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And Another Thing


A few thoughts for a Saturday in the fall

And now, as night falls and we move on to even greater thrills (LSU-Alabama; Oregon-USC), a few thoughts about the Saturday that was, at least so far ....

* Remember last week, when everyone had Notre Dame harkening back to the good old days of 1988?

Well, how does harkening back to 1993 or 2002 sound instead?

The unbeaten Irish were on their way there again Saturday, until Pitt stepped up and soiled itself at all the appropriate moments. And so the Irish are 9-0 instead of 8-1, and no Boston College-comes-to-town-and-spoils-the-party this time. This was not '93 or '02 after all, thanks to Manti Te'o and the defense and Everett Golson.

Oh, and thanks to Pitt placekicker Kevin Harper, who had Notre Dame dead to rights and then gag-yanked the game-winning 33-yard field goal wide right in overtime.

So, Notre Dame dodges a fusillade. And continues to rewrite its own history.

* How quickly have the fortunes of Purdue coach Danny Hope and Indiana coach Kevin Wilson reversed their respective courses?

Two months ago Wilson was still struggling to pump air into a fallen program at Indiana, and Hope was coming off a bowl win with a team some smart guys were thinking might challenge for a Big Ten title.

Fast forward to today. In West Lafayette, in front of a whole lot of empty seats in Ross-Ade Stadium, the Boilers got shrink-wrapped by Penn State, 34-9, to fall to 0-5 in the Big Ten. Now they need to run the table against Iowa, Illinois, and, yes, Indiana just to get bowl eligible. And the way they're playing -- outscored 189-86 in Big Ten play so far -- the chances of that happening are virtually nil.

And Wilson and Indiana?

With a 24-21 victory over Iowa today, the Hoosiers not only won back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since 2007, they remained, improbably, in the chase for the Rose Bowl. At 4-5 and 2-3 in the conference, and with Leaders Division frontrunners Ohio State and Penn State both ineligible for postseason play, the Hoosiers' home game against Wisconsin next week becomes a showdown for a berth in the Big Ten championship game.

That's a long way from last year's 1-11 season, and a third straight loss to Ball State back in September. And for Purdue, it's a long way, in the opposite direction, from taking Notre Dame to the wire in September.

How the worm does turn.

Ben Smith's blog.