Dallas Colleges: Big Ten Conference

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
9:40
AM CT
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Mysterious 'tweak' changes Kentucky

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
7:45
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Police dogs sniffed the backpacks and purses of men and women who entered AT&T Stadium on Friday morning. One of the officers claimed that the black Labradors were deployed to search for bombs and other explosive devices.

But that might not be the full story about the security operation. Perhaps they were really there to protect "the tweak."

For weeks, John Calipari has discussed "the tweak." It’s a mystery, but he swears that the tweak changed Kentucky basketball in 2013-14.

It all started about a month ago, as the Wildcats were prepping for the SEC tournament. That’s when Calipari tweaked -- not to be confused with "twerked" -- something within his program. Even though Kentucky lost to Florida by a point in the conference tourney title game, it seemed renewed in Atlanta.

The Wildcats were jelling and connecting in ways that weren’t evident in the previous weeks and months. They were moving the ball and defending better than they had all season.

What changed? Tell us about the tweak.

"I’m not supposed to talk about it, but it has definitely changed the energy of the team and our chemistry," Julius Randle said. "It just improved the team."

Calipari has promised to divulge the tweak sometime in the future. Once the season ends, he said, he’ll discuss the alteration that morphed Kentucky into the juggernaut that it has become in recent weeks.

[+] EnlargeJohn Calipari
AP Photo/David J. PhillipJohn Calipari isn't talking about the adjustments made by the Wildcats.
The media, however, won’t understand the tweak, even when Calipari finally blesses us with a full explanation.

"What I told these guys after I saw what it did, I just said, 'You know what? I screwed this up. Make me look good,'" Calipari said. "And they have. The media doesn’t have enough basketball savvy to figure it out, so …"

Who can blame Calipari for his approach to this? He’s in the middle of a battle for the national championship, and the goal is to maintain a shroud over any strategic maneuverings that could give his opponent the edge. He’ll face a veteran coach and a talented program in Bo Ryan and Wisconsin during Saturday’s national semifinal.

So it’s better to say less right now.

Reveal the tweak? Nah. This is secret societies stuff. Knights Templar. Freemasons. Skull and Bones.

The tweak might be something simple. Maybe Calipari gave Dakari Johnson a pep talk or granted Randle the freedom to annihilate any mortal who dares to stop him.

Who knows?

It’s obvious, however, that the tweak worked.

Randle has been more aggressive and effective in the NCAA tournament. Aaron Harrison has made nearly 50 percent of his 3-pointers in the Big Dance. Andrew Harrison has been a leader.

Johnson and Marcus Lee have contributed. James Young is confident.

The Wildcats snatched a spot in the Final Four after defeating Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan.

No team in the Final Four encountered a more difficult path to Arlington, Texas.

No team in the Final Four made the U-turn that this program has experienced over the past month. On Selection Sunday, the Wildcats were a disappointing 8-seed that entered the season as one of the most hyped squads in recent college basketball history.

Then, they lost to Arkansas and South Carolina in SEC play. As a result, many doubted the program’s postseason potential. Inside the locker room, however, Kentucky still believed.

Look at the Wildcats now. Look at the power of the tweak. Tweakability.

Kentucky’s third trip to the Final Four in four seasons? Don’t credit the kids.

Thank the tweak, whatever it was.

"I mean, Coach said don’t give any details about it, so I can’t really say what it is," Aaron Harrison said.

OK, fine.

But what is the tweak? Is it tangible? Can you touch the tweak? Is it edible? Is there video evidence of the tweak? If we close our eyes, click our heels and dream, will the tweak appear?

And where is the tweak? A safe somewhere in Lexington, Ky? A vault in Dallas? Does Jerry Jones have access to the tweak?

"I cannot give any details," said Dominique Hawkins, who wore the look of a young man who knew far more than he disclosed. "I can’t say anything about it."

But maybe it’s not as complicated as Calipari suggests. Maybe it’s simple.

This isn’t the first time a group of young men have unified at the right time. The development of chemistry is a gradual process for most programs. That’s why juniors and seniors discuss their bonds according to years. These Wildcats have been together for only six months, and they’re all freshmen and sophomores.

That makes the tweak even more intriguing.

"I don’t know what the mystery is,” Alex Poythress said, "to be honest."

