Meyer Proves Coaching Matters … And It Matters A Lot

Coaching matters … and it matters a lot. That was driven home like a golden spike Oct. 20 when Ohio State faced an eight-point deficit to Purdue with only 47 seconds to do something about it.

Sure, give Kenny Guiton credit for coolly directing a 61-yard touchdown drive. Give Chris Fields credit for making crucial catches the junior receiver heretofore hadn’t made during his college career. Give Tom Herman credit for dialing up a perfect two-point conversion call. And give the much-maligned Ohio State defense its due for managing to hold off the Boilermakers in overtime.

But if you ever wondered why Urban Meyer is worth $4 million a year, you need look no further than the Buckeyes’ 29-22 victory over Purdue. The reason Guiton was so cool, Fields was so clutch, Herman was so confident and the defense was so able to rise to the occasion could be summed up in one word: leadership.

No offense to last year’s coaching staff, but there was no way Ohio State would have beaten Purdue last season given the same set of circumstances. In fact, the Buckeyes faced similar circumstances last year in West Lafayette, and while they rallied at the end of the game, they were the ones who made the crucial mistakes and they were the ones who went home losers.

Meyer had already laid the groundwork for OSU’s comeback this year with his unique style of break-’em-down and then build-’em-back-up philosophy.

The coach has admitted Guiton was practically on a bus back to Houston last winter before he decided to buy into Meyer’s system. Likewise, Fields was buried so far down the depth chart at receiver that the junior needed a flashlight and a compass to find his way out.

Yet with Braxton Miller and Corey “Philly” Brown sidelined down the stretch, it was Guiton and Fields upon whom Meyer relied to get the job done – Guiton, Fields and his own coaching acumen.

The fact is no one could have scripted the final moments of regulation any better than Meyer did.

Purdue milked the clock to 59 final ticks before punter Cody Webster launched a 48-yard effort that bounced to the Ohio State 30. But mindful of his head coach’s “Plan to Win” mantra, Fields saved a few precious seconds by scooping up the ball and then got the Buckeyes 9 yards closer to the end zone with a return to the OSU 39.

With 47 seconds remaining, Meyer and Herman quickly drew up two plays on the sideline. The first was designed to get sophomore receiver Devin Smith open between Purdue’s intermediate and deep zones, and Guiton found his intended target for 39 yards to the Boilermakers’ 22.

Then instead of immediately spiking the ball to save time, the Buckeyes sprinted to the line of scrimmage where Guiton connected with sophomore Evan Spencer on an 8-yard sideline pass. Spencer went out of bounds following the catch to give his team a second-and-2 from the 14-yard line with 0:28 to go.

On the next play, Guiton faded in the pocket but found all his receivers covered. Rather than trying to force something, he threw the ball away – as he had been taught – setting up third-and-2 with 23 seconds remaining.

That was when Meyer really started to put on a clinic.

Despite the fact he had no timeouts, the coach put his faith in his offensive line and junior tailback Carlos Hyde, who pounded up the middle for a 3-yard gain and a first down to temporarily stop the clock. Guiton followed with a spike and the Buckeyes were at the Purdue 11 with 15 seconds left.

The next play called for Guiton to hit Spencer as he raced toward the end zone, peeling off in front of his defender just before reaching the goal line. But Guiton threw too low and too wide, and a diving Spencer couldn’t come up with the reception.

Third down, 12 seconds left. Time for two more plays.

This time, Meyer called for a fade route in the end zone to Spencer, but while the pass seemed to sail on Guiton, Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson had his hands all over the OSU receiver and drew a pass interference call.

That gave the Buckeyes the ball at the Purdue 2-yard line, but with only 0:08 showing on the clock. That’s when Fields made a diving catch of a ball only he could have caught just over the goal line for the touchdown.

Now, with just 0:03 remaining, Meyer needed one more clutch call to achieve the tie. He got it from Herman, who overruled his linemen who were lobbying for a run.

The play called for tight end Jeff Heuerman to block initially and then break away from the line of scrimmage and drift into the end zone. Heuerman nearly carried out his decoy too long, allowing pressure to bear down on Guiton before the QB flipped a rainbow that the Ohio State tight end gathered in for the two-point conversion.

After the game, Herman confirmed the team had been practicing that play for just the right time.

“When the game is on the line is not the time to go against what you’ve practiced,” the offensive coordinator said. “We knew they’d been playing man coverage all game and knew it would be there eventually. It took (Heuerman) awhile to get out. I was holding my breath. But everybody who was on the field did a helluva job.”

In overtime, Guiton led the Buckeyes to a quick touchdown before a rejuvenated defense clamped down on a demoralized Purdue offense.

Game, set, match, and Ohio State moved to 8-0, stealing a game that most likely would have been lost with anyone else but Meyer at the controls.

OSU-PENN STATE TIDBITS

** This marks the 28th overall meeting between Ohio State and Penn State, and the Buckeyes enjoy a slight 14-13 advantage. The teams are deadlocked at 5-5 in games played at Beaver Stadium, although OSU has won three of the last four played in Happy Valley.

** Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is 1-0 during his career against Penn State. In his final game as Florida head coach, the Gators scored a 37-24 triumph over the Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

** Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien has never faced Ohio State as a player, assistant coach or head coach.

** Ohio State will face a Joe Paterno-less Penn State squad for the first time ever in Happy Valley. Paterno, who died in January from complications due to lung cancer, had been on the Nittany Lions sideline as head coach for all 10 of the previous games in the series played at Beaver Stadium.

** O’Brien is only the third head coach in Penn State history to experience a five-game win streak during his debut season with the Nittany Lions. Only George Hoskins (1892) and Dick Harlow (1915) won five straight games in their first season as head coach at Penn State.

** NCAA sanctions prevent either team from competing in the Big Ten Championship Game, but both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions remain eligible to win the Leaders Division championship trophy. Ohio State enters the game with a 4-0 conference record while Penn State is 3-0.

** The game pits two of the winningest college football teams in history against one another. Counting vacated seasons, Ohio State ranks fifth all-time with 845 wins while Penn State ranks sixth with 832. Michigan is first all-time with 900 followed by Texas (863), Notre Dame (860) and Nebraska (851).

** Six of the last 11 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. In 2010, 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 14.4 points.

** Ohio State will be looking to keep things close tomorrow. The Buckeyes are 4-0 this season while the Nittany Lions are 0-1 in games decided by seven points or less.

** One series trend would seem to favor Ohio State while another works better for Penn State’s hopes. The higher ranked team has won 19 of the last 21 meetings, and OSU enters tomorrow’s game ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press writers’ polls while the Nittany Lions are unranked. Meanwhile, Penn State can take solace in the fact the home team has won 13 of the 19 games played in the series since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten.

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

** Something has to give tomorrow. Ohio State is tied for 23rd nationally in red zone offense, having scored 30 times in 34 trips inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. Meanwhile, Penn State ranks No. 6 in the nation in red zone defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed opponents to score on only 12 of 20 trips inside their 20-yard line.

** 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 – Chris Gamble in 2002, Tyler Everett in 2004, Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith in 2006, Jenkins in 2007 and Devon Torrence and Travis Howard in 2010. Best of all, Ohio State won each of those five games.

** Penn State is traditionally one of the least penalized teams in the nation and that is true again in 2012. The Nittany Lions are tied for the fewest penalties in the Big Ten with 32 through seven games and they average only 44.9 penalty yards per game. In its last six games played against the Buckeyes, Penn State has incurred only 17 penalties for 121 yards. During the same six games, Ohio State has been flagged 37 times for 315 yards.

** Penn State is tied for second in the Big Ten lead in fewest sacks allowed with eight. Ohio State ranks ninth in the conference in that category, having surrendered 15 sacks this season.

** Penn State has three native Ohioans on its roster – running back Michael Zordich (Youngstown Cardinal Mooney), offensive lineman Nate Cadogan (Portsmouth) and offensive lineman Anthony Stanko (Warren Howland). The Buckeyes have four players from Pennsylvania – defensive back Corey Brown (Monroeville), receiver Corey “Philly” Brown (Upper Darby), running back Jordan Hall (Jeannette) and defensive end Noah Spence (Harrisburg).

** The game is expected to be a defensive battle, but will feature several of the top offensive players in the Big Ten. Penn State QB Matt McGloin leads the conference with an average of 255.4 yards passing per game while WR Allen Robinson has a league-best 47 receptions. Meanwhile, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller is second in the Big Ten in total offense (292.9 yards per game) and is tied with teammate RB Carlos Hyde for third in the league with 10 touchdowns.

** McGloin is already No. 7 on Penn State’s career list for touchdown passes with 36. He needs only eight more to break the school record of 43 held by Daryll Clark (2006-09). McGloin also ranks seventh all-time in passing yardage with 4,907, but he is still a ways away from Zack Mills, who threw for 7,212 yards during his career from 2001-04.

** Robinson needs only one more reception to crack the Penn State top 10 for most catches in a single season. O.J. McDuffie set the school record with 63 receptions in 1992, a mark that was equaled three years later by Bobby Engram.

** With his 91 yards last week against Purdue, Hyde upped his career rushing total to 1,252 yards. That ties him with Ricardo Volley (1977-79) for 45th on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list.

** Purdue sophomore Akeem Hunt’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the first one surrendered by Ohio State during the regular season since David Gilreath of Wisconsin took one back 97 yards on the game’s opening kick during a 31-18 win by the Badgers in Madison in 2010.

**The 100-yard return by Hunt was the longest against the Buckeyes since Bobby Weber of Minnesota had a 100-yarder vs. OSU in 1977. Weber’s return represented the Golden Gophers’ only touchdown during a 38-7 loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus.

** Garrett Goebel’s blocked extra point in the first quarter vs. Purdue and Johnathan Hankins’ blocked field goal in the second period gave the Buckeyes six blocked kicks for the season – two punts, one field goal and three PATs – and they added to Meyer’s total as a head coach. In 11 seasons with Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and OSU, Meyer-coached teams have blocked 57 kicks in 135 games.

** Kickoff this week is set for shortly after 5:30 p.m. Eastern with ESPN handling the telecast. Veteran play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough will have the call alongside color analysis from former Ohio State All-America linebacker Chris Spielman. Sideline reports will be filed by Quint Kessenich.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channels 92 and 136 as well as XM channel 192.

** Next week, Ohio State returns home to face Illinois. Time and broadcast partners remain TBA.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Oct. 26, 1907, one of the all-time greats made his college football debut. The legendary Jim Thorpe took the field for the first time with the Carlisle (Pa.) Indian Industrial School, and led the Indians to a 26-6 upset of fourth-ranked Penn. The game was held before a crowd of 22,800 at Philadelphia’s historic Franklin Field.

** On Oct. 26, 1968, All-America defensive back Jake Scott returned two interceptions for touchdowns and led eighth-ranked Georgia to a 35-14 win over Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. Scott, who went on to become MVP of Super Bowl VII with the Miami Dolphins, set a UGA record with 10 interceptions that season and he still holds the school career mark with 16 picks.

** On Oct. 26, 1985, seventh-ranked BYU saw its 25-game conference winning streak end when UTEP handed the Cougars a 23-16 loss in El Paso. Miners DB Danny Taylor returned a Robbie Bosco interception 100 yards for a touchdown to provide for the winning points.

** On Oct. 26, 1991, Northwestern tried to change its luck by wearing purple pants against No. 17 Illinois. Wildcats head coach Francis Peay remarked that his team “looked like a bunch of grapes,” but NU registered a 17-11 upset victory, their first defeat of a ranked team in 20 years.

** On Oct. 27, 1923, the first night game in Big Ten history was held as part of a day-night doubleheader in Chicago. During the afternoon, Chicago took a 20-6 win over Purdue at Stagg Field, and then portable lights were installed at Soldier Field as Illinois shut out Northwestern, 29-0.

** On Oct. 27, 1956, seventh-ranked Texas A&M traveled to Waco and came home with a 19-13 victory over No. 8 Baylor. A&M halfback John David Crow threw a 5-yard touchdown to John Tracey, and then scored the winning TD himself on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Aggies, coached by the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, went on to win the Southwest Conference championship and finish No. 5 in the Associated Press rankings with a 9-0-1 record.

** On Oct. 27, 1979, Pittsburgh freshman quarterback Dan Marino came off the bench to throw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, leading the No. 12 Panthers to a 24-7 victory over No. 17 Navy.

** On Oct. 28, 1950, Nevada’s Pat Brady booted an NCAA-record 99-yard punt during a 34-7 loss to Loyola Marymount.

** On Oct. 28, 1967, UTEP quarterback Brooks Dawson set an NCAA record for most consecutive passes completed for a touchdown when he threw six in a row during a 75-12 victory over New Mexico. Making the feat even more remarkable was the fact that the six touchdowns came on Dawson’s first six attempts of the game.

** On Oct. 28, 1989, Ohio State overcame a 31-0 second-quarter deficit at Minnesota and rallied for a 41-37 victory in the Metrodome. QB Greg Frey threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns while tailback/kick returner Carlos Snow accounted for 278 all-purpose yards and tallied three scores in what was at the time the largest comeback in NCAA history.

** On Oct. 28, 2000, Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke McCown set an NCAA freshman record with 72 passing attempts during the Bulldogs’ 42-31 loss at No. 2 Miami (Fla.). McCown completed 42 of 72 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns in the game. His 72 attempts remain a single-season school record.

** On Oct. 29, 1960, future College Football Hall of Fame member Pervis Atkins sparked New Mexico State to a 27-24 victory over Arizona State. Atkins returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and then raced 70 yards to set up the game-winning score. Atkins went on to break the NCAA single-season record for most yards per play, averaging an amazing 14.7 yards on 110 combined runs, receptions and kick returns. The previous record was held by Army’s Glenn Davis, the 1946 Heisman Trophy winner.

** On Oct. 29, 1988, Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders rushed for 320 yards to lead his No. 12 Cowboys to a 45-27 win over Kansas State. The performance began a five-game stretch during which Sanders rushed for 1,472 yards, the most rushing yards accumulated over a five-game span in NCAA history. Sanders also became only the second player in college football history to gain more than 200 rushing yards in five consecutive games, and the streak propelled Sanders to an NCAA single-season record 2,628 rushing yards and the 1988 Heisman Trophy.

** Also on Oct. 29, 1988, Washington State scored 28 second-half points during a 34-30 upset win over top-ranked UCLA and its All-America quarterback Troy Aikman.

** On Oct. 30, 1971, future College Football Hall of Fame tailback Ed Marinaro of Cornell became the first running back in college football history to break the 4,000-yard barrier, doing so during his team’s 24-21 win over Columbia. Marinaro ran for 1,881 yards that season for the Big Red – still a single-season Ivy League record – and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Auburn QB Pat Sullivan. Marinaro went on to play six seasons in the NFL after which he became a successful actor, best known for his portrayal of Officer Joe Coffey on “Hill Street Blues.”

** On Oct. 30, 1982, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie threw for a school-record 520 yards, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Penn State scored a 52-17 blowout over the Eagles in Chestnut Hill. The Nittany Lions were led by quarterback Todd Blackledge, who threw for 243 yards and three TDs, and running back Curt Warner, who rushed for 183 yards and two scores.

** On Oct. 30, 1999, Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo was a one-man wrecking crew against Stanford. Tuiasosopo became the first player in NCAA history to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for 200 or more in the same game. He threw for 302 yards and added 207 on the ground in a 35-30 victory over the Cardinal.

