After coming into the season ranked No. 2, Ohio State has slipped in the AP poll in consecutive weeks despite posting blowout victories over Buffalo and San Diego State.
Ohio State looked sloppy in its season-opening victory over Buffalo, but the Buckeyes responded with a 35-point rout of San Diego State without the services of Braxton Miller, who suffered a slight MCL sprain seven plays into the game.
It was Oregon who hopped the Buckeyes after Week 1, and Clemson got the nod over the Buckeyes on Sunday behind the near-consensus top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Even the USA Today football coaches poll, which makes up one-third of the formula used to calculate the BCS standings, dropped the Buckeyes from their preseason No. 2 spot to No. 3 behind Alabama and Oregon on Sunday.
It would be concerning if it weren't so early.
Consider this: At this point last year, teams such as USC (which was ranked No. 2), West Virginia (No. 9) and Michigan State (No. 10) appeared to be legitimate contenders. All three finished the season with a 7-6 record and outside the Top 25.
The college football season has a way of not only weeding out the pretenders, but identifying the true contenders.
Over the last decade, only once has there been a season when three teams from automatically qualified conferences finished the season undefeated (2004). Outside of the 2004 season, every team from a BCS conference that finished the year unbeaten—and without a postseason ban—went on to play for the national championship.
If the Buckeyes can run the table, history would suggest they'll be bound for Pasadena to play in the national title game this January.
Concerns over Ohio State's strength of schedule should fade as well. Despite a weak nonconference slate, the Big Ten has looked good in two weeks of action.
The conference has five of its 12 teams (Ohio State, Michigan at No. 11, Northwestern at No. 17, Wisconsin at No. 20 and Nebraska at No. 23) ranked in the AP Top 25 and teams such as Penn State, Michigan State and even Illinois have improved the Big Ten's stock.
Hypothetically, if Ohio State manages to go undefeated in 2013, it would have beaten Northwestern and Michigan on the road, Wisconsin and Penn State at home, and a divisional champion in the Big Ten title game.
That would give Ohio State a 25-game winning streak going into the bowl season.
Frankly, it's hard to imagine that scenario ending with Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes being shut out of the national title game.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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While the college football season is only two weeks old, the bowl game picture is starting to come a little bit into focus.
There are teams that are starting to break away from the pack as BCS title contenders. And then there are some teams that are failing to live up to their preseason hype. However, after two weeks, we can start to take some guesses as to which teams will play in a postseason bowl game.
There are two-and-a-half months until the final week of the season, so things could look very differently when the final bowl schedule comes out.
However, here are predictions for all 35 bowl games.
CLEMSON, S.C. — Moments after Dabo Swinney wrapped up his postgame press conference on the second floor of Memorial Stadium Saturday, Clemson’s staffers were moving forward.
The flat screens which feature a countdown clock to the next opponent had flipped to tick away the 12 days before the Tigers’ visit to N.C. State.
In the offices of staffers, televisions had tuned to the day’s marquee matchup—South Carolina at Georgia.
From that point on, what was a good day likely got a lot better.
One week removed from a 38-35 win over the Bulldogs, Clemson gained some intelligence—and likely some confidence—from Georgia’s win over South Carolina.
Clemson has not beaten South Carolina in its last four tries, which is tied for its longest losing streak in the series. Along with Florida State, Oct. 19, the Tigers’ trip to Columbia, Nov. 30, is one of two major potential stumbling blocks between Clemson and a potential berth in the BCS National Championship.
So what did the Tigers learn from their rivals’ downfall?
Here are three key takeaways from Georgia 41, South Carolina 30:
1. Stay Away from Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina’s standout junior defensive end, the likely top overall pick in next April’s NFL draft, must be accounted for at all times. Clemson knows this well: Clowney set a Memorial Stadium record with 4.5 sacks in USC’s 27-17 win over the Tigers last November.
Georgia always knew where Clowney was, be it on either end of the line or in the middle. Then, the Bulldogs simply ran the play away from his side. Give Clowney a longer distance to pursue and his effectiveness is drastically decreased. The star end had a sack and two tackles for loss, but was largely a non-factor.
South Carolina will have a season’s worth of chess matches with opposing offensive coordinators before Clemson hits town, but the principle is simple: stay away or you’ll pay.
