Big Ten: Tahj Boyd

If you’re a Big Ten fan, then you’ve been looking forward to a certain Week 2 matchup all offseason: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 8 Michigan State.

It’s offense vs. defense, Marcus Mariota vs. Shilique Calhoun, unstoppable force vs. immovable object. There’s a lot to be excited about, even on a national scale. Since 2005, only nine games have featured two top-10 teams duking it out this early. There’s a reason "College GameDay" has decided to descend upon Eugene, Oregon, after all.

Can the underdog Spartans pull it off? Will Oregon’s offense run rampant? Those answers won’t come for another few days, so we decided to take a closer look at those other nine games. Historically, how have games of this magnitude gone down, how often does the underdog win -- and how often do these teams move on to success?

Take a look:

No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson -- Aug. 31, 2013

The favorite: Georgia by 2.5 points

The outcome: Clemson 38-35. This lived up to its hype of being a closely fought shootout. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd proved to be the difference-maker. He threw for three TDs, rushed for two more and totaled 312 yards.

End of season ranking (Clemson): No. 8 (11-2, 7-1 ACC). Beat Ohio State in Orange Bowl, 40-35.

End of season ranking (Georgia): unranked (8-5, 5-3 SEC). Lost to Nebraska in Gator Bowl, 24-19.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan (Arlington, Texas) -- Sept. 1, 2012

The favorite: Alabama by 11

The outcome: Alabama 41-14. The Crimson Tide opened the game on a 31-0 run, and Michigan never really stood a chance. The Wolverines’ first six possessions ended with four punts and two interceptions. They moved the ball 24 yards on those drives.

End of season ranking (Alabama): No. 1 (13-1, 7-1 SEC). Won the SEC championship and beat Notre Dame for the national championship, 42-14.

End of season ranking (Michigan): No. 24 (8-5, 6-2 Big Ten). Lost to South Carolina in Outback Bowl, 33-28.

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU (Arlington, Texas) -- Sept. 3, 2011

The favorite: Oregon by 3.5

The outcome: LSU 40-27. This was billed as a top defense (LSU was No. 12 in total D the year before) vs. a top offense. But the game came apart for the Ducks when De'Anthony Thomas fumbled on consecutive drives deep in his own territory. LSU scored touchdowns on both possessions.

End of season ranking (LSU): No. 2 (13-1, 8-0 SEC). Won the SEC championship but lost to Alabama in the national championship, 21-0.

End of season ranking (Oregon): No. 4 (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12). Won the Pac-12 championship and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 45-38.

No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech (Landover, Maryland) -- Sept. 3, 2010

The favorite: Boise State by 1.5

The outcome: Boise State 33-30. This one could’ve gone either way. With 1:47 left, Boise State QB Kellen Moore engineered a five-play, 56-yard touchdown drive to give the Broncos the advantage. Virginia Tech turned the ball over on downs on its next possession.

End of season ranking (Boise State): No. 9 (12-1, 7-1 WAC). Lone blemish was a 34-31 overtime loss to Nevada. Beat Utah in Maaco Bowl, 26-3.

End of season ranking (Virginia Tech): No. 16 (11-3, 8-0 ACC). Won ACC championship but lost to Stanford in Orange Bowl, 40-12.

No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech (Atlanta) -- Sept. 5, 2009

The favorite: Alabama by 6.5

The outcome: Alabama 34-24. The Hokies led 17-16 after three quarters, but the fourth quarter was all Alabama. The Tide outscored Virginia Tech 18-7 in the final 15 minutes. A fumble on a kick return didn’t help matters for Tech.

End of season ranking (Alabama): No. 1 (14-0, 8-0 SEC). Won the SEC championship and beat Texas in the national championship, 37-21.

End of season ranking (Virginia Tech): No. 10 (10-3, 6-2 ACC). Beat Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, 37-14.

No. 3 USC at No. 8 Ohio State -- Sept. 12, 2009

The favorite: USC by 6.5

The outcome: USC 18-15. With 7:29 left in the game, Matt Barkley drove the Trojans downfield for a touchdown and two-point conversion. They ate up 6:10 on the drive, and Ohio State responded with a turnover on downs.

End of season ranking (USC): No. 22 (9-4, 5-4 Pac-10). Beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, 24-13.

End of season ranking (Ohio State): No. 5 (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten). Won the Big Ten and defeated Oregon in the Rose Bowl, 26-17.

No. 9 Virginia Tech at No. 2 LSU -- Sept. 8, 2007

The favorite: LSU by 11

The outcome: LSU 48-7. LSU racked up 598 yards of offense, and this was a snoozer from the beginning. LSU found itself up 14-0 just 10 minutes into the game, and the Hokies converted just two third downs the entire game.

End of season ranking (LSU): No. 1 (12-2, 6-2 SEC). Won SEC championship and beat Ohio State in national championship, 38-24.

End of season ranking (Virginia Tech): No. 9 (11-3, 7-1 ACC). Won ACC championship but lost to Kansas in Orange Bowl, 24-21.

No. 1 Ohio State at No. 2 Texas -- Sept. 9, 2006

The favorite: Texas by 3

The outcome: Ohio State 24-7. It was the first regular-season No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in a decade, and the Buckeyes never trailed in this game. Troy Smith threw for 269 yards and two TDs, while the defense held Texas to less than 20 points for the first time in 21 games.

End of season ranking (Ohio State): No. 2 (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten). Won the Big Ten championship but lost to Florida in the national championship, 41-14.

End of season ranking (Texas): No. 13 (10-3, 6-2 Big 12). Beat Iowa in Alamo Bowl, 26-24.