** On Oct. 31, 1992, seventh-ranked Nebraska rolled to a 52-7 victory over No. 9 Colorado in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers piled up 373 yards on the ground and scored touchdowns in a variety of ways, including a 16-yard fumblerooski rumble by offensive guard Will Shields.

** On Nov. 1, 1880, legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice was born in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Considered one of the greatest American writers of the first half of the 20th century, Rice penned arguably the most famous line in college football history when he wrote, “Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again,” dubbing the famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame in 1924. Rice later joined with U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Army head coach Earl “Red” Blaik to create the National Football Foundation in 1947.

** On Nov. 1, 1969, Toledo clinched the first of its three consecutive Mid-American Conference championships with a 14-10 win over Miami (Ohio) in Oxford. The winning score was a 52-yard touchdown pass from QB Chuck Ealey to wideout Don Fair in the second quarter. The win was the seventh in a row for the Rockets in a streak that would eventually reach 35 games, the fifth-longest winning streak in college football history.

** On Nov. 1, 1986, Long Beach State’s Mark Templeton set an NCAA single-game record for receptions by a running back with 18 catches for 173 yards during his team’s 14-3 win over Utah State.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** Cincinnati dropped its first game of the season last Saturday, a 29-23 decision at Toledo, and that pared the number of undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams to 11. Ohio State is the only team at 8-0 while Alabama, Florida, Louisville, Mississippi State, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Ohio, Oregon and Rutgers are 7-0. Oregon State is 6-0.

** Alabama extended the nation’s longest streak to 11 last weekend with a 44-13 rout of Tennessee. Oregon is nipping at the Crimson Tide’s heels with a 10-game winning streak while Mississippi State has won nine in a row. One of those streaks has to end tomorrow since Mississippi State visits Alabama.

** The nation’s longest losing streak ended for the second week in a row. Tulane snapped a 15-game slide Oct. 13 with a 27-26 win over SMU, and then Eastern Michigan broke its eight-game losing streak Saturday with a 48-38 win over Army. Southern Miss, a 12-2 team just a year ago, now owns the longest losing streak in the nation. The Golden Eagles dropped a 59-24 decision to Marshall on Saturday, marking their seventh loss in a row.

** Who said you need to throw for 600 yards and score 70 points to make a statement? Third-ranked Florida stomped its way to a 44-11 win last Saturday over No. 7 South Carolina despite gaining only 183 total yards. The Gators forced four turnovers – three fumbles and one interception – and limited the Gamecocks to only 191 total yards. Meanwhile, Florida QB Jeff Driskel threw for only 93 yards, but he was extremely efficient. Driskel had four touchdown passes, equaling his total from the previous six games.

** Oregon gets more than its share of love for a pinball offense that ranks No. 2 in the nation in scoring at a 51.0 points-per-game clip. But the Ducks can play a little defense, too. During their 43-21 rout at Arizona State last weekend, the Quack Attack held Wildcats QB Taylor Kelly to only 93 yards while intercepting him twice and sacking him five times. Kelly had entered the game as the nation’s No. 3 quarterback in pass efficiency.

** Notre Dame has ridden on the back of its defense to its first 7-0 start since beginning the 2002 season with eight straight victories. Going back to the last half of the 2011 season, the Fighting Irish are 11-2 and have surrendered more than 17 points in only three of those games.

** With the Heisman Trophy race about as wide open as it has ever been at this stage of a season, keep your eye on a certain dark horse candidate. Alabama gets a lot of buzz for its No. 1-rated defense – and deservedly so – but quarterback A.J. McCarron has quietly ascended his way to the top of the national charts in pass efficiency rating. McCarron has completed 106 of 154 attempts (68.8 percent) for 1,476 yards, 16 TDs and no interceptions. And he is the quarterback for the undefeated defending national champions.

** Congratulations to Duke, which became bowl-eligible at 6-2 with a last-second 33-30 win last Saturday over North Carolina. The Blue Devils haven’t made a postseason trip since the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl, but that’s only part of the story. Duke is trying to break a streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons, a stretch during which the team posted a horrid combined record of 37-158. The Blue Devils have gone bowling only eight times in program history (they started playing in 1888), and haven’t won a postseason game since a 7-6 decision over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl.

** To say Kansas is struggling in its first season under head coach Charlie Weis would be understating the obvious. The 1-6 Jayhawks rank 114th out of 120 FBS schools in scoring offense and 118th in pass efficiency. Weis’ defense isn’t anything to write home about, either, ranking 85th in yardage allowed and 89th in points surrendered. And then there’s special teams. Kansas gave up a 90-yard punt return and a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdowns during last Saturday’s 52-7 loss at Oklahoma.

** Speaking of teams that need help and lots of it, Colorado jumps from the frying pan into the fire this week. Fresh off last week’s 50-6 spanking at the hands of USC, the Buffaloes roll into Oregon this Saturday night. The Ducks are the No. 2 scoring offense in the country 51.0 points per game while Colorado ranks 119th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 42.6 points per game. Oregon raced out to a 29-0 lead after the first quarter in last year’s meeting before the Ducks took their webbed feet off the gas pedal and coasted home with a 45-2 victory.

** Auburn’s collapse is reaching historic proportions. Following their 17-13 loss at Vanderbilt last week, the Tigers dropped to 1-6, giving them the worst record for a team just two years removed from a national championship since the Associated Press poll was incorporated in 1936. The record also represents Auburn’s worst start to a season in 60 years. In 1952, the Tigers started 1-7 on their way to a 2-8 finish.

** How close is Northwestern to being 7-0 instead of 5-2? That depends upon your definition of the word “close.” In their two losses, the Wildcats have coughed up double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. On Oct. 6, they held a 28-17 lead over Penn State before the Nittany Lions scored three touchdowns in the final 9:49 for a 39-28 victory. Then last weekend, NU scored with 8:31 remaining to take a 28-16 lead over Nebraska. But the Cornhuskers tallied twice inside the final six minutes to pull out a 29-28 win.

** West Virginia QB Geno Smith broke the NCAA in-season record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception when he reached 273 shortly before throwing his first pick of the season last Saturday against Kansas State. Unfortunately for Smith, he didn’t hold the record for very long. Later in the day, Louisiana Tech QB Colby Cameron increased his total to 275 during his team’s 70-28 win over Idaho.

** Cameron would likely be a Heisman candidate if he didn’t play in the fading-away Western Athletic Conference. The senior has completed 196 of 275 attempts this season (71.3 percent) for 2,306 yards, 20 TDs and no picks. During the Bulldogs’ win over Idaho, Cameron was 29 for 37 for 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running back Kenneth Dixon rushed for 232 yards and six TDs. Tech rolled up a school-record 839 yards of total offense in the game and moved to 6-1 for the first time since 1975.

** Idaho’s loss to Louisiana Tech led to the firing of Vandals head coach Robb Akey, who was dismissed with a record of 20-50 in seven seasons. Akey, who became the first coaching casualty of the 2012 season, was replaced by offensive coordinator Jason Gesser. The 33-year-old Gesser is probably best known as the quarterback who led Washington State to a Pac-10 co-championship and Rose Bowl berth in 2002.

** South Alabama killed two birds with one stone last weekend. The 37-34 win in double overtime over Florida Atlantic represented the Jaguars’ first conference victory as Sun Belt members and the program’s first-ever win over an FBS opponent. South Alabama has been playing intercollegiate football only since 2009, and this is the school’s first season at the FBS level. The Jaguars become full-fledged members of the Sun Belt Conference next season.

** A couple of milestone victories from last weekend. Michigan’s 12-10 win over instate rival Michigan State allowed the Wolverines to become the first college football program to reach 900 wins all-time. Also, Division III powerhouse Mount Union clobbered Otterbein by a 51-0 final to give head coach Larry Kehres his 324th career victory. That moved him past Paul “Bear” Bryant and into fifth place all-time in terms of wins among NCAA football coaches. Kehres’ career record of 324-24-3 gives him a winning percentage of .927, and that’s the highest in college football history.

** Speaking of Mount Union, the Purple Raiders’ win over Otterbein last weekend marked their 70th consecutive regular-season win and their sixth shutout in a row. The shutout streak ties an all-time NCAA Division III record. Mount Union is 7-0 this season and has outscored its opponents by a 387-7 margin.

** Kudos to Division III Wilmington College, which snapped a 32-game losing streak with last week’s 13-12 victory over Marietta. Senior kicker Max Gabbard kicked a 35-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining, and then sophomore Joe Knecht sealed the Quakers’ victory with an interception in the end zone with 0:02 showing on the clock. By the way, Mount Union and Wilmington have already played one another this season. The Purple Raiders eked out a 66-0 win over the Quakers on Oct. 6.

** Mark your calendars. The 2014 BCS Championship Game is scheduled for Jan. 6. That game, the final title contest for the Bowl Championship Series before the new playoff format is incorporated, will be played at the Rose Bowl.

FEARLESS FORECAST

Little by little, we’re making progress. We went 8-2 last week straight up, admittedly because we have underestimated both Florida and Penn State all season. But we had an acceptable 6-4 record against the spread, including nearly picking the Notre Dame-BYU final on the nose. We had it 17-14 for the Irish; the actual final was 17-13.

The season totals are now 66-14 SU and just above water at 40-38-2 ATS.

We’ll try to keep on keepin’ on with these games. (And remember, we use AP rankings.)

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Colorado at No. 2 Oregon: If you are the Ducks, you have two ways to approach this game. You can either roll up the score on the Buffaloes or you can race out to a comfortable lead and then put things on cruise control knowing you have to travel to USC next Saturday. Either way, it’s not going to be pretty for Colorado, which ranks 119th of 120 FBS schools in scoring defense and has been outscored by a 143-37 margin in just its last three games. … Oregon 63, Colorado 10. (3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 12 Georgia: The 90th renewal of the World’s Largest Cocktail Party in Jacksonville features a pair of teams seemingly headed in opposite directions. Despite there is another month of the season to be played, the Gators can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a win. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs haven’t looked the same since taking a 35-7 sucker punch from South Carolina three weeks ago. UGA leads the overall series by a 47-40-2 margin, and the Dawgs took home a 24-20 victory last year. But the Gators have won 18 of the last 22 in the series and they are the team that has been playing much better of late … Florida 30, Georgia 23. (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 4 Kansas State: The Wildcats rolled into Morgantown last week and rolled back out again following a 55-14 rout of West Virginia. This week, the Fighting Snyders return home to face a surprisingly efficient Double-T defense that ranks No. 7 nationally in total defense. K-State quarterback Collin Klein (1,397 yards, 10 TDs) isn’t the flashiest QB around, but he is deadly accurate and is second in the country with a 10.1-yard average per attempt. But the Red Raiders have a couple of things going for them. First is the fact that the Wildcats have lost nine of their last 11 games at home to ranked teams. And then there is this nugget: Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville is 6-2 lifetime against top-five teams. That would seem to point toward an Upset Special … Texas Tech 23, Kansas State 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

No. 23 Ohio at Miami (Ohio): The Bobcats are enjoying life right now. They are 7-0 for the first time since 1968 and have earned their first-ever appearance in the BCS standings, coming in at No. 24 this week. If Ohio truly wants to become a BCS buster, however, it is going to have to stop playing things so close to the vest. Four of the Bobcats’ victories have come by seven points or less, and close games against the likes of Marshall (3-4), Massachusetts (0-7), Buffalo (1-6) and Akron (1-7) are not winning any style points. This week’s opponent is another sub-.500 team that gave Ohio State some problems back on Sept. 1 before succumbing to a 56-10 final. It’s doubtful the Bobcats can put up that many points on the RedHawks, but a double-digit win would look a lot better to the pollsters … Ohio 34, Miami 23. (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN GamePlan)

Michigan State at Wisconsin: This has been a remarkably competitive rivalry over the years with the series split at 15-15 since 1979. More recently, the teams have split the last six games with no one winning by more than 10 points. But Sparty hasn’t enjoyed going on the road to play Bucky in recent years. Including a pair of neutral-site games – a game in Tokyo in 1993 and last year’s Big Ten Championship Game – MSU has lost eight of its last nine to Wisconsin away from East Lansing. In a series as close as this one has been, those are the kinds of trends you use to come up with this kind of pick … Wisconsin 20, Michigan State 17. (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, DirectTV 209)

No. 22 Texas A&M at Auburn: About the last thing Gene Chizik’s beleaguered Tigers needed this week was to face a dual-threat quarterback, but that’s exactly what they’re going to get when A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel comes to town. Manziel is No. 3 in the nation in total offense, averaging 379.9 yards per game, and Auburn is currently ninth in the SEC in scoring defense and 11th in total defense. But as bad as the Tigers are on defense, they’re even worse on offense, ranking 119th in the country in yardage and 118th in scoring. One has to wonder how the Tigers have fallen so hard so quickly after winning the national championship two years ago, a title that earned Chizik a contract extension worth $3.5 million a year through 2015 … Texas A&M 38, Auburn 10. (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU, DirectTV 208)

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma: These teams meet for the first time as ranked opponents since 1968 when the third-ranked Irish rolled to a 45-21 win over the fifth-rated Sooners. Notre Dame has an 8-1 edge in the overall series and many observes believe if they can move that record to 9-1, the Fighting Irish will position themselves for a drive toward the BCS National Championship Game. The Irish have yet to allow more than 17 points to any opponent this season, but they have yet to face an offense as potent as the one piloted by Sooners QB Landry Jones (1,644 yards, 12 TDs). Oklahoma is not invincible by any means – Kansas State proved that with a 24-19 win in Norman last month. But the Sooners still represent an extremely tough out for any team, and that’s why we believe they will end Notre Dame’s dreams of an undefeated season … Oklahoma 27, Notre Dame 20. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

No. 20 Michigan at Nebraska: The Wolverines are making their first trip to Lincoln since a 6-6 tie in 1911, and they are headed to a venue where the Cornhuskers have made a recent living on fourth-quarter comebacks. Last year, NU crawled out of a 27-6 hole for a 34-27 win over Ohio State, and this year the Huskers took a 30-27 decision over Wisconsin after trailing 27-10 early in the third quarter. In other words, no visiting team’s lead is safe at Memorial Stadium. But the Huskers are having trouble stopping anyone this season, and that is evidenced by the fact they have allowed 118 points over their last three games. That includes allowing 63 points and 498 total yards to Ohio State, which has an offensive attack similar to that of U-M. The oddsmakers have installed NU as slight favorites, so that makes this Upset Special No. 2 … Michigan 42, Nebraska 28. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, DirectTV 209)

No. 13 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama: The Crimson Tide will not have the luxury of looking ahead to next week’s showdown at LSU with the surprising Bulldogs coming to town tomorrow night. Dan Mullen’s team is off to its best start since 1999 and has done it with a stingy defense that allows only 14.4 points per game and a team that is No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Alabama surrenders only 8.3 points per game and is No. 3 nationally in turnover margin. Neither team has really been tested this season, but the Bulldogs rarely do well on the road in this series. They have come home losers on 23 of their last 25 trips to Tuscaloosa, and are expected to do so again … Alabama 31, Mississippi State 14. (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

No. 9 Ohio State at Penn State: These two teams couldn’t care less that some are referring to their matchup as the “Banned Bowl.” Neither the Buckeyes nor the Nittany Lions can go bowling this year, but they can win a Leaders Division championship and the winner puts himself in the driver’s seat for that trophy. Penn State has made a remarkable turnaround after dropping its first two games of the season, and that revival has come mostly because of a stout defense and the play of QB Matt McGloin (1,788 yards, 14 TDs). But while the Lions are second in the Big Ten in scoring defense, they have not faced an attack the likes of which Ohio State features with Braxton Miller. The sophomore quarterback has rebounded well from last week’s neck injury and is eager to make up for last year’s performance against Penn State, which included a 9-yard scramble on fourth down with 1:41 remaining that came up a yard short in the Buckeyes’ eventual 20-14 loss. Somewhere along the line, Miller makes that yard this year … Ohio State 27, Penn State 24. (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Colorado at Oregon (-45½); Florida (-3½) vs. Georgia; Texas Tech (+8) at Kansas State; Ohio (-7) at Miami-OH; Michigan State (+6½) at Wisconsin; Texas A&M (-7) at Auburn; Notre Dame (+11) at Oklahoma; Michigan (+2½) at Nebraska; Mississippi State (+24) at Alabama; Ohio State (-1) at Penn State.

