NCAA Football News

Winners and Losers from 2016 Big 12 Media Days

Two days of Big 12 coaches and players previewing the 2016 season are in the books, and now it's time to look back on what stood out the most in Dallas. It was a mix of good and bad, hitting the extreme in both directions.

The league has had several spotlights on it this offseason, including from a logistical standpoint in terms of adding a championship game in 2017 and taking another look at expansion, but also in an unfavorable light because of Baylor's sexual assault scandal. Those were some of the biggest topics discussed at Big 12 media days, along with the usual issues related to departed stars and incoming prospects.

We've picked out some winners and losers from the past two days that help summarize what came up most during the Big 12's contribution to "talking season."

Begin Slideshow

Winners and Losers from 2016 Big 12 Media Days

Two days of Big 12 coaches and players previewing the 2016 season are in the books, and now it's time to look back on what stood out the most in Dallas. It was a mix of good and bad, hitting the extreme in both directions.

The league has had several spotlights on it this offseason, including from a logistical standpoint in terms of adding a championship game in 2017 and taking another look at expansion, but also in an unfavorable light due to Baylor's sexual assault scandal. Those were some of the biggest topics discussed at Big 12 media days, along with the usual issues related to departed stars and incoming prospects.

We've picked out some winners and losers from the past two days that help summarize what came up most during the Big 12's contribution to "talking season."

Begin Slideshow

Lou Holtz Comments on Immigration at Republican National Convention

After announcing he was supporting Donald Trump's presidential campaign, College Football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz offered some controversial remarks about immigration at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Per Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast, Holtz said, "I don't want to celebrate your holidays; I sure as hell don't want to cheer for your soccer team," regarding immigrants. 

Woodruff also noted Holtz said he doesn't "want to speak their language." 

Zach Barnett of College Football Talk suggested some irony in the fact that Holtz was the head football coach at a school whose nickname was the Fighting Irish and whose full name—the University of Notre Dame du Lac—is French. 

It's unclear exactly how closely Holtz has followed Trump's presidential campaign, but in his official endorsement, the 79-year-old said "the main reason I'm endorsing him: I've played his golf course [and] I've stayed in his hotel," per Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post.

Holtz has been an active member of the Republican Party for years and has appeared on various Fox News and Fox Business shows. He worked as a college football analyst at ESPN starting in 2005 before leaving the network in 2015. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Lou Holtz Comments on Immigration at Republican National Convention

After announcing he was supporting Donald Trump's presidential campaign, College Football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz offered some controversial remarks about immigration at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Per Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast, Holtz said, "I don't want to celebrate your holidays; I sure as hell don't want to cheer for your soccer team," regarding immigrants. 

Woodruff also noted Holtz said he doesn't want to speak their language. 

Zach Barnett of College Football Talk suggested some irony in the fact that Holtz was the head football coach at a school whose nickname was the Fighting Irish and whose full name—the University of Notre Dame du Lac—is French. 

It's unclear exactly how closely Holtz has followed Trump's presidential campaign, but in his official endorsement, the 79-year-old said "the main reason I'm endorsing him: I've played his golf course [and] I've stayed in his hotel," per Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post.

Holtz has been an active member of the Republican party for years, including appearing on various Fox News and Fox Business shows. He worked as a college football analyst at ESPN starting in 2005 before leaving the network in 2015. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Breyon Gaddy to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Breyon Gaddy, one of the most physically imposing recruits in the 2017 class, announced Tuesday he's going to play college football at Tennessee.

Jesse Simonton of SEC Country noted the defensive tackle's choice of the Volunteers. The coveted recruit posted a message alongside his twin brother, fellow Vols commit Brandon Gaddy, confirming the decision:

Gaddy is a 4-star prospect who's rated No. 274 overall in the 2017 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. He also checks in as the No. 15 defensive tackle and the 12th-best player coming out of the state of Virginia.

Although those are solid rankings, he's got the potential to make a much larger impact if he can translate his raw tools into on-field production during his time in college.

The Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School standout brings a rare combination of size (6'5", 335 lbs), strength and athleticism to the table. It's allowed him to overpower smaller, often overmatched opponents, but now begins the process of working on his technique.

Along with attracting interest for his football potential, he's also played basketball. Bishop Sullivan teammate and 2018 linebacker recruit Teradja Mitchell showcased the big man's skills:

His future figures to come on the gridiron, though. He realized something special was going on when Alabama came calling during his junior year, per Larry Rubama of the Virginian-Pilot.

"For me to be a junior and to receive an offer from them is really big," Gaddy said. "It makes me want to work harder."

The biggest question now that he's made his school choice is how long it will take for him to make an impact. As mentioned, the talent is there for him to become a high-end defensive tackle, but the transition and development stage is going to take a while.

Picking Tennessee makes plenty of sense. There's no better way for a player to gauge his development than by playing in the SEC against elite competition on a weekly basis during conference play. It's a perfect measuring stick for a recruit with upside but who needs a lot of work.

Gaddy probably won't be ready for a full-time role at the outset. He may find himself in a situation where he can carve out a role for himself as part of the defensive line rotation by the latter stage of his first season, though.

That said, this signing is more about the extended future. The Vols will hope he's able to make the necessary strides and become a game-changing interior lineman by the time he's an upperclassman.

    

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Breyon Gaddy to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Breyon Gaddy, one of the most physically imposing recruits in the 2017 class, announced Tuesday he's going to play college football at Tennessee.

Jesse Simonton of SEC Country noted the defensive tackle's choice of the Volunteers. The coveted recruit posted a message alongside his twin brother, fellow Vols commit Brandon Gaddy, confirming the decision:

Gaddy is a 4-star prospect who's rated No. 274 overall in the 2017 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings. He also checks in as the No. 15 defensive tackle and the 12th-best player coming out of the state of Virginia.

Although those are solid rankings, he's got the potential to make a much larger impact if he can translate his raw tools into on-field production during his time in college.

The Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School standout brings a rare combination of size (6'5", 335 lbs), strength and athleticism to the table. It's allowed him to overpower smaller, often overmatched opponents, but now begins the process of working on his technique.