2. Run the Ball
Georgia succeeded Saturday with a balanced offense: 309 yards passing and 227 rushing. The Bulldogs’ talented backfield duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 192 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries; Gurley toted the rock 30 times for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Gurley is a special talent: He showed that much a week earlier against Clemson, rushing for 154 yards. This is not to suggest that Clemson has a tailback of his caliber on the roster, although senior Rod McDowell did rush for a career-high 132 yards against the Bulldogs.
But Georgia controlled the clock (holding the ball for 35:20) and also allowed Aaron Murray to flourish in the pocket—two things that didn’t happen against the Tigers.
Last November, South Carolina held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, playing keep away from Tajh Boyd and Clemson’s potent offense. The Tigers like to play fast, but their best bet for success might be to slow it down a bit and grind out yardage bit by bit.
3. Mix in A Big Play or Two
With 13:55 left Saturday, the Bulldogs defense was reeling a bit. South Carolina tailback Mike Davis’ touchdown cut the lead to 34-30, and the Gamecocks appeared poised to take only their second lead of the game.
Then, Murray seized momentum back for good. He exploited a coverage bust and found Justin Scott-Wesley wide-open, and the flanker sprinted 85 yards for a crucial touchdown.
South Carolina didn’t score again. The Gamecocks feature 12 freshmen and sophomores on their defensive two-deep, including three sophomore starters. It is a work in progress and something that Tajh Boyd and Co. can potentially exploit in November.
Connect with me on Twitter @gc_wallace.
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The first two weeks of the 2013 college football schedule presented fans with a handful of surprising upsets, but for the most part, the teams that were supposed to emerge victorious did just that, so the AP rankings didn't change too drastically following the first pair of weekends on the season.
But despite the relatively small amount of unexpected outcomes, there are undoubtedly some teams that have earned respect with strong outings early on—and appear poised to continue that trend in Week 3.
Heading into a very intriguing slate of clashes, here's a look at the teams that will build on their early-season showings and continue to climb in the polls following the season's third weekend.
In perhaps the most shocking upset of Week 1, the No. 19 Washington Huskies took down a perennial powerhouse in Boise State and set themselves up to jump up a few spots in the Top 25 if they can secure a win over Illinois on the road on Saturday.
Illinois has been solid so far, as Nathan Scheelhaase and company sit undefeated at 2-0 after defeating Cincinnati on Saturday.
But the Huskies are coming off an all-important triumph over the Broncos, which will go down as the most lopsided defeat in Chris Petersen's storied tenure at Boise State to date.
Led by Bishop Sankey's 161 rushing yards, Washington State put the game out of reach midway through the third quarter. If Keith Price can command the offense as effectively as he did against Boise State, the Huskies will roll to 2-0 and find themselves in the top 15 this time next week.
No, the No. 3 Tigers aren't taking on a marquee opponent in North Carolina State, but if Clemson's first two games were any indication of what's to come, Tajh Boyd and company will creep up at least one spot in the rankings if they move to 3-0 after a 12-day break.
This weekend, against South Carolina State, the Tigers continued their impressive start by pummeling the Bulldogs, cementing their status as a legitimate national title contender.
That's because after Boyd's five touchdowns helped then-No. 8 Clemson to a surprising win over Georgia, it's difficult to see how anyone could overlook the surging Tigers—especially given how much the team's defense improved in Week 2.
Even with Boyd standing on the sideline for much of the game, Clemson waltzed to a 52-13 win, as backup quarterback Cole Stoudt stunned the Bulldogs for three touchdowns and 143 yards on 19-of-20 passing.
Now, with the Tigers set to face the Wolfpack, Dabo Swinney's bunch won't have to be extraordinary to remain unbeaten, but they will have to win convincingly in order to move up in the rankings.
But with the defense looking much better than before, and two quarterbacks capable of leading the team to victory, this Clemson squad is a force to be reckoned with.
And, after a lackluster showing from Boyd, you know the Heisman contender's going to show up to play on September 21 against NC State, which is bad news for the undefeated host Wolfpack.
As of now, the Wolverines are one of the biggest risers among college football's elite, as Michigan sits at 2-0 heading into a six-game stretch in which Brady Hoke's boys won't play a single team currently ranked in the Top 25.
While the lack of elite opponents in the near future won't exactly help the Wolverines' chances of contending for BCS berth, Michigan's win over the hated Fighting Irish in Week 2 is a very important step in the right direction.
Two games into his tenure as Denard Robinson's full-time replacement, Devin Gardner has been more than good enough to secure victories, though he'll have to watch out for tossing costly picks from here on out (He has thrown three in two games.)
But with eight total touchdowns thus far (five passing, three rushing), Gardner has had the look of a winner for the Wolverines, especially at home against last season's national runner-up in Notre Dame this past weekend.
As long as Jeremy Gallon (four receiving touchdowns so far) and the rest of the Wolverines' high-powered offense keep producing at this rate, it's tough to imagine how Michigan will be beaten anytime before their regular-season finale at home against Ohio State.
Yes, there's much work to be done for Hoke and his staff, but at the very least, No. 11 Michigan has set themselves up to crack the top 10 with a victory over Akron in Week 3.
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For the fourth straight season, the Oklahoma Sooners have started out 2-0.
They’ve proven they can throttle an opponent, putting away Louisiana-Monroe 34-0 in Week 1. They’ve also proven they can win the defensive battles, grinding out a 16-7 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
Regardless of the style of play, Oklahoma has given us much to talk about.
Here are the biggest storylines in Sooner Nation heading into Week 3.
By a show of hands, who expected to see "(2-0)" following "Fighting Illini" after Week 2?
That's what I thought.
The Fighting Illini, who finished 2-10 last year without a single Big Ten conference win, have already matched their two wins from 2013 with two more games remaining before commencing Big Ten play. Next week's game pits the Illini against the University of Washington Huskies. Washington is ranked No. 19 in the nation.
The Illini have already exceeded expectations so far this season. The Illini lead the Big Ten in passing yards (yes, you read that right.) Additionally, starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is second in the conference in quarterback rating behind Indiana's Nate Sudfeld.
Illinois is quickly on their way to shutting a lot of critics up. A win over No. 19 Washington would surely put Illinois in the polls, something nobody besides the players' moms expected.
Even with a loss on Saturday, the Illini can still begin Big Ten play with a winning record pending a win over Miami of Ohio on September 28. Miami (OH) is 0-2 following a 52-14 loss to Marshall and a 41-7 loss to Kentucky. They will face Cincinnati on September 21 before heading to Champaign.
Let's assume Illinois loses one of their next two games. The Illini would begin Big Ten play 3-1 with eight games remaining. Worst-case scenario, the Illini go 3-9; sadly enough, that's an improvement from last season.
Illinois also could improve on last year's Big Ten record. Well, they at least can't regress.
As for stats, Illinois has played quite impressively. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is first in the Big Ten in passing with 728 passing yards in two games. That puts him only 633 yards behind last year's total of 1,361 passing yards in 10 games.
Because of the Illini's 45-17 win over Cincinnati, they have a tremendous amount of momentum and confidence heading into their Chicago homecoming game at Soldier Field. Their drubbing of Cincy may be just what the Illini need to have a successful season.
In a way, the Illini have already exceeded expectations by starting off 2-0 and leading the Big Ten in multiple offensive categories. At this point last season, Illinois was 1-1 with only 38 total points.
With the confidence Illinois has after Saturday's win, the Illini will only continue to improve with the help of new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. The threat of Scheelhaase to senior wide receive Ryan Lankford has been a winning combination. With some improvement in their rushing game, the Illinois offense will be bounds ahead of what was expected.
Time will soon tell if the Illini will continue their early success. The quickly approaching conference schedule will indeed be tough, but their momentum and confidence they've built already will help them throughout the season and will propel them past their critics' expectations.
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It is never too early to talk recruiting. The 2015 prospects will be in the spotlight faster than many realize. The junior class has a lot of talent coming through the ranks, and college coaches have already begun to pluck prospects from that crop.
Several 2015 prospects would be ranked high even if they were in the 2014 class. This year's group has excellent talent, but a few juniors appear to have as much potential, if not more, than their 2014 counterparts.
A receiver in Florida would have challenged for No. 1 honors if he were a senior, while a cornerback from the Sunshine State would fit right in with this year's talented players at his position. Also, a defensive end in Minnesota is better than a couple of 2014 prospects.
The Miami Hurricanes have earned consecutive wins to begin the 2013 season at 2-0, and storylines are everywhere to be seen on head coach Al Golden's squad.
Miami's offense was supposed to be the driving force of the team, but so far the unit hasn't quite lived up to expectations. In addition, changes in the coaching staff have certainly affected the 'Canes to this point.
College football doesn't technically have a free agency market, but a certain loophole is supplying this team with some extra firepower too.