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

Fickell, OSU Defense Beginning To Feel Heat

It began with just a few whispers, but Luke Fickell is rapidly coming under full-throated criticism for the performance of his defense.

Fans became accustomed to rock-solid units churned out year after year under Jim Heacock, but the truth is that down through the years Ohio State has more often than not boasted stellar defenses. Since 1970, the Buckeyes have been honored with 88 first-team All-Americans, and 49 of those have played defense.

Ohio State remains a hard-hitting unit which seems to have a penchant for coming up with a big play at just the right time. But this year’s defense also leads the league in its maddening number of missed tackles, blown assignments and personal-foul penalties.

During my years covering OSU, I have seen some struggling defenses. The 1980 unit was so porous in pass coverage that Illinois quarterback Dave Wilson established an NCAA single-game record by throwing for 621 yards against the Buckeyes. In 1988, when the Buckeyes stumbled to a 4-6-1 record, the defense surrendered a program-record 283 points. The following year, it re-established that mark when it gave up 297.

This year’s team is on pace to challenge that record, currently giving up an average of 24.6 points per game. In terms of total defense, the Buckeyes are surrendering 400.0 yards per game on average. To put those numbers in some sort of free-falling context, just two years ago during the 2010 season, Ohio State ranked among the top five defenses in the nation, giving up averages of 14.3 points and 262.2 yards per game. This year’s unit doesn’t rank among the nation’s top 50 in either category.

Yes, the defense is being decimated by injuries. Yes, the team is being asked to learn a new scheme under Fickell and first-year co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. But Ohio State has signed 19 four- or five-star rated defensive players in its two most recent recruiting classes. Are they not being developed properly or did the Buckeyes whiff on those prospects?

Then there is the matter of two defensive starters basically admitting they took their foot off the gas pedal late in the game against Indiana. When you have so many problems with fundamentals and execution, you can’t afford to think all you have to do is show up with a shiny silver helmet in hand and the opposing team will simply shrink away.

On top of all that, your offensive-minded head coach says he is “going to increase (his) involvement with the defense.” That’s when you know you’ve got trouble.

The good news for Fickell and his defensive staff is that there are still five games to be played – five games in which improvements can be made. But the bad news is the next two games are against Purdue and Penn State, teams committed to spreading out and exposing a defense like Ohio State.

Stay tuned. This could get very interesting.

OSU-PURDUE TIDBITS

** This marks the 55th meeting between Ohio State and Purdue with the Buckeyes holding a 38-14-2 record in the overall series. That includes a 26-6-2 mark in Ohio Stadium. OSU has won seven straight at home in the series, with the Boilermakers last tasting victory in Columbus with a 31-26 decision in 1988.

** In the previous 54 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 Urban Meyer will be facing the Boilermakers for the first time as head coach, but he is 5-2 lifetime against Purdue as an assistant coach. Meyer was on Earle Bruce’s coaching staff at OSU when the Buckeyes recorded victories over Purdue in 1986 and ’87, and he was on Bob Davies’ staff at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish went 3-2 vs. the Boilermakers from 1996 to 2000.

** Purdue head coach Danny Hope is in his fourth season with the Boilermakers, compiling a 19-24 overall record and 10-16 mark in the Big Ten. He is 2-1 vs. the Buckeyes with his victories coming in 2009 and 2011 in West Lafayette. In ’09, Purdue took advantage of five OSU turnovers and scored a 26-18 upset over the seventh-ranked Buckeyes, while last year the Boilermakers blocked what would have been a game-winning PAT for Ohio State with 55 seconds remaining. Purdue went on to win a 26-23 overtime decision.

** Hope is trying to become the first Purdue head coach in 45 years to win two in a row against Ohio State. Jack Mollenkopf led his team to a 24-21 upset of the third-ranked Buckeyes in 1960, but then had to wait seven years because of scheduling quirks to claim a 41-6 win in 1967.

** With his 2-1 record vs. Ohio State, Hope is one of only two Purdue head coaches to have winning records against the Buckeyes. Cecil Isbell, who coached three seasons in West Lafayette from 1944-46, had a 1-0-1 record vs. Ohio State. The Boilermakers scored a 35-13 win in 1945 and the teams played to a 14-14 tie in ’46. Isbell’s successor, Stu Holcomb, came close with a 2-2 record against the Buckeyes. Holcomb played his college football at Ohio State, lettering from 1929-31 and captaining the ’31 squad that finished 6-3 under head coach Sam Willaman.

** Ohio State is off to a 7-0 start for the first time since 2007 when that team won its first 10 games. In the past 20 seasons, the Buckeyes have gotten off to a 7-0 start eight times.

** Meyer is only the third head coach in Ohio State history to win his first seven games. Carroll Widdoes won his first 12 in 1944-45 and Earle Bruce won 11 in a row in 1979. Meyer is also only the third Big Ten coach since 1946 to win as many as seven games to begin his debut season. The others were Bruce and Bennie Oosterbaan of Michigan, who posted a perfect 9-0 season in 1948.

** Purdue is 8-5-2 all-time on Oct. 20 while Ohio State is 10-6. The two teams have met twice previously on that date. In 1945, the No. 9 Boilermakers dealt a 35-13 upset loss to the fourth-ranked Buckeyes in Columbus. Then in 1990, when both teams were unranked, OSU traveled to West Lafayette and administered a 42-2 thumping to Purdue.

** The Boilermakers have not scored a touchdown in Ohio Stadium since 2003 when running back Jerod Void scored on an 11-yard run during No. 10 Purdue’s 16-13 loss to fourth-ranked OSU. To be fair, the Boilermakers have played only twice in Columbus since then – a 16-3 loss in 2008 and a 49-0 loss in 2010.

** Purdue hasn’t scored a touchdown through the air in Ohio Stadium since 1999 when quarterback Drew Brees threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Kevin Sutherland in the first quarter of a 25-22 OSU victory.

** The Buckeyes have combined to score 115 points the past two weeks, their second-highest total ever in back-to-back games against Big Ten opponents. OSU tallied 131 points against Minnesota (48) and Iowa (83) in 1950.

** In addition to all of that scoring vs. Nebraska and Indiana, Ohio State racked up a combined 724 rushing yards against the Cornhuskers and Hoosiers. That pushed the Buckeyes to No. 8 in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 263.6 yards per game.

** Purdue currently ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 97th nationally in rush defense, surrendering an average of 199.5 yards per game. In their last two games, the Boilermakers have given up 771 yards on the ground – 467 to Wisconsin and 304 to Michigan.

** Ohio State piled up 578 total yards last week against Indiana, the team’s highest total since piling up 645 during a 73-20 victory over Eastern Michigan in 2010. It was also the highest total yardage figure against a Big Ten opponent since OSU gained 603 yards on Indiana during a 35-6 win at Bloomington in 2003.

** The 52-49 win over the Hoosiers coupled with a 63-38 win against Nebraska on Oct. 6 marked the first time since November 1984 that the Buckeyes had topped the 50-point mark against back-to-back Big Ten opponents. That season, Ohio State took a 50-7 win over Indiana in Columbus one week before rolling to a 52-3 victory at Northwestern.

** OSU has already matched a single-season program record with three games in which it has scored 50 or more points. That has happened only three previous times – 1969, 1973 and 1983. No Ohio State team has ever topped the 50-point mark four times in a season.

** The final score vs. Indiana marked the second straight game in which the combined total in an Ohio State game topped 100. Before this season, the Buckeyes had been involved in only two games that had produced more than 100 points – an 83-21 win over Iowa in 1950 and a school-record 128-0 win over Oberlin in 1916.

** When Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde each rushed for more than 100 yards, and Devin Smith cracked the century mark in receiving vs. Indiana, it marked the first time in Ohio State program history that the Buckeyes had two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver in the same game.

** Miller and Hyde each eclipsed the century mark in rushing against Nebraska and Indiana, marking only the fifth time in Ohio State history two players have rushed for 100 or more yards in back-to-back games. It was also the first time in 37 years the feat had been accomplished. During a 35-6 win at Purdue on Oct. 25, 1975, fullback Pete Johnson rushed for 131 yards while tailback Archie Griffin added 130. The following week at home vs. Indiana, Johnson and Griffin rumbled for 150 yards apiece during a 24-14 Buckeye victory.

** Miller has established a new school record for quarterbacks with his eighth career game of 100 or more yards rushing. His 149 yards vs. Indiana also pushed his career total to 1,627, good enough for fourth all-time among Ohio State quarterbacks behind Terrelle Pryor (2,164, 2008-10), Cornelius Greene (2,080, 1972-75) and Rex Kern (1,714, 1968-70).

** Miller also moved into 34th place on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list. He needs 121 more to move into the top 30 past Butler By’not’e (1,644, 1990-93), John Brockington (1,663, 1968-70), Kern and John Wooldridge (1,747, 1983-86).

** Hyde had his fourth career 100-yard game and upped his career total to 1,161. He needs eight more yards to pass Troy Smith (1,168, 2003-06) and move into the top 50 on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list.

** With his performance against Indiana, Miller became only the 14th player in program history to move past the 4,000-yard mark in career total offense. Currently with 4,057 total yards, Miller needs only 102 more yards to move past Kern (4,158) and into 13th place on OSU’s all-time list.

** Miller also needs only 231 more passing yards to move into the school’s top 12 in that category. The sophomore QB currently has 2,430 yards, which ranks just behind Stan Jackson (2,660, 1994-97), Don Unverferth (2,518, 1963-65), Kern (2,444) and Kirk Herbstreit (2,437, 1989-92).

** Purdue senior receiver Antavian Edison is working on a streak of 27 consecutive games with at least one reception.

** OSU has blocked four kicks – two punts and two PATs – this season, adding to Meyer’s total as a head coach. In 11 seasons with Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and OSU, Meyer-coached teams have blocked 55 kicks in 134 games. Since 2005, Meyer is a spotless 18-0 in games when his team has blocked an enemy punt. That includes a 2-0 record this season.

** Speaking of blocking kicks, Purdue senior defensive end Kawann Short has blocked eight kicks during his career – two PATs and six field-goal tries. Short, who has started all 42 games of his Purdue career, helped Central High School in East Chicago win an Indiana state basketball tournament during his junior year. The 6-3, 315-pounder reportedly can still dunk.

** Purdue has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season, the second-best total in the nation. One of those was turned in by junior cornerback Ricardo Allen, who chalked up his fourth career pick-six against Marshall on Sept. 29. Allen is tied with Tim Wilbur of Indiana (1978-82) for the second-most interception returns for touchdowns in Big Ten history. Wisconsin cornerback Jamar Fletcher (1998-2000) had five during his career.

** After finishing last year 11th in the Big Ten in penalties, Hope talked extensively during the offseason about addressing that issue. Message sent, message received. The Boilermakers have committed the second-fewest penalties of any conference team this season, averaging 4.8 penalties for a Big Ten-low 36.0 yards per game.

** Ohio State is currently the most penalized team in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes average 8.0 penalties per game for 70.3 yards. OSU has been flagged 56 times in seven games, including 18 personal foul penalties.

** The Boilermakers have been snakebitten recently in terms of knee injuries. Running back Ralph Bolden and quarterback Robert Marve have suffered three ACL injuries each while running back Brandon Cottom and quarterback Rob Henry have sustained one apiece.

** Kickoff this week is set for shortly after 12 noon Eastern. Disney will handle the telecast on ABC/ESPN2 using its reverse mirror. That means if the game isn’t carried by your local ABC affiliate, it will be on ESPN2 and vice versa. Beth Mowins will call the play-by-play with former Ohio State receiver Joey Galloway providing color analysis. Lewis Johnson will report from the sidelines.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channel 112 and XM channel 190.

** Next week, Ohio State travels to Penn State for a contest now scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. That game will also be telecast by ABC/ESPN2.

OLDEST SURVIVING BIG TEN COACHES

Not sure how we stumbled upon this topic, but while doing some research recently we uncovered a list of the oldest surviving former Big Ten coaches.

Topping the list is 98-year-old Bill Glassford, who was head coach at Nebraska from 1949 to 1955.

Of course, if you are a purist, you know that Glassford never coached a day in the Big Ten. That would mean the mantle of oldest surviving former Big Ten coach who actually coached in the Big Ten would be 89-year-old Ara Parseghian, who piloted the Northwestern program between 1956 and 1963.

Here is a school-by-school list of the oldest surviving coaches from each of the current Big Ten members along with their ages and years they coached.

Bill Glassford, 98, Nebraska (1949-55)

Ara Parseghian, 89, Northwestern (1956-63)

Chalmers “Bump” Elliott, 87, Michigan (1959-68)

Frank Lauterbur, 87, Iowa (1971-73)

Pete Elliott, 86, Illinois (1960-66)

Bob DeMoss, 85, Purdue (1970-72)

Bob Hicks, 85, Indiana (1957)

Earle Bruce, 81, Ohio State (1979-87)

George Perles, 78, Michigan State (1983-94)

Jim Hilles, 76, Wisconsin (1986)

Lou Holtz, 75, Minnesota (1984-85)

Tom Bradley, 56, Penn State (2011)

Yes, Bump and Pete Elliott are brothers, born 20 months apart. Pete is also the second-oldest surviving former Nebraska head coach. He succeeded Glassford and coached the Cornhuskers during the 1956 season.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Oct. 19, 2002, Oklahoma State scored a 24-21 victory over Nebraska, marking the Cowboys’ first win over the Cornhuskers in 41 years. QB Josh Fields fueled the victory by throwing for 192 yards, most of it going to receiver Rashaun Woods, who finished with 11 catches for 134 yards. Later that season, Oklahoma State upset No. 4 Oklahoma, marking the first time in school history the Cowboys had beaten both NU and OU in the same season.

** On Oct. 20, 1917, Washington beat Whitman College by a 14-6 score, extending its unbeaten streak to 63 games, an NCAA record that still stands.

** On Oct. 20, 1944, Maryland and Michigan State combined for the fewest pass attempts in the modern era of college football during an 8-0 win by the Spartans. The Terrapins threw only one pass during the game while Michigan State attempted none.

** On Oct. 20, 1956, Texas A&M scored a 7-6 upset over No. 4 TCU is what has been called “The Hurricane Game.” Played in 90-mph wins, the Horned Frogs got inside the A&M 5-yard-line three times in the first half but failed to score.

** On Oct. 20, 1990, No. 6 Notre Dame scored a 29-20 upset of second-ranked Miami (Fla.) thanks to 268 all-purpose yards from wideout Raghib “Rocket” Ismail. Trailing 22-20 in the fourth quarter, the Hurricanes lost a chance to take the lead when tailback Leonard Conley fumbled at the 2-yard line. Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland shook off a sprained foot to register 20 tackles, including three for loss, but Ismail rushed for 100 yards and returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to lead the Fighting Irish.

