Alabama is No. 1 in just about every college football poll… except one.
That would be the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of college football programs. While you might think that the paper gives Clemson the edge instead, you have to know that they are not examining teams’ performance on the field in 2017, but rather their overall evaluation. Much like Forbes does in ranking NFL franchise values, WSJ attempted to find out how much college football programs were worth and came to the conclusion that Ohio State reigns supreme in the sport with a nearly $1.5 billion sticker price.
The Buckeyes’ value shot up nearly 60% in just a year so you can thank a College Football Playoff appearance and that huge new Big Ten television package for boosting their bottom line. The WSJ came to the conclusion by citing a study performed by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.
Not far behind Ohio State and still in the billion dollar club were Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns were an annual mainstay atop estimates like this for years but the team’s recent malaise on the field seems to have held them back lately. While the SEC did not have a team crack the 10 figure mark (shockingly), the league did make up half of the top 10. All said, the most valuable conference in college football averaged nearly $523 million per team overall.
Here’s the overall top 10 teams and how much they’re worth per the report:
- Ohio State – $1,510,482,000
- Texas – $1,243,124,000
- Oklahoma – $1,001,967,00
- Alabama $930,001,000
- Louisiana State – $910,927,000
- Michigan – $892,951,000
- Notre Dame – $856,938,000
- Georgia – $822,310,000
- Tennessee – $745,640,00
- Auburn – $724,191,000
As expected, there will be no channeling of Lou Gehrig and Wally Pipp in Austin. Probably.
Shane Buechele suffered an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder in Texas’ season-opening loss to Maryland. Ever since, Tom Herman has stated very firmly that Buechele would return to his starting job when healthy.
After watching Buechele take what the Austin American-Statesman‘s estimated to be 60 percent of the snaps with the first-team offense in practice Tuesday, the first-year UT head coach pronounced that there’s “[n]o Wally Pipp for the moment.”
Sam Ehlinger, who started both games since Buechele’s injury, took the rest of the snaps with the starting offense.
“Thought both of them looked good,” Herman said according to the American-Statesman. “I asked Shane towards the end of practice and he said, ‘Coach I feel good.’ So we’ll continue to monitor his progress. Last week, he was a bit sore each day after throwing. But with a couple of days off here, hopefully we can get that soreness out.”
Herman stopped short of naming Buechele the starter in their next game, against Iowa State, although the Longhorns have a bye this weekend before squaring off with the Cyclones on Thursday the 28th.
In his two starts, the true freshman Ehlinger completed 36-of-67 passes for 520 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Both of those picks came in UT’s near-upset of USC in Week 3.
Saturday night may have cost Texas much, much more than just a mark on the right side of the won-loss column.
In the second quarter of UT’s epic double-overtime loss to USC in Week 3, Connor Williams went down with what appeared to be a potentially significant knee injury. Sunday evening, the Longhorns confirmed as much as the football program announced that the offensive tackle had sustained sprains to the MCL and PCL in his left knee. Additionally, the junior suffered a meniscus tear.
As a result, Williams will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. However, that surgery will not take place for 7-10 days, meaning the tackle will likely be sidelined for a significant period of time. Just how significant that time will be remains to be seen.
“There is no timetable on his return at this point and a further update will be provided following surgery,” the school stated in its release.
The loss of Williams, projected to be one of the top linemen potentially available in the 2018 NFL draft, would be significant for the Longhorns.
Williams has played in and started every game at left tackle since his true freshman season in 2015. After earning consensus Freshman All-American honors that season, he was a consensus All-American following the 2016 season.
Ask any college football fan what the best game they’ve seen in the past two decades or so and the vast majority will instantly recall Texas’ 2006 BCS Championship Game victory over USC as the gold standard. After all, who could forget Heisman winner Reggie Bush’s inexplicable lateral or Vince Young’s game-winning romp to the end zone? Memories of that contest have returned to the sport ad nauseam this week as the Trojans took on the Longhorns once again and many were hoping for a similar bit of magic to the last time they met a few miles up the 110 North over a decade ago.
For three and a half quarters that was not the case, as fans were treated to sloppy play from both sides and dozens of mental mistakes. But it turns out there was a little bit of that Rose Bowl pixie dust left after all in the final few minutes. True freshman Sam Ehlinger saved his best for last and channeled old number No. 10 in burnt orange to lead a remarkable go-ahead drive and give Texas a glimmer of hope to pull off another remarkable upset of a top four team.
The problem was… USC’s Sam Darnold still had time to keep writing his own remarkable legend in cardinal and gold. As a result, No. 4 USC got their long awaited revenge and held on for a surprisingly narrow 27-24 win in double overtime over Texas in front of the biggest crowd for a football game Los Angeles will likely see until January.
The one-time Heisman Trophy front-runner didn’t have his sharpest outing as a starter but still finished with 397 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions to dazzle deep into the night once again. Darnold got the ball down three with just 45 seconds left in the fourth and marched USC right down for a game-tying field goal attempt that send the game into over time and then needed just one play into the extra frame to find the end zone once again.
After the Trojans’ defense finally got an elusive stop against Ehlinger by forcing a fumble, walk-on kicker Chase McGrath secured the victory with a 43-yarder that send sighs of relief up from the packed house at the venerable old L.A. Coliseum.
The week leading up to Texas’ trip back to Los Angeles to play USC has been filled with highlights galore of the Longhorns’ triumph over the Trojans in the 2006 BCS National Championship Game. While the stars of that memorable college football game were out in force at the Coliseum for the rematch on Saturday — Vince Young, Matt Leinart and even Matthew McConaughey included — this year’s edition paid homage to that classic… by laying an egg in the first half.
Third and fourth down stops thanks to bad play designs? You got it. Turnovers? Check. Lackluster run games? Definitely. Mental mistakes? Tons.
As a result, No. 4 USC didn’t quite look like the College Football Playoff contender they were seven days ago after a sloppy 14-7 first half that saw them up just a touchdown on Texas at the midway point.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that the Horns’ defense showed up in a way that Stanford could not in the same situation last week. The Longhorns stout front four were active for the first two quarters and helped clog USC’s running lanes, limiting star tailback Ronald Jones to just 33 yards on 13 carries. Heisman favorite Sam Darnold had to shoulder the load for the most part and put up solid numbers (173 yards passing on 12 completions and the only two scores on a pair of nifty touchdown throws) but was not helped by his young receivers dropping passes on nearly every drive.
Opposite number Sam Ehlinger, making his first road start under center as just a true freshman, was fairly uneven on the night. He threw an ill-advised interception from his own end zone and was on the run for most of the first two quarters of action when he dropped back to pass. Had it not been for the impressive defensive effort though, including a pick-six with 19 seconds left by DeShon Elliott to knot things up on the scoreboard, things could have been a lot worse for Tom Herman coming out of the locker room as a big underdog.
What will the second half have in store? Hopefully less of what we saw Saturday evening and more of that magic from a decade ago in the Rose Bowl. Perhaps the pair of touchdowns in the final 20 seconds will be a sign of things to come from the Coliseum.