Michigan head coaches had winning records against Ohio State – Fielding Yost (1901-23, ’25-26) at 16-3-1, Bo Schembechler (1969-89) at 11-9-1, Herbert “Fritz” Crisler (1938-47) at 7-2-1, Gary Moeller (1990-94) at 3-1-1 and Gustave Ferbert (1897-99) and George Little (1924) at 1-0 each.

** The game will feature two of the winningest college football teams in history. Michigan ranks first all-time with 893 wins while Ohio State is fifth with 836. Texas is second with 856, Notre Dame is third with 851 and Nebraska is fourth with 845.

** This marks the 18th time in series history that Ohio State and Michigan have played after Thanksgiving. The series is deadlocked at 8-8-1 when the game has been played after Turkey Day, but the Buckeyes have prevailed the last two times the two teams have met post-Thanksgiving. That included last year’s 37-7 win in Ohio Stadium as well as a 26-20 victory in Ann Arbor in 2001, 310 days after Jim Tressel made his now-famous speech shortly after being hired as OSU head coach.

** Both the Buckeyes and Wolverines have been eliminated from the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, ending a decade-long streak during which either OSU or Michigan won or shared the conference crown. The last time neither team had at least a share of the Big Ten trophy was in 2001 when Illinois took home the outright championship.

** In addition to having its record-tying streak of six consecutive Big Ten championships snapped, Ohio State will fall short of at least 10 victories for the first time since an 8-4 season in 2004. The Buckeyes’ streak of six straight seasons with 10 or more wins is a conference record.

** The last time a ranked Michigan team lost to an unranked Ohio State squad was in 2004 when the Buckeyes erased an early 14-7 deficit for a 37-21 victory over the seventh-ranked Wolverines.

** Michigan is trying to win its eighth home game in a single season for the first time since 1917 when the Wolverines were playing at old Ferry Field.

** You probably should not expect a shutout tomorrow. The Wolverines haven’t blanked the Buckeyes since a 28-0 victory in Ann Arbor in 1993. OSU hasn’t recorded a shutout over U-M since a 28-0 win in Ann Arbor in 1962.

** During an 18-year span from 1975 to 1992, the record for the team entering The Game with the higher ranking was 12-4-1. (Neither team was ranked in 1987.) In the 18 games since, the higher-ranked team has managed only an 11-7 mark.

** Michigan is vastly improved on defense from a year ago. After allowing 35.2 points per game in 2010, the Wolverines give up an average of only 15.6 points this season and that ranks second in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. They have also gone from 108th in total defense (447.9 yards per game) a year ago to 14th this season (312.6).

** The game will feature a pair of slow-starting teams. Only 44 of Ohio State’s 267 total points (16.5 percent) have come in the first q          quarter. Only 72 of Michigan’s total of 370 points scored (19.5 percent) have come in the opening period.

** That said, both teams will be looking to score first. Ohio State is 4-1 this season when it scores first; Michigan is 5-1 when it puts up the first score of the game.

** The Wolverines have outscored their opposition by a 190-77 margin in the second half. The Buckeyes have outscored their opposition by a 139-100 margin in the second half.

** Since the two teams met in 1923 for the Ohio Stadium dedication game, a total of 7,743,542 fans have attended The Game. That’s more than any other college football game in America. Sixty-one of those 89 games have been sold out, including the last 42 in a row.

** Michigan Stadium is the site for the largest crowd ever to watch a college football game. A crowd of 114,804 jammed into the Big House on Sept. 10 to watch the Wolverines take a 35-31 win from Notre Dame.

** The Wolverines have 21 native Ohioans on their roster including six starters – tight end Kevin Koger (Toledo Whitmer), strong safety Jordan Kovacs (Oregon Clay), offensive guard Patrick Omameh (Columbus DeSales), receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood-Madison), linebacker Jake Ryan (Cleveland St. Ignatius) and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown Liberty).

** The Buckeyes have three players from Michigan – defensive back Dionte Allen (Orchard Park St. Mary’s), tight end Reid Fragel (Grosse Pointe South) and defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins (Detroit Southeastern).

** Don’t expect a close game. In the previous 107 contests between OSU and Michigan, only 17 have been decided by three points or less. The Buckeyes hold a 6-5-6 edge in those games.

** Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson has 3,046 career rushing yards. That is second all-time among quarterbacks in the Big Ten to Antwaan Randle El, who totaled 3,895 yards for Indiana from 1998-2001. Robinson is currently ninth on U-M’s career rushing list.

** Robinson gets more recognition for his running ability, but he has moved into the top 10 in many of his school’s passing categories. That includes a tie for seventh with Tom Brady (1996-99) with 35 career touchdown passes.

** In terms of career total offense, Robinson is third all-time at Michigan with 7,693 yards. Occupying the top two spots are Chad Henne (9,300, 2004-07) and John Navarre (8,995, 2000-03).

** OSU senior wideout DeVier Posey had four catches last week to move him into eighth place on the Ohio State all-time receptions list with 128. He broke a ninth-place tie with Dane Sanzenbacher (124, 2007-10) and also motored past Brian Robiskie (127, 2005-08). Posey needs 13 more catches to leapfrog Dee Miller (132, 1995-98), Ted Ginn Jr. (135, 2004-06) and Santonio Holmes (140, 2003-05) and into OSU’s career top five.

** Posey also made a leap in career reception yardage. His 66 yards against the Nittany Lions gave him 1,859 and pushed him ahead of Cedric Anderson (1,807, 1980-83), Jeff Graham (1,809, 1988-90) and Ken-Yon Rambo (1,849, 1997-2000) and into 12th place all-time. Posey needs only 21 more yards to move past Robiskie (1,866) and Sanzenbacher (1,879) and into the top 10.

** OSU junior tight end Jake Stoneburner notched his seventh TD reception of the season last week and the ninth of his career. That ties him with Chuck Bryant (1959-61), John Frank (1980-83), Rickey Dudley (1994-95) and Darnell Sanders (1999-2001) for second all-time in career touchdown catches among Ohio State tight ends. John Lumpkin (1996-98) is the career leader with 10.

** The Game will be televised for the 45th consecutive year and 56th time overall. The first OSU-Michigan game ever televised was a 21-0 win by the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in 1947.

** This week’s game will be telecast by ABC with the broadcast crew of Dave Pasch (play-by-play) former Ohio State All-America linebacker Chris Spielman (color analysis) and Quint Kessenich (sideline reports). Kickoff is set for shortly after 12 noon Eastern.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channel 138 and XM channel 91.

** Westwood One will also have the radio broadcast with Brian Davis on play-by-play and former Ohio State running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George handling color analysis.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** And then there were two. Oklahoma State went by the wayside last Friday night with its double overtime loss to Iowa State, leaving only LSU and Houston as the remaining undefeated teams at the Division I-A level. Both teams are 11-0 – the Tigers for the first time since their 1958 national championship team finished 11-0, and the Cougars for the first time in program history.

** LSU’s 52-3 romp over Ole Miss last Saturday pushed the Tigers’ winning streak to 12 games. That is the longest streak in the nation.

** Meanwhile, time is running out for Florida Atlantic to avoid a winless season. The Owls lost a 34-7 decision to Troy last weekend, dropping them to 0-10 this season and extending the nation’s longest losing streak to 13 games. FAU, which has been outscored by a 355-117 margin this season, finishes its season with home games against a couple of 3-8 teams – UAB (3-8) tomorrow and Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 3.

** This year’s Heisman Trophy race went from a foregone conclusion to up in the air back to a three-horse race in the space of just two weeks. I have whittled my choices down to Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Alabama RB Trent Richardson, Houston QB Case Keenum, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III and Boise State QB Kellen Moore.

** Griffin likely worked his way up plenty of Heisman ballots with his performance last week in Baylor’s 45-38 upset win over Oklahoma. RG3 completed 21 of 34 passes for 479 yards and four touchdowns, the final one coming on a pinpoint 34-yard strike with eight seconds left in the game. Griffin’s stat line for the season: 245 for 346 (72.9 percent) for 3,572 yards, 33 TDs and only five INTs. He’s also rushed for 550 yards and five touchdowns.

** A couple more things about that Baylor win: The Bears entered the game 0-20 all-time against Oklahoma and hadn’t beaten a top-five team since a 20-13 win at third-ranked USC in 1985.

** One guy who probably should be getting more Heisman love is Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball. He is the nation’s No. 3 rusher with an average of 133.3 yards per game and he is the top scorer in the country with 30 touchdowns. That is a new Big Ten record and only nine behind the NCAA record set in 1988 by Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State.

** The nation’s leading rusher is someone you’ve probably never heard of. Bobby Rainey of Western Kentucky has 1,468 yards this season, almost singlehandedly getting the Hilltoppers bowl-eligible for the first time. Rainey is also on the verge of a pretty significant milestone. He needs 32 more yards to become only the eighth player since 2000 to post back-to-back seasons of at least 1,500 rushing yards. The others: LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU, Steven Jackson of Oregon State, Ray Rice of Rutgers, DeAngelo Williams of Memphis, Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois, Darren McFadden of Arkansas and LaMichael James of Oregon.

** Two reasons why conference championship games are not such a great idea. Alabama, ranked No. 2 in the current BCS standings, likely needs only to beat Auburn tomorrow to virtually clinch a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Meanwhile, top-ranked LSU – which beat the Tide three weeks ago – finishes its regular season today against No. 3 Arkansas and then has to play No. 13 Georgia in the SEC title game. If the Tigers lose either one of those games, they’re out of the national championship picture. There is a similar scenario in the Big Ten. If Michigan beats Ohio State and Michigan State loses in the league championship game, the Wolverines will be in line for an at-large BCS bid while the Spartans – who beat U-M by two touchdowns in mid-October – will not.

** Virginia had to beat Florida State three times last Saturday to finally chalk up a 14-13 victory. The Cavaliers appeared to have stopped the Seminoles’ last-minute drive, but a facemask penalty gave FSU one more play. On that one, a call was overturned by replay to give Florida State a 42-yard field goal try to win it. The three-point attempt missed, and the Cavaliers finally moved to 8-3 with a shot at the ACC title game if they can upset Virginia Tech tomorrow.

** ’Tis the season. The first bowl invitations of the year have already gone out, including one to BYU, which has agreed to play in the Armed Forces Bowl, set for a noon kickoff on Dec. 30. The game will be played at 32,000-set Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU campus in suburban Dallas. (That’s Gerald J. Ford, by the way, not U.S. President Gerald R. Ford. The guy with the J for his middle initial is a Texas billionaire banker who put up most of the money for the stadium’s construction in 1999-2000.)

** Louisiana (which used to be known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has accepted an invitation to play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 17 and Arkansas State will be one of the participants in the GoDaddy.com Bowl set for Jan. 8.

** Congratulations to College Football Hall of Fame coach John Gagilardi. The 85-year-old Gagilardi has announced he will return next season for his 60th year at Division III Saint John’s (Minn.). He is college football’s winningest coach with a current career record of 484-133-11. Gagilardi began his coaching career in 1949 at Carroll College in Montana.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Nov 23, 1957, Princeton knocked off unbeaten Dartmouth, taking a 34-14 victory and claimed the Ivy League title in the process. Princeton star Danny Sachs threw a touchdown pass, returned an interception 40 yards to set up another score and returned a punt 60 yards for fourth-quarter TD to lead the Tigers.

** On Nov. 23, 1984, Boston College quarterback hurled a 48-yard “Hail Mary” TD pass to wide receiver Gerard Phelan on the game’s final play, giving the Eagles a 47-45 win over Miami (Fla.) and sewing up the ’84 Heisman Trophy for Flutie.

** On Nov. 23, 1985, Iowa quarterback Chuck Long became the first player in Big Ten history to throw for more than 10,000 career yards when he led the Hawkeyes to a 31-9 victory over Minnesota.

** On Nov. 24, 1938, Texas scored a 7-6 upset win over Texas A&M, allowing the Longhorns to avoid a rare winless season.

** On Nov. 24, 1956, College Football Hall of Fame coach Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf made his final game a memorable one when his California team scored a 20-18 upset win over Stanford.

** On Nov. 24, 1973, No. 20 Kansas took a 14-13 win over No. 19 Missouri in the Border War. The Tigers held a 13-0 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Jayhawks QB David Jaynes threw a pair of late touchdown passes to secure the win. The one-point victory allowed Kansas to set an NCAA record by playing their sixth game of the season decided by two points or less. The Jayhawks beat Colorado and Iowa State by two points, beat Missouri by one, lost to Nebraska and Tennessee by one and tied Oklahoma State.

** On Nov. 24, 1979, third-ranked Nebraska and No. 8 Oklahoma squared off for the Big Eight championship in a battle of the unbeatens. The Sooners, led by tailback Billy Sims and his 247 rushing yards, eventually prevailed with a 17-14 win for their fourth outright conference title in seven years.

** On Nov. 25, 1916, Ohio State took a 23-3 victory over Northwestern to cap a 7-0 season and earn the school’s first Big Ten championship. It was the first of a league-record 18 outright championships and 34 overall conference titles for the Buckeyes.

** On Nov. 25, 1920, Texas defeated instate rival Texas A&M by a 7-3 score in the first college football game ever broadcast live on radio.

** On Nov. 25, 1950, Michigan and Ohio State combined for a Big Ten-record 45 punts during a game played in a driving snowstorm. The Wolverines won the game 9-3 in what has become known as the “Snow Bowl.”

** On Nov. 25, 1961, Rutgers completed its first undefeated season since 1876 with a 32-19 win over Columbia. The Scarlet Knights overcame a 19-7 deficit after three quarters, roaring to the victory by scoring four times in the fourth quarter.

** On Nov. 26, 1955, Tennessee halfback Johnny Majors and backup halfback Al Carter each threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the Volunteers to a 20-14 victory over No. 19 Vanderbilt. The outcome prevented the Commodores from winning the SEC championship and securing a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

** On Nov. 25, 1989, Bo Schembechler coached his final game in Ann Arbor, guiding his third-ranked Michigan team to a 28-18 win over Ohio State. The victory gave Schembechler’s Wolverines their second consecutive outright Big Ten championship, becoming the first team to win back-to-back undisputed league titles since Michigan State in 1955 and ’56.

** On Nov. 26, 1938, Georgia Tech became the first team in college football history to play back-to-back scoreless ties when the Yellow Jackets battled instate rival Georgia to a 0-0 draw in Athens. The previous week, Tech and Florida had played to a scoreless tie in Atlanta.

** On Nov. 26, 1988, for the first time in series history, Notre Dame and USC squared off undefeated and occupying the top two spots in the national polls. Irish quarterback Tony Rice rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown while cornerback Stan Smagala intercepted USC quarterback Rodney Peete and returned the pick for a score as No. 1 Notre Dame took a 27-10 victory.

** On Nov. 27, 1982, Auburn running back Bo Jackson rushed for 114 yards and led the Tigers to a 23-22 victory over Alabama. It was the final regular-season game for Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who finished a 38-year career with 323 victories. The game also marked a milestone for Auburn head coach Pat Dye. He became the first of 30 former Bryant assistants who had tried to beat the legendary coach since 1970.

** On Nov. 27, 1998, Texas tailback Ricky Williams sewed up the Heisman Trophy with a 259-yard performance during a 26-24 upset of sixth-ranked Texas A&M. Williams broke off a 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to break Tony Dorsett’s NCAA career rushing record.

** On Nov. 28, 1942, unranked Holy Cross scored a 55-12 rout of No. 1 Boston College, the most lopsided loss ever for a top-ranked team.

** On Nov. 28, 1975, Texas A&M protected its No. 2 national rating with a 20-10 win over fifth-ranked Texas, the Aggies’ first win at home over the Longhorns in eight years.

** On Nov. 28, 1981, No. 11 Penn State trounced No. 1 Pittsburgh by a 48-14 score, the largest winning margin in NCAA history for a ranked team over a No. 1 team.

** On Nov. 28, 2008, Eastern Michigan quarterback Andy Schmitt connected on an NCAA single-game record 58 of 80 pass attempts during a 56-52 victory over Central Michigan. The performance came six days after Schmitt went 50 for 76 in a 55-52 loss to Temple, and his 108 completions over a two-game span is also a college football record.

** On Nov. 29, 1935, Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger was named the winner of the inaugural Downtown Athletic Club Trophy as the outstanding college football player of the year. The following year, the award would be renamed the Heisman Trophy.

** On Nov. 29, 1958, Auburn protected its No. 2 ranking and extended its winning streak to 24 consecutive games with a heart-pounding 14-8 win over Alabama. The Tigers needed a defensive stop with 1:26 remaining in the game to preserve the victory.

FEARLESS FORECAST

The dominoes are starting to fall at the top of the college football polls and that is having an adverse effect on the straight-up picks. We went 6-4 for the second week in a row and are now 103-19 SU for the season. That’s still a pretty good win percentage at 84.4, but not so great when you realize we were above 90 percent for a good chunk of the season.

Still, we can live with that ledger considering the way we’ve picked against the spread. We had another winning week at 7-3 and are now 76-42-2 ATS for the year.

Let’s see what we have on tap this week.

TODAY’S GAMES

No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU: Leftover turkey sandwiches, a frosty cold beverage and this game should make for a dandy little post-Thanksgiving treat. The Razorbacks take the SEC’s top-ranked offense into Death Valley to see what they can do with the nation’s No. 2 defense. The Hogs have pretty had their way in this series the past few years, taking three of the last four meetings including last year’s 31-23 victory. But Arkansas had veteran Ryan Mallett at quarterback last season and LSU was offensively-challenged and fumbled the ball away three times. This year, the Tigers are much more accomplished on offense – eight of their 11 victories this year are by 26 points or more – and with a defense like theirs, it means this game may very well turn out like LSU’s season-opener against Oregon … LSU 38, Arkansas 20. (2:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 8 Houston at Tulsa: Perhaps you are one of those snobs who turns up their nose at the Cougars because they play in Conference USA. Granted, UH doesn’t play a schedule worthy of being in the national championship equation. But the Coogs are pretty darned entertaining if you like offense. QB Case Keenum is the NCAA’s all-time leader in just about every passing category there is, and he leads an offense that is No. 1 in the nation in yardage (618.3 per game) and scoring (53.1 points). Houston is no slouch on defense, either, and it will be in for a serious challenge from the Golden Hurricane, who are on a seven-game winning streak during which they have outscored the opposition by an average of 23.0 points per game. Tulsa beat the Cougars last year, 28-25 in Houston, but Keenum was sidelined with a knee injury. His presence this year makes the difference … Houston 41, Tulsa 31. (12 noon ET, FSN)

SATURDAY’S GAMES

No. 2 Alabama at No. 24 Auburn: It’s pretty straightforward for the Tide. Win the Iron Bowl and you’re playing for the national championship. As if that wasn’t enough incentive, ’Bama has been waiting a year for redemption after blowing a 24-0 lead during a 28-27 loss to the Tigers last season. Auburn doesn’t have Heisman winner Cam Newton at the controls this year, but the Tigers have still managed to win seven games thanks mostly to a potent running attack led by sophomore Michael Dyer (1,194 yards, 10 TDs). But Dyer and his offensive line will have their hands more than full with Alabama’s nasty defense, a unit that is the nation’s best in virtually every category … Alabama 34, Auburn 12. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 5 Virginia Tech at Virginia: The Hokies have things right where they want them. A couple of major upsets and they could squeeze their way into the national championship picture. First things first, though, as they travel to Scott Stadium to take on the surging Cavaliers. UVA has won four straight and are just a win away from getting a berth in the ACC title game. Tech stands in the way, however, and the Cavaliers haven’t exactly distinguished themselves in the rivalry. They have lost seven straight in the series and 11 of the last 12. Those numbers don’t bode well, especially with the Hokies riding a six-game win streak and rested after being off last weekend … Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

No. 22 Notre Dame at No. 6 Stanford: The Cardinal still believe they have a shot at the national championship game although a lot of dominoes would have to fall exactly right for Stanford to get to New Orleans. More realistic goals would be to sew up a BCS at-large berth as well as the Heisman Trophy for QB Andrew Luck. The stiffarm trophy’s odds-on favorite didn’t have the best of performances the last time his team was on national television, committing three costly turnovers during a 53-30 loss to Oregon two weeks ago. Luck can, however, redeem himself against the Fighting Irish, who have won eight of their last nine. Notre Dame has not played particularly well on the road this year although they are 3-1 away from South Bend. This should be a pretty evenly-matched contest … Stanford 34, Notre Dame 30. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Wyoming at No. 7 Boise State: The Broncos realize they’re not going to get to play for the national championship, so the next best thing is to win out and secure an at-large BCS bid. It certainly could happen if the recent spate of late-season upsets continues. This week, Boise welcomes a surprisingly good Cowboys team to the Smurf Turf. Wyoming has won of its last five, losing only a 31-20 decision to TCU during that stretch. That’s the same TCU team that went to Boise and knocked off the Broncos two weeks ago. But the Cowboys are 0-5 lifetime against Boise State and probably still have bruises from last year’s 51-6 mugging in Laramie … Boise State 42, Wyoming 17. (2 p.m. ET, The Mtn.)

Oregon State at No. 10 Oregon: It seems odd that the Beavers and not the Ducks would enter this year’s edition of the Civil War with the momentum. Oregon State is coming off a 38-21 win over Washington last week while the Quack Attack suffered a 38-35 home loss to USC. Of course, those outcomes will likely have very little bearing on what transpires tomorrow. The OSU defense is really no match for the Ducks, who still have the third-best scoring offense in the country. Oregon has won the last three in the series, but the games have been relatively tight – as any good rivalry game should be … Oregon 41, Oregon State 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

No. 14 Michigan State at Northwestern: Good defense coupled with eliminating mistakes is usually a pretty good recipe for championship football. The Spartans have used that combination – the nation’s No. 3 defense and plus-9 in turnover margin – to punch their ticket to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are feeling pretty good about themselves with a four-game win streak although the four victims have a combined record of 15-29. Sparty has won four of the last five in the series, including three straight in Evanston … Michigan State 31, Northwestern 23. (12 noon ET, BTN)

No. 19 Penn State at No. 16 Wisconsin: Despite the ongoing turmoil in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions can still get to the Big Ten title game with a win in Madison. They will have to try to get that done by pitting one of the conference’s best defenses against the Badgers, who own the Big Ten’s best offense. Bucky, whose only two losses this season were last-second defeats on the road, is practically unbeatable at Camp Randall. Wisconsin is a perfect 6-0 at home this season and has outscored the competition by a 314-68 margin. That’s no misprint. That is an average winning margin of 41 points a game. It’s doubtful things could get that far out of hand tomorrow. Then again, the Badgers absorbed a 48-7 loss in 2008 the last time Penn State was in Madison and UW head coach Bret Bielema has a long memory … Wisconsin 49, Penn State 17. (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Ohio State at No. 15 Michigan: As much pain as it brings us to admit it, there just doesn’t seem to be much of a path to victory for the Buckeyes. Since expending a tremendous amount of energy getting an upset win over Wisconsin four weeks ago, the team has played as if its emotional tank is on empty. That really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given all of the peripheral minefields through which the players have had to navigate. You would like to believe the Buckeyes can rally one last time around head coach Luke Fickell and keep the streak going against Michigan. But it just doesn’t seem likely, especially going against an opponent that appears to be more dialed in … Michigan 31, Ohio State 17. (12 noon ET, ABC)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Arkansas at LSU (-12); Houston (-3) at Tulsa; Alabama (-20½) at Auburn; Virginia Tech (-4½) at Virginia; Notre Dame (+7½) at Stanford; Wyoming (+33½) at Boise State; Oregon State (+28) at Oregon; Michigan State (-6½) at Northwestern; Penn State at Wisconsin (-14½); Ohio State at Michigan (-7).

Enjoy the games and have a safe holiday weekend.

Buckeyes, Fickell Did Themselves No Favors At Purdue

Just by looking at the place, you would never mistake Ross-Ade Stadium for a house of horrors.

Located at the very northeastern tip of the Purdue campus in West Lafayette and named for a couple of long-dead guys who had very little to do with the university football program, the quaint, little bowl-type structure is the place where a late-season Ohio State winning streak died in 2004 and the site of an inexplicable 2009 loss by a Buckeye squad on its way to the Rose Bowl.

Ross-Ade Stadium added to its list of OSU victims Nov. 12 with a 26-23 overtime victory, for all intents and purposes ending the Buckeyes’ record-tying streak of consecutive Big Ten championships at six.

As hurtful as that outcome was, it may yet claim one more victim – Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell.

Through no fault of his own, the first-year head coach was already the subject of conjecture and rumor regarding his job security. The university had seen to that after Jim Tressel’s forced retirement May 30, signing Fickell to a one-year contract and making it clear a nationwide search for a new coach would commence following the 2011 season.

Even before the Buckeyes’ loss at Purdue, some believed that search had already been completed and that only contract formalities were left to iron out between Ohio State and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer.

There were a handful, though – me included – who believed the university would not and could not show Fickell the door if he somehow got the Buckeyes to the inaugural Big Ten championship game and the Rose Bowl.

Of course, appearances in Indianapolis and Pasadena seem extremely unlikely now. So many dominoes would have to fall precisely Ohio State’s way that even the most optimistic of fans would have to admit the Buckeyes’ streak of conference titles and BCS game appearances has reached its end.

Additionally, the loss to Purdue was perhaps the final piece of evidence Fickell’s detractors needed in their argument that the former OSU player and longtime assistant is not yet ready to run his own big-time program.

For the second week in a row, the Buckeyes fell into an early 10-0 hole. While there is nothing especially wrong with that, it’s difficult to fathom how it could have occurred against teams that entered the game with losing records – Indiana at 1-8, Purdue at 4-5.

Moreover, it continued a disturbing season-long trend of falling behind early. Ohio State has faced first-quarter deficits in six of its 10 games, and the parallel that can be drawn from so many slow starts is that the team is simply not ready to play once the football starts to fly. You can point to any number of things as to the reason why, arguing that real competitors typically motivate themselves. Still, the ultimate responsibility for getting a team ready to play rests with only one man – the head coach.

I have been one of Fickell’s most vocal supporters, especially because of the type of team he took over on short notice in June. On top of the holes created by graduation losses of seven defensive starters – plus an eighth who suffered a season-ending knee injury in this year’s opener – Fickell inherited an offense that lost its three-year starting quarterback, its All-Big Ten left tackle for five games, its All-Big Ten tailback for six and its leading receiver for 10.

Taking all of that into account, it seemed borderline incredible that the Buckeyes were still serious Big Ten championship contenders into mid-November.

Still, playing and coaching football at Ohio State is much more about winning than making excuses, and despite all of the incessant bellyaching about the play-calling and how freshman quarterback Braxton Miller has or has not been utilized, the future of Fickell as head coach of the Buckeyes might have boiled down to one late-game decision against Purdue.

In overtime, after Miller had scrambled away from pressure for the umpteenth time in the game and somehow found freshman receiver T.Y. Williams for a 15-yard completion, the Buckeyes faced fourth-and-1 at the Purdue 16 with the game on the line.

That is a situation in which no coach likes to find himself, yet one that often separates the good coaches from the great ones. Roll the dice and go for it, or play it safe and kick the field goal. Fickell played it safe and that decision ultimately cost his team the game when Purdue followed with a touchdown during its portion of overtime.

While it is easy to second-guess that decision, especially with the benefit of hindsight, the flow of the game seemed to dictate the Buckeyes going for that fourth-and-1 would have been the prudent play. On six short-yardage situations against the Boilermakers – when distances of 3 yards or fewer were needed for a first down – the Buckeyes had converted three times.

Maybe 50 percent isn’t an overwhelming margin, but Ohio State had converted both of its third-and-1 situations during the game, and Miller’s game-tying touchdown pass to Jordan Hall came on a fourth-and-3 play.

Fickell could have asked game officials for a measurement to buy himself some extra decision-making time or he could have called his only overtime timeout. He did neither, though, opting instead for a 33-yard field-goal attempt, which was certainly no sure thing given the probable shaky confidence of kicker Drew Basil, who had missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half and whose PAT attempt was blocked to force the overtime.

Did choosing the field goal over going for it on fourth-and-1 cost the Buckeyes the ballgame? Maybe, but in a game featuring so many missed tackles, missed assignments and missed opportunities, it is difficult to pinpoint the blame on any singular call or play.

Yet with everything that was riding on that decision – a fourth straight victory, a history-making trip to the first-ever Big Ten title game and a shot at going to the Rose Bowl not to mention some possible job security – it seems strange Fickell elected to play it safe.

Perhaps, though, that is valuable insight into a coaching philosophy that will help those in charge make the ultimate decision whether it is Fickell, Meyer or someone else at the helm in 2012.

With the way things played out at Purdue, though, I can’t help thinking the current coach did himself no favors.

TO BOWL OR NOT TO BOWL?

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, Ohio State fans are beginning to formulate holiday travel plans for a bowl game.

For each of the past six seasons, the Buckeyes have played in a big-money BCS game, traveling to Phoenix three times, New Orleans twice and Pasadena once. Barring a loss by Wisconsin at Illinois tomorrow, that streak has likely come to an end, meaning OSU will play outside the BCS for the first time since an Alamo Bowl appearance at the end of the 2004 season.

Where are the Buckeyes headed for the holidays? The answer depends on a lot of variables.

For argument’s sake, let’s say Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska win out. Michigan State and Wisconsin would represent their respective divisions in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game with the winner earned the conference’s automatic berth in the Rose Bowl.

That leaves Nebraska with two losses, the title game loser with three losses and Ohio State with four losses (along with Penn State and Michigan). Now things get tricky.

Since it is a marquee program with a fan base that will travel, a 10-2 Nebraska team would make a possibility for an at-large BCS berth. Variables impacting that scenario are many, including the BCS selecting the Cornhuskers out of a pool that will likely include such one-loss teams as Stanford and Boise State, each of which are ranked far ahead of Nebraska in the latest BCS standings.

If the Cornhuskers go to the BCS, the Big Ten title game loser would likely wind up in the Capital One Bowl with Ohio State headed to Tampa and the Outback Bowl, set for Jan. 2. The Buckeyes would have the inside track on Penn State and Michigan because they would have beaten both teams, but more importantly Ohio State hasn’t played a bowl game in Florida since the Outback Bowl following the 2001 season.

Should Nebraska get snubbed by the BCS at 10-2, or the Cornhuskers lose to either Michigan tomorrow or Iowa on Nov. 25, the bowl picture muddies even more.

