CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 4 Ohio State

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(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)

THE GOOD
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 BAD
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.

THE UNKNOWN
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.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: WR Devin Smith
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)

QB Josh Adkins, a two-year starter at New Mexico State, tweets transfer to UTSA

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Already with a crowded quarterback room, UTSA has added another player at the position to its football roster.

In early March, Josh Adkins took the first step in leaving New Mexico State by entering his name into the transfer portal.  On Twitter nearly a month later, Adkins announced that he will be transferring into the UTSA football program.

As a graduate transfer, Adkins will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  On top of that, he will have another year of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

A three-star 2017 signee, Adkins was rated as the No. 61 pro-style quarterback in the country.  Adkins was the highest-rated signee in the Aggies’ class that year.  He also took a redshirt for the 2017 season

Adkins was a two-year starter at New Mexico State.  In that span, the Spring Branch, Tex., native completed nearly 60 percent of his 830 passes.  He finished the NMSU portion of his career with 5,151 yards, 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.  He also scored four touchdowns on the ground and one through the air.

As noted earlier, Adkins will enter a crowded quarterback room when he officially joins the UTSA football team.  How crowded?  Dave Campbell’s Texas Football website explains:

With Adkins’ addition, the Roadrunners are set to have six quarterbacks on campus in the fall: Adkins, Frank Harris, Jordan Weeks, Lowell Narcisse, Suddin Sapien and 2020 recruit Cameron Peters. The first four have each started at least one college football game. Adkins is the first quarterback fully recruited by new coach Jeff Traylor.

Mississippi State player who didn’t take kindly to Mike Leach tweet enters transfer portal

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When he’s not lighting up Twitter, Mike Leach has been busy adding transfers to his Mississippi State football roster.  This week, Leach has lost one to Ye Olde Portal.  Possibly because of the Twitter machine.

Thursday, the Mississippi State football head coach sent out a tweet in which he apologized for anyone he offended in a previous tweet.  In the tweet in question, the caption read “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf..”  The picture attached to it?  An elderly woman knitting a noose.

A handful of Leach’s followers were offended by the tweet.  In response to Leach’s original tweet, Mississippi State football player Fabien Lovett wrote simply, “Wtf.”

Coincidentally or not, Lovett used his personal Twitter account a day later to announce that he has entered the NCAA transfer database.  The defensive lineman didn’t specifically cite Leach’s tweet as the trigger for his decision to leave the Mississippi State football team.

Lovett was a three-star 2018 signee.  He was rated as the No. 7 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.

The past two seasons, Lovett appeared in 15 games.  13 of those appearances came in 2019.  A year ago, the defensive end was credited with 19 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and a sack.

Because he appeared in four or fewer games in 2018, Lovett was able to take a redshirt for that season.  That will leave the lineman with three years of eligibility.  However, he Will Likely have to sit out the 2020 campaign if he transfers to another FBS school.

Jan. 9, Leach was named the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team.  Since then, the Pirate has added at least four transfers.  All of which, incidentally, will come in from Power Five programs:

Florida A&M returns to Florida’s non-conference schedule with game in 2025

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Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin is looking to the future even if spring in the SEC has been put on pause as a result of the coronavirus.

Per FBS Schedules, the Gators have added Florida A&M to their 2025 non-conference football schedule on Oct. 11 of that year. The move completes that season’s slate and will interestingly result in UF featuring every non-conference game against an in-state opponent.

Yes, we’ll have a good idea of who is truly the Sunshine State champ for real come 2025.

In addition to the game against the FCS Rattlers, the Gators will host USF in Gainesville and play at Miami in late September. Their traditional season-ender against another team from Tallahassee in Florida State will take place on Nov. 29.

The all-Florida non-conference schedule comes just as the program has actually been trying to do the opposite. The Gators were long criticized for rarely venturing outside the state’s borders for non-league games but have changed their tune recently. This has resulted in big home-and-homes with Utah, California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona State among others.

In 2025 however, football will come a lot closer to home even with those long trips on the future docket.

Oregon AD, former CFP chair Rob Mullens joins growing list taking pay cuts

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You can add Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens to the growing list of people in college athletics taking pay cuts as the result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a story posted to the university’s website on Thursday, UO confirmed that Mullens would be joining 10 other vice presidents in taking a 10 percent pay cut for the next six months. School president Michael H. Schill also announced he would reduce his salary 12 percent for the same term.

“Simply put, we are all going to have to make sacrifices,” Schill said at a virtual town hall for faculty. “I am working hard with other administrators to try to preserve as many jobs and benefits as we can as we face uncertain economic times.”

Mullens is coming off a stint on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and served as its chairman the past two years as the face of the weekly rankings.

The Ducks top boss is in the middle of a contract that runs through 2025 according to The Oregonian. Mullens is set to make $717,500 this year though it’s not known if he will no longer get his six-figure retention bonus due at the end of June. Given the state of finances at colleges across the country, we’re betting that likely gets deferred.

The pay cut for Mullens and others at Oregon is scheduled to last six months but the school noted that it’s possible they will continue through the end of the 2021 school year.

The move to slash salary is not limited to Eugene. Already we’ve seen Wyoming’s AD do the same and even larger across the board cuts be made at Iowa State.

Given the revenue shortfalls we’ve seen this spring and the potential for the COVID-19 to impact the football calendar, it seems likely these are just the first of many such announcements coming from schools across the country.