The first month of college football has been completed with the trends of the single digit years of twenty-first century continuing.
Southern California decided to perform its annual half-hearted effort leading to a loss in a road game versus an unranked Pacific Ten opponent early this year. That way, USC gave the talking heads at ABC and ESPN more weeks to gush fawningly over the Trojans after routs of the rest of conference. All which is left for the Trojans to accomplish is to finish plowing through the Pacific Ten then run circles around the snail-like adversary from the Big Ten.
Ohio State perpetuated its reputation for crumbling in non-conference games versus non-BCS opponents. The Buckeyes' reputation for folding under the national spotlight has been slightly exacerbated by three consecutive losses in BCS bowls and a 0-4 mark against the Southeastern Conference. In fairness to Ohio State, the Buckeyes have won eleven of the nineteen games with BCS non-conference opponents in the first nine years and one month of the 2000s. They also hold a four win and two loss record against the Big Twelve and a 4-3 tally against the Pacific Ten since 2000.
The media love to mention "BCS Busters" as candidates to upset the template of the national championship game. They relish the potential controversy of someone other than members of the conferences with automatic bids advancing to the BCS title game. Some of these "flies in the ointment", Utah and BYU, have already failed to maintain momentum after upsetting a ranked major conference member in the first week. The advocates for chaos need not fear for lack of Cinderellas. Houston remains undefeated after two wins over Big Twelve members while Boise State has improved on its pre-season top twenty ranking and snuck into the fifth position in the polls.
The Michigan bandwagon has returned with plenty of vacant seats. A sizeable number of riders have bailed out over the past two seasons. Losing the season-opener to Appalachian State two years ago followed by last year's 3-9 mark tarnished the winged helmets in many eyes. The widely predicted shift of power in the Great Lakes State seems to have only been an outlier of 2008. The cross-state nemesis, Michigan State, has stumbled embarrassingly to start the season. Last minute losses to Central Michigan and Notre Dame then an inept performance at Wisconsin bode a heartbreaking backslide for the Spartans. This Saturday's intra-state grudge match serves as the crossroads for both teams. A Spartan victory could start a reclamation of a season with the possibility of a Big Ten title. A Michigan win would further legitimize the return to the status of "Big Three" status for the Wolverines.