If the Cornhuskers finish 10-2 and that’s still not good enough for the BCS, they would likely be headed to the Capital One Bowl with the loser of the Big Ten Championship Game sliding to the Outback Bowl.

The Insight Bowl, played Dec. 30 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., has the next selection and there is serious doubt the Phoenix area would want Ohio State for the sixth time in the last 10 years.

Holding the next pick is the Gator Bowl, set for Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. Longtime OSU fans have a bitter memory of the last time the Buckeyes played in the Gator Bowl – head coach Woody Hayes’ last game, a 17-15 loss to Clemson in 1978.

Of course, should the Buckeyes stumble against Penn State and/or Michigan, the remainder of the Big Ten-affiliated bowls are (in order of selection) the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Dec. 31 in Houston, the Ticketcity Bowl on Jan. 2 in Dallas and the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl on Dec. 27 in Detroit.

There is one other scenario, of course.

If the rumors are true, and Ohio State is going to supplant Luke Fickell as head coach in favor of Urban Meyer soon after the completion of the regular season, it might make sense for the Buckeyes to stay home this postseason – especially if the NCAA decides to impose a one-year bowl ban.

I have always been of the opinion that since the NCAA has waited so long to render its decision in the tattoos-for-memorabilia case, Ohio State would appeal any postseason ban and this year’s team would play in a bowl. However, if a bowl ban is coming, and the Buckeyes are going to play in a so-called lesser bowl, wouldn’t it make sense to accept the ban this year and wipe the slate clean for next season with a new coach, new staff and renewed set of goals?

To be sure, accepting a postseason ban this year would be the final slap in the face to Ohio State seniors, most of whom had nothing to do with the circumstances the program has faced all year. Still, if the university is truly interested in distancing itself from the NCAA investigation as quickly as possible, the prudent move might be to stay home, regroup and come back stronger than ever in 2012.

OSU-PENN STATE TIDBITS

** This marks the 27th overall meeting between Ohio State and Penn State, and the Buckeyes enjoy a slight 14-12 advantage. OSU has a 9-6 overall edge in games played at Ohio Stadium, but a lopsided 8-1 advantage in games played at the Horseshoe since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993.

** Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell is making his first appearance against Penn State as a head coach, but he is 10-3 lifetime against the Nittany Lions as an OSU player and assistant coach. He was 3-1 vs. Penn State during his playing career from 1993-96 and 7-2 during nine years as an assistant on Jim Tressel’s staff.

** Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley will be making his first appearance against Ohio State as a head coach. Bradley played for the Nittany Lions in 1977 and ’78 and then spent 33 years on Joe Paterno’s staff. Penn State was 1-0 vs. Ohio State during Bradley’s playing career and 7-12 during his time as an assistant coach.

** Ohio State will face a Paterno-less Penn State squad for the first time in nearly a century. Paterno had been on the Nittany Lions sideline as an assistant or head coach for 25 of the previous 26 games in the series. The only time Paterno wasn’t a part of the rivalry was a 37-0 win by Penn State over the Buckeyes at old Ohio Field in 1912. “Big” Bill Hollenback was at the helm of the Nittany Lions that year while John R. Richards was in his only season as head coach at Ohio State.

** The game pits two of the winningest college football teams in history against one another. Ohio State ranks fifth all-time with 837 wins while Penn State ranks sixth with 826. Michigan is first all-time with 892 followed by Notre Dame (852), Texas (850) and Nebraska (844).

** Five of the last 10 games in the series have been determined by seven points or less, but there have been some notable blowouts over the years. Penn State rolled to a 63-14 win at Beaver Stadium in 1994, and Ohio State returned the favor six years later in Ohio Stadium with a 45-6 wipeout. Last year, the Buckeyes erased a 14-3 halftime deficit to secure a 38-14 win. Throughout the overall series, the average margin of victory for OSU is 16.0 points. When the Nittany Lions win, their average margin is 15.1 points.

** Penn State will be looking to keep things close tomorrow. The Nittany Lions are 6-1 while the Buckeyes are 3-3 this season in games decided by 10 points or less.

** One series trend would seem to favor Penn State while another works better for Ohio State’s hopes. The higher ranked team has won 18 of the last 20 meetings and the home team has won 13 of the 18 games played since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten. Penn State enters tomorrow’s game ranked No. 21 in the USA Today coaches’ and Associated Press writers’ polls as well as the BCS rankings. The Buckeyes are unranked for the eighth straight week, the program’s longest unranked streak since 1988.

** Penn State has won on just two of its previous 10 trips to Ohio Stadium, and the Buckeyes started a freshman quarterback in both of the Nittany Lions’ victories. In 1979, Art Schlichter threw a school-record five interceptions in his first collegiate start during a 19-0 PSU win. Then in 2008, Terrelle Pryor’s crucial fourth-quarter fumble led to a 13-6 victory for the Lions. It was Pryor’s fifth career start after taking over for Todd Boeckman earlier that season.

** With the exception of Ohio State, Penn State has had its way with Ohio teams over the years. The Nittany Lions are 20-2-1 against other Ohio schools with the lone blemishes a 24-6 loss to Toledo in 2000, a 14-3 loss to Cincinnati in 1983 and an 8-8 tie at Western Reserve in 1895.

** The Ohio State defense is always looking for interceptions, of course, but especially so against Penn State tomorrow. Since 2002, the Buckeyes have returned seven interceptions for touchdowns against the Nittany Lions and are 5-0 during that time span when they have at least one pick-six. Devon Torrence and Travis Howard each had fourth-quarter INT returns for scores last year to blow open OSU’s 38-14 victory.

** Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Penn State is 15-3 in its next game following a loss.

** Penn State is traditionally one of the least penalized teams in the nation and that is true again in 2011. The Nittany Lions are tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 47 penalties in 10 games and average only 41.2 penalty yards per game. In its last five games played against the Buckeyes, Penn State has incurred only 12 penalties for 81 yards. During the same five games, Ohio State has been flagged 31 times for 283 yards.

** Penn State is tied with Nebraska for the Big Ten lead in fewest sacks allowed with 12. Ohio State ranks last in the conference in that category, having surrendered 33 sacks this season.

** Penn State has four native Ohioans on its roster – running backs Brandon Beachum and Michael Zordich (Youngstown Cardinal Mooney), tight end Nate Cadogan (Portsmouth) and receiver Ryan Scherer (Avon Lake). The Buckeyes have seven players from Pennsylvania – defensive lineman Evan Blankenship (Monaca), defensive back Corey Brown (Monroeville), receiver Corey “Philly” Brown (Upper Darby), linebacker Chad Hagan (Canonsburg), running back Jordan Hall (Jeannette), tight end Kyle Schuck (Selinsgrove) and linebacker Andrew Sweat (Washington).

** When Purdue blocked Ohio State’s point-after attempt last Saturday, it marked the first time since the 2009 season opener the Buckeyes had missed a PAT. In between, OSU had converted 130 consecutive tries.

** Had the PAT been successful and Ohio State escaped West Lafayette with a 21-20 victory, it would have been the Buckeyes’ first one-point win since a 20-19 decision over Louisville in the 1992 season opener. OSU hasn’t been involved in a one-point game against a Big Ten opponent since losing a 10-9 game at Illinois in 1966. The Buckeyes’ last one-point conference victory? An 11-10 home win over Minnesota in 1965.

** Ohio State senior receiver DeVier Posey is expected to make his 2011 season debut after missing the first 10 games while serving two different NCAA suspensions. Posey is tied for eighth on the school’s all-time list with 16 touchdown receptions and tied for ninth with 124 career catches.

** Penn State senior receiver Derek Moye ranks among his school’s top five in most receiving categories. Moye, who has 34 catches for 592 yards and three touchdowns this season, is third all-time at PSU in career receiving yards (2,333), fourth in TDs (18) and fifth in receptions (138).

** Ohio State senior tailback Boom Herron was held to only 65 yards last week against Purdue, his lowest output since a 55-yard effort during last year’s 73-20 rout of Eastern Michigan. Still, the total against the Boilermakers was enough to push Herron into the top 10 on Ohio State’s career rushing list. He now has 2,674 yards and moved past Raymont Harris (2,649, 1990-93) into 10th place on the all-time list. Next up are Antonio Pittman (2,945, 2004-06), Michael Wiley (2,951, 1996-99) and Carlos Snow (2,999, 1987-89, ’91).

** Against Purdue, Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller established new single-game career highs with 18 attempts and 132 yards passing, and he matched previous highs with eight completions and two touchdown passes. Both TD passes went to junior tailback Jordan Hall, setting a new single-game career mark for him.

** Miller is one of six OSU freshmen who have started at least one game this season. The others are redshirt freshmen CB Bradley Roby, WR Verlon Reed and DE J.T. Moore and true frosh WR T.Y. Williams and OT Antonio Underwood. The number will likely climb to seven tomorrow when true freshman LB Ryan Shazier is expected to start on the weak side in place of senior Andrew Sweat, who suffered a concussion last week at Purdue.

** OSU senior center Mike Brewster made his 46th consecutive start last weekend, and if the Buckeyes do not play in the Big Ten Championship Game, he will fall short of the school record. Fickell holds that mark with 50 straight starts. Brewster needs to start each of the last two regular-season games and a bowl game to get to 49.

** Twenty-four Ohio State seniors will be honored prior to tomorrow’s game as part of annual Senior Day festivities. Making their final Ohio Stadium appearance as Buckeyes will be Mike Adams, Dionte Allen, Dan Bain, Joe Bauserman, Evan Blankenship, Mike Brewster, Bo DeLande, Garrett Dornbrook, Nate Ebner, Derek Erwin, Donnie Evege, Boom Herron, Tony Jackson, Don Matheney, Chris Maxwell, Tyler Moeller, Nate Oliver, DeVier Posey, Chris Roark, Donald Senegal, J.B. Shugarts, Spencer Smith, Andrew Sweat and Solomon Thomas.

** Ohio State has won eight of its last nine games on Senior Day. The only blemish on that record is a 28-21 loss to Illinois in 2007.

** This week’s game will be telecast by ABC and ESPN using the reverse mirror technique meaning if the game is not on your local ABC affiliate, it should be on ESPN and vice versa. Veteran play-by-play man Brad Nessler will have the call, color analysis will be provided by former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge, and Holly Rowe will file reports from the sidelines. Kickoff is set for shortly after 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius and XM satellite radio channels 85.

** Next week, Ohio State finishes its 2011 regular season at Michigan for the 108th renewal of The Game. Kickoff is set for 12 noon Eastern from Ann Arbor, and that game will also be telecast by ABC/ESPN using the reverse mirror.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** With the Boise State and Stanford losses last Saturday night, only LSU, Oklahoma State and Houston remain undefeated at the Division I-A level. All three teams are 10-0 – LSU for the first time since 1958, Oklahoma State and Houston for the first time in program history.

** Both LSU and Oklahoma State have potential roadblocks on the way to the BCS National Championship Game. The Tigers hosts Arkansas on Nov. 25, and before you pooh-pooh the Razorbacks’ chances for the upset, you might want to know the Hogs have won three of the last four in the series. Meanwhile, the Cowboys entertain Oklahoma on Dec. 3, looking to snap an eight-game losing streak in that series.

** Houston gets no love at No. 11 in the BCS standings despite being undefeated at 10-0. The Cougars finish their regular season at home against SMU (6-4) on Nov. 19 and at Tulsa (7-3) on Nov. 25, and will likely play Southern Miss (9-1) in the Conference USA title game.

** Stanford’s 53-30 loss to Oregon on Saturday night snapped the nation’s longest winning streak at 18 games. LSU and Oklahoma State now share the longest streak in the nation at 11 straight.

** Congratulations to New Mexico, which snapped the nation’s longest losing streak at 12 with a 21-14 win over UNLV on Saturday. The Lobos got the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore Demarcus Rogers with 1:15 remaining. That means the nation’s longest losing streak now belongs to Florida Atlantic, which lost its 12th game in a row with a 41-7 loss Saturday to Florida International.

** This year’s Heisman Trophy race went from a forgone conclusion to decidedly less so immediately after Stanford’s loss to Oregon. Cardinal QB Andrew Luck remains the odds-on favorite, but he certainly didn’t impress any voters with a performance against the Ducks that included two costly interceptions and a fumble to go along with 271 yards and three TDs. Other viable candidates include Houston QB Case Keenum, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden and Alabama RB Trent Richardson.

** TCU’s 36-35 victory at Boise State ended the Broncos’ 35-game home winning streak, a 47-game home conference win streak and a 65-game regular-season home streak. Boise is 46-3 since 2008, and two of those losses are one-point defeats courtesy of the Horned Frogs.

** How explosive is Oregon’s offense? Explosive enough to hang 53 on Stanford despite going just 1 for 9 on third-down conversions. The Ducks were better than that (2 for 3) on fourth down, and they converted a two-point try following their first touchdown of the game, something that become customary under head coach Chip Kelly.

** The Big Ten has taken another beating from national pundits who claim the overall strength of the league continues to pale in comparison to other conferences. Be that as it may, the Big Ten can still boast eight members who have secured bowl eligibility this season and that is more than any other conference. Two more Big Ten schools – Northwestern and Purdue – can get bowl-eligible with victories this week.

** Wisconsin running back Montee Ball scored three touchdowns last weekend during his team’s 42-13 win over Minnesota and broke the Big Ten’s single-season record for touchdowns with 27. The old mark of 26 was established in 1975 by Ohio State fullback Pete Johnson and was equaled in 1988 by Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson and in 1994 by Penn State tailback Ki-Jana Carter.

** Ball has rushed for 23 of his TDs this season and that is still three behind the conference record of 26 set by Thompson in ’88 and matched by Carter six years later.

** The rumor mill has former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez thinking seriously about taking over at Tulane. The Green Wave, whose 73-17 loss to Houston last Thursday night dropped them to 2-9, have already gotten rid of head coach Bob Toledo and Rodriguez already knows his way around New Orleans. He was offensive coordinator on Tommy Bowden’s staff in 1998 when Tulane went 12-0.

** Here’s another rumor that will get Big Ten tongues wagging. Penn State might look to former assistant coach Jim Caldwell as Joe Paterno’s successor. Caldwell is likely nearing the end of his tenure as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and would bring what is considered an impeccable reputation with him to Happy Valley. Then, if Caldwell gets the boot in Indy, a possible replacement could be Jim Tressel, currently serving the Colts as a video replay consultant.

** What kind of odds could you have gotten back on Jan. 1 if you had suggested Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State would all have fired their head football coaches before the end of November?

** After last week’s 17-12 loss at South Carolina, Florida fell to 3-5 in the SEC and is assured of its first losing conference record in 25 years. At 5-5 overall, the Gators are also trying to avoid their first losing season in 32 years. They went 0-10-1 in 1979.

** Missouri’s 12-5 upset of Texas was tough on both teams. The Tigers lost star running back Henry Josey to a season-ending knee injury while the Longhorns lost tailback Fozzy Whitaker to a knee injury that will end his senior season.

** Navy failed to complete a single pass against SMU last weekend and still won, 24-17. The Midshipmen tried to throw only twice – one was intercepted – but ran it 64 times for 335 yards. Navy is the No. 2 rushing team in the nation with an average of 319.7 yards per game. Fellow triple-option team Army is No. 1, averaging 352.0 yards on the ground each week. Unfortunately, all that running doesn’t translate into many victories. Army and Navy are a combined 7-13.

