The game of the weekend (surprise!) doesn't involve the Hoosiers. It is No. 3 Penn State v. No. 9 Ohio State. There is more on the line here than the lead in the Big Ten football race.
There is national significance, not just because Penn St. needs to win to keep pace with Texas and Alabama, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, but to show the Big Ten is more than a doormat, also ran conference.
Already, the pundits are talking about how Penn St. could lose this game and how they'd be forced to consider Ohio State for the BCS title game again. After two straight blow-out losses, the Buckeyes don't have much clout left as a national championship contender. But yet after five straight wins, the word is Ohio State could make it back to the big game again. It is getting so bad that ESPN.com writer Ivan Maisel was compelled to write this column.
The IU season is over, so I am becoming a Big Ten fan. That means rooting for Penn State this weekend. Pundits, and more importantly writers and voters, tired of the Buckeyes getting spanked in big games. If the Nittany Lions stay undefeated, they may be able to gain a little more respect for the conference and will have a better shot at getting in the national championship game.
If there is only one undefeated team and two one-loss teams to chose from, there is no way Ohio State gets the nod over say, Texas or Alabama. But a one-loss Penn State team (with a win over Ohio State) has a much better chance. On the flip side, an undefeated Penn State team would hold a lot more weight in the remaining weeks of the season over two one-loss teams.
For once, the eyes of the Midwest won't be fixated on the Ohio State-Michigan game as we near Thanksgiving. Instead, we will be watching Penn State-Michigan State game, and wondering whether 1994 will repeat itself.
Yes, that Penn State team also went undefeated, including a convincing win in the Rose Bowl. But they did not get a piece of the title. Nebraska was the consensus No. 1 team. I saw them play IU in Bloomington that year. That team was special, even if they couldn't blow out the Hoosiers.
I just hope the Lions get some respect from the voters this year. It would be a crime to see them run the table twice in the Big Ten and get nothing both times.