While Ohio State seems to be improving each week, setting a school record with its fourth consecutive 50-plus-points game, the Buckeyes remain ranked 13th in the Associated Press poll and are rarely mentioned as a playoff contender by most of the nation’s analysts.

On the other hand, it seems it’s almost a foregone conclusion by most “experts” that Michigan State will be the Big Ten’s lone chance to make the playoff. The Spartans’ lone loss – at Oregon – is deemed a “good loss” in the eyes of most pundits, as opposed to the 35-21 loss the Buckeyes sustained to Virginia Tech at home.

However, I believe the Buckeyes, whose loss looks worse by the week with each Hokies’ loss, are sitting in a perfect position. Nobody is giving them a chance to win in East Lansing Nov. 8. They will likely enter the game as a five-to-seven point underdog.

Both teams are coming off 56-17 wins over Big Ten opponents, but the games could not have been more different. The Spartans, who have struggled at Purdue and barely hung on to beat Nebraska at home, trailed Indiana 17-13 midway through the second quarter and scored the game’s final 43 points.

Ohio State led Rutgers 56-7 and did not score a point in the fourth quarter.

What the Nov. 8 game will come down to will be how Ohio State’s offensive line handles Michigan’s blitzing front, whether the receivers can beat man coverage and whether J.T. Barrett continues his hot hand. The Spartans surely will play a defense similar to what the Hokies showed in Columbus on Sept. 6.

But none of this matters much if Michigan State and Ohio State don’t win their other remaining games. What Ohio State truly needs, in addition to upsetting the Spartans and running the table to get to 11-1, is for Nebraska to win out, win the Big Ten's West division and arrive in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game with an identical 11-1 record.

That would give the Buckeyes a chance for another impressive win – the day before the playoff committee announces its four teams.

What also needs to happen is one-loss teams such as Notre Dame, the Big 12’s Baylor, TCU, Kansas State and the SEC’s Auburn, Alabama and Georgia to lose again. And all of those mentioned above have several tough games remaining, mostly by playing each other in conference. I believe No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0) still will lose two games. Only Florida State, because of a weak schedule remaining, remains a good bet to finish undefeated.

But since it is guaranteed that there will be at least one one-loss team in the playoff (and likely three), a 12-1 Big Ten champ Ohio State would be in a pretty good position to claim one of those spots – which seemed nearly impossible after the Hokies left Columbus.

“We’re getting better, but we’re just worried about Penn State right now,” Urban Meyer said.

Should the Buckeyes put up 50 or more points on the Nittany Lions, they will become the first Big Ten team since 1903 to record five consecutive games with at least 50 points.

The picture will be a bit clearer Tuesday when the playoff committee releases its first rankings.



After seven games in 2004, Ron Zook’s third season, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley had seen enough. Following a loss at Mississippi State, he pulled the plug on Zook after a 4-3 start in his third season.

“What must be done eventually should be done immediately,” he said then.

He let the Zooker coach out the season while he got a head start on the coaching search, which gave him a jump on Notre Dame and ended with the landing of Urban Meyer. That led to two national titles.

Monday, Foley released a statement that he continues to evaluate the coaching staff, which has the administration’s “full support” heading into the Georgia game Nov. 1 in Jacksonville.

For some reason this time around, after a 3-3 start and a hapless home loss to a Missouri team that was coming off a 34-0 loss to Georgia, he is letting Muschamp remain. You have to wonder if the Gators lose to UGA, which they haven’t beaten under Muschamp, if he fires him or waits it out to the week of the season-finale or even after what surely will be a loss at Florida State on Nov. 29.

Recruits are beginning to de-commit from Florida already, anticipating a coaching change: Jerome Baker, the No. 1 linebacker in Ohio, flipped from the Gators to Ohio State on Tuesday.