** Quote of the week belongs to TCU linebacker Tank Carder, who tweeted following his team’s 36-35 upset of Boise State, “We didn’t shock the world. We just reminded them.”

** If you like offense, you should have been at last Saturday’s game featuring NAIA rivals Faulkner (Ala.) and Union (Ky.). In the fourth-highest scoring college football game in history, Faulkner outlasted Union by a 95-89 final in triple overtime. The contest was tied at 75 after regulation. Faulkner QB Josh Hollingsworth threw for an NAIA-record 637 yards and seven touchdowns, while senior receiver Courtney Pete totaled 19 receptions for 201 yards and three TDs. Pete also threw a touchdown pass to Hollingsworth. The teams combined for nearly 1,500 yards of total offense – 793 for Faulkner, 696 for Union.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Nov. 16, 1872, Yale played its first-ever football game, beating Columbia by a 3-0 score.

** On Nov. 16, 1940, No. 2 Cornell scored on a last-second touchdown pass to score a 6-3 victory over Dartmouth and extend the Big Red’s winning streak to 19 games. However, after a review of the game tape, officials determined the game-winning score had come after a fourth-down incompletion by Cornell and that Dartmouth should have taken over on downs. Cornell president Edmund E. Day, athletics director Jim Lynah and future College Football Hall of Fame coach Carl Snavely offered to concede the game, an offer Dartmouth accepted, and the contest went into the record books as a 3-0 victory for the Big Green.

** On Nov. 16, 1957, Notre Dame stopped Oklahoma’s NCAA-record winning streak at 47 games with a 7-0 victory over the Sooners in Norman.

** On Nov. 16, 1991, BYU and San Diego State combined to score 104 points, but finished deadlocked at 52-52, the highest-scoring tie in NCAA history.

** On Nov. 16, 1996, Washington running back Corey Dillon set an NCAA record with 305 total yards in one quarter – 222 rushing and 83 receiving – during his team’s 53-10 win over San Jose State. Dillon’s 222 rushing yards also established a new NCAA record for rushing yards in one quarter.

** On Nov. 17, 1906, Kansas took an 8-6 victory over Nebraska, beginning what was the longest continuous Division I-A series, one that ended this season when the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten.

** On Nov. 17, 1923, Kansas City University lost a 131-0 decision to St. Mary’s (Kan.), capping a winless 0-6 season in which KCU was outscored, 623-0.

** On Nov. 17, 1956, Syracuse halfback Jim Brown set an NCAA record for single-game scoring, accounting for 43 points (rushing for six touchdowns and kicking seven PATs) during a 61-7 win over Colgate. Brown’s record stood until 1990 and still stands third all-time.

** On Nov. 18, 1961, College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen led Utah State to a 17-6 win over intrastate rival Utah in Salt Lake City. The win moved Utah State to 9-0-1 for the season, the Aggies’ best record in program history and their only undefeated regular season since 1936.

** On Nov. 18, 1978, Oklahoma running back Billy Sims rushed for 209 yards in a 62-7 win over Oklahoma State and broke the Big Eight’s single-season rushing record in the process.

** On Nov. 18, 1995, Wake Forest quarterback Rusty LaRue established an NCAA record for most pass completions during a three-game span when he connected 50 times for a school-record 545 yards during his team’s 52-23 loss to North Carolina State. Coupled with performances the previous two weeks vs. Duke and Georgia Tech, LaRue completed 146 of 210 attempts (69.5 percent) for 1,524 yards during the record-setting three-game stretch.

** On Nov. 19, 1966, top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State played to a 10-10 tie in East Lansing, a contest that has often been called “The Game of the Century.” Fighting Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty was knocked out of the game in the first quarter after getting sacked by Spartans defensive lineman Bubba Smith, and starting Notre Dame running back Nick Eddy missed the entire game after hurting his shoulder getting off the train in East Lansing. The Irish had the ball on their own 30-yard line with 1:10 to go in the game, but head coach Ara Parseghian chose to run out the clock, preserving the tie and his team’s No. 1 ranking. Notre Dame went on to win the 1966 national championship while Michigan State finished second.

** On Nov. 19, 1983, Oregon and Oregon State battled to a 0-0 tie in Eugene, the last scoreless tie in NCAA history due to the institution of overtime beginning in 1994.

** On Nov. 20, 1976, Kentucky took a 7-0 victory over Tennessee and marked its first victory in Knoxville in a dozen years. Running back Greg Woods raced 68 yards with a pass from QB Derrick Ramsey for the only score in the game, and clinched the Wildcats’ first bowl bid since 1952.

** On Nov. 20, 1982, SMU quarterback Lance McIlhenny drove his team 80 yards for a touchdown in the late going to forge a 17-17 tie with ninth-ranked Arkansas. SMU running back Eric Dickerson – who teamed with fellow running back Craig James to form the “Pony Express” a.k.a. “The Best Backfield Money Could Buy” – rushed for 81 yards in the contest to break the all-time Southwest Conference career record held by Earl Campbell of Texas. The tie denied SMU a perfect season and the national championship, but the Mustangs still finished the season ranked No. 2 with an 11-0-1 record.

** Also on Nov. 20, 1982, Stanford band members entered the field to celebrate what they believed was an upset victory over California. As time expired, however, the Golden Bears used five lateral passes while weaving through the Cardinal band to score a touchdown as Kevin Moen mowed down a Stanford trombone player in the end zone. After five minutes of deliberation, officials awarded Cal the 25-20 victory, resulting in one of the most unorthodox victories in college football history.

** On Nov. 20, 1999, TCU running back LaDanian Tomlinson set the NCAA single-game rushing record when he carried 43 times for 406 yards during a 52-24 win over UTEP in Fort Worth. Tomlinson’s 287 second-half yards also tied an NCAA record for rushing yards in one half.

** On Nov. 21, 1981, BYU tight end Gordon Hudson set an NCAA record for tight ends with 259 receiving yards during a 56-28 win over Utah.

** On Nov. 21, 1992, Washington State QB Drew Bledsoe threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns during a snowstorm in Pullman, leading the Cougars to a 42-23 upset of fifth-ranked Washington.

** On Nov. 22, 1875, Harvard took a 4-0 victory over Yale in the first-ever meeting of the Ivy League schools. They will celebrate their 128th meeting this year.

** On Nov. 22, 1958, Pacific succeeded on an NCAA-record seven two-point conversions in nine attempts during a 68-17 victory over San Diego State.

** On Nov. 22, 1969, Michigan defensive back Barry Pierson returned a punt for a touchdown and intercepted three passes as the No. 12 Wolverines shocked defending national champion Ohio State with a 24-12 upset in Ann Arbor. It was the opening game in what became known as the legendary “Ten-Year War” between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.

FEARLESS FORECAST

You know how some weeks you’re just not feeling it? Last week was one of those weeks at Forecast World Headquarters. Nothing seemed to click and that was reflected in a poor 6-4 finish in the straight-up picks and a 4-5-1 record against spread.

We’re still pretty well off for the season at 97-15 SU and 69-39-2 ATS, but eager to put last week behind us. Here is what we’re looking at this week.

TONIGHT’S GAME

No. 2 Oklahoma State at Iowa State: It’s getting to be crunch time for the Cowboys as they prepare for one final hurdle before meeting instate rival Oklahoma on Dec. 3. First things first, though, as the Okies travel to Ames to take on the Cyclones, who have a pretty good pass defense. Pretty good might not be good enough, though, against Pokes QB Brandon Weeden (3,635 yards, 31 TDs) and the nation’s No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon (93 catches, 1,142 yards, 14 TDs). Iowa State’s signature win this year was a 41-7 rout of then-ranked Texas Tech, but the Raiders have crated since then including a 66-6 loss to Oklahoma State last week. One more note: The Cowboys have won their last 10 road games … Oklahoma State 45, Iowa State 23. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

SATURDAY’S GAMES

No. 1 LSU at Mississippi: How much worse could it get in Oxford? Well, the Rebels have already announced head coach Houston Nutt will not return next year and now they draw the No. 1 team in the land without their starting quarterback and top rusher. QB Randall Mackey and RB Jeff Scott have been suspended for violating team rules, and that isn’t exactly what the No. 113 team in the nation in total offense needs going up against the nation’s No. 2 defense. Ole Miss has lost a program-record 12 straight SEC games and we see no reason why that number doesn’t go to 13 tomorrow night … LSU 42, Mississippi 0. (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 22 Baylor: The Bears believe that if they are ever going to beat the Sooners, this is the year. OU is a perfect 20-0 in the series, including 10-0 in Waco, but Baylor does have a couple of things tilted in its favor. First, QB Robert Griffin III (3,093 yards, 29 TDs) is one of the top passers in the country and the Sooners have been susceptible at times through the air this season. Secondly, the Sooners lost a huge piece of their offense two weekends ago when WR Ryan Broyles suffered a season-ending knee injury. Unfortunately for Griffin and the Bears, their defense just doesn’t measure up and that’s putting it mildly. Baylor ranks 110th nationally in total defense and 108th in scoring, meaning the Sooners should still be able to score at will even without Broyles … Oklahoma 48, Baylor 35. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

California at No. 9 Stanford: This is the week we find out how good Cardinal QB Andrew Luck really is. After committing three turnovers – two INTs and a fumble – in last week’s 53-30 drubbing at the hands of Oregon, Luck must regroup himself and rally his team for a possible at-large BCS berth. An emotional letdown after such a huge loss might be the norm, but letdowns are uncommon in rivalry games. These two teams have going at one another for more than a century as tomorrow night is the 114th renewal of what is known as The Big Game. The Bears are meandering along at 6-4, but they have won two in a row and beat the Cardinal in 2009 on their last trip to the Farm. This could be closer than a lot of people think … Stanford 31, California 24. (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

SMU at No. 11 Houston: Running up huge scores on defenseless opponents has gotten the Cougars where they need to be to earn an automatic BCS berth. Now, they hit the meat of their schedule in an effort to stay there. First up is SMU, losers of a 24-17 decision to Navy last week. But don’t discount the Mustangs. Like any heavyweight with a good right hand, they have a puncher’s chance to take out anyone just like they did Oct. 1 with an upset win over TCU. Of course, Houston has won 23 in a row at home since Case Keenum has been the starting quarterback, and he is only seven completions and one 300-yard game away from owning all of the major NCAA career records for a QB … Houston 49, SMU 24. (3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Regional)

No. 13 Kansas State at No. 23 Texas: Offensive players are dropping like flies in Austin and that isn’t exactly the recipe for success with the Wildcats coming to town. The Mack Attack lost all-purpose senior Fozzy Whitaker to a knee injury last week, compounding a problem at the running back position where leading rusher Malcolm Brown and backup Joe Bergeron are iffy with injuries of their own. Top receiver Jaxon Shipley is also questionable because of a bad knee, meaning the Longhorns will have to rely on a defense that leads the Big 12 in nearly every major category. Still, Texas proved last week that you can’t win if you can’t score … Kansas State 17, Texas 10. (8 p.m. ET, FX)

Kentucky at No. 14 Georgia: There was no hotter seat in the SEC than the one under Georgia head coach Mark Richt just a few short weeks ago. Now, after reeling off eight straight victories, Richt’s Bulldogs have a chance to clinch a berth in the conference title game. Those who wrote off the Dawgs after their 0-2 start might be surprised to know the team features the nation’s No. 4-ranked defense, led by LB Jarvis Jones (10 sacks) and S Bacarri Rambo (7 INTs). The offense is no slouch, either, with QB Aaron Murray already breaking the school’s single-season record with 27 touchdown passes. None of that is very good news for Kentucky, which has been outscored by a 127-18 margin in its three conference road games this year … Georgia 41, Kentucky 10. (12 noon ET, SEC Network)

Indiana at No. 15 Michigan State: It’s Senior Day at East Lansing and Sparty can clinch at least a share of the Legends Division title with a victory over the lowly Hoosiers. MSU needs to be ready, though. IU is playing much better these days, especially on offense, and have had a week off to prepare for the Spartans. Still, you have to believe that a team on the doorstep of playing in their conference’s historic first-ever title game would avoid taking any opponent lightly – even one that hasn’t beaten a Division I-A opponent all season and has lost 18 of its last 19 Big Ten games … Michigan State 38, Indiana 14. (12 noon ET, BTN)

No. 16 Nebraska at No. 18 Michigan: This Legends Division elimination game features a pair of teams that still have question marks despite the lateness of the season. The Cornhuskers are coming off an emotionally-draining 17-14 victory at Penn State while the Wolverines are still trying to assess how much affect a sprained wrist on his throwing hand will have on QB Denard Robinson. Expect U-M to keep Robinson grounded for the most part, especially since Nebraska ranks only eighth in the Big Ten against the run. But the wild card here – as usual – is Huskers QB Taylor Martinez. If Martinez plays well, Nebraska usually wins. If he doesn’t, Nebraska usually loses. Michigan’s defense has improved this season, but not enough to contain Martinez if he’s on … Nebraska 26, Michigan 23. (12 noon ET, ESPN)

No. 21 Penn State at Ohio State: How much either of these teams has remaining in their emotional gas tanks is anyone’s guess. The Nittany Lions are coming off one of the most draining weeks in program history, the product of a child sex abuse scandal that is not going away any time soon. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have to deal with their crushing loss to Purdue last week, a defeat that effectively ended any chance they had of repeating as Big Ten champions for a record seventh straight year. How does either team pick up the pieces? It will be interesting to see them try, especially since OSU can’t throw the ball and Penn State struggles to put points on the board. We’ll go with the Buckeyes, but only because it’s Senior Day … Ohio State 22, Penn State 17. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Oklahoma State at Iowa State (+27); LSU (-29½) at Ole Miss; Oklahoma at Baylor (+16); Cal (+18½) at Stanford; SMU at Houston (-19½); Kansas State (+9½) at Texas; Kentucky at Georgia (-29½); Indiana (+28½) at Michigan State; Nebraska (+4) at Michigan; Penn State (+7) at Ohio State.

Enjoy the games and we’ll talk to you next week … from the graveyard.

A Handful Of Things I Think

With all due respect to veteran NFL writer Peter King, here are some things I think as the college football season heads into the homestretch and we try to put some distance between us and one of most unseamly scandals in sports history.

I think you could have gotten astronomical odds this time last year had you suggested both Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno would be fired – with cause – within the subsequent 12 months. The two Big Ten head coaches with the most solid of legacies have been summarily dismissed, leaving the conference with no real pillars of college football.

I think anyone who wants to draw a parallel between the scandals at Ohio State and Penn State should seriously think look at themselves in the mirror and reassess their priorities. Trading memorabilia for tattoos against harboring a sexual predator of young boys? Seriously? That’s the comparison you want to make?

I think anyone who believes there is a rush to judgment regarding the Penn State situation ought to read the grand jury testimony. There is eyewitness testimony and the perpetrator has been charged with more than 40 criminal counts ranging from involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and corruption of minors to endangering the welfare of a child and indecent assault. These heinous acts began more than 15 years ago, and you want to talk about a rush to judgment? Spare me.

