Late September generates plenty of intriguing mysteries for sports fans to ponder.
If Ohio State defeats Iowa Saturday in Columbus, what are the Buckeyes' chances of playing in a BCS game?
Excellent. Yes, Buckeye Nation is still a bit hung over after Ohio State's 25-22 loss to Texas Sept. 10. But if college football has taught us anything, it's that poll voters believe it's better to lose in September than November.
With a win over the Hawkeyes, the No. 8 Buckeyes should regain most of the confidence lost in the loss to the Longhorns.
Northern powersmust be conquered
With Michigan State and Michigan on the schedule, there's no guarantee that the Buckeyes will have a nine-game winning streak after Nov. 20.
But they could.
And Buckeyes fans shouldn't forget that Texas must win out (including the Big 12 Championship Game) to remain in the top two.
Are the Steelers as good as they looked against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans?
We'll find out Sunday.
Pittsburgh demolished their first two regular-season opponents by scoring on their first six and four possessions, respectively. There's nothing like a big lead early to take the suspense out of any NFL game.
However, Bill Belichick's Patriots, winners of three of the past four Super Bowls, are a lot better team than the Titans or Texans.
Last year, when the Steelers defeated the Patriots 34-20 at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and limited the Patriots to 5 yards rushing. (Patriots tailback Corey Dillon didn't play).
Rematch muchdifferent story
But in the AFC championship game Jan. 23, the Patriots jumped ahead, 24-3 at halftime.
It's hard to imagine either team producing a huge halftime lead Sunday. It should be fun to watch -- even for Browns fans.
What happened to the Cleveland Indians fans who sold out 455 consecutive games from 1995-2001?
No one knows.
Maybe it's the price of gasoline.
Maybe it's because this year's team doesn't have high-caliber players like the ones who populated the Indians teams of the late '90s (Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Roberto Alomar).
Maybe it's because baseball fans have been turned off because many believe a lot of sluggers were juiced on steroids or human growth hormones over the last 10 years.
It would be nice if sellout crowds return to Jacobs Field before the postseason begins on Oct. 4. But a quick Internet search Thursday showed tickets are still available for the Oct. 2 season finale against the White Sox.
And that's a day when the Browns are off.
Game at Pittis cash cow
Should YSU fans be upset if Pitt wins by a large margin Saturday at Heinz Field?
Of course not. When Division I-AA teams are invited to play I-A teams, it's all about money. YSU's athletic department is receiving a nice check for sending the Penguins to Pittsburgh.
YSU fans should enjoy the sights and sounds of Pittsburgh and not worry about the scoreboard.
Maurice Clarett turned down a $400,000 signing bonus after he was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos. How many years will it take Clarett to earn $400,000?
Who knows? NFL busts usually have to learn to live with a lot less money than they envisioned on draft day.
Canfield and Mooney appear to be our best high school football teams this fall. If they played, who would win?
That's easy -- the Cardinals.
Saturday afternoon, Canfield is playing at home against a team from New York state. Three weeks ago, Mooney traveled to Buffalo for a game while Chaney had an open date and played no one. With gasoline costing $2.59 a gallon (for now), is it time for high school athletic directors to start trying harder to schedule local teams?
It's worth talkingfor cents' sake
If nothing else, it's time for our school leaders to at least talk about not having high school teams travel so far for regular season games.
Yes, when two local teams play each other, the loser gets hurt in the pursuit of playoff points. And no one can say officially how it affects players' decisions on which school they choose.
That said, perhaps the time is coming where economic common sense should play a bigger role in high school athletics.
XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write to him at email@example.com.