Pete Carroll forced to focus on 2010

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Hopefully we won’t get washed out by a raging sea of Mountain Dew, but we’re off to venture into the frenetic head of Pete Carroll.

Could it be that the confident coach who endlessly preaches his “Win Forever” philosophy is really focused on winning next year? Is he actually capable of rational thought and making concessions of any sort? Could this be why Carroll has anointed true freshman Matt Barkley to be his starting quarterback this season?

Yup.

USC’s schedule is brutal, especially on the road. In Week 2 the Trojans play at Ohio State. Oh sure, they’ll walk into the Horseshoe with their usual sweatsuit swagger, but their demeanor upon leaving could be the polar opposite.

Five weeks later, USC visits South Bend to face Notre Dame . . . and if you believe some of the older folks amongst us, the Irish are back.

Even the Pac-10 portion of the schedule is rough. USC’s chief challengers, California and Oregon, have the luxury of home-field advantage over the Trojans this year.

Could it be that Carroll knows the hurdles might be set too high in 2009? Is that why he campaigned so darn hard to keep Mark Sanchez in school for a fifth year?

Without an experienced signalcaller, did he feel that an early season visit to Columbus would mark the end to his team’s annual national title aspirations? If so, that explains his selfish behavior at the press conference Sanchez called to announce that he was going pro.

So, now if things don’t go well — which at USC means you go 10-2 or 9-3 and claim just a share of your eighth consecutive Pac-10 title — Carroll has the ready-made excuse of having had a raw rookie at quarterback.

Much has been made of Barkley being named the starter over Aaron Corp, who is entering his third year at USC, and rightfully so. The timing of the announcement, a couple days before a mock game, was odd. Carroll’s statement: “He’s the starting quarterback at USC — it’s not a one-game deal,” was odder.

However, the fact of the matter is that the uber-talented Barkley was going to overtake Corp at some point this season. That was a given, especially since the schedule is as unforgiving as the people who surround the Trojan program. So, Carroll was probably thinking, “Why not now? … Corp can be the next Matt Cassel.”

That way the freshman won’t be a freshman for long, gaining valuable experience with each and every interception.

Then, this time next year — when the national landscape won’t be inhabited by any Tebows, Bradfords or McCoys — USC, with seasoned Barkley at the controls, will be ready to do something really special (something it hasn’t done since 2004). The Trojans’ 2010 schedule certainly is aligned with the stars.

USC opens the campaign with a Thursday night game at Hawai’i (the Trojans have already made plans to celebrate their blowout victory by continuing their stay on Oahu for a full day before flying out on Saturday). The 2010 non-conference schedule also includes hosting Virginia and a visit to Minnesota. And, of course, the Trojans take their turn, welcoming Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon to the fortress that is the Coliseum.

It’s a far cry from what USC is faced with this year . . . and Pete Carroll knows it.

Lincoln Riley strips Baker Mayfield of captaincy, Mayfield will start WVU game on sideline

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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield caused a stir with his antics during a road win at Kansas on Saturday, and Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley is addressing it this week. Riley announced Mayfield will not be a team captain for Oklahoma’s game against West Virginia this week, and Mayfield will start the game on the sideline instead of on the field.

Not having Mayfield as a team captain for the game will prevent him from being on the field for the pregame coin flip. Mayfield’s eventful afternoon at Kansas got started with a pregame handshake kerfuffle and later devolved to some trash talking with Kansas fans and obscene gestures directed at Kansas players following a touchdown. None of what Oklahoma is doing this week against West Virginia will necessarily prevent any similar events from happening, but it is somewhat interesting to see.

How long Mayfield stays on the sideline against the Mountaineers was not determined. It could be one half, one quarter, one series or just one play. Regardless of the length of this form of discipline, Mayfield enters some pretty uncharted territory for a Heisman Trophy favorite, and now he will be suspended for the start of a regular season game late in the season. Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston are recent Heisman Trophy winners to serve a suspension during the regular season, but those suspensions were served the year following winning the Heisman Trophy. Could Mayfield be the first Heisman Trophy winner to serve some form of suspension during the same regular season?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Oklahoma hosts West Virginia at 3:45 p.m. ET this Saturday.

