Chat with Mark Schlabach
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mark spent nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Georgia and the SEC, as well as the NFL and NASCAR. Before joining ESPN, Schlabach spent two years at the Washington Post covering college football and basketball, and boxing.
Send your questions now and join Schlabach in The Show at 2 p.m. ET on Monday.
Mark Schlabach (2:18 PM)
OK, sorry I'm a little late. Couldn't get off the phone with a coach. Here we go. Hope everybody is doing well.
I see that you now have Penn State in the BCS. Is that because of how explosive the offense can be, or more because of the fact that Wisconsin is struggling a bit in the early part of their first 2 games?
Mark Schlabach (2:20 PM)
A little bit of both. I really like how Royster is running the ball, and Clark has done pretty well in that offense. They get Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State at home. Play at Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa. I can see a 10-2 season if the record holds up. It could possibly be Joe Paterno's last bowl game -- maybe? perhaps? -- so I think a BCS bowl would jump at the chance of having the Nittany Lions. Wisconsin has struggled in the first half, but then turned it on. Want to see more out of them.
Evan, Athens, Ga.
Why didn't ESPN show the great highlight of Knowshon Moreno jumping over a Central Michigan player? It didn't make the highlights at all. What gives?
Mark Schlabach (2:22 PM)
Obviously, I have no control over editorial content on TV. I can understand why some fans are upset about it, but it was on Sunday morning and it will be College Football Live at 4 p.m. I'm sure our people would have shown it if we had the highlight. ESPN didn't broadcast that game. There's no conspiracy, I can promise you that. Relax and enjoy the season. Your team is ranked No. 2 and hitting the meat of its schedule.
Brian (Sac, CA)
Settle an argument plz! My friend thinks Im wrong, but the fumble in the endzone in the ND-SDSU game couldnt have happened right? The RB never got into the endzone so how was the ball a touchback? The defender knocked the ball laterally (if not forward) and it was recovered. I just dont understand how that can be a touchback and not ND ball at the 1. I actually thought the ball looked like it crossed the white line before the fumble. Either way, ND looked bad.
Mark Schlabach (2:22 PM)
Didn't see the play you're talking about. But, I agree, Notre Dame looked pretty mediocre. But I also agree with Ivan Maisel. The Irish lose that game last year, so at least it's a beginning for Charlie Weis.
Did you get to see Ryan Broyles for OU play? That kid has star written all over him.
Mark Schlabach (2:24 PM)
Caught only a few plays. He seems to be legit. He has good hands and gets open. I'm sure it was a dream come true for a kid from Norman. Good to see a kid bounce back from off-field problems, too.
Was the unsportsman like penalty call against Jake Locker one of the worst calls youve ever seen? I think that the onside kick call against OU and this call make Pac 10 officials look really bad.
Mark Schlabach (2:25 PM)
I understand the officials saying it was a by-the-book call. They did what they were told to do. But burn the dang book. It wasn't premeditated. College football is supposed to be fun. There are 19-, 20-year old kids. I'm not for orchestrated end zone dances, but the kid was obviously very excited about scoring a tying touchdown. I don't think throwing the ball in the air is excessive.
RAY GORDON REID DAVIDSON NC
question to mark schlabach at 2.25 HI MARK LSU AT AUBURN SEPT 20
Mark Schlabach (2:26 PM)
Like LSU unless Auburn's offense improves over the next two weeks. And I'm hoping LSU gets to play a game between now and then, too.
ECU started off the season beating 2 very good teams. Where do you think they should be ranked?
Mark Schlabach (2:27 PM)
I was a little surprised they were No. 14, to be honest. I don't think the Virginia Tech win will be such a huge upset at the end of the season. The Hokies are rebuilding and really struggling right now. They beat a very good West Virginia team, though. It puts the Pirates in position for a BCS bid. They don't play Tulsa and get Houston at home during the regular season. They'll beat Virginia and N.C. State.
Have you seen Cal's RB Best and is he the best RB in the Pac-10?
