Six college names start six 12-, 13-, and 14-letter entries today - Brown, Duke, Rice, Drake, Smith, and Penn. They are not hidden at all, they are just the first of paired entries, which makes for the somewhat odd appearance of six occurrences of the word "and" in the grid. Plus one more if you take the center of CANDO (21D: Positive kind of attitude). It's a slightly unconventional grid, with little staircase areas in the NW and SE, and kind of an overall diagonal feel. Does that make any sense?
It seems that the theme density - and perhaps in particular the sandwiching of the pairs of theme answers - put a little pressure on the grid, which was alleviated by the inclusion of such oddities as IVS, RES, ENDO, BSTAR, HADJ, LADES, and INDS. And then there's EDOM (51A: Ancient kingdom in modern-day Jordan). Established in the 13th century B.C.E.
And speaking of old things, I thought it was a little weird that 41-Down, LATIN, referenced PER ANNUM rather than CAVEAT (45A: Word of caution) that intersected it. Perhaps they didn't want to give too much away. Or maybe it's bad form to cross-reference intersecting clues... yes, that's probably it.
SCOLD and BURGLE (12D: Enter to steal from) are fun words to see, if you don't dwell too much on their meanings. CLUTCH (21A: Come through in the ____) is a good one, too. And although I have never heard of DRAKEANDJOSH, I certainly do remember Mark GOODSON and Bill Todman. Hah! Those were the days...
So I know you're all wondering where we are this week so I'll just briefly mention that we're in Utrecht! This morning we're taking a three-hour course in Dutch pronunciation, focussing especially (I hope) on the diphthongs, a few of which are not used at all in English. Too bad this blog isn't a podcast - I could try to do a few for you... no, on second thought, you're probably better off just reading this.