I think if Jerry Sandusky had made a one-minute phone call to a prospect during a dead recruiting period, the NCAA would have severely sanctioned him as well as the Penn State football program. But because Sandusky’s actions are not under the purvey of college athletics’ governing body, NCAA president Mark Emmert said his organization would wait until all of the details regarding the situation are known before it makes a decision if any NCAA rules were violated. The NCAA has no oversight regarding legal proceedings at schools, but it could certainly add some teeth to such a tepid statement. How about something regarding condemnation of child abuse? That might be a decent place to start.

I think if the Ohio State and Penn State scandals have taught us anything, it could be that more oversight is needed into big-time college football programs. Multimillion-dollar coaches wield too much power as well as too much autonomy. Their football programs become de facto fiefdoms over which the coach has total control. What exactly are athletic directors being paid to do?

I think every drunken idiot who protested Wednesday night in State College in favor of Paterno should be required to spend time working at a center for abused children.

I think Penn State’s heretofore squeaky-clean image has been stripped away, but people tend to forget the Rene Portland incident. Portland, who was women’s basketball coach at Penn State for 27 years from 1980-2007, was forced to resign following a lawsuit brought against her, the university and athletic director Tim Curley (yep, same Tim Curley) by a former player. Jennifer Harris claimed Portland discriminated against her because the coach falsely perceived her to be gay. The university reached an out-of-court settlement with Harris while Portland was reprimanded, forced to resign, fined $10,000 and ordered to take diversity training.

I think Luke Fickell has done an excellent job in first year as head coach despite being dealt a weak hand. Fickell took over the program in June, lost his three-year starting quarterback off the bat, lost the serves of his left tackle for five games, his top running back for six, his top receiver for 10 and arguably his best defensive player after just one game. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if Fickell gets the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Game and wins it – earning a Rose Bowl berth in the process – that would be rather noteworthy.

I think those who compare Fickell to his predecessor are making an unfair comparison. While Fickell is in his first season as a head coach at any level, Tressel had 15 years experience and four national titles when he got to OSU. Of course, his first year at Youngstown State, his team went 2-9 and his first team at Ohio State went 7-5. I have no idea if Fickell will be the next Tressel or the next Randy Ayers, but I do know he’s Buckeye through and through, and that should be worth something especially if he gets this year’s team to the conference title game and wins it — something no one was predicting after Nebraska.

I think anyone the whole Urban Meyer thing is beginning to make me queasy. It just rubs me the wrong way the way some fans are so willing to dismiss anything Fickell does this season in favor of Meyer. I don’t like it when someone dances on another guy’s grave especially before he’s gone. Sure, I’ve been told that the higher-ups want to make a clean sweep of the coaching staff after this season regardless of how things turn out. But I still say it’s going to be tough to make a change if the team wins 10 games, takes home another Big Ten title and goes to the Rose Bowl. If they fall short of that, then yeah, I can get my head around making a change. But all of this talk is premature and counterproductive. IMHO, if the change is made and the job is offered and Meyer thinks it’s the right fit, he’ll take it. If not, he won’t.

I think anyone is delusional who believes Meyer is entertaining any thought of going to Penn State. By the time the smoke clears at Penn State, it will be lucky – very lucky – to get a mid-level Pennsylvania high school coach to go there. Can anyone truly believe that after the housecleaning there it will simply be back to business as usual? Penn State is looking at multiple criminal and civil lawsuits that will likely cost them tens of millions of dollars, an investigation coming from the U.S. Department of Education and quite possibly one from the U.S. Justice Department. The least of their worries right now is the NCAA, which is sitting back and waiting to see if it wants to do anything. Anyone who steps into that cesspool runs the very real risk of ruining his reputation for the sake of financial gain. If you lay down with skunks, it’s going to be awfully hard to ever get that smell off you.

I think the Penn State football program may sink to the lower regions of the Big Ten for quite some time and I use Kansas State as a perfect example. During Bill Snyder’s first go-round in Manhattan (a small, isolated town much like State College), the Wildcats posted a 108-29-1 record during an 11-year stretch between 1993-2003 and went to a bowl game every year during that time. After Snyder left following the 2005 season, the program meandered along at 17-20 for the next three seasons before Snyder returned in 2009. The only problem with that scenario repeating itself at Penn State is that Paterno is never coming back.

I think I have no idea if the next Ohio State head coach will be Meyer, Fickell or someone else. But if it’s not Meyer, a whole lot of people are going to have to be talked in off the ledge.

Finally, Sandusky faces up to 460 years in prison for his despicable acts. I think that’s not long enough.

OSU-PURDUE TIDBITS

** This marks the 54th meeting between Ohio State and Purdue with the Buckeyes holding a 38-13-2 record in the overall series. That includes a 12-7 mark in West Lafayette, although the Buckeyes are only 2-3 at Ross-Ade Stadium since 2000.

** In the previous 53 meetings, the Boilermakers have never experienced more than a two-game win streak over the Buckeyes. OSU has enjoyed series winning streaks of seven and six games as well as mini-streaks of three in a row on five separate occasions.

** Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell will be facing the Boilermakers for the first time as head coach, but he is 9-2 lifetime against Purdue as an OSU player and assistant coach. Fickell was 4-0 vs. the Boilers during his playing career from 1993-96 and 5-2 during nine seasons as an assistant on Jim Tressel’s staff.

** Purdue head coach Danny Hope is in his third season with the Boilermakers, compiling a 13-20 overall record and 8-13 mark in the Big Ten. He is 1-1 vs. the Buckeyes with his victory coming in 2009 in West Lafayette when Purdue took advantage of five OSU turnovers and scored a 26-18 upset over the seventh-ranked Buckeyes.

** The Boilermakers should have a good feeling about playing on Nov. 12. They are 11-4 all-time on that date, including a monumental upset of top-ranked Minnesota in 1960. Purdue was 2-4-1 heading into that game and knocked off the previously unbeaten Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. Despite that loss, Minnesota went on to capture the 1960 national championship, the most recent of the school’s six national titles.

** The game will feature two of the Big Ten’s more challenged passing offenses. Purdue ranks ninth in the league with an average of 192.2 yards per game while Ohio State is dead last, averaging a miniscule 115.4 yards through the air. In conference games only, the Buckeyes are even worse with an 82.4-yard average.

** Despite his team’s troubles in the passing game, Purdue wide receiver Antavian Edison enters tomorrow’s game against the Buckeyes with a streak of 17 consecutive games in which he has caught at least one pass. Even so, Edison is only the third-leading receiver on his team this season with 26 catches for 367 yards and two TDs.

** Ohio State’s offensive strength in running the football and the Buckeyes have moved up to fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 204.3 yards per game on the ground. Counting conference games only, the Buckeyes average 220.6 yards rushing, and counting only the three games since senior tailback Boom Herron has played, the team averages 275.0 yards on the ground. That’s not exactly what the Boilermakers want to hear – they are tied for 10th in the league in rush defense, giving up an average of 191.1 yards per game.

** The Buckeyes rushed for a season-high 346 yards last week against Indiana, their best single-game output since a 348-yard effort at Illinois in 1996.

** OSU’s ground attack was led by tailbacks Herron and Carlos Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller, all of whom eclipsed the 100-yard mark. It was the first trio of players to crack the century mark on the ground for Ohio State since Dante Lee, Scottie Graham and Carlos Snow accomplished the feat during a 52-27 win at Northwestern in 1989. The feat has been accomplished two other times in Ohio State history – Leo Hayden, John Brockington and Rex Kern did it during a 34-10 win over Duke in 1970, and the triumvirate of Galen Cisco, Jim Roseboro and Don Clark each cracked the century mark in 1956 during a 35-14 win over Indiana.

** Miller rushed for a career-high 105 yards against the Hoosiers, marking the 18th time in program history an Ohio State quarterback had rushed for 100 yards or more in a game. The school single-game mark for QBs is 146, set by Cornelius Greene during a 52-7 win over Wisconsin in 1974.

** Much of Miller’s yardage came on an 81-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. That marked the sixth longest run from scrimmage in Ohio State history and the longest ever by a quarterback, wiping out a 76-yard run by Kern during a 48-29 victory at Illinois in 1970.

** When Miller and Indiana’s Tre Roberson squared off against one another last Saturday, it marked the first time since 1988 that a pair of freshman quarterbacks started for both teams in a Big Ten game. Brian Fox of Purdue and Lionell Crawford of Wisconsin started that ’88 game but didn’t generate nearly the offense Miller and Roberson did. The Boilermakers won a 9-6 decision in Madison.

** Herron’s 141-yard rushing effort last weekend pushed his career total to 2,609, good for 11th on the school’s all-time rushing list. Herron passed Jim Otis (2,542, 1967-69) and Calvin Murray (2,576, 1977-80) and needs only 41 more to move ahead of Raymont Harris (2,649, 1990-93) and break into the Ohio State all-time top 10.

** On Ohio State’s first play of the second half tomorrow, you might want to keep your eye on Herron. In his three games this season, Herron’s first touch of the second half has resulted in a 12-yard touchdown run vs. Illinois, a 57-yard run against Wisconsin and a 40-yard rumble vs. Indiana. That is a nice, tidy average of 36.3 yards per carry.

** OSU junior defensive lineman John Simon had a career-high 10 tackles against Indiana and also increased his team-leading totals to 12½ tackles for loss and six sacks. Simon now has 10½ career sacks which puts him into OSU’s all-time top 25 in that category. He needs only three more to pass Courtland Bullard (11, 1997-2001), Srecko Zizakovic (11, 1988-89), Kenny Peterson (12, 1999-2002) and James Laurinaitis (13, 2005-08) to break into the school’s top 20.

** OSU sophomore kicker Drew Basil’s field goals of 36 and 45 yards against the Hoosiers pushed his streak to 12 consecutive three-pointers, the third longest streak in OSU history. Mike Nugent (2001-04) holds the school record with 24 in a row while Vlade Janakievski (1977-80) had a streak of 15.

** Purdue sophomore punter Cody Webster leads the Big Ten with an average of 45.5 yards on 34 attempts. Better still for the Boilermakers, they rank first in the conference and 11th nationally in net punting at 40.0 yards per kick.

** Boilermakers sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen knows what to do with the football when he gets his hands on it. His 37-yard interception return for a touchdown Oct. 8 against Minnesota was the third pick-six of Allen’s career. That ties him with All-America cornerback Rod Woodson (1983-86) and linebacker Mike Rose (1996-99) for the school record.

** PU freshman Raheem Mostert returned five kickoffs for 206 yards last week against Wisconsin, establishing a new single-game record for the Boilermakers. Stan Brown had 184 yards on six returns during a 42-14 loss to Ohio State in 1969. Mosert now ranks No. 6 nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 31.6 yards on 16 attempts.

** Purdue has many distinguished alumni including astronauts Neil Armstrong (the first man to set foot on the moon) and Eugene Cernan (the last man to set to set foot on the moon). Of course, Ohio can also claim Armstrong as a native son. He was born in Wapakoneta. Cernan also grew up in Big Ten country in suburban Chicago.

** This week’s game will be telecast on a regional basis by the Big Ten Network with the same announce crew as last week’s game with Indiana – Tom Hart (play-by-play), former Minnesota tight end/long snapper Derek Rackley (color analysis) and Lisa Byington (sideline reports). Kickoff is set for shortly after 12 noon Eastern.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channels 137 as well as XM channel 192.

** Next week, Ohio State returns home to face Penn State in what should be a crucial Leaders Division matchup. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern and the game will be telecast by ABC/ESPN using the reverse mirror.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** Only five undefeated teams now remain at the Division I-A level – Boise State, Houston, LSU, Oklahoma State and Stanford.

** Stanford rolled again last weekend, taking a 38-13 victory at Oregon State to move the nation’s longest winning streak to 18 games. The Cardinal still have a ways to go to match Oklahoma’s all-time winning streak of 47 set between 1953-57. Most recently, the longest winning streak at the Division I-A level belongs to Miami (Fla.), which won 34 in a row between 2000-02.

** Time is running out for New Mexico to escape a winless season. The Lobos extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 12 games last weekend with a 35-7 loss at San Diego State. New Mexico has three games remaining – tomorrow vs. UNLV (2-6), Nov. 19 at Wyoming (5-3) and Nov. 26 at fifth-ranked Boise State (8-0).

** Congratulations to Houston QB Case Keenum, who became the NCAA’s all-time leading passer while throwing for 407 yards during his team’s 56-13 rout of UAB last Saturday night. Keenum pushed his career total to 17,212 and past Timmy Chang of Hawaii (2001-04), the previous career leader with 17,072.

** While congratulations are in order for Keenum, darts to his head coach Kevin Sumlin for ridiculously trying to run up the score on the 1-8 Blazers, who rank 119th of 120 Division I-A teams in pass defense. Keenum was on the sideline early in the fourth quarter, but Sumlin instructed backup QB Cotton Turner to continue throwing the ball on the Cougars’ final series of the game.

** Northwestern’s 28-25 upset win at Nebraska was the 38th for head coach Pat Fitzgerald and pushed him to No. 2 on the school’s all-time victories list. The career wins leader at Northwestern is Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf, who went 49-45-7 from 1935-46. In his sixth season in Evanston, Fitzgerald has a 38-34 record and is one of only five head coaches at NU since 1920 to sport a winning record. The others are Waldorf, Glenn Thistlethwaite (21-17-1, 1922-26), Dick Hanley (36-26-4, 1927-34) and Ara Parseghian (36-35-1, 1956-63).

** Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball scored three more rushing touchdowns Saturday during his team’s 62-17 rout of Purdue and upped his nation-leading total to 21. He needs six more to break the Big Ten single-season record of 25 set by Anthony Thompson of Indiana in 1988 and equaled by Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter in 1994.

** Wisconsin travels to Minnesota this weekend to renew the nation’s oldest rivalry. It marks the 121st meeting in the series and the 64th time the schools will battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the trophy awarded to the winning of the contest since 1948. Goldy holds a 59-53-8 advantage in the overall series, but Bucky holds a 37-23-3 edge in the battle for the Axe.

** It was a good news-bad news week for Kansas. Good news: After giving up at least 42 points to seven straight opponents, the Jayhawks held Iowa State to only 13. Bad news: KU scored only 10 and dropped to 2-7 for the season. The Jayhawks’ seven-game losing streak matches the seven-game slide at the end of the 2009 campaign and means the team has now lost 23 of its last 28 games. KU hasn’t lost eight in a row in a single season since 1988, Glen Mason’s first year as head coach.

** Boston College’s 38-7 loss to Florida State last Thursday night officially put an end to the Eagles’ streak of 12 consecutive bowl seasons. BC slipped to 2-7 this season and needs to win two of its last three games to avoid its worst finish since going 2-9 in 1989.

** If you wonder how the Big East holds onto its BCS automatic status, you are not alone. Cincinnati leads the conference standings – the same Cincinnati team that lost a 45-23 decision to Tennessee back on Sept. 10. That’s the same Tennessee team that is presently 0-5 in the SEC.

** Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley suddenly ran out of kickers last Saturday after starter Michael Palardy was already sidelined and backup Chip Rhome pulled a muscle in pregame warm-ups. Dooley placed a telephone call to Derrick Brodus, a walk-on who practices with the Volunteers but never suits up for games – until last week. Brodus, who was at his fraternity house getting ready to watch the game on TV, got to Neyland Stadium less than an hour before kickoff and responded by booting three PATs and a 21-yard field goal during Tennessee’s 24-0 win over Middle Tennessee State.

