1. After tonight, I just don't see much argument with Ohio State being the top team in the country. Iowa isn't a very good team, or at least they aren't right now (what is it with Ferentz teams in September, anyway?), but Ohio State has now played two night games against jacked up opponents and they've won convincingly both times. Drew Tate is not a bad quarterback and the Bucks' defense made him look foolish. What'll be interesting to me is how Vegas reacts to Ohio State covering week after week. Could we see the first 60-point spread in recent memory this week when the Bucks host Bowling Green, a team that lost 38-3 at home to Kent State? How high does the spread have to be for Vegas to be confident that they'll get even money on the two teams for the game? The last top-ranked team I can remember that consistently exceeded Vegas's expectations like this was the '96 Florida team, which made a lot of money for my roommate Josh and bought a lot of happy riblet platters at Applebee's. I'd be perfectly happy for this Ohio State team to play out the regular season like '96 Florida did, right down to the crushing loss to the arch-rival in the last game of the season.
2. Speaking of Ohio State's Newman, I have a hard time recalling an instance in which an announcer was openly rooting against a team quite like Mike Patrick was against Michigan tonight. I try to avoid the "this guy hates us!" schtick, unless we're talking about a grand conspiracy by several networks against one conference, but Patrick went as far as to proclaim that Michigan gets all the calls because they're the big boy and Minnesota isn't. Bear in mind that this is the same guy who partners with Dick Vitale for just about every Duke home game. Something tells me that he's not making the same statements about the one team that just about every neutral agrees gets a ludicrous number of calls. In fairness, though, Mike Patrick would be risking playing Sergeant Pembry to Vitale's Hannibal Lecter if he pointed out that it isn't a charge when a Duke player sets underneath the basket after the opponent has already taken off.
Tuberville = Stalin, Vitale = Lecter, I'm on a roll here. Could I find a shot of Himmler in a sweatervest, perchance?
3. Looks like I was wrong about that whole "Virginia Tech is underrated" thing. I expected their offense to struggle a little this year, but I didn't realize that their normally excellent defense would capitulate like it did against Georgia Tech. Maybe the loss of Jimmy Williams is a really big deal, which is a somewhat comforting thought as a Falcons fan. Barring a surprising collapse by the Jackets (always a possibility, although Reggie Ball is looking like he's finally turned a corner) or Miami suddenly deciding that they ought to block their opponents once in a while, Tech looks very likely to win the Coastal Division. They'll probably lose at Clemson, but it's hard to see them losing to Maryland, Miami, UNC, NC State, or Duke. Then again, it was hard to see them losing at home to NC State last year.
4. If you want to know why Michigan and Notre Dame fans have such contempt for Michigan State, this is why:
The Spartans inevitably give the Irish and Wolverines their absolute best shot (OK, maybe not every time) and then proceed to lay an egg shortly thereafter, destroying the value of beating the Spartans in a close game or, G-d forbid, losing to them. Want evidence? I'm glad you asked:
2005 - State beats Notre Dame and loses to Michigan in overtime, then loses five of their last six and misses a bowl game.
2004 - State loses to Notre Dame by seven and Michigan by eight in three overtimes, then loses three of their last four and misses a bowl game.
2003 - State beats Notre Dame and loses to Michigan by seven, then loses three of their last four to finish 8-5.
2002 - State loses to Notre Dame by four on the Dillingham to Battle miracle, then completely collapses. For once, their collapse comes in time for Michigan to pummel them so only Notre Dame was penalized for playing a tight game with Good Sparty.
2001 - State beats Notre Dame and Michigan, then loses three in a row and finishes 7-5.
2000 - State beats Notre Dame and loses 14-0 to Michigan, then loses two of their last three, including a blowout loss to a dreck Penn State team that leaves State ineligible for a bowl.
1999 - State beats Notre Dame and then the second-best Michigan team of the Carr era before losing its next two games by a combined 54 points. In an anomalous occurrence, State halts its downfall to finish 10-2 so losing to them wasn't a total embarrassment.
In other words, Michigan State is the worst possible opponent for a major program: talented enough to pull an upset when motivated and with a chip on their collective shoulder when pitted against the two teams their players would have played for if they had the ability, grades, and/or felony-free transcript to merit an offer, but so scatter-brained that they'll promptly go out the next week and lose to Cumberland. Thus, there's no credit for beating them and it's a huge embarrassment to lose to them. How does one explain "we lost to a team that couldn't beat Illinois"?
5. Why is it that Alabama's offense is so much less than the sum of its parts. The Tide have reasonably competent receivers, a sharp-looking young quarterback (I'd take John Parker Wilson over Brodie Croyle in a heartbeat), a tailback who looked better and better as the game went on today, and a line that blocked surprisingly well against the Gator front. So how is it that Bama managed all of two field goals? The Tide had the leading passer, runner, and receiver in the game today...and lost by 15. Makes no sense. Fortunately, the Tide gets to lick their wounds this weekend with a game against Duke. I actually watched a little of the Duke-Virginia game today, possibly because I thought I might hallucinate and think it was 1989 and the teams were playing for the ACC Title. Anyway, my conclusion is that Duke is the worst major conference team ever. I felt bad for the announcers, who had to act like every play that gained more than a yard was a major event for the Devils. They surely wanted to be honest and say things like "gosh, you don't always see a team fumble the exchange on a quarterback sneak" and "that guy had some solid I-AA offers that I bet he wishes he took," but professional ethics prevented them from doing so.
5a. Duke is terrible, but Stanford might give them a run for their crappy money. I watched about 15 seconds of the UCLA-Stanford game tonight and heard the following proclamation: "that's the first punt that Stanford has forced this year." In case you're wondering, Stanford had played four games before tonight. The Duke offense against the Stanford defense would be a enuch trying to score with Paris Hilton.
6. For those wishing to compare the SEC and Pac Ten, note the following:
Washington State 14
Washington State 22
Oregon State 13
Arizona State 21
6a. And before I hear the retort, yes, Georgia's offense is really, really bad. You could see Richt sorta throwing his hands up tonight by tossing just about every receiver into the game to see who could catch a ball. Georgia is either sandbagging in a major way for the Vols or there's going to be a whole lot of "Good old Rocky Top, WOOO!!!" from the upper upper deck on Saturday night.