Young doesn’t mind sharing the secret behind the tweak: The Wildcats have embraced their individual roles and taken a more selfless approach to each game, he said.

"It really wasn’t a tweak," Young said. "It was just us playing hard, I guess, and getting open shots for each other. Just really penetrating."

Added Poythress: "We just came together as a team. We just try to look for open players more, try to play more team ball. Less is more."

Still, that only shows the impact of the tweak.

We still don’t know exactly what it is, and we may never know, because the Wildcats won’t talk about it. There’s a gag order.

And if they beat Wisconsin on Saturday, Calipari will probably mention the tweak again, but don’t expect him to ruin this covert operation.

Leave that to his players.

"I can’t give you details," Johnson said.

It was worth a try.

Blog debate: Gordon vs. Seastrunk

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
1:00
PM CT
You can argue over who's the best running back in college football, but there's little doubt who the two most efficient runners are.

Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Baylor's Lache Seastrunk are essentially picking up a first down on every rush attempt. Gordon is averaging 9.46 yards per carry, while Seastrunk is at 9.16. Those are the top two yards per carry averages by running backs in the FBS and trail only Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota among all players. Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett and Big 12 blogger Jake Trotter discuss what makes both runners so dynamic and try to figure out whether they should be touching the ball even more.

[+] EnlargeMelvin Gordon, Wisconsin Badgers
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsWisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of the Badgers' seven games this season.
Brian Bennett: Jake, let's start with Seastrunk. We all know Baylor's offense is an astronomical phenomenon. How big a part of that is Seastrunk, and what makes him special in that offense?

Jake Trotter: He's a huge part. There's a reason why receivers Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley have combined for 10 touchdowns of 40 yards or more. Sure, those guys are blazing fast. But defenses are so concerned about Seastrunk running wild on them, that Reese and Goodley end up in one-on-one situations downfield.

What about Gordon, Brian?

BB: Gordon is incredibly talented, so much so that Montee Ball said before Gordon ever took the field that he might be the most talented Wisconsin back ever. That's saying something. At 6-foot-1, Gordon gobbles up the field with his long-striding form and is almost impossible to catch once he finds a seam. He has touchdown runs of 70, 71 and 80 yards this season. The Badgers also know just how to use him right. He not only lines up in conventional positions, but he is often employed on jet sweeps where he can get a full head of steam as he heads out to the perimeter.

Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention Wisconsin's offensive line, which is once again stacked with massive human beings who create gaping holes for their backs. That's a major reason for the program's tradition of star tailbacks, and it undoubtedly contributes to Gordon's success, though I think he'd be wildly effective in any system. Which leads me to my question for you: how much of Seastrunk's stats stem from Baylor's system, and how much is just on his own talent? In other words, do you think he'd have the same type of numbers if he and Gordon switched places tomorrow?

JT: The system is a big part of it. Coach Art Briles' track record dating back to the Robert Griffin III years speaks for itself. But the supporting cast is a big part, too. Guard Cyril Richardson leads an offensive line that excels at paving running lanes. The threat of Bryce Petty throwing the ball downfield to Reese and Goodley means defenses can't even think about loading the box. Seastrunk also has a capable wingman in Glasco Martin, who takes some of the rushing load off Seastrunk's shoulders. This Baylor offense is awesome, and Seastrunk is just one part of it. That is a big reason why he's such an efficient runner. He plays on a great offense.

[+] EnlargeOregon Ducks' Lache Seastrunk
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesBaylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who transferred from Oregon, already has three more rushing touchdowns (10) than he had all of last season.
That takes away from his carries. But he doesn't need a lot of carries to be effective. What about Gordon?

BB: Yeah, Seastrunk is averaging a little under 14 carries per game, while Gordon is getting just a little more than 15 rushing attempts per game. In Gordon's case, Wisconsin has another stud running back in senior James White, who ranks No. 29 in the FBS in rushing yards and who has over 3,200 career rushing yards. Four times already this season, Gordon and White have gone over 100 yards in the same game, and White came within two yards last week at Illinois of making it five times. Coach Gary Andersen has basically split the carries between the two, which keeps them both fresh, and I think he feels a little more comfortable with the veteran White in there for pass protection purposes.

But it makes you wonder what kind of numbers Gordon could put up if he got a steady 20-to-25 carries per game. What do you think Seastrunk could do with a heavier workload, and do you think the lack of carries will hurt either back when it comes to major awards like the Doak Walker or All-America honors?

JT: I don't think it will hurt Seastrunk in either category as long as Baylor keeps winning. The key stat with Seastrunk is yards per carry. He is averaging a whopping 9.16 per rush. As long as he keeps that up, Baylor keeps pouring on points and the Bears keep winning, he'll remain at the forefront of the Doak Walker and All-American candidacies. Seastrunk, however, probably has almost no shot at the Heisman. Petty has divided the Baylor vote, and in many ways overshadowed the running back by leading the nation in Total QBR through the midway point of the season. If Petty keeps putting up monster numbers, he -- not Seastrunk -- will likely emerge as the Baylor candidate for the Heisman.

What we learned in the Big Ten: Week 4

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
10:00
AM CT
Five lessons from the week that was in Big Ten football:

1. Wisconsin-Ohio State could be the Big Ten's game of the year: In recent years, the Badgers-Buckeyes matchups have been more significant than Ohio State-Michigan or any other conference pairing. This week's showdown at Ohio Stadium could be just as significant. Ohio State is the Big Ten's best team, and Wisconsin might be No. 2 after another dominant rushing performance against Purdue. Both teams ascribe to the power run game but do it in vastly different yet equally entertaining ways. Although the Kenny G show has been terrific for the Buckeyes, top quarterback Braxton Miller should be back for the Big Ten opener. Miller might not be the biggest offensive star on the field, as Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has performed as advertised, racking up 624 rush yards and seven touchdowns in the first four games. The game features first-year Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen going up against his former boss, Urban Meyer. One of these teams has held at least a share of the past eight Big Ten titles. The winner takes control of the Leaders Division. Should be a great one.

[+] EnlargeDevin Gardner, Jefferson Ashiru
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesMichigan quarterback Devin Gardner had another three turnovers in the Wolverines' close win over UConn.
2. Michigan has real problems: It was tempting to write off Michigan's struggle to beat Akron last week as a hangover from the high-stakes Notre Dame game. But no hangovers the past two weeks. The Wolverines found themselves down two touchdowns in the second half Saturday night at UConn, the same Huskies team that lost at home by 15 to Towson in the opener. Michigan rallied for the 24-21 win, and at least Brady Hoke's team has shown grit at the end of games the past three weeks. But quarterback Devin Gardner committed three more turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble), and he has devolved from potential Heisman candidate to a potential problem spot in just a fortnight. An even thornier issue is the continued inability of the Michigan offensive line to open consistent holes for the running game. If the Wolverines are having trouble running the ball against Akron and UConn, what's going to happen in Big Ten play? There's plenty of time for Hoke & Co. to right the ship, and the upcoming bye week is a welcome sight. But right now, Michigan does not look like the top-15 team we thought it was two weeks ago.

3. The Iowa-Minnesota game has added meaning: We love the pig, but there's a lot more than the Floyd of Rosedale at stake (steak?) this week as Iowa and Minnesota open Big Ten play in Minneapolis. Both teams have shown improvement, especially with their power running games, and enter the matchup with momentum. Iowa exploded for 38 first-half points Saturday against Western Michigan and finished with 59, its highest total since 2002. The Hawkeyes received contributions in all three phases, including two punt return touchdowns from receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and two pick-sixes from cornerback B.J. Lowery. Iowa's defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. After a miserable offensive performance in 2012, Iowa is starting to establish an identity behind its line and a stable of running backs. Minnesota is doing the same, finally showing it can control the line of scrimmage and dominate on the ground. Despite not having its starting quarterback (Philip Nelson) or starting running back (Donnell Kirkwood), Minnesota racked up 353 yards and six rushing touchdowns, including four by backup signal-caller Mitch Leidner, in an impressive win against San Jose State. The Gophers are 4-0 for the second straight season. Both teams have very challenging league schedules, so getting off to a 1-0 start is huge. Big one at TCF Bank Stadium this week.

