The USA Today Coaches' Poll is out, and Penn State is moving:
9. Nebraska (from 13)
13. Michigan (from 17)
15. Penn State (from 19)
16. Michigan State (from 10)
17. Wisconsin (from 11, and from 4 two weeks ago)
Lou Holtz, for as much hate as he gets on the internet, isn't incapable of saying obvious but insightful things on television. Yesterday's comment, which could have been about any of the wild matchups involving a ranked team yesterday, said simply "you get a different team every week in college football." And it couldn't be more true. Unfortunately for Penn State, we seem to get a different set of coaching philosophies also, but the solution to the problem is the same: don't try to understand what you're watching.
Penn State was the seventh-highest vote getter in the Big Ten after week four; they're now the third or fourth best team, depending on who you ask. The highest ranked team on the conference was Wisconsin, who for a while looked unbeatable...
...then switched to Michigan State, then to Nebraska. Unbeatable Wisconsin falls from fourth to 17th in just two weeks. There are no rules, people. Anyone can have this thing, it's just a matter of showing up.
And even that's not necessarily required. Penn State effectively forfeited the second quarter with Rob Bolden taking just about every snap. I want Bolden to succeed, just like every Penn Stater, but each of the last several weeks the commentators say he looks like a distant second-best option in practice, which is then displayed on the field during live action. But we don't need four quarters to win in this league, just a fantastic defense.
I mean look at this, folks. There are no typos in these BCS projections:
BCS Standings projections, Week 10: 1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Stanford, 5. Boise State, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Oregon, 8. Arkansas, 9. South Carolina, 10. Virginia Tech, 11. Nebraska, 12. Houston, 13. Michigan, 14. Kansas State, 15. Penn State.
Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State. Corn, Corn, Pig. Penn State is the highest ranked team in the division and, even if they falter over the last three games, not to be written off for an at large bid if the wind blows right.
And so far the wind is blowing oh so right. Big Ten Division Standings:
Penn State 5-0
Ohio State 2-2
Michigan State 3-1
That's what we baseball fans call a 2.5 game lead. It's also called a backloaded schedule. We suffer though the bye week and then face the leader of the Corn Division (for now), then the top two teams in the Pig Division on the road.
The Roadmap to Indy. So while we shouldn't have any allusions about being able to beat Alabama in a rematch, the optimistic scenario from last week:
And think about this: if Penn State is able to beat Illinois, Nebraska at home and an Ohio State team they seem to match up well against, a Wisconsin loss before the Penn State game renders the finale in Madison irrelevant, which could be an interesting twist on the quarterback rotation end game.
...just became more probable. Penn State can go 2-1 in any order and the Roadmap to Indy is a Charter Plane to Indy. And that's assuming Wisconsin doesn't totally pack it in after two devastating losses (Remaining: Purdue, Minn, Illinois, PSU) and that Ohio State's gets nothing but consistency out of a true freshman quarterback and can handle Michigan on the road.
Penn State will take a week off, rest up Moye, switch to a four-quarter game plan, and be just as likely to win the Big Ten as anyone else. Whoever said being mediocre wasn't fun every once in a while never experienced just how far mediocrity could get you in the right environment.