Rushing The Field: That Was Supposed To Be Competitive, Right?

Honest question: is 35-3 a bad enough beating for Ohio State that we can no longer consider them candidates for the BCS championship game? After watching USC’s offensive pick apart the secondary and the Trojans’ front seven on defense get after Todd Boeckman early and often, it seems that Jim Tressel’s ethic and mentality in Columbus may need just as much of a change as Lloyd Carr’s did in Michigan. That wound up with Carr leaving and Rich Rodriguez replacing him, but I am not suggesting such a drastic step.  What it may require is Tressel stretching out his recruiting area — because he can get every athlete in the Midwest and many in the Atlantic part of Big 10 territory that he likes, but he isn’t attracting players that can be difference makers in out-of-conference games.  I don’t think Beanie Wells would have made a lick of difference, either, and you know what? I don’t like the Buckeyes much when they have to play Penn State are their spread offense later this year, either.

They may not be able to get by Wisconsin, who grind out wins. For every play that Fresno State made against the Badgers in the San Joaquin Valley, the Badgers had answers and their defense was able to keep Tom Brandstater in check.

The dirty little secret about USC? They have the easiest path to the MNC game because the Pac-10, usually good for 2nd in conference strength behind the SEC these days, is in a down cycle. USC was one of only two Pac-10 teams that won an out-of-conference game convincingly, and I would rather not count Oregon State-Hawai’i as any sort of meaningful OOC game. Oregon lost another QB and snuck by Purdue in OT, to be fair.

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Above The Rim: Walking In Memphis (All-College Edition)

Tennessee 66, Memphis 62 – Chris Lofton has an off night with two layups and Tennessee takes the win on the road thanks to good bench play and Memphis’ inability to make free throws (again, I will not pick them to make a Final Four until they shoot at least 60% as a team). Derrick Rose still looks like a dynamo who’s ready to play 82 games.

Indiana 85, Northwestern 82 – The players show support for their departed coach (Kelvin Sampson) on their shoes while picking up what usually is a gimme win in Evanston that was anything but, considering the tension.

Drake 71, Butler 64 – The Humane Society is offended at such a dogfight, but the rest of us were entertained when two teams of Bulldogs faced each other: Drake got 25 from sophomore Josh Young, including the closing free throws that put the game out of reach. A.J. Graves led Butler with 18.

Baylor 92, Kansas State 86 – Yes, apparently you can have a team where one player scores 44 (Michael Beasley), another scores 31 (Bill Walker), and still lose when the rest of the team only scores 11 points. Balanced scoring keeps Baylor in the hunt for a tourney spot.

UCLA 75, Oregon 65 – The Ducks, in yet another hideous experimental uniform courtesy of big booster Phil Knight’s company, get up early on the Bruins yet allow them to come back at home in Westwood. Kevin Love gets 15 points and 11 boards, still looks like he needs another year in school.

USC 81, Oregon State 53 – This game was 45-15 or something like that at the half. The Beavers have just fallen apart this season and showed it at the Galen Center. O.J. Mayo led the Trojans with 21.

Arizona 65, Wazzu 55 – Chase Budinger nails down 22 points while Jerryd Bayless chips in 20, doing the “0” in a Wildcats uniform proud. Wazzu’s still in third place in the Pac-10, but Arizona needed it more to keep pace in the standings.

Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey

Cheap Shots #97.

Cheap Shots is the daily headline aggregator/link dump of stuff that I’m not much for writing full posts on, and is occasionally updated during the day. Send your links and such to s2nblog@gmail.com, and check this post for updates.

11 AM PDT

Bye-Bye, Rafa: I hate having to go to sleep in the middle of matches, but what I saw of today’s Nadal-Tsonga semi-final was beyond belief. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked off Rafael Nadal in straight sets (6-2, 6-3, 6-2) by smashing 17 aces, hitting 49 winners and not allowing Nadal even a sniff at break point until the third set. I saw parts of Tsonga’s quarterfinal match — not sure whether this is just a one-tourney thing or something bigger, but he’s fun to watch. [AP]

Da Coach O Be Goin’ Home To Louisiana: But not in the college ranks, despite LSU’s D-coordinator vacancy. Ed Orgeron is now the D-line coach for the New Orleans Saints. Good for him, but it’s a loss for college football — pro football tends to obscure the outsize character of its assistant coaches.  Dare I hope he becomes a pro head coach in the future? I do. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

O.J. Mayo and the Lakers Tickets: Yup, it’s the right thing to do to investigate, particularly if they came from Carmelo Anthony.  Really dumb rule (NCAA athletes can’t ge free tickets for pro sporting events from a friend), but it’s the rule nonetheless. [L.A. Daily News]

Former Cincy Bearcat on Crap Fox Game Show: Apparently Ty Keck was on the show last now, with his wife occasionally nodding in disapproval depending on whether the questions had anything to do with her. I feel like I’ve missed nothing, mostly because I’ve reached my allotment of three guilty pleasure shows per season with the new American Gladiators and The Moment of Truth is on while I’m working. [Deadspin, EDSBS, Kissing Suzy Kolber]

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Five OTs Between Baylor and Texas A&M: Curtis Jerrells was the star in this marathon, putting up 36 points, 22 of those coming in the OT periods. Baylor is now 4-0 in conference play and 14-2 overall; while Texas A&M is suffering through one of the more precipitous drops that a program can go through. [AP via ESPN]

Sharapova, Ivanovic Final in Australia: Probably the best match-up available as far as actual tennis and lecherous male eyeballs go for a final. Maria beat Jelena Jankovic in straight sets while Ana needed three sets against Daniela Hanchutova. Nadal is going on the court in the men’s semis as I type. [ESPN]

Canseco Offering To Keep Ordonez Out For Cash?: Interesting subplot surrounding Jose’s new book — he’s accused of offering to keep Detroit Tigers RF Magglio Ordonez out of it in exchange for cash. [NYT], [Steroid Nation]
Bonds Asks Judge To Dismiss Part of Indictment: It’s basically over his grand jury testimony in the BALCO case from a few years back, the stuff that provides most of the ammo in Game of Shadows. Question, though: should Lance Williams be the one writing these pieces after he and Mark Fainaru-Wada wrote the book? [San Francisco Chronicle]

The NFL in L.A.: Scott Olin Schmidt of AOL Fanhouse and Barry A. Sanders, a member of the Coliseum Commission, debate in the LAT’s Dust-Up feature in the Op-Ed page.

No History Majors In the Cubs’ Marketing Department, I Suppose: Marketing Kosuke Fukudome using the Japanese war flag from the WWII days. Oof. [On 205th]

Amusing Bit of the Day: “The more you listen, the more you know.” Really, ESPN Radio? [The Fan’s Attic]