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September 14, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach
  (2:03 PM)

OK, thanks for joining the chat again this week. Hope your teams won over the weekend. Here we go...

Bob (Atlanta)

Mark,I think Barkley and Pryor got way too much attention. It is almost as though the media has the story written before a pass is thrown. Both looked very average Saturday night and I doubt if Barkley has the arm strength to ever be a star.Forcier on the other hand.....thoughts?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:03 PM)

I thought Forcier played the best among the QBs you mentioned. Playing Notre Dame's defense -- and not USC and Ohio State -- might have had something to do with it. But I think all three QBs will be great. But I agree that Barkley got maybe too much attention. But it was a great drive and he's the USC QB.

Dan (Washington, DC)

What do you think the keys are for the Virginia Tech, Nebraska game and who do you think prevails?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:04 PM)

I was at the game in Lincoln last year. Nebraska has to do a better job of containing Tyrod Taylor. They have to force him to throw the ball and shut down Ryan Williams and David Wilson.

JStew (Muskegon, MI)

After UM's big win over ND what is in store for the Blue from hear on out? Originally most would have thgout 8-4 would be great 7-5 good, maybe even better than that? ND could end up going down if they lose to State this weekend, loook out.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:07 PM)

I'm not sure we still know how good Michigan (or Notre Dame is this year), other than they're both better than last year. Michigan has two more cupcakes, although Indiana is 2-0, and then tough back-to-back road games at Michigan State and Iowa. I still think 8-4 or 7-5 is a great improvement over 3-9.

C.J. Roses (San Francisco, CA)

Do you think Minnesota has a shot against Cal? 9 AM start for the Bears- do you think the early start times have a material adverse effect on west coas teams?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:08 PM)

The Gophers have been a big surprise with two new coordinators. I didn't think they'd beat Air Force. Good defense so far. Cal struggled with that kickoff time last year at Maryland. Never really woke up. I'd go out a day early, but then again it's Cal, so their guys probably have to go to class.

Steven (Georgia)

How big of a loss is Battle for the Georgia defense?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:09 PM)

He's an experienced senior who has started a lot of games, but only had three tackles this year. Georgia gets back Justin Houston this week, and he's probably their best pass rusher. They haven't gotten much pressure on the QB at all, so getting him back has to help.

CJ (SF)

do you think OU has a chance back to title game this year if they can stay unbeatable in the rest of the season?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:10 PM)

If they win out, I'd say they'd definitely have a chance. They would have beaten Texas and a couple of other pretty good teams. But they have to get back Bradford soon, and losing Gresham for the season doesn't help.

Jerry (Metairie, LA)

It is entirely possible that LSU will be 5-0 when they play Florida at home on a Saturday night. Think the Tigers have a chance to win this one and upset Florida?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:11 PM)

I think LSU needs to get a lot better on offense. That should be the Tigers' first priority. They just seem to be missing something right now. Jefferson completed a lot of passes vs. Vandy, but didn't have a lot of yards. Scott didn't run the ball well, but Williams did. They just don't look really explosive. Need to get Holliday and Sheppard more involved.

Kevin (Atlanta)

I know you have Gators and Horns in the BCS Championship...and perhaps rightfully so...but based solely on first 2 weeks...who are the teams that are performing best?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:12 PM)

It's hard to say because Florida and Texas really haven't played anybody. Based on the first two weeks, I'd say those teams, along with USC, Alabama and Penn State. At least USC and Bama have beaten legitimate opponents to date.

Ben (Los Angeles, CA)

Do you think Urban Meyer will earn himself a nick name of sorts if he displays a similar no mercy attack on Tenn this weekend reminiscent of the Georgia game last year? if so what would the nick name be?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:12 PM)

Hmmm. Let me think about that one.

Xander (Philly)

Do you the Buckeyes continuing to play hard and reach the Rose Bowl or will they implode?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:13 PM)

They have to beat Penn State. Do that and they'll play in the Rose Bowl.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Let's for fun say Penn State and BYU go undefeated and Florida and Texas end the season with one loss each. Which two teams play for the BCS title while the other two play each other in the runner-up game?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:14 PM)

I'd say Penn State and BYU (which would have beaten Oklahoma, FSU, TCU, Utah, etc.) would play for the title game. Florida and Texas didn't play a hard enough non-conference schedule to have an argument for jumping unbeaten teams. But it's a hypothetical and it's way too early.

