Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Colorado's visit to OSU no longer imposing
By Ted Miller
Ohio State just suffered through the worst Memorial Day in program history. You can read about the details here -- coach Jim Tressel resigning and further grounds for major NCAA sanctions -- but that's not our focus on the Pac-12 blog.
Our focus, of course, is what it means for the Pac-12. And that is two things.
First, briefly, it's a good bet the conference champion will not be facing Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The loss of Tressel and a handful of player suspensions almost certainly will be too much to overcome to win the Big Ten.
Second, Colorado's visit to Columbus on Sept. 24, which once looked like a get-paid-for-a-pounding matchup, now looks winnable.
The Buckeyes, who will be led by interim coach Luke Fickell, at the very least will not have quarterback Terrelle Pryor, leading rusher Daniel "Boom" Herron, No. 2 wide receiver DeVier Posey, All-Big Ten offensive tackle Mike Adams and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas
The Buckeyes already were replacing several key players on defense: end Cameron Heyward, linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle and cornerback Chimdi Chekwa. Still, the general feeling was the depth was there to keep winning.
But the plot might thicken, according to a Sports Illustrated report that alleges at least 28 players traded memorabilia or autographs for money and tattoos since 2002. Nine are on the current roster, including two returning starters on the defensive line, tackle John Simon and end Nathan Williams, as well as other players in the mix on the depth chart.
If these players are found to also have violated rules against receiving extra benefits, it's likely they, too, won't play against Colorado. Ohio State probably won't wait for the NCAA to hand out suspensions. It will try to be proactive, falling on its sword with hopes that will soften the eventual penalties.
There's depth, and then there's playing what amounts to a second unit against the Buffaloes, who welcome back 14 starters from a team that went 5-7 and was good enough to beat Georgia and Kansas State.
Colorado's first five games go like this: Hawaii, California, Colorado State, Ohio State and Washington State.
We are not ready to term this a prediction, Buffaloes fans, but it no longer is completely absurd to dream of heading to Stanford on Oct. 8 with a 5-0 record.