Posted on: November 5, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 8:51 pm

Insane Predictions, Week 10

Posted by College Football Blog staff

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Baylor would ride a huge performance by Robert Griffin to upset Texas OH WAIT JERRY HINNEN NAILED THAT. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.

Highly Unlikely

Missouri finds itself in some trouble during the second half of their game against Texas Tech.  It seems Tommy Tuberville finally has things working on both offense and defense as the Red Raiders hold a 10-6 lead midway through the third quarter.  It's Missouri ball when Blaine Gabbert finally has the Missouri offense moving for the first time all day.  Then, facing a first and 10 at the Tech 17-yard line, a blitzing linebacker comes free on Gabbert's blindside and levels him. Gabbert coughs up the ball, it's scooped up by the Raiders, and taken back for a touchdown.  Gabbert gets happy feet for the rest of the game, short-arms every pass at his receivers' feet, and Mizzou never recovers.  Texas Tech goes on to win 20-13. -- Tom Fornelli

Severely Unlikely

Hawaii, feeling unusually frisky after beating Army and thumping Fresno State and Utah State all on the mainland, comes out for their game at Boise State wearing black leather Mad Max-inspired "(Road) Warriors" uniforms, complete with body armor and small spikes on their helmets. As a result, their pregame haka comes across as even more threatening and unnerving than usual, and the rattled Broncos wind up mostly standing around and watching as Bryant Moniz and Greg Salas connect for four first-half touchdowns and a 28-10 (Road) Warrior lead. Unfortunately, at halftime the officials convene and after a close perusal of the rulebook, declare Hawaii's uniforms totally illegal. The (Road) Warriors are told to either change uniforms or forfeit the game. They opt to simply go without uniforms, taking the field in pads, shirts, shorts, and cleats. The Broncos, unfortunately (for them), are nearly as unnerved by this as the Mad Max look, and fall behind 42-13 before a furious rally falls short, 42-41, handing Boise their first loss on the blue turf since, somewhat ironically, the last year Mel Gibson was considered cool. -- Jerry Hinnen

Well That's Just Absurd

Illinois storms into the Big House and Ron Zook continues his Zooker Redemption Tour with a 45-10 shellacking of the Michigan Wolverines. A wearied Rich Rodriguez answers a few questions at his post-game news conference before a familiar face stands up to ask a question. Why, it's Michigan athletic director David Brandon! Much to the annoyance of the collected media personnel, Brandon lobs a softball by asking Rodriguez to comment on his recent exoneration by the NCAA, which RichRod dutifully answers with the usual vague but positive coachspeak. At that point, Brandon responds that he doesn't actually care about the report, and that Rodriguez is fired, effective as of five minutes ago. RichRod exhales for the first time in three years. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is installed as interim head coach, but only so Brandon can have the pleasure of firing a coach and his successor in the same day; Robinson's tenure at Michigan ends seconds after it begins. Brandon then announces Jim Harbaugh as the next Michigan football head coach ... which comes as a total surprise to Harbaugh, who must then face the awkward task of declining the offer on account of his Stanford team's season not being even close to over. USC coach Lane Kiffin volunteers for the job instead, surprising nobody, and promises at his hiring the next day to "stay in North Arbor for years. That's what the 'N' in 'N. Arbor' means, right? North?" Michigan fans strain to avoid crying in public. -- Adam Jacobi

Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:25 pm

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 10

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.


Main Course - #19 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Baylor - 12:30pm - FSN

I don't believe it.  After weeks of barren morning slate after barren morning slate, we actually get a matchup of two ranked teams this Saturday morning.  Surely my complaints have finally been heard and answered by the college football gods.

Granted, a game between Baylor and Oklahoma State doesn't usually carry such cache, but this should turn out to be a very fun way to start your Saturday, and chock full of calories otherwise known as points.  Just do the math.

Both teams have high-powered offenses ranked in the top ten nationally, and both teams have defenses ranked in the lower third of the country.  Which means it's going to look like a tennis match watching Robert Griffin and Brandon Weeden lead their teams back-and-forth down the field.  If the prospect of possibly seeing 100 points scored doesn't do it for you, then I just don't know what I can do for you.

