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If you had to win today, who would you have under center?
1. Will the Buckeyes escape Madison with a road win over a ranked Wisconsin team?
Mitch: I believe Ohio State will win in Madison this week. It’s been a bit fashionable to pick on Ohio State this week. I’ve heard many people question why the Buckeyes, and not Oregon or Boise State, are the new No. 1 team. The schedule hasn’t been too difficult to date, but this is still a very, very good team with few weaknesses. The running game might not be as good as it’s been at Ohio State in recent years, but Boom Herron, Jaamal Berry and Brandon Saine form a pretty nice committee. Wisconsin is a solid, top-20-ish team, but I’m not sure the Badgers can score enough to win this game.
Steven: Ohio State's last three trips to Madison have been decided by seven points or less, so another close game wouldn't be a surprise. Wisconsin's ability to beat the Buckeyes comes down to slowing Terrelle Pryor and controlling the clock on offense with running backs John Clay and James White. The Badgers have to be particularly concerned about the secondary, which has been vulnerable so far this year and the fact Pryor should be closer to 100 percent from his quad injury suffered against Illinois. After watching Alabama lose to South Carolina last week, the Buckeyes should certainly be wary of the Badgers' upset bid. Wisconsin keeps it close, but Ohio State pulls away in the fourth quarter.
Braden: Terrelle Pryor returns to the location of his first career fourth quarter comeback. In only his third start as a true freshman, TP2 drove the Bucks down the field and with 1:08 left on the clock, scampered into the end zone for an 11-yard go-ahead TD run. He hasn't looked back since. The Badgers are without star linebacker Chris Borland and will struggle to slow the dynamic offensive attack of Boom Herron, DeVier Posey, Brandon Saine and Dane Sanzenbacher. Cam Heyward, Kurt Coleman and company also forced the Big Ten's most efficient passer last season, UW's Scott Tolzien, into his worst career game in the Shoe. The Buckeyes will emerge unscathed.
2. If you had to win game today, which quarterback would you take: Ryan Mallett or Cameron Newton?
Mitch: Have to go with Cam Newton, because of his versatility. Ryan Mallett is a great player, but he is one-dimensional. That dimension is fantastic, but it’s such a weapon to have a quarterback like Newton who is so dangerous with his legs yet good enough to beat you with his arm. He leads the SEC in both rushing and passing efficiency. That is impressive.
Steven: You can't go wrong with either player, but I would choose Newton over Mallett. Newton isn't the elite passer that Mallett is, but he's completing 64.8 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,138 yards and only five interceptions — in his first season as a starter in the SEC. What separates the two is Newton's mobility and ability to make plays out of the pocket. Having a dynamic athlete at quarterback only brings another playmaker to the table for any offense, making it more difficult to defend.
Braden: I love Newton's versatility but in big time, national championship-type college football, I will take the pocket passer who can dissect a defense by standing one place every time. Mallett has the strongest arm in the game today and might be the tallest quarterback in the game as well. They both have what I like to call the "knucklehead factor" with some sketchiness in their their pasts, but both seem to have ironed out those kinks. They are two of college football's best, but I will take the better passer — you can always find someone to run the ball.
3. Oregon State is quietly 2-0 in conference and has played arguably the toughest schedule in the nation — three top ten teams on the road. When will Mike Riley and the Beavers get the national respect they deserve?
Mitch: Oregon State gets a ton of respect from the people that follow the game closely, but the average fan probably isn’t aware of just how consistently solid this program has been over the years. They usually lose a few early, in part because of a tough schedule, so they kind of fall off the hype-map, but once conference play begins, they usually get on a roll.
Steven: There's no question this is one of the most underrated programs in college football and had they pulled off a victory in games against TCU and Boise State, they could be ranked in the top 10-15. How about the schedule to start the year? Easily one of the most difficult in the country. I think the best way for Oregon State to get the respect they deserve is to keep on the same path, reeling off more bowl games and eventually a Pac-10 title. If the Beavers win a Pac-10 title and play in the Rose Bowl this year, then that should be a big boost to the national perception about this program.
