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.
** 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.
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.
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.