Big Ten: Aaron Corp

Big Ten mailblog

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Seems like this little rant struck quite the chord.

Jack from Midwest City, Okla., writes: Adam what have you been drinking. USC got beat by an 0-12 team! OSU could've beaten SC if they had a QB. OU is playing with a backup QB. This will all be disspelled after the Miami-OU game. If the backup QB (Landry Jones) goes into Miami and wins, then watch out! I think you media guys are the ones that set the tone! Just like the FSU-BYU game Saturday it reminds me of the OU-TTU game last year I think the best teams won but it is certainly not indicative of the difference in the two teams. Sometimes teams get on a roll and that's called college football!

Adam Rittenberg: Well, we can agree on that last sentence, Jack, but let's explore your logic. USC didn't get beat by an 0-12 team. USC got beat by a 1-1 team that gave LSU a game and has its standout quarterback (Jake Locker) back on the field. The Trojans also played with their backup quarterback (Aaron Corp). Now I agree if Jones goes into Miami and beats the surging Canes, Oklahoma should definitely get the nod over Ohio State. But to this point in the season, before conference play begins, Ohio State has a better resume than the Sooners. The BYU loss looks worse than the USC loss because of what BYU did against Florida State.


Donovan Clark from Tulsa, Okla., writes: Adam, i know you are a Big 10 homer - but seriously, were there tears in your eyes when you wrote this awful story about how OSU doesnt get ragged on like OU? Listen, OU plays in a very good conference - the same can NOT be said about OSU. Yes, yes, yes i know about the BCS bowl losses, but hey, who wouldnt want to get to 4 (count em 4!) national championship games in 10 years? And OU won one of them!! Every team would love that to be at that level. Stop crying. OU lost their QB and the best tight end in the country, and lost to a good team on a neutral site - by 1 freaking point. Dude, are you blind?? Do you not realize that OSU barely beat Navy at home at full strength?? Come on man, you are so biased, it's shameful. Your momma ought to slap you. Anyway, i have left my real name and real email address in the fields to the left. So please reply anytime. Big 10 = weak; Big IX = strong

Adam Rittenberg: Don't be talkin' bout my momma. You know the funny thing, Donovan? Your comment about national championship games and "every team would love to be at that level" sounds awfully familiar. I hear it all the time from Ohio State fans because they can make the same case as Oklahoma fans. Yet their team regularly gets trashed while Oklahoma gets a pass. Ohio State's win against Navy certainly wasn't impressive, but BYU lost a ton of credibility by performing like it did against Florida State. And what's the Big IX? Is that a new conference?


(Read full post)


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


The Ohio State Buckeyes are victims of a double standard, and they deserve better.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes are victims of a double standard.

Ohio State has seen its national approval rating steadily decline since the 2007 BCS national title game, the first of six consecutive losses against top 5 opponents. Much of the heat directed toward Columbus is warranted. Ohio State has disappointed the national media on the game's biggest stage several times, and despite a series of strong recruiting classes, the team has underachieved in several areas, namely along the offensive line.

But another national powerhouse deserves the same treatment. Another big-name has been just as disappointing in big games, if not worse. And yet that team continues to escape the hate. Meet the Oklahoma Sooners. They're apparently made out of Teflon.

Let's review some of the similarities between Ohio State and Oklahoma:
  • Ohio State has a three-game losing streak in BCS bowls; Oklahoma has dropped five consecutive BCS bowls, including games in each of the last three seasons.
  • Ohio State suffered two blowout losses in the national title game; Oklahoma fell to USC 55-19 in the 2005 Orange Bowl, which gave the Trojans the national championship. The Sooners also suffered a 20-point loss to a West Virginia team that had just lost its head coach in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. And they lost to non-BCS Boise State.
  • Both teams have had Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks (Troy Smith and Sam Bradford) stumble in the national title game.
  • Both teams have taken care of business in their leagues. Ohio State has won or shared the last four Big Ten titles. Oklahoma has won the last three Big 12 championships.

