J.R. from Houston writes: If either Alabama or Florida State loses, who do you think has the best chance of moving up: Baylor or Ohio State? I looked it up, and Ohio State falls behind the Bears in every category except rushing yards, for which Buckeyes are eighth, only one spot ahead. Also Baylor has three ranked teams on its schedule (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas) while Ohio State only has one (Wisconsin). Not to mention the Big 12 is third in the conference power rankings with an overall rating of 73.9. The Big Ten is fourth with an overall rating of 66.8. If both teams win out, does the Big Ten blog think that Baylor would pass Ohio State and secure the No. 3 spot? P.S. The College Football playoffs can't come soon enough!
The good news for the Buckeyes is that Baylor is currently No. 5, not No. 4. Stanford is only .237 behind Ohio State, but I don't believe a one-loss team will pass an undefeated Big Ten champion. So the Bears have some work to do. But Baylor is only 25 points behind Ohio State in the coaches poll and 69 points back in the Harris poll. And it has some marquee matchups still to come by playing at No. 12 Oklahoma State on Nov. 23 and No. 24 Texas on Dec. 7.
If Baylor beats Oklahoma State, that will be a very good win that should propel the Bears in both the polls and the computers. Ohio State could suffer in the next three weeks as it plays Illinois, Indiana and a down Michigan team. That's why having Michigan State win out and play in the Big Ten title game could really boost the Buckeyes. And if Wisconsin wins out, Ohio State's wins over the Badgers and Spartans will look just as good if not better than Baylor's over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Baylor cannot criticize the Buckeyes' nonconference schedule, either, since it played the murderer's row of Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana Monroe. Ohio State should still worry, because Baylor wins with so much offensive flair that voters could become more sympathetic toward that team. But the best thing the Buckeyes have going for them is that they started out higher in the polls than the Bears, and that poll inertia will be tough to overcome.
John from Newark, Del., writes: Just a quick note about the BCS computers. The Colley Matrix--which has disliked Wisconsin the most all season -- allows you to add and remove games at will. Reverse only the Wisconsin/ASU result and take a peek at what Colley's computer results would look like if Wisconsin had taken and made the FG.
Brian Bennett: John, I like the cut of your jib. Excellent find. You can go here to that function on the Colley Matrix site and reverse the Arizona State result for the Badgers. What happens is that Wisconsin jumps to No. 10 in the hypothetical Colley Matrix rankings, all the way up from No. 26 in the real life ratings. (It also helps Ohio State, which moves up from No. 4 to No. 3).
Now, you could argue that maybe Wisconsin misses that field goal, because the Badgers' special teams have been suspect. And this is just one computer ranking system out of several used for the BCS. But the point about how much Wisconsin is getting punished by that terrible officiating crew is still valid. It makes 16 spots' worth of difference in one major computer ranking, and voters who still aren't giving the Badgers enough credit would likely have them ranked much, much higher. Wisconsin would go from being criminally underrated at No. 22 in the BCS to a an extremely strong candidate for an at-large bid.
There's only one word for it: Injustice.
M.V. from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: If Iowa finishes 8-4 and so does Minnesota, does the tie go to Iowa for beating Minnesota or does Iowa "traveling well" give them the go ahead? In all fairness the better bowl goes to Iowa no matter what. Wouldn't it?
Aaron M. from Purcellville, Va., writes: I'm starting to get upset with the perception of Gophers. Everyone seems to think that they are just an average football team, and that they don't deserve a good bowl because the fan base apparently doesn't travel well. Let's be real: Minnesota hasn't been to a halfway decent bowl game since 2003 when they went to the Sun Bowl and played Oregon. Michigan is self-destructing. Wouldn't the bowl gain more interest if they took the Gophers especially with Coach Kill's leave of absence? That should provide more storyline.
But the Gophers could also have momentum on their side, if they end up with six straight wins or five of their last six. The Jerry Kill story is a great one, and bowl games love that kind of positive publicity. So all of that is good news. Here's my main concern: Minnesota has yet to draw sellout crowds to its own stadium. Last week against Penn State, the announced attendance was 48,123, or more than 2,000 below capacity at TCF Bank Stadium, and there were even more empty seats than that, according to media reports.
I'm not sure what else Gopher fans are waiting for to get all the way behind this special team. If that stadium is not absolutely full next week against Wisconsin -- and not because of visiting Badgers fans -- then Minnesota can't complain if it gets passed over for a bowl slot.
Mike R. from Camp Lejeune, N.C., writes: While Michigan has certainly gotten better under Brady cHoke they clearly are still far and away from being elite again. I honestly feel that cHoke's Year 1 win against one of the least inspired/worst coached Buckeyes teams in recent memory, is the only thing keeping him off the hot seat at this point. What do you think it will take for Michigan fans to start calling for his replacement as he has said all the right things but continues to not produce?
Brian Bennett: It's an interesting hypothetical, at the very least. Let's say Michigan doesn't beat Ohio State in 2011 (it was a three-point game with two minutes left, and Braxton Miller missed on what could have been a game-tying touchdown pass on the Buckeyes' final drive). Michigan finishes that regular season at 9-3 and does not go to a BCS game. Hoke would have a two-game losing streak to Ohio State with a likely third loss pending this year.
I still don't think that would put Hoke on the hot seat. He has built up a lot of goodwill by being a Michigan Man and by not being Rich Rodriguez, and his recruiting prowess provides hope for the future. But he'd be on a much shorter leash, and I think Maize and Blue fan anger would be much hotter right now without that win. You can do a lot of things right at Michigan or Ohio State, but if you don't win The Game, it's never enough.
Marcus from NY, NY, writes: Is it time for Michigan to just start playing Shane Morris? I know this sounds crazy, and I am not advocating that Shane Morris will get Michigan out of its funk. Quite the opposite. Michigan will stink with Shane Morris out there. However, the future is now at Michigan, look at the offensive line and the secondary, it's a lot of freshmen and even Hoke has admitted its necessary to get the offensive linemen going to get some experience now. Morris' redshirt has been burned, so get him out there and get some experience. Gardner is completely lost and getting battered, and he's going to struggle from now until whatever pizza bowl Michigan gets to play in. At the very least a somewhat experienced Morris can push Gardner during the offseason and provide another QB for 2014.
Brian Bennett: Marcus, I think if Morris were ready, he would have played more by now, because Gardner has had his troubles. But Hoke and Borges obviously don't think he's ready. You also run the risk of putting a young quarterback in there behind a bad offensive line and having his confidence shot (along with possibly some of his limbs).
Since Michigan doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to play for this season -- by Hoke's standards, the season is already a failure -- then it wouldn't hurt to get Morris some experience. At the same time, Michigan will be in a dogfight its final three games, and its best chance to win those is still probably with Gardner. I think the bowl game would be the perfect time to work Morris in, especially after he gets those extra bowl practices to develop. An open quarterback competition next spring would be good for everybody.
Steve from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Brian, love the blog, just wondering why the media isn't pushing for an Urban Meyer-Nick Saban BCS finale. Seems like a journalist's dream, dozens of storylines. FSU is pretty good but no one wants to see another freshman quarterback get worked again. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett: Call me naive, but I think most journalists have the integrity to "push" for the two teams they feel are the most deserving. And Alabama and Florida State have that edge right now in a big way. There would still be plenty of storylines in an FSU-Bama clash. And have you seen Jameis Winston play? I'm not too worried about him "getting worked." He's a special player, and quite possibly this year's Heisman Trophy winner.
Here's a full transcript for those who couldn't make the chat and for those who just want to relive the magic.
To the highlights ...
Adam Rittenberg: Dan, it's definitely closer than it has been portrayed. The desert debacle isn't affecting Wisconsin's place in the polls at all, and I don't know what the Badgers need to do to convince people that they're a good team. MSU's loss at Notre Dame -- PI calls and all -- doesn't look great now that the Irish have lost for a third time. But I would take MSU or Wisconsin against Miami, and I think they could give Clemson a good game. It just underscores how non-league wins -- even overvalued ones -- can really affect how teams are viewed for the rest of the season.
Tom from Chicago: I'd make the same argument that Dan is making, but against Wisconsin. A couple weeks ago people were touting the Badgers' win over Northwestern (which is winless in the Big Ten), and staying close to OSU. There's no way they're the second best team in the Big Ten ahead of MSU.
Rittenberg: That's fair, Tom, but I'll counter by saying Michigan State's win against Michigan doesn't look nearly as good now that the Wolverines are in a tailspin. You can use certain wins any way you want, but I don't think anyone can definitively say there's "no way" one team is better than another without those teams meeting on the field. Unfortunately, we likely won't see Spartans-Badgers this season. But Michigan State has a chance to show it's the best team in the league (besides Ohio State) by winning out and going to the Rose Bowl.
Andrew from Fremont, Ind.: Despite the serious struggles Purdue has had this season, I can't help but look at these last few weeks and not see a W somewhere. Penn State hasn't beaten anyone of value in Happy Valley outside of Michigan (and that's even debatable), Illinois seems to being doing all it can to maintain its long losing streak, and last I checked, IU was still IU. Which one seems like the most likely win for Purdue?
Rittenberg: Love the optimism, Andrew, but Purdue hasn't even been competitive in a Big Ten game this season. Tough to see a win, even against weaker competition. Penn State has been much better at home than on the road. Illinois would be the one to watch as the Illini likely will have a 20-game Big Ten losing streak and a lot of pressure on their shoulders. I don't think Purdue can stop Indiana's offense, especially on the road. So it'd be the Illinois game.
Mike from Paris, Ohio: How much of Ohio State's schedule strength is attributed to the Buckeyes being stuck in the Leaders Division? It seems as though the Legends is a pretty good division (top 3 in CFB?), and we were debating on the Buckeye message boards how much being in the Legends would help our strength of schedule.
Rittenberg: Mike, being in the Legends would have helped Ohio State this season, but the Buckeyes also were hurt by a crossover schedule that featured Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa. Ohio State won't face 8-1 Michigan State, 8-2 Minnesota or 7-2 Nebraska during the regular season. It will play one in the Big Ten title game, but for BCS standings purposes, it would have helped to play all three during the regular season.
Mike from Bolivar, Ohio: If the only way to change perception is to win bowl games, then explain how the ACC is getting any respect with their 3-13 BCS record? And how is Ohio State not getting respect considering their 6-3 (or 5-3) BCS record?
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, I've been one of the biggest ACC critics out there. I've noticed that the college football media seems to warm up easier to the ACC than it does the Big Ten. There could be several reasons for this, but I think it's recruiting. The ACC almost always ranks higher than the Big Ten in recruiting. I joke that the biggest day on the ACC calendar is national signing day. The ACC has been dreadful in major bowls, while the Big Ten has been slightly less dreadful. A lot of the love this season is a Florida State team that has finally translated great recruiting to great results on the field. But it's an interesting topic that I'll explore more on the blog.
Thanks again for the questions and the continued participation. Enjoy Week 12!
Bobby Carpenter and Brian Rolle.
“The linebacker position is still my biggest concern on our team,” Meyer said. “The depth is a major concern.
“When you think of the great linebackers [the program has had] -- arguably the last decade as good as a linebackers as anywhere in the country played at Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes do have an individual candidate who could make a claim as the best linebacker in the country with Shazier contributing in almost every way imaginable thanks to his incredible combination of instincts and athleticism. And collectively, the first-team unit with Shazier, Joshua Perry and middle linebacker Curtis Grant has helped Ohio State get back among the nation’s elite defenses, ranking in the top 10 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing yardage allowed.
But there’s precious little depth behind that group of starters. And with no margin for error, even relatively minor injuries like the finger surgery Perry had during the bye week or the ankle and back issues that have slowed Grant, could lead to major concerns for a team in the thick of the BCS title chase. Both of them are expected to play on Saturday at Illinois, but even when they’ve been completely healthy, Meyer has continued to train his focus on getting more out of that position to take the defense to another level -- one it’s historically used to reaching.
And while there’s nothing the Buckeyes can do during the season to add more bodies to the roster, that emphasis on development at the position has clearly yielded some results as Perry has chipped in 33 tackles in his first season as a starter and Grant has finally begun living up to his recruiting hype as a full-time player.
“I think it’s definitely motivation,” Perry said. “I know what we do in our meetings rooms and how we react to that, and we take that as a challenge for us. I think we’ve been playing a lot better these last few weeks, but it’s never good enough. We just have to keep hitting our stride.
“Early in the year, I think we were a team of talented guys, but not necessarily technicians. We weren’t great at fundamentals, didn’t necessarily have as good of a grasp on the scheme as we do right now. And then when you turn on the film, you see guys running to the ball, definitely with better effort, and I think that comes with confidence from knowing what we’re doing.”
The Buckeyes also don’t keep their successful past with linebackers a secret, which is a true measuring stick.
The statistics this season look good on paper. The team is undefeated and riding a 21-game winning streak. But there’s one position in particular that has a pretty high bar it has yet to clear in Meyer’s eyes.
“We're nowhere near where we need to be as far as the expectation level of the linebacker play here,” Meyer said. “We need to get back to that.”
If the Buckeyes need examples of what Meyer is looking for, he’s got a lengthy list he can point to in a hurry.
Controls own destiny: Ohio State (5-0 Big Ten). Because the Buckeyes own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wisconsin, they need just two more wins to clinch a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
Needs help: Wisconsin (4-1) needs Ohio State to lose at least twice in its final three games -- a dicey proposition, as the Buckeyes have yet to lose at all under Urban Meyer.
Needs a miracle: Indiana (2-3). The Hoosiers play Wisconsin and Ohio State in the next two weeks, and if they win out, the Buckeyes lost out and the Badgers dropped at least one more game, they would win the division. That's about as likely as Indiana's defense pitching a shutout.
Controls own destiny: Michigan State (5-0) and Nebraska (4-1). This Saturday's showdown in Lincoln, Neb., could be a de facto division title game. The winner simply would need to win its final two games for a spot in Indy. If Michigan State loses on Saturday, it would need the Huskers to drop one of their final two games against Penn State and Iowa. If Nebraska loses, it will be eliminated because of head-to-head losses to Michigan State and Minnesota.
Needs help: Minnesota (4-2). First things first: The Gophers need to win out. If Nebraska wins on Saturday, Minnesota would need the Huskers to lose one of their final two games. Then, by beating Michigan State in the season finale, the Gophers would win the division on tiebreakers. If the Spartans win on Saturday, Minnesota would need Michigan State to lose at Northwestern on Nov. 23 to have a chance.
Needs a miracle: Iowa (3-3) has a faint pulse in the division race thanks to its win over Minnesota earlier this season. The Hawkeyes would need to win out and have Michigan State, Nebraska and Minnesota all finish 5-3. They would then own tiebreakers over two of those three teams, as Iowa and Nebraska play in the season finale.
There has been movement on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten conference, so it's time once again to take a look at a few trends and changes among the teams. Here is a look at the latest for the Big Ten class rankings.
Tom VanHaaren: Michigan State has a chance to move up in the rankings if it can close strong. ESPN 300 prospects Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan Catholic) and Kiy Hester (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic) recently added the Spartans to their top list, while Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) are still listing Michigan State in their top group as well. The strong defensive play on the field has Michigan State in position to play for a Big Ten championship, which could further help this recruiting class.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
The BCS championship picture cleared up a bit when Oregon fell to Stanford last week. Alabama and Florida State have firmly established themselves at the top of the polls and computer ratings, and if both take care of business down the stretch, they'll play for the BCS title in January.
Our opponent-adjusted, drive-based FEI ratings suggest that is a strong likelihood, but not a sure thing. With most of their toughest competition already in the rearview mirror, there is a 58 percent chance that both Alabama and Florida State will win the remainder of their games.
It is even more likely that we will have three or more undefeated teams at the end of the year. Currently Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, Fresno State and Northern Illinois are undefeated. The likelihood that at least three of those six teams will remain undefeated through the end of the regular season is 84 percent. The Crimson Tide, Seminoles, Buckeyes and Bears are all ranked in the top five of the BCS standings, and there is a 59 percent likelihood that at least three in that group will remain undefeated through the regular season.
As the final weeks play out, arguments over schedule strength and the relative merits of these contenders will ramp up to a fever pitch. We wanted to know what would happen if they swapped schedules.
To do so, we calculated win likelihoods of each of the six undefeated teams against their own schedule and the schedules of the other five, adjusting for performance to date. For example, the formula says Florida State should have 8.5 wins against its schedule to date, and because the Seminoles actually have a full nine wins, we gave them the additional 0.5 win performance bump in each of the other scenarios below.
Note: The postponed game against Colorado was included in the Fresno State schedule for the purposes of this projection model.
Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0)
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
- Mark Dantonio is a combined 0-8 against Nebraska as a head coach and assistant, but the Spartans might finally have the talent to knock off the Cornhuskers.
- Huskers tailback Ameer Abdullah is in the running for a few major awards, and Bo Pelini said he "wouldn't trade him for anybody."
- Defense has been Indiana's downfall as it's ranked near the bottom of the nation in major categories, but the Hoosiers believe they're turning it around -- and, if that's true, then the timing couldn't be better.
- Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon has been bottled up the past two games, but the Badgers have been finding other ways to generate offense.
- Michigan's defense isn't pointing the finger at a struggling offense. "We're a team, totally," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said.
- Northwestern tailback Venric Mark will seek a medical redshirt and put his NFL aspirations on hold.
- Ohio State DB Corey "Pitt" Brown is starting to make a name for himself, so that he's no longer just "that other" Corey Brown.
- Illinois held a players-only meeting on Sunday night, and players are trying to maintain a positive attitude.
- Stopping the run remains a big issue for Purdue, as it's allowed opponents to rush for more than 200 yards five times this season.
- Penn State is hoping to put an end to its frustration with a victory against a struggling Boilermakers team.
The slate is the main reason why Urban Meyer's team sits at No. 3 in the BCS standings, despite a 9-0 record and a 21-game winning streak. It's also the reason why the Buckeyes soon could be behind a third unbeaten in Baylor, or even a 1-loss team in Stanford.
The Buckeyes have faced just one team in the current BCS standings, No. 22 Wisconsin. Barring a surprise, the only other ranked team they'll face before the BCS selections are announced will be in the Big Ten championship game.
How did this happen? Although Big Ten teams have shied away from tough schedules, Ohio State hasn't been one of them. In fact, the Buckeyes used a scheduling model that featured at least one marquee matchup per season, whether it was Texas in 2005 and 2006, USC in 2008 and 2009, or Miami in 2010 and 2011.
It's shortsighted to suggest, as many have, that Ohio State tried to avoid challenges in the schedule. For several reasons, the slate hasn't panned out, and it could keep Ohio State from playing for the crystal football.
1. The Cal series
Ironically, Ohio State's title hopes were impacted by a decision made in the Buckeyes' last championship season, 2002, when the school added a series with Cal. Scheduling games so far in advance is common, but it carries risks.
As Cal blossomed under Jeff Tedford from 2003-08, the series looked like a good one. But the Bears began declining in 2009. By the time the first game rolled around last fall, Cal was headed for a 3-9 campaign and a coaching change. The Bears, whom OSU defeated 52-34 on Sept. 14, are 1-9 this season.
"It just didn't work," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN.com. "You know, Cal had a run where they were rolling. Scheduling nonconference opponents is a little bit of art and a science. We have Oregon in the future, Oklahoma in the future, Texas in the future, TCU in the future. You hope that they stay great."
It would have been tough for Ohio State to back out of this year's return game at Cal, and even tougher to replace the Bears with a marquee foe.
"The only thing you could do is cancel it and take the financial hit that you pay in the penalty," Smith said. "But then you still have to find someone to fit that date. It's a supply-and-demand inventory issue, so sometimes the dates don't line up."
2. Vanderbilt mails it in
Many forget that Ohio State was set to face two major-conference teams this season, but Vanderbilt opted to cancel its game at The Shoe, informing Ohio State by snail mail last October.
Ohio State replaced Vanderbilt with San Diego State, which went 9-4 in 2012 and shared the Mountain West championship. But the Aztecs struggled to a 0-3 start this fall before righting the ship.
According to Smith, the level of opponent and the Big Ten's scheduling moratorium during its short-lived scheduling pact with the Pac-12 also limited the options.
"There was really no one we could get, a major-major, to do a one-game [series]," Smith said. "We could have got some neutral-site games, but I can't take one of our games out of Columbus unless it's a huge [financial] number, and nobody can do that but Dallas."
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, hosts marquee season openers between major-conference teams, but was booked this year (LSU-TCU). Ohio State home games bring in $6.5 million for the athletic department, not to mention major gains for the Columbus community.
"The hotels, the restaurants, the taxi drivers, all those people count on those seven games a year," Smith said. "That's important to me. I have a social conscience. The neutral-site game has to be a big one."
3. The B1G drag
Florida State's non-league schedule consists of Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho and an unusually weak Florida team. Baylor's is even worse: Wofford, Buffalo (also a Buckeyes opponent) and Louisiana-Monroe.
So why is Ohio State's schedule criticized more? Because the Buckeyes receive little help from their conference.
The strength of the ACC and Big 12 -- real or perceived -- helps Florida State and Baylor. Some view the Pac-12 as the nation's strongest league, which could help one-loss Stanford leapfrog Ohio State. The Big Ten, meanwhile, remains a national piņata.
Michigan's struggles hurt. Northwestern, ranked 16th when Ohio State visited Evanston, is now in a five-game tailspin.
Even Ohio State's crossover schedule has been a detriment. The Buckeyes don't play 8-1 Michigan State, 8-2 Minnesota or 7-2 Nebraska during the regular season and will face only one in the Big Ten championship.
"We were hopeful," Smith said, "that the Big Ten would be a little stronger."
But he adds that perception is the biggest issue.
"Michigan State is one heck of a football team, Wisconsin is one heck of a football team," Smith said. "Just to dismiss our league says people haven't really looked at it. They haven't studied it. To dismiss our team means you haven't studied it."
Meyer didn't spent much time scrutinizing the schedule before the season, but he's aware of the Big Ten's perception problem.
"There's one way to eliminate all that talk: go win a bunch of bowl games and keep improving," Meyer said. "There's a lot of really good teams in our conference."
Still, it's hard to see the Big Ten helping the Buckeyes' chances. Ohio State needs help to get to Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6. The Buckeyes could be in Pasadena five days earlier for the 100th Rose Bowl game, which Smith calls "a heck of an accomplishment for our kids."
Ohio State likely won't have this problem in the future with marquee opponents lined up, and a nine-game league schedule beginning in 2016.
"You deal with what’s in front of you, because you can't control public opinion," Smith said.
"Still, at the end of the day, anybody who's won 20-plus games in a row, that's pretty strong."
The 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee met in Washington, D.C., this week, and it was announced that it will reveal four interim rankings before the inaugural selection weekend in 2014.
Of course, a little light bulb immediately fizzled to life -- bizzz-fizzzz! -- over the heads of many in the ESPN offices in lovely Bristol, Conn. Interim rankings? Why wait until 2014? Let's do it now. As in right now.
That's what everyone wants, right? The playoff to start this year, not next. Or so you think.
The committee will be made up of 13 human beings, ready-made with their own ideas about evaluating and ranking college football teams. Many of them will be old-school, laboriously reviewing hours of game tape and giving teams their fearsome "sight test." Some will embrace the sabermetric revolution that has unceremoniously stomped on cherished sporting ideas such as clutch play, momentum and locker room chemistry.
For our purposes, the ESPN.com 2013 College Football Playoff Selection Committee will be made up of the guys who made A's in calculus in 10th grade and then moved on to the Jacobian conjecture: ESPN Stats & Information geniuses.
Those folks have devised an all-encompassing metric -- Championship Drive Ratings -- that measures the résumés of college football teams, putting a heavy emphasis on strength of schedule, as the CFP committee is expected to do. It measures how difficult it is for an average FBS team to achieve the team in question's results.
So, the season ends today, and based on Championship Drive Ratings -- drumroll, please -- the four-team playoff would go: 1. Alabama; 2. Stanford; 3. Florida State; 4. Ohio State.
That's right, unbeaten Baylor, you are eclipsed by Stanford, which lost to now-4-5 Utah on Oct. 12.
East Texas stars become hot targets
Longview High four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson and three-star athlete Kevin Shorter of Newton are two of the best players in East Texas and are emerging as two of the top remaining prospects on the board in the Lone Star State. Henderson, who is the No. 36 defensive tackle, has already visited Texas Tech officially, and he tweeted Monday that his top three schools are Texas, Baylor and Tech and then said he had no order. Shorter, a longtime Texas commit, also took to Twitter and said he would be taking official visits despite his pledge to the Longhorns. Shorter, the No. 54 athlete, said he was going to visit UCLA, Arkansas, Texas A&M, UT and FSU. While he does remain pledged to the Horns, insiders believe Arkansas is a major threat in his recruitment.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
I recently ranked my top five quarterbacks in college football for ESPN The Magazine's QB issue, and will provide my top 10 here as we enter the homestretch of the 2013 season. (For comparison, you can see my midseason QB rankings here.)
For those of you who are new to these rankings, I evaluate QBs in two categories: production on the collegiate level and NFL-caliber skills. For each category, I rate the passers on a 1 to 10 scale. It is not intended to be a straight NFL projection, but it does place added value on the ability of a QB to threaten and stretch college defenses with the skills required of pro passers, while also factoring in what a QB has accomplished so far this season.
Here you have it: my latest ranking of the top 10 quarterbacks in the country.
College production: 9.5
NFL skills: 10
Previous rank: 1
The power and velocity generated by Bridgewater's flawless mechanics should be teaching tape for any aspiring passer. Any throw from any position on the field, inside or outside of the pocket, is available to him with a whip of his arm and flick of his wrist.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was "very disappointed" that Evan Spencer broke one of the Buckeyes' rules about speaking in public, so it'll be a while before anybody hears from the receiver again.
Spencer on Monday said the No. 3 Buckeyes would "wipe the field with both of them" -- referring to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State. Spencer later apologized on Twitter, stressing that he's clearly biased.
Meyer made it clear he didn't approve of the message and doesn't want it happening again.
"I'm very disappointed, I can't stand that," Meyer said during the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "Our players are taught [not to do that], and I know Evan well enough and I even talked to him briefly and he was kind of smiling the way he said it. But, no, I can't stand it.
"He's certainly not the spokesman for our team. As a result, Evan won't talk to the media for a long, long time. You don't do that. It's not good sportsmanship, and that's not what we expect. ... Talk about your teammates, talk about the team and move on."
Spencer seemed to be expressing confidence in his teammates and their chances of winning a national title during a media luncheon on the heels of a bye week, and he made it clear that he was obviously biased toward Ohio State.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Graham–George Offensive Player of the Year
2. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (Last week: 1): Miller was off last week, but he has games against Illinois and Indiana in the next two weeks to pad his stats.
3. Penn State WR Allen Robinson (LW: 4): Robinson set the Penn State season record for receiving yards in last week's loss at Minnesota. He leads the Big Ten with 1,106 receiving yards.
4. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (LW: 3): Gordon's season numbers (1,160 rushing yards, 8.1 ypc) are still spectacular. But James White has been the Badgers' best back the last two weeks.
5. Minnesota RB David Cobb (LW: Not ranked): Cobb is one of the Big Ten's surprise stars this season. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Gophers' four consecutive wins, averaging 142 yards per game in tha span.
Nagurski–Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier (LW: 1): Shazier maintains an ever-so slight lead after a bye week, but he has competitors breathing down his neck in a very crowded race.
2. Wisconsin LB Chris Borland (LW: 3): Borland returned from a hamstring injury to record 13 tackles and a pair of sacks vs. BYU. The only thing hurting his chances is the two missed Big Ten games because of that injury.
3. Nebraska DE Randy Gregory (LW: NR): Gregory was spectacular against Michigan in registering three sacks. He now leads the Big Ten in both sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11.5).
4. Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun (LW: 2): Calhoun and the Spartans were off last week. They have a huge showcase game Saturday against Nebraska, which has a banged-up offensive line.
5. Michigan State LB Denicos Allen (LW: 4): See Calhoun, Shilique.
Griese–Brees Quarterback of the Year
1. Miller: The Ohio State quarterback should run away with this award. In fact, his backup -- Kenny Guiton -- could make a case as the league's No. 2 quarterback.
2. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois: Scheelhaase threw for 450 yards last week at Indiana and leads the league with 2,420 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, to go along with eight interceptions. He's only eighth, however, in pass efficiency. There just haven't been a lot of star-making performances at quarterback in the Big Ten this season.