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Tag:Ohio State
Posted on: October 19, 2010 4:29 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 5:30 am
 

Midseason Report: Big Ten

Posted by Adam Jacobi

We're halfway through the regular season, so it's time for the Midseason Report. Who the real contenders are in the Big Ten is pretty clear. Who'll actually win the conference, however, is a little more muddled. This certainly looked like Ohio State's conference to lose seven days ago -- and it still might be -- but Wisconsin's superlative 31-18 upset of the Buckeyes in Madison muddled the picture somewhat. Here's a list of the contenders for the conference crown thus far.

Michigan State (7-0, 3-0): It's generally lazy analysis to assume that a current front-runner -- especially one without any recent history of success -- will maintain its place atop the conference. And yet, Michigan State has, essentially, a two-game schedule to sew up a trip to Pasadena. After all, of the Big Ten teams with one conference loss or fewer, Michigan State has already beaten one (Wisconsin), won't face another (Ohio State), and gets another at home (Purdue, who, yeah). The only games left are visits to Northwestern and Iowa in the next two weeks. If the Spartans win these, they'll have the tie-breaker over everyone in the conference. Add a loss anywhere, and the prospects get a little dicey -- especially since if it comes down to Michigan State and Ohio State both at 11-1. More on that in a bit.

Iowa (5-1, 2-0): If the Spartans are the new frontrunners to the Big Ten title, then the Hawkeyes are the gatekeepers. Iowa has three home games remaining, and they're against the other three teams on this list: Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Will the Hawkeyes beat all three of these teams? That'll depend on the leadership of Ricky Stanzi, the senior quarterback who's playing at a level few would have expected after last season. The Hawkeyes' defense, anchored by Adrian Clayborn and the rest of the line, is still their strong spot. But if Stanzi malfunctions like he did on occasion in 2008 and '09, the Hawkeyes could take a very damaging loss and (probably) watch their Big Ten title hopes evaporate.

Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1): Which Wisconsin team will show up in Iowa City on Saturday? The high-octane world-beaters that ran Ohio State out of the stadium last weekend? Or the semi-suspect squad that looked sluggish against plainly inferior non-conference competition and got outgained by 150 yards in a 10-point loss to the Spartans? Granted, 2009 Iowa demonstrated the folly of reading too much into low margins of victory against putative cupcakes, but Iowa won the majority of their games against upper-level Big Ten competition, and Wisconsin hasn't reached that plateau quite yet. A win in Iowa City changes that outlook substantially. Still, when the Badger rush offense is struggling, QB Scott Tolzien's track record isn't promising. It's probably wise to expect one more loss from the Badgers before the season's said and done. 

Ohio State (6-1, 2-1): Ever thought you'd see the day when a 6-1 Ohio State had arguably the fourth-best chance to win the Big Ten crown? Here we are, though; for as good as Michigan State's prospects look, the Buckeyes' seem to be on the other end of the spectrum. Of the contenders, they've already lost to one (Wisconsin), they play another on the road (Iowa), and the last they miss entirely (Michigan State), which means OSU can't take matters into their own hands and put a loss in the Spartans' column. Essentially, to win the conference, Ohio State needs every other team to lose at least once -- and the Buckeyes only play Iowa in the second half of the season. That's a lot of help needed. The Buckeyes have the talent to keep up their own end of the bargain, of course; that defense is still stellar across all 11 positions, and OSU's offensive line will keep their offense humming. But for all his otherworldly physical talent, Terrelle Pryor still isn't taking over games at the level that, let's say, Cam Newton is. Further, this is Pryor's third year in Tressel's offense. It's Newton's first with Auburn OC Gus Malzahn. Either this trend gets corrected, or Pryor's collegiate career becomes a relative disappointment; it's not as if OSU's a seven-win team without Pryor at the helm, is it? 

Any of these four teams could go to the Rose Bowl without any surprises; Wisconsin's an underdog at Iowa, but not prohibitively so. Yes, technically, Northwestern and Purdue are in the mix for now too, but they're definitely longshots next to these four teams. My prediction is that Iowa effectively eliminates the Badgers from the discussion by beating them this weekend, while MSU handles Northwestern. Iowa then hands Michigan State their first conference loss in Iowa City, all while Ohio State keeps winning. Then, Ohio State knocks off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. All three teams win out otherwise, and there's a three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings at 7-1. Tiebreaker time!

