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Isaiah Crowell is ‘running for the Heisman’

Isaiah Crowell, Cody Riggs AP

There are preseaon Heisman lists and then there are preseaon Heisman lists, and Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell considers himself part of the latter. Well, probably the former too once it rolls around.

The sophomore-to-be has been a sensation ever since he arrived on campus last year and ended up leading the team in rushing in 2011. When spring practice started for the Bulldogs on Tuesday, Crowell once again found himself on top of the depth chart at a young, but loaded backfield.

With 2012 already looking promising, Crowell admitted he had high goals for himself this year.

“My first goal is to be a good teammate, help my team get to the national championship,” Crowell said after Tuesday’s practice. “My second goal, I’m trying to run for the Heisman.

It’s certainly possible. Alabama’s Mark Ingram won it in 2009 as a sophomore and Trent Richardson was a serious candidate last year. As was South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, until a torn ACL cut his season short. Heading into this year, and in no particular order, most would put the following on their preseason Heisman lists: Lattimore, Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson,Montee Ball, Denard Robinson, Honey Badger and Geno Smith.

It’s a crowded field filled with veteran players, but anything can happen during the season. If Crowell wants to make a run, his first order of business is stay out of trouble, as he was suspended for a game last year for testing positive for drugs. His next should be to stay healthy, as an ankle injury nagged at the RB last season.

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Jameis Winston suspension hasn’t changed playoff picture yet

Jameis Winston

With Jameis Winston going from a half-game suspension to a full game suspension, the ramifications appear to be pretty significant for Florida State. The Seminoles still have plenty of talent across the roster and remain a double-digit favorite at home tonight against Clemson, but if you choose to let your imagination run wild then you can see how the impact of this suspension could be pretty wide-spread. But don’t waste your time. It is not exactly that complicated.

Let’s let this play out in a completely hypothetical situation. Clemson edges Florida State tonight and the Tigers are now in control of the ACC Atlantic Division. Clemson obviously has a leg up in the hunt for an ACC Championship Game appearance and the Tigers host North Carolina, North Carolina State and Louisville in the next three games. That gives Clemson a nice advantage, but it is far too early to suggest Clemson is a lock to win all three. Regardless, Clemson would have the head-to-head tiebreaker in their favor over Florida State.

If Florida State ends the season 11-1 and does not get a chance to compete for the ACC title, that could potentially be a concern when it comes time for the College Football Playoff selection committee to choose which four teams get in the playoff. How much will the committee weigh a conference championship? How will they view Florida State at 11-1, with Winston back on the field (supposing he is on the field, of course)? Keep in mind, Clemson even as an ACC champion may not be a lock either after losing to Georgia in week one. If Clemson loses to South Carolina, then you have a two-loss team as ACC champion.

This could be welcome news to a school like Michigan State and whoever comes out of the Big 12 (Oklahoma or Baylor, most likely). If you believe the SEC champion and Pac-12 champion are guaranteed to be in, the fight for the other two spots will be tense. Florida State has seemed like a lock for one of the spots, but now a loss could jeopardize that idea. I’m not so sure Florida State gets left out if they go 11-1 though. But if Clemson goes 12-1 with the ACC title, that outlook changes in a hurry.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind though. It’s not even October yet. It may just be best to stop speculating who is in and who is not for now. Just allow the games to play out and let the selection committee do its job. Until we see how the committee actually works, it is pointless to suggest what they are thinking at this time.

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Can Bowling Green score another B1G victory?

The MAC enters this weekend with a 3-5 head-to-head record against their big brother conference form the same region, the Big Ten. With three more games on the schedule today, the MAC has a chance to take a winning record or split against the Big Ten this regular season. It is still unlikely with two of the match-ups pairing Eastern Michigan against defending Big Ten champion Michigan State in East Lansing and UMass visiting Penn State. The Spartans are not taking EMU for granted, and Wisconsin should not be taking Bowling Green for granted either. The Badgers host the Falcons in the early portion of the day, and they may face the stiffest test out of the three Big Ten-MAC pairings this afternoon.

