By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A quick glance at the Big Ten standings before the second Saturday of the college football season shows the league won 10 of 11 games last weekend.
Pretty good, right?
But if you take a closer look, you'll see most of those Big Ten winners beat far inferior squads, and in the cases of two ranked teams -- Ohio State and Iowa -- near choke jobs almost ruined seasons while temperatures were still in the 80s.
Week Two brings a nice game between Notre Dame and Michigan, but most people are talking about the sport's most anticipated early season matchup. No. 3 USC visits No. 8 Ohio State Saturday night under the lights in Columbus.
The Buckeyes, familiar with the big stage, but also familiar with being embarrassed on it in recent years, are hoping to help the league shed its trend of losing big games.
"The Big Ten has struggled a few times against out-of-conference foes and whatnot," senior defensive lineman Doug Worthington said. "This is a huge game for the Big Ten, and our team knows that."
Worthington was among players and coaches who attended the league's preseason media days in Chicago, and he said he talked to players from other squads about the league's reputation.
"We've heard it before," he said. "We hear it from the media a lot. It's OK with us. When I went down to Chicago, me and a couple of the guys from other teams talked about our out-of-conference schedules and whatnot and we just want to do as well as we can before that Big Ten schedule opens up. I root for everybody right now in our conference."
Junior wideout Dane Sanzenbacher said he and his mates want to rep the league well, but it's not what drives them.
"I think a lot of times when we go out on Saturday, and I'm sure other schools in the Big Ten feel like this, you're always representing your conference, especially if you're playing big, out-of-conference games," he said. "But you can't think of the magnitude of that. We just have to get our jobs done."
Fifth-year senior cornerback Andre Amos agreed with Sanzenbacher that the guys are aware of the Big Ten's recent failures, but the focus still must stay on Southern Cal.
"We don't actively talk about it, but it definitely is important," he said. "Anytime your league goes out to play some other team in a different (league), it definitely is key to play your heart out and try to get a victory."