The Pulse: No. 1 vs. No. 2

Updated: September 11, 2006, 1:58 PM ET
Friday, Sept. 8

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.

Friday's Big Questions

1. Is Ohio State at Texas the biggest game of the year?
2. Did Nick Saban cost the Dolphins a win by not challenging fast enough?


Troy Smith.
It doesn't get any bigger than No. 1 vs. No. 2. And we're only in Week 2 of the college football season.

All eyes will be on Austin come Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC) as the Buckeyes take on the Longhorns. A win could propel a team to the national championship and a loss, while early, could prove disastrous and derail possible hopes of winning it all. Texas will be led by redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy who is stepping into the enormous shoes of Vince Young who was a Heisman finalist last season and led Texas to its first national championship in 35 years. Ohio State will counter with senior signal-caller Troy Smith who could be just as dangerous with his legs as with his arms.

SportsNation, who voted Ohio State No. 1 in the preseason, is picking the Buckeyes to upset the Longhorns in their own house. They also say it will be the biggest game of the regular season and the winner will indeed play for the national championship.

  • 75% Texas vs. Ohio State is the biggest game of the regular season
  • 76% The winner will go on to play for the national championship.
  • 39% The loser will be out of the championship mix.
  • 77% Texas has the edge on defense.
  • 80% Ohio State has the edge of offense.
  • 61% Would choose Jim Tressel over Mack Brown for a big game.
  • 58% Ohio State will beat Texas

    From what I've read, Texas has nine returning starters on "D", and Ohio State has only one or two. Even though Colt McCoy is a freshman starter, he has help all around him, like the best "O" line in the nation in front of him, Charles in the back and Sweed on the WR slot. Texas will win by two touchdowns.
    Wade Clifton (Tyler, TX)

    Everyone is saying how good Texas' front seven are but has anyone seen OSU's offensive line? They look like men amongst boys. I see over 200 rushing yards and if we get that, nobody beats us!
    Azzie (Columbus, OH)

    Everytime I hear a promo for the OSU vs. Texas game on ABC or ESPN or on SportCenter, Texas is mentioned first. Texas gets talked about more. Everyone is making a huge deal of them going up to No. 2 but we're still No. 1!
    HD Handshoe (Willard, OH)

    I believe Garret Wolfe is an extraordinary back and he is due his props BUT if you watched the Buckeyes, the defense almost went into a prevent defense once they were up so yes he got a ton of yards but after the game was in hand. The real test will be against Texas this week.
    Dan (Tampa)

    I'm tired of hearing about OSU-Texas! It might be the most overhyped game in years. Neither will play for the national championship.
    Bob (Pittsburgh, PA)


    Nick Saban
    This is one play Nick Saban wishes he could have back. And he has no one to blame except for himself. OK, maybe one other person  the referee.

    During the fourth quarter of Monday night's season opener against Pittsburgh, Saban watched as Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch hooked up with tight end Heath Miller for a 78-yard touchdown catch. Saban watched it again on replay and saw Miller go out at the three-yard line. He hesitated before throwing the flag and when he finally did, the referee didn't see it. The play stood and it proved to be the deciding score in the Steelers 28-17 victory.

    Was Saban to blame? Or should the referee have been in better position to see the flag?

  • 70% Saban is to blame for not throwing the flag fast enough

    Saban throws like a girl. He's going to catch a lot of flack for that one. TAKE ME OUT COACH!
    Jeff (SoCal)

    Someone should send Nick Saban the Tom Emansky video so he can make his challenges known.
    Sarge (Overland Park, KS)

    How can the NFL have a system where the coach is either supposed to run down the field and get the refs attention, or run out onto the field? Ridiculous. Not that Saban helped himself, but he threw the flag. Had Parcells or Cowher done that, and not got the replay, they would have went off on the refs.
    Jeremy (Boston)

    I'm SO glad Saban didn't pull that kind of weak stuff when he was coaching Michigan State.
    Tim (NYC)

    I think Saban is going to employ a cannon next time to send out the challenge flag.
    Greg (CT)


    Thursday's Big Questions

    1. How special was Wednesday's no-hitter in Florida?
    2. Which team will get off to a good start in the NFL opener?


    A. Sanchez.
    Where were you when you saw your first no-hitter?

    For most, it's a trick question. One day after Florida rookie Anibal Sanchez pitched the first no-hitter in the majors since 2004, two out of three SportsNation voters admitted they had never been lucky enough to see a no-no from start to finish, even from the comfort of their couch. Perhaps that's why nearly three our of four voters also said they would rather see a no-hitter than a batter hit four home runs in the same game, an occurrence that is statistically far less likely.

    Of course, judging from the crowd in Florida for Sanchez's gem, Wednesday's game didn't do much to up the number of fans lucky enough to see one of the game's most memorable feats.

  • 73% Would rather see a pitcher throw a no-hitter than a batter hit four home runs
  • 67% Have never watched a no-hitter from start to finish, in person or on television.