** On Oct. 21, 1950, Tom Powers of Duke set an ACC single-game scoring record when he accounted for 36 points in a 41-0 win over Richmond. Powers ran for three touchdowns and also caught three TD passes against the Spiders.

** On Oct. 21, 1978, third-ranked Arkansas fell 28-21 victim to No. 9 Texas in Austin. The Longhorns were led by a trio of players with the same name. Tailback Johnny “Jam” Jones led Texas in rushing against the Razorbacks, fullback Johnny “Ham” Jones rushed for a touchdown and a two-point conversion, and wide receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones nabbed a pair of TD catches, including the eventual game-winner with 6:15 to play.

** On Oct. 21, 1989, Alabama QB Gary Hollingsworth set a school record for completions, going 32 for 46 for 379 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide rolled to a 47-30 win over Tennessee.

** On Oct. 21, 2000, Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El had a history-making performance during his team’s 51-43 win over Minnesota. Randle El threw for 263 yards and ran for 210 to become the first player in Big Ten history to crack the 200-yard mark in both passing and rushing in the same game.

** On Oct. 21, 2006, Michigan State engineered the biggest comeback in NCAA history, erasing a 38-3 deficit on the way to a 41-38 victory over Northwestern in Evanston.

** On Oct. 22, 1904, Minnesota’s Bobby Marshall set an NCAA record by scoring 72 points during the Golden Gophers’ 146-0 victory over Grinnell (Iowa).

** On Oct. 22, 1966, UTEP rolled to a 35-0 win over San Jose State in a game during which the Spartans accounted for minus-102 rushing yards. UTEP wasn’t much better, totaling only 78 yards on the ground. The team’s combined total of negative 24 rushing yards set an NCAA single-game record for futility.

** On Oct. 22, 1983, Nebraska scored 41 points during a stretch of fewer than three minutes of possession time on its way to a 69-19 rout of Colorado.

** On Oct. 23, 1965, Virginia Tech was riding high with a new facility and a victory over its instate rivals. The Hokies, known then as the Gobblers, opened their new Lane Stadium with a 22-14 win over Virginia. Tech rushed for 323 yards in the contest, but the decisive touchdown came on a 71-yard pass from quarterback Bobby Owens to receiver Tommy Groom late in the fourth quarter.

** On Oct. 23, 1976, Pittsburgh running back Tony Dorsett pushed his season rushing total past the 1,000-yard mark during a 45-0 victory over Navy. Dorsett became the first running back in NCAA history to post four 1,000-yard seasons, and he also broke the NCAA career rushing record previously held by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.

** On Oct. 24, 1953, winless Purdue pulled a stunning 6-0 upset of second-ranked Michigan State behind fullback Dan Pobojewski’s fourth-quarter touchdown plunge. The game ended the Spartans’ 28-game winning streak and marked the first time MSU had been shut out in 59 games.

** Also on Oct. 24, 1953, Minnesota handed No. 5 Michigan a 22-0 loss in the 50th installment of the Little Brown Jug series. The Golden Gophers were led by tailback Paul Giel, who rushed for 113 yards and two TDs while also throwing for 169 yards and a touchdown.

** On Oct. 24, 1981, Stanford became the first team in college football history to have two players throw for 250 yards or more in the same game. Steve Cottrell threw for 311 yards while John Elway added 270, but it didn’t do the Cardinal much good. They lost a 62-36 decision to Arizona State.

** On Oct. 25, 1947, Columbia scored a 21-20 upset over Army, ending the Black Knights’ unbeaten streak at 32 games.

** On Oct. 25, 1980, SMU freshman quarterback Lance McIlhenny celebrated his first start by engineering a 20-6 upset of No. 2 Texas in Austin. Halfback Craig James ran 53 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Mustangs ahead for good.

** Also on Oct. 25, 1980, Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann threw for 340 yards during his team’s 36-25 victory over Michigan State. Herrmann finished the game with 8,076 career passing yards which broke the NCAA all-time record. By the time he graduated, Hermann totaled 9,188 passing yards and 707 career completions, both of which were NCAA career records.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** The number of undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams has been pared to an even dozen with Ohio, Ohio State and Oregon leading the pack at 7-0. Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, Louisville, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Rutgers are all 6-0, while Cincinnati and Oregon State are 5-0.

** The nation’s longest streak ended for the second week in a row. TCU had its 12-game streak snapped Oct. 6 with a 37-23 loss to Iowa State, and South Carolina’s 10-game streak ended last Saturday night with a 23-21 heartbreaker at LSU. That means Alabama now owns the nation’s longest streak with 10 straight wins.

** Congratulations to Tulane, which ended the nation’s longest losing streak at 15 games with last Saturday’s 27-26 win over SMU. Eastern Michigan takes over the dubious honor of the nation’s longest losing streak. The Eagles lost a 52-47 shootout to Toledo on Saturday, marking their eighth straight loss.

** SMU rebounded from its loss to Tulane with a 72-42 rout of Conference USA rival Houston last night. The Mustangs established a new single-game scoring record, eclipsing a 70-0 victory over Daniel Baker College in 1920. SMU also had the highest point tally ever for a Houston opponent. The Cougars had given up 66 points twice previously – a 66-10 loss to UCLA in 1997 and a 66-45 defeat to Louisville in 2003.

** In retrospect, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised about Texas Tech’s 49-14 upset of No. 5 West Virginia. Red Raiders head coach Tommy Tuberville moved his lifetime record to a stellar 6-2 against top-five opponents. Double-T gets another shot at a top-five team Oct. 27 when it travels to No. 4 Kansas State.

** Wisconsin running back Monteé Ball rushed for a career-best 247 yards and scored three touchdowns during last week’s 38-14 win over Purdue. Ball moved his career touchdown total to 72 and his career point total to 434, breaking the Big Ten records formerly held by fellow Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne. Ball is now six TDs away from the all-time FBS record of 72 held by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio).

** Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz reached a pair of milestones with his team’s 19-16 double overtime victory over Michigan State. Ferentz notched win No. 100 with the Hawkeyes, making him only the second Iowa head coach to crack the century mark. Hayden Fry (1979-98) is the school’s all-time leader with 143 wins. Additionally, the win over the Spartans marked Ferentz’s 60th Big Ten victory, making him only the 14th man to reach 60 conference wins. The all-time leader in that category is Woody Hayes of Ohio State, who compiled 152 Big Ten victories from 1951-78.

** If you thought the four-hour marathon involving Ohio State and Indiana was a doozy, Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M waged a back-and-forth war for 4½ hours before the Aggies finally came away with a 59-57 victory. Louisiana Tech fought its way out of a 27-0 hole, and then scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to pull within two points. But the Bulldogs missed on a two-point conversion try with 38 seconds remaining and couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick. Tech QB Colby Cameron threw for 450 yards and five TDs, but he was overshadowed by A&M counterpart Johnny Manziel, who racked up an SEC-record 576 total yards in the game. Manziel threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 181 yards and three more scores.

** Things are going from bad to worse for Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. The Volunteers posted back-to-back losing records under Dooley in 2010 and 2011, marking the first time the program had consecutive losing seasons since three in a row from 1909 to 1911. Last weekend, Tennessee lost a 41-31 decision to Mississippi State to drop Dooley’s record to 4-15 in SEC games. And just to add a little injury to insult, Dooley had to coach that game from the press box after undergoing midweek hip surgery.

** Speaking of Mississippi State, it has started the season with a 6-0 record for the first time since winning its first eight games in 1999. Dan Mullen is in his fourth season as head coach of the Bulldogs, and is angling for the team’s third consecutive winning campaign. That hasn’t happened in Starkville since Jackie Sherrill strung together four straight from 1997 to 2000.

** Florida QB Jeff Driskel rushed for 177 yards during his team’s 31-17 win at Vanderbilt last weekend, breaking the school’s single-game rushing record by a quarterback. The previous mark of 166 was set in 2007 by Tim Tebow during the Gators’ 30-24 win over Ole Miss.

** Oregon State is the surprise of the Pac-12 so far this season. The No. 10 Beavers are 5-0 for the first time since 1939 and play unranked conference foes Utah, Washington and Arizona State the next three weeks. Oregon State has been playing football since 1894 and has never started a season better than 6-0. That happened in 1907 when the Beavers won all six games they played that year.

** Ole Miss snapped its 16-game conference losing streak with last week’s 41-20 win over Auburn. Extra credit for those of you who know the Rebels are coached by a guy named Hugh Freeze, whose previous coaching stops include Arkansas State, NAIA Lambuth University (Tenn.) and Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. One of Freeze’s players at Briarcrest was current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, the subject of the best-selling book and hit movie “The Blind Side.”

** You probably missed the fact that New Mexico scored a 35-23 victory at Hawaii in a game that ended early Sunday morning Eastern time. It marked the Lobos’ first win outside their home state since a 20-17 win at San Diego State on Oct. 20, 2007. In his first season in Albuquerque, Bob Davies has guided the Lobos to four victories already – pretty good for a team that went 3-33 during the previous three seasons combined.

** The longest running series in the country stages its 122nd renewal tomorrow when Wisconsin hosts Minnesota in the annual battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Goldy and Bucky have been battling for the axe trophy since 1948 with Wisconsin holding a 38-23-3 advantage, including wins in each of the last eight meetings. In the overall series, Minnesota leads by a 58-55-8 margin.

** Ohio garners most of the attention directed toward the Mid-American Conference these days, but East Division rival Kent State is off to a 5-1 start under second-year head coach and our old friend Darrell Hazell. That is the best start since 1973 for the Golden Flashes and part of the reason is junior speedster Dri Archer. The 5-8, 175-pounder with 4.21 speed currently leads the nation in all-purpose yardage (229.2 yards per game) and kickoff returns (47.7 yards per return), and ranks fifth in scoring (12.0 points per game). In case you’re interested, Kent hosts Ohio on the day after Thanksgiving – the regular-season finale for both teams.

FEARLESS FORECAST

This is more like it. We finally picked out some games we could win, and went a perfect 10-0 straight up and 6-2-2 against the spread. (Gotta stop taking Ohio State to cover, though.) The season totals are now 58-12 straight up and we’re back to .500 ATS at 34-34-2.

We’ll try to build on last week with these games.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Minnesota at Wisconsin: The Gophers really don’t have much going for them as they head into the 122nd renewal of one of college football’s oldest rivalry games. Head coach Jerry Kill had another seizure following last week’s loss to Northwestern, injuries are preventing electrifying QB MarQueis Gray from staying in the lineup, and history has not been kind to Goldy. Wisconsin is 38-23-3 since the teams started playing for the Paul Bunyan Axe Trophy in 1946, and the Badgers haven’t lost to Minnesota at home since 1994. Add in the fact that Wisconsin seems to have righted the ship after a shaky start and you have the recipe for a blowout … Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 17. (12 noon ET, ESPNU, DirectTV 208)

No. 9 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida: The Gators are probably getting more credit than they deserve for beating a mediocre Vanderbilt team last week while the Gamecocks are getting more criticism than they deserve for a razor-close 23-21 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. South Carolina could be without star RB Marcus Lattimore (bruised hip) while normally reliable QB Connor Shaw was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter last week by LSU. Meanwhile, the Gators welcome back three offensive linemen who were sidelined last week. Steve Spurrier would like nothing more than to return to the Swamp and beat his former team, but the Gamecocks are a lowly 1-12 all-time in Gainesville. That lone victory came in 2010 and we just have this inkling that Spurrier can somehow work his magic again … South Carolina 23, Florida 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

BYU at No. 5 Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are getting a lot of pub for their defense, but the Cougars are no slouch on D. While Notre Dame ranks 11th nationally in total defense (287.0 yards per game), BYU is No. 5 at 260.9 yards per contest. The Cougars have held four of their seven opponents to seven points or fewer, while the Irish have limited their last four opponents to a combined total of four field goals and no offensive touchdowns. Neither team has much of an offense to write home about, so that means this game will likely hinge on turnovers. And that is where Notre Dame has the edge. The Irish are plus-8 in that department while the Cougars are minus-5 … Notre Dame 17, BYU 13. (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

MichiganState at No. 23 Michigan: The Spartans are working on a four-game winning streak against the Wolverines, their longest win streak in the series in 50 years. If MSU is to increase that streak to a record five in a row, it is going to have to find a way to play much better than it has in recent weeks. Since losing a 17-16 home heartbreaker to Ohio State, Sparty scuffled around at Indiana before pulling out a 31-27 win and then looked extremely sloppy at times during last week’s 19-16 double overtime loss to Iowa. Meanwhile, Michigan seems to have fixed whatever ailments it was experiencing during the first part of the season, piling up 936 total yards combined the last two weeks vs. Purdue and Illinois. Expect the Spartans to put up more of a struggle than the Boilers or Illini, but also expect their series winning streak to come to an end … Michigan 27, Michigan State 20. (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN, DirectTV 610)

Colorado at No. 11 USC: After hitting the road for four of their last five games, the Trojans get to relax a little bit at home tomorrow evening. Coming to town are the struggling Buffaloes, who are 1-5 and are probably not even that good. Colorado ranks 103rd in the nation in scoring offense and 117th in scoring defense, a deadly combination going against a team like USC desperate to get back on track after a handful of subpar performances. QB Matt Barkley has 93 career TD passes and needs only four more to establish a new Pac-12 career record. He might do in the first quarter against the Buffs … USC 42, Colorado 17. (6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

No. 1 Alabama at Tennessee: How good is the Alabama defense? Good enough to rank No. 1 in the nation in every major statistical category. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, the only way they have a chance in this game is if their offense can score enough points to make up for a porous defense. Tennessee averages 38.0 points per game, and has scored 44 or more three times in seven games. But the Vols can’t stop anyone. They surrender 31.5 points per game and that just won’t get it done against the defending national champs … Alabama 41, Tennessee 10. (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

Kansas at No. 10 Oklahoma: Since a mistake-prone loss to Kansas State on Sept. 22, the Sooners seem to have figured things out. OU took a week off and came back to run roughshod through Texas, slicing up a pretty good Texas Tech defense to the tune of a 41-20 win and then exposing Texas last week in the annual Red River Shootout, cruising to a 63-21 victory. The Boomer Sooner will likely keep rolling this week against a Kansas defense that allows an average of 28.0 points and 433.7 yards per contest. But the Jayhawks did limit a potent Oklahoma State offense to only 20 points last week, so maybe things are looking up for Charlie Weis. Then again, the Jayhawks are managing only 19.0 points per game on offense … Oklahoma 49, Kansas 7. (7 p.m. ET, FSN, DirectTV 692)

Penn State at Iowa: First-year Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien has maximized his talent pool, taking a team that had only four starters remaining from last season and leading it to four consecutive wins. So far, Penn State has played very well on defense and just well enough on offense to beat the likes of Illinois and Northwestern. Now, the Lions begin to reach the meat of their schedule beginning with a trip to Iowa City tomorrow night. The Hawkeyes have won eight of the last 10 games in the series, including each of the last four played at Kinnick Stadium. Since these teams appear to be mirror images of one another, we’ll go with the home team in a defensive battle … Iowa 13, Penn State 10. (8 p.m. ET, BTN, DirectTV 611)

No. 12 Florida State at Miami (Fla.): The Hurricanes’ chances in this game would be greatly enhanced if starting QB Stephen Morris can shake off a sprained ankle that was keeping him off the practice field. Even with Morris, however, Miami faces a tall task in taking down the Seminoles. The U’s defense is still spotty, having allowed 32 or more points five times in seven games and at least 498 total yards four times. And knowing that the E.J. Manuel-led Florida State attack averages 46.0 points and 530.6 yards per game makes Morris even more important to the Miami cause. FSU has won two in a row in the series and five of the last seven … Florida State 41, Miami 20. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Purdue at No. 7 Ohio State: There has been a lot of talk about how the Boilermakers have had Ohio State’s number since Danny Hope has been head coach. And while it is true Hope owns a 2-1 record against the Buckeyes, both of his victories occurred in West Lafayette. The only time a Hope-coached team came to Columbus, it limped back across the Indiana border after a 49-0 waxing. No one expects this year’s game to be a 49-point blowout, mainly because Purdue likes to spread things out on offense and the Buckeyes have given up a truckload of points to teams that spread them out. Still, one has to believe that Urban Meyer got into the grill and under the skin of his defensive players and coaches after last week’s near-collapse at Indiana. Still, don’t expect a runaway … Ohio State 49, Purdue 38. (12 noon ET, ABC/ESPN2, DirectTV 209)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Minnesota at Wisconsin (-17½); South Carolina (+3½) at Florida; BYU (+14) at Notre Dame; Michigan State (+11½) at Michigan; Colorado (+41) at USC; Alabama (-18½) at Tennessee; Kansas at Oklahoma (-34½); Penn State at Iowa (-1½); Florida State (-17½) at Miami-FL; Purdue (+19) at Ohio State.