Braden: I am willing to bet that Oregon State has played the toughest schedule to date in college football. Three road games against top ten teams? That is ridiculous. Don't look now, but they are unbeaten in the Pac-10 and have won in the desert (a place where weird things happen to title hopes late in the season). Riley is one of single best talent evaluators in the game today. He dips into Florida and Texas for unknown recruits and turns them into stars in Corvallis. How is Oregon State not ranked right now? How is it that Texas is receiving more votes than this Beavers team? They have played for a trip to the Rose Bowl on the last weekend of the year twice in a row and might do it again this year and never seem to be mentioned by anyone in the national media.
4. Can the NCAA ever do anything about the NFL agent-paying-players issue that has been running rampant for decades in college football?
Mitch: Who knows, but hopefully all of the cases that have made the headlines this year at schools like North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, etc., will make players think twice about accepting money. But kids who are looking for it will always be able to find an agent willing to pay. It’s naïve to think this will ever go away completely.
Steven: Unfortunately, I don't think this issue will ever go away. Agents will continue to approach players and I'm sure it will be hard for athletes to turn down whatever is offered. However, this is a problem that the NFL and NCAA need to work together on. The NFL needs to ban agents conducting this type of behavior, and schools need to implement more preventive measures to keep agents away from the players. Implementing stricter penalties for all parties involved would be a step in the right direction, but even with that in place, I'm not sure this issue can be completely eliminated.
Braden: First of all, if you have not read the tell-all by agent Josh Luchs in this month's SI, I highly recommend the juicy read to all football fans. Agents have always and will always look out for their own best interests and that is to recruit and land the big fish (aka first round picks). But make no mistake, the players and coaches are guilty in this too. (It reminds of a scene from Body Of Lies, where Russell Crowe is reminding his man on the ground in the Middle East that "Nobody is innocent in this s$@%!") The players find out who to call when they need cash and hold out their hand like a baby asking for candy. The coaches — not all of them, mind you — will steer players towards specific agents in order to make some profit for themselves. The issue is that it has been happening like this for well over 50 years and will not change. Ever. Maybe the idea of allowing players to have agents actually is a good idea?
5. Will a freshman ever win the Heisman?
Mitch: I think it can happen, but it’s impossible to say if it will happen. Denard Robinson is almost a freshman. He is a sophomore who didn’t play a ton as a true freshman, so he could be a redshirt freshman, and he is obviously getting a ton of Heisman buzz. Maybe not as much as he was a week ago, but he is still very much in the picture.
Steven: Absolutely. If a freshman is the best player, he should win the Heisman. I think some voters will be hesitant to vote for a freshman, but eventually, a player will come along in his first year that's too dynamic and too dominating to not vote No. 1.
Braden: It will happen eventually. We have seen two sophomores (albeit really only one counted as a sophomore) win the award in recent years and Nebraska's freshman Taylor Martinez finished 5th in our first edition of the Athlon Heisman Watch. His ability to create plays with his legs has completely energized what was a below-average offense from a year ago. We will know a lot more about Mr. Martinez after this weekend when NU hosts the Longhorns of Texas.
Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.
Week 7 Selections
|Quarterback||Ben Chappell, Ind.||Nick Foles, Ariz.||Cam Newton, Aub.|
|Running back||Mark Ingram, Bama||Daniel Thomas, KSU||Bilal Powell, Louis.|
|Receiver||Ryan Broyles, Okla.||Justin Blackmon, OSU||Alshon Jeffery, S. Car.|
|Week 6 Results||Steven||Mitch||Braden|
|Passing Yards||1,599 (2)||1,642 (1)||1,340 (3)|
|Rushing Yards||1,186 (1)||1,138 (2)||904 (3)|
|Receiving Yards||815 (1)||427 (3)||768 (2)|
|Touchdowns||39 (1)||26 (3)||29 (2)|