Side Orders:
There's quite a bit of mediocre Big Ten fare on Saturday morning as the conference's power teams beat up on the nerds and goth kids, but one Big Ten game that may deserve your attention is Michigan and Illinois.   The Illini are one of those teams that is a lot better than you think they are, as they're 5-3 and all three of those losses have been close contests against teams currently ranked in the top 15.  Though I suppose you might want to tune in to see Florida destroy Vanderbilt, or see how much money Chattanooga offers Cam Newton to stop running over them.


Main Course -#6 Utah vs. #4 TCU - 3:30pm - CBS College Sports

For years, many a college football fan has clamored for a playoff to determine the national championship.  We're not exactly close to getting one, but if ever there was a game that may as well be considered a playoff game, this is it.  Oh, and it also features two teams who happen to be ranked in the top 5 in the BCS right now.

Those games don't come along very often in the regular season.

Whichever team wins this game basically assures itself a BCS bid, and strengthens its case to play for the title once the year is over.  Plus, considering that Utah is bound for the Pac-12 and TCU may be heading east, this may be the last time we get to see these "mid-majors" square off during the regular season.

So take the time on Saturday to figure out where CBS College Sports is on your cable system and enjoy this one.

Side Orders: Now you all have CBS, so if you're not into that whole Mountain West thing, you could always turn to the mothership and watch Alabama take on LSU.   The winner remains alive for the SEC title, and the loser is done.  Oh, and you can watch the game while chatting with yours truly over on our Facebook page.   Football and Tom Fornelli making smart-assed remarks to your honest questions?  What gets better than that?  Certainly not Oregon disemboweling a Jake Locker-less Washington team, or Penn State and Northwestern duking it out for fourth place in the Big Ten.


Main Course - #10 Stanford vs. #13 Arizona - 8pm - ABC

Stanford's chances to win the Pac-10 are somewhat slim at this point considering its already a game behind Oregon, and that its sole conference loss is to Oregon, but hopes are not dead yet.  However, if they lose to Arizona on Saturday night they are.  The same can be said for the Wildcats, who trail Oregon by a game as well but still get to travel to Eugene at the end of the month. 

If Arizona loses this one, it's in the same boat as Stanford, and we may as well crown the Ducks champions on Sunday morning.

The good news for Arizona is that it won't need to rely on its backup quarterback as Nick Foles is expected to return, which means we get a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10 as Foles squares off with Andrew "Jim Harbaugh's Other Wife" Luck.

Side Orders: There are some other nice choices on Saturday night if you prefer to try something else.  South Carolina looks to keep its lead in the SEC East against the cannon of Ryan Mallett and Arkansas.   Missouri will also look to keep its BCS hopes alive when it travels to Texas Tech, and I suppose you could tune in to see if Texas can lose yet again against Kansas State.

Late Night Snack

Not much to dine on late this week, though if you're desperate for more football at the end of the night, you can tune in to see if Lane Kiffin can distract Matt Barkley a few more times against Arizona State.   If nothing else, you might get some awesome Ace of Base action, and who doesn't want more Ace of Base in their beautiful life?
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:30 pm

Kenjon Barner to play vs. Washington

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The "as if Oregon needed another weapon" lead-in is so obvious in a story like this it ought to be avoided, but Oregon has so many weapons it's worrying to think what they might do with them if we go with a different one, so: As if Oregon needed another weapon, Kenjon Barner is back to full strength :
Nearly a month [after his injury vs. Washington State ], after Barner took and passed the required post-concussion tests, he is expected to play again for the first time since the injury when No. 1-ranked Oregon meets Washington in a 12:30 p.m. game, Saturday in Autzen Stadium ...

Barner said when he steps between the lines, he will play hard, fast and not spend a nano-second worried about the possibility of injury.

