Look, I might just be a little high coming off the incredible smashing Penn State laid on Michigan this weekend. Sure, all you naysayers are saying, "Yeah but it's Michigan and they suck so bad this year that they lost to Toledo at home. They lost to Notre Dame." To all of you, let me say, when it comes to Penn State v. Michigan, logic rarely prevails. Michigan has had PSU's number for 9 straight previous meetings going back a dozen years. So any victory over Michigan -- despite their reduced circumstances this year -- provides a powerful endorphin rush to any Penn State fan.
So as I said, maybe I'm buzzing still a little bit, but let me try to sort things out. The Big 10 is starting to shake out as being a contest between two teams: Ohio State and Penn State, with the main event coming next weekend at that incomplete stadium in Columbus. Ohio State looked damn impressive against a 6-1 Michigan State team, whereas in previous games this season they've looked anemic on offense. Does this mean Michigan State was an inflated 6-1, or does it mean Ohio State has finally put together its machine? Hard to tell. Michigan State's wins are sort of suspect...they squeaked by a decent Iowa team and beat a not as good as its record Northwestern by 17, but other than that, you don't have any sort of good comparisons. MSU's one loss prior to the Ohio State game was to Cal by seven on the opening weekend.
At any rate, I'd have to say that a 45-7 smoking of a 6-1 team is impressive.
I don't see Penn State or Ohio State losing more than one Big 10 game, so whoever wins this game next weekend will win the Big 10. After the home game against PSU, Ohio State plays on the road v. Northwestern and Illinois, then finishes the season back home against Michigan. Fans of both Michigan and Ohio State are fond of pretending that in that rivalry game records don't matter, but let's not fool ourselves: Michigan has about as much chance of winning that game as McCain has of carrying Washington, DC. As for Penn State, following their date at the Horseshoe, they visit Iowa, then have home games against Indiana and Michigan State. I'm looking at Iowa as their toughest challenge of those three.
All of that preamble is something of a roundabout way to say that in January I expect to see Texas against either Penn State or USC...with an outside shot that Florida may be involved. Sorry, Alabama, but shaky wins against Ole Miss and Kentucky mean you will not finish undefeated, and a late season loss is always more damaging than an early season loss.
Why will Texas go undefeated, you ask (I'm revamping my predictions from a week ago)? Well, I'm looking at the fact that Texas is now midway through the heart of the Big 12 schedule. On the face of it, the Big 12 looks impressive, with Texas having to run a gauntlet of five top 25 teams (3 of them top ten) all in their own conference, but I think the last two weeks have exposed Missouri as a paper tiger that should have been ranked no higher than 18th this year, and Kansas's inexplicable top 25 ranking has been built on wins against -- get this -- Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State, Iowa State, and Colorado. They've lost to Southern Florida and Oklahoma. Only one of the teams Kansas has beaten -- Colorado -- has ever in its history been identified with major college football. Oklahoma State's undefeated season will end harshly next week against Texas -- talk about a house of cards. I see Texas winning that matchup by thirty or forty. No, make that forty or fifty. Undefeated Texas Tech should be ashamed of their schedule...their one win against a quality team -- a team that historically is good but is down on its luck this year -- is Nebraska, and it took them overtime to do it.
I just don't see anyone in the Big 12 capable of beating Texas.