The first rule of business and government in a free society is this: The leaders, presidents, CEOs – the people who are paid the most supposedly because they are the smartest – sometimes make the dumbest decisions.

Otherwise, there would never have been a Ford Edsel or New Coke. Someone in charge wouldn’t have decided to fill the Hindenberg with hydrogen. And someone high up in the White Star Lines, owner of the Titanic, wouldn’t have decided to ignore the iceberg warnings in the North Atlantic.

Which brings me to Ohio State’s tradition-rich football program and its iconic scarlet-and-gray uniforms…

Someone – Nike and Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith particularly – has decided the Buckeyes should play the Oct. 3 game at Ohio Stadium against Penn State in all-black uniforms.

Now the critics of this column will tell me I am making too much out of something so superficial. “They are just uniforms, after all,” they’ll say. And, “It’s only for one night.”

And the U.S. flag is just a flag, right? No matter the maker of the flag, even if made in China, there are 50 stars and they are always white, right? You may say that is not a valid comparison. Sure it is. The flag, like any uniform, is a symbol. A symbol that stands for something significant.

Ohio State’s official school colors are scarlet and gray, as everyone knows. Its football uniforms of those colors, along with helmets adorned by Buckeye leaves, are iconic -- symbols that are recognizable from coast to coast, much like the NY for the Yankees or the gold helmets Notre Dame wears and have been for decades.

Woody Hayes and Ohio State’s long-time trainer, Ernie Biggs, saw to that. They put their heads together in the winter of 1968 and came up with the Buckeyes’ current look mainly because Hayes didn’t want the Buckeyes to wear scarlet and white helmets any longer. He wanted the color gray to be more prominent. So they came up with the silver helmets adorned with Buckeye leaves, which were designed by Ohio State’s legendary cartoonist Milton Caniff, and jerseys with gray and white stripes. Gray pants were to be worn during all games, home and away.

For the past 47 years, these uniforms have represented a program of excellence, with only slight alterations to the sleeves, stripes on the pants and the size of those Buckeye leaves as the years have passed.

Today, Hayes has a street in front of Ohio Stadium and the football facility building named after him. That same building once was named the Ernie Biggs Football Facility. The School of Journalism Library is called the Milton Caniff Library. I don’t think Ohio State will be naming many buildings after the people who made this decision.

I know one thing for sure: These all-black fashion-blunders wouldn’t see the light of day if Hayes was still around. He is one guy who wouldn’t sacrifice tradition in the face of making more money. His offense may have been archaic and he was stubborn in his play-calling and his methods, but his principles and integrity were above reproach.

It’s fitting that the Buckeyes will be playing Penn State in these new all-black concoctions. The leaders-that-be should take a good look across the field that night as the Nittany Lions wear all-white. Years ago, Nike tried to convince Penn State to liven up their so-called boring uniforms. Joe Paterno – backed by more than a million people who didn’t want the Nittany Lions’ look touched no matter how much revenue it meant – told Nike to take a hikey.

(And don’t bring Paterno’s ultimate undoing up in this conversation – it’s completely irrelevant.)

I guarantee that people in sports bars across America that night will look up at the TV and ask, “Who’s that team playing Penn State?”

For the record, these all-black uniforms are almost identical to those worn by Oregon State. Which is typical, because it’s the Oregon States, Rutgers and Marylands of the college football world who must resort to this trick. Their traditions don’t run as deep. Their uniforms have changed like the winter wind and nobody cares anyway.

What the people making these decisions at Ohio State don’t fully grasp is this: They are not the owners of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the sense that an individual or group of individuals owns an NFL team. They are just employees of the university’s athletic department – employees who may come and go and move on to other jobs during their careers. The football program and team – and the uniform it wears -- does not belong to them.

More importantly, the football team and entire program belongs to the people of Ohio, the fans, alumni and former players. And I am betting that if you took a poll right now, the people who matter would overwhelmingly veto this ill-advised idea.

I don’t want to hear the reasoning that the players think these uniforms are “cool.” Eighteen to 22-year-olds will wear the uniform you tell them to wear, and they are much too young to fully understand the significance and power of this rich tradition. That comes later, when they are much older. Just ask any former player. And those iconic scarlet and gray uniforms were good enough for them to sign to play at Ohio State in the first place, weren’t they?