“You can’t think about that come gametime,” he said. “If you’re thinking about that, that’s all you’re going to be focused on. And that would affect the way I would play.”
Not that the Huskies -- blitzed 41-0 by Stanford in Seattle just last week -- had much hope of escaping Autzen with a victory in the first place, but having a healthy Barner at Chip Kelly 's disposal clearly won't help matters. All Barner has done this season in his limited time behind LaMichael James is rush for 147 yards on just 14 carries against New Mexico , return a punt for a touchdown against Tennessee , average better than 108 all-purpose yards in his six games and 11.4 yards per touch.

But none of that honestly matters much for Washington, who was always going to be Duck roadkill. The bigger story of Barner's return -- and his shaking off the rust he may claim not to have, but likely does, given that he admits to being "nervous" about playing again -- is what it means down the road for the Ducks' tests against Arizona and at Cal and Oregon State .

And what it means is that the chances of Oregon being thrown off stride, say, by a James' injury or an off-night for a slot receiver or Kelly not being able to use that one play where he really needs Barner -- and losing some place between here and Glendale -- are worse than ever.

Posted on: November 3, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:06 pm

Minnesota is shooting for the stars

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Halloween was four days ago, but it seems that Minnesota refuses to take off it's costume.  It decided to dress up as a big-time football program this year, and go from coach's door to coach's door offering each one the opportunity to take over for Tim Brewster.

So far in the Minnesota coaching search we've heard some big names.  Guys like Tony Dungy, Mike Leach and Phillip Fulmer have all been mentioned as possible targets for the Gophers.  Well, while it is somewhat delusional for Minnesota to think that it's the type of school that a coach would view as a step forward in their career, the Gophers want you to know that we've only seen the beginning of their delusions.

According to a report in the Pioneer Press, the Gophers have three other targets atop their list.

At least the University of Minnesota is shooting high in its quest for a new football coach.

A little birdie says the Gophers have targeted, in order of priority, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh and Texas Christian's Gary Patterson to replace the fired Tim Brewster.

It seems unlikely any of the trio would leave what he has built for a gigantic rebuilding challenge at Minnesota.
Look, everyone!  Minnesota thinks it's people!

Seriously, while I admire Minnesota shooting for the stars in its search for a new coach, who exactly is it trying to kid here?  Chris Petersen is at a program like Boise State that doesn't seem to have much in its way to a BCS bowl game every season, and if he chose to leave Idaho, he'd have his choice of just about any program in the country with an opening.

Why would he choose Minnesota?

Then you have Jim Harbaugh, who might be looking to leave Stanford for a job in the Big Ten, but that job is in Ann Arbor, not Minneapolis.

Gary Patterson is in much the same boat as Peterson, but it's possible that TCU could be moving to the Big East in the future, which would basically be a guaranteed trip to a BCS game every season as well.  Plus, Minnesota considered Patterson before hiring Brewster, and he wasn't all that interested then, so why would he be now?

I get why Minnesota is going this route.  First of all, you never really know.  If they drive up to one of these coaches homes with a Brinks truck full of cash, someone might just say yes.  It also looks good to the fan base that the school can say they tried to land the big name coach.

But it's not going to happen.

Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:21 pm

Rough weekend for injured Pac-10 quarterbacks

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You would think that a 41-0 loss to Stanford and a 35-7 loss to Oregon State would be enough bad news for one Saturday for Washington and Cal . Unfortunately for both teams, injuries to their starting quarterbacks mean that you'd think wrong.

For the Huskies' Jake Locker , the problem is a cracked rib that had already suffered a hairline fracture before being further exacerbated by the rough treatment from the Cardinal. Though the oft-injured Locker should be able to return before missing too much action -- the early indications seem to be that he could return for the Nov. 18 meeting with UCLA , meaning he'd sit out only one game -- the timing for Washington truly could not be worse, as this week's schedule sends the Huskies to Eugene to take on No. 1 Oregon .

Taking Locker's place will be redshirt freshman Keith Price , who'll be making his first career start at Autzen Stadium and will likely triple his 9 career passing attempts. Best of luck, Keith.

Things could be so much worse for Washington, though, as the knee injury suffered by Cal's Kevin Riley early in the Bears' loss in Corvallis illustrates. When even your head coach isn't really holding out hope for your return ...