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

Miller Might By Most Exciting Buckeye In Long Time

During a Saturday night awash in myriad offensive milestones, much of the buzz in the Ohio Stadium press box last week focused upon Braxton Miller when the question was raised: “Who is the most exciting Ohio State player in the past 10 years?”

Surprisingly for a team that has done more than its share of winning over the past decade, there weren’t that many names on the list.

Troy Smith got a mention, mostly for the career body of work turned in by the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner.

Someone brought up Terrelle Pryor for his gazelle-like moves and raw athletic ability, while another offered Maurice Clarett, who played such a vital role in the 2002 national championship season. But just as quickly as their names were mentioned, Pryor and Clarett were summarily dismissed – Pryor because of the perception he should have been even better than he was, and Clarett because his star flashed so quickly across the horizon before disappearing. There was also the haze of off-the-field issues that hung over both players.

The player receiving the most nods of agreement was Ted Ginn Jr., the electrifying speedster who rewrote the Ohio State and Big Ten record books for kick returns. Ginn’s graceful running style was such a blur of speed and elegance that those in pursuit of him seemed to be moving in slow motion.

Ginn eventually recorded eight returns – six punts and two kickoffs – for touchdowns, all but erasing the fact that he was also an underrated receiver. His 135 career receptions for 1,943 yards and 15 TDs all rank among the top 10 in program history.

Of course, the conversation only got started following Miller’s 72-yard run in the second quarter, a play that set the tone for the rest of the game against a Nebraska defense that had surrendered a scant 17 yards to Ohio State on its preceding 13 plays.

Every play in every offensive coordinator’s playbook is designed to go the distance if everything goes according to plan. The trouble is, not every play goes according to plan – and even when it does, it often needs a little something extra. Miller is that something extra for the Buckeyes, and he so often displays it with an exquisite dash of flair.

Nebraska had just taken a 17-7 lead at the 11:59 mark of the second quarter, and the press box chatter sounded more like a postmortem on the Ohio State team than a discussion about exciting players of the recent past. Then Miller took all of about 15 seconds to change that.

The sophomore quarterback took a relatively routine shotgun snap and began moving to his right with tailback Carlos Hyde swinging out for a possible option pitch. As the OSU offensive line began to pick off Nebraska defenders one by one, Miller recognized a huge lane, tucked the football under his arm and quickly cut upfield, reaching the second level in what seemed like less than the blink of an eye.

Two effortless fakes – moves designed to make talented Big Ten defenders look like pony leaguers – left a pair of Cornhuskers clutching at air, and then two more downfield blocks allowed Miller to glide all the way to the Nebraska 3 before he was finally pushed out of bounds.

Humorist James Thurber once wrote that Chic Harley’s running style was “kind of a cross between music and cannon fire,” and I couldn’t help but remember those words while watching Miller on that 72-yard display that was as melodic for the Buckeyes as it was lethal to the Cornhuskers.

“We couldn’t get anything going at the time,” OSU junior receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said of Miller’s big play. “We had a couple of punts leading up to that, and we needed somebody like Braxton to make a big play to excite the crowd because the crowd got out of it. To have someone like Braxton make a play like that and get them into the game and being able to score, it was good.”

Good? That might qualify Brown for understatement of the season so far.

“We have a quarterback that’s kind of ridiculous running the ball,” OSU head coach Urban Meyer said. “I think Braxton obviously changed the game.”

That wasn’t the only time.

Later in the second quarter, Miller did it again, this time on a fourth-and-2 play from the Nebraska 31. The Cornhuskers called timeout before the play, and head coach Bo Pelini had to figure Meyer was going to put the ball in the hands of his best player.

Not that the knowledge did Pelini any good. Miller took the shotgun snap, and as Hyde picked off blitzing NU safety P.J. Smith, the quarterback broke over the right side of the line and sprinted his way past every other would-be tackler for a 31-yard touchdown run. It was Miller’s crowning achievement during a second-quarter performance that included six rushes for 146 yards, and it gave the Buckeyes a 35-24 halftime lead.

By now you know that second-quarter explosion was part of a career-high 186 rushing yards for Miller, a performance that allowed him midway through his sophomore year to tie Pryor for most career 100-yard games by an Ohio State quarterback.

It is also worth noting Miller’s virtuoso performance occurred in full witness of a nationwide television audience. It was, in simple terms, the kind of performance on which future Heisman Trophies are won.

OSU-INDIANA TIDBITS

** Ohio State and Indiana will be meeting for the 86th time with the Buckeyes holding a lopsided 68-12-5 advantage in the series. That includes a 24-2-1 record at Memorial Stadium, including wins in each of the last eight games played in Bloomington.

** The Buckeyes are currently enjoying a 17-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.

** The 17-game win streak in the second-longest in the series for OSU. The Buckeyes won 23 consecutive games against Indiana between 1960 and 1986. The Hoosiers’ longest win streak in the series is four in a row between 1903 and 1914.

** Ohio State in its history has more victories over Indiana than any other team. The Buckeyes have 68 wins vs. the Hoosiers, 65 over Illinois, 59 over Northwestern, 55 over Wisconsin and 45 over Iowa.

** OSU head coach Urban Meyer will be facing Indiana for the first time as a head coach, but he was on the sideline in 1986 and ’87 as a member of Earle Bruce’s staff when the Buckeyes played the Hoosiers. OSU took a 24-22 win in Bloomington in 1986, but IU scored a 31-10 upset win the following year at Ohio Stadium, an afternoon Bruce later described as “the darkest day in Ohio State history.”

** 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 5-4-1 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), Jim Tressel (27-14 in 2001) and Luke Fickell (34-20 in 2011). 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 second season with the Hoosiers and will be attempting to become only the second IU coach in the past 61 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.

** Ohio State is playing its second night game in a row while Indiana will be playing its third night game of 2012. The Hoosiers took a 24-17 victory over I-AA Indiana State under the Memorial Stadium lights on Sept. 1 and then lost a 41-39 heartbreaker two weeks later at home to Ball State.

** Ohio State is second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in red zone offense. The Buckeyes have scored 22 times – 19 touchdowns and three field goals – in 24 trips inside their opponents’ red zone. OSU currently has a streak of scoring on 20 consecutive trips inside the red zone.

** Indiana is 11th in the Big Ten and tied for 94th nationally in red zone defense. The Hoosiers have allowed opponents to score 15 times in 17 trips inside their 20-yard line. That includes 12 touchdowns and three field goals.

** The Hoosiers currently lead the Big Ten and are 19th nationally in passing offense, averaging 305.2 yards per game. IU has already thrown for 11 touchdowns this season, surpassing last year’s total of 10.

** Ohio State is 11th in the conference and 96th in the nation in pass defense, surrendering 265.3 yards per game.

** Indiana has 17 native Ohioans on its roster – nine of which are on the Hoosiers’ two-deep – while Ohio State has only two players from Indiana. They are sophomore tailback Rod Smith of Fort Wayne and sophomore defensive lineman Joel Hale of Greenwood.

** Wilson also has three native Ohioans on his coaching staff. Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks/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.

** A familiar name is in his second season on Wilson’s staff as a graduate assistant. Chris Shula, whose grandfather is Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, is the GA in charge of defense.

** 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.

** For his performance against Nebraska that included a school record-tying five tackles for loss, OSU senior defensive lineman John Simon earned national defensive player of the week honors from the folks who give out the Chuck Bednarik Award as well as those who give out the College Football Performance Awards. Simon had seven tackles against the Cornhuskers, including two sacks, and he also forced a fumble.

** Simon’s five tackles for loss vs. Nebraska tied a single-game OSU record first established by Judah Herman in a 16-9 loss to Iowa in 1991 and equaled by Jayson Gwinn during a 23-17 win against Indiana in 1993 and Andy Katzenmoyer in the 1997 Rose Bowl vs. Arizona State, a 20-17 victory for the Buckeyes.

** Simon jumped to 12th place on Ohio State’s career list for tackles for loss with 36. Current defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is the school’s all-time leader with 66 TFLs.

** Congratulations to Corey “Philly” Brown, whose 76-yard punt return for a touchdown vs. Nebraska earned him Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Brown’s return for a score was the first for the Buckeyes since Chris Fields ran one back 69 yards during last year’s 27-22 win over Toledo.

** OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller’s career-high 186 rushing yards vs. Nebraska pushed his career total to 1,478 and jumped him into fourth place all-time among Ohio State quarterbacks. Terrelle Pryor (2008-10) is first with 2,164 yards, followed by Cornelius Greene (2,080, 1972-75) and Rex Kern (1,714, 1968-70).

** Miller also matched Pryor’s school record for quarterbacks with seven games of 100 or more yards rushing.

** Indiana sophomore kicker Mitch Ewald is a perfect 82 for 82 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.

** Last week’s 63-point output by the Buckeyes marked the highest point total since a 73-20 victory over Eastern Michigan in 2010 and the best output against a Big Ten opponent since a 69-18 win over Minnesota in 1983. Additionally, it represented the most combined points in an OSU game since 1950. That year, Ohio State and Iowa combined for 104 points in an 83-21 win for the Buckeyes. Conversely, it was the most points surrendered by Nebraska since a 65-51 loss at Colorado in the 2007 season finale. Head coach Bill Callahan was dismissed following that game and the Cornhuskers hired current head coach Bo Pelini before the 2008 season.

** The offensive outburst against Nebraska marked only the 27th time in program history the team had topped the 60-point mark. Rarer still is accomplishing the feat against a Big Ten opponent. OSU had tallied 60 or more points against a conference rival only seven times before doing it against the Cornhuskers. Northwestern played the hapless victim in four of those games – 60-0 in 1973, 63-0 in 1980, 63-20 in 1978 and 70-6 in 1981. The other three were 69-18 vs. Minnesota in 1983, 62-7 over Wisconsin in 1969 and 83-21 against Iowa in 1950, the game in which Vic Janowicz threw for four touchdowns, ran for another, returned a punt for a sixth TD and kicked 10 extra points.

** Ohio State is now 272-0-1 all-time when scoring 35 or more points. The lone blemish on that record is a 35-35 tie with SMU in 1978.

** Ohio State rushed for 371 against the Cornhuskers, the highest rushing total for the Buckeyes since a 409-yard effort during a 41-3 win over Illinois in 1995. OSU also averaged 7.72 yards per carry vs. Nebraska, the fourth-highest single-game average in school history. The record of 9.23 yards per carry was set during a 51-15 win at Illinois in 1962.

** OSU junior tailback Carlos Hyde set new career-highs with 28 carries for 140 yards and four touchdowns. He became the first Ohio State running back to rush for four touchdowns since Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George during a 56-35 win over Iowa in 1995.

** Kickoff this week is set for shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern. (That’s 7 p.m. local time if you’re going to Bloomington.) The Big Ten Network will handle the telecast with Eric Collins on play-by-play, Derek Rackley providing color analysis and former Illinois linebacker J Leman filing sideline reports.

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channel 135 and XM channel 190.

** Next week, Ohio State returns home to host Purdue with kickoff time and broadcast affiliates still TBA. The Big Ten will not make an announcement regarding that game until after this weekend’s contests have been played.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Oct. 12, 1929, the University of Georgia dedicated Sanford Stadium with a 15-0 win over heavily favored Yale. College Football Hall of Famer Vernon “Catfish” Smith was the star of the game for the Bulldogs, falling on a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown, hauling in a TD pass and tackling a Yale runner in the end zone for a safety. Sanford Stadium, which originally housed 30,000 spectators and cost $360,000 to build, has grown to a capacity of 92,746, the sixth largest on-campus stadium in the nation.

** On Oct. 12, 1940, Tennessee rolled to a 53-0 win over Chattanooga, marking a NCAA-record 17th consecutive regular-season shutout for the Volunteers. During the period four-year period between 1937 and 1940, the Vols went 37-5-1 with 33 shutouts and captured two national championships under legendary head coach Robert Neyland.

** On Oct. 12, 1963, second-ranked Texas scored a 28-7 victory over No. 1 Oklahoma, marking the second-largest winning margin in a matchup featuring the top two teams in The Associated Press poll. QB Duke Carlisle led the Longhorns by rushing for a touchdown and passing for another, while the Texas defense held the Sooners to only eight first downs. The matchup featured a pair of legendary head coaches – Darrell Royal for the Longhorns and Bud Wilkinson for the Sooners. Texas went on to win the 1962 national championship while OU finished No. 10 in Wilkinson’s final season as Sooners head coach.

** On Oct. 12, 2002, Northern Illinois trailed Miami (Ohio) by a 27-14 score entering the fourth quarter, but the Huskies scored a MAC-record 34 points in the final period to rally for a 48-41 victory. It was the second-most fourth-quarter points in a comeback win in NCAA history.

** On Oct. 13, 1956, Syracuse running back Jim Brown rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and added a key third-quarter interception on defense to lead the Orange to a 27-20 win over West Virginia. The victory was a key one for Syracuse in its march to the Cotton Bowl later that season.

** On Oct. 13, 1979, unranked Stanford erased a 21-point deficit in the second half and achieved a 21-21 tie with defending national champion and No. 1-rated USC in historic Los Angeles Coliseum. After falling behind by three touchdowns at halftime, the Cardinal rallied behind quarterback Turk Schonert, who threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in the second half. The Trojans had a chance to pull out the victory in the final seconds, but botched the snap from center on a field-goal try.

** On Oct. 13, 2007, Houston became the only team in NCAA history to have a 300-yard receiver and a 200-yard rusher in the same game as the Cougars scored a wild 56-48 victory over Rice. Houston wide receiver Donnie Avery caught 13 passes for 346 yards – a school and Conference USA record – while tailback Anthony Aldridge added 205 yards rushing.

** On Oct. 14, 1950, Penn halfback Francis “Reds” Bagnell accounted for 490 yards of total offense to lead the Quakers in a 42-26 win over Dartmouth. Bagnell threw for 276 yards and rushed for 214, making him the first player in college football history to crack the 200-yard mark in passing and rushing in the same game. The feat wasn’t matched again for another 36 years and has been equaled fewer than a dozen times since.