You start letting players make important decisions and they would vote to have draught beer at the training table and replace off-season, early-morning weight sessions with video-game tournaments.

And here’s the extremely far-fetched notion, the one that says this will help recruiting. Please. You think Urban Meyer is struggling to sign recruits right now? He’s getting most every four- and five-star player he seeks these days, and the Buckeyes’ 2016 commitment class is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by almost every recruiting service.

I emailed Gene Smith Sunday morning to ask if this decision was reversible if the public outcry is loud enough. He responded, “Done deal, thanks for the question.”

I then asked, “The decision was made by???”

He responded, “I made the final decision with input from others, including Urban and selected players and former players.”

I would like to know the ages and identities of those former players. And I am surprised at Urban Meyer, who seems to have an appropriate sense of Ohio State tradition, although he probably didn’t know Hayes himself designed the current uniforms.

(If you have any comments or further questions, Gene’s office phone number is 614-292-2477. After all, Ohio State is a state-funded, public university.)

Maybe someone needs to be reminded of the first line of the second stanza of Ohio State’s primary fight song, the “Buckeye Battle Cry.” It’s “Drive, drive on down the field, men of the Scarlet and Gray … ”

For the Penn State game, as the marching band high-steps from North to South before the game, are they changing it to, “Drive, drive down on the field, men of the all-black, Nike-sponsored, tradition-compromising uniforms…”?

This pandering to Nike – Ohio State already has worn three versions of Nike throw-back and alternate uniforms in recent years – has gone too far. What’s next … Script Nike by the TBDBITL?

As for me, since I left the newspaper business in 1994 and no longer had to cover a college football beat which usually conflicted with watching an Ohio State game, I have missed seeing, either in person or on TV, only one Buckeye game in these past 21 seasons (a 41-11 win over Iowa, 1999, for a niece’s wedding in Tiffin).

But now I can make that two -- I will not watch the Penn State game. Two other tradition-rich programs, USC and Notre Dame, will be playing at the same time and those two teams will be wearing their recognizable, traditional garb because they didn’t sell out to their apparel provider.

Finally, I have to ask, why black? Why not all-green? That way, everyone can be reminded what this decision was all about.

And in place of the Buckeye leaves, just throw a $ sign on the side of those helmets.


Jeff Snook, a 1982 Ohio State graduate, has written 12 books on college football. He resides in Lantana, Florida.

Last Updated (Sunday, 04 October 2015 13:47)



Now that 95 percent of the non-conference matchups have been played and we have a feel for who is a national playoff contender and who are the pretenders, it’s a perfect time to rate the strength of the conferences.

And perhaps for the first time in a decade, the SEC doesn’t appear to be No. 1 from top to bottom. At least not in my eyes.

This season, you have to look to the West to find the nation’s best conference:

1. PAC-12 – No doubt about it – UCLA and a surprising Utah appear to be solid College Football Playoff contenders. Then throw in USC, even with the home loss to Stanford. The Trojans, because of their explosive offense, could win out and make a strong case, depending on who is left standing in early December. Ditto for the Cardinal, but that horrible season-opening loss at Northwestern still looks horrible even though the Wildcats are 4-0. Arizona and Arizona State declared themselves defenseless and pretenders in lopsided losses at home last week. Oregon, too, is down, obviously, having dropped out of the rankings for the first time in 10 years. And don’t forget about Cal. The Bears are one of the country’s most improved teams and boast Jared Goff, who likely will be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft. Washington adds depth.

2. SEC – This weekend is critical for Ole Miss and Georgia. The Rebels travel to Gainesville to meet the undefeated Gators, fresh off a somewhat of a miracle win over Tennessee. This is the time for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs to get a big win and declare themselves contenders – if they can beat Alabama at home. This is the first time the Crimson Tide are not favored in the past 72 games – an NCAA record. While Auburn (2-2) and Arkansas (1-3) are down, the other Tigers (LSU) may indeed be contenders in the West with Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette racking up huge rushing numbers. In the East, the Vols have blown two games (Oklahoma and Florida) late in the fourth quarter with terrible clock management and poor decisions by Butch Jones, or they would be 4-0 and looking to contend.