After defeating in-state rival Florida last Saturday, Miami has a bye week before a chance to create some more storylines against FCS bottom feeder Savannah State on Sept. 21 at Sun Life Stadium.
For Georgia and Michigan, Week 2 was about taking care of business against a difficult opponent at home. For Texas and USC, the second game of the season was about torturing message board servers and creating a bigger picture that could prove to be larger than an extra tally in the loss column.
It’s early, no question, but this bigger picture has an appetite and it’s going to feast at some point. Maybe not now, but Week 2's ultimate impact will likely be felt sometime in the future.
Elsewhere, a lineman scored a touchdown on a hook-and-lateral. I repeat, a lineman scored a touchdown on a hook-and-lateral. Also, LSU wideout Odell Beckham housed a missed field goal with relative ease and Eminem and Brent Musburger passed along gambling tips in one of the oddest live television moments ever created.
And here’s what I loved and hated in Week 2.
As first reported by Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, Manny Diaz has been relieved of his duties as Texas' defensive coordinator and will be replaced by Greg Robinson effective immediately. Robinson was formerly the Longhorns' co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2004 and was hired as a football analyst by Mack Brown in mid-July.
Orangebloods.com broke the news one day after the Longhorns defense gave up a school-record 550 yards rushing against the BYU Cougars. In the post-BYU interviews, Chip Brown asked Brown if Diaz would be coaching the defense for the Longhorns' upcoming game against Ole Miss, to which Brown responded, "I haven't even gotten out of the game. I would like to watch the video."
The game video shows the Texas defense missing tackles and getting gashed in the run game, and BYU quarterback Taysom Hill rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns against the Longhorns.
Texas confirmed Orangebloods.com's report Sunday evening. In a statement, Mack Brown said, "Our performance on defense [Saturday] was unacceptable and we need to change that. Greg will be here [Sunday night] and will get with the staff and players to start preparing for Ole Miss."
What could this mean for the Texas defense?
Robinson spent one season as the defensive coordinator for Texas before taking the head coaching job at Syracuse. In Robinson's single season in Austin, the Longhorns' went 11-1 and beat Michigan in an exciting Rose Bowl. The defense ranked 16th in rushing, 18th in scoring and 23rd in total defense under Robinson in 2004.
In his 36-year coaching career, Robinson has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL, including his time as the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator during the team's back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998.
The good news is it is unlikely that Robinson will face much of a learning slump, due to his duties as a Texas football analyst. Robinson helped oversee the Longhorns' self-scouting and provided assistance in scouting opponents, meaning he is familiar with both the Texas team and its opponents.
Robinson obviously has skins on the wall, but Texas fans should keep expectations within reason, as the defensive turnaround may not happen in one game. Diaz has received the majority of the blame for the Longhorns' defensive woes, but at some point, the players have to be held accountable for their poor defensive performances since 2012.
What Robinson cannot fix is heart and effort, so if the Texas defense cannot show either of those, the chance for change will be slim to none.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar
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Sometimes an assignment comes across a writer's desk and they can do nothing but groan at the prospect of covering that subject.
Welcome to my world when I opened up the content document which contained this week's assignments.
Now my mission is to find something positive to say about a person who I am sure is a very nice fellow but unfortunately, is not much of a quarterback.
Compounding my angst is tempering my disgust at the performance young Cody offered Saturday night when the guy couldn't lead his offense to anything more than a single touchdown against a good, but not great Washington State defense.
Such is the task laid before me, and I will do my best to offer an unbiased report on a young man who I am sure would love to start this season over.
And I am sure many Trojan fans would join him in those sentiments.
For Wisconsin football, it's been hard to pinpoint areas of weakness over the first two weeks of the season. That'll happen when you outscore your opponents by a combined 93 points and don't even allow a field goal to go through the uprights.
The Badgers should feel good about themselves after annihilating Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech. Then again, it is UMass and Tennessee Tech, but Wisconsin did exactly what it was supposed to do—take care of business without having any second thoughts.
Sure, you could look at occasional lapses in coverage, a lack of pressure on the quarterback, looking down intended receivers or a failure to break out more lengthy runs, but then we'd be getting nitpicky.
The fact of the matter is that the Badgers appear to be clicking on all cylinders heading into their showdown in Tempe, and there are five storylines that help explain how head coach Gary Andersen has led Wisconsin to its successful start.
SOUTH BEND, Ind.—There were the smaller-picture questions thrown Brian Kelly's way Sunday during his day-after press conference following Notre Dame's loss Saturday night at Michigan.