4. Bo Pelini is still standing, but needs time to regroup: The open week couldn't come at a better time for Nebraska's coach and his team, which ended an emotional week with a 59-20 thumping of FCS South Dakota State. The firestorm from audio-gate should die down, at least a little, as Pelini got through Saturday's game without any further controversy, and received mostly support from Huskers fans. Pelini is hardly out of the woods, though, and must turn his attention to a defense that needs a ton of work before Big Ten play begins Oct. 5 against Illinois. The Huskers surrendered 465 yards to the Jackrabbits, who had a balanced attack (238 yards passing, 227 yards rushing). Pelini called it the defense's worst performance in a season filling up with them. Whether it's youth, talent, scheme or attention to detail, Nebraska's defense must get back on track soon. Although the schedule remains favorable the next month or so, it's hard to see the Huskers repeating as Legends Division champs without some significant upgrades on D.

5. Indiana still hasn't arrived: Indiana entered the year with high hopes for a bowl game this year, and with a warp-speed offense averaging 50 points a game through three weeks, the Hoosiers didn't appear to be deluding themselves. But after an impressive showing last week against Bowling Green, Kevin Wilson's team found itself right back in a familiar spot: unable to defend a good team. Missouri racked up 623 yards -- the most in Memorial Stadium history -- in a 45-28 win in Bloomington on Saturday. The game wasn't even as close as the final score, as Indiana tacked on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 10 seconds to go, and Missouri had three turnovers in the first half to kill promising drives. The Hoosiers' vaunted offense failed to score from the 6:31 mark of the second quarter until there was 11:24 left in the game, and IU punted nine times after punting only five times in the first three games combined. The loss to Navy now hurts even more, as Wilson's team would have to go 4-4 in Big Ten play to become bowl eligible. That seems like an awfully tall order. Penn State comes in next after a bye for both teams, and the Nittany Lions just righted their defense in a 34-0 shutout of Kent State. Penn State has never lost to Indiana and will be favored soundly again on Oct. 5. It might be wait for next year time again in Hoosierland.
Barring a late addition, the Big Ten's future bowl lineup is now official as the league announced today that it has continued its agreement with the Heart of Dallas Bowl and added the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to the mix.

Big Ten teams will appear in the bowls on a rotational basis from the 2014-19 seasons. A Big Ten team will appear in the Heart of Dallas Bowl following the 2013 season and face an opponent from Conference USA.

The agreement keeps Big Ten teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on an annual bases and maintains the Big Ten's postseason presence in the Lone Star State, where it has appeared in bowls like the Alamo in San Antonio, the Sun in El Paso and, more recently, the Texas Bowl in Houston. Big Ten teams have appeared in at least one Texas bowl since 1995.

The Big Ten has been aligned with the Heart of Dallas Bowl (formerly TicketCity Bowl) since the 2010 season. No Big Ten teams have appeared in the Armed Forces Bowl, which launched in 2003. The Heart of Dallas Bowl takes place at the historic Cotton Bowl stadium, while the Armed Forces Bowl is played at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Here's what the Big Ten's bowl lineup will look like following the Rose Bowl, other College Football Playoff games and the Orange Bowl, where a Big Ten team will appear at least three times after the 2014-25 seasons. Remember that the Big Ten is abandoning the traditional bowl pecking order for a tiered selection system, which ideally will create fresher, more appealing matchups across the board.

The rundown ...

Capital One: Likely vs. SEC
Outback: Likely vs. SEC
Holiday: vs. Pac-12
Gator/Music City (rotating tie-in): Likely vs. SEC
Kraft Fight Hunger: vs. Pac-12
Pinstripe: vs. ACC
Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces: Opponents TBA
New Detroit Bowl: Likely vs. ACC

The Big Ten set out to form a truly national bowl lineup and appears to have achieved it here. There's a lot more flexibility in bowls and with the selection process, and a good mix of new cities/venues. The Big Ten will see the Pac-12 and ACC more often, while one major drawback of the lineup is fewer games against Big 12 foes.

What are your thoughts on the Big Ten's future bowl lineup?

Instant analysis: Michigan State 17, TCU 16

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
1:12
AM CT


Pretty much everybody thought the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl would be a low-scoring game, given the two outstanding defenses and the, uh, challenges facing the offenses. TCU and Michigan State lived up -- or down, depending on your point of view -- to expectations. But the finish was exciting.

