Old Glory

Should one-loss SEC champ jump unbeaten Buckeyes?

88 Comments

It began quickly, perhaps even before the first fan’s foot hit the Jordan-Hare turf en route to celebrating yet another miraculous finish. “One-loss Auburn should get the nod ahead of undefeated Ohio State for a BCS title game slot because, well, S-E-C!!!  S-E-C!!!”

One-loss Missouri was soon added to the mix, with AU athletic director Jay Jacobs ever-so-swiftly going on the offensive by playing what amounts to the “do you know who I am?” card.

“An SEC team can’t get left out of the (championship game) with one loss,” Jacobs told USA Today in the afterglow of the Tigers’ upset win of top-ranked Alabama. “We just beat the No. 1 team in the nation, and a team ahead of us struggled today, I understand,” the AD said, referring to Ohio State’s one-point win over hated rival Michigan on the road.

“And a one-loss SEC team that wins in Atlanta — if it’s us or Missouri — you can’t get left out of the BCS after you beat the No. 1 team. We have a better argument because we beat the No. 1 team. … It’s already happened in 2004, and it would be a disservice to the nation if we got left out.”

On ESPN‘s SportsCenter Sunday morning, he called such an outcome “un-American.”

Just a couple of things before moving on.

One, Auburn was unbeaten when it got left out in 2004, so that’s an apples-to-carrots argument.  Two, I’ve scoured the BCS rulebook and failed to find any stipulation which states a one-loss SEC champion is automatically guaranteed a spot in the title game.  And, three, it’s unclear if, as Jacobs was stating his case, there was a video monitor just over his shoulder showing a father having a catch with his son as the sun set on a freshly-plowed field, an American flag wafting in the background.

This, though, is what the whole of college football will be facing over the next six days: Ohio State, assuming it passes what will be a tough test against one-loss Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, of the plodding and downtrodden Big Ten vs. the SEC and its seven consecutive BCS titles.  The SEC office is already in full campaign mode.  So is a certain regional-radio-host-turned-ESPN-personality.

I’ve already made my opinion very clear on the matter.  Now it’s your turn to vent and vote your conscience/conference allegiance.  But, before we get to that, here are the respective résumés of Auburn, Missouri and Ohio State; I would’ve included Florida State but, when you’re waylaying opponents by an average score of 54-11, you’re recused from these proceedings based on a preponderance of the evidence that you’re hands down the best damn football team in the land.

Anyway, here’s a snapshot look at the résumés of each of the three teams, which includes this week’s conference championship opponents when applicable:

AU-Mizzou-OSU

Before getting to the poll, here are a few notes that didn’t fit neatly into the chart:

  • Florida State’s strength of schedule is ranked 85th by the NCAA and 66th by Sagarin.
  • Ohio State had Vanderbilt scheduled for a 2013 game before the Commodores backed out, with OSU replacing them with San Diego State.  Vandy is Sagarin’s 45th-ranked team, SDSU 96th.
  • Auburn’s lone loss was by 14 on the road to LSU.  Missouri’s lone loss was at home in double overtime against South Carolina.
  • Much like the SEC’s seven straight BCS titles, the fact that Ohio State has won 24 straight dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season is a non-factor.  This is about 2013 and 2013 alone.
  • Current conference championship lines, per Danny Sheridan: Ohio State -6 vs. Michigan State; Auburn -2.5 vs. Missouri; Florida State -29.5 vs. Duke.
  • As it constitutes one-third of the BCS rankings, the coaches’ poll released today was utilized for this endeavor.

Now, onto the our little poll…

Josh Sweat should be good to go for FSU vs. UNC

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 24: Josh Sweat #9 of the Florida State Seminoles runs with a first half interception against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Derwin James is still at least a couple of weeks or so away from returning from his injury, but Florida State will likely get a talented defensive player back on the field this weekend anyway.

When asked Thursday if defensive end Josh Sweat will be available for the North Carolina game this weekend, Jimbo Fisher responded, “oh yeah.” Sweat sustained a meniscus injury in practice leading up to the Louisville game in Week 3 and, after it limited him in that contest, underwent surgery to repair the damage shortly thereafter.

At the time, the prognosis for a return was 1-2 weeks. Sweat missed the win over USF last weekend, but could see the field this weekend as he’s practiced the past couple of days.

“Healing really well, looks great” Fisher said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see [Friday] morning, but [the knee] looks great.”

Sweat started nine of 13 games as a true freshman last season, and started the first two games in 2016 before the knee issue surfaced.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.

Report: Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel undergoes surgery, out as long as a month

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Sojourn Shelton #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers, T.J. Edwards #53 of the Wisconsin Badgers react to a interception during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans in the National University Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.

Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.

“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”

No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.

Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.

If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.

Houston missing four starters for AAC matchup against UConn

SAN MARCOS, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Duke Catalon #2 of the Houston Cougars runs against Brandon McDowell #6 of the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium on September 24, 2016 in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).

Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.

Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.