3. BIG TEN – Obviously, you start with Ohio State and Michigan State, currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2. There may not be a bigger game this season than that Nov. 21 showdown in Columbus. I still see a chance that the loser, if it is a close game, could slip into the four-team playoff field with help, especially if it is the Spartans and they finish 12-1. They would just need two-loss champs from the SEC, ACC or Pac-12. Now you throw Michigan in there and it’s almost like the old days. No team has improved more than the Jim Harbaugh-coached Wolverines. He’s done exactly what was expected: Made Michigan tough again, along the line of scrimmage and especially on defense. The Wolverines’ running game is formidable and they will challenge the Spartans and Buckeyes. Other than these three, the rest are mediocre and pretenders, even 4-0 Northwestern. Penn State is slow and methodical, as the loss to Temple showed. Wisconsin likely will come out of the West – again – but the Badgers couldn’t hang with Alabama in the season-opener.

4. BIG 12 – Call them the “snubbed conference.” That’s how they feel after one-loss TCU and one-loss Baylor were left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. If only this conference’s best teams played better defense, or any defense for that matter, I would have them above the Big Ten. TCU has struggled in the past two weeks to get SMU and Texas Tech off the field, but survived on a last-second tipped pass at Lubbock. Baylor may be the best team. The Bears appear to be unstoppable. Then there’s Oklahoma, which had to rally in overtime to win at Tennessee, and Oklahoma State. Both the Sooners and Cowboys will have a lot to say about who wins this conference since they host all the contenders in November. And don’t forget about Texas A&M.

5. ACC – As usual, it’s Clemson and Florida State. We’ll see how good the Tigers are in hosting Notre Dame Saturday night. If they can win and win impressively, than they may indeed have the goods to contend for a playoff spot. Nobody knows if the Seminoles are good enough because they haven’t played a decent team yet, other than the sloppy 14-0 win at Boston College. Virginia Tech, despite leading Ohio State 17-14 at halftime, turned into another pretender – punctuated by a sloppy loss at East Carolina. Ditto for Georgia Tech, a trendy pick by some for a playoff spot. The Orange Bowl champion Yellow Jackets laid a giant egg at Notre Dame two weeks ago and then turned around and lost to Duke.

On to this week’s matchups…

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Georgia 33, Alabama 30 – I think the Bulldogs will get it done at home, and eliminate the Tide. It could be a classic game for the ages.

Clemson 31, Notre Dame 27 – This truly could go either way. The Irish just keep winning with backups at key positions, while the Tigers have not been tested. But I’ll take a loud atmosphere at Death Valley to make a difference.

Ole Miss 24, Florida 17 – A low-scoring, hard-hitting game in which the Rebels survive.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: West Virginia (+7.5) at No. 15 Oklahoma – I am going out on a big limb here and thinking Dana Holgorsen comes up with great game plan.

BEST BETS: Michigan State (-22) over Purdue – A rout is brewing for Sparty. The Boilers are deceptively terrible; Florida State (-18) over Wake Forest – Can’t believe this number is so low.

ROUT OF THE WEEK: LSU 70, Eastern Michigan 3 – The nation’s worst rush defense vs. Leonard Fournette? The stands will be empty by the start of the fourth quarter.


Miami 38, Cincinnati 31 (Thursday night) – I would like to take the Bearcats in an upset, but without Gunnar Kiel….?

Ohio State 62, Indiana 28 – The Hoosiers have absolutely no defense.

Wisconsin 30, Iowa 17 – The Hawkeyes get a taste of defeat.

Baylor 70, Texas Tech 38 – Anyone like basketball scores?

Texas A&M 35, Mississippi State 24 – The Aggies roll on.

UCLA 42, Arizona State 21 – The Bruins stay perfect.


Stanford 55, Arizona 17 – Rich Rod’s team can’t stop any decent offense.

Last Updated (Thursday, 01 October 2015 13:47)



Urban Meyer has pushed all the right buttons since Ohio State hired him in November of 2012. He has a sparkling 41-3 record, won a national championship, has a 3-0 record against Michigan and is currently riding a NCAA-best 16-game winning streak.

So obviously, there is not much to complain about for Buckeye fans.