Despite the parallels, Ohio State continues to be the nation's piņata, while Big Game Bob Stoops and the Sooners get a pass. The latest example arrived Sunday, as Ohio State moved down two spots to No. 13 in the AP Poll, while Oklahoma moved up two spots to No. 10.

What happened Saturday? Ohio State pounded Toledo 38-0 in Cleveland, the same Rockets team that had embarrassed Big 12 member Colorado the previous week. Oklahoma crushed Tulsa 45-0, a very solid win without Bradford at the helm.

Still, I don't see much of a difference here. So why the shuffle in the polls?

Perhaps it's because USC, which beat Ohio State in Columbus on Sept. 12, lost to unranked Washington in Seattle. Meanwhile, a BYU team that beat Oklahoma in Dallas on Sept. 5 got utterly embarrassed on its home field by Florida State.

Explain to me how USC's loss, which came on the road with the backup quarterback (Aaron Corp) at the helm, should punish Ohio State, while BYU's loss, which came with the Cougars at full strength and on their home field, rewards Oklahoma.

It's ridiculous. And it needs to stop.

I don't vote in the AP Poll. For what it's worth, I have USC at No. 11, Ohio State at No. 12 and Oklahoma at No. 13 in my most recent ESPN.com power rankings.

People can pick on Ohio State until the Buckeyes win a big nonconference game. But Oklahoma deserves the exact same treatment.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The preseason hype machine stirred again Monday with the release of the Davey O'Brien Award watch list, which includes 33 signal-callers and four from the Big Ten.

All of the usual suspects are on the list -- Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Zac Robinson -- and here are your Big Ten nominees.

No major surprises, as both Clark and Williams put up impressive numbers last season and Pryor earned Big Ten preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors. It's nice to see Weber get some love as well as he has performed through a transitional period at Minnesota.

Looking over some of the names on the list -- Jarrett Brown, Aaron Corp, former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett -- I half expected to see Iowa's Ricky Stanzi appear. Despite some good moments last season, the Hawkeyes quarterback still has a few things to prove.

Semifinalists for the O'Brien Award will be announced Oct. 26 and finalists named Nov. 23. The winner will be revealed Dec. 10 during the college football awards show.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

In his recent rundown of must-see games this season, colleague Bruce Feldman touched on the potential impact of the Ohio State-USC contest for the Buckeyes. It goes without saying that a home loss to the Trojans, especially one by double digits, would further damage Ohio State's national reputation.

But Feldman contends that even a victory might not be a major help to the Buckeyes' cause.

I'm not sure this game is as much a proving-ground battle as last year's at USC was for Ohio State. My sense is that if the Buckeyes handle the Trojans here, it'll still be a big win, but not monumental in the pollsters' eyes. It'll be too easy for critics to write it off, saying that this was the first road game the Trojans' new QB (Aaron Corp or Matt Barkley) ever played. Plus, USC lost so many guys to the NFL on defense. That wouldn't be fair to the Buckeyes, given that they lost a ton to the NFL as well. If OSU does win, they figure to cruise to a 9-0 start before facing Penn State in Happy Valley. This might be the game in which Terrelle Pryor emerges as a superstar.

Feldman might be dead-on about the pundits writing off an Ohio State victory. Despite the Buckeyes' recent struggles in national showcase games, they have several factors working in their favor Sept. 12 at Ohio Stadium. They have a more experienced quarterback (Pryor) than USC, more experience on defense (seven returning starters vs. five) and advantage of playing in Columbus, where they're 23-1 in nonconference games under head coach Jim Tressel.

When you look at these two teams strictly in their current forms -- disregarding recent history -- you can label Ohio State as the favorite to win and stand behind your prediction. But that's exactly the point. You can't look at this game in such a way.

USC's dominant decade on the gridiron has established the Trojans as a team that can't be marginalized by statistics such as starters lost vs. starters returning or production lost vs. production returning. Pete Carroll's program has been a factor in the national scene for each of the last seven seasons (much like Ohio State, aside from 2004). USC has overcome the losses of Heisman Trophy winners, defensive standouts and elite linemen to average 11.7 wins since 2002.

