"And, perhaps most importantly, he has to figure out how to keep a team of 20-year-olds from getting too full of itself after it played some of the best football in recent memory. These are first-world problems. They are problems you would ask to have. But they could be problems nonetheless. The team that few thought should have been in the Playoff is now the team everybody expects to defend its title. Can it?"
The reigning college football national champions are a few months out from starting their toughest challenge yet -- trying to replicate their success from last season and coming out on top for a second straight season. Ohio State returns 15 starters, including three Heisman trophy candidates at quarterback (Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, and Cardale Jones), a Heisman candidate at running back (Ezekiel Elliott), and one of the best defensive ends in the country (Joey Bosa). There isn't much debate as to which team is the favorite to win it all in 2015, as the Buckeyes return what was a young squad to a highly talented and experienced team.
Their chances seem pretty good on paper, but repeating as a national champion is one of the most difficult tasks to pull off. As Connelly mentions in his awesome season preview for the Buckeyes, repeats in college football are pretty rare:
"Florida State returned almost as much last year and couldn't do the deed. Florida brought Tim Tebow back in 2009 and couldn't. Miami brought back an amazing squad in 2002 and couldn't (as Ohio State fans well know). Repeats happen -- Alabama in 2012, USC (sort of) in 2004, Nebraska in 1995 -- but they don't happen as often as we predict them to."
"Meyer has coached two undefeated teams - Utah in 2004 and Ohio State in 2012 - but neither of those teams won the national championship. Another two Meyer teams, Florida in 2009 and Ohio State in 2013, made it through undefeated regular seasons at 12-0 before suffering losses in their conference title games. But Meyer's three national titles - Florida in 2006 and 2008 and Ohio State last season - came with a loss."
Repeating a championship season is already hard enough, but when you throw in the possibility of going undefeated, it makes it that much more challenging. Urban Meyer has coached several undefeated teams during his career as you can see above, but interestingly enough, hasn't won a national championship with an undefeated team yet. Each time his teams have won, they've had at least one loss heading into the championship game. Perhaps the loss is key for motivation, so as to help keep focus in the postseason.
Whatever the reason is, Coach Meyer and Ohio State have an excellent chance of going undefeated (at least in the regular season). Their toughest opponent on the schedule is Michigan State, who is a top contender not only for the Big Ten crown, but is widely regarded as a top 10 team entering 2015. There are still tests to pass before that game as well, such as the opening game against Virginia Tech. It will take laser-sharp focus for the Buckeyes to go undefeated, and that in itself is a tough trial.
"Men's basketball teams will play with a quicker shot clock and fewer timeouts next season under rules that were approved on Monday."
The proposals for a shorter shot clock and fewer timeouts next season were approved, sending the 35-second shot clock down to 30. Teams also will have one fewer second-half timeout, and if either team calls a timeout within 30 seconds of a media timeout, it would count as the scheduled break. To add to that, the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel also officially approved extending the arc inside the lane from 3 feet to 4 feet in hopes of reducing collisions.
Women's basketball also received a change from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel: Games will now be played in 10-minute quarters as opposed to the traditional 20-minute halves.
"That said, this should be a fun conference. You've got a ready-made 'Ohio State vs. Ohio State' story line. You've got Michigan State trying to fend off Michigan and Penn State. You've got a potential blood bath in the West. And with the way most are bunched from a quality standpoint, you've got a ton of close games, both watchable and unwatchable."
The Big Ten made quite an impression during last season's postseason, as the conference went 6-5 in bowl games, but shined on January 1, where Big Ten teams produced a 3-1 record. Add to that Ohio State upending the first ranked team in Alabama en route to winning the national championship over Oregon, and the Big Ten has been on cloud nine ever since. Bill Connelly isn't quite buying the hype of the Big Ten rising and SEC falling for 2015, though, and makes some good points about it.
While the top tier of the Big Ten is extremely strong (Ohio State and Michigan State), the rest of the conference is lacking in providing any evidence as to why they would be top teams next season. Between Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, and Minnesota, there isn't really a clear-cut No. 3. Any of these teams could potentially break out, but there's also no guarantee. Iowa is on the edge, but after that, looking at Maryland, Rutgers, Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue, there's not much to be impressed with.