Urban Meyer

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 4 Ohio State


(It should be noted this preseason ranking was determined before news of Braxton Miller being lost for the season.)

2013 Record: 12-2 overall, 8-1 in Big Ten (lost to Michigan State in championship game)
2013 postseason: Orange Bowl (40-35 loss to Clemson)
2013 final AP/coaches ranking: No. 12/No. 10
Head coach: Urban Meyer (128-25 overall, 24-2 in two years at Ohio State)
Offensive coordinator: Tom Herman (3rd year at Ohio State), Ed Warinner (3rd year at Ohio State)
2013 offensive rankings: 5th rushing offense (308.64 ypg), 90th passing offense (203.3 ypg), 7th total offense (511.9 ypg), 3rd scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 4*
Co-defensive coordinators: Luke Fickell (13th year at Ohio State), Chris Ash (first year at Ohio State)
2013 defensive rankings: 9th rushing defense (109.43 ypg), 112th passing defense (268.0 ypg), 47th total defense (377.4 ypg), 28th scoring defense (22.6 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 7
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Stadium: Ohio Stadium (104,944; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2010 (2009, outright)

In a season that once appeared to be all about making the playoff or bust, the Buckeyes still look to have a very good shot at making a run at a Big Ten title despite losing starting quarterback Braxton Miller for the season. Losing Miller cannot be understated for the fortunes of this season, but more on that in a moment. What Ohio State does have is a roster that has been built by landing the top recruiting classes in the Big Ten each of the past four seasons, so the talent on the roster is not much of a concern for the Buckeyes as far as the Big Ten is concerned. One fo the downfalls of Ohio State last season was the defense not being strong enough to hold off a balanced opponent like Michigan State or slow down a potent offense like the one owned by Clemson. When push came to shove, Ohio State’s defensive line was the one being shoved in the clutch. That should change some this season with a focus on toughening up the defense. New defensive line coach Larry Johnson (from Penn State) will have an impact with the play of the defensive line, which could be the best in the Big Ten, with Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa up front and Noah Spence scheduled to return following a multi-game suspension. Ohio State’s opening games may be more difficult now, without Miller, but the Buckeyes should still be able to remain one of the favorites in the Big Ten’s East division.

The loss of Miller is without a doubt a major blow for Ohio State. Miller was Ohio State’s, and the Big Ten’s, best player when healthy and his contributions to the Ohio State offense will not be easy to make up. Miller was not only looking to improve with his passing abilities, but he was also the team’s leading rusher returning this season (1,283 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013). Ohio State should still be able to run the football this fall, but the loss of Miller has the potential to make Ohio State’s running game much less of a threat to opposing defenses. That is, until we see just how redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett adapts to his new responsibilities under center.

Ohio State has plenty of talent, but now head coach Urban Meyer is challenged to find a way to make everything come together in a different way than he may have been spending all summer doing. Meyer is a really good coach — one of the best in the country — but can he manage to keep Ohio State among the favorites for a playoff spot at the end of the year after losing Miller and lead running back Carlos Hyde (NFL) with a lack of significant experience in the backfield? Throwing an extra challenge into the equation this season is Ohio State does not have as easy a non-conference schedule to allow these things to be sorted out without concern. Ohio State faces a decent Navy team in the season opener in Baltimore, and then hosts a Virgina Tech team that should be improved this fall. A home game against Cincinnati could present a challenge to before getting into Big Ten play.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Penn State
The road game at Michigan State is still the highlight of the 2014 Ohio State schedule, and the non-conference slate should help show just what Ohio State will be this season. A road game at Penn State, in primetime, could be the first real challenge for the Buckeyes though, despite the Nittany Lions being a thin team when it comes to depth and Ohio State blasting their neighbors from the east 63-14 last fall. If Penn State stays healthy, they could pose a threat to Ohio State at home in a revenge situation. New head coach James Franklin has sparked the program a bit, and playing in front of 100,000 fans not cheering for you could be a challenge for a young quarterback like Barrett. Win this game, and Ohio State will prove to remain a top threat in the East.

Braxton Miller would have been the easy pick here, but with the quarterback ut of commission this fall the next best offensive player may end up being wide receiver Devin Smith. Smith should be one of the top receivers for the Buckeyes this fall as Ohio State’s leading returning receiver with 660 yards and eight touchdowns last fall.

* Not counting injured quarterback Braxton Miller

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

No. 1 Alabama roars back in the second half to beat No. 6 Texas A&M

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to pass against the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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No. 1 Alabama hit Texas A&M in the mouth and the sixth-ranked Aggies responded to take a second half lead on Saturday. Then Alabama hit them again.

And again. And again. And probably another time for good measure.

The Crimson Tide stormed back from a one point second half deficit to throttle yet another top 25 opponent on Saturday, reaffirming their status as the team to beat for the national title with an impressive 33-14 home win.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts started off a little slow and had a handful of freshman mistakes (two picks, one on a Hail Mary) but turned things up after halftime to finish with 166 yards passing and two touchdowns while rushing for another 91 yards and a score. Tight end O.J. Howard became a big part of the Tide’s aerial attack and wound up with a team-leading 70 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore Damien Harris chipped in with 128 yards on the ground with an impressive 7.5 yards a carry.

