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The Ohio State team preparing to play No. 3 Penn State in the Horseshoe on Saturday night (ABC, 8 ET) is not the same team that lost at USC, 35-3, on Sept. 13. This team yet may be penalized for the sins of its elders, the Buckeye teams of 2006 and 2007 who played great up to, but without a doubt not including, the BCS National Championship Games.
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A healthy Beanie Wells has made a big difference for the Buckeyes.
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The Trojans have given Pete Carroll much to smile about lately.
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Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers walk into their bye week at 4-3.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at email@example.com.
1. Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips plans on interviewing five or six head coaching candidates after the season. But Phillips told interim coach Dabo Swinney he can "earn" the job if the Tigers finish strong. Swinney impressed South Alabama athletic director Joe Gottfried when he interviewed to become the Jaguars' program-starting head coach last year. "He's a sharp, young guy," Gottfried said. "He had a lot of things we were looking for."
2. The five BCS conference teams with the longest bowl droughts are, in order, Vanderbilt (last bowl: 1982), Baylor (1994), Duke (1994), Arizona (1998) and Stanford (2001). Four of the five are at .500 or better this season, and Baylor is hanging in there at 3-4. All of that in the same season in which Michigan, with the longest bowl streak in the country at 33 seasons, is going 2-5 and looking as if it will not play in the postseason. Weird.
3. Along the same lines, look at the NCAA rushing statistics: The top three teams are Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt), Nevada (WAC) and Air Force (Mountain West). Rushing stats used to look like the Social Register of college football. Only the powerful need apply. Now only three teams in the BCS top 10 rank among the top 20 rushing teams: No. 2 Alabama (19th), No. 3. Penn State (10th) and No. 6 Oklahoma State (fifth).
Beano Cook joins Ivan in the ESPNU College Football Podcast to discuss the first BCS standings of the season, some title-game scenarios and more. Listen
It may not be fair to ascribe a season's worth of problems to one statistic, but this one will pique your curiosity: Indiana led the Big Ten last season with 19 interceptions. This season, the Hoosiers only have one, by junior free safety Nick Polk.That could be a reason Indiana, which last season played in its first bowl in 14 seasons, is 2-5 and takes a five-game losing streak into its home game Saturday against No. 22 Northwestern. The Hoosier defense misses corner Tracy Porter, an all-conference player who made six picks last season. And then there is the case of all-conference defensive end Greg Middleton, who led the nation with 16 sacks in 2007. He has one sack and 10 tackles in six games this season. Middleton missed the opener, serving a suspension for violating team rules. The Hoosiers do have 14 sacks, which could mean that the attention that offensive lines are paying to Middleton has left holes elsewhere. However, opposing quarterbacks have a pass efficiency rating of 146.29, which sounds like they are getting plenty of time to throw. And the Indiana defense can't get off the field. Opposing offenses are holding the ball nearly 33 minutes per game and converting almost 40 percent of their third downs. So Indiana's downfall isn't just on the secondary. But going from 19 interceptions to one forces you to take a look.
Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie, who sounds like the kind of political science professor I wish I had had, tracked the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry back to 1932. In years in which Texas has won or tied, the Democrats have been 8-3 (72.7 percent) in presidential elections. When the Sooners have won, the Republicans have won six of eight (75 percent).I ran the numbers back to 1932 on the Notre Dame-USC, Ohio State-Michigan, Georgia-Florida, Clemson-South Carolina and Army-Navy rivalries, and back to 1948 on Auburn-Alabama (the Crimson Tide and the Tigers didn't play from 1907-47). Only one other trend emerged: When Democrats win the presidential election, Alabama is 6-0 against Auburn. Given that Alabama is looking to break a six-game losing streak to its biggest rival, Tide fans may root for a Democratic victory. Given that the state of Alabama is redder than red, they may not. But check this out: going back to 1932, when a Democrat wins, Navy is 5-4-1; When a Republican wins, Army is 4-4-1. The armed services remain neutral, as always.