    Let's review what the Red Sox gave up this past offseason in young talent: a pitcher who threw a no-hitter, a SS who will finish in the top of the ROY voting, a relief pitcher who has pitched almost 30 consecutive scoreless innings, a catcher hitting over .320 and the best 3B prospect in the game. Good job, Red Sox front office, hopefully this offseason will be a little better.
    John (Portland, Maine)

    So if a tree/Marlins pitcher falls down/throws a no hitter, and no one is there to see it, does it make any noise/count as a no-hitter?
    John (Wisconsin)

    Hopefully in 15 years Sanchez winds up closer to Nolan Ryan than he is to Bud Smith on the no-hitter spectrum.
    Brian (Madison, Wisc.)

    Gotta love the feel-good Marlins; they play hard, yet have a manager on the hot seat. And then a 22-year-old rookie comes out and throws the first no-hitter in MLB in over two years. That's why sports are great!
    Jboss (Princess Anne, Md.)

    I was amazed that the ESPN jinx didn't go into effect last night. It seems that every time they switch over to a no-hitter, the no-hitter is lost with the next batter.
    Jon (Malvern)

    The fact that Joe Girardi is on the hot seat is further proof that the Marlins' owner has no clue.
    Clinton (Indianapolis)

    With a team that hardly anyone goes to watch and has a LOW payroll yet is successful, the Marlins remind me of that friend you have that hardly ever works, doesn't draw that much attention from the ladies when you are out, yet still some how snags hot girlfriends from somewhere all the time.
    Nate (Madison, Wisc.)


    Charlie Batch
    Labor Day has come and gone, and that means fall and football are in the air, no matter what the temperature says.

    The Dolphins visit the Steelers on Thursday night to open the NFL season, giving Daunte Culpepper and Charlie Batch a spotlight all their own. Wait, Charlie Batch? With starter Ben Roethlisberger out of action, the Steelers are forced to turn to Batch, a journeyman backup. Perhaps that's why despite the good vibes sure to be pouring out of the stands in Pittsburgh, most SportsNation voters predict Culpepper and the Dolphins will score a key road win.

  • 60% Miami Dolphins will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night

    Dolphins win tonight! Roethlisberger's out, and I hate the Steelers.
    Derek (Cleveland)

    I have been thinking Miami all offseason, and then big Ben goes down and everyone is thinking Miami. Now I'm leaning toward the former champs.
    Daniel (Greenville, N.C.)

    Pittsburgh wins. They have the better team, and Ben really isn't that important. If Batch can look decent, will Pittsburgh fans shut up about Ben being an all-star QB? He's DECENT, okay?
    John (Georgetown, Ky.)

    Steelers win. Dolphins fans will soon understand my pain as a Vikings fan.
    Lee (Dallas)

    Daunte will get injured during the third series by a blitzing Joey Porter. Joey Harrington comes in and goes 13-27 for 132 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
    Nick (Washington, D.C.)


    Wednesday's Big Questions

    1. What did the opening weekend do to SportsNation's Top 10?
    2. Who is the early frontrunner for the Heisman?


    Brady Quinn didn't impress voters in his debut.
    When is a win not really a win? It's not an existential question to ponder while mediating on a mountain; it's reality for Charlie Weis and Notre Dame after a 14-10 win against Georgia Tech.

    The Fighting Irish avoided the upset against the Yellow Jackets, but SportsNation voters weren't impressed with team or its star quarterback. Notre Dame ranked behind Ohio State, Texas and USC in this week's fan poll, but the news was even worse for Brady Quinn. The overwhelming choice as preseason Heisman favorite, Quinn found himself looking up at Troy Smith, Adrian Peterson, Ted Ginn Jr., and Steve Slaton in this week's Heisman rankings.

    As for that big showdown in Austin this weekend? Early results have 58 percent of voters siding with the Buckeyes on the road.

    SportsNation Heisman Race
    1. Troy Smith
    2. Adrian Peterson
    3. Ted Ginn Jr.
    4. Steve Slaton
    5. Kenny Irons
    6. Brady Quinn
    7. Calvin Johnson
    8. Garrett Wolfe
    9. Jonathan Stewart
    10. Chris Leak

    SportsNation Top 10
    1. Ohio State
    2. Texas
    3. USC
    4. Notre Dame
    5. Auburn
    6. West Virginia
    7. Florida State
    8. LSU
    9. Tennessee
    10. Florida

    Cal stinks, Tennessee is back, Notre Dame is overrated.
    Neal (Philly)

    How about what we all already knew: Notre Dame is OverRated with a capital O and a capital R.
    Matt (Fairfax)

    Welcome back college football -- average margin of victory for the Top 25 was 27 points. What a snooze.
    Shaun (Madison Wisc.)

    A 7-1 overall record this weekend for the Big East. Pitt slams UVA, Rutgers takes down UNC at Chapel Hill. Anyone willing to give the conference a little respect?
    Chris (Hartford, Conn.)

    Stud to Kenny Irons from Auburn. 180 plus yards on the ground, 40 yards receiving, and numerous broken tackles.
    Joe (Huntsville, Ala.)


    Tuesday's Big Questions

    1. Is Tiger today's most dominating athlete?
    2. What is the real single-season home run record?


    Tiger should wave as he blows by the rest of the PGA Tour.
    Tiger Woods is doing the seemingly impossible. Again.