Iowa will be the first team to be eliminated from consideration, as the Hawkeyes will be 10-2 while OSU and Michigan State are 11-1. Now, a few years ago, the Big Ten had a Rose Bowl tiebreaker after head-to-head competition and overall record that gave the bid to the team that hadn't been to Pasadena in the longest amount of time. This would obviously be Michigan State. But! That tiebreaker was ditched a few years ago and replaced with a Big XII-style stipulation that the highest BCS ranking is awarded the bid. So here we go again. Ohio State, having been ranked ahead of Michigan State when both were undefeated and having an earlier loss than the Spartans, is likely ranked higher at the end of the regular season and sent to Pasadena. Spartan faithful cry foul, but they're rewarded with an Orange Bowl bid in consolation. Iowa represents the conference in the Capital One Bowl, and Wisconsin goes to the Outback for the third time in the last seven years.

Of course, watch Northwestern beat Michigan State this Saturday and render this entire prediction worthless.

Posted on: October 17, 2010 8:43 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 9:20 pm
 

BCS rankings bad news for Boise State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The BCS rankings were just released on ESPN, and seeing Boise State at No. 3 is, at this point, trouble for the Broncos.

What's important to note here is that the BCS standings are, for the most part, resume rankings, and unlike teams in the power conferences, the cream of Boise's resume is done. Yes, the Broncos play in the WAC, but they've only played two of those eight games against that WAC competition thus far. Meanwhile, cupcake non-conference schedules are still being more heavily considered than conference games at this point in the season.

In other words, Boise State's not going to make its case on the field any better than it already has from here on out.

Now, this isn't to say that Boise State's chances are completely doomed; far from it. The Broncos are still ranked third in the BCS rankings, and there isn't much chance of them dropping any games and submarining their title chances from here until the end of the season. If Oregon or Oklahoma lose, the Broncos are in decent position. Their problem is that if teams like Auburn or LSU go undefeated, those teams are basically locks to pass Boise State -- and TCU's certainly not out of the picture, with its high-profile Mountain West Conference schedule still yet to come.

Still, though, the fact remains that Ohio State, Alabama, and Nebraska have all lost, and Boise State still needs help to get into the title game. That's not good news for the Bronco faithful in Idaho tonight.

Posted on: October 16, 2010 11:48 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 9:19 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 16)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. It's anybody's conference. With Wisconsin putting the finishing touches on a stunning 31-18 upset of the Ohio State Buckeyes, here are the teams that are at least tied with OSU in the Big Ten standings: Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Purdue is probably not going to contend for the Big Ten title, but the other three teams mentioned certainly will. Michigan State, of all the teams, must be the most ecstatic about the result in Madison; the Spartans are undefeated, the only Big Ten team who's 3-0 in the conference, and they miss Ohio State this year. But Iowa's at 2-0 in conference play, and the Spartans have to visit Iowa City in two weeks. Who would have thought back in August that MSU at Iowa could be the most pivotal contest of the Big Ten season?

2. Denard Robinson is most certainly mortal. It's not as Denard Robinson was a non-factor against the Iowa Hawkeyes today: Robinson racked up 204 yards of total offense in about 35 minutes of work. But for the third time this season, Shoelace left a game with an injury, and for the second time, that injury shelved him for the rest of the game. One of the most remarkable things about Robinson's production thus far is the sheer heft of Robinson's workload. Yes, he can't lead the nation in rushing and throw for over 200 yards without either throwing or rushing on the vast majority of Michigan's snaps. But that's an incredibly difficult thing to do, and now we're seeing some evidence that it's just not sustainable -- especially now that Robinson's not facing cupcake defenses like Massachusetts or Notre Dame (I kid, ND, I kid). Thanks to a bye week, Robinson has two weeks to recover before his next start, at Penn State. Does Tate Forcier still gets some snaps in relief at Beaver Stadium? Should he?