Tedford acknowledged that the injury was serious, saying, "Right now, it looks a little bit more serious than just your everyday sprained knee" ...

"He was in a lot of pain," Tedford said. "He came off the field with tears in his eyes, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with his disappointment. He felt like it was pretty significant. Kevin is a tough guy. It's unfortunate."
... things are not looking good. An MRI today should confirm the extent of Riley's injury, but if he's torn a ligament, the fifth-year senior's career at Cal will be over.

Replacing Riley will be junior Brock Mansion , who completed 14 of his 24 passes against the Beavers (including a late touchdown) but for only 5.8 yards an attempt. Mansion's a seasoned veteran compared to Price; he has 32 total career attempts.

The good news for the Bears is that Jeff Tedford has a strong track record of developing college quarterbacks, and that Mansion will have at least a week to get his feet underneath him against hapless Washington State . But unless Mansion is a stunningly quick learner (or Riley ends up OK), any hope of the Bears scoring the upset of the season when Oregon visits Nov. 13 has probably gone out the window.

Posted on: October 31, 2010 2:28 am

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 30)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon is much more likely to make it to Glendale than not. The Ducks aren't home free just yet; that season-ending trip to Corvallis to face Mike Riley 's Oregon State team won't be easy, and God only knows what kind of Cal squad Oregon will face when they travel to Berkeley Nov. 13. But after the Ducks dismantled USC 53-32 in Los Angeles Saturday night, neither of those hypothetical stumbling blocks (to say nothing of, say, Arizona 's chances to win at Autzen Stadium) look nearly imposing enough to expect Oregon's season to end anywhere but the BCS national championship game.

The Trojans had a ton of factors working in their favor: a bye week to prepare, a red-hot quarterback, an unusually-lively Coliseum, and most of all the desperation that comes with knowing that this was their best shot at being a team that mattered this season. They called it their bowl game for a reason. And it was enough to propel them to a 32-29 lead after two shirt-field touchdowns early in the third quarter, just as Stanford had used an early burst to lead in Autzen. But just as Ducks had done against the Cardinal, the array of weapons at Chip Kelly 's disposal -- LaMichael James in the running game, Jeff Maehl and Lavasier Tuinei in the passing game, Darron Thomas in both -- simply overwhelmed their ever-weakening opposition as the second half progressed. Oregon scored the final 24 points of the game and finished with 597 total yards.

They are relentless, they are operating on all their proverbial cylinders, and even their allegedly soft defense -- always worse for the statistical wear thanks to the offense's hyperdrive tempo -- held the previously scorching Matt Barkley to a mediocre 5 yards per pass attempt and USC under 400 total yards for the game. Unless they badly underperform the same night the Golden Bears or Beavers stupendously overperform, they will become the first Pac-10 team other than their Saturday victims to play for a crystal football.

2. USC isn't going to be anything more than a middle-of-the-pack Pac-10 team until they learn how to stop the run. The charge frequently leveled at Monte Kiffin as his defenses first at Tennessee and now Southern Cal have struggled is that the 70-year-old defensive coordinator isn't sharp enough any more to adjust to the modern spread offense.

There might be something to that, given the 588 yards given up to Hawaii in USC's season opener and the 597 yielded to the Ducks. But the Trojans' biggest problem is a lot simpler: they're getting crushed up front. LaMichael James went for 239 rushing yards and the Ducks for 311 as a team. Stanford ? 193 yards, 5.4 a carry. Washington ? 225 yards, 6.6 a carry. That's not a matter of Kiffin's schemes or a misunderstanding of the spread; that's a matter of the Trojan defensive front just getting shoved around. Until they mature and start clogging up lanes in the middle of the field, USC's defense is going to continue to flail no matter what Kiffin does.

3. Cal isn't the only Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit in this conference. Speaking of Washington, the last time we saw them at home they were edging a good Oregon State team in overtime. While not many people were expecting them to upset Stanford, to get throttled 41-0 in Husky Stadium is an embarrassment ... and baffling considering how well they played just two weeks ago. With road trips to Oregon and Cal still to come and the Huskies wallowing at 3-5 overall, it doesn't look like this is the year just yet for Steve Sarkisian to break his team's eight-year bowl drought.

