EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan's Mike Hart rolled his right ankle.
Illinois rolled over at Iowa.
And Ohio State is just plain rolling.
Just another wild and crazy Saturday in the Big Ten.
With Kentucky upsetting No. 1 LSU 43-37 in three overtimes and Cal falling to Oregon State 31-28 in heart-breaking fashion, suddenly the Buckeyes find themselves – on the eve of the release of the first BCS standings – not only as the runaway favorite in the conference, but in prime position to play for the national championship.
"We didn't expect to be ranked this high at this point in the year," Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline told the Columbus Dispatch. "We are growing so fast, it's fun to see us improve."
And fun to watch other contenders trip all over themselves.
Because nothing comes easy, or makes much sense so far this season, it would be foolish to crown anyone with anything other than one of those cardboard Burger King lids just yet. But let the BCS B.S. begin, and expect Ohio State to lead the standings when they come out Sunday.
The reality: OSU still has a lot of interference to run through to make a return trip to the title game, this time in New Orleans.
The Buckeyes, 48-3 winners over Kent State in their final tuneup before the conference finish, will have to stop Michigan State, win at Penn State, take care of Wisconsin and Illinois at home and then prevail in Ann Arbor to punch their ticket to the Big Easy.
All five remaining OSU opponents have winning records and all except Wisconsin appear to be on the up tick as the weather in the Midwest has finally cooled and the leaves are starting to turn.
• Michigan State beat up on Indiana 52-27 behind a huge running day by Javon Ringer. Ringer ripped the Hoosiers for 203 yards and two touchdowns. That should give Ohio State's stellar defense plenty to think about next week.
• Penn State destroyed Wisconsin 38-7, putting a week of off-the-field issues in the backdrop. Quarterback Anthony Morelli had a decent day throwing (16 of 28, 216 yards, TD) and running back Rodney Kinlaw ran for 115 yards and a score as the Nittany Lions piled up 438 net yards against the beleaguered Badgers.
• Wisconsin, which has lost two in a row after winning 14 straight, can't be this bad, can it? Then again, Michigan State had the Badgers all but beaten three weeks ago.
• Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee was bitten by a late Brett Greenwood goal-line interception on what seemed destined to be a game-winning drive, but instead preserved a 10-6 Hawkeyes upset in Iowa City. Still, the Illini are talented and dangerous, even if flawed.
• The Wolverines, winners of five straight, pounded Purdue 48-21. But Hart, who ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, sat out the second half after turning his ankle. His status for next week's game against Illinois is to be determined. Expect him to play and expect Michigan to keep getting better.
No one is questioning Ohio State's defensive prowess after its latest effort. The Buckeyes limited the Golden Flashes to three points and 216 yards while collecting five sacks and forcing a pair of turnovers. Most of the starters were sitting by the third quarter.
They're yielding an average of just 6.57 points and 210 yards en route to their 7-0 start. Only Washington broke the 300-yard total offense barrier against OSU (346) and the seven-point barrier (14) against James Laurinaitis and Co.
The Buckeyes gave future opponents one more thing to worry about Saturday as Hartline returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest punt return in Ohio State history.
What makes some in Columbus nervous is the offense and its ability to control the football and avoid errors. Quarterback Todd Boeckman did just that Saturday against Kent State with an efficient, 13 of 16 passing day for 184 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. You have to think the Buckeyes' multi-faceted running attack, featuring Beanie Wells, will be more a factor from here on out.
If defense indeed wins championships, you have to like Ohio State's chances.
At least until next week when the Big Ten gantlet begins against the Spartans.
"It don't get better than this," Michigan State defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic said at Spartan Stadium, savoring the rout of Indiana and looking ahead to OSU. "This is why you play college football. We're gonna go down there and give them a run for their money."
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