But for the life of me, I still don’t see what he must see in Cardale Jones that makes him pick him over J.T. Barrett as the Ohio State starting quarterback.

“Cardale will be the starter this week,” he said Wednesday night. “The other guy hasn’t beaten him out.”

The other guy?

Is this any way to refer to a quarterback who led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record last season, putting them in position to win that national title? A guy who set a Big Ten record with 45 touchdowns accounted for? A guy who completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards. A guy who operates Meyer’s beloved spread, zone-read offense like he invented it? A guy who did all that as a redshirt freshman?

I admit it – I don’t get it.

Sure, Jones led his team to improbable wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon in his only three starts. He’s big and strong and can run over people. He can throw the football a mile. He is the better NFL prospect. I get all that. But nobody can convince me he’s the better quarterback for this team – the 2015 Buckeyes.

I could have predicted Jones would start the season this way – three interceptions in only 46 attempts and a 56 percent completion rate. After his celebrity shut up like the Space Shuttle with just three wins, he graced magazine covers, threw out the first pitch at an Indians’ game, sat courtside at Cavalier games and became the second biggest sports celebrity in his hometown of Cleveland (if you have to ask who is No. 1 … ).

He enjoyed his sudden fame this off-season and he had a right to do so. But it appears it came at the expense of preparing full-throttle for surely would be his final season before accepting the NFL's riches. Or maybe his lack of experience has caught up with him. Or maybe not having Devin Smith out-run everybody for a jump ball beyond the secondary suddenly makes him look pedestrian.

For whatever reason, as the offense has struggled in sluggish wins over Hawaii and Northern Illinois, Jones has looked like the third-string quarterback we knew him to be before Braxton Miller injured his shoulder a little more than a year ago. After Jones has been benched in both games, I admit that Barrett hasn’t been a whole lot better.

But it’s also obvious that Barrett appears to be pressing when he has gotten into the last two games, probably thinking he needs to be near perfect to keep the job, since Meyer has made this an open competition for some reason. I believe in Barrett simply because his body of work – 12 starts (11 of which were basically flawless) – is much larger and the fact that he such a great leader, he’s been named the first sophomore captain in 125 years of Ohio State football history. More importantly, he’s more reliable. He's trustworthy. His guts and will alone won games a year ago (at Penn State and at Minnesota) when the running game stalled. I thought for sure after Saturday’s debacle, in which Jones threw a horrible interception on Ohio State’s first possession, chewed out receivers on the next two and the offense managed only 13 points, that Meyer would turn to Barrett for good this week. Then, as he is apt to do, Jones tweeted some snide comment late Saturday about being a “third-string quarterback.”

I figured his goose would be cooked for good with that bonehead move.

Then Meyer made his announcement Wednesday.

I have to wonder: Is it the Cleveland Glenville connection he doesn’t want to burn? Is it the fact Jones is older and Barrett will have two more years of eligibility? Or is Lebron himself advising Meyer to keep the Clevelander as the starter? (I am joking, of course).

“He is the guy, unless he doesn’t perform well,” Meyer explained.


He’s already not performed well, and yet, he will trot out as the starter against Western Michigan Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

I was optimistic after Saturday’s game when Meyer hinted it was time to pick one quarterback and stick to his decision.

I thought for sure he would turn to Barrett.

And here’s the kicker – it really doesn’t matter because Ohio State will keep winning with either quarterback until Michigan State comes to town Nov. 21. The fact is, the defense is too good to keep this team from losing to the Penn States, Rutgers and Marylands on their schedule. Zeke Elliott will break out sooner or later and the offense will start clicking no matter who is at quarterback.

I just think Barrett deserves to play more and if he sits on the bench for most of this season, that will be a real shame.

It will all come down to Michigan State, Michigan and then the Big Ten Championship Game anyway.

I am trying to remember now … who was the guy that led the offense to 49 points on that stout Spartan defense in East Lansing last November?

Oh, right. It was the other guy.

For my money, right now, the other guy is getting screwed.