The Spartans looked completely lost on offense for the first three and a half quarters, punting on each of their first eight drives. But they rode their workhorse, tailback Le'Veon Bell, and caught a big special-teams break in rallying for two late touchdowns and a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs answered on Jaden Oberkrom's 53-yard field goal with 2:42 left. But Michigan State won it 17-16 on a 47-yard field goal from Dan Conroy with 1:01 left.

Here's a quick review of how it all went down:

It was over when: TCU's Trevone Boykin threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-18 in the final minute, extinguishing the Horned Frogs' chances. After scoring 13 points on its first four possessions, TCU had just a field goal in its final nine drives. Michigan State's defense limited the Horned Frogs to just 74 yards in the second half.

Game ball goes to: Michigan State's Bell. After a slow start, he carried the ball 32 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a 29-yard pass out of the Wildcat formation to convert a key third down on the team's first scoring drive. He accounted for 174 of the Spartans' 227 total yards, which is nothing new. Bell finished the season with a nation-leading 382 carries.

Stat of the game: Michigan State had as many punts (11) as pass completions and yet won the game. Bell had one more passing yard than starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell.

Unsung hero: Speaking of punts, the Spartans' Mike Sadler was a busy man, and he did a great job. Sadler averaged 43.7 yards on his 11 punts and pinned three inside the TCU 20. He boomed a 52-yarder while backed into his own end zone in the second half. And his driving 55-yard punt inside the Horned Frogs' 5 sent returner Skye Dawson backpedaling. Dawson fumbled the punt, Michigan State recovered on the 4-yard line and Bell ran in for a go-ahead score.

What Michigan State learned: After losing five games by 13 points this season, the Spartans looked like they were headed for another heartbreak when Oberkrom hit that 53-yarder. Instead, unlike so many previous games this season, Michigan State found a way to make big plays in all three phases in the final two minutes. The bowl win doesn't erase the disappointment of a 6-6 regular season, and the offense still looked cringe-worthy most of the night. But Mark Dantonio's team has something to build on with a positive closing note. The spring storyline is already set, as there's a quarterback controversy brewing. Freshman Connor Cook, who hadn't thrown a pass since Week 2, gave the team more of a spark than Maxwell. With two minutes left and his team needing a score to win, Dantonio turned to Cook, not the junior he'd started in all 12 games this season.

What TCU learned: This was a rare off-year for Gary Patterson, whose team lost five of its final seven games. The good news is that the Horned Frogs are still extremely young and bring back just about everyone next year. Though facing Michigan State's offense probably seemed like a vacation compared to Big 12 play, TCU still showed that it has an elite-level defense. Improving on offense will be the key for next season. Quarterback Boykin made some big plays early but overthrew several receivers and was limping around late. He completed only 13 of 29 passes and threw an interception. He'll need to make great strides to compete with Casey Pachall next year, assuming a successful return for Pachall.

Pregame: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
12:00
PM CT
Michigan State (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. TCU (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

WHO TO WATCH: Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell. The 6-foot-2, 244-pound junior has carried the Spartans offense at times this season. He ranks third in the country in average yards per game and has three 200-yard rushing games this season. As you'd expect for a guy his size, he's a work horse -- he's run the ball 350 times already, averaging more than 29 carries per game to lead the nation in that stat. He's also surprisingly nimble, with a signature move called the Le'Veon Leap, where he hurdles over unsuspecting defenders. Michigan State's offense needs to establish Bell in order to move the ball, but TCU ranked 10th nationally against the run while averaging only 104 yards per game on the ground. Yet the Horned Frogs haven't seen a back quite like Bell, because there aren't many like him. This could be his final college game, as he is expected to enter the 2013 NFL draft. Will he go out with a bang?

WHAT TO WATCH: The defenses. Both programs are defense-first teams with some great minds in charge. Gary Patterson is known for his fast, athletic defenses, while the Mark Dantonio-Pat Narduzzi combination has produced some elite defensive units in East Lansing. Michigan State ranked No. 4 in total defense this season, while TCU was No. 18. Stars abound on each side. Linebackers Max Bullough, defensive end William Gholston and cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Johnny Adams lead the way for the Spartans. Adams, however, is likely out for the game because of a turf toe injury, which would be a huge loss for Michigan State. Big 12 defensive player of the year Devonte Fields, linebacker Kenny Cain and all-America cornerback Jason Verrett are among the standouts for the Horned Frogs. TCU's defensive numbers would probably be even better if it didn't play in the wide-open Big 12, while Michigan State probably benefited some from playing in the more button-down Big Ten. Which defense is better? A more important question might be, can either offense get anything going?

WHY TO WATCH: Neither team lived up to expectations this year, as Michigan State was picked by many to win the Big Ten and TCU had its troubles during its first go-round in the Big 12. Both were also curiously bad at home. But both the Spartans and the Horned Frogs have experienced recent success and could be very good in 2013. Michigan State will return the core of its offense and has replacements ready for its departing defensive stars. Nearly 70 percent of the players who saw action for TCU this year were freshmen or sophomores. A bowl game win could provide momentum to the victor. And you are guaranteed to see some future pros on the field, especially on defense.

PREDICTION: Michigan State has come up short in key games all year long, but the Spartans have plenty of talent. The extra 15 bowl practices must have helped quarterback Andrew Maxwell and the team's young receivers develop better timing and chemistry. TCU has an excellent defense but will have to adapt to a more physical style of play than it saw in the Big 12. Maxwell has a nice game to build optimism for 2013, and Michigan State makes a key stop late to win a close one ... Michigan State 20, TCU 16

Ohio State to play TCU in 2018, '19

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
9:31
AM CT

Last week, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Associated Press that the Buckeyes planned to scale back their games against MAC opponents and beef up nonconference schedules to get ready for the four-team playoff.

The first possible evidence of that arrived today, as the Ohio State announced it would play a home-and-home series with TCU in 2018 and 2019. While we can't know how good the Horned Frogs will be in six years, Gary Patterson has turned them into a program with staying power, as TCU ranks fifth among FBS teams with 97 wins the past 10 years. TCU's recent climb paved the way for the school to be accepted into the Big 12.

Relations between the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short time, too. The schools had tentative plans to open the 2009 season in Columbus, but Ohio State refused to give TCU a return game. In 2010, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee lumped then-undefeated TCU and Boise State into his infamous "Little Sisters of the Poor" comment, saying they didn't play a hard enough schedule to deserve a shot at the title.

Now, Ohio State will go to TCU first in this home-and-home deal and views the Horned Frogs as a way to upgrade its schedule. In this week's Associated Press Top 25, the No. 12 Buckeyes are ranked three spots ahead of TCU.

Ohio State is also scheduled to play Cincinnati in 2018 in what has the makings of a pretty good nonconference slate, especially if another major-conference opponent is added. TCU is the only opponent booked so far for the 2019 nonconference schedule. Remember that Ohio State, like other Big Ten schools, was told to reserve some space for the Big Ten/Pac-12 series that fell apart this summer.

Going to Texas for a game also can't hurt Urban Meyer's future recruiting efforts, as he has made it known that he will hunt nationally for players. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is full of big-time prospects every year, and Meyer will be able to promise Texas prospects a game in their home state.

We'll wait to see how the rest of Ohio State's future schedules shape up. But this looks like a good start, and an improvement on the very bland nonconference slate the Buckeyes played last month.

Ohio State to play TCU in 2018, '19

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
3:30
PM CT
Last week, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Associated Press that the Buckeyes planned to scale back their games against MAC opponents and beef up nonconference schedules to get ready for the four-team playoff.

The first possible evidence of that arrived today, as the Ohio State announced it would play a home-and-home series with TCU in 2018 and 2019. While we can't know how good the Horned Frogs will be in six years, Gary Patterson has turned them into a program with staying power, as TCU ranks fifth among FBS teams with 97 wins the past 10 years. TCU's recent climb paved the way for the school to be accepted into the Big 12.

Relations between the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short time, too. The schools had tentative plans to open the 2009 season in Columbus, but Ohio State refused to give TCU a return game. In 2010, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee lumped then-undefeated TCU and Boise State into his infamous "Little Sisters of the Poor" comment, saying they didn't play a hard enough schedule to deserve a shot at the title.

Now, Ohio State will go to TCU first in this home-and-home deal and views the Horned Frogs as a way to upgrade its schedule. In this week's Associated Press Top 25, the No. 12 Buckeyes are ranked three spots ahead of TCU.