3. Wisconsin's rushing game is alive and well. Coming into today, John Clay was having a pretty good season, but considering Wisconsin's opposition, Clay wasn't looking dominant. That changed this week, when the big junior running back was running untouched through giant rushing lanes against Ohio State. That's not entirely surprising, but if Iowa doesn't have the best defensive line in the conference, then Ohio State surely must, and that Buckeye front four was absolutely gouged today. So if the Badgers can run all over Ohio State, they can probably run all over everybody left on their schedule. Again, the only remaining great defensive line on Wisconsin's schedule is Iowa, and that game's coming up this week. That should be just a little fun to watch. 

4. Congratulations to Penn State, who did not lose this week. Technically, it didn't play, but any iota of good news is welcome in Happy Valley these days.

5. Don't be that surprised if Illinois runs the table from here on out. It would be foolish to look at Illinois and see just another .500 team. Illinois' three losses are to still-undefeated Missouri, still-undefeated Michigan State, and only-recently-defeated Ohio State. In every one of those games, Illinois was competitive into the fourth quarter. And guess what: Illinois doesn't have any games against ranked competition left. Nathan Scheelhaase and Mikel LeShoure are growing as a QB-RB tandem week to week, and the toughest opponent left on the Illini schedule is, oh, let's say Northwestern. Illinois may be 3-3 today, but it may be 8-4 (or even better) before you know it.

6. The Tim Brewster farewell tour's going to be hard to watch. Fans of comedy in college football are going to lose an important ally this season, as Minnesota informed the world that Tim Brewster's not coming back next season. It's a shame, really, but it's only surprising insofar as Brewster hasn't been asked to clean out his office right now instead. Minnesota's got some decent athleticism, especially on the edges, so if that talent gets in the hands of a decent coach (MIKE LEACH MIKE LEACH MIKE LEACH DO ITTTTTTT), that program up north might wake up and make some noise next season. But only if Minnesota hires Leach.

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 8:31 pm
 

Upset Alerts: Wisconsin crushing Ohio State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There's a shocker going on in Madison today, as Wisconsin has opened up a 21-3 lead on top-ranked Ohio State. That is not a typo; it's 21-3. Wisconsin's David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Badger offense has absolutely gashed the Buckeye defense on the ground. John Clay has 13 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns already; this is the best he's looked this season by far.

Ohio State appeared to get a break when OSU linebacker Andrew Sweat picked off a Scott Tolzien pass, then got 15 yards tacked onto his return after a dodgy late hit call; that sequence of events put the ball on Wisconsin's 24 yard line for a first and 10. But Terrelle Pryor was sacked on 3rd down, and Devin Barclay missed the resulting 46-yard attempt. 

Pryor has been miserable through the air, completing only one of his last seven passes for six yards. He's just plain missing his receivers today. Pryor can still run, of course, and he at least has 30 yards rushing on eight carries. But that's not nearly enough, of course, and there's nothing about this game's score that's not indicative of how the first half played out.

This is a butt-kicking, plain and simple. It's stunning to see Ohio State on the receiving end of one in Big Ten play.

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 12:54 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:16 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 7

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. It's another gorgeous day across the country, but it's starting to get just a little bit chilly. You should still bring the sunscreen. All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Boston College at No. 16 Florida State , 12:00, Tallahassee, FL: Low 70s, clear

Illinois at No. 13 Michigan State, 12:00 , East Lansing, MI: Mid 50s, partly cloudy

Missouri at No. 21 Texas A&M, 12:00 , College Station, TX: Low 70s, clear

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 15 Iowa at Michigan , 3:30, Ann Arbor, MI: Low 60s, partly cloudy

No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn , 3:30, Auburn, AL: Low 70s, clear

Texas at No. 5 Nebraska , 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Low 70s, clear

Evening kickoffs

No. 10 South Carolina at Kentucky , 6:00, Lexington, KY: Low 60s, clear

No. 1 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin , 7:00, Madison, WI: Mid 50s, partly cloudy

Mississippi State at No. 22 Florida , 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Low 60s, clear

