“Success against weak Big Ten teams has not only been a means to a bad end in title games, but it might have created something of a mirage of football power. Rankings or no rankings, these failures now raise the question of whether OSU has ever truly been a top-five team the past three seasons.” — Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch after Ohio State’s 35-3 loss at Southern California
1. No. 1 and Only: When Southern California thrashed Iowa, 38-17, in the Orange Bowl six seasons ago, it was just the tip of the iceberg for what Pete Carroll’s program would do to future opponents in big games. The Trojans’ 35-3 savaging of Ohio State was a full-blown Titanic for the Buckeyes.
“We expected to dominate, and that’s what happened,” USC defensive tackle Fili Moala said. “If we come to play like this every week and stay humble, no one’s going to touch us.”
Way to stay humble, Fili.
2. Two Blowouts: First Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis had his knee blown out when he inadvertently got rolled up by Irish defensive tackle John Ryan. Then his team finished off a 35-17 rout of Michigan.
Weis tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee on the fluke collision.
“I feel like an athlete,” the rather rotund Weis said after the game. “First time in my life.”
“I feel terrible,” Ryan said after the game. “I apologized to him three or four times during the game. I feel awful. I won’t sleep at all tonight.”
Asked if he were still on scholarship, Ryan said, “I hope.”
3. Viva Nevada-Las Vegas: Iowa State may be fighting the odds in Las Vegas come Saturday night.
UNLV is on a roll. It went to 15th-ranked Arizona State as a 23-point underdog and came home with a 23-20 overtime win.
“Sometimes, it comes down to heart and desire over talent,” Rebels running back Frank Summers said. Mike Sanford’s first three UNLV teams won two games each. If the Rebels beat ISU in Vegas, they’ll be 3-1.
“The victory is great,” Sanford said. “We’re thankful and grateful for it. But if we go get blown out by Iowa State, nobody will remember it. This next game is as important or more than the one we just played.”
4. Mountain Do: “Most weekends, Vegas’ upset would rank as a highlight,” wrote Dave Curtis of Sportingnews.com. “Saturday, it was just decoration.”
See, the Mountain West Conference had its best football weekend in its 10-year existence. It went 7-1 against nonconference foes and 4-0 against the big, bad Pacific-10. Besides UNLV’s great win, TCU mauled Stanford, 41-17. New Mexico downed Arizona, 36-28. And Brigham Young brutalized UCLA, 59-0.
“That was probably one of the most fun games I’ve ever been a part of,” said BYU quarterback Max Hall after he threw seven touchdown passes against the Bruins. “It almost seemed at some points like my job was easy.”
1. Buckeye Black Eye: Ohio State is the Big Ten’s football ruler. Thus, Big Ten football is held in low national esteem today.
That 35-3 loss at USC was the latest of OSU’s flops in huge games. The Buckeyes bombed in the last two national title games. Don’t look for them to get a third straight chance.
“I can’t believe that we screwed up so badly,” OSU left tackle Alex Boone said. “I thought this team made it clear after the national championship game — all the gassers we ran, and all the running we did that we weren’t going to mess up anymore. Apparently, that wasn’t evident.”
Running is one thing. Keeping up with superior talent is another. Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register wrote this:
“It was supposed to be the Collision at the Coliseum, but it wasn’t. To have a collision, both objects must be moving.”
2. Black and Blue: Don’t bother yelling “Go Blue!” to Michigan’s football team this week. The Wolverines are blue enough after their debacle at Notre Dame.
Michigan, once a football program of note, fumbled seven times in South Bend, losing four. Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press summarized it neatly:
“The 35-17 loss to Notre Dame was a morass of missed opportunities, poor decisions and atrocious fundamentals.”
“We don’t have our heads down because we know who the better team was,” Michigan defensive back Steve Brown said. “They beat us today. It happens, but in our hearts we know we’re the better team.”
No, the better team would have scored 35 points, not 17.
The Hlist doesn’t believe in ghosts, but will stay out of Ann Arbor this week all the same. The spirit of Bo Schembechler, rest his soul, could be out and about with a fury.
3. Rat Pac: The Pac-10 has USC. Oregon’s pretty good, too.
That’s about it.
The league went 3-7 last weekend. UCLA, Washington and Lehman Brothers Holdings all had their worst week since 1929. UCLA’s 59-0 loss to BYU was its worst defeat since ’29, and Washington’s 55-14 loss to Oklahoma was its worst home loss since the year of the Great Depression.
Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said Wildcats senior quarterback Willie Tuitama “played as bad as I’ve seen him play” in their loss at New Mexico.
Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson’s reaction to losing at home to UNLV: “It’s sickening.”
4. No Offense, But …: Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2
“I am an old defensive coach so I was liking it a little bit but I wish we had scored a few more points,” Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville said.
“Coincidentally,” wrote Steve Hofstetter of Doghouseboxing.com, “3-2 are the odds that both teams will never score again.”
“That’s the big problem, having to sort through those five big guys to find where he is. When they all come off at one time, they look like a herd of water buffalo stampeding at you and there’s a gazelle somewhere in behind them.” — Florida Atlantic Coach Howard Schnellenberger on Michigan State’s offensive line and running back Javon Ringer. Ringer carried 43 times for 282 yards in MSU’s 17-0 win over Schnellenberger’s Owls.