Big Ten: Tajh Boyd
We'll be breaking down these games for the next few weeks, but we wanted to share our first impressions of the lineup:
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa vs. LSU
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan vs. Kansas State
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska vs. Georgia
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Minnesota vs. Syracuse
Let's begin ...
Adam Rittenberg's first impressions
Worst game: Gator. I'm probably not as upset about this one as Brian (or most Nebraska fans), but a rematch of last season's Capital One Bowl featuring two teams playing without their starting quarterbacks doesn't move the needle. At least running backs Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) and Todd Gurley (Georgia) are fun to watch.
Sneaky good game: Capital One Bowl. Not sure how sneaky this one is, but both teams are talented on both sides of the ball and easily could have better records. The game features the nation's most talented defender in South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney against one of the nation's most accomplished defenders in Wisconsin's Chris Borland. The Badgers' seniors want to go out on a good note after a stunning home loss to Penn State, not to mention three consecutive losses in the Rose Bowl.
The bowl season will be a success if: The Big Ten records a winning record with at least one BCS bowl win. This season's lineup is slightly more favorable, and four wins certainly isn't out of the question. Ohio State and Minnesota both should win their games, and Michigan State, while less experienced than Stanford in BCS games, is playing its best football. Wisconsin needs to rebound, Iowa has a tough draw and both Michigan and Nebraska have been enigmatic, but the Big Ten should expect a little more in its final season of its self-created meat-grinder bowl lineup.
Brian Bennett's first impressions
Best game: The Rose Bowl is tremendous and looks to be the second-best game outside of the BCS title game. But let me also put in a plug for a possible underrated Orange matchup between Ohio State and Clemson. I saw Clemson earlier this season, and while the Tigers stumbled badly against Florida State and South Carolina, they are loaded with athletes. Put Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde all on the same field, and you're guaranteed some fireworks. Both teams score more than 40 points per game so we could have an entertaining shootout with some intriguing back stories (the Woody Hayes punch, Urban Meyer's return to the state of Florida).
Worst game: Minnesota had a great season and has a legitimately good defense and solid running game led by David Cobb. So I was hoping to see the Gophers get a chance to prove themselves against a decent opponent. Unfortunately, they drew a 6-6 Syracuse squad that beat absolutely no one and has an even lower-scoring offense than Minnesota. A bowl win is probably all that matters to Jerry Kill and his players, but I think they deserved a better showcase opportunity.
Sneaky good game: Outback. Iowa will have to make up for a talent gap with LSU -- as most teams do when they play the Tigers. But the Hawkeyes really hit their stride in the season finale at Nebraska, and they have only lost to teams ranked in the top 20. LSU, meanwhile, will be without starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who tore his ACL in the season finale, and this was not a vintage Tigers' defense. Both teams like to run the ball a lot, and Iowa linebackers James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey must continue to lead the way for Phil Parker's defense. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get an ending half as good as the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
The bowl season will be a success if: At least one BCS win is a necessity, especially with opponents who are similar in style in both games. Winning at least one of the games against the SEC on New Year's Day is also important; that holiday has been unkind to the Big Ten of late, and Georgia and LSU look more vulnerable than usual. An overall winning record is possible and could start to change the conference's image. Another sign of success will be if Wisconsin can avoid adding to Clowney's postseason highlight reel.
Let's take a look at the matchup.
WHO TO WATCH: Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson. Who else? The Wolverines fortunes are typically tied to their dreadlocked signal caller and how he performs. Robinson ended the regular-season with his best two-game stretch in a Michigan uniform, accounting for 628 yards (347 pass, 281 rush) and nine touchdowns (4 rush, 5 pass) with only one interception. If he can maintain that level, he'll provide problems for a Virginia Tech defense that couldn't stop Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the ACC championship game. Virginia Tech is tied for 21st nationally in interceptions with 15, and the Hokies play aggressive coverage, so Robinson will need to be smart with his decision-making after struggling with interceptions midway through Big Ten play.