Late night kickoffs

Ole Miss at No. 8 Alabama , 9:00, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 50s, clear

No. 24 Oregon State at Washington , 10:15, Seattle, WA: Mid 40s, partly cloudy


Posted on: October 15, 2010 3:51 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 7

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Breakfast


Main Course - #13 Michigan State vs. Illinois - Noon - Big Ten Network


Yes, the morning menu is still incredibly light this week.  You'd think I'd be beyond complaining about it at this point since it's been this way all season, but I assure you, I am not above complaining about anything .  Though this Michigan State and Illinois game isn't as unfulfilling as it may seem at first glance.

Michigan State is 6-0, after all, and coming off of a very big win against Michigan.   Illinois has also played well lately, with a win not many saw coming on the road against Penn State last week.  Also, let's not forget that the Illini gave Ohio State a very tough time in Champaign a few weeks ago.

There's enough cause to believe that another upset may be in the works this weekend.  First of all, Michigan State is coming off that Michigan win, and there could be a letdown this weekend.  Second, it is Michigan State.  Completely unexpected losses at home against teams they should beat after getting off to a good start to the season wouldn't exactly be a new phenomenon for the Spartans. 

Side Orders: If you don't get the Big Ten Network, and don't have the choice of watching Michigan State and Illinois between Ro-Tel and Velveeta commercials, there are other options.  Florida State and Boston College square off in Tallahassee,  or you could tune in to what could be Tim Brewster's last game when Minnesota takes on Purdue.   Of course, if you want to watch that game I'd suggest spending three hours talking to some sort of counselor instead.  Maybe you should watch Syracuse and Pitt instead, just to see if you should actually take this Syracuse team seriously.

Lunch


Main Course - #7 Auburn vs. #12 Arkansas - 3:30pn - CBS


Now that Alabama has lost, it leaves the door open to a couple of teams in the SEC West.  Auburn is one of them. Arkansas, who has already lost to Alabama, has an outside chance, but to make the most of it, a win over Auburn is a must have.

Of course, even if there wasn't so much on the line for both teams in this game, I'd recommend tuning in just to watch Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett face off.  In other words, expect a lot of points, and what could turn out to be a very exciting, back and forth affair.

Auburn's pass defense left a bit to be desired against Kentucky last week, and don't think that Bobby Petrino didn't pick up on a few things when watching the game tape.  The Auburn defense is going to need to play very well if the Tigers want to leave this one with their perfect record still intact.

Side Orders: There are a couple of other dishes available in the afternoon, including the one that's often best-served cold, which Nebraska is hoping to give Texas tomorrow afternoon.  There's also Michigan and Iowa in the Big House, which will be a defining game for the Wolverines.  We find out if Michigan is either a good team that lost a tough game against a rival last week, or it's still the same old Michigan we've grown accustomed to the last few years.

Dinner


Main Course - #18 Wisconsin vs. #1 Ohio State - 7pm - ESPN


It's been a while since the Buckeyes found themselves ranked as the best team in the country, but if they're not careful, it's not going to last long.  The Buckeyes have gotten off to a 6-0 start this season, but this is the first real test they'll have faced.  Yes, Miami was a tough game, but that was at home and Miami has proven to be pretty average this season.

This is the road, at night, at Camp Randall Stadium.  Ohio State's defense hasn't faced a punishing ground game like it'll be seeing against Wisconsin with John Clay and company.  Ohio State has only ventured outside of Columbus once this season, and that was what turned out to be their worst game of the season against Illinois.

And trust me, it's a lot easier to win in Champaign than it is in Madison.

Side Orders: Kentucky nearly knocked off Auburn at home last week, and it will try to do this same this week when it hosts South Carolina.   The Gamecocks are coming off their biggest win ever, so a let down could be in order.  There's also Florida looking to end its two-game losing streak taking on Mississippi State and old friend Dan Mullen, and the Crimson Tide look to take out their frustrations from last week against Ole Miss and its new mascot.