Along with attracting interest for his football potential, he's also played basketball. Bishop Sullivan teammate and 2018 linebacker recruit Teradja Mitchell showcased the big man's skills:

His future figures to come on the gridiron, though. He realized something special was going on when Alabama came calling during his junior year, per Larry Rubama of the Virginian-Pilot.

"For me to be a junior and to receive an offer from them is really big," Gaddy said. "It makes me want to work harder."

The biggest question now that he's made his school choice is how long it will take for him to make an impact. As mentioned, the talent is there for him to become a high-end defensive tackle, but the transition and development stage is going to take a while.

Picking Tennessee makes plenty of sense. There's no better way for a player to gauge his development than by playing in the SEC against elite competition on a weekly basis during conference play. It's a perfect measuring stick for a recruit with upside but who needs a lot of work.

Gaddy probably won't be ready for a full-time role at the outset. He may find himself in a situation where he can carve out a role for himself as part of the defensive line rotation by the latter stage of his first season, though.

That said, this signing is more about the extended future. The Vols will hope he's able to make the necessary strides and become a game-changing interior lineman by the time he's an upperclassman.

    

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nick Saban Comments on Deshaun Watson, Jim Harbaugh's Rap Video and More

Though it's been six months since Alabama defeated Clemson to win the 2016 College Football Playoff, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is still impressed with Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson.

During an appearance on ESPN's College Football Live (via NFL.com's Chase Goodbread), Saban offered these compliments to Watson:

Looking at the numbers, it's easy to see why Saban would feel that way. Watson threw for 4,104 yards, ran for 1,105 yards and had 47 total touchdowns. He dazzled against the Crimson Tide defense with 405 passing yards, 73 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns. 

Those numbers are vastly superior to what Cam Newton put up against Alabama in 2010. The reigning NFL MVP had 216 passing yards, 39 rushing yards and four total touchdowns, but Auburn earned a 28-27 win in that game. 

Saban was not all business during his media appearances.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who drew the ire of many SEC coaches, including Saban, for his use of satellite camps, dazzled the world with his cameo in a rap video to hype the Wolverines' upcoming season.

Saban discussed on the Dan Le Batard Show the likelihood he would be appearing in a rap video at some point:

Continuing to keep things light, Alabama recruiting specialist Randall Spain indirectly brought Saban into the Pokemon Go craze with this picture posted on Twitter:

Sadly, for anyone hoping that Saban would be getting in on the search for Pikachu himself, he didn't even know what that was upon seeing the image, per Nic Gulas of WIAT 42. 

While Saban does not seem to have a future in the rap game or the app game, he's certainly ready for the challenges of coaching this year's Alabama team. 

Based on Saban's track record, which includes four national titles since 2009, he doesn't have to worry about selling anyone on his program by taking part in those extracurricular activities. His attention will be on helping Alabama defend its title when it opens the season on September 3 against USC. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nick Saban Comments on Deshaun Watson, Jim Harbaugh's Rap Video and More

Though it's been six months since Alabama defeated Clemson to win the 2016 College Football Playoff, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is still impressed with Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson.

During an appearance on ESPN's College Football Live (via NFL.com's Chase Goodbread), Saban offered these compliments to Watson:

Looking at the numbers, it's easy to see why Saban would feel that way. Watson threw for 4,104 yards, ran for 1,105 yards and had 47 total touchdowns. He dazzled against the Crimson Tide defense with 405 passing yards, 73 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns. 

Those numbers are vastly superior to what Cam Newton put up against Alabama in 2010. The reigning NFL MVP had 216 passing yards, 39 rushing yards and four total touchdowns, but Auburn earned a 28-27 win in that game. 

Saban was not all business during his media appearances.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who drew the ire of many SEC coaches, including Saban, for his use of satellite camps, dazzled the world with his cameo in a rap video to hype the Wolverines' upcoming season.

Saban discussed on the Dan Le Batard Show the likelihood he would be appearing in a rap video at some point:

Continuing to keep things light, Alabama recruiting specialist Randall Spain indirectly brought Saban into the Pokemon Go craze with this picture posted on Twitter:

Sadly, for anyone hoping that Saban would be getting in on the search for Pikachu himself, he didn't even know what that was upon seeing the image, per Nic Gulas of WIAT 42. 

While Saban does not seem to have a future in the rap game or the app game, he's certainly ready for the challenges of coaching this year's Alabama team. 

Based on Saban's track record, which includes four national titles since 2009, he doesn't have to worry about selling anyone on his program by taking part in those extracurricular activities. His attention will be on helping Alabama defend its title when it opens the season on September 3 against USC. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Fit for 4-Star CB Trajan Bandy After Decommitting from Oklahoma

Those who follow Trajan Bandy who also are Oklahoma fans were hoping the rumors were just that. Word about Bandy choosing to part ways with the Sooners after being committed since February had been floating in the recruiting world for quite some time.

On Monday, the 4-star cornerback from Miami made it official, announcing via Twitter that he has reopened his recruiting process. He also said that the Sooners still remained among his top six schools.

Bandy, from Columbus High School in Miami, is now believed to be a primary target for the hometown Miami Hurricanes. But how set in stone is that?

In this case, if Bandy doesn't choose the Hurricanes, it would be a candidate for recruiting surprise of the year.

Miami and Oklahoma are joined by USC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Penn State in Bandy's top six. The Hurricanes, however, received three unofficial visits from Bandy last month, according to 247Sports. He was offered by head coach Mark Richt on May 25. There's a definite chemistry.

It would make sense for Bandy to choose Miami. Proximity-wise, the Miami campus and Columbus High School are separated by roughly seven miles. Home games would be easy for Bandy's family and friends to attend.

Additionally, you have to consider the fact that the Hurricanes roster is loaded with players from the greater Miami area—athletes whom Bandy has been either known personally or known about for years.

Miami would be the obvious choice, but it's still premature to count out the other schools on his list. Bandy's built strong relationships with the defensive back coaches at USC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Penn State, and keeping Oklahoma in his list despite decommitting says a lot about the relationship he has with the Sooners coaching staff.

Whichever school lands Bandy will get an athlete who plays larger than his size. At 5'9.5" and 180 pounds, Bandy brings speed, a competitive spirit and a physical nature with every play. He's a ball hawk in the secondary, finishing his junior year with six interceptions and four forced fumbles.

