|Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller have Ohio State in position to run the table -- if the defense can improve. (US Presswire)|
Week 8 is over, so it's time to fire up the Tuesday Tweetbag and tackle the burning topics that are being talked about in the college football-sphere. I'm here to answer questions tweeted to me, so make sure you follow me on Twitter at @BryanDFischer. Without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
"Do you think that Ohio State will finish the season undefeated?" - Antonio Venegas (@advenegas)
Not if they keep playing like they have the past few weeks, especially on defense, that's for sure. Nobody in the country has more wins than the Buckeyes, but they've been becoming harder to come by in the month of October. Yes, it should be noted that the comeback against Purdue was in part due to quarterback Braxton Miller leaving the game, but that doesn't make up for the fact that the Columbus pizza boy was right about the defense.
The team has given up 20 first downs due to penalty alone (117th in the country) and 11 plays of 40-plus yards this season after giving up just 10 all of last year. The linebacking corps is hurt, playing out of position, or both. John Simon looks incredible one game and mediocre the next. The rushing offense is working well with Miller and Carlos Hyde, but without a viable threat of the pass, defenses are starting to take more risks in the back end in order to load up and stop the run. That could be an issue as Ohio State hits the tough part of their schedule with Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan in three of the next four games.
As weak as the Big Ten is this year, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they ran the table. Urban Meyer is a great coach who can keep the squad in any game with good special teams play and some big runs out of Miller. The defense, though, might end up tripping them up against a surprisingly effective Nittany Lions offense or Denard Robinson and Michigan. I'll say no, they won't be undefeated at the end of the year, but there's no doubt they have a shot.
"How hot is Mack Brown's seat becoming after on field results have declined (and he starts to blame the LHN)?" - Chris Armstrong (@armsch28)
|Nobody said it would be easy in righting the ship at Texas, but Mack Brown is trying. (US Presswire)|
I talked a little bit about Mack Brown in my Surveying the Field column as part of a larger look at coaches struggling (and those having success). There's no getting around that it's a disappointing season once again in Austin, even if the Longhorns were to win out, thanks to the blowout loss against rival Oklahoma and likely relegation to the Holiday or Alamo bowls.
What Brown has succeeded in doing should not be lost on everyone. He took a program that had suffered plenty of bumps and bruises and turned it into college football's Cadillac. There were nine consecutive 10-plus win seasons, a Heisman Trophy and national title under the burnt orange CEO. Though he complained about LHN this week (he spends six hours taping shows!), he's a big reason why Texas was in position to land the mega deal from ESPN and get the channel in the first place.
That said, being paid $5 million a year and producing the results he has the past few years is unacceptable at a place like Texas. There's not a single thing the program can't have. It has its pick of the litter with in-state talent, it's a well-oiled machine that puts 100,000-plus fans in the stadium every Saturday, and in the end, eight or nine wins just isn't going to cut it. We've seen major programs (Florida, Ohio State, USC) hit a speed bump but almost all have bounced back. The issues on defense are not, as Brown has said, how it is, they are real issues facing this team. Overall, he should have more Big 12 and national titles on the wall given the talent and resources, but at this point getting back to a BCS bowl is a step in the right direction.
I don't think Brown is going to be fired after this season unless the Longhorns bumble down the stretch to a .500 or worse year. However, 2013 is shaping to put the 61-year-old firmly on the hot seat in what could be a make-or-break year. Texas has the money to buy him out; that's not the issue. It's whether DeLoss Dodds and the administration are ready to make a change, and in talking with folks, I'm not convinced they will be unless life gets really rough in 2013.
The fact of the matter is, this team should be thinking national title every year. That they're thinking Alamo Bowl says volumes about where they are right now under Brown.
"What are Oregon State's chances of staying unbeaten up to Civil War?" - Darrell Robinson (@LeadfootBeav)
|It's been a magical season for Oregon State fans, but can the team reach the Civil War undefeated? (US Presswire)|
Getting Sean Mannion back at quarterback is a huge boost for this to happen, as the offense was OK but shaky under backup Cody Vaz. The defense has been the strength for this team, and it will be tested plenty with a tough second-half schedule. The rest of the games are certainly all winnable, but I'll only put the Beavers' chances at 40 percent of going into the Civil War without a blemish on their record.
No doubt this team is one of the biggest stories in college football, with Mike Riley doing a masterful job getting maximum effort out of his rag-tag bunch of guys to run the record to 6-0 for the first time since 1907. Corner Jordan Poyer and defensive end Scott Crichton have been sensational and form the core of a nasty defense. Still, Washington has weapons to pull off another upset, and Arizona State is a much-improved team -- but has to travel to Corvallis. The trip down to Palo Alto to play Stanford is the one that worries me, and I think both teams match up fairly well against each other. I say that's the loss on the schedule before the Civil War, but I'm certainly hedging my bet and saying it's a winnable game for Oregon State.
"Who's the second best team in the country?" - Kyle Nelson (@jkylenelson)
I've got Oregon as the No. 2 team on my ballot, and while others have played tougher games, the eye test says the Ducks are rolling on both sides of the ball. Marcus Mariota has shown tremendous skills in his first year as a starter (his touch on passes is remarkable) and, most important for their title chances, the defense is looking like one of Nick Aliotti's best in a remarkable run. They're eighth in the country in sacks and tied for third in takeaways despite resting most of the starters in the second half of games.
Kansas State, Florida and Notre Dame all have good claims to the title. The Wildcats win in Norman is probably the most impressive victory in the country right now and after demolishing West Virginia on the road, it's hard not to see this team winning the Big 12 title. Florida's offensive production (look beyond the points) holds them back from the No. 2 spot in my mind but a convincing win over rival Georgia could bump the Gators up. The Irish will be tested this weekend but if they can pull off the upset then I have to think they'll wind up right behind Alabama.
Still, for right now, I'm going with Oregon. Plenty can happen to change my mind, however.
"Does Georgia safety Shawn Williams' comments help or hurt the team going forward?" - Dan (@atldan)
|Shawn Williams' comments about Georgia's defense had some truth to them. (US Presswire)|
For those that missed it, the senior called out his defense on Monday by saying they were "too soft" and playing without "the same attitude" they did last year. The timing of the comments is no coincidence, coming ahead of their showdown for the SEC East against Florida and days after a win against Kentucky in which the defense allowed 24 points and over 200 yards rushing. I'm not sure it's going to hurt a veteran unit that needs some tough love and honest words this week.
The fact of the matter is the Bulldogs' defense has been lackluster outside of wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt. They're 49th in the country in scoring allowed and have been giving up way too many yards on the ground. Todd Grantham has plenty of talent on the roster but it just hasn't come together like many thought it would early in the year. Williams' comments went a little too far in suggesting aggressive play and other players having a big role but he was spot on about being too soft. With a smash-mouth Gators team awaiting in Jacksonville, it's put up or shut up time for the UGA defense.