Late Night Snack


Oregon State may have had some troubles with non-conference foes like TCU and Boise State, but it's off to a nice start in conference play.  They look to improve to 3-0 in the Pac-10 when they head to Washington to take on the Huskies Saturday night on ESPN.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:16 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:17 pm
 

Where are Brutus Buckeye's chaps?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Ohio State has made its way to the top of the polls this week thanks to an Alabama loss, but even if the Buckeyes win again this weekend against Wisconsin, I think I've found one significant reason to drop them down at least five spots in the polls.  It has nothing to do with the way the team has played this season, but a video that one Ohio State fan made.  Some things just can't go unpunished, and this video is most certainly one of those things.

Seems somebody thought that a classic like the Vilage People's "YMCA" needed a modern day, Buckeye-infused update.  Which then resulted in the newest type of torture known to mankind.

I made it about halfway through before I started singing "O-H-I- AM GOING TO KILL MYSELF IF I DON'T TURN THIS OFF!"  Let's see how far you can get.



Thanks, I guess, to The M Zone


Posted on: October 13, 2010 12:57 am
 

Is it time to overhaul the Coaches Poll?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the most odious aspects of the BCS -- and let's be clear, there are very many -- is the fact that the Coaches Poll constitutes one-third of the voting for the standings. If the poll's involvement weren't already accepted as normal, it would sound absurd: the selected coaches (or their selected assistant who actually fills these things out without attribution), given about 20 hours after the conclusion of their games, are tasked with ranking 25 out of the 120 teams in the FBS. The coach will never gameplan for, or have anything more than a cursory opinion about, the vast majority of these teams. The more time the coaches spend researching the poll, the less time they have to do their job (which isn't one with a great deal of spare time to begin with).

Thus, we get the same win-go-up, lose-go-down lazy polling that we can very well get from the AP already. What's the point? Does adding yet another hastily arranged Top 25 to the BCS add any merit? Moreover, isn't it a waste of what the coaches bring to the table for the BCS? Coaches do have exemplary abilities when it comes to evaluating other teams, after all, but that skill is primarily used in the daily rigmarole of their job, which is to say, on teams that they're actually going to play at some point.

So let's embrace that: have every single coach participate in the new coaches poll by ranking only their 12 opponents. As with traditional polls, a no. 1 gets the highest value (in this case 12), a no. 2 gets 11, and so on down the line. You know, like a normal poll. Now, since this is necessarily grading only FBS play (unless fans really want to see Montana come in at no. 8 in the poll or something similar), the teams with an FCS opponent are only going to be ranked by 11 opponents, so the rankings will be by average value instead of total.

Does this unfairly reward good teams in weak conferences (see: Boise State)? Well, maybe when it comes to their rankings relative to their conference pals. But look at who Boise's opponents are playing. Oregon State also plays TCU and Oregon. Wyoming got Boise, TCU, Utah, and Texas for this season (yes, Texas tanked, but that's an anomaly). Lowly San Jose State? The Spartans see Boise State, Utah, Wisconsin, and Alabama. Boise State may have some control over their schedule, but they certainly have little control over who their opponents play, and that's going to matter in this poll. Meanwhile, Ohio State may play in a tougher conference, but does anyone seriously think any of the Big Ten's coaches would rank another conference member over OSU as long as the Buckeyes stay undefeated? Would anybody have put Alabama second in the SEC before South Carolina pulled the upset?

Also, once the season starts to get into its late stages, coaches will be able to rank these teams based on what they saw first-hand in actual gameplay. Will this result in some coaches ranking teams based largely on how they performed against that coach's team? Sure. That's called rewarding wins and punishing losses. In other words, it's the entire point of polling. And if a coach seriously thinks a team that's, say, 19th in the AP played his team better than the 11th-ranked team, well, that's information that absolutely deserves to be integrated into the poll -- and it's much easier to justify making that adjustment in this format instead of the win-go-up/lose-go-down cookie cutter Top 25s. 

Is this a perfect poll? No, of course not. There's still some value in a straight Top 25 poll, and the computer rankings have their merit. But if we're including coaches in the BCS process -- and we should! -- we should play to their strengths, not make them play pollster. This is how to do it.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com