At that time, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen will be coaching the biggest game of his life – the Egg Bowl against rival Ole Miss. By then, the Bulldogs and Rebels may not each be top-five teams. But Mullen, the Gators’ offensive coordinator during the two titles under Meyer, surely would be near the top of the Gators’ list of targets for their next head coach. Should the Bulldogs win the Egg Bowl, the SEC Championship and make the playoff, it would hamper the Gators from hiring Mullen.

Charlie Strong would not leave Texas for Florida; and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has turned down the job already at least twice. So I am not sure whom Foley would turn to this time around. One thing is for certain: He has a top-secret file locked in his desk right now with the resumes’ of several targets, of which only he knows.

Which brings us to the latest….


1. Florida – Not even close this week. No major college town is more down in the dumps than Gainesville and Gator Nation.

2. Oklahoma – The Sooners, after being trumped as a prime candidate to make the inaugural playoff, dropped out after a sickening 31-30 loss at home to Kansas State. OU missed two short field goals and had a game-tying extra point blocked in the fourth quarter.

3. Texas A&M – A month ago, many ESPN pundits had the Aggies as the best team in the country and a sure bet for the playoff. Now they have three losses – the latest a 59-0 loss at Alabama. There is no sign in sight that Kevin Sumlin can turn this around this season, either.

4. Stanford – The Cardinal have lost three close ones – to USC, Notre Dame and Arizona State – and sit at 4-3.

5. (tie) Notre Dame – When is a loss really a win? When you are thisclose to winning in Tallahassee. The Irish are still very much in the playoff hunt after the nation saw them play toe-to-toe with the Seminoles. …and Virginia Tech – The Hokies (4-3) were flying high after win in Columbus but have now lost to East Carolina, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh (which had lost to Akron).


SURE TO BE BACK ON THE LIST NEXT WEEK: Michigan – the Wolverines beat Penn State two weeks ago and then had an off week to get ready for their upcoming pounding at Michigan State.


GAMES OF THE WEEK: Ole Miss 24, LSU 20 – I wanted to pick the upset but don’t think the Tigers can throw consistently against the Rebels’ defense; Michigan State 31, Michigan 13 – The Wolverines can’t compete against “little brother.”

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Kentucky (+14) over No. 1 Mississippi State – I just have a feeling the Wildcats get their biggest football win in history.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: East Carolina 59, UConn 6 – The Pirates are due for a big offensive day.

BEST BETS: Memphis (-23) at SMU; South Carolina (+17.5) at Auburn; Ohio State (-13.5) at Penn State.


Minnesota 31, Illinois 20 – The Illini by far the Big Ten’s worst team.

Alabama 44, Tennessee 16 – The Tide rolls on.

TCU 49, Texas Tech 22 – The Horned Frogs remain in the mix of playoff hunt.

Miami 21, Virginia Tech 20 (Thursday) - The Hokies are beat up physically.

Nebraska 38, Rutgers 24 – The Knights put up a little better showing this week.

Utah 34, USC 29 – The Trojans continue to slide.



Last Updated (Wednesday, 22 October 2014 16:07)


PostHeaderIcon THIS WEEK's PICKS ...

GAME OF THE WEEK: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 14 (If Jameis Winston plays); or Notre Dame 17, Florida State 13 (if FSU's administration comes to its senses and he does not).

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Boston College (+7) over Clemson – Tigers are due for another slip-up.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Marshall 48, FIU 13 – The Herd is thundering.

BEST BETS: Michigan State (-14) at Indiana; Central Michigan (-7.5) over Ball State; Northern Illinois (-13) over Miami of Ohio.


Ohio State 49, Rutgers 20 – The Buckeyes are rolling up big numbers offensively.

Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 17 – Sooners usually get a fight from Bill Snyder’s Wildcats.

Nebraska 35, Northwestern 34 – A shootout and closer than the +7 suggests.

Georgia 28, Arkansas 24 – The Hogs can’t win a big one.

Virginia Tech 23, Pittsburgh 20 (Thursday night) – Hokies squeak by on the road.

Baylor 49, West Virginia 38 – A lot of points when the Bears play, no matter whom they play.

