Chat with Mark Schlabach
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, college football reporter Mark Schlabach stops by to chat about the season.
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Schlabach 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 to chat Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Mark Schlabach (1:12 PM)
Hey, folks, sorry I'm a few minutes late. Here we go...
UF lost their QB and it was an upgrade... Mizzou loses theirs and I don't see it being an upgrade... A lot of different matchups to look at, the obvious one is Mizzou WRs v UF DBs -- NFL players on both sides of that one... Who ya got?
Mark Schlabach (1:13 PM)
I have to go with UF because of its defense. Taking nothing away from the Tigers, who picked up a huge win on the road last week, but that UGA team was a shell of itself. Without Franklin, I really think Mizzou is going to have problems scoring. It's a home game, but I think UF finds a way to win.
I have seen a lot of talk about Baylor and Oregon. Lots of people want them to play each other. What do you think the outcome will be? Keep in mind that Baylor was held to 35 and even Oregon was held to 45. It was both teams first time to play a whole game this season.
Mark Schlabach (1:14 PM)
It was the first road game for Baylor, and Kansas State was motivated because of what happened in last year's game. Oregon played a very good Washington team. I think Oregon is the more complete team right now, but I'm sure a lot of people would really love to see the two offenses square off.
Gandalf (Middle Earth)
What are your thoughts on Baylor? Do you think they are a good team or do you think that they haven't played any competition. After seeing that 4th quarter comeback against K-State on the road I think it proves that they have what it takes to win.
Mark Schlabach (1:15 PM)
Again, I think it was a good win on the road in a tough place to play. Kansas State was motivated because the Bears knocked the Wildcats out of the BCS title game last year. Obviously, I love Baylor's offense. We'll see how the defense holds up. The Big 12 is wide open, and Baylor has as good of a chance as anybody.
If there is not a clear cut favorite, do you think Heisman voters may make their selection based on the player's personality rather their on-field performance?
Mark Schlabach (1:16 PM)
If you're asking me if I think voters will hold Johnny Manziel's off-field troubles during the offseason against him in voting, I don't think so. He's still the most exciting player in the country every time he steps on the field. I think it's a two-man race between he and Mariota right now. I think Tajh Boyd or Winston could move into the top 2-3 with a huge game on Saturday night.
DC (Denver, CO)
You have been high on the Pac-12 so far this season. Is that a sign of a good year for the league or has the Pac improved overall due to better recruiting, coaching and new facilities?
Mark Schlabach (1:18 PM)
I definitely think coaching has a lot to do with it. UCLA brought in Jim Mora and has upgraded the facilities. The Bruins have obviously benefitted from what's going on at USC. Both Arizona schools upgraded coaches, along with Wazzu and Colorado. I think the Pac-12 has really closed the gap on the SEC this season.
Mark, big game in the desert this weekend. After coming off a tough loss to Oregon, Washington seems prime for picking...picking ASU or UW this weekend?
Mark Schlabach (1:20 PM)
The Huskies have been through a juggernaut the last couple of weeks. We'll see what they have left in the tank emotionally and physically. I still think UW is a better team than ASU.
We all know Manziel is a special player, but at times it seems like his shortcomings are overlooked quite easily by many in the CFB punditry. In the loss to Bama, for example, he threw a terrible pick in the endzone as well as a pick-6, to dig the hole. Everyone talked about the near-comeback and not the fact that he was part of the reason they needed such a comeback - what gives?
Mark Schlabach (1:21 PM)
I didn't have him in my top three for Heisman voting until last week because of the turnovers against Alabama. He threw another bad pick against Ole Miss in the end zone. He's a little loose with the ball, but it's hard to deny he's not the most difficult matchup in the country.
Russ (St Petersburg)
Mark,Was Pitt on Labor Day night any kind of indicator for how Winston might respond to Death Valley?
Mark Schlabach (1:22 PM)
With all due respect, playing at Pitt on a Monday night and playing at Clemson are completely different animals.
Why is UGA getting such a pass with their injuries? Last time I checked, they didn't have that many injuries on defense but almost lost to TN and lost to Mizzo. UF lost as many big time players for them (Easley, Driskel, Jones) but no one is making excuses for them.
Mark Schlabach (1:23 PM)
Nobody's making excuses for UGA's defense -- it's bad. Sure, it's young but I haven't seen many signs of improvement from week to week. Georgia's offense suffered the injuries. You're not going to lose Gurely and Marshall and Mitchell and Bennett and Wesley-Scott and be as explosive. The injuries occurred at the same positions.
Do you think the return of scholarships to PSU will mean a quicker rise to the top of the Big 10?
Mark Schlabach (1:23 PM)
I think Christian Hackenberg will help PSU climb back to the top of the Big Ten. The extra scholarships certainly won't hurt, especially if PSU can hang onto Bill O'Brien.
Regarding the UGA injuries and judging Mizzou's ability to hang with other "beasts" of the SEC east... not that RB and WR injuries dont affect this, but i was struck with the pressure UM got on murray and wonder if Mizzou's defense might be enough to beat that terrible offense from UF. I know you picked UF, but what chance do you give Mizzou? 40%?
Mark Schlabach (1:28 PM)
I think they definitely have a shot. It's at home, and UF can't score and just lost Matt Jones. Mauk will have to play well.
Tommy Trojan (beach chair, the beach)
Notre Dame is always a big deal for USC, despite what many cfb fans think about the rivalry these days. How important will a win against Notre Dame be for the perception of the USC football program and in the recruiting?
Mark Schlabach (1:29 PM)
It's a huge rivalry game. Brian Kelly needs to show some offensive improvement vs. USC. Coach O will have the Trojans fired up
Is the difference between the SEC and everyone else the O and D-line play?
Mark Schlabach (1:29 PM)
Traditionally, that's the case. But I think it's a QB-driven league this year.
Mark Schlabach (1:30 PM)
Folks, I gotta run. Again, apologies for jumping on late. I'd stick around, but I have to pick up my son. Have a good week.
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