Getty Images

CFT 2018 Preseason Previews: The Big Ten

9 Comments

For the first time in the brief history of the College Football Playoff, the Big Ten found itself without a playoff representative last season. But in 2018, the conference appears to be stocked with teams worthy of being on the playoff radar as the season begins and there are a handful of programs in the early stages of turning things around and growing with fresh new leadership over the past couple of seasons. Whoever comes out on top of the Big Ten will certainly have earned it given the road any school will have to travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game, but will it end up being enough to justify waving the Big Ten flag in the College Football Playoff?

Ohio State has made the most trips to the playoff among Big Ten programs, including winning the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship, but the season begins with a dark cloud flying above Ohio Stadium with head coach Urban Meyer serving a three-game suspension. Fortunately, Ohio State should be in good position to weather the storm thanks to young offensive stars like J.K. Dobbins running the ball and Dwayne Haskins anointed as the starting quarterback. But it will be the defense, led by Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones on the defensive line, that carries Ohio State early on, including a road trip to Arlington to play TCU. Ohio State’s playoff bubble could hinge on the September schedule with the TCU game and a road trip to Penn State at the end of September.

Penn State was maddeningly close to making the playoff last year, but losing two games by a combined four points in back-to-back weeks leaves the football program hungry for more. And with Ohio State and Michigan State each coming to Happy Valley early in Big Ten play, James Franklin‘s Nittany Lions have a chance to make some noise early on despite a significant amount of turnover on defense and key losses on the offense. Despite the changes, having the Big Ten’s top quarterback in Trace McSorley should allow for some smooth transition while the rest of the pieces come together. Miles Sanders will not be Saquon Barkley, but he may not have to be running the football. Penn State’s best offensive line depth in years should be noticeable and a home schedule that also brings Wisconsin to Beaver Stadium puts Penn State in position to make a playoff case of their own.

Elsewhere in a stacked East Division is, of course, Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Harbaugh may have the Big Ten’s top defense with players like Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich on the ends of the line and Lavert Hill playing corner. and the hope is transfer quarterback Shea Patterson will be a dramatic improvement for the entire offense. An early trip to Notre Dame should be a good litmus test for what the Wolverines will do this season. Meanwhile, Michigan State will continue to chug along and be a factor in the East race with 19 starters back from last year’s team.

Wisconsin has become the easy pick in the West Division, and they are a popular pick once again this season as the most reliable program in the West. But they are not without some potential hurdles as well. A challenging road schedule (Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State… Purdue?) and just three returning starters on defense to go with questionable quarterback consistency from Alex Hornibrook is a lot to counter-balance the expected strong running game led by a monster offensive line paving the way for sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, a popular preseason Heisman Trophy favorite. The West is littered with programs in rebuilding modes like Minnesota, Purdue and now Nebraska with Scott Frost, but Northwestern is always ready to pull an upset or two and this could just be one of those years where Iowa makes a run.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

BIG TEN EAST DIVISION

  1. Penn State
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Michigan
  5. Maryland
  6. Rutgers
  7. Indiana

BIG TEN WEST DIVISION

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Iowa
  3. Northwestern
  4. Minnesota
  5. Nebraska
  6. Purdue
  7. Illinois

IN SHORT:

Joe Moorhead on Rutgers vacancy: Not something that’s under consideration

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
2 Comments

Rutgers is looking for a new head coach and Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is supposedly the so-called frontrunner for the job, according to reports out of New Jersey. But would the Mississippi State head coach leave the SEC to take on the massive undertaking at Rutgers? For now, at least, the Bulldogs head coach is saying all the things you would expect a coach in a current job to say.

“It’s not something that’s under consideration,” Moorhead said to Paul Finebaum of SEC Network when asked about his potential interest in the job on Friday afternoon. “My focus is here at Mississippi State. This is where we want to be and this is what we want to do.”

Moorhead is in his second season as head coach of Mississippi State. Moorhead’s northeastern roots as a New Jersey native seem like a natural fit to take on the Rutgers coaching job. Whether Moorhead is leaving one program stuck in the bottom half of its own division in the SEC for a chance to be stuck in the bottom half of its division in the Big Ten remains to be seen. Moorhead is saying everything a current head coach should be expected to say, whether he genuinely means it or not.

Rutgers fired Chris Ash at the end of September after a 1-3 start capped by a blowout loss at Michigan. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile has been serving as the team’s interim coach while the search for a permanent replacement for Ash is found.

Alcohol at Boise State football games (and other schools in Idaho) is one step closer to reality

Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

As the trend of allowing alcohol at college football games continues to sweep the nation, the state of Idaho has moved one step closer to allowing schools like Boise State to potentially join the trend. According to a report from Idaho Press, the state’s education board has granted preliminary approval to allow universities to decide for themselves if alcohol will be permitted.

The Idaho State Board of Education previously stood in the way of schools within the state from allowing alcohol at collegiate athletic events, such as Boise State football games. Although certain battles have been won in recent years to allow for restricted alcohol availability under certain parameters, the state’s board of education is essentially preparing to step out of the way entirely.

This doesn’t mean Boise State or Idaho Vandal fans will be able to soak in the suds this season though. A revised policy from the board is tentative to be voted on in December for final approval to allow universities to decide for themselves. As it turns out, the decision to pass on the decision-making to university presidents may be more of a way to prevent the board from wasting time on the subject entirely.

“This Board needs to focus on strategic direction for education policy,” board member Andrew Scoggin said, according to the Idaho Press report. “We have very capable and competent chief executive officers at these institutions and there are very clear requirements for safety and security that they will have to meet in order to authorize these permits.”

If the refined policy to pass on the responsibility to individual institutions, that could pave the way for Boise State to have alcohol sales expanded at football games as early as next season if the university is interested in the trend.

Virginia Tech DT Rob Porcher throws name in transfer portal

Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Virginia Tech is possibly about to lose a defensive lineman from its roster. Defensive tackle Rob Porcher has entered the transfer portal, a report with confirmation from Virginia Tech confirmed Friday afternoon.

Andy Bitter of The Athletic reported news of the transfer portal development, via Twitter.

Porcher is a redshirt sophomore, so he will have two more years of eligibility at another FBS program. Porcher would have to sit out the 2020 season at another FBS program, per NCAA transfer rules, if he does end up leaving the Hokies. Any player entering the transfer portal is free to have contact with any other college football program as they evaluate their options. A decision to remain in Blacksburg is always possible too, although the report from Bitter suggests that may not be the end-result for Porcher.

Porcher has appeared in five games this season. In that time, Porcher has recorded three tackles with one sack.

Michigan State TE Noah Davis is sixth Spartan to enter transfer portal this season

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1 Comment

The almighty transfer portal has added another college football player’s name to its database. Michigan State tight end Noah Davis has reportedly entered the transfer portal, according to Detroit Free Press reporter Rainer Sabin (via Twitter).

Davis appeared in four games for Michigan State this season, but he has not caught a pass this season. Three other tight ends on the Michigan State roster have contributed on offense this season. Senior Matt Seybert is Michigan State’s third-leading receiver with 15 receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Dotson and Trenton Gillison have also played a part in the passing game at times this season. Davis did not play in 208 due to injury. Davis will have one final year of eligibility in 2020.

By entering the transfer portal, Davis is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. Davis may also choose to stay with the Spartans.

Davis is the sixth Michigan State player to enter the transfer portal since the season got underway. Previous players entering the transfer portal from Michigan State include running backs Connor Heyward (HERE) and La’Darius Jefferson (HERE), wide receivers Weston Bridges (HERE) and Cam Chambers, and linebacker Brandon Bouyet-Randle (HERE).