Indiana is the next team to get a crack at top-ranked Ohio State. The Hoosiers' upset win over Iowa last week moved them to 4-3, and they only need to find two more wins to sneak out a bowl bid at 6-6. Getting those wins won't be easy--a home game with Michigan State is doable, but the other winnable games (Minnesota & Purdue) are away from Bloomington.
Those non-conference losses to Southern Illinois and Connecticut when Terry Hoeppner's health was up in the air are really looming large right now. It isn't often you say this--but if IU had its coach healthy all year long, they'd probably make it to a bowl for sure. Quarterback Kellen Lewis has been vital to this team's success. Terry Hutchens of The Indianapolis Star reports that he nearly wasn't even given the chance to be a signal-caller.
Indiana won't add to its win total this week. Ohio State is saying all the right things about keeping its focus week-to-week, but the local media is not bound by the rules of diplomacy that govern players and coaches. Ken Gordon of The Columbus Dispatch writes that it's hard not to focus on the prize ahead.
Penn State is remaining upbeat. Joe Paterno reminded the locals that all three of his team's losses are to highly ranked national contenders. Indeed, all three of them (Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan) will probably be in major bowls. Paterno also believes his young team is playing to its potential, a comment that did raise some eyebrows in Happy Valley. The Lions will have to play a home game with Illinois with third-string quarterback Paul Cianciolo behind center. Anthony Morelli and backup Daryl Clark have yet to recover from the concussions that knocked them out of the Michigan game.
Notre Dame hosts UCLA. The Bruins bring a respectable 4-2 record into South Bend, but this is not nearly as good a UCLA team as the '05 squad that went unbeaten into November. Karl Dorrell's team has yet to beat anyone with a winning record, and lost to both Washington and Oregon. In South Bend, they are getting nervous that voters may overlook them if it comes down to a one-loss team in the BCS National Title Game.