There's a level of confidence that makes him an intriguing get, as well. All of those qualities have been parlayed into Bandy landing 36 scholarship offers.

USC's class would benefit in landing Bandy, as the Trojans are without a true cornerback pledge. Tennessee has one cornerback commit in 3-star Cheyenne Labruzza, and Penn State has one cornerback committed in 3-star D.J. Brown.

Oklahoma and South Carolina both have two cornerback pledges in the 2017 class. Miami is in need of cornerbacks, dating back to last year.

The program only signed one cornerback for the 2016 class in Malek Young. The Hurricanes lost the commitment of 2017 3-star cornerback Nick Roberts last month and, on paper, only has one cornerback pledge committed in 3-star Brian Edwards. Christopher Henderson, listed as a 4-star athlete, is a Miami pledge who can play both sides of the ball but may see his future in the secondary.

Here's another advantage for Miami fans: Henderson and Bandy are high school teammates. Both were at The Opening. The idea of being teammates at the next level is something that's intriguing—this said with the assumption that Henderson stays with his commitment, as he's been a major target for a variety of schools, per 247Sports' David Lake.

Bandy would be a nice get for the Hurricanes. He would be the team's highest-rated defensive pledge of the 2017 class, and he'd have a chance to showcase his talents in front of familiar faces. It would be a win-win situation for him and the program.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Fit for 4-Star CB Trajan Bandy After Decommitting from Oklahoma

Those who follow Trajan Bandy who also are Oklahoma fans were hoping the rumors were just that. Word about Bandy choosing to part ways with the Sooners after being committed since February had been floating in the recruiting world for quite some time.

On Monday, the 4-star cornerback from Miami made it official, announcing via Twitter that he has reopened his recruiting process. He also said that the Sooners still remained among his top six schools.

Bandy, from Columbus High School in Miami, is now believed to be a primary target for the hometown Miami Hurricanes. But how set in stone is that?

In this case, if Bandy doesn't choose the Hurricanes, it would be a candidate for recruiting surprise of the year.

Miami and Oklahoma are joined by USC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Penn State in Bandy's top six. The Hurricanes, however, received three unofficial visits from Bandy last month, according to 247Sports. He was offered by head coach Mark Richt on May 25. There's a definite chemistry.

It would make sense for Bandy to choose Miami. Proximity-wise, the Miami campus and Columbus High School are separated by roughly seven miles. Home games would be easy for Bandy's family and friends to attend.

Additionally, you have to consider the fact that the Hurricanes roster is loaded with players from the greater Miami area—athletes whom Bandy has been either known personally or known about for years.

Miami would be the obvious choice, but it's still premature to count out the other schools on his list. Bandy's built strong relationships with the defensive back coaches at USC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Penn State, and keeping Oklahoma in his list despite decommitting says a lot about the relationship he has with the Sooners coaching staff.

Whichever school lands Bandy will get an athlete who plays larger than his size. At 5'9.5" and 180 pounds, Bandy brings speed, a competitive spirit and a physical nature with every play. He's a ball hawk in the secondary, finishing his junior year with six interceptions and four forced fumbles.

There's a level of confidence that makes him an intriguing get, as well. All of those qualities have been parlayed into Bandy landing 36 scholarship offers.

USC's class would benefit in landing Bandy, as the Trojans are without a true cornerback pledge. Tennessee has one cornerback commit in 3-star Cheyenne Labruzza, and Penn State has one cornerback committed in 3-star D.J. Brown.

Oklahoma and South Carolina both have two cornerback pledges in the 2017 class. Miami is in need of cornerbacks, dating back to last year.

The program only signed one cornerback for the 2016 class in Malek Young. The Hurricanes lost the commitment of 2017 3-star cornerback Nick Roberts last month and, on paper, only has one cornerback pledge committed in 3-star Brian Edwards. Christopher Henderson, listed as a 4-star athlete, is a Miami pledge who can play both sides of the ball but may see his future in the secondary.

Here's another advantage for Miami fans: Henderson and Bandy are high school teammates. Both were at The Opening. The idea of being teammates at the next level is something that's intriguing—this said with the assumption that Henderson stays with his commitment, as he's been a major target for a variety of schools, per 247Sports' David Lake.

Bandy would be a nice get for the Hurricanes. He would be the team's highest-rated defensive pledge of the 2017 class, and he'd have a chance to showcase his talents in front of familiar faces. It would be a win-win situation for him and the program.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Summer visits are a critical part of the recruiting process.

Getting players on campus, regardless of whether they are committed to a program or not, can change the trajectory of a player’s recruitment.

In the case of committed players, visits to other schools leave the door open for a chance to reopen their recruitments. 

One player the Florida Gators are hoping to get a foot in the door with is 3-star defensive end and current Ole Miss pledge Bryan Jones.

Last week, while on a visit to Gainesville, Jones—who rates as the nation’s No. 13 strong-side defensive end and the No. 348 player overall in the 2017 class—picked up an offer from the Gators:

Jones also visited fellow Sunshine State power Miami for its Paradise Camp, as detailed by Andrew Ivins of 247Sports.

According to Shea Dixon Geaux247, LSU is another school that is involved with Jones—who goes to Madison Prep Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

However, with the Gators now in the mix with Jones, it’s clear that the Rebels will have to fight to hold on to his pledge until signing day.

   

USC After Top 2017 CB

Five of USC’s nine commitments in the 2017 cycle come from prospects outside the state of California.

Trojans head coach Clay Helton and his staff were busy last week searching for studs away from their home territory.

Their travels led them to offer one of the nation’s top corners in 4-star Ambry Thomas:

The 5’11 ½”, 174-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 14 corner and the No. 130 player overall in the 2017 cycle.

Big Ten powers Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State are among the programs in the mix with Thomas.

However, the Trojans are gunning for a chance to get Thomas on campus and become a bigger factor in his recruitment.

   

Penn State Offers Top 2018 CB

While Thomas is one of the elite corners in the 2017 cycle, Texas corner Verone McKinley III represents one of the nation’s best talents at that position in the 2018 class.