Missouri 20, Florida 16 – The Tigers bounce back from 34-0 loss to UGA.

Michigan 1, Off Week 0 – The Wolverines don’t lose for the second consecutive week!


Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:04)



Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher was defiant Monday, once again defending his star quarterback in the face of another investigation and a university-required hearing.

This follows the news that FSU has notified star quarterback Jameis Winston that he will face a code-of-conduct hearing about the alleged sexual assault from 2013. Prosecutors refused to charge him after an investigation a year ago, but now the university wants an independent judge to determine if Winston violated the student code of conduct.

“The facts are the facts,” he said. “There is no victim, because there was no crime.”

That was in response to when a reporter had mentioned “the victim’s” testimony.

I didn’t know Fisher was present during Winston’s encounter with the girl way back when, but he talks as if he was right there in the room. Truth is, he has no idea if there is a victim because he wasn’t there. He is taking Winston’s word as gospel and as history has proven, that’s not such a good idea.

On the heels of that report, ESPN has reported Winston is being investigated for perhaps selling his autograph to a licensed memorabilia merchandise dealer.

It is the same dealer which owns hundreds of items signed by Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who was suspended for last week’s 34-0 win at Missouri, because of the allegations.

According to ESPN, James Spence Authentication certified more than 500 autographs of Gurley, who is being investigated for allegedly taking money for signings.

A search on JSA's website found more than 340 certified Winston autographs. An additional search later on Monday revealed 600 more Winston autographs that had been authenticated and logged into the company's website verification system for a total of more than 950 autographs.

It really came as a big shock.

That’s sarcasm.

The surprise is what took so long for something of this nature to be tied to Winston.

After the win over Syracuse Saturday, Fisher was adamant in defending Winston – yet again.

“Kids sign things all the time," he said. "So what do you want them to do, stop signing stuff? We could make them not have any fans from that standpoint and not sign for anybody. That's what it's going to come to, and that's a shame for college football, that somebody exploits a kid. Now if they're getting paid for it, then I don't have any knowledge of that. I don't believe Jameis did."

I don’t think I have ever seen a head football coach with his head repeatedly stuck in the sand when it comes to any one player. Fisher has repeatedly enabled Winston, then stood behind him when he repeatedly gets into trouble. It’s as if the world is out to get Winston, who is blameless in all these scrapes with the law, or with the rules.

I am sure Winston just happened to sign 53 jerseys and 67 mini FSU helmets out of the goodness of his heart.

Once Gurley was suspended, several of the ESPN talking heads assailed the NCAA rule that prevents a student-athlete from making money off of his signature. Johnny Manziel was suspended for the opening half of the 2013 season-opener against Rice because of this issue. And it’s similar to the situation to what led to Jim Tressel’s resignation at Ohio State. Terrelle Pryor and three other Buckeyes sold their championship rings and jerseys for cash and free tattoos. (Tressel lied to the NCAA about when he learned of the broken rules).

ESPN’s Desmond Howard, for one, ranted and raved over the weekend about the rule that prevented Gurley from making a buck on his own signature.

“Everybody’s doing it,” Howard claimed. “Gurley just got caught. And if there’s no picture of him receiving money, there is no smoking check. They can’t prove it.”

It’s such a narrow-minded way to look at the issue.

First of all, Manziel and Gurley and any other player whose profile is large enough to earn several hundred or even thousands of dollars signing their name are not considering the big picture.

Manziel comes from a wealthy family. But he put his team at risk for a few extra bucks.

Gurley was said to have earned $400.

Consider the fact that Gurley is a sure top-10 pick for next April’s draft, which will make him an instant multi-millionaire. And he can sign with an agent as soon as this season is finished, meaning he would start earning endorsement deals immediately.

So he couldn’t wait three months to have a pocketful of cash and a significant bank account? He had to violate a well-known NCAA rule now, and put his eligibility and his team in jeopardy, so close to becoming rich?

That makes no sense to me.