In today’s posting from Tom Oates for the Wisconsin State Journal, Oates points out just how good of a test this is for Wisconsin. Wisconsin has made a transition from the big, stalwart style of play that has been symbolic of Wisconsin and Big Ten football for years and moved to a smaller, lighter brand of football under head coach Gary Andersen. This has been exposed by a team like LSU but should be fit for combating a team like Bowling Green. The Falcons are known to open things up on the offensive side of the football the way that is becoming more and more common around the country. Andersen has seen this style of play and is aware of the increasing popularity of the up-tempo and wide-open offensive movement. That is what makes Saturday afternoon’s game in Madison so intriguing.

“In my opinion, in today’s day and age of football, the way it’s changed, you have to be able to get into a package where you can get three corners on the field or four corners on the field, or even have a safety come down and play linebacker,” Andersen said this week.

Bowling Green is the defending MAC champion and still a strong candidate to come out of the MAC East despite losing starting quarterback Matt Johnson for the year due to injury. Last week James Knapke passed for 395 yards and three touchdowns in a home win against another Big Ten team, Indiana. Wisconsin will be a different beats altogether for Bowling Green, but the Falcons should feel confident in their abilities against the Badgers.

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Dantonio and Spartans not taking EMU for granted

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State takes on Eastern Michigan this afternoon in a game the Spartans should win easily. The defending Big Ten champions are now on a mission to win the rest of their regular season games and hopefully end the year with a second straight victory in the Big Ten Championship Game. Do that and the Spartans are a viable candidate for one of the four College Football Playoff invitations at the end of the season. With so much football to be played, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is not focusing on style points against Eastern Michigan this afternoon.

“We are going to play to win, and after that is accomplished, in any game, we’re going to try to get our younger players playing and develop experience and depth on this football team,’’ Dantonio said, per MLive.com. “And that’s how we play it here.”

Michigan State’s only loss this season came on the road at Oregon. The Pac-12 favorites battled back from a second-half deficit to stun the Spartans in Eugene, and Oregon has moved up the rankings as a result. There is plenty of time for Michigan State to do the same, which is a benefit of losing early in the season as opposed to later in the year. Dantonio knows no game can be taken for granted though, even against Eastern Michigan.

“In 2012, we were down 7-6 at the half (to Eastern Michigan), and I think we were 30-point favorites,’’ Dantonio said. “Our guys need to come ready to play.”

Michigan State hosts Eastern Michigan at noon eastern today.

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Jameis Winston suspended for entire Clemson game

Jameis Winston AP

If Florida State fans are looking for a whole-game look at what post-Jameis Winston life will be like, you’re going to get a sneak peek in Week 4.

In an unexpected and “WOW!!!” development, FSU announced very late Friday night that its Heisman-winning starting quarterback has been suspended for the Clemson game Saturday.  As in, the entire game, not just the first two quarters.

Earlier this week, it had been announced that Winston would be suspended for the first half of the Seminoles’ ACC opener against the Tigers.  That suspension stemmed from Winston’s very vocal and public performance of a vulgar and obscene Internet meme.

The statement announcing the full-game suspension, attributed to interim president Dr. Garnett Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox, appears below.  It should also be noted that head coach Jimbo Fisher was not mentioned in the official release announcing the full-game suspension.

Based upon the results of our continuing investigation of Tuesday’s incident involving Jameis Winston, we have decided to not play him for the entire game against Clemson.

FSU has been criticized nationally for its original half-game suspension.  That criticism stemmed from a couple of camps: the first being an overreaction to a kid-being-a-kid moment, the second a university and football program that’s bent over backwards and turned a blind eye to a very talented player over and over and over again.

It’ll be up to the NFL to decide which is which and what is what.

With Winston sitting, the current future belongs to the enigma that is Sean McGuire — in his first career start and with ticket-less parents — to guide the Seminoles as they look to not only extend its nation’s best winning streak to 19 straight but also continue positioning FSU for the first-ever College Football Playoff.

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Top 5 recruit suffers apparent leg injury

Josh Sweat

Defensive end Josh Sweat (Chesapeake, VA/Oscar Smith) is one of those rare talents at the high school level who has his choice of colleges across the country.

Unfortunately, Sweat’s football career will be put on hold after he suffered a leg injury Friday night.

The severity of Sweat’s injury has yet to be determined, but he appeared to be in good spirits as he was taken off the field.

Sweat is a 6-5, 236-pound defensive end ranked as the fifth best prospect in the nation, according to Rivals.com. Sweat holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, USC and many others.

Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia and Ohio State are considered the early favorites for his services. The Hokies would love to keep the talented edge-rusher in state, but the injury will prevent Sweat from visiting Blacksburg this weekend.

The defensive end also has visits scheduled with Georgia, Florida State and Oregon depending on the status of his injury.

(Photo courtesy of Rivals.com)

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Georgia attempting to schedule ‘iconic’ programs

Uga VI

As college football enters a new era that culminates each season with the College Football Playoffs, programs are attempting to beef up their schedules as much as possible to become attractive options to the selection committee.

The committee made itself very clear in how it will evaluate which four teams will be included.

“Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar,” a document released by the College Football Playoff stated.

Georgia Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity took notice of the proclamation. With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish already on the schedule during the 2017 and 2019 seasons, McGarity isn’t finished adding “iconic” programs to the Bulldogs’ schedules.

“I feel like over the next seven years just be expecting some more games of this magnitude,” McGarity told the UGA athletic board, according to the Athens Banner-Herald‘s Marc Weiszer. “Nothing’s in writing. …It’s all verbal at this time. Expect some good things to happen over the next seven or eight years from a scheduling standpoint.”

Georgia currently has two openings during the 2016 and 2019 campaigns, The 2017 season has one spot yet to be filled. And 2018 is relatively wide open with three games yet to be filled.

The Bulldogs aren’t expected to schedule some traditional rivals like the Clemson Tigers. McGarity is looking to build a national brand.

“It would be great for us to move into other areas,” McGarity told Weiszer. “I think that’s kind of what we’re looking at, to go to some places where when you say Georgia’s playing at this site, you say, ‘Wow. I can’t wait for that to happen.’”

Some of the programs that immediately come to mind are the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, Oklahoma Sooners, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines and Texas Longhorns. None of those have been attached to a game against Georgia, but they seem to fit the type of program McGarity would like to schedule.

The athletic director has certainly changed his approach as the program moves forward with the new system in place.

“I think it changes somewhat because of the strength of schedule model that we think is in place,” McGarity said. “We don’t know what that is, but I do think the excitement that the Notre Dame game has generated has just been phenomenal.”

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NCAA wants Ed O’Bannon appeal resolved by next summer

NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

The NCAA needs to have its appeal of the Ed O’Bannon case heard before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals within the year.

Correction: The NCAA believes it’s “critical” to have its appeal resolved within the year, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon.

“The NCAA contends that if this appeal is not resolved by that date, then absent a stay the NCAA and its members will, in the NCAA’s words, be forced to make fundamental changes to the administration of collegiate athletics and to their relationship with student-athletes,” the joint filing stated. “Plaintiffs disagree vigorously that the injunction will present a disruption but are nevertheless amenable to a briefing and argument schedule that would permit both to be completed by April or May 2015.”

Whether you side with or against the NCAA in its attempt to retain its amateurism, it is important for the appeal to be heard and resolved by August. Schools will then know how to adjust their approach to running their profitable sports such as football and basketball, which both take place in the fall.

“The NCAA requested that oral arguments be set for a date in April or May 2015,” Solomon reported.

