THE BOTTOM LINE
By Brad Edwards, Special to ESPN.com
Drew Stanton leads a new and improved Michigan State team.
Former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Mora once told reporters, "You think you know, but you don't know, and you never will."
In a nutshell, that's football. And that's why so many Americans get that feeling of anticipation shortly after breakfast each fall Saturday and Sunday. We think we've got it figured out, but deep down we know something that day is going to surprise us.
Both the expected and the unexpected make the sport fun, and Saturday had plenty of both for college football fans.
Here We Go Again
• Just like it did in Pac-10 road games against Stanford and Oregon State last year, top-ranked USC teased us with a lethargic first half at Oregon and then made us feel foolish for believing the upset ever had a chance. I swear I'm not getting roped in the next time the Trojans trail at the half, but I'm sure I'll fall for it again.
• Virginia Tech scored 17 points in a span of 44 seconds against Georgia Tech, thanks to the magic of BeamerBall. The Hokies had two defensive touchdowns during that barrage after having scored a special teams TD earlier in the game. They've now logged an amazing 98 non-offensive touchdowns in 218 games under Frank Beamer. Hard to believe something so incredible has become so ordinary.
• Michigan lost its first road game of the season for the sixth straight year, thanks to a late TD march by Wisconsin. Since winning the 1997 national title, the Wolverines have lost seven of their eight road openers. The lone win came in 1999 at Syracuse. The quarterback for UM that game? Tom Brady.
• Different QB, same result. Georgia won at Mississippi State, improving Mark Richt's coaching record on opponents' home fields to 16-2. David Greene had been the quarterback for Richt's first 17 road games. Now, it's D.J. Shockley's turn.
• Last week, several columnists declared Louisville's 11-0 season to be a foregone conclusion. But in a matter of hours on Saturday, the Cardinals went from being a BCS lock to becoming the Big East's whipping boy. Bobby Petrino's bunch was a three-touchdown favorite over South Florida and lost by more than four touchdowns.
• Michigan State had rightfully earned a reputation as a program that couldn't handle success after following up seven straight wins over top-10 teams with a loss in the following game. And most of those losses came against teams in the mold of Saturday's opponent, Illinois. Upset alert? I guess nothing says "these ain't the same ol' Spartans" like 61 points and 705 yards. Streak over.
• Late in the fourth quarter of South Carolina's win over Troy, Antonio Heffner completed a pass to Tim Frisby for 9 yards. It was a fairly ordinary play, except for the fact that Frisby is a 40-year-old walk-on who also happens to be an Army veteran and father of six. That's something you definitely don't see every day. Congratulations, Pops!
Minnesota is 4-0, and some of you may say, "We've seen this before."
Indeed, this is the fifth time in the last seven seasons the Gophers have started 4-0, and each of the previous four times, they have gone on to lose at least three games in conference play. But this Minnesota team has already shown it might be different.
Before Saturday, the Gophers had lost their first meeting with a ranked opponent in eight straight seasons. Now, after beating No. 11 Purdue, Minnesota has won its initial "big game" of the year for the first time under Glen Mason. Too bad it'll take more than one win over a ranked team to capture the Big Ten title. Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State are still left on the Gophers' schedule.
Is there some magnetic force in Michigan that draws all of the state's teams toward each other?
Eastern Michigan beat Central Michigan in OT on Saturday, giving the Great Lake State four overtime games in the last five meetings of its Division I-A teams. On Oct. 30 of last year, CMU beat Western Michigan in one overtime period, while Michigan beat Michigan State in three OT sessions. A week later, EMU beat CMU in a 4-OT thriller.
The only game in this span that didn't go to overtime was the Sept. 17 battle of Washtenaw County, which was scoreless for nearly two minutes before Michigan finally pulled away for a 55-0 win over Eastern. Expect a much tougher test for the Wolverines this coming weekend when they travel to, you guessed it, Michigan State.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Total offense differential from the 2004 and 2005 Iowa-Ohio State games. The Hawkeyes outgained the Buckeyes by 271 yards last year and were outgained by 393 yards on Saturday.