EXTRA POINTS: The Bowling Green-Purdue matchup is the first time I ever remember a MAC team being favored over a Big Ten team while playing on the road. The Falcons, who blasted Maryland 49-28 two weeks ago, have been bet up to a two-point favorite over the Boilermakers, who gave up 51 points to Virginia Tech last week … Indiana can get off to a 4-0 start by winning at hapless Wake Forest … Because of their schedules, there is no reason the Buckeyes and Spartans won’t be ranked No. 1 and No. 2 when they meet Nov. 21 in Columbus … Oklahoma has played five home games in the last two seasons which have started at 11 a.m. local time because of network obligations. The Sooners’ Oct. 3 game against West Virginia was moved to 11 a.m. this week by FoxSports1 and Oklahoma administrators and coaches aren’t happy. “We were extremely disappointed to learn today that the television network had set our West Virginia game for 11 a.m," OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said.”As illustrated by 100 consecutive sellouts, our fans are loyal and resilient, but we understand completely the hardship this creates for them, especially if it happens too often or consecutively.” Bear in mind that football pre-game meals are consumed exactly four hours before kickoff, meaning both teams will eat theirs at 7 a.m. while most tailgating Sooner fans travel to Norman from around the state of Oklahoma … On the flip side, the Alabama-Ole Miss game kicked off at 8:15 CST last week in Tuscaloosa and ended at 12:45 a.m. local, time. Then again, the networks are a large reason OU Coach Bob Stoops makes $5 million per year and Alabama’s Nick Saban is the highest-paid collegiate coach at nearly $7 million.

GAME OF THE WEEK: UCLA 39, Arizona 28 – RichRod’s Wildcats are pretenders, not contenders.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: BYU (+5) over Michigan – The Wolverines still struggling on offense; Ohio (+13) over Minnesota – That’s right, the Bobcats can get it done in Minneapolis.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Alabama 61, Louisiana-Monroe 10 – An angry Crimson Tide.

BEST BETS: Marshall (-7) over Kent State; Texas Tech (+9) versus TCU.


Ohio State 55, Western Michigan 10 – The Buckeyes’ offense gets in gear, finally.

Tennessee 27, Florida 25 – Can go either way.

Mississippi State 30, Auburn 24 – Tigers continue to slide.

Wisconsin 35, Hawaii 6 – The Rainbow Warriors struggle offensively again.

Oregon 35, Utah 27 – Not an easy game for the Ducks.

USC 40, Arizona State 35 – Trojans win big game in Tempe.

LSU 41, Syracuse 7 – The Tigers are a playoff contender.

Last Updated (Thursday, 24 September 2015 02:38)



Buckeye fans can file the following under good ol’ karma.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema last Monday: “I spent a lot of time in that other conference (the Big Ten). Ohio State’s ranked No. 1 and they have one game remaining on their schedule that has anybody ranked right now — Michigan State. We’re going to play eight straight opponents that are ranked.”

Toledo 16, Arkansas 12.

Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen, last Wednesday: “I look at the (schedules’ ranking index for probability win percentage). I saw it said that Ohio State has a 99 percent chance to win most of their games. What would be interesting is how that would rank for each team in the SEC West off of that schedule, and how many of those teams would almost be looking at locks into the playoff just in the West if that was the schedule that our teams had to play. What would their percentage be if they were playing one of our schedules?”

LSU 21, Mississippi State 19.

South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier, two weeks ago: “Every now and then when I listen in to (Paul Finebaum’s radio show),  I know the SEC fans are a little upset at Ohio State's schedule and rightfully so to tell you the truth. But that’s just the way it is and how it works out for all of us. I remember several years ago, Texas A&M had four gimme games outside the conference, then eight conference games. There's four of us (in the SEC) that have in-state rivalry games from another conference. We've got a pretty tough schedule.”

Kentucky 26, South Carolina 22.

It was a great day Saturday for Buckeye fans and it had little to do with Ohio State’s mediocre performance offensively in a 38-0 win over Hawaii in the home-opener at Ohio Stadium.

It just seems that too many head coaches across the country are taking potshots at the No. 1 Buckeyes and their schedule, instead of worrying about their own schedules.

And to Mullen’s argument, it’s not like the SEC West is the murderer’s row many thought it to be since every team – Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn and Alabama – lost in its bowl game last season. Especially since the Tide, annually considered the beast of the group, lost to the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl.