Arizona State , meanwhile, rebounded from losing to 33 points at Cal to shut out previously-improving Washington State 42-0 .

4. But Cal is still the original and most committed Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit. The Golden Bears trailed by 28 at halftime and lost 35-7 at Oregon State, as Kevin Riley had to be helped off the field in the first quarter. One of Cal's eight games have been decided by fewer than 21 points.

5. UCLA is as much a mess as ever. The Bruins looked to have their ship righted when they went on the road to upset Texas , but it turns out going on the road to upset Texas isn't that big a deal. And in the meantime, they've been humilated by Cal and Oregon and could have been by Matt Scott (319 yards, 71 rushing) and Arizona. A series of Wildcat failures in the red zone kept UCLA close, but getting outgained by 284 total yards and rushing for just 2.5 yards a carry at home is a sign that goes well beyond worrying. Another home loss this coming weekend, to Oregon State, and Rick Neuheisel will be staring a four- or even three-win season in the face.

Posted on: October 29, 2010 3:22 pm

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 9

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Doctors have long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but these doctors obviously didn't have the Saturday Meal Plan in mind when they came up with that load of poop.  I mean, the morning slate has been pretty light all season, but this week?  Wow, it's barren.  I wouldn't normally ever say this, but if there was ever a Saturday morning to get all those chores around the house done that you've been putting off, this would be it.  Besides, you're going to need some room in your stomach to eat all the candy you decide to keep from the trick or treaters on Sunday.

Still, if you insist on it, here are your options.


Main Course - Cincinnati vs. Syracuse - Noon - ESPNU

See?  I told you.  I wouldn't normally recommend the Big East to anybody, but this really is the most important game on Saturday morning.  Syracuse has been one of the bigger surprises of the season, and if you ever want to check them out without sacrificing better games, than this week is your best chance to do so.

Both the 'Cuse and Cincinnati are still very much alive in the Big East race, and the conference does still get that automatic BCS berth, so I guess that makes this game worth your time. 

Side Orders: I suppose that when Jacory Harris is playing quarterback for Miami there's always a chance that the Hurricanes could be upset, so I guess that's reason enough to tune into Miami and Virginia on Saturday morning.  Or you could go with Illinois and Purdue!   Oh how exciting that will be!  Though, truth be told, Illinois is one of those teams that may be a lot better than is record indicates.  I would have made Kansas State and Oklahoma State the main course, but since it's not being televised nationally, I just couldn't.  Still, if it's on in your area, I suggest finding it.


Main Course - #14 Nebraska vs. #7 Missouri - 3:30pm - ABC

Unfortunately, the two biggest games of the day will be played at the same time on Saturday afternoon.  It was tough to choose between the two for the main course, but since the winner of this one is basically a lock to win the Big 12 North, I chose this.

Missouri jumped out last weekend and showed the country that they are, in fact, a legit undefeated team by knocking off Oklahoma, but this game may be even tougher.  It's one thing to defend your home turf, it's another to go into a hostile environment and take down a strong Nebraska team.

Well, unless your Texas, but the Longhorns are stuck in some kind of bizarro dimension this season.

If the Tigers can win in Lincoln, then barring something crazy, they'll continue climbing the BCS rankings and reach the Big 12 title game undefeated with the conference and possibly a shot at the national title on the line.

Side Orders: Of course, if the Big Ten is more your thing, then you can't go wrong with Michigan State and Iowa.   This game is the last true roadblock between the Spartans and an undefeated season, as they don't have to face Ohio State this season.  Also, while the Hawkeyes lost last week, they're still in the hunt for the Big Ten title as well, but a loss in this game would wipe away all hopes.  Or maybe you'd prefer Georgia and Florida.   The game doesn't have the normal hype considering neither team is ranked right now, but whoever wins this game has a good shot to win the SEC East.  The loser is just about done.


Main Course - #24 USC vs. #1 Oregon

This is your best option on a Saturday night that is a little light compared to the last few weeks, but anytime you get a chance to watch Oregon play, you should take advantage of it.  This team is just fun, and considering the amount of smack that has gone back and forth between the Ducks and Trojans this week, it's that much better.

If the Ducks annihilate USC on Saturday night, they also have a chance to impress those computers and jump Auburn in the BCS rankings.   Also, since USC isn't allowed to go bowling this season, or win the Pac-10, they don't have much left to play for aside from possibly knocking the Ducks out of the title game.

Side Orders: ABC's other prime-time game this weekend is Ohio State and Minnesota.   Seriously, the only thing I have to say about that game is pray you get Oregon and USC in your area.  If you don't, flip on over to Ole Miss and Auburn because watching Cam Newton run over dudes is always a good time.  There's also Washington and Stanford, or you can check out Penn State and Michigan.   In other words, there's nothing fantastic, but there is plenty of quality on Saturday night.

Late Night Snack

Odds are that it won't be televised in your area, but if it is, take some time out to watch TCU and UNLV.   Believe me when I say that TCU is just as good as Boise State or any of the other undefeated teams in college football these days, they just don't get as much national television exposure.  So, if you can, do yourself a favor and find this one.  It might just change your mind about who should be playing for a national title, and who shouldn't be.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:33 pm

Below the Radar: three other games to watch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern)

East Carolina (5-2, 4-0) at UCF (5-2, 3-0) , 3:30 p.m. It's a straight-up, head-to-head battle for first place in Conference USA 's East division, but there's plenty of other reasons to pay attention to what ought to be the C-USA game of the year. With Houston 's Case Keenum out for the season and Southern Miss having already lost to ECU at home, these appear to be the best two teams in the conference; the Pirates have the league's best nonconference win, over Florida State conquerors N.C. State , but UCF boasts C-USA's stingiest defense by a mile. Both teams have brand-name playmakers in elusive ECU quarterback Dominque Davis and explosive UCF defensie end Darius Nall. Thus far this season ECU has specialized in winning barnburners (51-49 over Tulsa , 44-43 over Southenr Miss) and this should be another tight contest on the road in Orlando, but with starting quarterback Rob Calabrese out, expect the Golden Knights to play things as close to the vest as possible.

Cal (4-3, 2-2) at Oregon State (3-3, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. His brother may be lost for the season, but any time Jacquizz Rodgers suits up for the Beavers, it's worth paying attention to. Beyond that, despite their nonconference losses at TCU and Boise State , the Beavers can still have a major say in the Pac-10 race with a win here; they'll play host to both USC and Oregon and must still travel to take on Stanford . Cal, meanwhile, has been more up-and-down than a yo-yo taken for a bungee-jump. After destroying Arizona State a week ago (a week after being destroyed at USC), they'll be expected to fold at Corvallis. But if you look past the margin of defeat, there's no particular shame in losing in Los Angeles, or at Arizona or Nevada . Both teams will still feel like their season to-date is a success with a win ... but both might also start to feel like the year might be a lost cause with a loss. The game promises to be a turning point for both.

Michigan (5-2, 1-2) at Penn State (4-3, 1-2), 8 p.m. It's pretty simple: at some point, Rich Rodriguez must start winning Big Ten games that aren't against Indiana to keep his job. (Against all other Big Ten teams, he's lost his last 11 in a row.) There's no time like the present, what with the Nittany Lions giving a sophomore walk-on his first start and their banged-up front seven looking like an excellent matchup for a fully-armed and operational Denard Robinson . On the other sideline, last week's win at Minnesota stopped the bleeding for Joe Paterno and Co., but a second straight home defeat to one of the conference's middle-of-the-pack teams -- particularly one with a Swiss cheese defense like the Wolverines' -- is not going to sit well with the Happy Valley faithful. Both teams will feel like they have reason to win this game, and as with the matchup above, the victor will wind up with plenty of reason to feel good about itself going forward. But the loser is going to have some very, very difficult questions to answer.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com