WHAT TO WATCH: Michigan's defensive line vs. Virgina Tech's offensive backfield. The line is the biggest reason for Michigan's renaissance on defense this season, as seniors Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin have led the way. But depth will be an issue as senior tackle Will Heininger likely is out with a sprained foot. Michigan will turn to Will Campbell and Quinton Washington to help fill the void. Virginia Tech boasts a backfield combination in quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson unlike any Michigan has faced this season. When the Wolverines get to Thomas, they must find ways to bring the linebacker-sized quarterback down. And they'll need to contain Wilson, who ranks sixth nationally in rushing average (125.2 ypg). Michigan's defense wasn't at its best in its last performance against Ohio State but has contained teams most of the season.
WHY TO WATCH: See if Michigan can complete its breakthrough season under first-year coach Brady Hoke with its first win in a BCS bowl since the 2000 Orange Bowl. And while the matchup has been panned nationally, it features two teams with similar profiles and some intriguing matchups. How will Robinson handle an athletic and aggressive Virginia Tech defense? Michigan appears to have the edge at the line of scrimmage on both sides, but a shorthanded defensive line will need to contain the Hokies' dangerous backfield combination. Leagues are always judged by BCS bowl games, and a favored Michigan team can boost the Big Ten with a victory and use it a springboard toward the 2012 season, when the Wolverines could be the preseason league favorites.
PREDICTION: Michigan 27, Virginia Tech 21. Don't expect the Hokies to be nearly as bad as they were in the ACC championship game, but Michigan has several matchup advantages in the game. The Wolverines are stronger along both lines and should limit the damage from Thomas and Wilson. Robinson ended the season playing his best football and will give Virginia Tech trouble if he doesn't turn over the football. Michigan goes ahead early and holds on late to win.
NEW ORLEANS -- If ever a coach had earned the right to be stubborn about his system, it'd be Bud Foster.
He has coordinated Virginia Tech's defense for the past 16 seasons, and the unit has finished in the top 12 nationally on 10 occasions (the Hokies currently rank 13th in total defense). He has had 34 players drafted in the NFL, 45 different players score touchdowns and at least one player earn All-America honors in all 16 seasons.
The pillars of Foster's defenses -- speed, athleticism, pressure, opportunistic play -- have become synonymous with Virginia Tech's program.
Foster could enter rooms with "My Way" blaring in the background if he wanted to. But he doesn't.
His success isn't tied to stubbornness. He has adapted over time, while maintaining an attacking foundation.
"It's changed a lot but it hasn't changed a lot," Foster said Friday. "We were more of an eight-man front group in the mid-1990s through probably the mid-2000s. You were seeing a lot more two-back offenses at that time. ... We've just tweaked things year in and year out. We're always trying to make it a little better."
Michigan made more than a few tweaks in its offense this year, as coordinator Al Borges integrated some of his pro-style elements while maintaining a spread framework. The results were predictably choppy, but Michigan still scored more points (410) than it did in 2010, when the offense set several team and individual records.
Although Foster has led the Virginia Tech defense since 1995 and Borges had led the Michigan offense only since January, both have benefited from being flexible.
"He's like we have been offensively," Borges said of Foster. "Their defense is ever-evolving."
The next step in the evolution takes place Tuesday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, as Virginia Tech's defense and Michigan's offense square off in a fascinating matchup.
Both units faced some obstacles to reach this point. A look at Virginia Tech's defensive depth chart shows seven sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup. The Hokies were hit particularly hard by injuries this season, losing starters Antoine Hopkins, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Bruce Taylor as well as key reserves like Kwamaine Battle.
Despite the losses and the abundance of youth, Virginia Tech maintained its standards on defense, ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (17.2 ppg), total defense (313.9), pass-efficiency defense (111.8), rushing defense (107.8 ypg) and sacks (2.92 spg).