The fact is: The Buckeyes' schedule is not strong, but through no fault of their own. Bear in mind that the non-conference opponents -- Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan -- are set anywhere from three to six years in advance. In any given year, Virginia Tech can beat anybody. Northern Illinois had a 12-1 record and played in the Orange Bowl just two years ago. The other two were gimme wins, obviously.

Then there's the Big Ten recent expansion in adding Rutgers and Maryland, a move designed to generate more revenue through the Big Ten Network's reach to the East Coast. That resulted in the Knights and Terps replacing such Big Ten teams (now in the Big Ten West Division) as Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin on the Buckeyes' schedule. Let's face it: The Big Ten's East has no depth and little quality, outside of the Buckeyes and Michigan State, which travels to Columbus on Nov. 21 in what by then could very well be a No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown.

Of the three results last Saturday involving the shoot-from-the-lip coaches, only the Rockets’ upset in Little Rock had to be a surprise.  The fact is, LSU and Kentucky were the better teams in those other two games. Bielema has developed a reputation for a guy who pops off quite often and his comments and subsequent shocker to a MAC team, especially to a MAC team from Ohio, won’t help his status.

There is some backdrop to these comments so you have the full context. Mullen was Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida during the Gators’ 2006 and ’08 national title seasons, and perhaps he and the former boss have had a little falling out in recent seasons. Bielema lost his defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, to Meyer before the 2014 season and wasn’t happy about it.

As far as Spurrier goes, he is known for saying just about anything at any time, in hopes of gaining the wrath of someone. He’s made enemies of fans from Georgia, Clemson, Tennessee, Florida State and Alabama over the years. So taking a shot at the Buckeyes was nothing new, even though he says he considers Meyer a friend.

Which leads me to…


The Ol’ Ball Coach ain’t having much fun these days. He has turned 70 years old, has a downright poor football team and there isn’t much optimism at South Carolina. Could this be Steve Spurrier’s final season in coaching?

He has been silent lately about the subject, but on July 22, he held a special press conference and went off on reporters who suggested he was nearing the end. He called them “my enemies.”

“If you’ve been good and won a lot of games, you make enemies,” he said. “I want to tell all Gamecock fans not to listen to my enemies.”

The Gamecocks lost 26-22 at home to Kentucky last week after winning the opener over North Carolina 17-13 – a game they had no business winning.

Now South Carolina travels to Georgia, a school Spurrier has loved tweaking dating back to his first season in 1990 as Florida’s head coach. He has a 16-6 record against the hated Bulldogs but happens to be a 17-point underdog this week. Furthermore, he will start a backup quarterback after starter Connor Mitch sustained a separated shoulder while diving for an errant option pitch.

There is nothing Georgia fans would love more than for Mark Richt’s team to roll up a big score in what could be Spurrier’s final game against the Bulldogs.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: LSU 33, Auburn 24 – The better Tigers reside in Baton Rouge.

Alabama 30, Ole Miss 20 – The Tide still are the kings of the SEC West, no matter what the Rebels have done the first two weeks of the season.

Georgia Tech 38, Notre Dame 23 – Mark it down – The Irish will not be able to slow down the explosive Yellow Jackets.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Kentucky (+4) over Florida – Really not much of an upset, other than the Wildcats haven’t beaten the Gators since 1986.

BEST BETS: Cal (-4) at Texas – The Bears will rumble over the bumbling Longhorns; Rice (-6) at North Texas – The Owls gained 200 more yards than Texas, but had five turnovers; Western Kentucky (+1.5) at Indiana – The Hilltoppers will beat a Big Ten team.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: TCU 60, SMU 13 – The Horned Frogs will want to roll up points over the crosstown Mustangs.


Ohio State 55, Northern Illinois 10 – The Buckeyes should come out much sharper than they did against Hawaii.

Michigan 47, UNLV 20 – The Wolverines were flawless in the final three quarters against Oregon State.

Clemson 31, Louisville 30 (Friday night) – They call it “karma” when Bobby Petrino’s team starts 0-3.

Florida State 28, Boston College 24 (Friday night) – Seriously, this could turn into an upset.

North Carolina 40, Illinois 20 – The Tar Heels get their act together against one of the Big Ten’s worst teams.

