Big Ten: Tulsa Golden Hurricane


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 piñata, 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

CHICAGO -- Before the coaches started their interviews on the dais, the Big Ten played a 15-minute Points of Emphasis video to highlight elements that college football officials will follow this season.

Officials will focus on two areas this fall -- player safety and sportsmanship. The video showed examples of plays that demonstrate the fouls that will be called.

Regarding player safety, officials will focus on protecting defenseless players who are targeted above their shoulders or above the crown of their helmets. Fouls will result in a 15-yard penalty and possible ejection.

A new rule prohibits horse-collar tackles, grabbing the back or side collar of the jersey to bring down a player. Horse-collar tackles will be called only when defenders use them to immediately bring down ball carriers.

The player safety examples shown included:

  • A massive hit by Michigan State's Nehemiah Warrick to the helmet of Wisconsin wide receiver Kyle Jefferson in last year's game
  • A Bowling Green punt returner getting steamrolled by a Tulsa gunner
  • Minnesota safety Dominic Jones crushing Ohio State's Santonio Holmes in a helmet-to-helmet hit.
The unsportsmanlike conduct portion covered the fairly obvious displays -- taunting, high-stepping, end zone celebrations. These were some of the examples.
  • A Southern Miss defender spiking the ball after an interception
  • An Alabama player somersaulting into the end zone against Colorado
  • A player leaping into the stands and taking off his helmet after a touchdown, which can result in two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
  • USC's Desmond Reed somersaulting into the end zone against Illinois in the 2008 Rose Bowl. Reed's teammate, Fred Davis, also drew a flag for taunting after a touchdown.

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