How is wide receiver TJ Jones' shoulder (fine, he'll be at practice on Tuesday), Could he assess the play of inside linebacker Jarrett Grace (did good things, still has stuff to work on), and what is the status of running back George Atkinson III, who struggled catching the ball Saturday night (either catch the ball or he'll be standing next to Kelly).
But for much of the approximately 20-minute teleconference, the questions sent Kelly's way were big picture, particularly in light of the team's first regular-season loss since 2011.
"Look, when you're coming off of playing for a national championship, the bar is high," Kelly said. "So the expectations are, when you go on the road, you don't lose to Michigan, and that's really the standard that is set."
The questions came Sunday following comments Kelly made repeatedly Saturday night about the teaming needing to play smarter and more disciplined, and about Jones saying he felt like the loss was a wake-up call. The fourth-year coach was asked if there were any signs leading up to the game that his team needed a wake-up call.
"No, I mean, I think if we're in a position where we don't understand what it takes to win at Michigan, then we're missing the boat," Kelly said. "I think if you look at the game, we just have to play better and we have to coach better. I don't think there is any big-picture relevance to those quotes other than you've got to get back to work. You've got to practice harder. You've got to pay attention to detail."
One thing many who saw the 41-30 loss to the Wolverines was that this year's defense isn't what last year's was. Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon had their way with a unit that, in the first two games of the post-Manti Te'o Era, looked vanilla in a season-opening win over Temple and suspect against Michigan.
There are a number of concerns. The secondary was shredded by Gallon, who caught eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The front line couldn't contain Gardner, who threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for 82 yards. The linebacker corps looks like it hasn't yet recovered from not having Te'o on the field.
The secondary figures to be the least of those concerns. ND has had recruiting success at the position, and it's considered an area of depth.
The linebacker corps, particularly the inside spots, are a concern in that starters Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox are gone after this season, and there aren't any clear-cut favorites to replace them beyond Grace.
The defensive line is an even bigger down-the-road concern. Nose guard Louis Nix and end Stephon Tuitt were both loaded with preseason honors, but neither has played like an All-American through two games. Nix has five tackles, Tuitt three.
It's also an area where there isn't a lot of depth. It's not inconceivable that both Nix and Tuitt could be gone following the season, although each has a year of eligibility remaining. Last spring, end Aaron Lynch transferred to South Florida, and this summer, signee Eddie Vanderdoes jumped to UCLA.
After the Michigan game, Kelly opted not to point a finger at his defense, talking instead about the missed opportunities on offense. Sunday, he was again asked about the defense.
"I think there are going to be some times when our offense has to win some ballgames," he said Sunday. "I just felt like this was one of those nights where our offense has to bail out our defense."
Based on what happened against Michigan, the personnel concerns and the schedule ahead, it may not be the last night the offense will have to win a game.
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Boise State may have looked dominant against Tennessee-Martin this past Saturday, but no one in Bronco Nation expected anything less from Chris Petersen’s squad.
However, after the debacle against Washington to begin the 2013 campaign, many can’t help but wonder if there is a lot of work left to do if the Broncos are going to legitimately compete for the Mountain West Conference crown.
Chances are, those wondering are probably correct in their assumptions. In order to even qualify to play in the inaugural Mountain West Conference Championship Game, Boise State is going to need to improve on both sides of the ball.
We’ll take a look at what exactly the Broncos need to do in order to regain the confidence of both the fanbase and the rest of the nation that this won’t be one of the more trying seasons of Chris Petersen’s head coaching career in Boise.
Spoiler alert: Beating up on an FCS opponent isn’t quite enough.
The Texas Longhorns are two games in and have experienced two different results in the new uptempo offense. Major Applewhite's group may not be in as much trouble as the defense, but it has not alleviated any concerns moving forward.
The Longhorns are in full circus mode. Greg Robinson has replaced Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator after last night's drubbing at BYU, and the entire nation is snickering at the Longhorns' prospects for the rest of the season.
Could the Diaz demotion be the spark the program needs? Perhaps on defense, but the offense needs some help of its own. The 'Horns were unable to pull themselves out of a second-straight slow start, and figure to be a feature section of Kyle Van Noy's draft film this spring.
There were still explosive plays, but this was not the offensive machine fans wanted and the team needed to beat the Cougars. Especially with a defense that is still in progress.
But how far has this offense come in the new scheme? The answer will alleviate your concerns for this 2013 season.
