Ohio State is hoping that lightning doesn't strike thrice.
The lightning that struck last week was real, with the final 21/2 minutes of a 35-26 Ohio State loss to Southern California called off because of a violent thunderstorm.Two weeks ago, lightning struck for Illinois in the form of Howard Griffith, who set an NCAA record with eight touchdowns in a 56-21 rout of Southern Illinois.
On Saturday, Griffith and No. 13 Illinois are in Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 20 Ohio State in a Big Ten meeting of 2-1 teams. The game has Ohio State coach John Cooper worried.
"We're not playing real good football right now, even in the two games we won," Cooper said. "There's something missing on this football team. I wish I could tell you exactly what it is."
Even before the lightning struck last week, a lot happened that gave Cooper reason for concern, particularly Southern Cal's 331 rushing yards against the Buckeyes, who entered the game ranked third in the nation against the run.
"We don't have the spark we should have," Cooper said. "And if we don't regroup and get it going, we're not going to have the kind of football team we expected to have."
Illinois coach John Mackovic said he is discounting Ohio State's last game as he prepares for the Buckeyes.
"The Southern Cal game is not a true indication of anything because after a team like Southern Cal gets beat 31-0 (against Washington), you just better look out the next week because they're going to come out and play their absolute best," he said.
Other Saturday games have Stanford at No. 1 Notre Dame (3-0), No. 2 Florida State (4-0) at No. 9 Miami (2-1), No. 3 Michigan (2-1) at Wisconsin, Louisiana Tech at No. 5 Auburn (2-0-1), No. 7 Oklahoma (4-0) at Oklahoma State, No. 8 Nebraska (4-0) at Kansas State, LSU at No. 10 Florida (4-0), No. 12 Colorado (3-1-1) at Missouri, No. 13 Houston (3-0) at Baylor, and Washington State at No. 15 Southern Cal (3-1).
The rest of the schedule has Georgia at No. 16 Clemson (4-1), No. 17 Washington (3-1) at Arizona State, Iowa at No. 18 Michigan State (1-1-1), Texas Tech at No. 19 Texas A&M (3-1), Texas Christian at No. 21 Arkansas (2-1), Utah State at No. 22 Oregon (3-1), No. 23 Georgia Tech (3-0) at Maryland, No. 24 Fresno State (5-0) at Northern Illinois, and No. 25 Arizona (3-1) at UCLA.
Miami coach Dennis Erickson is worried about the Hurricanes' pass defense that has allowed six touchdowns and 931 yards in three games.
"It's a definite concern," Erickson said. "We are giving up too many yards."
Florida State appears to have the tools to exploit the Hurricanes' weakness. Quarterback Brad Johnson has thrown seven touchdown passes and is ninth in the nation in passing efficiency.
"What they are offensively is the best mix of anybody we've played," Erickson said. "The hardest thing on us is a team that can both run and pass."
Notre Dame continues through the soft portion of its schedule, playing host to Stanford. After two season-opening cliff-hangers, Notre Dame squashed Purdue 37-11 last Saturday. Next week, it's Air Force, then on to Miami.
While Notre Dame has won close ones against Michigan and Michigan State, Stanford lost leads late in the game - in a 32-31 loss at UCLA and a 29-23 defeat against San Jose State.
Jon Vaught, the Michigan running back, was held to 69 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns last weekend against Maryland, knocking his average below 200 yards per game. He still leads the nation with an average of 192.67.