Duke 35, Northwestern 30 – The Wildcats come back down to earth after impressive 2-0 start.

Iowa 27, Pittsburgh 22 – The Hawkeyes are coming off a great game at rival Iowa State.

UCLA 44, BYU 21 – There will not be a third consecutive Hail Mary for the Cougars this week.

Penn State 17, Rutgers 13 – You want to watch some bad football? Watch this game.

Virginia Tech 29, Purdue 20 – This actually is an interesting matchup in West Lafayette.

Georgia 40, South Carolina 17 – The Bulldogs win big against Spurrier’s depleted team.

Nebraska 35, Miami 34 – Could go either way, but a lot of points will be scored.


Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 September 2015 19:13)



Ohio State has never done what many head coaches have told me over the years that they will never do again – play a Saturday game following a Monday game.

And following a road game to boot.

But they will this week.

“It’s awful,” Urban Meyer said.

Consider that the top-ranked Buckeyes returned home from Blacksburg, Va., Tuesday morning, had meetings, got some sleep and began preparations for Hawaii Wednesday.

"It's real difficult right now," he added. "Guys are still sore ... beat up. We have to be real careful how we approach it. But we have some depth now. We played a lot of guys Monday."

When asked if Ohio State had spent any time on Hawaii, Meyer blurted, "No. No. It was all hands-on-deck for Virginia Tech."

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the Rainbow Warriors aren’t too much of a threat, even though they did shock Colorado 28-20 last Friday in Honolulu.

This will be the first meeting between the two schools and it came about when Ohio State’s former assistant athletic director Ben Jay became Hawaii’s athletic director in 2012 (he resigned under pressure after only two years on the job). The Rainbow Warriors will make the 9,020 trip on Thursday to get acclimated to the time change, have a walk-through at Ohio Stadium on Friday and rest up before the 3:30 Saturday kickoff.

Ohio State players won’t spend much time on Hawaii’s schemes, simply because there hasn't been enough time and the Buckeyes put all their eggs in their pre-season basket by preparing for the Hokies, who upset them 35-21 a year ago. Instead, Ohio State will stress playing the best it can. And you will see plenty of second-teamers and third-teamers play due to the short week.

I still think Meyer will start J.T. Barrett Saturday for many reasons, after starting Cardale Jones in the 42-34 win at Virginia Tech Monday.

Jones was 9-of-18 Monday for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but threw a terrible interception that helped the Hokies run off 17 consecutive points for a halftime lead.

Meyer did say after the game, "Nine-of-18 isn't good enough ... We have to have a higher percentage."

But it was less a jab at Jones than what he wants from whoever plays quarterback.

I believe Meyer had made up his mind, in the pre-season, or at least in the last few weeks, how to approach these first two games. So to bounce back on only four days’ preparation, he would need a fresh and rested quarterback: Barrett. What's more, he's already told both quarterbacks what he plans to do.

He has played coy with the media throughout this process, but I believe he will reveal what his plan was all along after the lopsided win over Hawaii Saturday. Smartly, he just didn't want the media pounding both quarterbacks with those questions, had he announced Barrett would start Game 2.

Wednesday, he tried his best to be a good actor.

“I don’t know,” he told the media. “A lot of it depends. I don’t want to jump too far ahead. Let’s just go beat Hawaii. I know J.T. had one rush for 40 yards and one pass for a touchdown. He was engaged. He was leading the team. He knew he wasn’t going to take the first snap and he (gave a speech) to the team before we went out.”

And let’s face it: Doesn’t a guy who set a Big Ten record with 45 touchdowns accounted for in 2014 deserve to get his job back after suffering a broken ankle against Michigan? I have been vocal in my opinion: I like Cardale Jones. After all, the Buckeyes wouldn’t have won a national title without him. His improvement and emergence is a story for the history books. But I love Barrett, one of the best leaders on this team – as a sophomore.

And I will say it again: Meyer’s logic and genius will call for Barrett to start the game. Ironically, given his sudden stardom and popularity, Jones still has never started a game at Ohio Stadium.