** On Oct. 14, 1978, Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann threw for 210 yards, including a game-clinching 19-yard touchdown pass to Mike Harris late in the fourth quarter, and the Boilermakers scored a 27-16 win over Ohio State in West Lafayette. The Buckeyes outgained Purdue by nearly 200 yards but committed five turnovers. The win, described by Purdue head coach Jim Young as “the biggest of my coaching career,” was the Boilermakers’ first against the Buckeyes since 1967.

** Also on Oct. 14, 1978, Cornell running back Joe Holland rushed for 244 yards on an Ivy League-record 55 carries and led the Big Red to a 25-20 victory at Harvard.

** On Oct. 15, 1910, officials at the University of Illinois decided it would be a good idea to invite alumni back to the campus for a football game. More than 1,500 returned to Champaign and watched as the Fighting Illini beat Chicago, 3-0, in what is recognized as the first official homecoming game in college football history.

** On Oct. 15, 1977, Iowa State went to Lincoln and scored a 24-21 upset of No. 9 Nebraska, giving the Cyclones back-to-back victories over the Cornhuskers for the first time in 27 years. The final score wiped out a superlative performance by NU running back I.M. Hipp, who rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

** On Oct. 15, 2005, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was pushed across the goal line in the final seconds by teammate Reggie Bush and the top-ranked Trojans escaped South Bend with a 34-31 win over No. 9 Notre Dame. The play has come to be known as the “Bush Push.”

** On Oct. 16, 1937, two of the most famous teams in college football history collided as Fordham’s “Seven Blocks of Granite” took on Pittsburgh’s “Dream Backfield” in a game that ended in a 0-0 tie. Future College Football Hall of Famers were all over the field that day including Fordham offensive line coach Frank Leahy and Pitt head coach Jock Sutherland, while Fordham lineman Vince Lombardi went on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame coaching career with the Green Bay Packers. The scoreless tie was the only blemish on either team’s 1937 records. Pitt finished 9-0-1 and won the national championship while Fordham was 7-0-1 and wound up third in the polls.

** On Oct. 16, 1976, Texas A&M kicker Tony Franklin showcased his strong right leg and set an NCAA record in the process. Franklin became the first kicker in college football history to boot a pair of field goals from 60 yards or longer in the same game. He had three-pointers of 64 and 65 yards during a 24-0 victory over Baylor in College Station. Franklin’s 65-yarder established a new NCAA record for the longest field goal in college football history, but the mark didn’t last long. Later that same day, Abilene Christian kicker Ove Johansson booted a 69-yarder against East Texas State. Johansson’s record still stands.

** On Oct. 17, 1970, Southern Miss pulled off the shocker of the year, upsetting fourth-ranked Ole Miss by a 30-14 final in Oxford. Rebels QB Archie Manning threw for two touchdowns to give his team an early lead, but the Golden Eagles got a pair of rushing touchdowns from RB Willie Heidelberg – the first black player in Southern Miss history – while halfback Gerry Saggus added a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Eagles were also aided by punter Ray Guy, who kept Ole Miss at bay by averaging 49 yards per punt.

** On Oct. 18, 1958, Northwestern celebrated became the first team since 1891 to score 50 or more points against Michigan, jumping out to a 43-0 halftime lead before putting the finishing touches on a 55-24 victory over the Wolverines in Evanston. Halfbacks Ron Burton and Willmer Fowler combined for five touchdowns while QB/DB Dick Thornton threw for 109 yards and returned an interception 37 yards for a score.

** On Oct. 18, 1958, No. 2 Auburn’s 17-game winning streak came to an end with a 7-7 tie against unranked Georgia Tech. The Tigers went on to close the 1958 season with six straight victories, but the tie with the Yellow Jackets cost them a second consecutive national championship.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** The number of undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams shrank by seven last weekend, leaving only 16 unbeatens remaining. Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon and South Carolina are 6-0 while Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, UTSA and West Virginia are 5-0. Cincinnati and Oregon State are 4-0.

** The king is dead, long live the king. TCU felt the effects of having to suspend starting quarterback Casey Pachall for a drunken driving arrest, and the Horned Frogs dropped a 37-23 decision to Iowa State. That ended the nation’s longest winning streak at 12 games, and now means South Carolina owns the longest streak at 10 wins in a row.

** The Horned Frogs will play the rest of the season without Pachall, who has withdrawn from TCU with plans to enter an inpatient facility for treatment of substance abuse. Pachall, who was arrested Oct. 4 on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, had failed a university-administered drug test in February. TCU head coach Gary Patterson said once Pachall has completed his treatment, he will be eligible to return to school and the team. The quarterback has one season of college eligibility remaining.

** That victory by Iowa State over TCU marked the third straight season the Cyclones have notched a road win against a ranked team. Not bad for a team that is only 3-30 on the road against top-25 opponents since 1996.

** While TCU’s win streak was snapped, Tulane extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 15 games following a 41-13 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Green Wave is 0-5 this season and has been outscored by a 212-45 margin.

** For the first time since USA Today took over the coaches’ poll in 1991, no Big Ten team is in the top 25. OhioState is undefeated, of course, but NCAA sanctions which include a postseason ban make the Buckeyes ineligible for both the coaches’ poll and the BCS rankings, which are due for the first time this season Oct. 14.

** People keep talking about West Virginia QB Geno Smith already having sewed up the Heisman Trophy, and we keep mentioning the Mountaineers’ upcoming schedule that includes a four-game run against No. 6 Kansas State on Oct. 20 and TCU on Nov. 3, a game at OklahomaState on Nov. 10 and back home vs. No. 13 Oklahoma on Nov. 17. If the Heisman were being awarded today, Smith would be the lead-pipe lock to win it. He leads the nation in pass efficiency based on superlative numbers that include 166 completions in 204 attempts (81.4 percent) for 1,996 yards, 24 TDs and no interceptions.

** Louisiana Tech is off to a 5-0 start, its best since joining Division I-A in 1975. The Bulldogs haven’t won five games to begin a season since winning 11 in a row during the 1974 season. Tech won all 10 regular-season games that year and the first game of the Division I-AA playoffs before suffering a 35-14 loss to Central Michigan. Additionally, the Bulldogs are No. 22 in this week’s AP poll, the first time they have been ranked since 1999.

** Duke has gotten off to a 5-1 start, its best since starting 7-0 in 1994. The Blue Devils finished 8-4 in ’94, a season that culminated in a 34-20 loss to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl. That also marks the last bowl game in which Duke played. The Blue Devils haven’t won a postseason game since a 7-6 win over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl.

** Michigan QB Denard Robinson rushed for 235 yards during last Saturday’s 41-13 rout of Purdue and became the all-time leading rusher among Big Ten quarterbacks. Robinson now has 3,905 yards, and that eclipsed the old record of 3,895 held by Antwaan Randle El of Indiana (1998-2001).

** How far has Auburn fallen since its 2010 national championship? The Tigers are 1-4 and managed only seven points last week against an Arkansas defense that had given up 110 points in its previous two SEC games. Auburn has seven offensive touchdowns in five games and has been outscored by a 45-3 margin in the fourth quarter.

** Florida has trailed at halftime to SEC rivals Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU, and won all three of those games. In fact, the Gators outscored those three teams in the second half by a combined total of 51-6.

** Last week’s 41-3 loss to Notre Dame proved that Miami (Fla.) isn’t quite back just yet. The Hurricanes are 4-0 against unranked teams, but lost to KansasState and the Fighting Irish by a combined 93-16 margin.

** The Oklahoma offense got a jolt of energy Wednesday when the NCAA ruled Fresno State transfer receiver Jalen Saunders eligible for the remainder of the season. Saunders, who was first-team All-WAC after he caught 50 balls for 1,065 yards and 12 TDs last season for the Bulldogs, left Fresno State when Pat Hill was fired in December after 15 seasons as head coach.

** Ohio State is the only undefeated team remaining in the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes have already equaled last year’s victory total. But while Urban Meyer will get some votes, the frontrunner for Big Ten Coach of the Year has to be Penn State’s Bill O’Brien. Facing unbelievable scrutiny and unprecedented sanctions, O’Brien has somehow rallied his team to four straight victories. The Nittany Lions have this week off and then travel to Iowa next week and host OhioState on Oct. 27.

** Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison stemming from more than 40 charges of child sexual abuse. The penalty amounts to a life sentence for the 68-year-old Sandusky. One day later, the State Employees’ Retirement System of Pennsylvania announced it would revoke Sandusky’s $59,000 annual pension.

** Farewell to one of the most colorful characters in college football. Beano Cook, who died yesterday at the age of 81, began his career as a sports publicist for the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-1950s. Later, he parlayed his outspokenness and gravelly voice into a broadcasting career that included stints at ABC and ESPN. Born Carroll Hoff Cook on Sept. 1, 1931, he was one of the initial influences for ESPN’s popular College Football Gameday show. Cook was known for hyperbole – claimed Notre Dame QB Ron Powlus would win three Heismans – as well as witticism. When Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn in 1981 offered lifetime passes to games for returning hostages from Iran, Cook quipped, “Haven’t they suffered enough?”

FEARLESS FORECAST

For the first time in a couple of weeks, we finished above .500 against the spread. But then the straight-up picks sprung a leak when every coin-flip game we chose wound up a loss. We were 6-4 both straight up and against the spread, making the yearly totals 48-12 SU and 28-32 ATS.

Neither percentage is worth talking about, so we’ll just get to the games we’ll be watching this weekend.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

No. 18 Louisville at Pittsburgh: The Panthers have been on a rollercoaster ride during their first season under head coach Paul Chryst. Pitt began the season with a 31-17 loss to Division I-AA Youngstown State, and then two weeks later upset then No. 13 Virginia Tech. But the Panthers lost last week to Syracuse, which had lost eight straight games against Football Bowl Subdivision competition. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have won their first five games in rather unimpressive fashion, including last week’s 21-17 struggle with winless Southern Miss. Louisville has lost four straight games in the series, but those kinds of trends haven’t meant much so far this season … Louisville 23, Pittsburgh 20. (11 a.m. ET, ESPNU, DirectTV 208)

No. 6 Kansas State at Iowa State: With West Virginia on their horizon next week, this is an obvious trap game for the Wildcats. Iowa State has only one loss and the Cyclones went into Fort Worth last weekend and ended the nation’s longest winning streak by knocking off TCU. Iowa State also played K-State tough. The Cyclones have lost four straight in the series, but all four of those games were played in Manhattan and none of the Wildcats’ wins were by more than eight points. The last time K-State visited Ames, it went home with a 31-20 loss in 2007. Of course, there is the small matter of ISU’s 1-11 record in its last 12 home games against ranked opponents … Kansas State 31, Iowa State 20. (12 noon ET, FX, DirectTV 248)

No. 15 Texas vs. No. 13 Oklahoma: The Cotton Bowl hosts the annual renewal of the Red River Shootout with each of the rivals trying to bury the other with a second Big 12 loss. The Longhorns are coming off a disappointing 48-45 home loss to West Virginia, a game in which the defense allowed 460 yards and couldn’t hold a 38-34 lead after three quarters. Meanwhile, the Sooners got exposed three weeks ago with a home loss to Kansas State. The difference in the two teams is defense. OU ranks 20th in the nation in scoring defense while Texas ranks 66th. Then when you consider the Mack Pack has lost seven in a row to ranked opponents, you get this outcome … Oklahoma 37, Texas 31. (12 noon ET, ABC)

No. 1 Alabama at Missouri: What exactly was Mizzou thinking when it thought joining the SEC was a good idea? The Tigers are 0-3 in their new conference and have been outscored by a 91-45 margin. And now they get ready for a taste of Crimson Tide, which rolls into Columbia fresh off an open week. When last we saw Alabama, it was rolling to a 33-14 win over Ole Miss. The Tide ranks No. 1 in the country in total and scoring defense while the Tigers are 95th in total offense. As we have said many times before, if you can’t score, you can’t win … Alabama 38, Missouri 10. (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame: The Cardinal has a three-game series winning streak going, but they also had a guy named Andrew Luck at the offensive controls. Luck, of course, has taken his talents to Indianapolis in the NFL, leaving Stanford a somewhat more challenged attack with junior QB Josh Nunes. Taking an offense that remains a work in progress to South Bend is no bargain this season. No defense has allowed fewer touchdowns this season than the Fighting Irish, and their offense is beginning to get better. ND put up its biggest rushing total in 12 years during last week’s 41-3 rout of Miami (Fla.), and sophomore QB Everett Golson added 186 yards through the air and 51 yards on the ground. That seems to make for a pretty tall hurdle for Stanford to climb, especially knowing it has lost seven of its last eight in South Bend … Notre Dame 31, Stanford 17.  (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

Fresno State at No. 24 Boise State: First-year head coach Tim DeRuyter has the Bulldogs played extremely well on defense. Fresno leads the nation in interceptions (12), which helps it rank 11th in turnover margin. But ranking would be even better if the Bulldogs hadn’t committed eight turnovers themselves in their first six games. That trend had better change this week since Boise State’s defense is even more opportunistic than Fresno. The Broncos are tied for No. 5 in the nation in turnover margin, including forcing 13 in their last three games. That should make the difference as Boise tries for a seventh straight victory in the series … Boise State 27, Fresno State 23. (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, DirectTV 603)

Illinois at No. 25 Michigan: There was hope in Champaign that Tim Beckman could bring his high-octane offense with him from Toledo. So far, that hasn’t happened. The Fighting Illini rank dead last in the Big Ten in scoring, and that is never a good thing when you have to try and outscore the Wolverines. QB Denard Robinson is the nation’s fourth leading rusher (135.2 yards per game) and generates an average of 323.6 total yards per contest, and that is simply going to be too much for the Illini … Michigan 42, Illinois 14. (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

Boston College at No. 12 Florida State: The Seminoles are coming off a game in which they blew a 16-0 halftime lead against North Carolina State and wound up on the business end of a 17-16 final score. What better way to recuperate than against a 1-4 team that hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2008? Despite last week’s loss, the Seminoles still rank seventh in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense. That can’t be good news for BC head coach Frank Spaziani, whose team ranks 109th in rush offense and 104th in total defense … Florida State 44, Boston College 14. (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, DirectTV 209)

No. 4 Florida at Vanderbilt: Is Vandy laying a trap for the Gators? Florida is coming off an emotional 14-6 win over LSU last week and has No. 3 South Carolina coming to the Swamp next weekend, so the case could be made that the Gators’ focus will not totally be on the Commodores. That could be problematic, especially in the passing game since Florida ranks last in the SEC in passing offense while Vandy is third in pass defense. It is just difficult to image the Commodores generating enough offense, however, especially against an opponent they have lost to 21 straight times … Florida 30, Vanderbilt 13. (6 p.m. ET, ESPNU, DirectTV 208)

No. 8 Ohio State at Indiana: This game will go a long way toward determining if the Buckeyes are truly the No. 8 team in the nation, and none of that determination has anything to do with the Hoosiers. Ohio State has played up (or down) to the level of its competition so far this season, and since it rolls into Bloomington tomorrow night as a prohibitive favorite, it will be interesting to see how the team responds. Will the Buckeyes build upon the foundation of emotional wins over Michigan State and Nebraska the last two weeks, or will they revert to the team that snoozed its way through large chunks of the nonconference season? The Hoosiers have some weapons that can exploit what has been a suspect Ohio State pass defense. But they showed last week vs. Michigan State, the Hoosiers remain a young team that has not yet learned how to win … Ohio State 38, Indiana 17. (8 p.m. ET, BTN, DirectTV 610)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Louisville (-1½) at Pittsburgh; Kansas State (-6) at Iowa State; Texas vs. Oklahoma (-2½); Alabama (-17½) at Missouri; Stanford at Notre Dame (-7); Fresno State (+9) at Boise State; Illinois at Michigan (-21); Boston College at Florida State (-27); Florida (-8) at Vanderbilt; Ohio State (-16) at Indiana.