"[Foster] has enough flexibility," Borges said. "He's been there a long time. That system, although he's got some young players, that system that he has ... they know it. ... You're not teaching every little tiny thing, and you can start dealing more with nuance and things like that. Bud's at that point because he's been there so long."
Borges inherited a more seasoned offense and benefited from a lack of major injuries. His challenge was blending what he had done for decades with personnel suited to a vastly different scheme, particularly junior quarterback Denard Robinson.
"You can see they've done a great job adapting to their talent," Foster said. "But then, there's nothing real fancy about them, either. They're going to line up and hit you in the mouth and be physical."
Virginia Tech must not only contain Robinson on Tuesday night but be wary of Michigan's power game, which features sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and a big offensive line led by All-America center David Molk.
While the Hokies boast good size at defensive tackle, they're giving up a few pounds elsewhere. Sophomore defensive end J.R. Collins checks in at 240, while outside linebacker Alonzo Tweedy weighs just 189 pounds.
"We obviously have to get off on the football and be physical," Foster said. "That's what [Michigan] is going to do."
Virginia Tech has faced mobile quarterbacks in the past -- former West Virginia star Pat White among them -- and practiced against one the past few seasons in Tyrod Taylor. But linebacker Jack Fuller said Robinson gives the Hokies a look they haven't seen this season.
The closest comparison, according to Tyler, is Clemson's Tajh Boyd, who torched the Hokies in the ACC title game (240 pass yards, 3 TDs).
"But [Boyd's] not much of a scrambler," Fuller said. "He's quick and he can run the ball, but they look for Denard to run the ball. They have set plays for him and that's part of their offense, getting him to run the ball and getting that extra blocker."
Michigan also must adjust to some different elements from Virginia Tech, which doesn't shy away from press coverage and has the athletes to do so.
"It is a challenge," Robinson said. "They have some unique defenses and great athletes."
Added Toussaint: "They are very athletic at every position and play every play with maximum effort."
Virginia Tech's defense and Michigan's offense both should be improved in 2012, as only a handful of players depart each unit.
Both groups will look to use Tuesday night's game as a springboard.
"This is a big step for all of us," Toussaint said.
Our picks for the Rose and Sugar bowls will also serve as our final game predictions for the 2011 season. Season bragging rights between the bloggers are on the line.
Without further ado ...
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Oregon (Jan. 2)
Brian Bennett: A tantalizing matchup that frankly could go either way. I think Wisconsin will find a lot of success in the ground game with Montee Ball, but I question the Badgers' ability to slow down the Ducks' hyper-speed offense. Teams that have stopped Oregon usually have dominant linemen on defense, and Wisconsin is good but not great in that area. We saw in the Big Ten championship game that you can exploit the Badgers out in space. It's a thriller, but Oregon makes fewer mistakes and capitalizes one more time on a clinching fourth-quarter touchdown run by LaMichael James. ... Oregon 35, Wisconsin 30.
Adam Rittenberg: I need this one to have any chance to catch Mr. Bennett in the overall standings, and I'm going with the underdog. Wisconsin has the ability to not only control the clock but attack Oregon in multiple ways. Ball should be able to move the ball, but quarterback Russell Wilson will be the difference as he attacks the nation's 82nd-rated pass defense. Wisconsin will use the USC blueprint to beat Oregon: great quarterback play, a big game from a wide receiver (Jared Abbrederis) and just enough defense to survive. Although the Badgers' defense didn't impress me in the Big Ten championship game, the unit should benefit from the extra prep time for Oregon. Wilson throws three touchdown passes and runs in another in the fourth quarter. ... Wisconsin 38, Oregon 35
Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 13 Michigan vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech (Jan. 3)
Adam Rittenberg: Virginia Tech won't be as bad as it was in the ACC title game, but Michigan has the edge in several areas. Denard Robinson put it all together late in the regular season, and he'll be tough to contain for four quarters if he doesn't turn over the ball. Virginia Tech really struggled with Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, and "Shoelace" might be even more dangerous. Michigan's defensive front should be able to contain the Hokies' ground game. Brady Hoke completes a strong first season with a BCS bowl victory. ... Michigan 27, Virginia Tech 21
Brian Bennett: I still don't know why Virginia Tech is in this game, but Michigan should be thankful. This is a very advantageous matchup for the Wolverines, whose strength on defense aligns with their biggest need: stopping Hokies running back David Wilson. Virginia Tech has the speed on defense to protect the edge but not the size to fight off David Molk and an excellent Michigan offensive line. Robinson gets loose a couple times on the Superdome carpet, and the Wolverines frustrate the Virginia Tech offense to post a double-digit victory. ... Michigan 24, Virginia Tech 13.
Ohio State's quick courtship of Guiton in January sparked plenty of curiosity about the Texas prep star, who ran some option in high school before transitioning to a spread system. Guiton hasn't seen the field this season as the third-stringer, but he's playing a crucial role in the Buckeyes' preparation for No. 7 Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi.
See, until Jan. 1, Guiton is Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli, the dynamic Oregon quarterback, is the trigger man for a Ducks offense that ranks sixth nationally in rushing (236.1 yards per game) and seventh in scoring (37.7 points per game). For Ohio State to keep pace with Oregon, it must slow down the 5-foot-11, 220-pound junior quarterback.
That's where Guiton and the scout team come in.
"He's done a great job of executing all year," Ohio State safety Anderson Russell said of Guiton. "He's probably not as big as Masoli is. Kenny's like 6-4, but he doesn't weigh as much. He's doing a great job of executing their fakes, and he's been watching film on those guys to give us great looks."
Many will point out that Ohio State's defense could get its best taste of what's to come from Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes' starting quarterback. Pryor, who strongly considered Oregon in recruiting, still is seen as a prototypical spread-offense quarterback.
Though Ohio State's offense has some parallels with Oregon's, Russell and his fellow defenders will get more out of facing Guiton and the scout team.
"There are some similarities," Russell said, "but Oregon's run game is more complex than ours is as far as a lot more misdirection. It gives us somewhat of a look, but it's still different."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State added a quarterback after all.
Spurned by Tajh Boyd and told "No, thanks," by Austin Boucher, Ohio State picked up a commitment from Kenneth Guiton, a 6-2, 178-pound quarterback from Houston. Guiton steps into the No. 3 quarterback spot behind Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman.
"I never thought I would get an offer from Ohio State; it really surprised me," Guiton said. "It came out of the blue."
This was a much needed pickup for Ohio State, which would have had a hard time entering 2009 with only two scholarship quarterbacks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It seemed like an offer Austin Boucher couldn't refuse, but the prep quarterback said, "No, thanks," to Ohio State on Wednesday night and will honor his commitment to Miami (Ohio).
Ohio State made a late attempt to land Boucher, offering him a scholarship Tuesday night, hours after another quarterback prospect, Tajh Boyd, announced he would attend Clemson. Given the chance to suit up in Scarlet and Gray and possibly back up Terrelle Pryor, Boucher opted to stick with the RedHawks, where he should play early in his career.
"That is huge," Boucher said. "They've got Pryor and I know [head coach Jim Tressel] is already looking at some 2010 quarterbacks. There's always going to be competition, but I want to be the No. 1 guy. I was [Miami's] No. 1 recruit, where at OSU I'm not Terrelle Pryor."
You've got to admire Boucher's perspective in an age where recruits are promised things and told they're better than they are. Though he would have been a play or two away from the field at Ohio State, Miami probably provides a better long-term opportunity for playing time.
Ohio State remains on the lookout for a third scholarship quarterback behind Pryor and Joe Bauserman. The Buckeyes undoubtedly will add an arm or two in the 2010 class, but they don't want to enter next fall so thin at the quarterback spot.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State or Miami (Ohio)?
It seems like a no-brainer, especially for a kid from the Buckeye State.
Austin Boucher faces this decision after receiving a scholarship offer from Ohio State on Tuesday night, hours after top quarterback prospect Tajh Boyd announced he would attend Clemson over Ohio State and Oregon. Boucher originally committed to Toledo but recently switched to Miami (Ohio), where he should be in the mix to start in the next few seasons.
Ohio State desperately needs a third scholarship quarterback to go along with starter Terrelle Pryor and backup Joe Bauserman. Boucher fills a need in Columbus, but his prospects for field time are somewhat slim, as The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises writes in his blog:
At Ohio State, Boucher would be the third quarterback on scholarship this season. But he certainly won't be beating out Terrelle Pryor over the next two seasons. And the Buckeyes will recruit over Boucher in the next year or two, bringing in a quarterback they believe can start when Pryor moves on.
There is no guarantee at either school for the two-star recruit with the state title. But certainly he has a better chance to play at Miami. And of his two choices, only one has a former quarterback starting in the Super Bowl on Sunday - and it's not Ohio State.
But Ohio State is Ohio State, even if the Buckeyes did only offer him as a backup plan. That's how recruiting works. And he is an Ohio kid.
As Lesmerises goes on to write, Boucher can't really make the wrong move here. The MAC certainly has produced its share of pro quarterbacks, one of whom, former Miami (Ohio) star Ben Roethlisberger, will try to win his second Super Bowl on Sunday.
But it'd be tough to see Boucher turn down the Buckeyes, even though he knows he wasn't the team's first option.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Lots of tasty links today. Recruiting season must be upon us.
- Michigan addressed several position needs in its 2009 class, which could be bolstered by a second quarterback (Denard Robinson), Josh Helmholdt writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Quarterback depth has become a concern for Ohio State after Tajh Boyd chose Clemson over the Buckeyes, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Prep quarterbacks from Illinois don't usually pan out for Wisconsin, but the Badgers hope Jon Budmayr will be different, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times.
"Over a span of 12 recruiting classes from 1995-2006, nine quarterbacks from the state of Illinois pledged their allegiance to UW. The only one who developed into a star was [Owen] Daniels -- and it was only after he moved to tight end."
- A touching piece by The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette's Marc Morehouse about Ted "Rock" Knapp, a die-hard Iowa fan stricken with terminal cancer who hopes his son, Nile Kinnick (yes, you read it right), gets recruited by the Hawkeyes.
"It's just a matter of whether they [Iowa coaches] think he's got the ability and whether they think he'll fit their system," Ted Knapp said. "I certainly hope so. He loves the Hawkeyes. There are very few kids in America, I think, who want to play more for the Hawkeyes than Nile does."
- Ohio State defensive tackle Doug Worthington pleaded guilty to DUI and likely will pay a fine and attend an alcohol intervention class, Bruce Cadwallader and Ken Gordon write in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Illinois quarterback Juice Williams expects a pass-heavy approach with new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, GateHouse news service's John Supinie writes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Quarterback Tajh Boyd won't be wearing Scarlet and Gray this fall.
Boyd, the nation's No. 5 quarterback according to ESPN's Scouts Inc., announced at a news conference that he'll attend Clemson. Ohio State and Oregon were the other contenders for Boyd's services.
With only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster -- Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman -- Ohio State could look to add a signal-caller for its 2009 class. Boyd would have been an excellent fit at Ohio State, but the opportunity to join a team without a clear-cut starter likely made the difference.
The Columbus Dispatch mentioned Toledo commit Austin Boucher as a potential late recruiting target for the Buckeyes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The links are on a diet today.
- Iowa broadcaster Gary Dolphin doesn't think head coach Kirk Ferentz is going anywhere, Clete Campbell writes in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
"I'm not saying some point someday, he won't say, 'OK, I've done everything I can do at Iowa. I'm going to go make the big bucks in the National Football League,'" Dolphin said. "But I don't think that day is on the horizon right now. I wish people would just forget about Kirk Ferentz's name being associated with every NFL topic."
