Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:
Buckeyes stop here
They are the forgotten unbeaten team. Urban Meyer’s 11-0 Ohio State Buckeyes welcome their nemeses from the North, the Michigan Wolverines, to the Horseshoe for their annual version of “The Game” (I cringe writing that, because we all know “The Game” was played last weekend at Harvard Stadium). It has to be gut-wrenching for Meyer, his players, and the fans to know that Saturday is it. Win or lose, the Buckeyes are done for the season while the Wolverines go to the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes are on probation for the tattoo scandal that rocked their program and led to the ouster of beloved coach Jim Tressel; they are ineligible for the Big Ten title game and a bowl game. At least some Buckeye faithful have a sense of humor. A group recently petitioned President Obama for a pardon. The request was denied.
Just say no
Smart move by officials in Miami. The Hurricanes, despite being bowl-eligible, will decline to participate in the postseason. It’s the second straight season Miami has enacted the self-imposed ban as it awaits the results of an NCAA investigation. The probe was launched after former booster and imprisoned Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro revealed that he provided many illegal benefits (including cash and other perks) to recruits. The school is expecting stiff penalties, but by forgoing the postseason the last two years, it may make the NCAA a bit more forgiving. Ohio State chose not to impose a bowl ban last season and look where it is now. It is a lousy deal for the players, however, as only two of the 83 people named by Shapiro are currently suiting up for the Hurricanes. “We want to get it fixed,’’ said coach Al Golden. “We’ll get through it.”
More than OK
Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference benefited the most from the late-night upsets of No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Kansas State last week, but college football fans were the real winners, too. Getting to flip back and forth between the Kansas State-Baylor game and the Stanford-Oregon game provided hours of entertainment. But lost in the excitement — and many of the highlight shows — was perhaps the most fun game of the evening, Oklahoma’s 50-49 win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers took a 49-44 lead with two minutes left but Geno Smith (wasn’t he a Heisman candidate 30 seconds ago?) failed on a 2-point conversion. Landry Jones (554 yards passing) then led the Sooners to the winning score with 24 ticks left. The Sooners and Mountaineers combined for a mind-boggling 1,440 yards of total offense and 14 TDs.
Perhaps the best-kept secret in New England is the success of New Haven, which will host Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a Division 2 second-round playoff game. Why there is an Indiana University in Pennsylvania we’ll never understand, but that’s a topic for another day. New Haven, which ran its record to 10-0 by thumping American International in the Northeast-10 title game, has really been challenged only twice this season — in a 24-21 win over Saint Augustine’s and a 45-41 win over Stonehill. Peter Rossomando, the NE-10 Coach of the Year, has a real wagon, with 16 players earning all-conference honors, including six on the first team. Conference Defensive Player of the Year Raheem Stanley, a tackle, has collected 37 tackles, including eight for losses. On offense, Ryan Osiecki completed 106 of 150 passes for 14 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions.