Penn State fans may want to laugh it up that Ohio State got humiliated by USC, but that game did more harm than good for the Nittany Lions and the Big Ten.
The conference endured a bad weekend, further damaging its national reputation. Many pundits don't see the Big Ten as an elite league anymore, and who can blame them?
Not only did the Buckeyes get crushed, 35-3, but:
n Wisconsin was mediocre at best in struggling to a 13-10 win at Fresno State. The Badgers are 3-0 and ranked No. 8 but have yet to play a good game from start to finish, and they have three losses written all over them.
n Illinois barely held on for a 20-17 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, a team that lost to Southern Miss by 30.
n Michigan was expected to be down this year, but a 35-17 pounding at Notre Dame shows the Wolverines have all kinds of problems.
n Purdue had a chance to make a statement for the Big Ten but blew a 20-3 lead and lost to No. 16 Oregon, 32-26, in double overtime.
Let's play out a scenario. Yes, it's very premature, but what the heck.
Say Penn State, which crushed Syracuse on Saturday, 55-13, is for real, keeps pounding opponents week after week and goes undefeated. What would happen?
There's a good chance the Lions would not be playing in the national championship game.
A lot of people want to compare this year's offense to the awesome 1994 unit, and it would be painfully ironic if PSU once again was shut out of the title picture like it was 14 years ago.
Ohio State's bad loss and plummet down the rankings, plus the lack of respect for the Big Ten, would not help Penn State's cause.
Beating USC would have vaulted the No. 5 Buckeyes to No. 1, and a good showing would have kept them in the top five or six. Instead, the blowout dropped them to No. 13 in The Associated Press poll and No. 14 in the USA Today coaches poll.
Penn State is now ranked 16th and 15th, respectively. Even if the Lions beat Ohio State and Wisconsin, neither of those opponents may be ranked high enough to help PSU make a big enough leap in the polls.
If USC and any highly ranked Southeastern Conference or Big 12 team goes undefeated, those squads will be ranked 1 and 2 in the BCS. Shoot, even BYU, South Florida and Texas Tech are ranked higher than Penn State and could stay that way by going undefeated.
All right, we're getting ahead of ourselves with the undefeated talk, but hey, it's always fun to think big picture.
The good news for Penn State is the Buckeyes don't appear to be as strong as advertised. That makes a win in Columbus on Oct. 25, a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth seem like better possibilities.
The bad news is the Lions don't play Ohio State for another six weeks. By that time, Beanie Wells will be back from his injury, all-everything Terrelle Pryor may be the starting quarterback and Jim Tressel might have fixed all the problems.
As for Wisconsin, that team appears to be overrated. Penn State, which throttled the Badgers last season, 38-7, certainly has the potential to go into Camp Randall and bite the Badgers on Oct. 11.
SUBHD: Afterthoughts ...
n Wow! Syracuse is awful. The Orange have proven all it takes is one horrible hire - in this case head coach Greg Robinson - to cripple a program that had been pretty good for 15 years.
n The Lions set a record with 166 points in their first three games, surpassing the mark of 165 set in 1926. The explosive 1994 team scored 155 points.
n Penn State has scored at least 35 points in the first half of three straight games, the first time they've done that since, of course, 1994.
n Talk about balance. The Lions are the only team in the nation averaging more than 270 yards passing and 260 yards rushing per game.
n Penn State opened up as a 27-point favorite over Temple.
n The Owls could end up as the toughest opponent on the non-conference schedule. They're 1-2 but with tough losses to Connecticut and Buffalo, which threw a 35-yard TD pass on the final play for a 30-28 win Saturday.
n A limited number of tickets remain for the Temple game as the Owls returned a portion of their unsold allotment. Tickets can be purchased by calling 865-5555 or at gopsusports.com.
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.