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Can we please put the Ohio State Buckeyes to bed now? Seriously, I found it amusing when Ohio St. was tabbed as pre-season No. 1 by various ‘experts’ and publications. As you can see in my pre-season rankings, I didn’t have that type of respect for Jim Tressel’s team.

Once again in the national spotlight, Ohio St. took a shellacking Saturday at Southern Cal. And nobody should be surprised by the Trojans’ 35-3 demolition of the Buckeyes.

For USC, it was quick, easy and painless. For Ohio St., it was embarrassing, lousy and painful. I know Beanie Wells didn’t play and I also know it wouldn’t have mattered one iota. This was an inevitable beating that eliminates another chance for bettors to fade Ohio St. in a BCS title game.

With USC playing its toughest remaining foes – Oregon, Arizona St. and Cal – at home, the Trojans’ path to Miami appears set in stone. But it’s still mid-September. Injuries happen. Things happen. There’s a ton of season to play, but USC looks like the safest bet to be in South Florida in early January.

While Florida was off prepping for this week’s trip to Tennessee, Georgia was getting all it wanted and then some at South Carolina. The Dawgs survived a 14-7 slugfest, but the Gamecocks blew a golden opportunity to pull an upset.

Mike Davis fumbled into the end zone from UGA’s two yard line midway through the fourth quarter. Then on a last-gasp drive, South Carolina was threatening before Reshad Jones intercepted a pass down in the red zone.

South Carolina won the first-down battle 20-17 and also had more yardage than the Dawgs (289-252). However, Georgia had better special-teams play (Brian Mimbs’ 77-yard punt with no return might have been the biggest play of the game) and forced a pair of timely turnovers.

With most books closing the number at 7 ½, South Carolina covered the spread for its backers. Steve Spurrier’s team is now 1-2 straight up, 2-1 against the spread.

Georgia goes on the road this week to take on an Arizona St. team that fell victim to its look-ahead game against UNLV. The Rebels overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually capture a 23-20 win over the Sun Devils.

Wisconsin survived shaky officiating to emerge from its trip to Fresno St. unscathed. The Badgers won a 13-10 decision over the Bulldogs as one-point favorites.

Missouri continued to score points and cash tickets. The Tigers, who are 3-0 SU and 2-0 ATS, destroyed Nevada by a 69-17 count. Likewise, Oklahoma was dominant in a 55-13 win at Washington. With apologies to Texas, OU and Mizzou appear destined to square off in the Big 12 title game. (They don’t meet in the regular season this year.)

When you’re on the hot seat like Mike Stoops is at Arizona, you can’t afford to lose 36-28 at New Mexico. Not when TCU and Texas A&M won at the same venue the two previous weeks.

Speaking of the undefeated Horned Frogs, they are off a 31-14 home win over Stanford. After playing at SMU this Saturday, TCU gets its shot at legitimacy when it goes to Oklahoma on Sep. 27. Remember, Gary Patterson’s team won 17-10 over the Sooners as a 25-point road underdog in the 2005 season opener.

I’m now 3-0 in East Carolina games. I backed the Pirates as home underdogs in their first two wins over Va. Tech and West Va, but I went with Tulane as a home ‘dog against ECU this past weekend. The Green Wave had a 24-21 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Patrick Pinkney hit Jamar Bryant for a 24-yard TD pass with 1:41 left.

Bob Toledo’s team took the cash as a 12-point underdog. Tulane is now 2-0 ATS, cashing tickets as a double-digit ‘dog in heartbreaking losses to Alabama and ECU. The Green Wave have given up three touchdowns on special teams. ‘Bama scored on a punt return and a punt block, while the Pirates got a 10-point swing when they returned a blocked field goal for a TD.

East Carolina plays at N.C. St. this week. The Pirates also play at Virginia on Oct. 11.

Florida St. rolled past Chattanooga 46-7 in a non-lined affair. The Seminoles are going with Christian Ponder and D’Vontrey Richardson at QB. Senior Drew Weatherford has been relegated to third-string status. When Bobby Bowden’s team plays host to Wake Forest this week, it will be hoping to avenge a 30-0 loss to the Demon Deacons in their last visit to Doak Campbell Stadium.

Auburn and LSU both fell prey to look-ahead spots, but both sets of Tigers did win outright unlike Arizona St. They just didn’t cover their respective spreads. Auburn won the first 3-2 game in SEC history at Mississippi St. as a 10-point favorite. LSU beat North Texas 41-3, but it failed to take the money as a 41-point ‘chalk.’

Auburn will play host to LSU in a crucial SEC West showdown Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Auburn as a 1 ½-point favorite, but most books had LSU favored by 2 ½ on Monday morning. The home team has won eight in a row in this heated rivalry.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Memo to Tommy Bowden: Give the ball to James Davis and C.J. Spiller more. This isn’t rocket science.

--After beating Rice 38-21, Vandy is 3-0 with dreams of going to its first bowl game since 1982. The Commodores play Saturday at Ole Miss.

--If the season ended today and I had a vote for Coach of the Year, my ballot would look like this:
1-Bobby Johnson (Vandy)
2-Pete Carroll (USC)
3-Skip Holtz (East Carolina)
4-Bob Stoops (Oklahoma)
5-David Cutcliffe (Duke)

--Kansas QB Todd Reesing can play for my team any day.

--Biggest Winners in Week 3:
1-BYU: 59-0 win over UCLA opened plenty of eyes.
2-North Carolina: 44-12 clubbing of Rutgers is first win outside of NC since 2002.
3-Oklahoma: Total dominance in 55-13 win at Washington.
4-USF: Bulls won 37-34 thriller over Kansas.
5-Oregon: Gutty comeback win in OT at Purdue.

--Best Games for Week 4
1-LSU at Auburn
2-Florida at Tennessee
3-Georgia at Arizona St.
4-Wake Forest at FSU
5-West Virginia at Colorado (Thursday)

Brian Edwards can be reached at

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