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

Flawed Buckeyes Cream Of Flawed Big Ten Crop So Far

What we have learned so far from the first five weeks of the 2012 college football season is that a sometimes-flawed Ohio State team represents the cream of the crop in the supremely-flawed Big Ten.

The Buckeyes and Northwestern are the only remaining undefeated teams in a conference that boasted five teams ranked among the nation’s top 18 in The Associated Press’ preseason poll. Those rankings are but a distant memory now in a Big Ten that has more problems than a screen door in a hurricane.

No conference team resides in the top 10 of either major poll with the Buckeyes at No. 12 in the AP rankings. OSU is not eligible for the USA Today coaches’ poll, meaning Nebraska is the highest-ranking Big Ten team there at No. 20.

After the first month of the season, eight teams rank 54th or lower nationally in terms of total offense, and six of those are 79th or below. That includes two-time defending conference champion Wisconsin, whose once-vaunted offensive attack now ranks dead last in the Big Ten and 109th nationally.

But the 3-2 Badgers, who were once as high as No. 12 in the preseason polls, aren’t the only conference team with issues. Michigan State is so offensively challenged that the Spartans have scored exactly one touchdown in their two losses this season. And both of those losses – 20-3 to Notre Dame and 17-16 to OSU – have come in home games.

Nebraska is 4-1, but it needed to erase a 17-point third-quarter deficit at home against Wisconsin on Sept. 29 to claim a 30-27 victory. The Cornhuskers’ famed Blackshirts defense is only a middle-of-the-pack unit this season, giving up averages of 20.6 points and 340.8 points per game.

NU is also a decidedly different team away from Lincoln. The team’s only loss this season was a 36-30 defeat at UCLA, and the Huskers were 2-2 on the road last year in their first season as Big Ten members.

Minnesota is also 4-1, but Goldy got exposed in a 31-13 loss at Iowa. The Gophers fell behind 24-0 at halftime to a Hawkeyes team that had been ranked No. 105 in the nation in scoring. Even with its outburst against Minnesota, Iowa moved up only to a tie for 97th.

Michigan has seemingly taken the step back many predicted this season. In fact, the argument could be made that quarterback Denard Robinson has taken a couple of steps backward. Robinson is still U-M’s primary playmaker, but he played extremely poorly against Alabama and Notre Dame, combining to complete only 24 of 50 pass attempts for 338 yards and one touchdown against six interceptions. He did contribute 117 rushing yards in those games but failed to score.

Simply put, if you find a way to stop Robinson, you can beat Michigan.

Northwestern and Purdue are the current dark horse darlings. The Wildcats are 5-0, but they have yet to reach the meat of their schedule. They take on Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State in successive games beginning Oct. 20. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers haven’t even begun conference play yet and already have a half-game lead over the other three eligible teams in the Leaders Division. But they jump into the frying pan Oct. 6 by hosting a rested Michigan team coming off an open week, a game that begins a three-week stretch that includes a home game vs. Wisconsin and a road match at Ohio State.

Illinois appears to be struggling mightily under first-year head coach Tim Beckman, while Indiana is … well, Indiana.

Finally, no one knows how much is left in Penn State’s emotional tank. The Nittany Lions are currently on a three-game winning streak, but their next three games are interesting ones – at home vs. Northwestern on Oct. 6, at Iowa on Oct. 20 and home against Ohio State on Oct. 27. Penn State usually handles the Wildcats pretty well, but it has lost three of its last four to the Hawkeyes and four of its last six to the Buckeyes.

What we have learned about the Big Ten so far? That it has a couple of good teams, a couple of bad ones and several that are very average, so don’t be surprised if the conference sends a team with three losses (or more) to the Rose Bowl.

OSU-NEBRASKA TIDBITS

** This marks only the fourth ever meeting between Ohio State and Nebraska. The Cornhuskers erased a 21-point deficit last year for a 34-27 victory in Memorial Stadium, while the Buckeyes won both of the previous games – 28-20 in the 1955 season opener and 34-7 a year later in that season’s opener. Both of those games were played at Ohio Stadium.

** The game marks the first time in four meetings that both teams will be ranked. The Buckeyes were No. 6 in 1955 and No. 8 in ’56 while the Cornhuskers were ranked 14th last season.

** The game pits a pair of head coaches with a lot of Ohio and Ohio State ties. OSU head coach Urban Meyer is a native of Ashtabula who spent the 1985 and ’86 seasons as an assistant on Earle Bruce’s coaching staff at Ohio State. Meanwhile, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, who grew up in Youngstown, was recruited by Bruce out of Cardinal Mooney High School to play for the Buckeyes. He was a four-year letterman at OSU from 1987-90 and a two-year starter at safety in 1989 and ’90. Pelini was also a team co-captain during the 1990 season.

** Pelini has coached three times before against his alma mater and he is 3-0. In addition to last year’s victory, Pelini was a graduate assistant on Hayden Fry’s staff at Iowa in 1991 when the Hawkeyes took a 16-9 victory over Ohio State in Columbus. Then, in January 2008 just before taking over at Nebraska, Pelini was defensive coordinator at LSU when the Tigers scored a 38-24 win over the Buckeyes in the BCS National Championship Game.

** Meyer has never faced Nebraska, but he has butted heads before with Pelini. From 2005-07 when Pelini was defensive coordinator at LSU, Meyer went 1-2 vs. the Tigers while at Florida.

** Meyer has his team off to a 5-0 start for the fifth time in 11 seasons as a head coach. The others were Bowling Green (2002), Utah (2004) and Florida (2006 and ’09). With his 5-0 record, Meyer now has the third-best start to a career by an Ohio State head coach. Carroll Widdoes won his first 12 games in 1944 and ’45, while Earle Bruce won his first 11 in a row in 1979.

** Pelini has won at least nine games in each of his first four seasons at Nebraska, putting him into some elite company. The only others to accomplish that feat with the Cornhuskers were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. Pelini has a ways to go to equal the record for most nine-win seasons with the Huskers, however. Osborne won nine or more games in each of his 25 years at Nebraska.

** The game features two of the top five winningest programs in college football history. Michigan tops the list with 897 victories followed by Texas with 862 and Notre Dame with 858. Nebraska is fourth with 850 and Ohio State is fifth with 842.

** The Cornhuskers and Buckeyes are the two winningest teams in college football since 1970. Nebraska has 416 victories during that timeframe while Ohio State has 389.

** The contest will mark the 12th night game in Ohio Stadium history. The Buckeyes are 8-3 under the Horseshoe lights including last year’s 33-27 win over Wisconsin.

** Overall, Ohio State is 36-20 in night games since 1959. Nebraska is 81-33-3 all-time under the lights.

** Ohio State is 4-0 at home this season and 70-7 at Ohio Stadium since 2002.

** Nebraska is 0-1 on the road this season and 13-7 in regular-season away contests under Pelini.

** Last year’s 10-7 loss to Michigan State snapped a six-game win streak for the Buckeyes in Big Ten home openers.

** The Cornhuskers are 2-3 in their last five conference road openers. That includes a 48-17 loss at Wisconsin last season in their first season as Big Ten members.

** It is the 91st annual homecoming game for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are 66-19-5 on homecoming.

** The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 367-131-28 in October. That is a .724 winning percentage. The Cornhuskers are 350-132-19 (.718) during the month.

** Last year’s game between Ohio State and Nebraska was historical not just in terms of the two teams squaring off for the first time as Big Ten opponents. The Cornhuskers erased a 27-6 deficit to take a 34-27, making it the largest comeback in program history. Conversely, the game marked the first time in OSU history the Buckeyes had ever lost a game in which they were ahead by as much as 21 points.

** Don’t expect a shutout by either team. Nebraska has scored in 209 consecutive games while Ohio State has scored in 234 straight contests. The Cornhuskers were last shut out during a 19-0 loss at Arizona State on Sept. 21, 1996. The Buckeyes haven’t been shut out since a 28-0 loss at Michigan on Nov. 20, 1993. OSU hasn’t been shut out at home since the 1978 season opener, a 19-0 loss to Penn State.

** The Cornhuskers have scored 30 or more points in each of their first five games for the first time since 1995.

** Something has to give. Ohio State is second in the Big Ten and tied for 26th nationally in red zone offense. The Buckeyes have scored 17 times – 14 touchdowns and three field goals – in 19 trips inside their opponents’ red zone. Meanwhile, Nebraska is second in the Big Ten and tied for 11th nationally in red zone defense. Opponents have scored only 10 times – five TDs and five field goals – in 16 trips inside the Cornhuskers’ red zone.

** OSU junior receiver Corey “Philly” Brown had a career-high 12 receptions last week against Michigan State, tying him for the fourth-best single-game total in program history.  David Boston holds the school record with 14 catches at Penn State during a 31-27 OSU loss in 1997. Boston also had a 13-catch game at Indiana in 1996, matching the total Gary Williams had against Florida State in 1981. Others with 12-catch performances are Bob Grimes (1952), Billy Anders (1966) and Brian Stablein (1992).

** Brown’s 12-catch game was the first time an Ohio State receiver cracked double digits since Ted Ginn Jr. had 10 receptions during a 35-7 win over Bowling Green in 2006.

** Brown now has 32 catches this year, a pace that would put him at 77 for the season. That would be the second-best total in school history. Boston has held the single-season mark since 1997 with 85 receptions.

** OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller’s 136 rushing yards vs. Michigan State pushed his career total to 1,292 and vaulted him from 49th to 45th place on Ohio State’s all-time list. He passed Troy Smith (1,168, 2003-06), Derek Combs (1,231, 1997-2000), Champ Henson (1,235, 1972-74), Maurice Clarett (1,237, 2002) and Ricardo Volley (1,252, 1977-79).

** Miller needs only 12 more yards to become the fourth-leading rusher of all time among Ohio State quarterbacks. Terrelle Pryor (2008-10) holds the record with 2,164 yards, followed by Cornelius Greene (2,080, 1972-75), Rex Kern (1,714, 1968-70) and Art Schlichter (1,303, 1978-81).

** Nebraska junior QB Taylor Martinez ranks third on his school’s all-time list of rushing quarterbacks with 2,137 yards, trailing only Eric Crouch (3,434, 1998-2001) and Jammal Lord (2,573, 2000-03). Martinez is also fourth on the NU career passing list with 4,779 yards. Zac Taylor (2005-06) is the all-time leader in that category with 5,850 yards followed by Joe Ganz (5,125, 2006-08) and Dave Humm (5,035, 1972-74).

** NU senior I-back Rex Burkhead has recorded at least one 100-yard rushing game in each of the past four seasons. He has cracked the century mark 12 times during his career, tying him for eighth place on the school’s all-time list in that category. Mike Rozier (1981-83), the 1983 Heisman Trophy winner, is Nebraska’s career leader with 23 games with at least 100 yards on the ground.

** Burkhead needs 73 more yards to become only the seventh player in Nebraska history to rush for at 3,000 in a career. Rozier is the NU’s all-time leading rusher with 4,780 yards.

** Nebraska has nine native Ohioans on its roster. Ohio State has no players from Nebraska.

** Members of the 1972 Ohio State team will be recognized during the game to mark the 40th anniversary of a season that celebrated the first of a conference-record six consecutive Big Ten championships or co-titles. LB Randy Gradishar and OT John Hicks were named All-Americans that season, team captains were HB Rick Galbos and DT George Hasenohrl, and the Buckeyes were led by freshman tailback Archie Griffin, who rushed for 867 yards.

** Kickoff this week is set for shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern. ABC will telecast the game to a nationwide audience featuring the announce crew of Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (color analysis) and Holly Rowe (sideline reports).

** The game will also be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio channel 113 and XM channel 191. Dial Global Sports (formerly Westwood One) will also broadcast the game.

** Next week, Ohio State is back on the road at Indiana for another nighttime affair. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Eastern with the Big Ten Network handling the telecast.

THIS WEEK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

** On Oct. 5, 1940, Michigan star Tom Harmon led his team to a 21-14 victory over Michigan State in Ann Arbor. The win was the Wolverines’ third in a row over the Spartans and was part of a streak that stretched to 10 games before the Spartans won in 1950.

** On Oct. 5, 1957, VMI became the first team in college football history to hold an opponent to negative yardage in the passing department. During a 28-6 victory, the Keydets allowed Richmond to complete only two passes for a net loss of 16 yards. VMI went on to post a 9-0-1 record and capture the Southern Conference championship that season.

** On Oct. 5, 1968, Arkansas running back Bill Burnett scored a touchdown to help the Razorbacks to a 17-7 win over TCU. It was the first of 23 consecutive games in which Burnett scored, an NCAA record that stood for 32 years.

** On Oct. 5, 1991, Fresno State kicker Derek Mahoney tied the NCAA record for most PATs in a game when he went 13 for 13 as the Bulldogs rolled to a 94-17 win over New Mexico.

** On Oct. 6, 1956, Penn snapped a 19-game home losing streak with a 14-7 win over Dartmouth. It was the Quakers’ first official Ivy League game, while Dartmouth’s lone touchdown came from quarterback Mike Brown, the same Mike Brown who is now owner of the Cincinnati Bengals.

** On Oct. 6, 1980, Northern Illinois tailback Stacey Robinson rushed for a school-record 308 yards during his team’s 73-18 romp over No. 24 Fresno State. Included in Robinson’s performance was an NCAA-record 287 yards in the first half – 114 in the first quarter and 173 more in the second period.

** On Oct. 7, 1967, Tulsa wide receivers Ricky Eber and Harry Wood became the only receiving duo in NCAA history to record 300-yard performances in the same game. During the Golden Hurricane’s 58-0 romp over Idaho State, Eber had 20 catches for 322 yards and three touchdowns while Wood hauled in 13 balls for 318 yards and three scores. The totals remain the top two single-game outputs in school history, and the combined 640 yards remains an NCAA record for teammates in a game.

** On Oct. 7, 1995, Texas Tech scored a 14-7 upset over eighth-ranked Texas A&M in Lubbock. The Aggies entered the contest with a 29-game Southwest Conference unbeaten streak, but Tech linebacker Zach Thomas returned an interception 23 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

** Also on Oct. 7, 1995, fifth-ranked Ohio State squeezed out a 28-25 decision over No. 12 Penn State in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions grabbed an early 10-0 lead behind the first of three touchdown runs by fullback Jon Witman, but OSU rallied behind quarterback Bobby Hoying, who completed 24 of 35 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns, and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, who scored the winning touchdown with 1:42 to play. Hoying’s performance represents the fourth highest single-game passing total in Ohio State history.

** On Oct. 7, 1996, College Football Hall of Fame coach Wallace Wade died in Durham, N.C., at the age of 94. Wade was head coach at Alabama in 1925 when the Crimson Tide became the first Southern school invited to the Rose Bowl. A guard for Brown during his playing days, Wade became the first man ever to play and coach in a Rose Bowl. His Brown team lost to Washington State, 14-0, in the 1916 game, but his Alabama squad took a 20-19 thriller over Washington a decade later. Wade later coached at Duke – the football stadium there bears his name – and led the Blue Devils to their only Rose Bowl appearance, a 20-16 loss to Oregon State in the 1942 game.