** Speaking of kickers, Western Kentucky’s Casey Tinius is a model of perseverance. Tinius kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the game Saturday to give his Hilltoppers a 10-9 win over Florida International. The winning kick came after Tinius had missed each of his previous seven field-goal attempts.

** The victory over FIU was the fifth in a row for Western Kentucky, which began the season with four straight losses. The Hilltoppers last won five in a row in 2004 when they were a Division I-AA program, and haven’t won more than five straight games since a 10-game win streak at the end of the 2002 season. The Hilltoppers captured the I-AA national championship that year under head coach Jack Harbaugh, father of NFL head coaches Jim and John Harbaugh.

** Unfair comparison of the week: Keenum has thrown for 17,212 yards during his career or about 9.8 miles. Notre Dame is dead last nationally in punt returns this season, totaling 3 yards on 10 attempts. That computes to an average of a little less than 11 inches per return.

** Over its last two games, Toledo has scored 126 points while its defense has allowed – strangely enough – 126 points. On the heels of last week’s wild 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois, the Rockets got into another shootout Tuesday night before pulling out a 66-63 victory over Western Michigan. The game featured 1,439 yards of total offense, 804 of it by Toledo. If you can believe it, that was not a school record for total yardage. The Rockets gained 812 yards during a 70-21 win over Northern Illinois in 2007.

** Did you know longtime CBS news correspondent and “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney, who died Nov. 4 at the age of 92, was a college football player at Colgate? Before his career in journalism, Rooney was an undersized offensive lineman for the Raiders in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Nov. 9, 1912, Carlisle (Ind.) used the double wing formation for the first time and rolled past a confused Army team, 27-6. Leading the Indians was legendary fullback Jim Thorpe while the Cadets featured a team that included nine future generals, including five-star general and future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

** On Nov. 9, 1974, Baylor stunned No. 12 Texas with a 34-24 upset in Waco. The Longhorns built a 24-7 halftime lead after touchdown runs from future College Football Hall of Fame tailbacks Earl Campbell and Roosevelt Leaks. But the Bears stormed back in the second half led by QB Neal Jeffrey, who threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns. The upset marked Baylor’s first win over Texas since 1956 and led to the school’s first Southwest Conference championship since 1924.

** On Nov. 10, 1956, UTEP pitched a 28-0 shutout over previously undefeated Arizona State and clinched their first-ever conference championship. The Miners, who were members of the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association in ’56, were led by an outstanding defensive effort. The Sun Devils marched inside the UTEP 30-yard line on eight different occasions only to come away empty-handed each time.

** On Nov. 10, 1984, backup quarterback Frank Reich of unranked Maryland engineered the biggest comeback in NCAA history at the time, leading the Terrapins from a 31-0 halftime deficit to a 42-40 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Orange Bowl.

** On Nov. 10, 2007, Navy and North Texas combined to score the most points in a regulation college football game when the Midshipmen outlasted the Mean Green, 74-62, in Denton, Texas. North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza threw for 478 yards and eight touchdowns while Navy rushed for 572 yards and scored eight TDs on the ground.

** On Nov. 11, 1939, Texas Tech and Centenary combined for an NCAA-record 77 punts in a rain-soaked, 0-0 tie in Shreveport, La.

** On Nov. 11, 1955, at a campus pep rally, Texas cheerleader Harley Clark became the first to raise his forefinger and pinky pointed upward and his middle two fingers curled under this thumb – the “Hook ’Em Horns” sign.

** On Nov. 11, 1967, Oregon State toppled No. 1 USC by a 3-0 score in Corvallis, finishing off an impressive three-game stretch. Before knocking off the top-ranked Trojans, the Beavers had beaten No. 2 Purdue and tied No. 2 UCLA. Kicker Mike Haggard’s 30-yard field goal in the second quarter accounted for all the scoring in the game as Oregon State won despite giving up 188 yards on 33 carries to USC tailback O.J. Simpson.

** On Nov. 11, 1989, Duke scored a 35-26 upset of North Carolina State despite Wolfpack QB Shane Montgomery throwing an NCAA-record 73 passes for a school-record 535 yards.

** On Nov. 12, 1966, quarterback Bob Griese led Purdue to a 16-0 victory at Minnesota and secured the Boilermakers’ first-ever berth in the Rose Bowl.

** On Nov. 12, 1983, UCLA needed only a tie against Arizona to secure a Rose Bowl bid, but kicker John Lee’s field-goal attempt sailed wide as time expired and the Bruins dropped a 27-24 decision.

** On Nov. 12, 2005, fifth-ranked LSU squeezed out a 16-13 overtime win over No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide enjoyed a 10-0 halftime lead, but the Tigers tied the game and then won it in overtime when QB JaMarcus Russell hit wide receiver Dwayne Bowe with an 11-yard touchdown pass.

** On Nov. 13, 1943, North Carolina and Penn combined to set an NCAA record that will likely never be approached again. The two squads combined for minus-13 passing yards on the day, the fewest passing yards in a single game in college football history. The Tar Heels completed 1 of 7 passes for a loss of 7 yards, while the Quakers connected on 2 of 12 attempts for minus-6 yards. North Carolina won the game by a 9-6 score in Philadelphia.

** On Nov. 13, 1982, Southern Mississippi engineered a 38-29 upset of Alabama, ending the Crimson Tide’s 57-game home win streak. The Golden Eagles were led by quarterback Reggie Collins, who rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns, while tailback Sam Dejarnette added 153 yards and two scores. Before the loss to Southern Miss, Alabama hadn’t tasted defeat in Tuscaloosa since 1963.

** On Nov. 13, 1993, ESPN’s College Gameday made its first-ever on-campus broadcast. The popular college football pregame show debuted in 1987, but it wasn’t until six years later that Gameday got out of the studio and hit the road. The first telecast was from South Bend to cover the 1-vs-2 matchup between Florida State and Notre Dame, and featured host Chris Fowler and analysts Lee Corso and Craig James. The result was an upset victory by the second-ranked Irish, who took a 31-24 win over the No. 1 Seminoles. (Corso picked Florida State to win, by the way.) The Seminoles managed to rebound from the loss, going on to beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl and capture the national championship.

** On Nov. 14, 1959, No. 12 Georgia came from behind for a 14-13 victory over eighth-ranked Auburn and the Bulldogs clinched their first SEC championship in a decade. College and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton led the Bulldogs to the win, connecting with split end Bill Herron for a touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds of the contest.

** On Nov. 14, 1970, a charter jet carrying Marshall University’s football team crashed near Huntington, W.Va., on a return trip from a game with East Carolina. Everyone on board, including head coach Rick Tolley, team members, coaching staff and several Thundering Herd boosters, died in the single worst air tragedy in college sports history.

** On Nov. 14, 1992, Iowa State stunned seventh-ranked Nebraska with a 19-10 upset in Ames. Third-string quarterback Marv Seiler, starting only because it was Senior Day, bolted 78 yards to set up the game-clinching touchdown for the Cyclones.

** On Nov. 14, 1998, second-ranked Kansas State took a 40-30 win over No. 11 Nebraska to clinch the Big 12 North title, the first football championship of any kind for the Wildcats since 1934.

** On Nov. 15, 1890, Minnesota and Wisconsin squared off for the first time in what has become the most-played series in college football history. The Gophers took a 63-0 victory in Minneapolis that day, and the two teams have played one another every year since.

** On Nov. 15, 1879, Princeton unveiled the novel approach of using blockers to help the ball-carrier advance the ball down the field. The new angle evidently was successful as the Tigers scored a 1-0 victory over Harvard. (In those days, you had to score four touchdowns to tally a single point.)

** On Nov. 15, 1941, College Football Hall of Fame head coach Eddie Robinson earned his first career victory as he led Grambling to a 37-6 win over Tillotson. Robinson eventually directed the Tigers to 408 victories in 55 years at Grambling.

FEARLESS FORECAST

The Forecast was back in the black last week despite some strange upsets. We were 8-2 straight up to move that yearly ledger to 91-11 while we ended an against-the-spread losing streak at one week with a 7-3 finish. That puts us at 65-34-1 ATS for the season and seriously thinking about starting one of those 1-900 numbers.

Before we quit the day job, though, here are the games we’ll be watching this week.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Western Kentucky at No. 1 LSU: After such an emotionally-packed, hard-hitting game as the Tigers’ 9-6 overtime triumph over Alabama, the Tigers might be forgiven for experiencing a letdown. That’s why the Hilltoppers are the perfect opponent this week. LSU has won 36 straight regular-season games against nonconference competition, sports a perfect 34-0 all-time record against current Sun Belt conference members and Tigers head coach Les Miles is looking for career win No. 100. Meanwhile, WKU has won five in a row but it has not faced anything like the snarling defense of the Tigers. Look for LSU to put this one away early and then glide home on cruise control … LSU 45, Western Kentucky 0. (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 3 Alabama at Mississippi State: The Crimson Tide can go one of two ways. Either they can sulk after last week’s loss to LSU or they can take their frustrations out on the Bulldogs. MSU gave a decent accounting of itself last year before dropping a 30-10 decision to the Tide, but Alabama played that game without star tailback Trent Richardson. The one-time Heisman Trophy candidate was held to 89 yards last week by LSU, but the Tigers have the No. 2 rush defense in the country. The Bulldogs are ranked at No. 66. If Nick Saban sticks to his core offense – something he inexplicably did not do last week – and keeps his bag of tricks closed, the Tide should roll away with this one … Alabama 38, Mississippi State 10. (7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 7 Oregon at No. 4 Stanford: After last week’s marquee matchup in the SEC, the Pac-12 gets the national spotlight with a game that should be in sharp contrast to the one played by LSU and Alabama. The Ducks and the Cardinal boast two of the country’s top offensive units, and two of college football’s major stars will be on display. Oregon RB LaMichael James (1,061 yards, nine TDs) is back after missing a couple of games with a dislocated elbow, while Stanford QB Andrew Luck (2,424 yards, 26 TDs) is the odds-on Heisman favorite. If you like offensive battles, you should have no problem being entertained. Last year, the Quack Attack wiped out an early 21-3 deficit en route to a 52-31 win, while the Cardinal outlasted Oregon, 51-42, in a wild one the last time the teams played in Palo Alto. Overtime anyone? … Stanford 59, Oregon 52. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

TCU at No. 5 Boise State: Despite the fact these schools are located about 1,250 miles apart, they have struck up a nice little rivalry the past couple of years. The Horned Frogs spoiled Boise’s perfect season in 2008, and the Broncos did the same to TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. The Frogs hop into this one riding a four-game winning streak this season and they have won 21 in a row against Mountain West rivals. Of course, this is the first (and maybe last) season for the Broncos in the mighty MWC after three straight WAC championships, and they are nearly unbeaten at home. In fact, they haven’t lost a regular-season conference game on the Smurf Turf since 1998 … Boise State 31, TCU 24. (3:30 p.m. ET, Versus)

Tennessee at No. 8 Arkansas: The Razorbacks are feeling pretty good about themselves after a big 44-28 win last weekend over South Carolina. They can pretty much coast the next two weeks with home games against Tennessee and Mississippi State before a Nov. 25 showdown at top-ranked LSU in the regular-season finale. While LSU and Alabama are obviously the class of the SEC defensively, Arkansas leads the conference offensively, averaging 450.9 total yards and 37.7 points per game. With that kind of firepower, you have to wonder how the Volunteers can keep up with a scoring offense that ranks 96th nationally and a rushing attack that ranks 118th out of 120 Division I-A teams … Arkansas 38, Tennessee 22. (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Wake Forest at No. 9 Clemson: The Tigers spent most of their off week concentrating on fundamentals and contemplating their first loss of the season, a 31-17 loss at Georgia Tech on Oct. 29. They had better have saved some of their focus for the Demon Deacons, who are a better team than their 5-4 record might indicate. Wake is 4-2 in the ACC Atlantic, just a game behind front-running Clemson, and the Deacons have played the Tigers tough in the past. But they usually fall flat in Death Valley. Wake hasn’t won there since 2001 and has been wiped out by a combined score of 82-13 on its last two trips. Look for the Tigers to bounce back and stay on track for an ACC title game berth … Clemson 32, Wake Forest 17. (12 noon ET, ESPNU)

No. 19 Nebraska at No. 12 Penn State: In what should be one of the most surreal Senior Days anywhere, the black cloud of the Penn State scandal will hang over this game like a shroud. Can the Nittany Lions players respond after such as emotional week? The scandal aside, this is the beginning of a three-game gantlet Penn State must navigate if it wants to get to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Even before what has transpired, it looked like a monumental task. Now, it looks borderline impossible. Many a college football game has been won on sheer emotion, though, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Penn State get a victory and dedicate it to their longtime coach. Still, you wager your hard-earned money with your head, not your heart … Nebraska 24, Penn State 20. (12 noon ET, ESPN)

No. 17 Michigan State at Iowa: The Spartans haven’t exactly distinguished themselves the past two weeks with a loss at Nebraska and a narrow home victory over Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes dropped Michigan last Saturday only a week after losing to the Golden Gophers. To say these teams are hard to figure out would be an understatement. Be that as it may, Iowa is playing well right now, especially on offense with sophomore running back Marcus Coker (1,101 yards, 12 TDs) and WR Marvin McNutt (959 yards, 9 TDs). Then when you figure into the equation that Sparty has lost the last seven times he has visited Kinnick, you get this kind of prediction and an Upset Special … Iowa 27, Michigan State 23. (12 noon ET, ESPN2)

No. 18 Wisconsin at Minnesota: Trap game for the Badgers? That’s highly unlikely even though the Gophers seem to be playing better of late. They beat Iowa two weeks ago and went to the wire with Michigan State last Saturday before falling by a 31-24 score. They also always seem to play Wisconsin tough at home. The last 12 meetings in Minnesota have been decided by an average of 4.5 points, with the Badgers winning the last three by margins of seven or fewer points. No one expects Goldy to engineer the upset, but many believe Minnesota can keep it closer than the spread. We’re not among them, though … Wisconsin 56, Minnesota 13. (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)

Ohio State at Purdue: Pound, ground and pound some more. That is what the Buckeyes are expected to do against the Boilermakers, who are tied for 10th in the Big Ten in rushing defense. There is no doubt OSU will try to ratchet up its passing game, which ranks dead last in the conference, but there really isn’t much of a need with a ground game that features Boom Herron, Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller. The Boilers can score some points, and the Buckeyes have had some kind of bugaboo over the past decade about playing in Ross-Ade Stadium, but another 300-plus yard performance from the OSU running game should be more than enough … Ohio State 38, Purdue 23. (12 noon ET, BTN)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Western Kentucky at LSU (-41); Alabama (-17½) at Mississippi State; Oregon at Stanford (-3½); TCU (+16) at Boise State; Tennessee at Arkansas (-14); Wake Forest (+19½) at Clemson; Nebraska (-3) at Penn State; Michigan State at Iowa (+3); Wisconsin (-27) at Minnesota; Ohio State (-7) at Purdue.

Enjoy the games and we’ll see you next week.

Penn State, Paterno Share Blame, Shame

Shock and disgust don’t come close to describing the feeling one gets from reading the details of a grand jury investigation of alleged child molestation charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Horrifying might be a better word, and even that doesn’t even seem able to describe the vile atrocities Sandusky supposedly perpetrated upon a number of helpless young victims over a period of several years.