As of now, the NCAA has to prepare for the changes U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken enacted when she ruled in favor of the players represented in the O’Bannon case.

“The judge’s decision strikes down NCAA rules restricting their compensation and permits reasonable but significant sharing with athletes — both for the costs of education and to establish trust funds — from the billions in revenues that schools earn from their football and basketball players,” attorney who represented the plaintiffs, Bill Isaacson, said in a statement directly after ruling was made.

The NCAA“will not be permitted to set this cap below the cost of attendance, as the term is defined in its current bylaws.” It also prevents the NCAA from making rules to limit schools from“offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their FBS football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires.”

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Georgia initiates study for new indoor facility, raises ticket prices

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

In the wake of the Ed O’Bannon court ruling, it’s more obvious than ever that college football (and the NCAA in general) is a business. A school’s ability to raise funds for new facilities is an integral part of the game’s arms races for recruits and maintaining a high profile.

The University of Georgia is the latest program to investigate the possibility of adding a new indoor practice facility, according to the Athens Banner-Herald‘s Marc Weiszer.

How will the school fund the product if it’s approved? Fundraising and donations will certainly be a big part of the process. The school also plans to raise ticket prices next season.

The “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” will be a little more expensive to attend as well.

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FAA grounds Michigan’s game-ball drone delivery plans

station radio control

Michigan wanted to deliver this weekend’s game ball against Utah to Michigan Stadium by drone. The Federal Aviation Administration said “Nope.”

As reported by Bloomberg, the University of Michigan had plans to use a drone aircraft. The plan was even discussed with local aviation regulators, but once the FAA caught wind of the idea the organization was quick to make sure the plan did not take flight.

“The FAA promotes voluntary compliance by educating UAS operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws,” the FAA said to Bloomberg. The FAA has only allowed permits for limited drone operations to date, so the possibility of having something like this approved in the future is certainly a realistic possibility.

Now the only air delivery Michigan fans will focus on on Saturday against Utah will be that off the arm of quarterback Devin Gardner.

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A milestone weekend for Virginia Tech, LSU, Arkansas and Minnesota

Hodges, Green

Looking to rebound from a home loss to East Carolina, Virgina Tech will host Georgia Tech in an ACC Coastal Division match-up. As with all games in the wide open ACC Coastal Division, the result will loom large later in the season. But Virginia Tech will also be recognizing a little bit of history for the football program. According to Virgina Tech, this weekend will mark the 1,200th game in program history.

Virgina Tech is not the only school celebrating that milestone. If we are to trust the record keeping on Wikipedia — and when has that ever been wrong? — it looks as though this weekend will also see Minnesota, LSU and Arkansas all hit the 1,200 games played mark as well.

Using the same list, no school has played more games than the Ivy League’s Penn Quakers with 1,343 game son the record books. Penn finally gets its season started this weekend with a home game against Jacksonville. The FBS school with the most games played in college football history is Rutgers. This should come as little surprise given Rutgers is the birthplace of college football and played in the first college football game on record, against Princeton. Other FBS schools with 1,200 games and counting include Navy, Michigan, Nebraska, Syracuse, Penn State, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, West Virginia, Missouri, Maryland, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and California.

Army actually played its 1,200th game in program history last weekend, so apologies for missing the milestone.

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Report: Rutgers AD made inappropriate Sandusky reference

Julie Hermann

Not even a full week after issuing an apology to Penn State, Rutgers Athletics Director Julie Hermann is in some hot water for an inappropriate comment referencing former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. This on the day the Big Ten issued a public endorsement for the new “It’s On US” campaign launched by the White House. The timing of it all really is incredible.

The comment made by Hermann was made last fall, well before the need to apologize to Penn State for the behavior of some fans at last Saturday’s Big Ten opener and for the university accidentally sharing photos on social media channels with inappropriate references to the crimes committed by Sandusky. According to a report by NJ.com, Hermann shared an “off the cuff response” while discussing ways to reach out to donors. Rutgers senior vice president for external affairs Pete McDonough suggested it was not aimed directly at Penn State.