College football teams sitting high and mighty in the 2013 NCAA football rankings heading into Week 3 won’t be during the same time the following week.
Whether by upset or an untimely matchup with a juggernaut, expect several squads in the Top 25 to watch their rank dip before Week 4. Here are those squads and why they will come up on the losing end of the scoreboard.
No. 20 Wisconsin
Wisconsin will fly south, deep into the desert to face off against Arizona State on Saturday. The Badgers and Sun Devils boast the No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the nation, neither having surrendered a single point this season. Of course, the teams that they’ve played include Sacramento State, Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech.
Something has to give, and the Arizona State offense led by Taylor Kelly will outgun Wisconsin’s, led by Melvin Gordon. Not only do the Sun Devils have an entire extra week to prepare for the showdown than the Badgers, but they’re at home and Wisconsin will struggle to adapt to Phoenix’s summer heat.
No. 23 Nebraska
Who knows how the Cornhuskers managed to pull off five-straight home games to start the season, but they still only beat Wyoming by three points in Week 1.
UCLA, who Nebraska has the pleasure of playing, thrashed its Mountain West Conference foe Nevada 58-20. The No. 15 Bruins, the Pac-12 South favorites, with their seventh-ranked rushing attack, will expose a Nebraska defense that has surrendered 47 points to sub-par competition.
No. 6 Texas A&M
If the Aggies surrendered a total of 59 points against Rice and Sam Houston State, Alabama could blow them out on Sept. 14. A.J. McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper form one of the most talented QB-HB-WR combinations in the nation—the former being a three-year starting senior, and the latter two accumulating 1,000 yards as freshman.
Johnny Manziel is special. He’s already racked up 552 yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns this season. He also upset the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season.
However, last season Texas A&M had a respectable defense. That’s debatable this year after it lost Damontre Moore, Sean Porter, Spencer Nealy, Dustin Harris, Steven Terrell, C.J. Jones and Jonathan Stewart to the 2013 NFL Draft and/or graduation.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.
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As Cornhusker fans start looking toward the Nebraska vs. UCLA matchup, they could be forgiven for being a little confused as to what they should expect. Against Wyoming, Nebraska's vaunted Blackshirt defense was shredded for 602 yards and fans saw visions of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game flashing through their heads.
But then the Blackshirts buckled down, holding Southern Mississippi to 284 yards and 13 points in what looked to be a much more solid performance. Both Wyoming and Southern Mississippi, of course, are a level below the competition Nebraska will be facing in the B1G this season.
UCLA, however, will provide Nebraska's defense with one of its sternest tests all years. The Bruins knocked off Nebraska 36-30 in Pasadena last season, gouging NU's defense for 653 yards of total offense. So how Nebraska responds when faced with an opponent of UCLA's caliber should tell us a lot about how far the Blackshirts have progressed.
Here are five things in particular we will learn.
Thought it’s fair to make humorous quips about Bobby Petrino and motorcycles, the truth is the guy is a great football coach.
Petrino—who has left a string of haters in the dust longer than Nick Saban's—started his head coaching odyssey at Louisville in 2003, tried his hand at the NFL at Atlanta in 2007 and landed the Arkansas job in 2008.
There, he took a Razorbacks program skidding from the ill effects of the 10-season Houston Nutt era and transformed it into a fierce competitor with a realistic shot at the SEC title and a national championship.
Petrino led Arkansas to back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 2010 and 2011, which culminated in the program's first top-five finish since 1977.
But the glory and potential all crashed suddenly and dramatically when Petrino was, per Tom Weir at USA Today, fired in April 2012 after providing misleading information about a motorcycle accident. The incident uncovered a bigger scandal, which involved Petrino's hiring of—and inappropriate relationship with—a 25-year-old member of his staff.
After taking the 2012 season off, Petrino resurfaced when he was hired to replace head coach Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
The Hilltoppers, hailing from the Sun Belt conference, kicked off the Petrino era with a 35-26 Week 1 win over the SEC’s Kentucky but fell from grace in a 52-20 turnover-ridden loss to Tennessee this past Saturday.
With a 1-1 start and 14 returning starters from a 7-6 finish last season (which included the program’s first bowl appearance), it doesn't seem premature to say Western Kentucky is nothing more than a short-term launch pad for Petrino.
Petrino is a lot of things, but he’s also a proven winner. In the high-stakes game of college football, that means his name will appear on coaching wish lists soon.
