Nov. 18 - Ask the College Football Expert is here with answers to your questions. Since the Heisman Trophy will be handed out and the national champion crowned before you know it, let’s quickly move to the first question and get started.
InsertArt(2073316)Q: WHY AREN’T WE hearing about Ohio State having eight home games scheduled this season? That in itself gives the Buckeyes a clear advantage over programs with five or six home games. Do you agree that if we were to put Ohio State on the road a couple more times that they’d be exposed for what they are — a fraud? They went to overtime against North Carolina State and Purdue and barely beat San Diego State ... at home! If ridiculous strength of schedule issues are going to be used against TCU, then being scared to leave the comfort of home should be used against Ohio State. Why the obvious double standard?
— From William Hiett in Saginaw, Texas
A: Your argument has merit, William, but I’d hardly call Ohio State a fraud. I think the real unfairness lies in the BCS system. You can’t compare the situations at Ohio State and TCU. And settling things on the field, under this non-playoff system, is not an option. Why does Ohio State play eight home games? Because it can. The Buckeyes get six-figure crowds for every game in Columbus. That drives the school’s athletic budget.
The Buckeyes aren’t going to schedule a series of scary road games, along with their Big Ten schedule. It’s not going to happen. And the same scenario occurs at many other major-conference power schools.
TCU plays in Conference USA. Very few respectable Division I-A teams will venture into Fort Worth because TCU is a dangerous opponent. So there’s really little TCU can do to improve its status, other than win all its games and hope the BCS computers spit out favorable numbers. It’s not fair. Blame the system, which can’t regulate NFL-like schedule uniformity among the teams.
Back to Ohio State, if you don’t mind. Count me among the people who are intrigued with a potential Oklahoma-USC meeting in the Sugar Bowl. I think that would be terrific for college football. USC’s offense against Oklahoma’s defense? Would love to see that.
I can understand why people are angered to see Ohio State inch past USC for No. 2 in the BCS standings. The Buckeyes just won their third game this season without scoring an offensive touchdown. They escaped a scare from Purdue in overtime, a game the Boilermakers essentially gave away (Ohio State scored on an end-zone fumble recovery, then saw Purdue kicker Ben Jones miss two makeable field-goal attempts).
At the same time, teams often make their own luck. Ohio State is now 12-1 in games decided by seven points or less in the last two seasons. They are playing without Maurice Clarett, who really provided most of the jets behind Ohio State’s national-championship run. They might be lucky, but they are also pretty darn good. If Ohio State can beat Michigan, it will have answered most of my questions.
Q: How can LSU be ranked ahead of Ohio State in the AP and coaches’ polls? LSU opponents have a worse record, and only two teams that were ranked when they played. Ohio State has beaten four teams that were ranked at the time, and their opponents have a better overall record.— From Michael Minor in Delaware, Ohio
A: It’s all part of polling’s very slipshod system, Michael. It begins with preseason polls, which are simply based on reputation, last season’s finish and number of returning starters. It does not reflect how a team is playing. So a team’s starting point in the polls can very easily make it overrated or underrated. Once the season hits full stride, there seems to be unwritten rules about how far to drop a team after a loss. Usually, it’s based on margin of victory. If it’s a home loss, it’s a deeper drop. So teams tend to get “locked in” to certain positions. Few pollsters have the courage to rank teams based on how they are playing, instead of following a formulaic system.
Q: Chris Leak, who has shown tremendous leadership skills, probably deserves a few Heisman votes, doesn’t he? Florida’s freshman quarterback beat LSU, Arkansas and Georgia. That’s not an easy task.— From Jack Manheimer in Palm Coast, Fla.
A: I can’t see Chris Leak getting much Heisman Trophy mention this time around, Jack. But you are absolutely correct. He was not faced with an easy task, yet he managed it so masterfully, just like a grizzled veteran. Without thinking too deeply about it, I’d put quarterbacks like Jason White (Oklahoma), Eli Manning (Mississippi), Philip Rivers (North Carolina State) and Matt Leinart (USC) well ahead of Leak on any Heisman ballot. But in the future, Leak certainly could become one of the nation’s best players. He has rare maturity and presence for such a young player.
Q: What happened to Arizona State this season? Preseason predictions had them fighting for a top-10 ranking.— From Robert in Dallas
A: Arizona State was indeed the chic longshot pick to win the Pac-10, Robert. Boy, was that a wrong hunch. The Sun Devils (4-7) will finish last in the league if they lose to Arizona in the season finale. Maybe we should’ve known things weren’t right when Arizona State went to Iowa and got throttled 21-2. Junior quarterback Andrew Walter doesn’t have bad numbers, but he hasn’t played nearly well enough to justify his early season Heisman mentions. Defense has been the biggest problem. The Sun Devils have surrendered 34 or more points in five of their seven Pac-10 games. A proliferation of injuries (following 11 straight Saturdays with games) has eaten away at the team’s depth and confidence. There was only one game when things came together (a 59-14 win against Oregon), but that vanished pretty quickly. Here’s an interesting stat: Coach Dirk Koetter, headed for his second losing season in three years at Arizona State, is 1-11 in November and December games.
Q: How high will Michigan running back Chris Perry be drafted?— From Gabriel in Virginia Beach, Va.
A: Chris Perry could very well be a first-rounder, Gabriel. What’s not to like? He’s a workhorse. He has good size and speed. He catches the ball very well. He has excelled against big-time competition. The shelf life for most NFL running backs is three or four seasons, so Perry’s versatility makes him a valuable commodity. Of course, everything shakes down following the NFL combine and individual workouts. Right now, though, I like Perry’s chances to get taken in the first 25 picks.
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
HBO Real Sports: Bill O'Brien
Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.