For longer than I care to remember, we have been subjected to one stain after another in the world of college athletics. SMU got the so-called death penalty in 1987, USC is currently wading through sanctions levied in the wake of the Reggie Bush play-for-pay affair, and Ohio State is presently taking its turn in the NCAA meat grinder following a memorabilia-for-tattoos/cash scandal that threatened to turn the program upside down and cost head coach Jim Tressel his job and his legacy.

But none of those black marks, no matter how you perceive them, rises to level of what went on at Penn State. After reading the indictments against Sandusky, one is left with the impression that while his superiors likely did not condone his actions, they certainly did nothing to stop them.

For that reason and that reason alone, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and university senior vice president of finances and business Gary Schultz should not have been allowed to step down in order to fight the charges of perjury leveled against them. They should have been summarily fired along with Penn State president Graham Spanier.

The contract of longtime head coach Joe Paterno should be immediately nullified as well.

Some have come to Paterno’s defense, claiming the coach did all he could by notifying his AD when he was told of one of Sandusky’s transgressions. One particular pundit – so idiotic I refuse to reveal his name – claimed Sunday on national television that at least Paterno notified his superior of wrongdoing, something Tressel did not do. Later, the pundit admitted he had made a poor reference but that he was simply trying to get in one last shot at “the phony Tressel.”

Let’s set aside for the moment the ludicrous comparison of trading a Gold Pants trinket for a tattoo to seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, seven counts of indecent assault and

10 other miscellaneous counts, many of which occurred on the Penn State campus.

Doesn’t it go without saying that Paterno had to notify his superiors? I’m left wondering why he didn’t call the police. After more than 50 years in State College, I’m betting the coach and the city police chief are on a first-name basis.

Paterno has been one of the pillars of college football for the past half-century, and I will admit I have admired all he has done for the sport as well as his university. The selfless time he has given to charitable organizations, along with the more than $4 million he has personally donated to Penn State, is equal parts laudatory and legendary.

But Paterno has also spent much of his time perpetuating a certain image of college football in general and Penn State in particular. If that image has even a scintilla of authenticity to it, however, one would have to believe the coach would have done more than simply pass a report of misconduct up the chain of command.

One would have to believe a molder of young men’s lives would have protected those who could not protect themselves – regardless of collateral harm to himself, his program or his employer.

One would have to believe a man of Paterno’s supposed integrity would have done all in his considerable power to put an immediate stop to Sandusky’s brutalities.

But because he did not, there can be no other course of action for Penn State. Paterno must go.

Fickell’s Job Interview Begins In Earnest This Week

Despite the fact no one gives Indiana a chance to stay within three or four touchdowns of Ohio State tomorrow afternoon, the game will serve a valuable purpose other than just another victory for the Buckeyes. It will provide some insight into just what kind of head coach Luke Fickell has become.

It will also likely determine how much longer Fickell will be head coach of the Buckeyes.

The outcome of the game is a foregone conclusion for many, but with more difficult opponents on the horizon – and his team back in the thick of the Big Ten title game chase – Fickell is charged this week with keeping his team’s focus on the Hoosiers. That might not be the easiest of tasks since the Buckeyes are coming off such an emotional high following last week’s last-second victory over Wisconsin.

A natural byproduct of the win over the Badgers would be a letdown this weekend, and that would be especially unsurprising with the opponent ranked near or at the bottom of the Big Ten in most offensive and defensive statistical categories.

However, the argument can and should be made that Ohio State is a team unable to afford the luxury of letting down against any opponent. The Buckeyes are just now beginning to show some life offensively and that uptick needs to continue. Likewise, it would be nice to see the defense – still the team’s strength – put together a complete four-quarter game even if it is against a lesser opponent.

That is Fickell’s main assignment this week. After eight games that have already featured a season’s worth of ups and downs, it will be interesting to see how focused on thumping an inferior opponent the Buckeyes will be.

Extrapolating that theory even further, let’s say the team is focused and takes care of business to the point that the game is out of hand by halftime. How much of a statement does Fickell want to make? Is he predisposed to taking his foot off the gas like his predecessor did so many times or does he more favor the more merciless style of Bret Bielema, who seems to delight in running up the score on lesser opponents.

One other thing to look for if the game gets out of hand early: Will Fickell rest his starters in favor of getting some meaningful playing time for his youngsters, i.e. new backup quarterback Kenny Guiton? One of the criticisms of Jim Tressel was that he sometimes stayed with his starters too long in games that were well in hand, sacrificing a chance to get some much-needed experience for part-timers.

Taking stock of the way the Buckeyes perform against Indiana will provide a window into Fickell’s coaching acumen as well as his philosophy, something we haven’t always been able to gauge because of the mostly frenetic nature of the past five months. It will be beneficial, of course, to dig a little deeper into the way Fickell goes about his business especially since every week from now through the end of the 2011 season will be a series of de facto job interviews for the coach.

Rumors persist that Urban Meyer will be head coach at Ohio State in 2012 regardless of how the Buckeyes finish this season. Yet, how could the university make a change if Fickell’s team wins its final six regular-season games and earns a berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game? Then, let’s say OSU wins that game and goes to the Rose Bowl. That would mean a season with 10 victories and a record seventh straight conference title with Fickell the odds-on favorite to win Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. How does Ohio State proceed with a coaching change then?

Someone told me the other day that you make the change based solely on the fact that anytime you can get a coach with Meyer’s impressive body of work, the number of victories, titles and awards don’t matter. If you can get Meyer, you get him. End of story. Furthermore, you can head off any criticism of that decision by offering somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million annually to Fickell to stay on as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

The more I thought about that scenario – and the more I hear from people who should be in the know about these matters – the more I am inclined to think this is the path on which Ohio State is headed. Perhaps it will all work out for the best. Meyer can be the great savior everyone believes him to be and allow Fickell to remain in his hometown and work at his alma mater with the opportunity to continue to pad his résumé and perhaps become head coach again someday.

In the end, everyone wins.

If it’s such a great plan, though, why do I have such a sour taste about it?

OSU-INDIANA TIDBITS

** Ohio State and Indiana will be meeting for the 85th time on Saturday with the Buckeyes holding a lopsided 67-12-5 advantage in the series. That includes a 43-10-4 record in Ohio Stadium, including wins in each of the last nine games played in Columbus.

** The Buckeyes are currently enjoying a 16-game winning streak in the overall series. You have to go back to a 27-27 tie in 1990 to find the last time Ohio State failed to come away with a victory over Indiana. The Hoosiers’ most recent win in the series was a 41-7 decision in Bloomington in 1988.

** Since the Hoosiers took a 32-10 victory at Ohio Stadium in 1951, they have a 1-30-1 record in the Horseshoe. The lone victory was a 31-10 decision in 1987 and the tie was a 0-0 deadlock in 1959.

** Ohio State in its history has more victories over Indiana than any other team. The Buckeyes have 67 wins vs. the Hoosiers, 64 over Illinois, 59 over Northwestern, 54 over Wisconsin and 45 over Iowa.

** Since 2005, the Buckeyes are 17-1 during the month of November. During the same time frame, Indiana is 3-17 during November.

** Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell will be going against Indiana for the first time as a head coach but he is a perfect 11-0 lifetime vs. the Hoosiers as a player and assistant coach. Fickell was 4-0 as a player from 1993-96 and 7-0 during his nine seasons as an assistant on Jim Tressel’s staff.

** Despite its recent problems in the series, Indiana has historically made life difficult for Ohio State head coaches in their first season. Dating back to 1913, first-year OSU head coaches are only 4-4-1 against the Hoosiers. That includes losses by John W. Wilce (7-6 in 1913), Wes Fesler (7-0 in 1947), Woody Hayes (32-10 in 1951) and John Cooper (41-7 in 1988). Ohio State head coaches who beat Indiana in their inaugural seasons were Francis Schmidt (33-0 in 1934), Carroll Widdoes (21-7 in 1944), Earle Bruce (47-6 in 1979) and Jim Tressel (27-14 in 2001). Sam Willaman’s first team in 1929 played the Hoosiers to 0-0 tie, and in case you’re wondering about Paul Brown in 1941 and Paul Bixler in 1946, the Buckeyes and IU did not play in those seasons.

** Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is in his first season with the Hoosiers and will be attempting to become only the second IU coach in the past 60 years to claim a victory over Ohio State. Bill Mallory, who coached the Hoosiers from 1984-96, claimed back-to-back wins over the Buckeyes in 1987 and ’88. Before that, you have to go back to Clyde Smith, whose Indiana team took a 32-10 win over Ohio State in 1951.

** Wilson was offensive coordinator on the late Randy Walker’s staff at Northwestern from 1999-2001 and was 0-1 vs. Ohio State during that time. The Buckeyes took a 38-20 win over the Wildcats in 2001.

** Indiana has 16 native Ohioans on its roster – 11 of which are on the Hoosiers’ two-deep (including special teams) – while Ohio State has only two players from Indiana. They are redshirt freshman tailback/linebacker Rod Smith of Fort Wayne and freshman defensive lineman Joel Hale of Greenwood.

** Wilson also has three native Ohioans on his coaching staff. Co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Kevin Johns is from Piqua, running backs coach Deland McCullough is from Youngstown, and assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Doug Mallory hails from Bowling Green. Mallory is the son of former Indiana head coach Bill Mallory, who was a member of Woody Hayes’ coaching staff at Ohio State from 1966-68.

** Two more familiar names are serving on Wilson’s staff as graduate assistants. Chris Shula, whose grandfather is Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, is the GA in charge of defense while former Northwestern running back Noah Herron has the offense. Ohio State fans most likely remember Herron for his performance against the Buckeyes in 2004. He rushed for 113 yards and scored three times – including the game-winning touchdown in overtime – as the Wildcats scored a stunning 33-27 win in Evanston. That remains Northwestern’s only victory in its last 29 games against OSU.

** While an Indiana upset of Ohio State would be stunning enough, the odds of the Hoosiers shutting out the Buckeyes would be astronomical. Indiana hasn’t pitched a shutout against any opponent since a 10-0 win over Michigan State in October 1993 and hasn’t blanked Ohio State since that 0-0 tie in 1959. IU hasn’t won a game in which it shut out the Buckeyes since a 10-0 decision in 1937.

** OSU senior tailback Boom Herron’s 160-yard rushing effort last weekend pushed his career total to 2,468, good for 13th on the school’s all-time rushing list. Herron needs 182 more yards to pass Jim Otis (2,542, 1967-69), Calvin Murray (2,576, 1977-80) and Raymont Harris (2,649, 1990-93) and break into the all-time top 10.

** Herron failed to record a rushing touchdown last week for the first time in 13 games, so he remained 20th on the OSU career scoring list with 186 points. Immediately ahead of him on the list are Ryan Pretorius (190, 2005-08), Michael Wiley (200, 1996-99) and Chic Harley (201, 1916-17, ’19).

** Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson is only the second true freshman in program history to start at QB. The other was Tim Clifford in 1977, who started only one game for the Hoosiers that season.

** Roberson threw for 169 yards and rushed for 121 during last Saturday’s 59-38 loss to Northwestern. That marked the first time an Indiana quarterback had cracked the century mark through the air and on the ground since Kellen Lewis threw for 159 and ran for 148 during his team’s 42-20 win over Ball State in 2008.

** Roberson and sophomore running back Stephen Houston (151) both topped 100 yards on the ground against Northwestern, and that was the first time two Hoosiers had cracked the century mark in the same game since BenJarvus Green-Ellis (136) and Brian Lewis (128) turned the trick during a 37-31 overtime loss to Northwestern in 2003.

** Houston, a JUCO transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College, has strung together five straight games with 60 or more yards rushing. That is the longest streak of its kind by an Indiana running back since Levron Williams did it during the final eight games of the 2001 season.

** OSU sophomore kicker Drew Basil’s field goals of 39 and 22 yards against Wisconsin gave him a streak of 10 consecutive field goals, making him only the fourth kicker in program history with at least 10 straight three-pointers. Mike Nugent (2001-04) holds the school record with 24 in a row while Vlade Janakievski (1977-80) had streaks of 15 and 10 straight. Dan Stultz (1996-2000) also made 10 in a row.

** Indiana sophomore kicker Mitch Ewald is a perfect 59 for 59 in career PATs. The IU school record of 107 extra points in a row is held by Pete Stoyanovich (1986-88), who never missed a PAT during his college career.

** This week’s game will be telecast on a regional basis by the Big Ten Network with the announce crew of Tom Hart (play-by-play), former Minnesota tight end/long snapper Derek Rackley (color analysis) and Lisa Byington (sideline reports). Kickoff is set for shortly after 12 noon Eastern.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channels 128 as well as XM channel 196.

** Next week, Ohio State travels to Purdue with kickoff time and broadcast affiliates still TBA. The Big Ten will not make an announcement regarding any its Nov. 12 games until after this weekend’s contests have been played.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** And then there were six. Only a half-dozen teams remain undefeated at the Division I-A level as we head into November. They are Alabama, Boise State, Houston, LSU, Oklahoma State and Stanford.

** Stanford had to go to three overtimes against USC before extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 games. The Cardinal’s 56-48 win over the Trojans also snapped a streak of 10 straight games Stanford had won by 26 points or more, the longest streak of its kind since 1936.

** New Mexico extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 11 games when the Lobos dropped a 42-0 decision at home to Air Force. How bad has it gotten in Albuquerque? New Mexico has been outscored by a 160-7 margin the last three weeks. Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic didn’t lose Oct. 29 because the Owls didn’t play. The Lobos and FAU remain the only winless teams this season at the I-A level.

** Another losing streak of note: Duke’s 14-10 loss to Virginia Tech marked the Blue Devils’ 44th consecutive loss to ranked teams. Duke hasn’t beaten a top-25 team since a 21-20 win over No. 22 North Carolina State in November 1993 and hasn’t claimed a victory over a top-10 team since 1989 when Steve Spurrier was head coach. That was a 21-17 home win over No. 7 Clemson on Sept. 30, 1989.

** Top-rated LSU and second-ranked Alabama marks the 46th time in history No. 1 has taken on No. 2 and the top-ranked team has a 26-17-2 record in the previous meetings. Most recently, top-ranked Auburn took a 22-19 win over second-ranked Oregon in January in the BCS National Championship Game. The last time a 1 vs. 2 matchup was staged in the regular season (not counting conference title games): No. 1 Ohio State scored a 42-39 triumph over No. 2 Michigan on Nov. 18, 2006, in Ohio Stadium.

** How close are No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama? How about this: The Crimson Tide has scored 315 points and 40 touchdowns while the Tigers have 314 points and 41 touchdowns.

** You can argue all day and night about the level of competition against which he plays, but you cannot take the NCAA record for most career touchdown passes away from Houston QB Case Keenum. He shattered the mark last week by throwing for nine scores during his team’s 73-34 win over Rice, and Keenum now has 139 career touchdown passes. This year alone, he has completed 218 of 303 attempts (72.0 percent) for 3,219 yards, 32 TDs and three INTs. Those numbers, plus the fact he is No. 2 in the country in pass efficiency and his Cougars remain undefeated are enough to make me seriously consider putting Keenum on my Heisman Trophy ballot.

