Numbers indicate a No. 1 vs. No. 2 on Nov. 18
Two wins. It's all that separates us from, by my count, the third "Game of the Century" we will have had the good fortune of watching in college football this calendar year. How does this work? Do we then willingly accept two straight centuries with no games of note as some sort of payback? Just one more precious resource our descendants will be cursing us for wasting.
Anyway, close calls against Illinois and Ball State aside, the numbers tell us we have a really, really good shot at seeing No. 1 vs. No. 2 next week in Columbus.
29-1: Michigan is 29-1 against Indiana in the two teams' past 30 meetings. The Wolverines have won 14 in a row in the series, with their last loss coming in 1987.
If you're someone who's hoping to see the whole thing get messed up -- the numbers provide some faint glimmers of hope for the Hoosiers and Wildcats. Extremely faint. Really, barely visible.
1994: The Hoosiers are a respectable 5-5. They did finish with five victories as recently as 2001, but had to win their final two to do so. This is the earliest in a season they've had five wins since 1994, the last year IU finished with a winning record.
228.3: Northwestern's offense has shown signs of returning to form after a massive regression early in the year. Since C.J. Bacher became the starter at quarterback three games ago, the Wildcats have averaged 228.3 passing yards per game with three straight games of more than 200 passing yards.
120.7: Northwestern averaged 120.7 passing yards per game in its first seven games, with no 200-yard passing games.
1935: Even before they meet in Columbus next week, the Buckeyes and Wolverines already have made history. This marks the first time a conference has had two 10-0 teams at the same time since 1935, when TCU and SMU started 10-0 in the old Southwest Conference. The Mustangs claimed a 20-14 victory in the Game 11 head-to-head showdown.
4: Although Michigan and Ohio State are flourishing, the other team that figured to challenge for the Big Ten title is floundering. Iowa is one of just four programs to have played in a January bowl game in at least four straight seasons, but that streak seems almost certain to end for the Hawkeyes.
The other three? USC, Georgia and Florida State, which has played in 15 straight January bowl games. Only the Trojans seem to have a legitimate shot at continuing the streak.
By the way, with the International Bowl now being played in Toronto on Jan. 6, 2007, and the GMAC Bowl being held Jan. 7 in Mobile, Ala., are we obligated to count those games among the January bowls? If so, is it just me or does the whole concept of playing in a January bowl lose just a bit of its mystique?
The other six? Georgia Tech, Michigan, Florida, Southern Mississippi, Toledo and Miami (Ohio). Obviously, Georgia Tech, Michigan and Florida are safe, and Southern Miss looks pretty good. The RedHawks' run is over, though, and the Rockets have their work cut out for them.
6: One explanation for the Seminoles' woes -- aside from the one regarding Jeff Bowden that FSU fans seem partial to -- is Florida State's youth movement. The 'Noles have played 17 true freshmen and started six. That's the most to start since 1976, which was Bobby Bowden's first season in Tallahassee.
1959: A loss to Wake Forest this week would mean more of the type of history Florida State isn't looking to make. The Demon Deacons have lost 17 straight games in the state of Florida -- a streak that dates back to a season-opening win over the 'Noles in Tallahassee in 1959.
A win would keep the Demon Deacons on pace for that showdown for the ACC Atlantic title we all predicted in the preseason: Wake at Maryland on Nov. 25.
17: Wake's four conference wins have come by a combined total of 17 points, which means they're blowing people out when compared with the Terps.
12: Maryland has won its four ACC games by a combined 12 points. The Terps have won four straight games by six or fewer points -- the first time in school history they have pulled that off.
+3: Turnover margin has been one major explanation for the Terps' recent run. Maryland is plus-3 in that category during the four-game win streak and hasn't turned it over more than once in any of those four games.
-7: The Terps were minus-7 in turnovers in their first five games and had more than one turnover in three of those contests.
204: Speaking of avoiding turnovers, Notre Dame's Brady Quinn has thrown 204 passes without an interception. Quinn has thrown 19 TDs and just one INT since the Irish's loss to Michigan.
77th: The four schools left on Hawaii's schedule (Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Purdue and Oregon State) have an average rank of 77th nationally in pass efficiency defense, meaning Brennan has a great shot at putting up some big numbers down the stretch.
37: For a little perspective on Brennan's achievements, consider that these nine teams have combined for 37 TDs or two fewer than the Hawaii QB has thrown all by himself -- Navy, Florida International, Colorado, Arkansas State, Duke, Arizona, Air Force, Kansas State and Southern Mississippi.