Last week, McKinley reported an offer from Penn State: 

Heading into his junior season, the 5’10”, 165-pounder has amassed more than 25 offers from programs around the country—with Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma. Texas A&M and Texas Tech are among the schools involved with him early.

The Nittany Lions are among the programs hoping to lure McKinley away from the Lone Star State.

   

TCU After In-State 2018 WR

In contrast to USC, TCU is a program that rarely strays from targeting prospects away from its home base in Texas.

For example, eight of the nine commitments in TCU’s 2017 class are homegrown prospects.

Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson and his staff aren’t likely to stray from that formula in the 2018 cycle. Last week, TCU offered 2018 in-state pass-catcher Brennan Eagles

In terms of gaining college interest, the 6’3 ½”, 202-pounder from Alief Taylor High School in Houston is among the hottest rising juniors in the country, as detailed by Jeremy Clark of 247Sports.

Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Michigan State and USC are among the other schools that have already offered Eagles.

However, the tender from the Horned Frogs is likely to appeal to Eagles considering the team’s recent success and its pass-friendly offense.

   

Best of the Rest 

2017

   

2018

   

2019

   

2020

   

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Summer visits are a critical part of the recruiting process.

Getting players on campus, regardless of whether they are committed to a program or not, can change the trajectory of a player’s recruitment.

In the case of committed players, visits to other schools leave the door open for a chance to reopen their recruitments. 

One player the Florida Gators are hoping to get a foot in the door with is 3-star defensive end and current Ole Miss pledge Bryan Jones.

Last week, while on a visit to Gainesville, Jones—who rates as the nation’s No. 13 strong-side defensive end and the No. 348 player overall in the 2017 class—picked up an offer from the Gators:

Jones also visited fellow Sunshine State power Miami for its Paradise Camp, as detailed by Andrew Ivins of 247Sports.

According to Shea Dixon Geaux247, LSU is another school that is involved with Jones—who goes to Madison Prep Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

However, with the Gators now in the mix with Jones, it’s clear that the Rebels will have to fight to hold on to his pledge until signing day.

   

USC After Top 2017 CB

Five of USC’s nine commitments in the 2017 cycle come from prospects outside the state of California.

Trojans head coach Clay Helton and his staff were busy last week searching for studs away from their home territory.

Their travels led them to offer one of the nation’s top corners in 4-star Ambry Thomas:

The 5’11 ½”, 174-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 14 corner and the No. 130 player overall in the 2017 cycle.

Big Ten powers Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State are among the programs in the mix with Thomas.

However, the Trojans are gunning for a chance to get Thomas on campus and become a bigger factor in his recruitment.

   

Penn State Offers Top 2018 CB

While Thomas is one of the elite corners in the 2017 cycle, Texas corner Verone McKinley III represents one of the nation’s best talents at that position in the 2018 class.

Last week, McKinley reported an offer from Penn State: 

Heading into his junior season, the 5’10”, 165-pounder has amassed more than 25 offers from programs around the country—with Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma. Texas A&M and Texas Tech are among the schools involved with him early.

The Nittany Lions are among the programs hoping to lure McKinley away from the Lone Star State.

   

TCU After In-State 2018 WR

In contrast to USC, TCU is a program that rarely strays from targeting prospects away from its home base in Texas.

For example, eight of the nine commitments in TCU’s 2017 class are homegrown prospects.

Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson and his staff aren’t likely to stray from that formula in the 2018 cycle. Last week, TCU offered 2018 in-state pass-catcher Brennan Eagles

In terms of gaining college interest, the 6’3 ½”, 202-pounder from Alief Taylor High School in Houston is among the hottest rising juniors in the country, as detailed by Jeremy Clark of 247Sports.

Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Michigan State and USC are among the other schools that have already offered Eagles.

However, the tender from the Horned Frogs is likely to appeal to Eagles considering the team’s recent success and its pass-friendly offense.

   

Best of the Rest 

2017

   

2018

   

2019

   

2020

   

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bri'onte Dunn's Dismissal Could Make Curtis Samuel Ohio State's Go-To Guy

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever since he arrived at Ohio State two years ago, a familiar question has followed Curtis Samuel: What position does he play?

With fewer than two months to go until the start of his junior season, Monday night may have provided some clarity.

After Samuel started his college career as a running back before transitioning to wide receiver and appeared to stand somewhere in between heading into 2016, the Buckeyes' announcement that Bri'onte Dunn has been dismissed due to a violation of team rules may ultimately force the hybrid player back into the Ohio State backfield.

While redshirt freshman Mike Weber may now be "the man" for the Buckeyes at running back, Samuel's services will only be more necessary—not that he wasn't already a player who Urban Meyer was counting on for the coming year.

"Instead of being a guy who's second to someone," Meyer said of Samuel earlier this offseason, "he's got to take charge."

At the time, it appeared the plan was for Samuel to do so in an adopted hybrid role—not fully a running back, but not necessarily a wide receiver either. With Dunn and Weber carrying the load and a young wide receiver corps emerging around J.T. Barrett, the 5'11", 200-pounder could pick his spots as either a scat back or slot receiver, motioning in and out of the backfield based on how the defense lined up.

Such versatility may no longer be afforded.

At least not with the increase in uncertainty in an Ohio State running back corps that was already in the process of replacing one of the nation's top players in Ezekiel Elliott. Weber may have always had the higher upside, but Dunn possessed the experience, which is something Samuel also brings to the table, regardless of what position it's come at.

"I've got a heart of a running back," Samuel said during spring practice, which he sat out due to foot surgery. "But I'm [currently] at receiver."

Nevertheless, Samuel had already insisted on playing both spots upon his return to action, and when talking to members of the Buckeyes staff, it became clear he was expected to be one of the focal points of the Ohio State offense this upcoming season.

Running backs coach Tony Alford praised his explosiveness, while wide receivers coach Zach Smith noted his versatility, stopping short of calling the Brooklyn, New York, native a pure wideout when asked point-blank what position the junior-to-be would be playing in 2016.

"A dynamic player," Smith labeled Samuel.

On an offense searching to replace Elliott's 1,821 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns—as well as Braxton Miller's 261 yards on the ground—Samuel's playmaking ability will be needed now more than ever.

In fact, even before Dunn's dismissal, Samuel was already the Buckeyes' second-leading returning rusher, trailing just Barrett with 132 yards and a score on 17 carries in 2015 despite primarily playing wideout.

To some extent, running back is where Samuel always seemed to possess the most potential, after he tallied 383 yards and six scores while serving as Elliott's top backup—ahead of Dunn—as a true freshman in 2014.

Yet whether it was because the Buckeyes staff was satisfied with its options in Dunn, Weber and true freshman Antonio Williams or perhaps because it was hoping to keep a potential return to running back for Samuel a secret, the staff never seemed to bring his name up when discussing potential replacements for Elliott.

But even as he stood on the sideline throughout the spring, it became clear Samuel was eyeing an increase in offensive touches, after amassing a mere 39 while stuck somewhere in the Buckeyes' crowded pecking order a year ago.

"I'm not going to limit myself by just being a running back or just playing receiver," he said.

Even if Dunn's dismissal makes the crowning of Weber as Ohio State's starter more of a formality than anything else, one would imagine Samuel will now serve as the top rushing option behind him and an even stronger candidate to receive carries as a speedy change of pace from the 5'10", 215-pound bowling ball-like redshirt freshman.

Dunn's departure could also lead to more touches for Samuel as a wideout and H-back, as it's one less mouth to feed in the Buckeyes' playmaker-heavy offense.

Replacing eight starters—including every starting skill position—little was known about the Ohio State offense heading into 2016, with or without Dunn. One less player who hadn't contributed much to this point in his college career won't change that—at least not for the unit as a whole.

But in the case of Samuel, Dunn's dismissal could very well create the most clarity he's seen since arriving in Columbus—which still isn't saying much.

If a go-to guy for Meyer and Barrett to turn to in the coming year is going to emerge, the odds just increased that player will be Samuel. He may still not have a full-time position, nor has he even secured a starting role, but when it comes to players Ohio State knows it can count on in 2016, Samuel remains one of the few.

Unlike the position—or lack thereof—he plays, there's no question about it.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruiting and class ratings courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bri'onte Dunn's Dismissal Could Make Curtis Samuel Ohio State's Go-To Guy

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever since he arrived at Ohio State two years ago, a familiar question has followed Curtis Samuel: What position does he play?

With fewer than two months to go until the start of his junior season, Monday night may have provided some clarity.

After Samuel started his college career as a running back before transitioning to wide receiver and appeared to stand somewhere in between heading into 2016, the Buckeyes' announcement that Bri'onte Dunn has been dismissed due to a violation of team rules may ultimately force the hybrid player back into the Ohio State backfield.

While redshirt freshman Mike Weber may now be "the man" for the Buckeyes at running back, Samuel's services will only be more necessary—not that he wasn't already a player who Urban Meyer was counting on for the coming year.

"Instead of being a guy who's second to someone," Meyer said of Samuel earlier this offseason, "he's got to take charge."

At the time, it appeared the plan was for Samuel to do so in an adopted hybrid role—not fully a running back, but not necessarily a wide receiver either. With Dunn and Weber carrying the load and a young wide receiver corps emerging around J.T. Barrett, the 5'11", 200-pounder could pick his spots as either a scat back or slot receiver, motioning in and out of the backfield based on how the defense lined up.

Such versatility may no longer be afforded.

At least not with the increase in uncertainty in an Ohio State running back corps that was already in the process of replacing one of the nation's top players in Ezekiel Elliott. Weber may have always had the higher upside, but Dunn possessed the experience, which is something Samuel also brings to the table, regardless of what position it's come at.

"I've got a heart of a running back," Samuel said during spring practice, which he sat out due to foot surgery. "But I'm [currently] at receiver."

Nevertheless, Samuel had already insisted on playing both spots upon his return to action, and when talking to members of the Buckeyes staff, it became clear he was expected to be one of the focal points of the Ohio State offense this upcoming season.

Running backs coach Tony Alford praised his explosiveness, while wide receivers coach Zach Smith noted his versatility, stopping short of calling the Brooklyn, New York, native a pure wideout when asked point-blank what position the junior-to-be would be playing in 2016.

"A dynamic player," Smith labeled Samuel.

On an offense searching to replace Elliott's 1,821 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns—as well as Braxton Miller's 261 yards on the ground—Samuel's playmaking ability will be needed now more than ever.

In fact, even before Dunn's dismissal, Samuel was already the Buckeyes' second-leading returning rusher, trailing just Barrett with 132 yards and a score on 17 carries in 2015 despite primarily playing wideout.

To some extent, running back is where Samuel always seemed to possess the most potential, after he tallied 383 yards and six scores while serving as Elliott's top backup—ahead of Dunn—as a true freshman in 2014.

Yet whether it was because the Buckeyes staff was satisfied with its options in Dunn, Weber and true freshman Antonio Williams or perhaps because it was hoping to keep a potential return to running back for Samuel a secret, the staff never seemed to bring his name up when discussing potential replacements for Elliott.

But even as he stood on the sideline throughout the spring, it became clear Samuel was eyeing an increase in offensive touches, after amassing a mere 39 while stuck somewhere in the Buckeyes' crowded pecking order a year ago.

"I'm not going to limit myself by just being a running back or just playing receiver," he said.

Even if Dunn's dismissal makes the crowning of Weber as Ohio State's starter more of a formality than anything else, one would imagine Samuel will now serve as the top rushing option behind him and an even stronger candidate to receive carries as a speedy change of pace from the 5'10", 215-pound bowling ball-like redshirt freshman.

Dunn's departure could also lead to more touches for Samuel as a wideout and H-back, as it's one less mouth to feed in the Buckeyes' playmaker-heavy offense.

Replacing eight starters—including every starting skill position—little was known about the Ohio State offense heading into 2016, with or without Dunn. One less player who hadn't contributed much to this point in his college career won't change that—at least not for the unit as a whole.

But in the case of Samuel, Dunn's dismissal could very well create the most clarity he's seen since arriving in Columbus—which still isn't saying much.

If a go-to guy for Meyer and Barrett to turn to in the coming year is going to emerge, the odds just increased that player will be Samuel. He may still not have a full-time position, nor has he even secured a starting role, but when it comes to players Ohio State knows it can count on in 2016, Samuel remains one of the few.