While it would be a stretch to say USC or Texas would consider Petrino—both can afford to skip over guys with baggage—it’s not far-fetched to say other BCS programs would view him as a realistic candidate.
The following programs have both a potential need for a new coach and a long-term quest to become relevant in a big-time BCS conference.
Missouri's shift to the SEC and Gary Pinkel's diminishing returns make this job almost the perfect fit for Petrino.
First, you've got a coach who has done all he can at his given job. In other words, even without the move from the Big 12 to the SEC, Pinkel might have passed the point of no return at Missouri.
Next, you've got what is a solid but quiet program in the SEC East. The East is somewhat less daunting than the West but offers all the big bang if you can win it.
Plus, Petrino wouldn’t have to start over or build from the ashes at Missouri like he would be forced to do at a program like Kentucky, Washington State, Kansas or UConn.
The Missouri job is still a quality affair. The program is in need of a makeover but not a teardown or rebuild.
A step down the ladder from the Missouri, Kansas is a place coaches go to one day see their names atop a “hot seat” listing.
Yes, it's hard to keep out of trouble at a place like Kansas.
But this job is positioned in a major conference—a situation enhanced by the Big 12 slipping a bit in terms of its relative strength versus the bigger SEC and Pac-12.
So, though the task is daunting, it’s not the same thing as trying to get it done in a double-division SEC with Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Florida.
Though Charlie Weis is in only his second season at Kansas, his 1-11 debut in 2012 leaves little confidence he will be considered a long-term solution.
Illinois oozes with potential, and its Big Ten address makes it an interesting scenario for a guy like Petrino.
Think about it. If Petrino wants a departure or do-over, why not leave the South and try to pound it out in the Big Ten?
The relative weakness of the Big Ten has to make this job attractive to Petrino, who would have a much easier path to glory here than in the SEC, Pac-12 or Big 12.
Tim Beckman has proved that bringing the Illini back to life may be more difficult than advertised, especially since he is building on the devastating 2-10 mark from his debut in 2012.
But before you put all the blame on Beckman's shoulders, don't forget Illinois has only risen above the eight-win mark once since going 10-2 in 2001.
The first issue when considering Petrino for the Mississippi State job is whether the Bulldogs would part ways with Dan Mullen.
Mullen is in his fifth year at MSU and thus far has worked hard for his 29-23 record. But no matter how you slice it and no matter how great a guy Mullen is, one Top 25 finish in four tries may not cut it.
Under Mullen, the Bulldogs have never finished better than fourth place in the SEC West.
Mississippi State is another nearly perfect fit for Petrino, who likely won't have a shot at “better” jobs like LSU or Tennessee.
Mississippi State offers a big-time division (the best in the game) and a program that is moving in the right direction. The key word here is "moving"—as opposed to stagnant and troubled.
Though it would be disappointing to see Mullen go—regardless of the circumstances—it would thrilling to see Petrino take over in Starkville and scare the dickens out of the rest of the West.
Under Mike Riley, Oregon State has been like a girlfriend with multiple personalities, which makes you wonder how long the relationship can last.
From a 10-4 finish in 2006 to the depths of a 3-9 mark in 2011 and back to a 9-4 finish in 2012, Riley has been all over the place.
With the No. 25 Beavers' 49-46 loss to FCS Eastern Washington in Week 1, the crazy ride continues.
Petrino at Oregon State would be an even further departure—geographically and otherwise—than if he were to take over at Illinois.
Though it would be a difficult post, Oregon State wouldn’t be as fraught as Kansas or Illinois. It would be more like Mississippi State—a solid program in a tough-as-nails division (the Beavers share an address with Oregon and Stanford).
And if you don’t think the Beavers would hire him, remember this is the same school that gave Dennis Erickson a shot back in 1999.
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At 1-1, the Virginia Tech Hokies are about where everyone expected them to be after two weeks. Their performance against Alabama, on defense, gave Virginia Tech fans reason for optimism in 2013.
In Week 2, the Hokies made their Lane Stadium debut with a 45-3 thrashing of FCS Western Carolina. Yes, the Hokies looked good in some areas but showed the need to improve in other phases.
Injuries were the talk of fall camp as the Hokies lost several contributors. Things were so bad that starting tailback J.C. Coleman sprained both ankles in practice on the same day.
Injuries aside, what's the biggest early-season storyline for the Hokies?
Here are five storylines we find the most intriguing just two weeks into the season.