And don’t tell me he needs it for a pizza or take his girl on a date. I’ve seen the training tables at most major-college football programs and these players are not going hungry.

Now for those who want to assail the rule itself, it is on the books for a well-founded reason.

In the old days of the NCAA, when there was no specific rule, boosters used it to funnel cash to the star players of their favorite programs. For example, they knew they couldn’t walk up to a player and hand him cash. But they could “buy” a jersey, chin strap or a signed photograph for their kids. And they didn’t just pay chump change or the going rate.

So you had boosters buying 8.5-by-11, signed photos of their favorite players for $1,000 each. They were also paying them huge amounts of money to wash their cars or dog-sit.

It was a way to beat the NCAA rules and it was prevalent across the country.

Hence, the NCAA stepped in and ruled that student-athletes could no longer sell their autographs, pictures or anything for that matter. It also was the reason they could not hold gainful employment during their athletic seasons.

But Desmond Howards of the world won’t tell you about those days, when cheating was commonplace, either because they don’t have the perspective of college football history or haven’t done their research on why NCAA rules exist.

But back to Winston for a minute.

From the outside, it appears that Florida State is becoming divided into factions. Given that the FSU president increased his suspension from one half to one full game at 11 p.m. the night before the win over Clemson, Fisher may be battling behind the scenes against his own administration.

He constantly defends Winston, who constantly gets into trouble. The administration, besieged by emails and calls from embarrassed alumni, may feel compelled to do something. Hence, the code-of-conduct hearings.

And now we have the Seminoles’ biggest game of the year, at home against undefeated Notre Dame looming Saturday night as the backdrop to this latest saga.

ESPN’s Gameday will be in town again as it was when Winston was suspended. The focus will be on Winston’s hearing and the investigation into whether he violated NCAA rules.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles continue to win and Winston continues to play well.

He also continues to do things to bring his actions under a microscope – sometimes wielded by the law or the media and now the NCAA.

And Fisher continues to defend him in the aftermath of these reports.

It’s as if the Seminoles can’t get off of this self-induced treadmill into scandal, simply because they want their star player on the field no matter the consequences.




One side effect of the new College Football Playoff already has repeated itself a million times since the season kicked off more than a month ago.

Each week, following Saturday’s games, dozens of analysts from ESPN to the BIG Ten Network to the Food Network are projecting their four teams which will make the playoff.

And the next week, following a bevy of upsets, they cross those teams off the list and re-adjust to pick a different four.

How boring…

I knew the playoff would garner plenty of attention, mainly because the big-city media drove the NCAA power-brokers to cave in on the issue and can the BCS, but I never figured we would have to put up with constant conjecture months in advance of the playoff.

We don’t have to deal with ESPN and the rest of the media picking two Super Bowl teams each Monday, or picking the Final Four in basketball each week during the regular season, but for some reason, this “Who’s your four?” has dominated television following each football Saturday.

In addition, other mind-boggling questions continue daily: “Will the SEC get two teams in?” … “Will the Pac-12 get shut out of the playoff?” … “What about Notre Dame?”

Last weekend was a perfect example of why college football is superior to the NFL – although America’s TV ratings beg to differ. For the first time in history, five of the top-eight ranked teams lost on the same weekend.

The games and upsets themselves were the story.

But many were distracted by what it may or may not have done to the first playoff, which by the way is still more than 80 days away.

All of this is nothing more than a waste of time and space.

The playoff will be held Jan. 1 and Jan. 12, so why all the conjecture months in advance?

It’s like we are trying to predict right now if it will be sunny or cloudy on Christmas Day.

Let the games be played, and then let the committee decide. My guess is that by Sunday, Dec. 7, when the four playoff teams are announced, it will be clear who deserves to be in the inaugural playoff.

Let’s just hope it won’t be another “day that will live in infamy.”

But for now, as soon as an ESPN anchor begins to ask an analyst for his latest four in the playoff, I have the answer – my channel has been changed before the question is completed.