Unlike the position—or lack thereof—he plays, there's no question about it.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruiting and class ratings courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football Q&A: What Weaknesses Could Derail Seasons for East Contenders?

Florida shocked the world last year when then-first-year head coach Jim McElwain led the Gators to the SEC East title despite massive roster upheaval in the middle of the season, including the suspension of former starting quarterback Will Grier.

Will the Gators repeat? Will Tennessee or Georgia take charge?

Tennessee was picked to win the SEC East when the assembled members of the media predicted the order of finish in each division at SEC media days earlier this month, with Florida and Georgia coming in second and third, respectively, prior to a big gap to the rest of the division.

What weakness could derail the season for each of the three primary SEC East contenders? That question and more are answered in this week's edition of SEC Q&A:

    

We'll start with the favorite, Tennessee, and move down from there.

Without a doubt, the one thing preventing Tennessee from being elite is the absence of a downfield passing attack. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished eighth in the SEC in passer rating (127.01), and that rating dropped to 105.66 when facing ranked opponents.

That won't cut it.

I've said all offseason that Dobbs' issues in the passing game stem from underdeveloped and injury-plagued wide receivers more than the senior signal-caller himself, and head coach Butch Jones echoed those sentiments at SEC media days.

"Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback, but sometimes playing winning football at the quarterback position is a byproduct to the players around him," he said. "We've had the unfortunate circumstances the last couple of years to be decimated by injuries at the wide receiver position. So one of the keys for us in moving forward and continuing to gain those 25 points [the combined total the last five losses have come by] is having a healthy receiving corps."

If Tennessee doesn't develop a downfield passing attack, good defenses—specifically the one in Gainesville, Florida—can shut down its one-dimensional offense.

For Florida, it's easy to point to the quarterback position. I'm not sure that's the main question at Florida, though.

Kelvin Taylor was incredibly underrated last year, when he rushed for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns in a painfully one-dimensional offense and didn't lose a fumble. If the trio of Mark Thompson, Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett can match that kind of reliability, it will take a ton of pressure off the eventual winner of the quarterback battle and stout defense.

At Georgia, it's all about the defensive line.

Head coach Kirby Smart is coming from a program at Alabama where there were 12-15 players he could trust up front, and he has nowhere close to that. Jonathan Ledbetter can't stay out of trouble, only one upperclassman exists on the defensive two-deep on the defensive line, and outside of sophomore Trent Thompson, there's not much to get excited about in the trenches.

"The biggest concern for me and our team is the defensive line," Smart said at SEC media days. "We have to do a great job there and stay injury-free. We have to develop the guys on campus. If those guys get better, we'll have good depth there."

Getting stable defensive line play and winning the battle in the trenches will keep the Bulldogs in games and give the offense—which is undergoing a makeover under first-year coordinator Jim Chaney—plenty of chances to navigate through growing pains.

     

I don't think it's wide receiver (or quarterback). In fact, it isn't a sexy position at all.

When I ranked the conference's offensive lines in April, I will admit that I was floored with the lack of stability around the conference at what is, arguably, the game's most important position unit. Even LSU, which I ranked No. 1, has issues.

And these are the units that are supposed to hold back the likes of Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, Alabama's Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen, Auburn's Carl Lawson, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Florida's Caleb Brantley, Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes, Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr. and Missouri's Charles Harris?

I don't think so.

I could probably rattle off another couple—or 10—top-flight members of SEC front sevens to further illustrated the talent the conference boasts, but I think you get the point.

The SEC will be won and lost this year by its offensive lines.

Who can come together, and which program takes a little more time? The answer to that question will not only lead to wins, but will likely lead to division title contention.

It's one of the best years in terms of pass-rushers in SEC history, and that upward trend comes at a time in which the offensive lines around the conference are very much in question.

     

This year, no, because South Carolina's issues are far deeper than just the quarterback.

Absence of a stable running game, no experience outside at wide receiver, a defensive line that has been less than stellar and a linebacking corps that will be without star Skai Moore will make this a big-time rebuilding year for first-year head coach Will Muschamp even if true freshman Brandon McIlwain wins the starting quarterback spot and shines.

Down the road, though, I could certainly see it happening.

McIlwain, a dual-threat early enrollee who completed 19 of 26 passes in the spring game, is a perfect fit for the tempo-based attack employed by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. His ability to create with his arm and legs will give him a chance to win the job over incumbent Perry Orth during fall camp.

Can he hold the job, though?

Hotshot freshman Jake Bentley, who reclassified from the 2017 class to the 2016 class this spring, is another ultra-talented player who could evolve into the Gamecocks' starting quarterback once he becomes familiar with the system.

Muschamp isn't ruling Bentley out as a contributor this season, but it certainly seems like McIlwain is trending toward winning the job.

He won't lead South Carolina to an East title this year, but he could down the road if he meshes with fellow freshman receiver Bryan Edwards and holds off the challenge of Bentley in an offense that's perfect for his skill set.

     

This is in reference to my ballot we released on Bleacher Report last week, where I have Arkansas finishing last in the SEC West in 2016.

Alabama and Ole Miss deserve different levels of the benefit of the doubt after the two programs have showed over the last two seasons they can plug roster holes and still achieve success. Behind them, I think the positive changes Auburn and Texas A&M made this offseason—dual-threat quarterback John Franklin III in at Auburn and the presence of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and his power-spread attack at Texas A&M—will make both of those programs contenders in 2016.

I'm not so bullish on LSU due to a very stubborn offensive philosophy that won't allow the program to keep pace in shootouts against good teams consistently, whereas a program like Alabama recently won a national title playing "Clemson football" over Clemson 45-40 and the 2014 Iron Bowl 55-44 playing "Auburn football."

With that said, though, LSU still has plenty of talent to be competitive week in and week out.

I'm not sure Arkansas does.

With three new offensive linemen, a new top running back after Alex Collins bolted, new quarterback in Austin Allen and new primary tight end Jeremy Sprinkle stepping in for Hunter Henry, the Razorbacks offense is going through a lot of upheaval from where it was at the end of last year.

