Big Ten Market Letter #3

They got their bachelor's degree from Florida and their master's from LSU, but Saturday night Southern California handed Ohio State a brand-new degree: the Doctor of Failosophy. Yeesh. What a curbstomping. If you really need me to tell you what to do with the Buckeyes now, I'll be happy to do so, as long as you tell me something first: Who turned the computer on for you?

Don't just sell, pards; eject. There are at least two teams in the Big Ten playing better football than the Buckeyes right now.

I saw a distant early warning last Saturday, and it's wasn't the Ohio-OSU game. It was the fact that South Dakota State beat Youngstown State almost as badly as the Buckeyes did. Sure, Jim Tressel rested his starters when the game was in hand and probably didn't want to show up his former employer too badly. Even if Tressel had rested his starters for the whole game, they ought to be able to out-perform a squad that was playing Division II ball four years ago. You've got problems on offense, Coach, and they're not all in Beanie Wells's shoes.

So where does the savvy investor in the non-existent football futures market go now?

I can't tell you for sure, of course, but I'm putting a strong buy on the Penn State-Wisconsin game October 11. Penn State hasn't necessarily played anyone decent yet, but their offense is scary good, and when have you ever known a Penn State team to have anything less than a great defense?

Wisconsin, meanwhile, has played somebody decent. They had a much better California swing than the Buckeyes did, beating Fresno State in front of an amped-up crowd, and doing it with their standard operating procedure. They're starting to look like Tom Osborne's old Nebraska teams. You know exactly what's coming, but good luck stopping it. I'm not saying the winner of this game wins the conference (especially since Wisconsin will have played Ohio State the week before), but the outcome of that game will definitely help sort some things out.

(Note to the Buckeye fan who's already composing a nastygram for me: I'm not taking your team seriously until I see some evidence that I should.)

Meanwhile, I say hold the Iowa Hawkeyes. Getting over on Iowa State is wonderful, but the quarterback situation is holding me back from saying "buy." What if there comes a day when neither Ricky Stanzi nor Jake Christensen is playing well? However, I'm willing to believe that, if Gene Chizik says your defense is "something else," then it probably is. Eight wins looks a little more achievable than it did before the season, especially if Shonn Greene keeps running well.

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