Mark Schlabach (2:28 PM)
He's the fastest running back I've seen so far, although a couple of USC's backs might be as fast. An 80-yard run on his first touch against Washington State, then an 86-yarder in the second half? Pretty darn impressive. Cal is playing really, really well right now. Should be a good race in the Pac-10. Oregon looks really good right now, too. I'll see UCLA at BYU on Saturday. We'll see if the Bruins can build on their upset of Tennessee.
Greyson (Hennessey, Ok)
Could Kendall Hunter be a dark horse for the heisman
Mark Schlabach (2:30 PM)
I think it's probably a little early to say, but 300+ yards and four touchdowns in the first two games is a good start. Mike Gundy is working pretty well as a play caller, huh?
Chad (Savannah, GA)
Ike looks like it will either effect North Texas or Baton Rouge. If this is the case please tell me if it is North Texas they will not cancel the game.
Mark Schlabach (2:30 PM)
I was told LSU secured Texas Stadium as a backup venue.
Nate (San Antonio)
I haven't see a "expert" yet give LSU a snowballs chance in Mexico of repeating this year, and I'm not just talking about a National Championship, thats also the SEC, heck even the SEC West. Besides the QB postion (and I think Hatch in Flynn-ish in ability) why are the "experts" so hard on the Bayou Bengals?
Mark Schlabach (2:31 PM)
I think many people, including myself, probably underestimated LSU's returning talent. You see the Tigers lose Dorsey, Steltz, Hester, Doucet, etc., and you think they'll fall off. But the d-line is as good as last year. They're better at running back. The o-line is great. As long as Hatch (or Lee) plays well at QB, I think they're probably the favorites in the SEC West and will contend for the SEC and BCS title.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Like one of the National Coordinators for Officiating said, all calls are "judgement calls", and I think for an official to throw a penalty that wasn't blatant, or excessive, and could/did decide the outcome of a game is ridiculous. How many times have we seen them "swallowing" the whistle"?
Mark Schlabach (2:32 PM)
Exactly....I wouldn't have thrown it. Again, I didn't think it was excessive. The kid was excited. And kudos to Locker for handling the whole situation with class. I would have been livid.
The best TE in the national hasn't played yet. You expecting any rust when he travels to Fresno state?
Mark Schlabach (2:33 PM)
I don't know. I just know Wisconsin can't get off to another slow start at Fresno State. The Bulldogs are very, very good. Really stifled what I thought would be a pretty good Rutgers passing game. That's a tough trip for the Badgers.
Jeff (Suwanee, GA)
mark, your thought on Meyer leaving Tebow in and kicking the field goal Sat night? Seems like TT should have been pulled and Meyer should have been running the ball til the end of the game. He has said his running game needs work.
Mark Schlabach (2:35 PM)
I don't know. I'm sure he wanted to get them some work after they looked so bad for three quarters. As far as the running game, Tebow is still their running game. The Gators can't put Harvin back there because he's injury-prone. Moore, Rainey and Demps combine for seven yards on nine carries. Emmanuel Moody is in the dog house and has a sprained ankle. They're still lining up five wide on 80 percent of their plays. You have to run the ball between the tackles, and Tebow is the only guy who does it effectively right now. The running game definitely needs work.
Joe (Boston, MA)
What do the canes take away from their loss to Florida? They were in the game for over 3 quarters.
Mark Schlabach (2:36 PM)
I think Miami looked very much improved. The defense played hard and didn't back down. Randy Shannon does a very good job on that side of the ball. The offense obviously still needs work, but they have young quarterbacks and receivers. He'll have them contending for an ACC title next year. They'll be pretty good this year.
All this SEC stuff makes me sick. So please tell me, who win the clash in the Coliseum this Saturday?
Mark Schlabach (2:37 PM)
I'll go with USC, but I think Ohio State keeps it close if Beanie Wells comes back and is somewhat healthy. As bad as the Buckeyes looked on offense Saturday vs. Ohio, the defense only surrendered one touchdown. They led the country in pass defense and total defense last year. Mark Sanchez won't be throwing against air, which is pretty much what he did at Virginia. The Cavaliers aren't that good, to say the least. But USC is loaded with talent and plays the game at home. But I don't think they'll roll over Ohio State.
Nate (San Antonio)
If ECU runs the table and goes undefeated, and the world gets turned upside down again and there are 2 loss teams battling for a spot in the National Championship game. Would ECU get the nod over a 2-loss Champion of a BCS conference?