Andrew (Columbus, Ohio)

Mark, last week you projected Pittsburgh to be the Big East's BCS team. After another week of Cincinnati absolutely destroying their opponent, albeit SEMO, has you position changed at all? Pitt lost their starting safety and the Bearcats' Gilyard has been untouchable.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:15 PM)

Cincinnati's opener at Rutgers nearly got me to change my mind. But Pitt has played well, too. I'm sticking with Pitt for now. Stull has played well and the freshman RB looks good.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Is the GT-Miami Thursday nighter the game of the week?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:16 PM)

If it's like the last two ACC games I've attended (Miami-FSU

Dave (Washington, DC)

You said USC's offense didn't look as explosive as it has in the past...whats your thoughts on their defense after the OSU game? Didn't look like they missed a beat after losing so much to the draft.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:17 PM)

No, USC defense looked very good after losing so many star players to the NFL draft. But I also thought Ohio State still had issues on the OL going into the game. USC is a top-five team right now, no question about it.

joe (charleston)

mark, what do you think about weis' play calling at the end of the UM game? i mean, i want to fault the guy for not running out the clock, but if that long pass wouldve been a completion, it'd be ball game right there.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:18 PM)

If they make the first down, he's a genius. They didn't so he's a goat. I would have run the ball to force Michigan to burn some timeouts, but he was there and had a better feel for the game. Tough loss.

Jeff (Pennsylvania)

West Virginia @ Auburn.... Any thoughts?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:18 PM)

West Virginia played much better against East Carolina after a so-so opener against Liberty. Auburn might be the most surprising team in the country right now. Putting up huge numbers on offense after being so bad last year. Gus Mahlzahn has done a great job so far.

Mark (Charlotte)

Mark, who did you learn more about last Thrusday....GT or Clemson? Wondering how bad CU loses if Bowden we on the sidelines.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:20 PM)

I was definitely impressed by Clemson's heart and resiliency in coming back from a 24-0 deficit. Not sure they would have done it last year. Georgia Tech still has some issues throwing the ball, but Anthony Allen gives them yet another running threat. Clemson has a lot of speed on offense, but has to get better up front to be a contender.

Jason (Chicago)

Purdue looks much better than I thought this year? How good is Bolden?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:21 PM)

Purdue blew out a Toledo team that beat Colorado and then nearly beat Oregon on the road. Bolden has put some eye-popping numbers in two games. I'd expect nothing less from a Charlton County (Ga.) High graduate. It's the same small high school that produced Champ Bailey.

Ryan (Detroit)

What did we learn about the Big Ten this weekend?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:22 PM)

About what we knew the week before -- it's pretty top heavy. I expected more from Michigan State, but Dan LeFevour is a heck of a quarterback. Great win for Butch Jones. As I said earlier, Minnesota is a surprise. Iowa bounced back well, and Northwestern was rather mediocre in its first two games.

Pete (Cupertino, CA)

Is Notre Dame's offense for real, or did they just expose a suspect Michigan defense?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:23 PM)

I think the Irish have legitimate skill players. Tate and Floyd are as good as any WR combo in the country. Armando Allen looks like he's finally come back from the HS knee injury. Clausen continues to look sharp.

Steven (Denver)

The competition looks a little too stacked this year, but what are Case Keenum's chances for Heisman next year?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:23 PM)

Definitely a darkhorse, but I'd say he faces pretty long odds. Seems to be a race between Tebow and McCoy, with Jahvid Best and a couple of other players, including Keenum, in the picture. It's early, though.

kc (phoenix)

What have you learned about the Pac 10 so far?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:24 PM)

My opinion is Cal has a good chance to knock off USC. But it's just an opinion. Oregon State is pretty good. UCLA is better than I thought. Don't know much about Arizona State, Arizona or Stanford yet. Cardinal blew a great chance at Wake Forest. Washington is more competitive, might beat somebody they're not supposed to beat.

Charlie (New York)

MWC the #7 conference? Really? How can you possible justify that?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:25 PM)

Probably should have had them sixth, but I thought ACC had better teams at the top.

