As Saturday arrived in all its sun-splashed glory, I felt an immediate surge of bye week euphoria. No Nebraska football game to cover. No honey-do list. The day was a blank slate. It should be a crime to feel this much joy.
I flipped on ESPN Radio's "College GameDay" in time to catch an ongoing discussion about a team that is playing every game as if it has something to prove, that is playing with a hard edge and clear sense of purpose even against inferior competition. I understood within seconds which team was being discussed.
Yep, Ohio State.
If you enjoy watching college football played at a high level, watch the undefeated Buckeyes. Their talent level and focus remind me of Tom Osborne's greatest Nebraska teams of the mid-1990s. J.K. Dobbins' rugged and efficient running style reminds me of a slew of excellent former Husker backs. Ken Clark and jump-cutting Ameer Abdullah immediately come to mind.
Osborne's greatest team, the 1995 crew, went 12-0 while winning games by an average of 38.7 points. Ohio State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) is prevailing by an average of 41.7 points. That average will come down a bit this week, but not all that much.
Buckeyes 34, Badgers 14.
* So, I watched football on television until my eyes bled. That meant a lot of commercials. In that regard, I wouldn't let that Burger King mascot near my front door. If he's at my door, grab me a baseball bat, pronto.
* Another commercial break: What an incredible idea for home alarm systems: A smart speaker that barks like a dog. How about one that growls like a tiger? Or shrieks like a couple of fighting monkeys? A lot of possibilities here.
* Wisconsin, in its 24-23 loss at Illinois, "lacked the laser-like focus and clockwork execution that had earmarked the first six victories," wrote veteran columnist Tom Oates of Madison.com.
"They just out-executed us," Badgers inside linebacker Chris Orr told reporters.
It's difficult for me to imagine Ohio State getting out-executed right now by almost any team, let alone one as lightly regarded as the Fighting Illini (3-4, 1-3). Kudos to first-year Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day. Sure, he inherited a powerhouse. But many expected a drop-off following Urban Meyer's retirement. Quite the opposite has occurred.
Perhaps dark clouds lifted in Columbus, Ohio. The end of the Meyer era at Ohio State was a heavy time. His presence was a heavy one. In that regard, maybe players feel more free to let loose their talent.
OK, enough about Ohio State. For now.
* Thoroughly enjoyed watching analyst Emmanuel Acho on ESPN2 late Saturday morning. The former Texas linebacker said of fleet Penn State receiver KJ Hamler, "You need two guys to cover him because his routes are cocoa crispy."
* It was around this time that I made a critical decision: No game to cover, no shower. But a motorcycle ride was in order. I'll get to that in a second.
* Matt Schick made passing mention on ESPN Radio of rumors of Joe Moorhead becoming the next head coach at Rutgers. Guess it makes sense that Rutgers would hire a head coach struggling in his current role. Moorhead is 11-9 overall and 5-7 in the SEC as Mississippi State's second-year head coach. The guy clearly knows offense. He's one of those coaches who pretty much stays buried in his play sheet. Shouldn't Rutgers hire someone whose focus ranges beyond what wonderful plays to call?
* Illinois had won only four of its previous 30 Big Ten games. But I watched its massive upset Saturday and ... it didn't feel like much of an upset because the Illini aren't as woebegone as their record suggests. For one thing, Reggie Corbin clearly is an NFL-level running back.
Plus, Lovie Smith's team just hits the hell out of you. Nobody would dispute that, especially not Nebraska's skill-position players.
* A particularly memorable moment from Wisconsin-Illinois: Injured Illini receiver Ricky Smalling using his crutches as an air guitar behind the bench as "The Stroke" by Billy Squier blared from stadium loudspeakers.
You can't un-see that.
* After fully digesting Illinois' stunner -- ESPN characterized it as the second-biggest upset in the Big Ten in the last 40 seasons -- it was time to ride the hog to Shoemakers Travel Center.
It's a surprisingly good spot for Christmas gifts.
So, a few suggestions for loved ones: a Sons of Anarchy luxury plush blanket; a fighting colt hood ornament ($42.99); a pig with wings hood ornament ($89.99); sling-shot ammo ($2.50 per bag); an eagle claw back scratcher ($4.69).
*A "wow" stat from ESPN's Trevor Matich: 76% of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow's passes travel at least 15 yards. So, it's not like he's gunning a bunch of bubble screens and short stuff. The kid has serious swagger. The stat reflects that.
* I'm sure Nebraska fans were thrilled to see Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons flying around sideline to sideline in the Nittany Lions' 28-21 win against Michigan. The Huskers were a finalist for the five-star standout in the class of 2018, with former NU assistant Trent Bray handling the recruitment.
"He's possessed!" ABC play-by-play man Chris Fowler exclaimed.
A 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Parsons finished with a team-high 14 tackles.
* An epic Guns N' Roses show Tuesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena was easily the highlight of my personal bye week. I'm trying to imagine how the next go-round -- Nebraska is off again Nov. 9 -- could get any better.
I welcome suggestions.