Mark Schlabach (2:39 PM)
I'd say no. Again, we'll see how good the Virginia Tech win looks at the end of the season. They don't play Tulsa, unless they get them in the Conference USA title game. I don't think the schedule is strong enough for them to get to the BCS title game.
Nathan (exchange student in Finland)
Oregon vs Pur(don't) Spread offense vs Spread offense Who wins?
Mark Schlabach (2:41 PM)
Boy, Oregon has looked really good so far. Johnson doesn't look like the ACL injury is slowing him down. Jaison Williams looks good. Roper has played well at quarterback.The defense is pretty good. Don't sleep on Purdue, though. Painter is a very good quarterback. The game is in West Lafayette. Should be a shootout.
Jason (South Bend, IN)
How UGLY can this weekends Notre Dame vs Michigan be? They both seem to be very bad teams.
Mark Schlabach (2:42 PM)
Michigan looked better against Miami, Ohio. Quarterbacks struggled a little bit, but the running game was better. I was really surprised the Irish didn't run the ball better against a pretty bad SDSU defense that was really banged up. That concerns me. Notre Dame's offensive line was supposed to be bigger and stronger, but it didn't look like it Saturday. It's still Notre Dame-Michigan, though.
Brandon (Myrtle Beach)
Do you think Clemson's loss to Alabama throws them out of the mix for a BCS bid?
Mark Schlabach (2:43 PM)
No, all the Tigers have to do is win a pretty mediocre ACC to get into a BCS bowl game. As bad as they looked against Alabama (and against The Citadel for a half), the Tigers still have enough talent to win the ACC. They'll have to beat Wake Forest to do it, though.
Mark, to answer an early question the fumble in the ND/SDSU game was a touchback because when the ball was knocked loose the player who recovered it was in the endzone. Also it looked like ND had a very vanila gameplan, do you think they saved alot for Michigan?
Mark Schlabach (2:44 PM)
If it was knocked into the end zone and then recovered in the end zone, then, yes, it should have been a touchback. I don't know if it was vanilla. I'm sure Charlie Weis wasn't looking to come back against the Aztecs. Again, I expected to see more out of the running game. We'll see if things change before Michigan.
huge buckeye fan (guess)
Holy Jim Tressel! We're going to get destroyed this week. The Big 10 will be killed in the media. This is not good. Is there any hope for the conference to save face? Ohio State has been incredibly disappointing of late.
Mark Schlabach (2:45 PM)
Win the game and the last two years will be forgotten. Lose and it's probably much of the same, whether that's fair or not. Until Ohio State wins a big game against a non-Big Ten team (like they did against Texas a couple of seasons ago), they'll be criticized as a slow and overrated team. Beating USC will silence many of the critics.
Predictions on the Kansas vs. South Florida game?
Mark Schlabach (2:47 PM)
Kansas is playing awfully well and shut out a pretty good Louisiana Tech team. Reesing looks really good and is getting good protection. South Florida can't be happy about giving up two touchdowns in the last 2 1/2 minutes of the UCF game. The Bulls won in overtime, but I'm sure that's not how Jim Leavitt wanted to end the game. Grothe is playing well. Should be a great environment in Tampa. The Bulls are tough at home.
South Carolina's defense looked dominating for a game and a half, but the Gamecocks lost to Vandy. Where do you see their season going from this point on?
Mark Schlabach (2:49 PM)
I've watched both their games on TV. N.C. State is awful. That game was 3-0 at halftime. Yes, the Gamecocks pitched a shutout, but the Wolfpack lost their starting QB early in the game. Jasper Brinkley doesn't seem as fast or explosive as he was before getting hurt. The secondary gave up some big plays to Vandy. The Commodores don't have the greatest offense in the world, either. But Vandy ran over the Gamecocks on more than a few occassions. The USC offense is in shambles right now. Spurrier doesn't have a trigger man he can trust. I think Smelley is better than Beecher, but Smelley still makes mistakes. I think a 7-5 season would be a great season at this point. It's a tough division. He still doesn't have the talent of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. Then again, it is Steve Spurrier, so I wouldn't be completely shocked if he beats Georgia on Saturday night. But Georgia should win the game by a couple of touchdowns.