Pete (Cupertino, CA)

Best game so far this year, Miami over Florida State or Michigan over Notre Dame?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:25 PM)

Both were very compelling. I'll got with FSU-Miami since I was there.

Matt (Little Rock, AR)

What's your prediction for the Georgia-Arkansas game?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:26 PM)

Another shootout if Georgia doesn't get pressure on Ryan Mallett. Wouldn't be surprised if the Hogs won. Tough road game for Georgia coming off a big game vs. South Carolina.

kevin (knoxville)

if crompton has no turnovers and TN rushes for over 100 yds do they have a glimmer of hope?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:26 PM)

If the Vols can contain Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and Brandon James, and don't let Tebow pick them apart with the short passing game. Can't make any mistakes on special teams and certainly can't turn it over four times in a row like they did against UCLA.

kc (phoenix)

Arizona beat Central Michigan and held them to 182 yards will putting up 450, same Central team that beat the Spartans.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:28 PM)

One trip was thousands of miles. The other was down the highway. That's a big difference.

Matt (South Carolina)

did you get a chance to see Jarrett Brown's play this past weekend against ECU? Thoughts on the new WVU air attack.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:29 PM)

It's better than the old West Virginia passing attack. Pat White was a better player overall, but I think there's little doubt Brown is a better passer.

Casey (Huntsville)

After watching the first two weeks, who's the team to beat in the SEC west?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:29 PM)

I'm going to stick with the Tide, even though they struggled a bit on Saturday. You had to expect a hangover after Virginia Tech. But McElroy was very sharp, Richardson ran the ball well and the OL continues to get better. OL is still the key.

Seth (Iowa City)

Is Iowa the only team in recent history you can think of to start out in the preseason top 25, go 2-0 including a blowout win over their biggest rivals, and drop out of the rankings??

Mark Schlabach
  (2:30 PM)

Seth: They needed two blocked field goals to beat Northern Iowa. Nice job bouncing back against Iowa State, but it's Iowa State. The fact you lost your tailback in camp probably matters to voters, too.

Matt (San Diego)

How do you expect Zac Lee to play on his first road start in Blacksburg for the NU-VT game? He's looked outstanding against two lesser teams. Thoughts?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:31 PM)

Having been to quite a few games at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, it's one of the loudest settings you'll ever see. Isn't the biggest stadium in the country, but there's a lot of noise and the field is very close to the stands. It will be a challenge.

Paul (Santee, CA)

Mark, any thoughts on the fact that the Gators haven't played a non-conference game outside Florida since 1991?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:32 PM)

I've talked about throughout the preseason. I think it's a fact that needs to change. It probably won't until they get bumped from a BCS bowl game or title game because of their non-conference schedule.

Emily (NYC)

The Longhorns face Texas Tech this weekend at home (big game for us Texans!) - given how last years game played out and how the teams are playing so far, what do the Longhorns need to do to ensure they come out on top?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:33 PM)

Don't let Taylor Potts pick them apart and try to get some pressure on him. You won't sack him very often, but they need to hurry his throws at least. Continue to run the ball well and control the clock as much as possible.

Bruce (Philadelphia)

After suspect officiating in the Big House on Saturday, how can Michigan still be able to dictate that a Big Ten crew does there home games. If a Big East crew was assigned to that game the outcome would have been very different.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:33 PM)

I believe the road team decides where the officials come from. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Brett (Scranton PA)

I have season tickets and the running game has been less than impressive against Akron and Syracuse. That said, Darryl Clark has looked extremely sharp passing. His location and timing have both been phenomenal. Do you see him potentially working his way up draft boards and maybe looking at a 3rd round selection? Or will he be like Michael Robinson and switch to tailback?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:34 PM)

Clark has been very impressive. But remember: It came against Akron and Syracuse. The Orange are better under Doug Marrone, but it's still Syracuse. But what Clark has done is difficult to do against air in practice.

Bruce (Philadelphia)

You didn't answer the question.....How can Michigan dictate who does their games. They are the only team in the nation that does this.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:35 PM)

I don't think that's the case, unless it's specific to its contract with Notre Dame. If that were the case, I'm sure Notre Dame decided which league provides officials for its home games vs. Michigan.

