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)

BYU starting QB Zach Wilson on schedule to be 100-percent healthy for start of season

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Earlier this offseason, Zach Wilson underwent surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder and, as a result, was sidelined for all of spring practice at BYU. With the start of the 2019 season a little over two months away, the quarterback gave a very positive update on his rehabilitation at the football program’s Media Day.

“Recovery is going good,” Wilson, who threw a football for the first time earlier this month since undergoing the surgery, told the assembled media. “I’m 100 percent on schedule for where I’m supposed to be.” Wilson’s head coach, Kilani Sitake, added that he “think[s] he’s on schedule and will be ready to roll.”

BYU will open up the 2019 campaign at home by playing host to in-state rival Utah Aug. 29 in the 100th renewal of the Holy War.

When Wilson started the Oct. 13 Hawaii game this past season, he became the seventh true freshman in Cougars history to start at quarterback. At 19 years, two months, he was also the youngest ever under center for the football independent.

Wilson went on to start a total of six games in 2018, capping off that rookie effort by pitching a perfect game in BYU’s bowl rout of Western Michigan.

Michigan QB Brandon Peters transferring to Illinois

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For the second time this week, Illinois is on the receiving end of a Power Five transfer.

Late last month, it was reported that Brandon Peters was set to visit Illinois as well take trips to a pair of MAC schools in Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio.  On Instagram Tuesday evening, the quarterback confirmed that he will be continuing his collegiate career with the Fighting Illini.

In early May, it was confirmed that Peters had signaled his intent to leave Michigan by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Peters will graduate from U-M later next month, which allows for immediate eligibility for the Indiana native.  He would also have another season of eligibility he can use the following year.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Peters was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Indiana; and the No. 61 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in Jim Harbaugh‘s first full class in Ann Arbor were rated higher than Peters.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Peters started four of the six games in which he played in 2017 and appeared to be the Wolverines’ quarterback of the future before Shea Patterson transferred into the program from Ole Miss.  With Patterson starting all of last year, Peters attempted just one pass in five appearances this past season.

Peters’ decision to transfer from the Wolverines came a few of months after Patterson opted to return to U-M for another season instead of leaping early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

USF debuts new, lightweight Adidas threads

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I’m not sure if you knew this, but it can get hot in Tampa in the early fall. Humid. Steamy. Muggy. Downright uncomfortable. Sweat is a part of life there, especially if you’re spending your Saturday afternoons running around in full pads and a helmet.

As such, South Florida figured it’d be to their advantage to wear lightweight, breathable uniforms, and Adidas has produced.

On Tuesday, USF debuted a brand new WVN A1 uniform, the German-based manufacturer’s lightest uniform. USF was certain to point out they will be the only team in the threads this season.

“We are very excited that in the second year of our partnership with adidas our football team will be the only one in the country wearing their lightest weight uniforms,” USF AD Michael Kelly said in a statement. “We look forward to the Bulls looking great and feeling great in the new lightweight, breathable material.”

The design itself is slightly different from what the Bulls wore previously, solid green or white with green shoulders, cresting into golden bull horns on each side, above a solid color pant. The metallic material that comprises the golden Bull horn on each shoulder was developed in Israel.

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to uniforms, but in this set of eyes these kits are a massive step up from the chainmail-style Adidas template South Florida wore previously, shown above.

The new, lightweight uniforms will take the field for the first time on Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

K-State WR Hunter Rison, formerly at Michigan State, reportedly pursuing second transfer

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Kansas State wide receiver Hunter Rison will pursue a second transfer in as many years, according to reports Tuesday from GoPowercat and the Wichita Eagle.

The son of Michigan State great Andre Rison, Hunter signed with his father’s alma mater in 2017 and caught 19 passes for 224 yards as a freshman before transferring to Kansas State. After sitting out the 2018 season, as per NCAA transfer rules, Rison shined in spring practice, but his career as a Wildcat was instantly derailed when he was arrested for domestic battery in April.

Rison was immediately suspended from the team, though he maintains his innocence. Charges have not been filed, and his first court appearance in the civil case related to the charge is scheduled for July 16.

“This will be my only response,” Rison wrote on Twitter at the time. “I will continue to be myself … A man of God, as well as a great student-athlete at this university. I have done nothing wrong.”