Bottom line: A win against USC always means a lot. It's always a big deal. A program that has been hyped more than any other in the country -- and justifiably so, for the most part -- can't be diminished only when it's convenient. That reeks of hypocrisy.

Let's not forget that USC has built its sparkling national reputation on winning games just like this one. The Trojans haven't lost a regular-season nonconference game since Sept. 21, 2002, against Kansas State. They have crushed ranked BCS teams in September, notching blowout victories against Colorado (40-3 in 2002), Auburn (23-0 in 2003), Nebraska (28-10 in 2006 and 49-31 in 2007), and Ohio State (35-3 in 2008).

Taking things one step further, USC has been incredible in Week 2 matchups, winning its last seven. Average margin of victory: 32 points.

USC occasionally falls asleep at the wheel against Pac-10 foes, but Carroll always prepares his teams well for early season showcase games. It reminds me a lot of how Tressel prepares Ohio State for Michigan every year. Both coaches are virtually infallible in those situations.

It comes down to this: If the Buckeyes knock off USC, they deserve a ton of credit. And if they lose, they deserve plenty of blame (believe me, they'll get it). There's no gray area for the Scarlet and Gray, which makes the matchup all the more exciting.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Consider it the unofficial start to the pregame buildup for Ohio State-USC, but the Los Angeles Times' Chris Dufresne ruffled some feathers in the heartland with his column about the record crowd for Ohio State's spring game and how it would never happen in L.A.

Ohio State drew 95,722 to Saturday's spring game at Ohio Stadium, eclipsing the previous record of 92,138 set by Alabama two years earlier. Fans paid $5 per ticket to get a glimpse of sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a host of new projected starters at wide receiver, running back and linebacker.

USC drew 22,565 to Saturday's spring game, while UCLA scrimmaged at a mostly empty Rose Bowl.

Trojans quarterback Aaron Corp weighed in on the crowd differential between Ohio State and the L.A. schools.

Corp broke out in a broad smile when informed Ohio State fans crushed USC fans in spring-game attendance.

"Ohio State doesn't have a beach!" he said. "I don't blame our fans. It gets loud in here in the fall."

Last season, before a crowd of 93,607 at the Coliseum, USC crushed Ohio State right where it counted: 35-3.

Spring football is different here, and not necessarily worse.

In the South they say there are two sports: football and spring football.

In Los Angeles, we say there's football and a thing called a life. So, in relatively obscurity, our two teams tinkered in their workshops.

That last line is the one that has Buckeye blood boiling right now. But Ohio State fans shouldn't feel bad about supporting their team, even for a souped-up scrimmage.

I was surprised so many people showed up at Ohio Stadium for the spring game, but not totally shocked.

Big stadiums and rabid fan support is a reason why the Big Ten will always be relevant, even when the teams are struggling like they are right now. The passion of Big Ten fans contributes to the league having unmatched TV exposure, its own TV network, more BCS bowl appearances (19) than any other league and much better bowl agreements than most conferences, particularly the Pac-10, which usually has only one team playing in January.

Why do you think the Big Ten sends two teams to BCS bowls every year? It's not always because the teams deserve to go. It's because fans will always show up in droves.

The Pac-10, meanwhile, has a reputation for not traveling well to bowl games, which contributes to its pathetic postseason lineup, the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner writes in his blog. It's not a stretch to suggest there's a connection between the smaller spring-game turnouts in Los Angeles and the willingness of fans to travel to support their team when it matters.

Dufresne is right. There's more to life in L.A. than college football.

The Lakers are in the playoffs and the Dodgers and Angels are in full swing (or miss). The beach always beckons, and you can surf year-round or catch movie premieres in Hollywood. And really, who doesn't love a good traffic jam on the 405 or the 110? Don't get me wrong, L.A. fans love their sports, but they're also known for showing up late and leaving early.

To be completely honest, if I had a choice, I probably wouldn't spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching a spring game.

But I grew up in California.

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