Given the short turnaround, you will see plenty of Ohio State second-teamers play in the first half and throughout the game -- not that Barrett is a second-teamer. It's just that Ohio State coaches will play everybody Saturday. And Zeke Elliott, who fumbled a punt in the second quarter against Virginia Tech, likely won't be returning punts Saturday, given Jalin Marshall's return after a one-game suspension.

As a side note, the official spelling of the state of Hawaii and of the university: Hawai’i – just as the islanders pronounce it – in case the Big Ten uses that spelling during the broadcast of the game, you won’t think it’s a typo.

And just one more thought: Too bad this isn’t a “home-and-home” series. I mean, who wouldn’t want to travel to see the Buckeyes play at Aloha Stadium?

“I am always for a trip to Hawaii,” Meyer joked this week.


It was a surreal weekend 14 years ago when college football games were not played, just four days following Sept. 11. I remember Lee Corso and a few others arguing that Wednesday about whether games should be played. When the game returned on Sept. 22, the Buckeyes played their second game under Jim Tressel – a 13-6 loss at UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State had opened with a lackluster 28-14 win over Akron at Ohio Stadium in Tressel’s first game after replacing the fired John Cooper.

Although Ohio State blocked a punt in the Bruins’ end zone, they couldn’t master anything offensively with Steve Bellisari at quarterback and struggled to move the ball. And a young, nervous kicker making his first start, a guy by the name of Mike Nugent, even missed an extra point.

That Ohio State team went on to a 7-5 record, including a 26-20 upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

So much has changed regarding Ohio’s favorite team since that fateful September: a 12-2 record against Michigan, two national championships, Tressel’s rise as a state-wide legend to his resignation in disgrace, a one-year blip of a 6-7 record among NCAA sanctions from Tressel’s wrong-doing; to an instant revival under Urban Meyer (39-3 record).


At least the South Florida city will be on Friday night when tiny Florida Atlantic enjoys its first-ever sellout, hosting the nearby Miami Hurricanes, located 45 miles down I-95 in Coral Gables, Fla.

Having a major conference team play at FAU Stadium was Howard Schnellenberger’s dream when he oversaw the birth of the FAU program in 2000. Schnellenberger coached UM’s first ever national title team of 1983, before leaving for the USFL, which then folded. He then revived the Louisville program, before leaving for Oklahoma, where he flopped with a 6-5 record in one season and was promptly fired.

“I dreamed of Florida coming here, Notre Dame coming here,” Schnellenberger said. “In time, all the great teams will come here, because this is a hotbed for great high school players.”

Well, not exactly. Given the limited revenue for a game in a 30,000-seat stadium, you’ll never see Ohio State or Michigan or Notre Dame playing in Boca Raton. But the Buckeyes did host a football camp at FAU stadium last summer.

For the record, FAU will play the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium in 2019.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Michigan State 37, Oregon 28 – The Spartans get revenge for last season’s fourth-quarter meltdown in Eugene.

Oklahoma 31, Tennessee 30 – Whoever wins this showdown in Knoxville could be in line as the Bounce Back team of the Year.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Iowa State (+3.5) over Iowa – I know, I know … why’s a field-goal point spread an upset?

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Ohio State 66, Hawaii 3 – Even on four days’ preparation, the No. 1 team will have a huge halftime lead over one of the worst FBS teams. J.T. Barrett stars in his first game at Ohio Stadium since breaking his ankle in win over Michigan.

BEST BETS: Georgia Tech (-28.5) over Tulane; Oregon State (+15.5) at Michigan; FIU (+7.5) at Indiana.


Penn State 19, Buffalo 10 – The Nittany Lions couldn’t block five pieces of lawn furniture.

Wisconsin 55, Miami of Ohio 14 – The Badgers get on track versus the MAC.

Florida 60, East Carolina 30 – A lot of points in a rematch of last season’s bowl game.

LSU 23, Mississippi State 17 – A close one in Starkville; Tigers didn’t get to play last week.

Notre Dame 30, Virginia 27 – Even though Cavs were awful at UCLA, Irish had better be on upset alert.

Boise State 31, BYU 23 – The Cougars come back to earth after Hail Mary win at Nebraska.


Miami 38, FAU 30 – The Hurricanes’ speed wins the showdown against nearby FAU.

Last Updated (Thursday, 10 September 2015 20:12)

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