- Tajh Boyd can't wait to get to college, and Ohio State would offer the quarterback an immediate spot on the depth chart, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Safety Dezmen Southward will join his high school teammate Conor O'Neill in the north as they suit up for Wisconsin, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- There's certainly some skepticism about Minnesota's decision to schedule USC, but head coach Tim Brewster believes in a more aggressive scheduling approach, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
- Prep running back Ronnie Wingo, who is considering Illinois among others, has postponed his college announcement because of bad weather in St. Louis, Jeremy Werner writes in The News-Gazette.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
As most Ohio State fans know by now, prep quarterback Tajh Boyd will announce his college choice today at a 5 p.m. ET news conference.
Boyd, ranked as the nation's No. 5 quarterback and the 59th-best overall player by ESPN's Scouts Inc., will choose between Ohio State, Oregon and Clemson. He already has decommitted from two programs (Tennessee and West Virginia), but today's decision will be final.
Though Terrelle Pryor is firmly entrenched as Ohio State's starter, Boyd would be an excellent pickup for the Buckeyes.
Pryor could very well depart after three years, and the Buckeyes have only one other scholarship quarterback (Joe Bauserman) on the roster. Boyd wants to play right away -- he has his high school diploma and plans to enroll somewhere in time for spring practice -- and could emerge as Pryor's backup for this fall. He undoubtedly saw the way Pryor blossomed this fall, and if Ohio State continues to use multiple quarterbacks as it did in the Fiesta Bowl, Boyd could see the field early on.
Then again, Oregon is awfully tempting, especially for a multitalented quarterback like Boyd. The Ducks run a dynamic and creative scheme, while Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has been criticized for going too conservative at times last year with Pryor. Ohio State certainly could expand the playbook for Pryor -- and Boyd -- this coming fall, but having seen both teams play live during the 2008 season, I've got to give the play-calling edge to Chip Kelly and Oregon.
Clemson also is pushing hard for the quarterback, and the school's proximity to Boyd's home in Hampton, Va., could sway him.
If Boyd wants to help a perennial underachiever reach new heights, Clemson might be the place for him. If he wants to enter a program that already competes at the highest levels, Ohio State or Oregon make more sense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State will learn Tuesday whether it will earn the services of standout prep quarterback Tajh Boyd. Defensive end Craig Drummond has, in fact, picked Mississippi after originally committing to Illinois. Iowa had a big weekend recruiting haul, while other Big Ten schools are racking up commits.
Here's the latest from ESPN Scouts Inc.'s national recruiting director Tom Luginbill.
ESPNU 150 Craig Drummond picks Rebels over Illini
Craig Drummond, DE
Morgan Park H.S.
Scouts Grade: 81
ESPN150 Rank: 99
Position Rank: 7
Defensive end Craig Drummond of Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.), rated No. 7 nationally among defensive ends and No. 99 prospect overall in the Class of 2009, has chosen Mississippi.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Drummond had originally picked Illinois over Wisconsin, but was wavering on his choice.
Among others, Drummond was also offered by Miami-Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State, Southern California, Florida, Michigan State and Minnesota.
Drummond, who was an all-state and all-area selection as a junior after recording 22 sacks, did not play his senior season because of a foot injury.
ESPNU 150 Tajh Boyd to choose on Tuesday
Tajh Boyd, QB
Scouts Grade: 82
ESPN150 Rank: 59
Position Rank: 5
Tajh Boyd of Phoebus (Hampton, Va.), rated No. 5 among quarterbacks and No. 59 prospect overall in Class 2009, plans to make a final decision among Clemson, Oregon and Ohio State on Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 27).
Among many others, Boyd was also being recruited by Florida State, Boston College, Virginia and Penn State.
Boyd had first committed to West Virginia, but had second thoughts following the Mountaineers' offensive struggles early in the season. He then chose Tennessee, but decommitted following a conversation with newly hired coach Lane Kiffin who warned him that he might not be happy with the Vols' pro-style system.
As a junior, Boyd passed for 2,059 yards and 25 touchdowns, and also rushed for 500 yards and seven scores. He tore his ACL in the third game of his senior season and is set to have surgery next month.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
A quick programming note that the lunch links will no longer appear every day until spring practice kicks off in March. If there are links worth linking, I'll link 'em. But you'll get your daily diet again in March.
Here's today's sampling.
- Ohio State's two-quarterback system, unveiled in the Fiesta Bowl, might help land top recruit Tajh Boyd, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
"The only promise sought by Boyd -- the throwing/running threat led Phoebus to a state championship and then shared the MVP award in the U.S. Army All-American game on Jan. 3 in San Antonio -- is a chance.
"'I just want an opportunity to play early,' Boyd said. 'That's going to be a big part of it because I feel like I am one of the top players in the country and I really don't want to sit.'"
- Michigan tight end Carson Butler was among the underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft, giving the Wolverines another reason to focus on pass-catchers in recruiting, Josh Helmholdt writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Chicago Cubs chairman Crane Kenney is checking to see if Wrigley Field would be big enough to accommodate a Northwestern-Illinois football game, Teddy Greenstein writes in the Chicago Tribune.
"One key question was answered Monday: If NU wants to move its game Nov. 20, 2010, against Illinois from Ryan Field to Wrigley, it does not need Illinois' approval.
"'The only time a school would need approval is if it wanted to have a date changed,' said Big Ten Associate Commissioner Mark Rudner."
- Arizona State might want to change the dates of its scheduled series against Wisconsin in 2010 and 2012, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Todd Fitch might have wanted a longer contract to coordinate Minnesota's offense than Tim Brewster was willing to offer, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan's quarterback recruiting for 2009 has been anything but smooth.
First, Kevin Newsome reopened his recruitment in August after committing to Michigan. Newsome ultimately landed at Penn State last week and appears to be the frontrunner to start in Happy Valley in 2010.
Newsome's decommitment didn't appear to hurt Michigan too much at the time because the team still had two other quarterbacks, Shavodrick Beaver and Tate Forcier, ready to enroll in January 2009. But you can scratch Beaver off the list after the Texas native dropped Michigan for Tulsa last week.
Beaver appeared to be a natural fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, and his late change of heart came as a surprise. With neither Steven Threet nor Nick Sheridan able to establish themselves as the starter, Beaver certainly would have had a great shot at winning the top job.
The focus now turns to Forcier, who has pretty impressive prep credentials and also seems to fit Rodriguez's system better than any quarterback currently on the roster. Some considered Forcier the favorite to win the starting job in 2009 whether or not Beaver was in the mix.
The Detroit Free Press' Josh Helmholdt argues that while Michigan might feel increased pressure to add another quarterback, possibly Tajh Boyd, to the 2009 class, the Wolverines aren't in bad shape with Forcier.
"The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Forcier runs 40 yards in 4.55 seconds and has completed better than 69 percent of his passes each of the last three seasons. Because Forcier is further along in his development than Beaver, he was the odds-on favorite between the two to make an impact at quarterback next fall for the Wolverines.
Still, recruiting observers in search of Beaver's replacement are convinced Michigan needs to pursue the likes of Tajh Boyd, a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of Virginia, or Raymond Cotton, another dual-threat who recently decommitted from Auburn.
Rich Rodriguez, however, should not feel the pressure to make immediate flight arrangements to visit Boyd or Cotton. He can enjoy Christmas with his family knowing he has a top-flight freshman ready to enroll in two weeks to add to the two returning starters on the roster."
Forcier very well could be the answer, and if Rodriguez is confident in his ability and maturity, he can get by without another quarterback for 2009. But a lack of depth at several positions hamstrung Michigan last season, and Rodriguez wants to emphasize competition as much as possible after a 3-9 disaster.
Nothing against Threet and Sheridan, who did their best with ill-suited skills, but they probably won't push Forcier the way Beaver would have. If the fit is right, Michigan could be well served by adding another signal caller to set up a true arms race in the spring and summer of 2009.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State