John (Lubbock TX)

Looking at Texas Tech's Schedule, they play 6 ranked (read: curently) teams, 4 of which are away. Of course, I am biased towards anything Texas Tech. Objectively, Who do you think has the hardest forseeable schedule in College football?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:36 PM)

And only one FCS opponent this year. We'll see if the Big 12 gets better. Not looking great right now, outside of Texas. We'll find out how good the Red Raiders are this weekend.

Tucker (Orlando, FL)

Bruce, UF refused to play UMiami last year unless an SEC Crew officiated the game in Gainesville.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:37 PM)

there you go....

Matt (Santa Rosa, CA)

Can you explain rankings to me? How can a team like Oklahoma State lose at home to an unranked team and remain ranked? While a team like the University of Oregon lost to a ranked team on the road an drop from the rankings.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:38 PM)

Pokes beat a ranked team to start the season. And they have top-10 talent on offense.

Pete (Mich)

After the FSU near lost this weekend will he fall to the same fate as Carr and quietly leave...

Mark Schlabach
  (2:39 PM)

Would have easily been the worst loss of the Bowden era. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Five days after a gut-wrenching loss to Miami. But still no excuse for that performance.

Mike (DC)

Charlie Weis said in his presser yesterday that in ND's contract with Michigan, Michigan mandated that B10 refs be used for their home games and ND will use BE refs in the games in South Bend. Charlie stated it was the only series contract he has done where the other school has requested to use it's conference refs at home.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:39 PM)

There you go....

Finch (Atlanta)

With Auburn playing Ole Miss and LSU tough last season (when we had no offensive production), do you think it is possible for Auburn to finish in the top 3 of the west?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:40 PM)

If the Tigers keep playing the way they're playing on offense, running the ball and throwing with precision, I'm not sure top two is out of the question. But, again, it's early.

DJ (Phila)

Mark--I think it was the agreement between the schools that allowed Michigan to choose Big 10 officials to do the game...that being said, please comment on the QUALITY (or lack thereof) of the officiating...I felt a # of significant mistakes were made...your comments, please, and thanks.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:40 PM)

Saw some mistakes. From the officials and the coaches.

Austin Hansen (Anaheim, CA)

If BYU beats FSU, will voters be impressed? Does it have to be convincing?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:41 PM)

A win is going to be impressive. Would validate the Oklahoma victory in a small way.

Andrew (Toledo)

Florida, BYU, and Penn State all finish unbeaten (and Oklahoma wins out). Does BYU get left out of the title game (and would anyone outside of Utah care)?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:44 PM)

Let's put it this way: If BYU finished unbeaten, the Cougars would have beaten Oklahoma, FSU, TCU and Utah, along with pretty good Colorado State, UNLV and Air Force teams. If BYU were to be left out, the BCS as we know it would cease to exist. Just my opinion. That's a legitimate schedule.

Robert (Los Angeles)

Mark, it is clear that the Pac-10 is better than the SEC (see the Pac-10 vs SEC outcomes since 2000). The Pac-10 is the only conference that continues to go on the road to challenge other conferences en mass. See the 2008 bowl record as well. Why can't the Pac-10 seem to get 2 BCS games the way the SEC and Big-12 do?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:47 PM)

Robert: USC is better than just about every team in the SEC (even though SEC teams won the last three BCS titles). But I don't think you can say the Pac-10 is better than the SEC. Georgia played at Arizona State and Oklahoma State the last two years. LSU just played at Washington. Alabama played Virginia Tech and Clemson in Atlanta and played at Oklahoma a few years ago. Tennessee played at UCLA last year. Auburn played at West Virginia. Arkansas is playing Texas A

nick (denver)

I was watching espn last week and rece davis asked the question inf the big 12 is overrated, is that true?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:49 PM)

Beginning to look that way a little bit. Pokes lose to Houston (very underrated). Colorado is 0-2 and lost both games badly. Kansas State loses to La.-Lafayette. Iowa State gets crushed by Iowa. Mizzou struggled with an improved Bowling Green team. Any time you lose the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, your league's stock is going to take a hit.

brian (gainesville, fl)

mark, everyone always gives florida a hard time saying they only play their out of conference games in the state of florida, but no one mentions that a lot of those games are against FSU and miami. doesnt that count for something???

Mark Schlabach
  (2:50 PM)

Yeah, but leave the state's borders once in a while. There's a lot of beautiful country out there.