1,002: While we're on the topic of ridiculous passing numbers, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell apparently has gotten a feel for the Red Raiders' offense. Harrell has thrown for 1,002 yards in the past two games. That's more than Air Force and Navy have thrown for combined all season and equal to Louisiana-Lafayette's season total.
21: Harrell threw for 519 of those yards in a loss to Texas, win No. 20 in the Longhorns' 21-game Big 12 win streak. That equals the school record for consecutive conference wins set between 1968 and 1971, when the Horns ruled the Southwest Conference.
9: Texas has now won at least nine games in nine straight seasons -- longest streak in the nation. Miami entered the season tied with the Longhorns with eight straight nine-win seasons, but the Canes would need to win out and win a bowl game to keep that streak alive.
27: One big explanation for the Longhorns' success is the rapid development of QB Colt McCoy. McCoy is second in the nation in passing efficiency behind only Brennan. (I'll go out on a limb here and say it's statistically the best ever season for QBs named Colt.) McCoy has thrown 27 TD passes, two shy of the NCAA freshman record set by Nevada's David Neill in 1998.
20: The Horns' likely opponent in the Big 12 title game also is getting a historic year from its QB. Nebraska's Zac Taylor has thrown 20 TD passes, tying a 30-year-old school record held by former Super Bowl QB Vince Ferragamo.
207, 171.7: A&M is coming off a narrow 17-16 loss to Oklahoma, thanks in large part to another outstanding game from the Sooners' Allen Patrick, who ran for 173 yards on 32 carries. In an interesting twist, OU has averaged 207 rushing yards in the three games since Heisman candidate Adrian Peterson went down with a broken collarbone. The Sooners averaged 171.7 rushing yards in their six games with Peterson.
215, 150: Sooners fans are still steaming over their controversial loss to Oregon back in September, when Ducks QB Dennis Dixon threw for a career-high 341 yards. Dixon threw for 215 or more yards in each of Oregon's first five games, but he hasn't come close to that total since, throwing for 150 or fewer in each of the Ducks' past four outings.
17-0: Oregon faces USC this week in the first of three straight games against ranked teams for Pete Carroll's crew. A USC loss in that stretch would be a first for Carroll -- he's a perfect 17-0 in November as the Trojans' coach.
63: Carroll's team seems to be back on track after its loss to Oregon State. Actually, USC got back on track during its loss to Oregon State, scoring the final 21 points of the game. Including that stretch, the Trojans have scored 63 straight unanswered points.
108: Which isn't to say the Trojans don't have some obvious flaws, primarily their running game, which ranks just 49th nationally and mustered a mere 108 yards on 32 carries against Stanford for an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Doesn't sound that bad, until you realize the Cardinal were giving up a national-worst 252 rushing yards per game coming in and 5.4 ypc.
The Trojans are the only team to beat Arkansas this year. The Hogs are involved in one of the marquee matchups this weekend, when they host Tennessee. Gerry DiNardo, Todd McShay and I will be broadcasting ESPN Radio's "College GameDay" live from Fayetteville.
It'll be a classic contrast in style. Arkansas loves to pound the ball down its opponents throats; Tennessee thrives on the passing game. It's also a chance to see two of the better dynamic duos in college football:
163.9: Vols wide receivers Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain average 163.9 receiving yards per game between them, which is third best in the nation behind only Chris Williams and Derek Dubois of New Mexico State (174.7) and Robert Johnson and Joel Filani of Texas Tech (164.6).
We'll see whether the injury and possible absence of Vols' QB Erik Ainge slows down their attack. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton looked more than capable last week against LSU, but Ainge has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Vols' offense this season.
194.7: Meanwhile, the Razorbacks' Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are the second most productive rushing tandem in the country this year, averaging 194.7 yards per game, trailing only West Virginia's tailback-quarterback combo of Steve Slaton and Pat White, who average 244.9 yards per game.
Can't wait to get to Arkansas. It will be the eighth SEC campus we have visited in my six years hosting the radio show. Every single one of them has been a mob scene -- we'll see how the Razorbacks' fans stack up.
We're setting up our stage outside something called the Center for Excellence in Poultry Science. I fear for the poultry. DiNardo, who owns an Italian restaurant, has a new cacciatore recipe he's really itching to try.
Tune in to ESPN Radio on Saturday, starting at noon ET, to see how it all goes down.
Dave Revsine is the host of "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio. Listen every Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. ET as Gerry DiNardo, Todd McShay and Revsine break down the action.
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