** Of course, topping my Heisman ballot is still Stanford QB Andrew Luck, who rallied the Cardinal last weekend to a three-overtime win over USC. Luck has completed 174 of 242 attempts (71.9 percent) for 2,218 yards, 23 TDs and four interceptions, and has added 113 yards and a couple of touchdowns rushing. But perhaps the best measuring stick of Luck’s leadership is how Stanford has performed this year in the red zone. The Cardinal are 45 for 46 in red-zone scoring chances, 36 for touchdowns.

** For everyone salivating over the prospect of Urban Meyer becoming the next head coach at Ohio State, we offer this nugget: Florida is in the throes of its first four-game losing streak since 1988 and the once-feared Gators offense scored a grand total of three touchdowns in four October games. That includes last week’s 24-20 loss to Georgia during which Florida totaled minus-19 yards rushing. Yes, Meyer is gone, but he recruited most of the underachieving players on this year’s UF roster.

** One of former Ohio State head coach John Cooper’s favorite sayings was “One week you’re sipping the wine, the next week you’re stomping the grapes.” Players and coaches from Michigan State, Miami (Fla.), Purdue, Syracuse and Texas Tech know what Coop was talking about. Each of those teams upset ranked opponents on Oct. 22 and then each of those teams lost last Saturday by a combined score of 156-55.

** In its 41-7 loss to Iowa State, Texas Tech failed to record a touchdown pass for the first time in 70 games. The last time the Red Raiders hadn’t scored a touchdown through the air was a 12-3 loss to TCU in 2006.

** By the way, that win over Texas Tech was the largest margin of victory over a ranked team for Iowa State in school history. The Cyclones’ previous best was a 36-14 win over No. 20 Nebraska in 2002. The win over Texas Tech was also monumental in another way since Iowa State went into that game unranked. In their history as an unranked team playing a ranked opponent, the Cyclones are now 13-135.

** Congratulations to Missouri for its 38-31 overtime win over Texas A&M. It was an NCAA record 14th overtime game for the Tigers and they are 10-4 when working OT.

** Would you believe lowly Minnesota has a 2-3 record over its last five Big Ten games? Not only is that factoid true, both victories have come at the expense of Iowa. The Golden Gophers’ latest success in the Floyd of Rosedale series, a 22-21 upset of the Hawkeyes last Saturday, gave Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz (he of the $3.7 million annual salary) a career Big Ten record of an extremely pedestrian 55-45.

** Congratulations to Ferentz anyway for coaching in his 100th career conference game, a milestone only 13 men before him have achieved – Amos Alonzo Stagg of Chicago (201, 1896-1932); Woody Hayes of Ohio State (196, 1951-78); Bo Schembechler (170, 1969-89); Hayden Fry of Iowa (164, 1979-98); Robert Zuppke of Illinois (150, 1913-41); Joe Paterno of Penn State (149, 1993-present); Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin (128, 1990-2005); Murray Warmath of Minnesota (126, 1954-71); Duffy Daugherty of Michigan State (125, 1954-72); Ray Eliot of Illinois (116, 1942-59); Bill Mallory of Indiana (105, 1984-96); Lloyd Carr of Michigan (104, 1995-2007); and John Cooper of Ohio State (104, 1988-2000).

** How bad has it gotten for Kansas? The Jayhawks totaled only 46 yards of total offense last weekend while the defense surrendered 590 during a 43-0 loss at Texas. Among the 120 schools playing Division I-A football, Kansas ranks 118th in pass defense, 119th in rush defense and 120th in both total and scoring defense.

** Finally, a shout-out to senior receiver Michael Zweifel of Division III Dubuque (Iowa), who has established a new NCAA all-division record with 440 career receptions. The old mark of 436 was held by Scott Pingel (1996-99) of D-III Westminster (Mo.). Zweifel has 117 receptions for 1,665 yards and 22 TDs for the Spartans, who were 8-1 through Oct. 29. Zweifel also carries a 3.90 GPA while majoring in health, wellness and recreation, and has been named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete and finalist for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete in the nation.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Nov. 2, 1985, eighth-ranked Ohio State toppled No. 1 Iowa by a 22-13 score in Ohio Stadium. Future College Hall of Fame linebacker Chris Spielman totaled 19 tackles, capped by a late fourth-down stop of Hawkeyes tailback Ronnie Johnson inside the OSU 10-yard line. Spielman also had two interceptions as the Buckeyes pressured Iowa QB Chuck Long into throwing four picks.

** On Nov. 3, 1962, third-ranked USC Trojans handed No. 9 Washington its first loss of the season with a 14-0 shutout in Los Angeles. Quarterback Pete Beathard threw and ran for a score to carry the Trojans to victory. The win helped propel USC to the first of four national titles won under College Football Hall of Fame coach John McKay.

** On Nov. 3, 1984, Ohio State rolled to a 50-7 victory over Indiana, giving future College Football Hall of Fame coach Earle Bruce his 100th career win.

** On Nov. 4, 1967, Miami (Fla.) ended Virginia Tech’s regular-season winning streak at 14 with a 14-7 upset in Blacksburg.

** On Nov. 4, 2000, No. 23 Northwestern upset No. 12 Michigan in a 54-51 shootout in Evanston. Northwestern tailback Damien Anderson, who carried for 268 yards and two scores, dropped a fourth down pass in the end zone late in the game that seemingly sealed the Wildcats’ fate. But on the ensuing Michigan possession, cornerback Sean Wieber forced Wolverines tailback Anthony Thomas to fumble, which was recovered by cornerback Raheem Covington. The turnover set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from NU quarterback Zak Kustok to wide receiver Sam Simmons with 20 seconds to play to clinch the victory.

** Also on Nov. 4, 2000, Utah State running back Emmett White established a new NCAA single-game record with 578 all-purpose yards as the Aggies took a 44-37 win over New Mexico State. White rushed for 322 yards, totaled 134 receiving and added another 122 on kickoff and punt returns.

** On Nov. 5, 1938, sixth-ranked Tennessee began a streak of 17 consecutive regular-season shutouts with a 45-0 win over Chattanooga. During the streak, the Volunteers won three SEC championships and two national titles while outscoring their opposition, 479-0.

** On Nov. 5, 1955, three future College Hall of Famers – coaches Bowden Wyatt of Tennessee and Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech as well as UT tailback Johnny Majors – were all at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville as the Volunteers and Yellow Jackets played to a 7-7 tie.

** On Nov. 5, 1960, third-ranked Minnesota forced three turnovers and scored a 27-10 upset of top-ranked Iowa.

** On Nov. 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton squared off in Brunswick, N.J., for what has often been described as the first-ever game of American football. The 1869 game – won 6 “runs” to 4 by Rutgers – bore little resemblance to what football is known as today. For example, each side used 25 men on a 120-yard field and the rules were said to be a mixture of rugby and soccer. Players attempted to score by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s goal, and throwing or carrying the ball was not allowed.

** On Nov. 6, 1971, Colgate and Bucknell combined to run the ball 141 times, setting an NCAA record for the most single-game rushes in college football history. The Raiders rushed 82 times while Bucknell racked up 59 carries, and the teams combined for 440 total rushing yards. Colgate won the game by a 47-24 score.

** On Nov. 6, 1976, Houston highlighted its first season as a member of the Southwest Conference with a stunning 30-0 victory over Texas. The Cougars were led by defensive tackle Wilson Whitley as the Longhorns were limited to only eight first downs in their worst conference loss ever under legendary head coach Darrell Royal.

** On Nov. 7, 1925, Andy “Swede” Oberlander threw a then-NCAA-record six touchdown passes as Dartmouth rolled to a 62-13 win over Cornell. One week later, the Big Green took a 33-7 victory over Chicago to finish the season with a perfect 8-0 record and the national championship.

** On Nov. 7, 1959, unranked Tennessee stopped Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon on a fourth-quarter two-point conversion run and preserved a 14-13 upset over No. 1 LSU, ending the Tigers’ 19-game unbeaten streak.

** On Nov. 7, 1970, Northwestern fullback Mike Adamle set a new Big Ten record for carries by rushing 48 times for 192 yards and four touchdowns as his Wildcats took a 28-14 win over Minnesota.

** On Nov. 8, 1947, Wisconsin and Iowa became the first teams to combine for three punt returns for touchdowns in a single game during a 46-14 win by the Badgers in Madison.

** On Nov. 8, 1975, unranked Kansas ended No. 2 Oklahoma’s 28-game winning streak by going into Norman and carving out a 23-3 upset victory. The defending national champion Sooners committed seven second-half turnovers and were held to their lowest scoring output in nine seasons. They rebounded, however, and went on to defeat Penn State in the Orange Bowl for a second consecutive national title.

** Also on Nov. 8, 1975, freshman cornerback Savann Thompson’s interception with 59 seconds left set up the game-winning field goal as Stanford shocked No. 9 USC, 13-10, in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

FEARLESS FORECAST

It had to happen sometime. The highly-flying Forecast was grounded last weekend thanks to some unbelievable upsets – Iowa lost (again) to Minnesota and Texas Tech celebrated its win over Oklahoma a little too much and forgot to show up against four-loss Iowa State, dropping a 41-7 decision in the process.

Straight up, those were the only losses in an 8-2 week that puts us at 83-9 SU for the year. Unfortunately, we finally stumbled against the spread after three glorious weeks. Even with Ohio State’s Upset Special win over Wisconsin, we were 4-6 ATS, leaving us still way ahead at 58-31-1 for the season but determined not to let one bad week turn into two.

Here are the games we like this week.

TONIGHT’S GAMES

USC at Colorado: Time of give the devil his due. Lane Kiffin has taken a USC program reeling from NCAA sanctions and turned it into a pretty decent team. The Trojans came within an eyelash of knocking off national title contender Stanford last week, and get to use any leftover pent-up frustration tonight on the lowly Buffaloes. Colorado ranks dead last in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense, something that ought to play into the Trojans’ strength, especially since QB Matt Barkley has thrown for 12 TDs in his last four games … USC 41, Colorado 14. (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

SATURDAY’S GAMES

No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama: You can still argue about the overall depth of the SEC, but the discussion about the nation’s two best teams begins and ends with the Tigers and the Crimson Tide. The game should be a black-and-blue defensive struggle. Bama boasts the nation’s No. 1 defense in all four major categories – rush, pass efficiency, total yards and scoring – while LSU is among the top five in the same four categories. Scoring will be at a premium, meaning turnovers may play the huge role in determining the outcome. Neither team played last week, so they should both be more than ready to provide quite a show … Alabama 23, LSU 17. (8 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 14 Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have won their first four home games by a combined score of 227-100, so you have to wonder how the Wildcats are going to slow them down especially after last week’s 58-17 loss to Oklahoma. The simple truth is that K-State will not be able to slow the Pokes down, but the Wildcats should be able to put a few more points on the board this week. While Okie State has one of the nation’s top offenses, its defense ranks 111th nationally in yards allowed. Even so, this one should be another clinic by Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden (2,710 yards, 22 TDs) and top WR Justin Blackmon (74 catches, 834 yards, 10 TDs) … Oklahoma State 56, Kansas State 27. (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

No. 4 Stanford at Oregon State: After last week’s triple-overtime scare at USC, you might tend to think the Cardinal will want to coast this week against the 2-6 Beavers. That shouldn’t be the case, especially since one of the few things Stanford QB Andrew Luck has never accomplished in his career is a victory in the state of Oregon. The Cardinal’s only blemish on last year’s record was a 52-31 loss to the Ducks in Eugene, and two years ago Luck was on the losing end of a 38-28 decision to Oregon State. He returns to Corvallis trying to further cement his front-runner status in the Heisman race and hoping to keep his team tuned up for next week’s home date against Oregon which will likely determine the champion of the Pac-12 North. It’s tough to envision any scenario in which the offensively-challenged Beavers could engineer the upset … Stanford 41, Oregon State 10. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

No. 5 Boise State at UNLV: The Broncos will be busy in Sin City, but you can bet they will have at least one eye on the Alabama-LSU scoreboard. The loser of that game will likely slip in next week’s BCS standings, meaning Boise can inch closer to crashing the national championship part by taking care of business against the Rebels. That shouldn’t be too difficult a task since UNLV doesn’t do anything particularly well – the team ranks 116th nationally in total offense, 118th in scoring defense. Also, a win by the Broncos would push QB Kellen Moore’s record as a starter to 46-2 and make him the winningest quarterback in NCAA history … Boise State 45, UNLV 13. (10:30 p.m. ET. CBS Sports Network)

Northwestern at No. 10 Nebraska: One thing we have learned about the Cornhuskers in their first season as Big Ten members – they are tough to beat at home. Ohio State had them by three touchdowns late in the third quarter and NU escaped with a 34-27 win. Then last week, Michigan State sailed into Lincoln as one of the hottest teams in the nation and sailed back out again on the wrong end of a 24-3 beatdown. Next up for Nebraska is Northwestern and its high-octane offense behind QB Dan Persa, who now seems fully healed from his Achilles heel injury. Persa leads a proficient offense; trouble is, the Wildcats can’t seem to stop anyone on defense. They average 31.6 points per game offensively and give up an average of 31.5 defensively. That kind of ratio isn’t going to get it done in Lincoln … Nebraska 37, Northwestern 24. (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)

No. 13 Houston at UAB: Cougars QB Case Keenum already has the NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a career and he needs only 267 more passing yards to become college football’s all-time leader in that department. Keenum might get that in the first half against the Blazers, who rank an abysmal 116th nationally in pass efficiency defense. As if Keenum wasn’t enough, Houston also has KR Tyron Carrier, who has an NCAA-record tying seven career kickoff returns for a touchdown. This one should get ugly in a real big hurry … Houston 77, UAB 7. (7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Minnesota at No. 17 Michigan State: The Gophers are feeling pretty good about themselves for a change after last week’s 22-21 upset of Iowa. Contrast that with how Sparty feels after being run over by Nebraska. Actually, we should have foreseen both outcomes. Goldy beat Iowa for the second year in a row while the Huskers beat the Spartans for the sixth time in as many meetings. Last week was last week, however, and the smart money says look for an MSU bounce-back at home … Michigan State 35, Minnesota 13. (12 noon ET, BTN)

Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin: College football is a game of emotion, but how difficult is it going to be for the Badgers to pick up the pieces after having their hearts cut out two weeks in a row? Well, playing the Boilermakers in Camp Randall should be just the tonic they need. The Badgers have won the last five meetings in the series by an average of nearly three touchdowns, and Purdue has dropped 13 straight road games to ranked opposition. Expect to be close very early and then watch Wisconsin keep its foot firmly planted on the accelerator … Wisconsin 52, Purdue 13. (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

Indiana at Ohio State: After last week’s emotion-filled victory over Wisconsin, the Buckeyes might be forgiven a little if they have trouble focusing this week. After all, the Hoosiers are likely the worst team in the Big Ten with a defense that would challenged to stop most high school teams. IU does have some offensive talent, most notably freshman QB Tre Roberson and JUCO transfer Stephen Houston at running back. Still, it’s difficult to imagine how IU could pull off the unimaginable, especially considering OSU’s current 16-0 run in the series … Ohio State 48, Indiana 14. (12 noon ET, BTN)

Here are the spreads for the above games: USC (-21) at Colorado; LSU at Alabama (-4½); Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-21); Stanford (-20½) at Oregon State; Boise State at UNLV (+42); Northwestern (+18) at Nebraska; Houston (-27) at UAB; Minnesota (+28) at Michigan State; Purdue at Wisconsin (-25½); Indiana at Ohio State (-27).

Enjoy the games and we’ll visit again next week.

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