Couple that with a secondary that gave up far too many big plays, and I don't have faith in the Hogs contending.

They'll still make a bowl, be competitive in most conference games and could spring an upset or two. But it really comes down to who I trust more—Arkansas or Mississippi State—to finish sixth in the SEC West. Give me Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen because that offense will be fine after the departure of quarterback Dak Prescott thanks to the system and several "Dak-like" options under center.

     

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football Q&A: What Weaknesses Could Derail Seasons for East Contenders?

Florida shocked the world last year when then-first-year head coach Jim McElwain led the Gators to the SEC East title despite massive roster upheaval in the middle of the season, including the suspension of former starting quarterback Will Grier.

Will the Gators repeat? Will Tennessee or Georgia take charge?

Tennessee was picked to win the SEC East when the assembled members of the media predicted the order of finish in each division at SEC media days earlier this month, with Florida and Georgia coming in second and third, respectively, prior to a big gap to the rest of the division.

What weakness could derail the season for each of the three primary SEC East contenders? That question and more are answered in this week's edition of SEC Q&A:

    

We'll start with the favorite, Tennessee, and move down from there.

Without a doubt, the one thing preventing Tennessee from being elite is the absence of a downfield passing attack. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished eighth in the SEC in passer rating (127.01), and that rating dropped to 105.66 when facing ranked opponents.

That won't cut it.

I've said all offseason that Dobbs' issues in the passing game stem from underdeveloped and injury-plagued wide receivers more than the senior signal-caller himself, and head coach Butch Jones echoed those sentiments at SEC media days.

"Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback, but sometimes playing winning football at the quarterback position is a byproduct to the players around him," he said. "We've had the unfortunate circumstances the last couple of years to be decimated by injuries at the wide receiver position. So one of the keys for us in moving forward and continuing to gain those 25 points [the combined total the last five losses have come by] is having a healthy receiving corps."

If Tennessee doesn't develop a downfield passing attack, good defenses—specifically the one in Gainesville, Florida—can shut down its one-dimensional offense.

For Florida, it's easy to point to the quarterback position. I'm not sure that's the main question at Florida, though.

Kelvin Taylor was incredibly underrated last year, when he rushed for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns in a painfully one-dimensional offense and didn't lose a fumble. If the trio of Mark Thompson, Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett can match that kind of reliability, it will take a ton of pressure off the eventual winner of the quarterback battle and stout defense.

At Georgia, it's all about the defensive line.

Head coach Kirby Smart is coming from a program at Alabama where there were 12-15 players he could trust up front, and he has nowhere close to that. Jonathan Ledbetter can't stay out of trouble, only one upperclassman exists on the defensive two-deep on the defensive line, and outside of sophomore Trent Thompson, there's not much to get excited about in the trenches.

"The biggest concern for me and our team is the defensive line," Smart said at SEC media days. "We have to do a great job there and stay injury-free. We have to develop the guys on campus. If those guys get better, we'll have good depth there."

Getting stable defensive line play and winning the battle in the trenches will keep the Bulldogs in games and give the offense—which is undergoing a makeover under first-year coordinator Jim Chaney—plenty of chances to navigate through growing pains.

     

I don't think it's wide receiver (or quarterback). In fact, it isn't a sexy position at all.

When I ranked the conference's offensive lines in April, I will admit that I was floored with the lack of stability around the conference at what is, arguably, the game's most important position unit. Even LSU, which I ranked No. 1, has issues.

And these are the units that are supposed to hold back the likes of Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, Alabama's Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen, Auburn's Carl Lawson, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Florida's Caleb Brantley, Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes, Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr. and Missouri's Charles Harris?

I don't think so.

I could probably rattle off another couple—or 10—top-flight members of SEC front sevens to further illustrated the talent the conference boasts, but I think you get the point.

The SEC will be won and lost this year by its offensive lines.

Who can come together, and which program takes a little more time? The answer to that question will not only lead to wins, but will likely lead to division title contention.

It's one of the best years in terms of pass-rushers in SEC history, and that upward trend comes at a time in which the offensive lines around the conference are very much in question.

     

This year, no, because South Carolina's issues are far deeper than just the quarterback.

Absence of a stable running game, no experience outside at wide receiver, a defensive line that has been less than stellar and a linebacking corps that will be without star Skai Moore will make this a big-time rebuilding year for first-year head coach Will Muschamp even if true freshman Brandon McIlwain wins the starting quarterback spot and shines.

Down the road, though, I could certainly see it happening.

McIlwain, a dual-threat early enrollee who completed 19 of 26 passes in the spring game, is a perfect fit for the tempo-based attack employed by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. His ability to create with his arm and legs will give him a chance to win the job over incumbent Perry Orth during fall camp.

Can he hold the job, though?

Hotshot freshman Jake Bentley, who reclassified from the 2017 class to the 2016 class this spring, is another ultra-talented player who could evolve into the Gamecocks' starting quarterback once he becomes familiar with the system.

Muschamp isn't ruling Bentley out as a contributor this season, but it certainly seems like McIlwain is trending toward winning the job.

He won't lead South Carolina to an East title this year, but he could down the road if he meshes with fellow freshman receiver Bryan Edwards and holds off the challenge of Bentley in an offense that's perfect for his skill set.

     

This is in reference to my ballot we released on Bleacher Report last week, where I have Arkansas finishing last in the SEC West in 2016.

Alabama and Ole Miss deserve different levels of the benefit of the doubt after the two programs have showed over the last two seasons they can plug roster holes and still achieve success. Behind them, I think the positive changes Auburn and Texas A&M made this offseason—dual-threat quarterback John Franklin III in at Auburn and the presence of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and his power-spread attack at Texas A&M—will make both of those programs contenders in 2016.

I'm not so bullish on LSU due to a very stubborn offensive philosophy that won't allow the program to keep pace in shootouts against good teams consistently, whereas a program like Alabama recently won a national title playing "Clemson football" over Clemson 45-40 and the 2014 Iron Bowl 55-44 playing "Auburn football."

With that said, though, LSU still has plenty of talent to be competitive week in and week out.

I'm not sure Arkansas does.