Nathan (Baton Rouge)

Hey Mark do you think the Miami vs. GT game will be a high scoring type game or are you of the opinion that defense will decide the victor in this one. Also will Miami play the option better this year?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:51 PM)

If Miami doesn't play the option better than in '08, they'll get crushed again. I'm not sure how good both defenses are after seeing each of them last week.

Noonan (Philly)

Is there any way to complain about officiating without sounding like a sore loser?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:51 PM)

Only in anonymous emails.

dylan (lincoln)

mark, from what you have seen, is tyrod taylor a viable passing threat.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:52 PM)

From what I have seen, not at this point. I heard all summer that he'd really improved his mechanics and footwork, but it wasn't evident in the first two games.

MIke (J-Ville)

Mark, come on, answer my question. Do my Noles have a good shot at the upset in Provo? How do you see the game shaking out?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:53 PM)

I would expect them to play much better than they did against Jax. State. My concern with FSU right now is its inability to run the football. Expected a lot more from the O-line.

Clay (Dallas)

mark is it safe to say that LSU's def looked better against Vandy or were you not impressed?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:53 PM)

The Tigers definitely tackled better. They weren't playing against Jake Locker, either.

Floyd (Pasadena)

What does recent out-of-norm SEC scheduling have to do with whether or not they are better? SEC still has a losing record vs P10. You mention GA went to OK State - yes, they lost, to the same OK State team that got beat soundly by Oregon in their previous game. Sooner or later, the SEC will have to be referred to as a conference of one, because the old excuse that the Pac10 only beats bottom-tier SEC teams will have relegated every team in the conference to bottom-tier status.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:54 PM)

He said the Pac-10 was the only league that goes on the road en masse. I was just pointing out that other leagues play BCS road games, too.

Brian (Panama City, FL)

Mark- All of this talk about the Gators not playing out of conference games outside of Florida. Do the annual trips to Atlanta, Phoenix, etc. not count for anything?

Mark Schlabach
  (2:56 PM)

Only in winning trophies. But would they have as many titles if they challenged themselves a little bit more by going out of state to play BCS schools on the road? We'll never know until they do it.

matthew (murfreesboro)

IF Tennessee had a QB that could just manage the game and not turn the ball over so much, do you think they are top 15 team? I feel like we have a ton of talent but we are very weak at the position that matters most

Mark Schlabach
  (2:56 PM)

Not very good at QB. Crompton still seems flustered too easily.

Jeff (Flagstaff)

Mark - why are you once again so biased against the west coast? Barkley is awesome, but it turns out that Corp or Mustain could run the offense and the Trojans win. You should have called Bob from Atlanta an idiot

Mark Schlabach
  (2:57 PM)

That's why I have two Pac-10 teams in BCS bowl games right now, along with BYU and Boise State.

Mike (Anaheim)

Mark, do some research. The SEC is not "the best" conference like everyone keeps saying.

Mark Schlabach
  (2:58 PM)

I had them ranked No. 1 last week and will again this week. Last time I checked, it's the league that produced the last three national champions. Which other league can make that argument? What else I'm supposed to base it on? Recruiting rankings?

Jeff (Flagstaff)

but you don't give the Pac-10 enough credit - USC just played OHIO STATE in the horseshoe - and WON - who has TEXAS and FLORIDA played this year - its embarrasing

Mark Schlabach
  (2:59 PM)

I wrote earlier today that you give Pete Carroll a ton of credit for playing that game. And Jim Tressel for going to the Coliseum last year. But USC isn't as good as it was two or three years ago. Nobody is after losing that many star players to the NFL.

Michael (Salem, VA)

How good do you think freshman RB Ryan Williams is for VT? Top freshamn in hte country?

Mark Schlabach
  (3:00 PM)

He's very, very good and the other freshman isn't too shabby, either.

Marc (Charlotte)

Tell Jeff that UT went into Columbus and won a few years ago with Vince Young. Does every Pac 10 fan whine like this?

Mark Schlabach
  (3:00 PM)

Bingo.

Mark Schlabach
  (3:01 PM)

Folks, gotta run. Going to break down statistical analysis of the Pac-10 and SEC the last 20 years (kidding). Have a great week. See you again next Monday.