Buckeyes tie school record with 22nd straight win

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As expected, Ohio State was able to extend it’s nation’s best winning streak against an overwhelmed Illinois squad in Champaign Saturday afternoon.  This time, though, the extending came with a historical twist.  And, potentially, a punch in the gut to their BCS title hopes.

Running out to a 28-0 lead early in the first quarter, and overcoming an inexplicable malaise that lasted nearly the remainder of the game,the Buckeyes were able to outlast 3-7 Illini by the count of 60-35.  It was the 20th consecutive Big Ten loss for the Illini but, more importantly for a team entertaining BCS title game hopes, it was the 22nd straight win for the Buckeyes.

The win streak ties the longest in OSU history, matching the 22 straight won by the Buckeyes from 1967-69.  The Buckeyes can set the school record against 4-6 Indiana next Saturday in Columbus, and come within six of matching Michigan’s Big Ten record of 29 straight from 1901-03.

At 22 straight, OSU is tied with eight other schools for the 39th-longest winning streak in FBS history.  The last team to win 22 consecutive games was Florida in 2008-09, a team ironically enough coached by Urban Meyer.  With a win over the Hoosiers next weekend, the Buckeyes would match Notre Dame for the longest winning streak by an AQ program since 1989 (non-AQ Boise State won 24 straight from 2009-10).

The longest winning streak ever at the FBS/1-A level?  The staggering 47 straight won by Oklahoma, a streak that began in 1953 and was ended by the Irish in 1957.

Personally, the win was Meyer’s 23 straight as a head coach.  Meyer, who has won his first 22 games since taking over the Buckeyes in December of 2011, has not lost a game since his final season at Florida, a 31-7 loss to Florida State on Nov. 27, 2010.

Allowing Meyer to extend the third 20-plus-game winning streak of his coaching career were, of course, the one-two offensive punch of quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde.  Hyde, who was the only Buckeye who seemed to gain steam as the game wore on, rushed for a career-high 246 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground.  For good measure, Hyde caught an 18-yard swing pass for a touchdown as well.  Hyde is now 53 yards away from giving Meyer the first 1,000-yard running back in his coaching career.

Miller accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while gaining 184 on the ground.

As will be the case for the remainder of the season, at least until a potential matchup with a highly-ranked Michigan State team in the Big Ten title game, the win will do next to nothing for the Buckeyes when it comes to the BCS standings — and will actually hurt if the stretch of stench from midway through the second quarter through deep into the fourth quarter is taken into account.  After taking that 28-0 lead with 10:20 left in the second quarter, the Buckeyes were outscored 35-32 by the three-win Illini;   Hyde’s two long TD runs very late in the fourth closed that gap significantly.  It was the kind of win that voters, who have allowed Baylor to gain ground on Ohio State in the polls the past three weeks, will use to make that final push and leapfrog the Bears over the Buckeyes when the rankings are released Sunday.

Outside of “style points,” Ohio State’s lone hope of getting back to the title game for the first time since the 2007 season is if, out of Alabama, Florida State and Baylor, at least one of them drops a game at some point between now and the end of the regular season/conference championship weekend.  More than likely, given the Bears’ remaining schedule, the Buckeyes will need two-thirds of that trio to lose.

Regardless, it can’t take away the history Meyer and these Buckeyes are in the midst of creating.  Even if said history were to involve a 25-0 mark and zero BCS titles.

Mark Your Calendars: KU, Wazzu reportedly set for 2027-28 home-and-home series

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Are you ready for some good news? Kansas and Washington State are (finally, FINALLY!) going to meet on the gridiron.

Are you ready for some bad news? You’re going to have to wait nearly a decade to see it.

The Jayhawks and Cougars have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2027-28, according to documents obtained by FBSchedules. Washington State is set to host the first game on Sept. 11, 2027, with Kansas returning the favor on Sept. 9, 2028. The programs have met 10 times previously, but not since 1977. Kansas holds a 7-2 all-time advantage.

Washington State is also set to visit Boise State in 2027, but does not have any other games lined up for ’28. Kansas does not have any other agreements for either season.

Interestingly, Wazzu’s Kansas home-and-home is sandwiched around a home-and-home with Kansas State in 2026 and ’29. Washington State has not faced a Big 12 opponent since a 65-17 loss at Oklahoma State to open the 2010 season.

Kansas, who also has future games with Rutgers, Boston College, Duke and Illinois on the docket, has not squared off with a Pac-12 foe — not counting former Big 12 bunk mate Colorado — since a 41-17 loss to UCLA on Sept. 8, 2001.

Cincinnati, Western Michigan ink home-and-home series

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Cincinnati and Western Michigan have agreed to a 2-game home-and-home series, it was announced Monday.

The Bearcats will host WMU on Sept. 12, 2020, and Western Michigan will host Cincinnati on Sept. 10, 2022.

The programs have met three times prior. Cincinnati and Western Michigan also played a home-and-home in 1949-50; the Bearcats won both games by scores of 27-6. Cincinnati also won their meeting in the 2007 International Bowl in Toronto,  a 27-24 triumph.

Cincinnati already has road games lined up with Miami (Ohio) and Nebraska in 2020, with a Sept. 5 opener still to fill. Considering the Bearcats already have two MAC opponents and a Big Ten trip lined up, that game will almost certainly be a home game and likely against an FCS opponent. In 2022, Cincinnati will host Indiana and play Miami (Ohio) at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, with their Sept. 3 opener still unfilled.

Western Michigan also has a road trip to Notre Dame on the schedule for Sept. 19, 2020, and does not have any other games slated for 2022.

USC AD Lynn Swann explains wins still trump strength of schedule

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For a long time, college football programs on the west coast have battled to overcome an east coast bias. USC athletics director Lynn Swann says that is still a hurdle USC faces to this day, which is why the Trojans go about trying to build as competitive football schedule as they can.

“Because of time zones, people on the East Coast aren’t really seeing us,” Swann said in a Q&A with The Orange County Register. “We have to play a tougher schedule. If the voters are going to look at four teams to be in the top four, the Pac-12 playing the Pac-12 won’t get it by itself.”

That comment alone could be received as a veiled (or not-so-veiled) shot at the rest of the Pac-12, but it is a fair comment to say, especially after the postseason the Pac-12 as a whole just had this past bowl season (it was… not very good). Swann’s comment though backs up the overall philosophy power conferences and programs within them have taken to heart since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, where strength of schedule is held in high regard and placed on a pedestal above most other factors to determine a playoff contender and separate them from playoff pretenders.

“We have to schedule teams and we have to have that very competitive schedule to be able to get that look,” Swann said. “And we’ve got to win those games. So it’s important to have Texas on the schedule. It’s important that Notre Dame is playing well and we play them and we beat them along the way.”

Scheduling attractive games is great, and it allows for a slightly wider margin for error, but recent history has shown that the strength of schedule does not act alone in getting a team into the playoff as much as actually winning games. The last two seasons have seen one-loss teams without a division championship invited to the College Football Playoff (Ohio State in 2016, Alabama last year). Last year, USC lost two games but won the Pac-12 championship but was largely left out of the conversation that involved Alabama and Ohio State.

“The committee who’s going to vote on this is going to look at strength of schedule. They’re going to look at how you win games,” Swann explained. “They’re going to look at a lot of factors. They’re going to look at the competition inside your conference, outside your conference, all those kind of things. It won’t ever be just one thing.”

USC has yet to play in a College Football Playoff and the 2018 season could be an uphill climb to get there with so many key losses from last season. Regardless, the Trojans continue to be improving with depth and scoring big wins to return to work their way back to the big championship stage.

Florida is opening spring practices to fans

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What’s one easy way to get fans on board with a new head coach? Invite them to practice.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen wants the doors to be open to fans to come watch the Gators practice during the first two spring practices the Gators will conduct next month. Seats will be limited at the practice field, of course, but Mullen seems optimistic this will help get the energy going for the program from the jump this spring, and that could potentially lead to a good crowd at Florida’s spring game to wrap up the spring practice schedule.

Florida is scheduled to begin their spring football practices on March 16. That practice and the next day will be open to fans to attend practice, which likely will lead to some personal interactions with coaches and players for any fans who take Mullen up on his offer. Florida’s spring game is scheduled for April 14.

Florida fans may be getting a chance to see a hard-working bunch of Gators. Early indications are Florida players are already claiming to be working harder than they have in years in the offseason workout routine.

But it won’t be just the fans that will be given some exclusive first-hand looks at the Gators this spring. Mullen will also look to extend an open invitation to Florida faculty and staff to some spring practices. Those dates are yet to be determined.

Helmet sticker to SEC Country.