Notre Dame-Ohio State is the highlight of the college football schedule


After almost half a century of waiting, Archie Griffin’s club could double in size this season.

Griffin is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, claiming the award in 1974 and 1975 while starring at Ohio State. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is the first Heisman winner to remain at the college level for another season since Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in 2017, and he’s the last to give up a consecutive chance.

The closest anyone came was Oklahoma running back Billy Sims, who won in 1978 with 1,762 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns and was almost as good the following year with 1,506 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He finished a distant second behind Charles White of Southern California.

Jackson is one of a handful of Heisman winners to finish third the following season, a group that includes BYU’s Ty Detmer (who won in 1990), Oklahoma’s Jason White (2003), Southern California’s Matt Leinart (2004) and Tim Tebow of Florida (2007). ).

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Young, whose season begins Saturday when Alabama hosts Utah State, could pull it off. For starters, the best way to get into the Heisman conversation is to start the year there. Inertia is a powerful force, and Young will surely be discussed (and analyzed) ad nauseam in the coming weeks.

The second-best way to become a fixture in Heisman talk is to be the quarterback for a good team. The Crimson Tide begins the season at No. 1, and the only times in the last six seasons that Nick Saban’s team has found themselves outside the top five in the Associated Press rankings were the last three polls of the 2019 season. .

There is a difference between being a frequently talked about gamer and collecting the hardware. And Young, who threw for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, has experience on that front.

A similar year might not be enough to produce the same result. And besides, after losing in last year’s college football playoff final, Young would likely trade a trophy case full of honors for a national championship. But why not go with both? It’s a subplot worth monitoring as the season unfolds.

It’s late early in Lincoln

A lot of pixels have been assigned over the past week to the state of Nebraska coach Scott Frost, whose Cornhuskers have become almost preternaturally adept at finding ways to lose close games. Not much needs to be done other than state the obvious: A third-quarter onside kick backfired spectacularly, and Nebraska was run over by a more physical Northwestern team in Ireland.

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After Saturday’s 31-28 loss, Nebraska has lost twice as many games (30) as it has won (15) under Frost. He is 5-for-21 in one-possession games under the former Huskers quarterback. He’s had five straight losing seasons (four under Frost), and Nebraska has the longest bowl drought in the Big Ten (none since 2016).

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Frost is 0-4 against Iowa (and Ohio State, for that matter) and 0-3 against Wisconsin, neither of which is that surprising. However, he is also 2-3 against Northwestern and 1-3 against Minnesota and Purdue. The only Big Ten West Nebraska team not under .500 since 2018 is Illinois, and even then the Huskers are 2-2 (having lost the last two).

Every year, it seems like one or two teams have their seasons imploded before Labor Day. Nebraska could already be on that list. The Cornhuskers get their next four at home, starting with North Dakota on Saturday. A visit from Oklahoma awaits on September 17 and no one will confuse it with the Game of the Century. But it could be Nebraska’s last and best chance to revive any hope that this might be a year of progress, or that Frost will still be on the job the next time the Huskers are anything but mediocre.

Five with more at stake

1. Notre-Dame: The time has finally come for Marcus Freeman’s regular season debut as manager of the Fighting Irish. (He managed the team through a Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in January.) And what a debut it is: a trip to the Horseshoe (Notre Dame’s first since 1995) to face a potential playoff contender at No. 2 Ohio State. It’s an incredible opportunity, but a loss would leave the No. 5 Irishman with no room for error against a schedule that has few playoff threats beyond No. 4 Clemson (Nov. 5) and maybe No. 14 Southern California (November 26).

2. State of Ohio: The Buckeyes are second because their schedule gives them a better chance of multiple high-level wins later in the season and quarterback CJ Stroud is back to lead an offense that remains charged despite the loss of some key receptors. Second-ranked Ohio State could bounce back and make the playoffs even with a stumble against Notre Dame, but it wouldn’t be a smart move.

3.Utah: If there is going to be a playoff contender in the Pac-12, the No. 7 Utes are the best bet. Unlike in Oregon and Southern California, there is continuity and stability in Utah’s program, which is fine and dandy for Pac-12 purposes. On a national scale, there probably isn’t much wiggle room, and that means the Utes need to go to Florida (in Gators coach Billy Napier’s debut) and come out of the sultry quagmire with a win.

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4. Oregon: New Ducks coach Dan Lanning opens his tenure against a program he’s fairly familiar with: No. 3 Georgia. Lanning was the defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs last season, and he will be tasked with putting No. 11 Oregon back atop the Pac-12. This game (to be played in Atlanta) offers the same kind of opportunity the Ducks exploited last season when they won at Ohio State in the second week of the season.

5.Arkansas: It’s been a long, long time since the Razorbacks wagon has been this full. No. 19 Arkansas is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2015, but No. 23 Cincinnati comes to Fayetteville as a freshman from last year’s playoffs. The Bearcats had nine players selected in the NFL draft, but there is a residue of success in the Luke Fickell program. This probably won’t be easy on the Hogs, though if it is, it’ll be pretty impressive.

Preseason favorites can jump into this role as soon as they hit the field. The stars of Week 0 have earned a moment in the sun.

1. QB Ryan Hilinski, Northwest: Hilinski broke up Nebraska’s shoddy defense, completing 27 of 38 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 win over the Cornhuskers in Dublin.

2. QB Mike Wright, Vanderbilt: The Commodores junior rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more touchdowns in a 63-10 stranglehold over Hawaii.

3. RB Chase Brown, Illinois: Coming off a 1,000-yard season, Brown rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns and added a receiving score as the Illini thrashed Wyoming, 38-6.

4. WR Ricky White, UNLV: The former Michigan State wide receiver made a big impression in his Rebels debut, having eight receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns to lead a 52-21 victory over Idaho State.

5. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina: The redshirt freshman opened the post-Sam Howell era at Chapel Hill with 294 yards and five touchdowns as the Tar Heels beat Florida A&M, 56-24.

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