GAMES OF THE WEEK: Texas A&M 29, Ole Miss 24 – The Rebels come back to earth in College Station.

Mississippi State 35, Auburn 27 – The Bulldogs keep on rolling with another big-time win.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Toledo (+6) over Iowa State.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Florida State 55, Syracuse 6 – The Orangemen are this bad.

BEST BETS: Clemson (-11) over Louisville; Marshall (-21.5) over Middle Tennessee State; TCU (+10) at Baylor.






Will college football programs please stop hiring Charlie Weis?

You have to wonder when will they learn that this man is not the offensive genius he purported himself to be.

Make no mistake, Weis made his bones by coaching Tom Brady as the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots 2000-04 when the Pats won three Super Bowl titles.

Since, Weis has not accomplished much on the field, but has become a rich man off of it.

First, Notre Dame hired him in 2005 when Urban Meyer chose to take the Florida job instead. When he was hired, Weis declared his team would have “a decided schematic advantage” over other college teams, obviously meaning he would be able to out-coach other college coaches since he spent time in the NFL.

Then after a 5-2 start, the school inexplicably gave Weis a 10-year contract extension, thinking the NFL may come calling with a head coaching gig. Weis’ Irish teams went 9-3, 10-3, 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6 before the Notre Dame brass pulled the plug and fired him. For that, he received a $19 million buyout, the richest in college football history. Notre Dame paid him $6 million up front and has continued annual payments that end next year.

From South Bend’s departure, Weis spent one season as the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs before Florida’s Will Muschamp hired him for the same position at a $1 million salary. For that, the Gators averaged a paltry 334 yards per game, good for 102nd in the country.

Then, for some reason, Kansas came calling after they fired Turner Gill, hiring him as head coach before Florida could fire him.

Weis’ Jayhawk teams went 1-11 and 3-9 before a 2-2 start this season, in which they were coming off a 42-3 loss at Duke and a 23-0 loss to Texas. That was enough for Kansas. Weis was fired and will be paid almost $7 million in his buyout. Considering his salary and buyout, and the fact that he won only six games in three years, Kansas paid approximately $2.1 million per win.

That has to be some sort of record. In fact, both Notre Dame and Kansas will pay Weis more money not to coach its teams than what he made while on campus.

As for the schematic advantages, the Jayhawks have ranked near the bottom of the nation for three seasons in almost all of the offensive categories.

And Weis?

He ranks near the top of unemployed coaches --- in bank accounts, that is.


In the good ol’ days – in the 1980s and ‘90s that is – the state of Florida was used to hosting mega-Saturdays during the college football season. Florida, Florida State and Miami would be hosting ranked opponents and the state was aglow with football fever as all three usually came away with big wins.

At times, even Texas and Texas A&M hosted top-10 ranked teams on the same day, as has Auburn and Alabama.

But the state of Mississippi?

What in the name of the Magnolia State is going on here?

Mississippi State (4-0) and ranked 12th, hosts No. 6 Texas A&M in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday, while up the road in Oxford, the Ole Miss Rebels (4-0), ranked 11th, will hosting No. 3 Alabama.

Never before have both the Bulldogs and Rebels been 4-0 at the same time – and not since 1958 have the Mississippi schools been ranked this highly at the same time.

In fact, ESPN’s mega-traveling show, College Gameday, will be visiting Oxford for the first time.


The ol’ ball coach has been hailed as an offensive genius throughout his coaching career, but Steve Spurrier failed simple math Saturday night in the final minutes against Missouri. And it may have cost him the game.

Leading 13-7, South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper made a spectacular touchdown catch with only 7:25 remaining. Now with a 12-point lead, the two-point conversion chart, as well as simple math and the game clock, dictates that the offense would stay on the field for a two-point conversion. Instead, the Gamecocks inexplicably kicked the PAT to go ahead 20-7.