Ohio State is also scheduled to play Cincinnati in 2018 in what has the makings of a pretty good nonconference slate, especially if another major-conference opponent is added. TCU is the only opponent booked so far for the 2019 nonconference schedule. Remember that Ohio State, like other Big Ten schools, was told to reserve some space for the Big Ten/Pac-12 series that fell apart this summer.

Going to Texas for a game also can't hurt Urban Meyer's future recruiting efforts, as he has made it known that he will hunt nationally for players. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is full of big-time prospects every year, and Meyer will be able to promise Texas prospects a game in their home state.

We'll wait to see how the rest of Ohio State's future schedules shape up. But this looks like a good start, and an improvement on the very bland nonconference slate the Buckeyes played last month.

Big 12 Week 2 primer

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
8:00
AM CT
You may be asking yourself, who is this guy? Or maybe not.

Either way, my name is Brandon Chatmon. I'll be helping out on the Big 12 blog today with our main man David Ubben in Manhattan, Kan., for the Wildcats' battle with The U. Follow me on Twitter @bchatmon and I'll have plenty of Big 12 updates throughout the day.

Enough about me, let's jump straight into football.

TV SCHEDULE
  • Miami (Fla.) at No. 21 Kansas State, noon ET, FX
  • Iowa State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
  • Rice at Kansas, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net
  • Grambling State at No. 20 TCU, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net
  • Texas Tech at Texas State, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3/WatchESPN
  • Florida A&M at No. 5 Oklahoma, 7 p.m. ET, PPV
  • New Mexico at No. 17 Texas, 8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network
  • No. 18 Oklahoma State at Arizona, 10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
WEATHER
  • Manhattan, Kan. -- Sunny skies, game-time temperature of 67 degrees, north and northwest winds at 5 mph
  • Iowa City, Iowa -- Sunny skies, game-time temperature of 72 degrees, northwest winds at 11 mph
  • Lawrence, Kan. -- Sunny skies, game-time temperature of 76 degrees, north and northwest winds at 8 mph
  • Fort Worth, Texas -- Partly sunny skies, game-time temperature of 84 degrees, north winds at 16 mph
  • San Marcos, Texas -- Partly sunny skies, game-time temperature of 83 degrees, north and northeast winds at 13 mph
  • Norman, Okla. -- Partly sunny skies, game-time temperature of 78 degrees, north winds at 10 mph
  • Austin, Texas -- Partly cloudy skies, game-time temperature of 78 degress, north and northeast winds at 10 mph.
  • Tucson, Ariz. -- Cloudy skies, game-time temperature of 83 degrees, southeast winds at 9 mph.

 

In case you missed it, Ubben's coverage this week should have you primed and ready for kickoff:

Early exit for Nebraska's Rex Burkhead

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
6:31
PM CT
If Nebraska is going to hold off Southern Miss on Saturday, it's going to have to do so without star running back Rex Burkhead.

The senior left the game in the first half with what is being described as a sprained MCL in his left knee. Burkhead had three carries for 68 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown early in the game, before heading to the sidelines. He will not play again today.

Huskers fans hold their breath and hope that the injury is not a serious one that will force Burkhead to miss significant time this season. Nebraska liked its depth in the backfield behind Burkhead going into the year. That depth is being put to the test in Week 1.
This week, Nebraska launched a website for RB Rex Burkhead to promote him for the Heisman Trophy and other awards. Burkhead, a Plano High graduate, doesn't need a lot of extra publicity. His play every Saturday says all you need to know.

Which is why he's ranked No. 2 on the ESPN.com Big Ten rankings.

No. 2: Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska, senior, 5-foot-11, 210 pounds

2011 postseason rank: No. 10

2011 numbers: Ran for 1,357 yards on 284 carries, with 15 touchdowns. Also caught 21 passes for 177 yards and two scores.

Why he's here: Burkhead erased all doubt last year that he's one of the best running backs in the country. He finished third in the Big Ten in rushing and was a first-team All-Big Ten performer. More importantly, he was, and is, the heart and soul of the Huskers.

What makes Burkhead special is that he approaches every carry as if his scholarship money depends on it. No one runs harder. While he may lack signature highlights, it's the compilation of effort that impresses. The lasting images of his 2011 season included his fourth-quarter heroics against Ohio State in a record-setting comeback and his school-record 38 carries in a tireless performance against Iowa.

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