25 Nov 1995:  General view of a game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won the game, 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
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Michigan, Ohio State as co-B1G favorites among Bovada conference title odds

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of the 2016 season?  I look at the calendar, of course.  Well, that and another batch of odds being released by a Las Vegas book.

Bovada.lv has once again served as the releaser, with the oddsmaker releasing its conference championship odds.   Last year’s title game participants, Alabama and Clemson, are solidly(ish) favored to win the SEC and ACC, respectively, while a College Football Playoff semifinalist, Oklahoma, is set as the overwhelming favorite to claim the Big 12.

One of the more interesting set of odds comes from another Power Five conference.

In the Big Ten East, two-time defending division winner Ohio State is listed as a 1/1 favorite, slightly ahead of rival Michigan at 5/4.  That’s for the division championship; when it comes to the overall conference championship, Bovada has the Buckeyes and Wolverines listed as co-favorites at 7/4.  Those numbers are well ahead of the next B1G squad, 2015 CFP semifinalist Michigan State (7/1), with all of those odds for the conference further illustrating how little is thought of the B1G West.

Below are the complete set of conference championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the AAC Championship
Houston 1/1
South Florida 7/2
Cincinnati 11/2
Temple 15/2
Memphis 11/1
Navy 11/1
UConn 20/1
East Carolina 33/1
Tulsa 33/1
SMU 75/1
Central Florida 100/1
Tulane 200/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the ACC Atlantic Division
Clemson 10/11
Florida State 5/4
Louisville 6/1
NC State 14/1
Boston College 40/1
Syracuse 50/1
Wake Forest 50/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the ACC Coastal Division
Miami 3/2
Pittsburgh 3/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
North Carolina 17/4
Georgia Tech 10/1
Duke 20/1
Virginia 40/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the ACC Championship
Clemson 3/2
Florida State 9/4
Miami 9/1
Louisville 10/1
North Carolina 10/1
Pittsburgh 14/1
Virginia Tech 14/1
Georgia Tech 16/1
NC State 20/1
Duke 40/1
Syracuse 75/1
Virginia 75/1
Wake Forest 75/1
Boston College 100/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Big Ten East Division
Ohio State 1/1
Michigan 5/4
Michigan State 6/1
Penn State 101
Indiana 33/1
Maryland 33/1
Rutgers 50/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Big Ten West Division
Iowa 1/1
Nebraska 2/1
Wisconsin 4/1
Northwestern 9/1
Minnesota 14/1
Illinois 25/1
Purdue 33/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Big Ten Championship
Michigan 7/4
Ohio State 7/4
Michigan State 7/1
Iowa 9/1
Nebraska 9/1
Wisconsin 14/1
Penn State 18/1
Northwestern 33/1
Minnesota 40/1
Illinois 50/1
Indiana 50/1
Maryland 50/1
Purdue 100/1
Rutgers 100/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Big 12 Championship
Oklahoma 2/3
Oklahoma State 5/1
TCU 5/1
Baylor 8/1
Texas 17/2
West Virginia 12/1
Kansas State 33/1
Texas Tech 33/1
Iowa State 100/1
Kansas 250/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Conference USA Championship
Southern Miss 9/4
Marshall 11/4
Western Kentucky 7/2
Middle Tennessee 5/1
Louisiana Tech 6/1
FAU 16/1
Rice 20/1
UTEP 25/1
FIU 33/1
Charlotte 100/1
North Texas 100/1
UTSA 100/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the MAC Conference Championship
Western Michigan 5/2
Northern Illinois 11/2
Toledo 11/2
Bowling Green 13/2
Akron 15/2
Central Michigan 15/2
Ohio 15/2
Buffalo 14/1
Kent State 14/1
Miami (Ohio) 18/1
Ball State 40/1
Eastern Michigan 100/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Mountain West Conference Championship Game
Boise State 5/4
San Diego State 11/4
San Jose State 10/1
Air Force 15/2
Utah State 10/1
Colorado State 12/1
Nevada 12/1
New Mexico 18/1
Fresno State 33/1
UNLV 33/1
Hawaii 50/1
Wyoming 50/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Pac 12 North Division
Stanford 8/5
Washington 7/4
Oregon 3/1
Washington State 13/2
California 10/1
Oregon State 50/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Pac 12 South Division
UCLA 7/5
USC 7/4
Utah 5/1
Arizona State 13/2
Arizona 15/2
Colorado 20/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the Pac 12 Championship Game
Stanford 3/1
UCLA 7/2
Washington 4/1
Oregon 11/2
USC 11/2
Utah 12/1
Washington State 14/1
Arizona 20/1
Arizona State 20/1
California 22/1
Colorado 50/1
Oregon State 50/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the SEC East Division
Tennessee 4/5
Georgia 2/1
Florida 9/2
Missouri 16/1
Kentucky 25/1
South Carolina 25/1
Vanderbilt 25/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the SEC West Division
Alabama 4/5
LSU 9/4
Auburn 7/1
Ole Miss 12/1
Arkansas 14/1
Texas A&M 14/1
Mississippi State 20/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to win the SEC Championship
Alabama 7/4
LSU 7/2
Tennessee 7/2
Georgia 9/1
Ole Miss 10/1
Texas A&M 16/1
Auburn 18/1
Florida 18/1
Arkansas 20/1
Kentucky 50/1
Missouri 50/1
Mississippi State 50/1
South Carolina 66/1
Vanderbilt 100/1

NCAA Football 2016 Season – Odds to Win the Sun Belt Championship
Appalachian State 9/4
Arkansas State 9/4
Georgia Southern 5/2
UL Lafayette 8/1
Troy 10/1
Georgia State 14/1
Idaho 25/1
South Alabama 25/1
New Mexico State 33/1
UL Monroe 40/1
Texas State 100/1

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)
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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)
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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)
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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.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.