"It's hands-down one of the best. To bring them through against those opponents with your third quarterback, especially since he didn't play until the chips were down, it's almost unthinkable."
- Former Alabama head coach Bill Curry via Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
Anyone with knowledge of college football, or sports in general, can tell you how difficult it is to win back-to-back championships. The mentality that the staff and players have shifts drastically, usually from being underdogs to getting everyone's best shot. Ohio State has always been a team to get opponent's best shots, but with the adversity the Buckeyes faced in 2014, it's hard to imagine a scenario where coach Urban Meyer could top that championship performance. Losing two Heisman trophy candidates at quarterback at the start and end of the regular season for many teams would be too devastating to overcome for most teams, understandably.
Instead of falling short, the Buckeyes rose to the occasion, thanks to the tremendous play of third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Three games later, Ohio State was at the top of the college football world and now enter the 2015 season with a target placed on their back. But that's not anything new. What is new, however, is their attitude. It's up to coach Meyer and his staff to get the players focused on playing the game the way they know how, and not getting complacent. If anyone can keep the players minds right, it would be Meyer. Spring practice has already started up, and the new season can't get here soon enough.
"Clearly, teams that have faced tougher opposition are generally going to come out ahead. There's just no question that the committee compares those nonconference schedules. I know that the playoff will usher in a whole new era of scheduling and that teams who want to be in this playoff are going to have to prove themselves with their schedules."
- Bill Hancock via Heather Dinich, ESPN
Winning every regular season game and a conference championship game would all but ensure a spot in the College Football Playoff, but that isn't stopping college teams from scheduling marquee matchups in the out of conference schedule. The reason being, the new era of college football has started off with the question of which teams you've played that season and was it better than teams in front of you. As Heather Dinich points out, just look at Marshall. The Thundering Herd never got very high in the committee's rankings, and for good reason. They played one of college football's easiest schedules and were left out of talks for a playoff appearance, or even a ranking for a good chunk of the year.
The debate between Ohio State, TCU, and Baylor at the end of last season often came to talking points of schedules as well. One could certainly argue that a big reason the Horned Frogs and Bears were left out of the four-team playoff was because they didn't have a championship game in the Big 12, while Ohio State got another opportunity to showcase its evidence as to why they were still a great team without their two starting quarterbacks. In all, nonconference scheduling does matter, and conferences across the country are now well aware of that. The Buckeyes play at Virginia Tech next season, while hosting Hawaii, and a pair of MAC contenders in Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.
"There's a chance none of the first six playoff title games takes place in the Midwest. At that point, you would have to wonder if it would ever happen. Big Ten fans would continue to travel to support their teams but would never enjoy the home advantage teams from other conferences experience if they reached the championship in the right year."
- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
For now, Minneapolis is the only Big Ten city that has confirmed its bid for the College Football Playoff national championship game in 2019 and 2020. Minneapolis is also the only Midwest city that placed a bid on the first set of title games. Rittenberg cites that Indianapolis could potentially join the fold and place a bid, along with the New York/New Jersey group who has also considered bidding.
The championships thus far have followed the old bowl game system as well, with the title game in warm locations. Which isn't a bad thing, but perhaps it's time to mix it up a little bit. The Super Bowl has been held in the Midwest before, so it's not impossible for the same to happen on the college level. But for that to happen, cities in the Midwest need to start getting involved if they want to see a college football championship in these areas.
"Yesterday, Mitchell, the Big Ten co-player of the year who leads the nation in scoring with a 25-point average, was named one of 15 nominees for the women's John R. Wooden Award as national player of the year. The list is chosen by a poll of national women's college basketball media members."
- The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State women's basketball freshman Kelsey Mitchell has exploded onto the scene this season with her dazzling scoring ability showcased throughout the regular season and so far in the postseason, helping the Buckeyes upset Iowa in the Big Ten tournament. While Ohio State fell short to Maryland, they've been a tough team to play, in large part due to the play of Mitchell.
Now, Mitchell is continuing her dominance in the awards category, as she was named one of 15 nominees for the women's John R. Wooden award as national player of the year. Already earning honors as Big Ten co-player of the year, the nation's leading scorer (averaging 25 points per game) is hoping to have her name make the list of five finalists during the week of the Final Four. The award will be presented on April 10.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Zoolander 2 is a real thing and it's coming in 2016.
- A group of grown adults attacked a Chuck E. Cheese's manager because of a malfunctioning photo booth.
- There's a Sharknado 3, and David Hasselhoff is joining the cast.
- If you're interested in the lottery at all, there's a pretty decent prize being decided on over the next couple of days.