John (Alexandria, VA)
Do you think the Washington / BYU call (regardless of whether it should've been called in the first place) will play a role in their upcoming game against OU? Should OU be worried about Washington's frustration with the outcome?
Mark Schlabach (2:51 PM)
I think that's probably a stretch. I'd be more concerned about the Huskies having any enthusiasm left after a couple of tough losses. Oklahoma is playing as well as any of the top teams. Sam Bradford is playing as well as any quarterback in the country. It's going to be a tough matchup for Washington.
David (Miami, FL)
Do you think the hurricanes can win the ACC despite all of their young talent?
Mark Schlabach (2:52 PM)
I think there are probably five teams capable of winning the ACC -- Wake Forest, Clemson, FSU, Miami and Georgia Tech. Maybe UNC. It's up for grabs.
Nate (San Antonio)
Seeing as you don't think ECU could make it to the National Championship game. Where do you see them landing, I would assume they would take the spot of one of the two National Championship game teams in their bowl tie-in. I assume USC will be there in the Championship. Any chance the Pirates make it to the tradition rich Rose Bowl, i think they could do damage to Ohio State with the spread.
Mark Schlabach (2:53 PM)
I think we learned last year that the Rose Bowl will fall back on the Big Ten-Pac-10 matchup whenever possible. I'd say the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl would be possibilities.
popo jones (cbus)
The slow thing is unsubstantiated. We recruit the same players as Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, etc. Once the kids decide to come here, do they get slower? The Buckeyes arent slow, they're just handcuffed by Tressel's ultra conservative approach.
Mark Schlabach (2:54 PM)
I don't know about the game plan, but I thought Ohio State looked a little bit slower than Florida and LSU. Just my observation. Beanie Wells looked as fast as anyone on the field with the ball in his hands, though.
Chad (Savannah, GA)
You took Notre Dame out of your Bowl Projections this week. Are people finally gonna realize that ND is overrated?
Mark Schlabach (2:54 PM)
I want to see a little bit more from the Irish before I put them back in a bowl game.
Mark....what are your thoughts on Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech on Saturday? Is it unreasonable to believe that Paul Johnson could at least win the ACC Coastal in year 1 of his regime?
Mark Schlabach (2:56 PM)
Great win at Boston College. I was worried about Tech turning it over too much early in the season, but Nesbitt has done a nice job running the offense. The defense is playing really well, so Johnson doesn't have to worry about scoring 50 points every game, like he did at Navy. He can control the clock and play field position a little bit more. Dwyer is as good as any back in the country. If they win at Virginia Tech on Saturday, and they're certainly capable of doing that, the Jackets might be 6-0 going into Clemson. They'll be a tough out and headache for opposing coaches all year.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Do you think the top end of the Big XII is better than the SEC (this season)? Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma are all playing well.
Mark Schlabach (2:58 PM)
It's a good year for the Big 12, no doubt about it. I also think the style of play is more different than it has ever been. Big 12 is loaded with quarterbacks -- and perhaps some lousy defenses. Missouri's secondary really struggled against Illinois. SEC offenses aren't great right now, except for maybe Georgia and Florida. But they play pretty good defense. I don't think there was but one Big 12 defense ranked in the top 50 nationally last season. Is it the quarterbacks or the defenses?
Scott (Pittsburgh, PA)
Watching Penn State play this weekend, they looked absolutely phenomenal. People are even talking that the offense is playing like the Lions of 1994. Do they have a good chance to win the Big Ten this year, or are people just getting thier hopes up?
Mark Schlabach (2:59 PM)
I had the Nittany Lions in a BCS bowl game this week. I'm convinced they're much better than last year. But keep the players out of trouble and keep them healthy. They'll probably have to win at Ohio State to win the Big Ten.
Do you Cal has an outside shot at winning the PAC-10.
Mark Schlabach (3:00 PM)
I want to see them against a little bit better competition before putting them in the class of USC. But the Bears are playing really, really well so far.
Mark Schlabach (3:00 PM)
OK, I've got to run. Enjoy the games this weekend. I'll be making my first trip to Provo, Utah. Have a great week.
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