    Continuing a streak he began at the British Open, Tiger won his fifth straight tournament (including two majors) last weekend after coming from three strokes behind to outlast Vijay Singh at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The win once again opens up the debate over which athlete is the most dominant of our time.

    Despite SportsNation's quibbling over whether golfers are truly "athletes", Tiger comes in a close second behind Michael Jordan and comfortably ahead of Lance Armstrong.

    Who is the most dominant athlete of this era?
    39% Michael Jordan
    34% Tiger Woods
    18% Lance Armstrong
    8% Wayne Gretzky
    2% Barry Bonds

    I don't see how anyone could come in ahead of MJ, but Tiger's pretty much the next best thing.
    Josh (Chicago)

    Guys in team sports have help from their friends when things get bad. All Tiger has is himself. He dominates from an island and that's impressive.
    Peter (New Hampshire)

    I'd say Tiger is the most dominant "player". Any "sport" where a guy like Phil Mickelson can be good can't demand much athleticism.
    Jeff (MN)

    As an early 20-something Tiger and Lance were the only ones that were in their prime in my lifetime. Therefore the vote came down to those two for me.
    Brian 2 (Madison, WI)

    Are you really going to tell me Tiger isn't enough of an athlete to compete in other sports? Have you seen the dude? Might be the only real athlete on the Tour.
    Will (D.C)

    Tiger doesn't play a sport, and therefore should not be in the discussion for most dominant athlete.
    Neal (Philly)

    Wayne Gretzky at 8 percent? Unbelievable. If you don't know sports, don't vote. Gretzky: Most. Dominant. Athlete. Ever.
    Sledge (Bham, AL)

    Sampras should be in the poll and Bonds shouldn't. To be the most dominant you should have to have WON something!!
    Tim (ATL)

    Not a question, but an observation: Pete Sampras was left out of your most dominant athlete question. Without a doubt, "Pistol Pete" deserves some consideration and should be mentioned with the likes of Jordan, Woods, and Gretzky.
    Kenneth (Tallahassee, FL)

    Where the hell is Roger Federer in this Poll. He is more dominant than Tiger!!
    Pablo (Barcelona, Spain)


    Where would Howard rank with 62 or more homers?
    Second-year Phillies slugger Ryan Howard hit four homers in the last two days, increasing his single-season team record to 53 and, by extension, fueling the debate about what number truly represents the major-league single-season record.

    Roger Maris held the mark at 61 until both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa passed him in 1998. Sosa hit more than 61 in two other seasons and Barry Bonds set the official record with his 73 dingers in 2001. But all of those seasons have come under suspicion and scrutiny because of allegations of steroid use.

    Does that controversy mean Maris still holds the true single-season record? If baseball is entering, by it's own admission, a new era in terms of testing performance-enhancing drugs, are the seasons above null and void? And if Howard should get to 62 home runs this season will he be the single-season champ in the minds of the fans?

    According to SportsNation the answer to both questions is "Yes", though some citizens of SN have their reservations.

    Which do you consider the single-season record for home runs?
    64% Roger Maris' 61 in 1961
    36% Barry Bonds' 73 in 2001

    Would you consider Ryan Howard the single-season record holder if he hits 62 home runs?
    52% Yes
    48% No

    I most certainly choose to ignore those seasons by those 'cheaters'. Let's remember, Howard is playing his first full season in the majors and look at all his accomplishments. If he topples 62, that would be the icing on the cake because he's also going to win NL MVP.
    Josh (Philadelphia)

    In my opinion, Howard is only nine home runs shy of breaking the single-season record of 61. This is the year Maris' record is truly in jeopardy for the first time ever!
    Mike (Cherry Hill)

    I will not forget the high numbers of the past. With the increase in gyms, shrinkage of the strike zone, better equipment and better hitters ballparks, I consider all newer numbers inferior to those legends of the past who did it the hard way.
    Joey (Fort Worth, TX)

    I would definitely consider Howard the leader. To me, Roger Maris is still the champ. Barry and Mark are users, and Sosa is a known cheater and a possible user (his weight went down after the different drug scandals around the league.) Howard is doing it the right way, the honorable way.
    A fan (Atlantic City)

    Oh, please. How do you know Howard hasn't used PEDs? Have McGwire, Sosa or Bonds ever tested positive? Bonds has the record at 73 until someone proves or disproves the points above.
    Rich (Vergennes)

    This is ridiculous. Nobody talks about taking wins away from people like Gaylord Perry, who openly flaunted the spitball rule (which gives pitchers a clear advantage). If you pick and choose which records to keep, then you destroy the integrity of the record books and the legacy of the game.
    John (Matawan, NJ)

    If we don't have any proof of foul play during those years, only suspicion, we have to honor those records. What about "innocent until proven guilty"? Don't get me wrong, I would like to see the records taken away if it is proven that the parties involved were cheating. But until that happens, we have only suspicions of wrongdoing.
    JK (INDY)

    Although I have my doubts, without evidence or admission of guilt, the marks set by Bonds, McGwire and Sosa must be recognized. It pains me to say it, though.
    Sal (Port St. Lucie, FL)


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