** On Oct. 7, 2000, No. 7 Miami (Fla.) upset top-ranked Florida State, 27-24, when Seminoles kicker Matt Munyon’s last-second field goal attempt from 49 yards sailed wide right.

** On Oct. 8, 1949, Brown set a college football record with 11 interceptions during a 46-0 win over Rhode Island. Bears defensive back Walt Pastuszak grabbed five of the picks, another NCAA single-game record.

** On Oct. 8, 1966, Wyoming kicker Jerry DePoyster made NCAA history during his team’s 40-7 victory over Utah. DePoyster connected on field goals of 54, 54 and 52 yards and became the first kicker in NCAA history with three field goal of 50 yards or more in a single game. The Cowboys went to a 10-1 season in ’66 that included a WAC championship and Sun Bowl victory over Florida State.

** On Oct. 8, 1977, seventh-ranked Alabama squeezed out a 21-20 victory over No. 1 USC when the Trojans scored a touchdown with 38 seconds remaining but their subsequent two-point conversion try failed.

** On Oct. 9, 1943, Indiana quarterback Bob Hoernschemeyer set an NCAA record for touchdown passes in a game by a freshman when he threw six as the Hoosiers took a 54-13 win over Nebraska in Bloomington.

** On Oct. 9, 1976, USC tailback Ricky Bell set new Pac-8 single-game records by rushing 51 times for 346 yards as the Trojans took a 23-14 win over Washington State. It was the first college football game staged at Seattle’s then-new Kingdome.

** On Oct. 9, 1999, Michigan and Michigan State entered their instate rivalry with undefeated records for the first time in nearly 20 years and those in attendance at East Lansing got their money’s worth. The Spartans stormed out to an early lead before U-M head coach Lloyd Carr replaced starting quarterback Drew Henson with backup Tom Brady. Brady went on to complete 30 of 41 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but his rally fell just short as the Spartans held on for a 34-31 victory.

** On Oct. 9, 2004, California QB Aaron Rodgers established a new NCAA record for consecutive completions. Rodgers completed his first three attempts against USC to run his streak to a record 26 completions in a row. Unfortunately, that was all Cal had to celebrate that day. The seventh-ranked Bears dropped a 23-17 decision to the No. 1 Trojans.

** On Oct. 10, 1936, trumpet player John Brungart became the first member of the Ohio State Marching Band to dot the “i” in Script Ohio.

** On Oct. 10, 1987,Oklahoma State took a 42-17 victory over Colorado to open its season with five straight wins for the first time since 1945. Leading the way for the Cowboys was a pair of fairly decent running backs – Thurman Thomas rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown while Barry Sanders added a score on a 73-yard punt return.

** On Oct. 11, 1975, Division II schools Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) and Davidson (N.C.) College combined to set an NCAA single-game rushing record as the Bears topped the Wildcats, 69-14. Lenoir-Rhyne rushed for an amazing 837 yards while Davidson added 202, establishing a new NCAA record with 1,039 combined rushing yards on 111 attempts.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

** The number of undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams has dwindled to 23. Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Northwestern, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina and UTSA are all 5-0, Florida, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia sport 4-0 records, and Cincinnati and Oregon State are 3-0.

** Perhaps the most unusual school among the remaining unbeatens is UTSA, aka the University of Texas at San Antonio. The Roadrunners are only in their second season of existence, going 4-6 last season playing as an independent at the Football Championship Subdivision level. This year, UTSA moved up to FBS as a member of the WAC and the school is already one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. Not a bad comeback for head coach Larry Coker, who was dumped by Miami (Fla.) in 2006 and out of the game until UTSA hired him in March 2009.

** TCU pushed the nation’s longest winning streak to 12 games with a 24-16 win over old Southwest Conference rival SMU. Meanwhile, Tulane got rolled by Louisiana-Monroe to the tune of a 63-10 final and the nation’s longest losing streak moved to 14. The Green Wave is now 0-4 this season and has been outscored by a 171-32 margin.

** How crazy was West Virginia’s 70-63 victory over Baylor? Well, for starters, Baylor QB Nick Florence threw for a school-record 581 yards and that was 85 yards fewer than his opponent. Mountaineers QB Geno Smith didn’t exactly win the Heisman Trophy last week because his team has a brutal schedule upcoming that features Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma one right after the other. But Smith certainly earned a free trip to New York and the Heisman ceremony in December by completing 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. Smith leads the nation in pass efficiency and his four-game stats are off the charts: 141 of 169 (83.4 percent) for 1,728 yards, 20 TDs and no interceptions.

** More on the West Virginia-Baylor game: The teams tied the FBS record for most touchdowns in a game with 19 and set a record for most points scored in a game involving a ranked team. The previous mark was set in 1980 when No. 12 Oklahoma rolled to an 82-42 win over Colorado. West Virginia totaled a school-record 807 yards, the teams combined for 1,507 yards of offense and six receivers had at least 100 yards each. Baylor WR Terrance Williams set a Big 12 record with 314 yards, breaking the record of 303 that was set just a few minutes earlier by West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey.

** Smith isn’t the only Big 12 quarterback winging it around these days. The conference features four of the top five QBs in pass efficiency – Smith at No. 1, David Ash of Texas at No. 2, J.W. Walsh of Oklahoma State at No. 4 and Casey Pachall of TCU at No. 5.

** The only non-Big 12 quarterback among the nation’s top five in pass efficiency is Aaron Murray of Georgia. Murray, who has thrown for 1,370 yards and 12 TDs, plays in the same backfield as the freshman tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The duo combined for 294 yards and five touchdowns during last week’s 51-44 win over Tennessee. Gurley ran for a 51-yard touchdown while Marshall added scoring runs of 72 and 72 yards.

** While Smith was smashing the old Big 12 single-game passing record, Stephen Morris of Miami (Fla.) established a new ACC mark with 566 yards during the Hurricanes’ 44-37 win over North Carolina State. Morris’ performance included a 62-yard game-winner to Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining.

** Another record-setting performance was turned in by the Northwestern offense, which set a new school mark with 704 total yards during last Saturday’s 44-29 win over Indiana. The Wildcats are currently employing a two-quarterback system – junior Kain Colter is the running part of the equation while sophomore Trevor Siemian handles most of the passing. Against the Hoosiers, Colter ran for 161 yards and four TDs while Siemian completed 22 of 32 passes for 308 yards. Nine of those completions went to Colter for 131 yards.

** By the way, Northwestern is 5-0 for the third time in the last five seasons, but the Wildcats haven’t started 6-0 since 1962 when Ara Parseghian was head coach.

** How good is defending national champion Alabama? The Crimson Tide trailed in a game for the first time since last October when Ole Miss took a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter of last week’s game. That lead lasted exactly 15 seconds before Christion Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The Tide went on to post a comfortable 33-14 victory.

** How bad is Arkansas? Texas A&M redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel torched the Razorbacks for 453 yards and three TDs during the Aggies’ 58-10 win. It was the most points ever scored by A&M in 70 all-time meetings with the Hogs.

** Texas Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman might be on a lot of short lists when head coaching vacancies come up this winter. Last year, the Red Raiders ranked 114th nationally in total defense. So far this year under Kaufman, the Double-T defense holds the No. 1 ranking, allowing only 167.5 yards per game.

** Congratulations to Utah State for its first 4-1 start since 1978. The Aggies are looking to go 5-1 for the first time since 1973, but to do that they would have to beat BYU tonight in Provo. Utah State has lost 11 of its last 12 against the Cougars and 16 in a row in Provo.

FEARLESS FORECAST

Someone mentioned to us not too long ago how much easier it was to pick college football winners than trying to bet against the spread. Our reply: No kidding.

After a couple of outstanding years beating the odds, the chickens have come home to roost. Straight up, we were a sparkling 9-1 last week, missing only one of our Upset Specials when Oklahoma State ran out of gas against Texas. Against the spread, we were the ones running on empty at 3-7.

For the season, we are 42-8 straight up, but a dismal 22-28 ATS. Once again, we’ll see what we can do about turning things around.

Here are the games we’ll be watching this weekend.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Buffalo at Ohio: The Bobcats are off to their best start since 1968 when they won all 10 of their regular-season games before losing a 49-42 decision to Richmond in the Tangerine Bowl. Their latest hurdle is Buffalo, which is only 1-3 but sets up to give OU a battle. The game will likely come to a war in the trenches between the Bulls’ running game (203.5 yards per game, 32nd nationally) against the Bobcats’ rush defense (94.0 yards per game, 16th nationally). If the Fighting Soliches can stop the run, it will force the Bulls’ vertically challenged passing game to try and win the game. Ohio owns a slight 11-8 advantage in the all-time series, but the Bobcats have won seven of the last eight played in Athens … Ohio 26, Buffalo 17. (12 noon ET, ESPN GamePlan)

Kansas at No. 7 Kansas State: On paper, this looks like a mismatch. After going into Norman and taking a 24-19 win over then No. 6 Oklahoma, the Wildcats have had an extra week to prepare for the Jayhawks, who are trying to avoid their worst start since 1990. Kansas is also coming off an open week, but its last game featured a 30-23 loss to Northern Illinois, a game in which Charlie Weis’ team surrendered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. K-State has won 12 straight home games against unranked opposition and the Jayhawks have lost 14 in a row on the road. Mismatch indeed … Kansas State 42, Kansas 10. (12 noon ET, FX, DirectTV 248)

No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida: It’s only week six of the season, but this game will likely eliminate one of the SEC’s national championship contenders. LSU has remained undefeated despite all of its talent drain through suspensions, academic problems and injuries and the fact that it commits turnovers and penalties by the truckload. Meanwhile, the Gators have overachieved a bit with a resurgent offense that averages nearly 225 yards rushing per game. The Tigers haven’t exactly been spectacular lately, and head coach Les Miles is only 1-2 lifetime at The Swamp. But LSU still has a ferocious defense that is expected to bring constant pressure on Florida QB Jeff Demps. The Gators want revenge for last year’s 41-11 blowout loss. We just don’t expect them to get it … LSU 20, Florida 16. (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Michigan at Purdue: The Boilermakers have yet to make their Big Ten season debut and already hold a half-game lead over every other team in the Leaders Division eligible for the conference title game. Petey can make a huge step toward a trip to Indianapolis this week if it can figure out a way to stop Michigan’s run game. A year ago, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 170 yards and two scores as the Wolverines rolled up 339 yards on the ground en route to a 36-14 win in Ann Arbor. Purdue has boilered up its rush defense so far this season, ranking fourth in the Big Ten and 23rd nationally by allowing only 106.5 yards per game. But there is that small matter of the Boilermakers’ 14-43 record in the series, although they have split the last six meetings in West Lafayette. The Wolverines’ extra week of preparation gives them the edge … Michigan 31, Purdue 21. (4 p.m. ET, BTN, DirectTV 610)

No. 5 Georgia at No. 6 South Carolina: Here is another heavyweight bout between undefeated teams with control of the SEC East at stake. Two of the nation’s top running backs will be featured – UGA freshman Todd Gurley (536 yards, nine TDs) and Gamecocks junior Marcus Lattimore (440 yards, eight TDs) – and both teams average better than 36 points per game. South Carolina has the better defense, however, ranking sixth nationally in scoring and seventh against the run. Add that to the fact Georgia’s top receiver Michael Bennett tore his ACL on Tuesday and is out for the season, and the Gamecocks would appear to have the edge. But there is history to be considered. The Bulldogs have lost two in a row in the series and have never dropped three in a row since the rivalry began in 1894. Meanwhile, South Carolina is working on a school record-tying nine straight victories overall. Who are we to mess with history? … Georgia 24, South Carolina 23. (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

No. 8 West Virginia at 11 Texas: Defense takes a back seat in this matchup featuring the nation’s top two rated passers. Geno Smith of West Virginia and David Ash of Texas have put up arena league numbers so far, combining to throw for 2,735 yards and 30 TDs while pitching only one interception in 278 attempts. For the Mountaineers, Smith is pretty much the whole show while Ash gets plenty of help from a running game that averages 228.0 yards per game. Defensively, the Longhorns have the edge even though they have allowed 67 points and 975 yards in their last two games. Over the same stretch, West Virginia has given up 84 points and 1,005 yards. Mr. Scoreboard Operator, make sure you’re rested for this one … Texas 52, West Virginia 49. (7 p.m. ET, FOX)

Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 9 Notre Dame: Both of these teams can take a huge step toward reclaiming elite status as they square off at Soldier Field tomorrow night. The resumption of the series once known as “Convicts vs. Catholics” – they haven’t played a regular-season game since 1990 – will feature a potent Miami offense led by QB Stephen Morris (1,635 yards, nine TDs) vs. a smothering Fighting Irish defense that ranks No. 3 in the nation in scoring. Notre Dame has allowed an average of only 9.0 points per game and is the only remaining FBS school that has yet to trail in a game this season. The Hurricanes are the exact opposite – they can’t stop anyone, ranking 114th in total defense … Notre Dame 31, Miami 17. (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

No. 3 Florida State at North Carolina State: Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon has waited a year to get his revenge on the Seminoles. Last year, Glennon threw for only 130 yards, got sacked four times and was intercepted twice as FSU ran away with a 34-0 shutout. This year, Glennon has upped his game, throwing for 1,422 yards and 10 TDs. But he has also pitched six interceptions in five games, and he will be going against a Florida State defense that ranks in the top seven nationally in every major category. Add two of the nation’s best rushers in DEs Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner, who already have 13½ sacks between them, and you get the picture of Glennon running for his life … Florida State 41, N.C. State 14. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, DirectTV 209)

No. 23 Washington at No. 2 Oregon: The Huskies have had nine days to savor their 17-13 win over then-No. 8 Stanford, but they jump squarely from the frying pan into the fire. U-Dub has hung with the Ducks each of the past two seasons, but Oregon still pulled away for big victories – 53-16 in 2010 and 34-17 last year. The Quack Attack is nearly unstoppable in Eugene with 27 wins in its last 28 home games. Autzen Stadium has also been a house of horrors for Washington. The Huskies haven’t won there since 2002, dropping their last five games at Oregon by a combined margin of 207-67. U-Dub is getting better under head coach Steve Sarkisian, but its not quite on par with the Ducks just yet … Oregon 39, Washington 23. (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, DirectTV 206)

No. 21 Nebraska at No. 12 Ohio State: These two teams seem to be mirror images of one another. Both have mobile quarterbacks, both have more-than-adequate running backs and both have defenses which have been known to give up large chunks of yardage. We just keep going back to last year’s game, however, when the Buckeyes were on cruise control with a 27-6 lead at the 10:53 mark of the third quarter and let it slip away. Of course, the outcome would likely have been different had Braxton Miller not gone out with an ankle injury late in the third quarter and Miller’s health should have a similar impact this year. Under the lights at home with a raucous Ohio Stadium crowd behind him – not to mention Urban Meyer pushing the right buttons – we expect the sophomore QB to do his thing and get it done … Ohio State 38, Nebraska 34. (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Here are the spreads for the above games: Buffalo (+16½) at Ohio; Kansas at Kansas State (-23½) ; LSU (-2½) at Florida; Michigan (-3) at Purdue; Georgia (+1½) at South Carolina; West Virginia (+7) at Texas; Miami-FL vs. Notre Dame (-9½); Florida State (-13½) at N.C. State; Washington (+24½) at Oregon; Nebraska at Ohio State (-3½).

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