Michigan QB Brandon Peters in concussion protcol, leaving Ohio State game in question

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed starting quarterback Brandon Peters has been entered into the concussion protocol after being taken out of Saturday’s road loss at Wisconsin. Because of the concussion protocol, it is unknown if Peters will be available for Michigan’s regular-season finale at home on Saturday against Ohio State.

“He’ll be evaluated again by the doctors this week to see if he would be cleared for contact,” Harbaugh said, according to The Detroit News. “[John O’Korn] has remained diligent every single week to preparation and the game plan, always sitting on a spring ready to play.”

If Peters is unavailable for Saturday, the offense will be placed back in the hands of O’Korn. Wilton Speight has not been cleared to for contact practices yet as he continues to recover from fractured vertebrae earlier this season.

Michigan’s offense seemed to get a much-needed jolt when Peters was inserted in the offense in place of O’Korn, who had also replaced an injured Speight. Without Peters, Michigan’s offense has not been able to find much offensive success this season, and that could pose a significant problem this week against the rival Buckeyes, who will be playing to remain on the College Football Playoff radar.

Illinois and Missouri announce four-year home-and-home agreement

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The rivalry between Illinois and Missouri may not be among the most storied of rivalries in college football, and it has only been played 24 times since first meeting in 1896. Still, there is something that just feels right about seeing Missouri and Illinois playing football, and starting in 2026 we will see the Illini and Tigers on an annual basis for four consecutive seasons.

On Monday, Illinois and Missouri announced a new scheduling agreement for a four-game series that will begin in 2026. Barring any unforseen changes to the agreement, Illinois and Missouri will each host two games between 2026 and 2029 with the home site alternating each season.

Illinois will host Missouri on Sep. 26, 2026 and again on Sep. 16, 2028. Missouri will play host on Sep. 18, 2027 and in the fourth game of the agreement on Sep. 15, 2029.

As both the Big Ten and SEC have a scheduling requirement to play at least one opponent from a power conference or power conference equivalent each year, this four-game agreement will satisfy those requirements for both Illinois and Missouri. Illinois already had the requirement in the Big Ten satisfied in 2026 with a home game against Duke, but these are the first games scheduled from 2027 through 2029. These are also the first games on the books for Missouri from 2026 through 2029, so their requirement is fulfilled years in advance as well.

“We are pleased to reestablish the football rivalry series against Missouri,” Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said in a released statement. “As our football program advances, it is important that we build our nonconference schedule accordingly. The opportunity to compete against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference and to play a geographic rival like Missouri will be exciting for our players, coaches, and fans.”

Illinois and Missouri last played in 2010 in the final game of a neutral field series that had been played in St. Louis from 2002 through 2010. The Tigers won all seven of those matchups and Missouri leads the all-time series 17-7. When the series does resume, it will be good to see it being played on campus sites as opposed to an NFL stadium that will have been abandoned for football purposes for a decade.

Alabama is now even money to win the national championship, per Bovada

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As college football comes down the finish line of the regular season, the Alabama Crimson Tide remain the clear favorite to win it all this season. The updated championship odds from Bovada list Alabama at even money to win the College Football Playoff national championship.

Alabama may still be the favorite, but Oklahoma’s odds continue to look enticing. With the Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Baker Mayfield, the Sooners are on track for a possible Big 12 championship that would send them surging into the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma currently has the second-best odds on the board, followed by Ohio State. The Buckeyes, with two losses, are being given significantly better odds of winning it all than the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers, who Ohio State will face in the Big Ten championship game next week. The bettors simply do not buy in on the Badgers.

Wisconsin has worst odds on the board than the ACC Championship Game participants, Clemson and Miami, and Alabama’s opponent this week, Auburn, and the SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs. All of those teams have identical +900 odds this week.

Still think UCF can run the table? If they do, you’ll be in for a pretty grand payday with +50,000 odds of winning it all.

Here are the latest championship odds from Bovada as of today:

  • Alabama – EVEN
  • Oklahoma +475
  • Ohio State +700
  • Clemson +900
  • Miami +900
  • Auburn +900
  • Georgia +900
  • Wisconsin +1200
  • USC +7500
  • TCU +10000
  • Notre Dame +15000
  • UCF +50000