“Not one of us on offense was thinking go for two if we scored a touchdown, and we should have been,” Spurrier said on his Sunday teleconference. “It was such a struggle to just move the ball and make some first downs. And all of the sudden Pharoh made that great catch, and the next thing I knew the extra point team was in there, and I looked up and saw what the score was, and I thought 'Oops, we made a mistake. Hopefully, it's not going to come back to haunt us.' And lo and behold, it did. But at the time, we'd stopped them 10 (offensive series) in a row to that point, but we didn't stop them the last two times, and we lost the game.”

Of course, the Tigers stormed back with two late touchdowns to win the game 21-20, when the game would have gone to overtime had the Gamecocks converted a two-point conversion.

What puzzles me is that the Gamecocks had a 13-7 lead for a long time during the second half. During that period, you would think Spurrier, or one of his offensive assistants, would be thinking, “If we get a field goal, we are up two scores, but if we get a touchdown, what play are we running for the two-point conversion?”

It’s as if they were so shocked they scored the touchdown, they were celebrating instead of thinking in the moment.


Some have called Mike Leach “weird,” a “genius,” or “eccentric,” but nobody can ever accuse the Washington State coach of not thinking outside the box. This time, he ranted about texting, and current technology, as a way of life in America:

"I'm not really good with technology. All this button pushing and whatnot. I mean, you can just imagine based on what's happened in the last 15 years. Conversations won't happen 10 years from now. There aren't going to be people to talk to, it's going to be this (mimics pushing buttons). 'Do you want to go out on a date with me?' 'I don't know, what do you look like?' 'Well I look kind of like this.' 'OK, what are your interests?' 'Well, what do you think my interests are? Looking to this thing and typing into this just like yours are.' 'Yeah, no kidding, that's what everybody's doing.' 'Well, where do you want to go?' 'Well, what difference does it make? Because all we're going to be doing is looking into machines anyways.' Well, that's true and in the end, it's going to tough to perpetuate the species. There's no question about that. So we're all going to look in this box and eventually be extinct. That's how it ends."

Actually, I see his point. But you would think a guy who thinks so deeply could motivate his players to play better. The Cougars are 2-3.


Urban Meyer made headlines Monday by saying Braxton Miller will be starting quarterback next season should he return to the Buckeyes as a redshirt senior.

His answer was prompted since redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is playing so well. Barrett has completed 70-of-110 passes (63.6 percent) for 1,087 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times, but has played remarkably well over his first four games.

"Braxton is our quarterback," Meyer said. "To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year (twice). Good to know we've got both of them."

Truth is, Meyer said the right thing in order to increase the odds of Miller returning. Miller has said he will return and not enter the NFL draft, but when it comes to crunch time and his decision must be final next April, you never know if he will listen to an agent, etc.


1. Nebraska (5-0) – The No. 19 Cornhuskers will come back to earth with a beating in East Lansing Saturday.

2. Notre Dame (4-0) – The Irish are ranked No. 8 right now, but won’t finish anywhere near the top-10.

3. Florida State (4-0) – At No. 1, the Seminoles are living on their 2013 national championship reputation.

4. Georgia (3-1) – At No. 13, the Bulldogs have one of the worst defenses in the country, allowing 32 points to Tennessee.

5. Louisville (4-1) – The Cardinals aren’t ranked, but after losing at Virginia and struggling with lowly Wake Forest at home, several more losses are ahead for Bobby Petrino.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Michigan State 38, Nebraska 14 – The Cornhuskers won’t hang with the Spartans.

Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17 – Rebels aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Mississippi State 35, Texas A&M 30 – Should be a shootout.

Tennessee 21, Florida 20 – Perhaps a game-winning field goal on the final play.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Georgia Tech (+2) over Miami – I know two points barely makes it an upset, but there wasn’t much to choose from this week. (I like all the chalk teams).

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: East Carolina 84, SMU 7 – Yes, you read that right.
BEST BETS: Oklahoma (-4) at TCU; Wisconsin (-9.5) at Northwestern; Stanford (-1) over Notre Dame.


Last Updated (Wednesday, 01 October 2014 22:29)

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