“Julie’s comment was an off the cuff response to a give-and-take interaction urging the fundraising team to reach out and touch the donors,” said McDonough, per NJ.com. “There probably isn’t a person alive today who hasn’t made an impromptu remark in a private meeting that probably shouldn’t have been said. Even taken out of context, this single comment was not directed at Penn State, its students, staff or faculty.”

It has been a rough 17 months for Hermann since being appointed athletics director at Rutgers. What could possibly happen next?

The lesson here is simple. Abuse of children through any means is simply not funny. If you think you are making a joke that is even somewhat related to sexual abuse or child abuse in any way, you should probably think again. Then again, this should not even require much thinking from the start.

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Nebraska kicker hurt in motorcycle crash

Nebraska v Penn State

Nebraska kicker Mauro Bondi suffered a broken collar bone Thursday night after crashing his motorcycle. The Journal Star in Lincoln was the first to report this injury.

According to the police report, as reported by The Journal Star, Bondi had trouble making a turn, hit a curb and ran off the road. Bondi was aided by a passerby back to his apartment, and his roommate drove him to a nearby hospital. According to police, no alcohol was connected to the accident and Bondi was wearing a helmet. However, the Nebraska kicker was cited for negligent driving and riding without a motorcycle licence.

With Bondi injured, Nebraska may have to ask place kicker Drew Brown to pull some double duty for the Huskers on special teams. Bondi is Nebraska’s kickoff specialist, while Brown typically handles the place-kicking responsibilities.

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Big Ten, Pac-12 join the “It’s On Us” sexual abuse prevention movement

PAC 12 Media Day

Today the White House launched a brand new initiative designed to prevent sexual assault and raise awareness for what has become a top story in the sports world in recent weeks. “It’s On Us,” according to the campaign’s official website, is a pledge to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault and is a promise to not be a bystander to the issue. The Big Ten and Pac-12 were quick to hop on board in support of the new program.

As the program was formally launching in Washington D.C., both conferences released statements of support for the initiative.

“The Pac-12 is proud to join this effort to build a culture on college campuses in which everyone has a responsibility to stop sexual violence,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our member institutions are very focused on this issue and we see a great opportunity to use the visibility of college athletics as a means to raise awareness and promote this campaign.”

As noted in the Pac-12 release, research shows one in five women in the United States today are sexually assaulted while in college with most assaults occurring in their freshman or sophomore years at the hands of acquaintances, classmates or friends. The Big Ten saw the terrors of sexual abuse unfold right in front of it a few years ago with the startling revelations that came from the investigation and trial of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. This new initiative is aimed more at preventing college students from abuse, but the message should easily spread to all levels beyond college-aged students.

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A win with an asterisk would be just fine with Clemson’s Swinney

Dabo Swinney

Florida State will open Saturday night’s home game against Clemson without starting quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston will not play until the second half of the key ACC Atlantic Division battle due to a half-game suspension. This seems to give Clemson an advantage at the start of the game, but nothing is guaranteed. If Clemson does return home with a win over the top-ranked Seminoles, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will not care if anyone chooses to place an asterisk next to the result.

“Georgia beat us,” Swinney said referring to Clemson’s season-opening loss at Georgia, per per TigerNet.com. “Did we put an asterisk by that? We didn’t have three senior starters.” Clemson was without  defensive end Corey Crawford, offensive guard David Beasley and defensive back Garry Peters for the week one road game at Georgia. All three were suspended (as well as offensive tackle Shaq Anthony) for violations of team rules.

“Heck, no. They beat us. Period. There’s no asterisk by that. Give me a break.”

Swinney also made reference to Alabama’s 2010 BCS Championship Game victory over Texas to prove his point further. Texas lost starting quarterback Colt McCoy to an early injury in the game, leaving the Longhorns having to turn the offense over to a young and inexperienced Garrett Gilbert.

“I don’t think there’s an asterisk on that crystal ball down in Tuscaloosa,” Swinney said. “I think we’ve got a national championship trophy [at Clemson, referring to the 1981 season] where we beat Nebraska. I don’t think they played Turner Gill in that game but it still says national championship.” Gill did not play in that season’s Orange Bowl due to a leg injury.

The bottom line is pretty straightforward. Clemson can only worry about whatever they see on the other side of the field. The game still lasts 60 minutes and there is more than enough talent for Clemson to prepare for coming at them from the Florida State sideline. Florida State will give the start under center to Sean Maguire. Maguire’s parents already gave their tickets away. If Clemson benefits from Florida State being without Winston for 30 minutes, that is not Clemson’s problem.

Of course, if Florida State does lose, we then can entertain the arguments from Jimbo Fisher about how a fully-equipped FSU would split 10 games with Clemson down the road. Right?

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For what it’s worth, Big 12 piling up quality losses

Big 12 Football Media Days

When it comes to determining the best conferences, we tend to look first at the quality wins recorded in non-conference play. This is an area where the Big Ten has come under fire in a big way in the first few weeks of the season, and for good reason. While much will be discussed regarding the Big Ten’s place in the power conference pecking order, it may be time to take a close examination of the Big 12’s lack of signature wins as well.

Through the first three weeks of the season and last night’s Thursday night start to Week Four, the Big 12 has had its own share of opportunities to score some key victories for conference bragging rights. The best you can make of the Big 12’s start in non-conference play is “Well, at least we’re not the Big Ten.” That is not a terrific selling point.

The season started out on a down note with the Big 12 seeing Iowa State lose at home to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. While most of the rest of the conference performed better against weaker opponents to start the season, the Big 12 missed on two chances to impress on the national stage with West Virginia losing to Alabama and Oklahoma State coming up short against Florida State. The Mountaineers and Cowboys may have played well or better than expected against the highly-ranked programs from the SEC and ACC, respectively, but in the end the Big 12 started 0-2 against power conference opponents.

The following week saw BYU steamroll Texas for a second straight season while the rest of the conference enjoyed victories against lesser opponents (except for Iowa State, losing at home to Kansas State in Big 12 play). Week three of the season was the first real test for the Big 12 and there were some positives to draw from it. The Big 12 proved on the field to be better than the Big Ten in three games (West Virginia over Maryland, Iowa State over Iowa, TCU over Minnesota), cementing the Big Ten at the bottom of the power conference pecking order for now, but the Big 12 still lags significantly behind the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 in terms of quality wins. Oklahoma did pick up a good win at home against a Tennessee program on the rise, but the Vols are still a work in progress and unranked. The same weekend saw Texas suffer a loss at the expense of the Pac-12’s UCLA. Texas Tech could not slow down Arkansas in Lubbock. Kansas was blown away by Duke as well.

Last night the Big 12 once again whiffed on an opportunity to defeat a quality opponent with Kansas State imploding inside the red zone and leaving points off the scoreboard in a 20-14 loss at home to Auburn. The Big 12 could have really used that win, especially on a light weekend schedule for the conference. Kansas will host Central Michigan Saturday afternoon. West Virginia will have a chance to notch a conference victory at home Saturday night, against Oklahoma. Just as it was perceived to be Ohio State’s or Michigan State’s responsibility to carry the Big Ten banner on the national stage, the Big 12 may now be in need of Oklahoma (or Baylor) running the table. Oklahoma losing in Morgantown may end up doing more damage than good for the sake of the Big 12 when it comes time for the College Football Playoff selection committee to do their job.

As stated already, the Big 12 has breathing room ahead of the Big Ten for now, but losses inside the conference could start to do more damage than they would have if the Big 12 could record some wins against power conferences not named the Big Ten.

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