No. 2 Texas at No. 4 Ohio State -- Sept. 10, 2005

The favorite: Texas by 1.5

The outcome: Texas 25-22. With 2:37 left in the game, Longhorns QB Vince Young found Limas Sweed for the go-ahead 24-yard TD. It was a back-and-forth affair; Texas jumped out to a 10-0 lead but the Buckeyes led at halftime 16-13.

End of season ranking (Texas): No. 1 (13-0, 8-0 Big 12). Won the Big 12 championship and beat USC in the national championship, 41-38.

End of season ranking (Ohio State): No. 4 (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten). Won part of the Big Ten championship and beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, 34-20.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Tuesday night was a busy one for the Penn State football program. 

Just minutes after the university announced coach Joe Paterno's three-year contract extension, heralded prep quarterback Kevin Newsome said he was coming to Penn State. Paterno's new deal undoubtedly will get most of the attention today, but Newsome's decision could also play a major role in the team's future. 

Penn State desperately needed to add a quarterback for the 2009 class after sophomore Pat Devlin announced last week that he would transfer from the school. All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark returns next fall, but the Lions have no capable backup. Newsome, who originally committed to Michigan, will step into the reserve role and possibly become the starter in 2010.

The opportunity to play almost immediately sold Newsome, who plans to enroll early at Penn State. 

"What helped with Penn State a lot was I would get a little more playing time a little bit earlier," Newsome said. "Every quarterback wants to come in and be able to challenge someone for the spot, so I want to learn from Daryll Clark for a year, and by the time I'm a sophomore be ready to take control of the Penn State offense."

There's a bit of concern about Newsome's ability to play quarterback at the college level, and ESPN recruiting guru Tom Luginbill felt Tahj Boyd might have been a better fit in Happy Valley. Newsome certainly brings athleticism to the backfield, and his commitment likely means Penn State will stick with the Spread HD offense for the foreseeable future. 

Big Ten Friday mailbag

December, 12, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Let's see what's on your mind.

Andy from Greensboro writes: In regards to the awards ceremony last night on ESPN, I think the Big 10 got snubbed in the Bednarik. Yes Rey Maualuga missed a couple games this year, but his stats in the games he played were nothing special. He played against weaker teams in the Pac-10 than the Big 10 and I dont think he should have won. James and Aaron had much better stats (not only because they played a full season) against tougher offenses. Glad to see Malcolm win the Thorpe however.

Adam Rittenberg: I would have liked to have seen Aaron Maybin win the Bednarik Award, but Maualuga is a heck of a player who makes that defense go. Laurinaitis might have better numbers, but 75 of his 121 tackles were assists, so the stats a bit inflated. As I wrote earlier, Maybin was probably hurt a bit by only being a sophomore. He'll get his due in the years to come. Malcolm Jenkins is an excellent player and deserving of any national awards he receives, though I thought Eric Berry from Tennessee would win the Thorpe.

Jason from Reading, Va., writes: Adam- I have to take exception with your comment that Fitzgerald and Spurrier are the only active FBS coaches in the CFB Hall of Fame- What about one Joseph Vincent Paterno? ...and although the whole 'active' thing may be debatable here, what about Bobby Bowden?

Adam Rittenberg: Jason, you have to read a little more carefully. I wrote that Pat Fitzgerald and Steve Spurrier are the only active FBS coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as players. Joe Paterno's playing career at Brown didn't him a Hall of Fame nod. Same goes for Bowden at Samford.

Andy from Evanston, Ill., writes: Hey Adam, great job all year. I've really enjoyed reading all your posts! Do you have any preliminary thoughts on the quarterback situation at Northwestern next year with [C.J.] Bacher graduating? Do you think Kafka will get the nod, or will they give it to someone like Evan Watkins to start getting some experience?

Adam Rittenberg: Mike Kafka will go into 2009 as the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job. In some ways, the injuries Northwestern had this year became a blessing in disguise. Kafka's performance at Minnesota helped save a promising season, and he can go into spring ball knowing it's his job to lose. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has always liked Kafka, naming him the opening-day starter back in 2006, and he would have to see something major from Watkins or Dan Persa to change his mind. My sense is Watkins will be the team's quarterback of the future, beginning in 2010.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The transfer of a backup quarterback usually doesn't set off alarm bells, but Penn State has to be a bit concerned about its quarterback situation after Pat Devlin cleaned out his locker Wednesday.

 Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
 Pat Devlin (7) played a key role in Penn State's win over Ohio State earlier this season.

Devlin and his parents reportedly met with head coach Joe Paterno on Monday to discuss his status.

"By the end of the meeting, Pat Devlin had informed Paterno that he was leaving, the source said. With one game to play, however, Devlin's decision over whether he would play in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Southern Cal was left dangling.

[Wednesday], according to another source close to the team, Paterno asked Devlin if he had reached a verdict. The sophomore said he had not. Paterno made the decision for him, and by the end of the day, Devlin's locker was cleaned out."

All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark was granted a fifth year of eligibility before the season and will return in 2009, but Penn State has no one behind him. Third-stringer Paul Cianciolo is a senior who will back up Clark in the Rose Bowl, his final collegiate game.

Recruiting now becomes paramount for Penn State, and it's an area that still creates anxiety in Happy Valley despite the program's renaissance this fall. The Lions' mediocre 2009 class currently features only one quarterback, Curtis Drake from Philadelphia.

Penn State undoubtedly will try to add another signal caller.

Tahj Boyd backed out of his commitment to Tennessee after meeting with new coach Lane Kiffin and would be an excellent late pickup for the Lions. Former Michigan commit Kevin Newsome also is a possibility. Newsome has Penn State among his top group of schools, and the chance to back up Clark next fall and start in 2010 could push him toward Happy Valley.