With three new offensive linemen, a new top running back after Alex Collins bolted, new quarterback in Austin Allen and new primary tight end Jeremy Sprinkle stepping in for Hunter Henry, the Razorbacks offense is going through a lot of upheaval from where it was at the end of last year.

Couple that with a secondary that gave up far too many big plays, and I don't have faith in the Hogs contending.

They'll still make a bowl, be competitive in most conference games and could spring an upset or two. But it really comes down to who I trust more—Arkansas or Mississippi State—to finish sixth in the SEC West. Give me Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen because that offense will be fine after the departure of quarterback Dak Prescott thanks to the system and several "Dak-like" options under center.

     

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten 2016 Betting Preview: Ohio State, Michigan Co-Favorites on Title Odds

In the second year under head coach Jim Harbaugh, it’s no surprise that oddsmakers expect the Michigan Wolverines to take the next step and compete for the Big Ten championship as the +175 co-favorites (bet $100 to win $175) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Last year, Michigan finished third in the Big Ten East at 6-2, one game behind Ohio State and the eventual conference champion Michigan State Spartans.

The Wolverines went 10-3 overall in 2015, and their two Big Ten losses came against the Buckeyes and Spartans. Ohio State’s lone loss in the conference was against Michigan State in a game that decided the division title. The Buckeyes bounced back from that 17-14 home loss to the Spartans last November by trouncing Michigan 42-13 the next week in their annual rivalry game.

Ohio State went on to crush the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl before losing many key players to the NFL.

The Wolverines figure to take advantage of those losses, which include Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is known to reload rather than rebuild, though, so the Buckeyes should be primed for another great year.

Michigan State also saw some significant departures, and that is one of the main reasons why Mark Dantonio’s team is +700 on the odds to win the Big Ten title.

Among the Spartans not returning is quarterback Connor Cook, who was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Cook helped the school win the Big Ten championship in 2013 and 2015 as a two-time MVP.

Another school worth mentioning is the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were the most surprising team in the conference a year ago with an 8-0 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West title and then lost 16-13 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a berth in the College Football Playoff on the line.

Iowa is listed at +900 to win the Big Ten championship this season on the college football betting lines.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten 2016 Betting Preview: Ohio State, Michigan Co-Favorites on Title Odds

In the second year under head coach Jim Harbaugh, it’s no surprise that oddsmakers expect the Michigan Wolverines to take the next step and compete for the Big Ten championship as the +175 co-favorites (bet $100 to win $175) at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Last year, Michigan finished third in the Big Ten East at 6-2, one game behind Ohio State and the eventual conference champion Michigan State Spartans.

The Wolverines went 10-3 overall in 2015, and their two Big Ten losses came against the Buckeyes and Spartans. Ohio State’s lone loss in the conference was against Michigan State in a game that decided the division title. The Buckeyes bounced back from that 17-14 home loss to the Spartans last November by trouncing Michigan 42-13 the next week in their annual rivalry game.

Ohio State went on to crush the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl before losing many key players to the NFL.

The Wolverines figure to take advantage of those losses, which include Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is known to reload rather than rebuild, though, so the Buckeyes should be primed for another great year.

Michigan State also saw some significant departures, and that is one of the main reasons why Mark Dantonio’s team is +700 on the odds to win the Big Ten title.

Among the Spartans not returning is quarterback Connor Cook, who was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Cook helped the school win the Big Ten championship in 2013 and 2015 as a two-time MVP.

Another school worth mentioning is the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were the most surprising team in the conference a year ago with an 8-0 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West title and then lost 16-13 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a berth in the College Football Playoff on the line.

Iowa is listed at +900 to win the Big Ten championship this season on the college football betting lines.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bri'onte Dunn Dismissed by OSU: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Ohio State Buckeyes dismissed running back Bri'onte Dunn from the program Monday.

Head coach Urban Meyer issued a statement announcing Dunn was dismissed "for a violation of team rules," per Matt Hladik of College Spun.

According to a Tuesday report from Jim Woods of the Columbus Dispatch, Dunn's girlfriend told a 911 dispatcher the running back had hit her in the face and choked her:

The woman filed for a civil protection order against Dunn on Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, but as of Tuesday evening, no criminal charge had been filed.

Sunday afternoon, the woman, crying uncontrollably, called 911 to say: "My boyfriend hit me really bad."

The woman said that the man struck her in the mouth and then briefly left her apartment on the Northwest Side. She said she left the apartment and came back, and when he saw she had her phone out "he went crazy." She said he then choked her and left.

"My lip is bleeding and I have a black eye," the woman said.

The Buckeyes are entering a transition season at running back after the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in April.

Dunn was not a prominent figure in Meyer's offense in his three seasons with the team, recording only 49 carries, but he was effective in limited duty with 291 yards and three touchdowns.

With the dismissal, redshirt freshman Mike Weber and quarterback J.T. Barrett, who finished second on the team with 682 rushing yards last season, figure to take on larger roles in the offense.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bri'onte Dunn Dismissed by OSU: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have to tap into their running back depth in 2016 after dismissing Bri'onte Dunn from the program Monday.

Head coach Urban Meyer issued a statement announcing Dunn was dismissed "for a violation of team rules," per Matt Hladik of College Spun.

The Buckeyes are entering a transition season at running back after the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in April.

Dunn was not a prominent figure in Meyer's offense in his three seasons with the team, recording only 49 carries, but he was effective in limited duty with 291 yards and three touchdowns. 

Ohio State figured to use Dunn more in 2016 with Elliott departing for the NFL. Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch.com noted he was likely to be in the mix for the starting job before Monday's announcement.

With Dunn no longer part of the team, redshirt freshman Mike Weber seems to have the inside track for the No. 1 role. He was a key piece of the team's 2015 recruiting class, with 247Sports' composite rankings listing the 4-star prospect as the No. 9 running back in the nation.

Even though Dunn's absence will leave Ohio State thinner at running back, finding yardage shouldn't be a problem. In addition to Weber, quarterback J.T. Barrett finished second on the team with 682 rushing yards last season.

Meyer is a master at accruing and developing talent. Dunn brought veteran experience with him, but it won't take long for Weber and Barrett to make the offense their own when Ohio State opens the season Sept. 3 against Bowling Green.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages