Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 8/12/20
One Big Ten school that was absolutely intent on playing college football in the fall appears to be giving up on that dream.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday that, after initial exploration, the Buckeyes will no longer pursue avenues to play football in the fall despite the Big Ten’s cancellation of fall sports. Smith said the school will instead turn all its attention toward preparation for a spring season.
The Big 12 doesn’t yet intend on following the Big Ten and Pac-12 in postponing or canceling football and other fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday afternoon, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported that the Big 12 was still leaning toward playing this fall ahead of a 6 pm ET call among conference presidents.
“The mindset is it’s too early,” a Big 12 source reportedly said. “Unless the medical folks flip the switch, [we’ll go].”
The Big 12, ACC, and SEC all continue to monitor developments as it concerns the uncontrolled virus outbreak. After the Big 12 canceled its virtual media day in late July, league commissioner Bob Bowlsby explained that a final decision on football and other fall sports would be made at a later time.
Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a Duke infectious disease specialist who also serves as chair of the ACC’s medical advisory team, recently told Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily he believes football seasons can begin, as scheduled, this fall.
“We believe we can mitigate it down to a level that makes everyone safe,” Dr. Wolfe said.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey tweeted on Monday that he intends to remain patient before making a call on fall seasons:
Everything in college basketball changes when conference play begins.
Those in power have done wonders to drum up interest in early-season action, with big name teams being featured in tournaments and showcases for the first few months of the season. But blowout wins over cupcake opponents and sloppy early-season play are littered throughout that part of the schedule.
Conference play brings rivalries, road games with student-sections, and a landslide of upsets. In short, it’s the reason we love college basketball. On top of that, succeeding in one of America’s toughest conferences is the best way to prove yourself before March Madness tips off.
With that in mind, here are the early favorites to win the six biggest conferences in college hoops.
ACC – Duke
The Blue Devils might be the boring and obvious pick, but at this point in the season, they are also the most qualified. Duke’s overtime home loss to Stephen F. Austin was a bad mishap, but it’s their only blemish so far. Aside from that slip-up, Duke has impressed with wins over Michigan State, Kansas, Georgetown and Miami.
The ACC’s other top contender, Louisville, lost at home to Florida State this weekend and only gets to play Duke once this season — a road game at Cameron Indoor. Advantage to the Blue Devils.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Big East – Butler
It’s always somewhat shocking to pencil anyone into a Big East title that is not Villanova, yet Butler’s play so far this season has been eye-popping enough to earn this level of respect. The Bulldogs have just one loss, by one point at 4th-ranked Baylor.
Head coach LaVall Jordan has Butler winning games on the defensive end of the floor. The Bulldogs rank fourth in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, thanks to top-ten performances in 3-point percentage allowed, effective field goal percentage allowed and defensive rebounding rate. Butler fights to get stops and follows them with rebounds.
Offensively, everything churns through senior guard Kamar Baldwin. His 14.7 point per game average doesn’t fully explain how capable he is of taking over a game in crunch time.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Big Ten – Michigan State
A few weeks ago, when Ohio State was 9-0 and ranked in the top three in the AP Poll, this answer would have been different. Back then, Michigan State was just 6-3 and clearly had some issues on the offensive end.
Since December 8, Ohio State has lost three of its last five games, while Michigan State has sparked a six-game winning streak. The Spartans are now two games ahead of the Buckeyes in the loss column in Big Ten play and sit a full 1.5 games ahead of the rest of the conference in the standings.
Make no mistake — the Big Ten is college basketball’s toughest conference and will be an absolute battle all season long. Even so, any team eager to compete for the title will need to go into the Breslin Center in East Lansing and win. With Tom Izzo on the sidelines and Cassius Winston patrolling the court for Sparty, that’s not likely to happen much, if at all, this season.
Penn State is going to play for the Big Ten Championship next Saturday with a chance to win the conference outright for the first time since 1994.
At No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the Nittany Lions might be playing for a spot in the final four too.
The College Football Playoff selection committee’s criteria, as laid out on their website, makes it clear that above all else, they value conference championships. After that comes strength of schedule and head-to-head competition.
Based on that, should Penn State win Saturday and claim the title of arguably the best conference in football, they should be in the playoff, right?
Well, there’s a problem with that.
Ohio State might get the Big Ten’s spot in the playoff.
There’s a ton to still play out over the next seven days, but Penn State could create a massive conundrum for the College Football Playoff selection committee, who in the last rankings had Ohio State at No. 2 (and that was before they beat No.3 Michigan.)
Washington still has to play in the Pac-12 title game next Friday, but if they win, they’ll have only one loss on the season — to USC, one of the best teams in the nation. A one-loss Washington is in the playoff.
Clemson still has to play in the ACC title game next Saturday, but if they win, they’ll only have one loss on the season. Clemson is already No. 4 in the rankings and if they have an ACC title to their name, they should be in the playoff.
Even when Ohio State has struggled under Urban Meyer, you more often than not felt comfortable that the Buckeyes would end up making the play they would need to win.
It didn’t happen on Saturday night at Penn State.
J.T. Barrett was sacked on fourth-and-23 in the final minute, and the Nittany Lions handed the No. 2 Buckeyes a 24-21 loss in front of 107,280 fans in Beaver Stadium.
Put in a position to drive 89 yards for at least a game-tying field goal, Barrett did all he could with poor pass protection, connecting on a pair of third-down throws to Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson to keep the drive alive. But on 3rd-and-10, Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda came off the right edge to bring Barrett down for the fifth time on the night.
That set up the nearly impossible fourth-down conversion that handed Ohio State just its second regular season Big Ten loss under Urban Meyer.
Barrett finished 28-of-43 for 245 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) outgained Penn State 413-276 in total offense, but Penn State made the decisive plays to win the game.
Special teams blunders finally caught up to Ohio State in the fourth quarter. Marcus Allen blocked a 45-yard Tyler Durbin field goal attempt that was returned 60 yards by Grant Haley for a touchdown that gave Penn State a 24-21 lead with 4:27 left.
Another miscue allowed Penn State back in the game earlier in the quarter. A blocked punt put Ohio State’s defense on a short field, but the Buckeyes limited Penn State to a field goal that cut their lead to 21-17 with 9:33 left. That came after Penn State went 90 yards on five plays, including a 37-yard run by Saquon Barkley, to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 21-14 on a two-yard Trace McSorley run with 13:32 left.
Penn State outscored Ohio State 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
What it means
A rare loss for Ohio State under Meyer, who is now 56-5 as the head coach of the Buckeyes. Ohio State can still win the Big Ten East Division if it wins out, including a win over Michigan on Nov. 26.
Why no Samuel?
Urban Meyer has routinely labeled Curtis Samuel Ohio State’s best offensive playmaker. And for the second time in three games he was largely absent from the gameplan.
If the first six weeks of the college football season have taught fans anything, it’s this: Never turn off a Tennessee game.
The Volunteers remained America’s most interesting college football team, though not undefeated. Navy upset the playoff race and Charlie Strong had another bad, bad day.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from Week 6:
1. If you were looking forward to a couple of months of talking about whether No. 6 Houston could or should be selected for the College Football Playoff, Navy just ruined it for you. The dream is not quite dead for the Cougars, but it is on life support.
2. Best-case scenario for Houston: 12-1 with an American Athletic Conference championship game victory against a USF team with only one loss coming in. Oklahoma wins the Big 12. Louisville, which plays at Houston in November, doesn’t lose another game. Could that resume be good enough to get Houston into the playoff if a bunch of Power Five conference teams finish the regular season with multiple losses.
3. The other big winner with Houston losing: No. 19 Boise State and Western Michigan. Both those unbeaten Broncos will be competing with the Cougars for the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
4. Because this is college football, somewhere there is at least one Houston fan complaining that Tom Herman is all hype and just might not be the guy to get the Cougars over the top.
5. Speaking of Herman, let’s talk Texas.
6. Charlie Strong, a former defensive coordinator, took over those duties at Texas this week. TheLonghorns allowed 672 yards in a loss to Oklahoma , the third consecutive game of more than 500 and five yards shy of the most the Sooners have ever gained against Texas. So who gets replaced now?
7. At some point the negativity around a program can become so overwhelming, success seems impossible. Texas seems very close to reaching that point.
8. How will No. 9 Tennessee have anything left for No. 1 Alabama next week after emotional rallies against Florida, Georgia and now Texas A&M? The Vols couldn’t complete the deal against the Aggies.
9. Hard to see the Vols beating the Crimson Tide in Knoxville, but chances are decent it is an entertaining.
10. Alabama is so good it is driving fans of other teams a little crazy.
11. Texas A&M had been 5-0 each of the last three seasons, but couldn’t get to 6-0. The Aggies now have a week off before playing at Alabama with house money. Trevor Knight, who accounted for five touchdowns against the Vols, does have a history of success against the Crimson Tide.Small sample size, but still.
12. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he wasn’t trying to give Jabrill Peppers a chance to shine in his home state of New Jersey, but there was no doubt the prime-time blowout of Rutgers was the do-it-all star’s opportunity to get some Heisman Trophy traction.
Written by Derick Hutchinson at ClickonDetroit.com
It’s been a long six years for Michigan football fans.
Since Wisconsin last stepped foot in the Big House, Michigan has gone through three head coaches, lost three bowl games and dropped nine of 11 games against its rivals.
When the Badgers rolled through the Big House on Nov. 20, 2010, they left behind a lost and battered Michigan program. When they return Saturday, they’ll find a team competing for a national championship
Top 10 matchup
Before the season, it seemed nearly impossible that Michigan and Wisconsin would meet as top 10 foes, and it took two very different paths for the teams to arrive here.
Michigan was heavily favored in four straight games and came through with four blowout wins. Only Colorado, which led 21-7 in the first half, gave Michigan any type of scare. But even with a 14-point lead, Colorado couldn’t keep Michigan in its sights, falling by 17 points.
Through four games, Michigan has scored 208 points and held its opponents to just 55 points. Thanks to a preseason No. 7 ranking, the Wolverines have climbed into the top five.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, had to work much harder. The Badgers were unranked coming into the season, but quickly changed that with a season-opening win over No. 5 LSU. Three weeks later, the Badgers went into East Lansing and bullied No. 8 Michigan State, 30-6.
Wisconsin climbed to No. 8 in the AP poll to set up a game in Ann Arbor that not only holds major Big Ten implications, but national ones as well.
Wisconsin’s offense took a sharp turn for the better two weeks ago when redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook took over for Bart Houston.
Hornibrook led a pair of touchdown drives to save the Badgers from disaster against Georgia State, then threw for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his first career start against Michigan State. Some of the windows Hornibrook threw into against Michigan State were nearly too small to attempt, but the freshman was fearless and made the plays necessary to complete the upset.
Now Hornibrook is the sure starter heading into Ann Arbor, where he’ll see another of the country’s top defenses.
Michigan’s quarterback enters the game with more experience, but not by much. Wilton Speight has completed 63.2 percent of his passes this season, compiling 875 yards and nine touchdowns to just one interception.
Speight has struggled with the deep ball this season, especially during the first half against Colorado. But his command of the offense and his accuracy on short passes has given Michigan enough offensive firepower to score the second-most points in the country.
Neither quarterback has played in a game of this magnitude, where the winner joins Ohio State among the favorites in the Big Ten. In a game that could be decided by turnovers and field position, their decisions could be the difference.
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