Texas A&M signal-caller Trevor Knight couldn’t quite get his second straight win over Alabama, but did throw for two touchdowns to temporarily stun Bryant Denny Stadium with a brief 14-13 Aggies lead coming out of the locker room at halftime.

Defensive end Jonathan Allen completely turned the game around just before the end of the third quarter however when he scooped and scored on a 30 yard fumble return to put Alabama up by two scores. It was the future first rounder’s second time crossing the goal line this season, the ninth defensive touchdown of the year for the Tide and the 10th straight game in which the team has scored a non-offensive touchdown.

If there was one negative for Alabama to emerge from the contest in the second half it was that safety Eddie Jackson had to be carted off early in the fourth quarter with a lower leg injury. He was hurt on a punt return that later setup another touchdown and comes at the one spot where the Tide, all things being relative, is a little thin at.

It probably won’t mean much in the long run given how good Alabama looked down the stretch in winning their 20th straight game. They’ll head into their bye week undefeated and looking to get a little rest before traveling to Baton Rouge to play rival LSU. Texas A&M probably won’t drop too much in the polls with their first loss of the season and, while they are a long shot to win the SEC West, remain in line to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Steve Addazio wants ACC to review sideline scuffle in BC-‘Cuse game

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey (2) rushes through the Boston College defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
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The Syracuse-Boston College game may have come to an end, but the head coach from one side doesn’t want the scrutiny to do the same.

In the first quarter, Orange quarterback Eric Dungey threw an interception to the Eagles’ William Harris and ultimately tackled Harris on the visiting team’s sidelines.  Or, more specifically, Dungey slammed Harris to the ground and, eventually, pushed another BC player into some equipment.  That led to a bit of a brief brouhaha that was ultimately defused.

Reportedly, an unidentified Syracuse staffer threw Harris to the ground during the melee. Additionally, BC head coach Steve Addazio alleged that a punch was thrown for good measure.

As a result, Addazio is asking that the ACC review video of the incident to determine what if anything untoward took place.

“I think there’s some stuff on the video that will need to be addressed on that play,” Addazio said according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. “Some stuff went down over there that I could see myself.

“Let’s let the proper people take a look at it and make the proper decision.”

As for the play itself, Dungey received a personal foul while both teams were issued unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.  Oh, and the Orange won the game 28-20.

No. 12 West Virginia remains undefeated with 34-10 victory over TCU

MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 22:  Daikiel Shorts #6 celebrates his touchdown with Ka'Raun White #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs at Mountaineer Field on October 22, 2016 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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Skyler Howard threw four touchdowns to help lead No. 12 West Virginia (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) to a 34-10 victory over TCU (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) in Morgantown on Saturday. The win keeps the Mountaineers perfect on the season and continues to keep them atop the Big 12 standings with some key games still to be played.

West Virginia had a balanced attack on offense against the Horned Frogs. In addition to Howard tossing four touchdowns and passing for 231 yards in the win, running back Rushel Shell rushed for 117 yards. The defense (and special teams) came to play as well, forcing three TCU turnovers, including on the opening kickoff of the game to setup a quick touchdown. It was a rough start for visiting TCU, but they battled back before the game got out of reach in the second half. West Virginia pitched a shutout in the second half, while tacking on 13 points to pull away. TCU was able to convert just one of nine third downs and Kenny Hill averaged just 4.9 yards per pass attempt.

Is there any slowing West Virginia down? Maybe, but when? West Virginia takes their undefeated record on the road next week with a visit to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State. Then comes a home game against Kansas and a road game at Texas. All three are winnable, with only Oklahoma State expected to be the toughest challenge out of that bunch. The key still looks to be the final three games of the season, with home games against Oklahoma and Baylor with a road trip to Iowa State in between.

The Big 12 should be within reach, but could a playoff spot be in sight for West Virginia? The Mountaineers continue to climb their way up the rankings and fly under the radar. If the wins keep coming, that will not be the case for much longer.

TCU will return home next week to try and bounce back when they host Texas Tech.

LISTEN: Classy Bill Snyder offers heartfelt words of encouragement to Charlie Strong

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: Head coach Bill Snyder of the Kansas State Wildcats makes notes during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 14, 2015 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech won the game 59-44. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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As if you needed any further confirmation that ageless Bill Snyder is indeed the classiest man in all of college football, here’s Reason No. Infinity.

Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats continued its spell over Texas, jumping out to a sizable first-half lead then holding on for a 24-21 win over the Longhorns.  It was the fourth loss in five games for UT, further cranking up the heat underneath Charlie Strong‘s coaching seat.

In fact, the loss likely served as one of the final nails in Strong’s Austin coffin.

Perhaps sensing what the loss meant to his counterpart on the other sidelines, Snyder took the time in the postgame handshake to offer what were no doubt heartfelt words of encouragement to the beleaguered Strong.

What else, though, would you expect from a man who still handwrites notes to opponents after they beat his team?