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Opinion: 5 lessons from Ohio State’s week off

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Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley (3) stiffarms a defender during a game against Tennessee at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 27. Georgia won, 35-32.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley (3) stiffarms a defender during a game against Tennessee at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 27. Georgia won, 35-32.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Even though the Buckeyes had the weekend off, there was still plenty going on around the college football world.

For instance, we have seen a new No. 1 crowned and a new Heisman hopeful emerge, while another might have seen his season come to an end.

With everything that went on, there was a lot to keep up with, so The Lantern sports editors compiled a list of five things we learned during the week off in Columbus.

1. The rules are still the rules, but people can’t seem to remember

There was a time when it was surprising every time a high-profile athlete got in trouble for off-the-field issues. Today, it seems easier to expect the worst than anything close to the best from athletes at the collegiate and professional levels.

Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley — who was arguably the Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the week — was suspended indefinitely for a violation of NCAA rules. What did he do? Sign a lot of autographs for a lot of money that he — within the rules — could not have legally accepted.

If that story sounds familiar, it’s because the same (or close to the same) thing happened to Johnny Manziel before his final season at Texas A&M. Manziel was suspended for one half of a football game, while Gurley is seeing his season in jeopardy for a similar offense.

The claims against the Georgia man seem more substantiated, but the crackdown shows tighter enforcement of rules that are more and more debatable every day.

Gurley should be allowed to sell autographs, but he can’t, and all collegiate athletes need to remember the rules no matter how much they might disagree.

2. Dak Prescott is your Heisman front-runner

The leader of the newly crowned No. 1 team in the country seems to have taken the reins as the leader for the 2014 Heisman trophy. 

Redshirt-junior quarterback Dak Prescott has led the Mississippi State Bulldogs from an unranked team to the best in the country behind three straight wins against top-10 teams. In those games, Prescott has totaled 782 yards through the air for five scores and two interceptions while adding another 303 yards on the ground to go along with six additional scores.

Prescott was largely two or three on everyone’s Heisman list, however once Gurley was suspended indefinitely, Prescott jumped to the front of the list.

As of now, it is looking like, for the third straight season, a relatively unknown quarterback could very well be the Heisman trophy winner. 

3. Michigan has life

It might be hooked up to an iron lung, but it is still breathing. 

The Michigan football program got much-needed win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday night in front of its home crowd in the school’s third-ever home night game win. 

While it wasn’t pretty, the 18-13 victory gave the Wolverines their first conference win of 2014 and put an end to a three-game losing streak despite amassing just 256 total yards and one touchdown. 

UM coach Brady Hoke still has a lot of work ahead of him in order to save his job, but for now, the sun will shine a little brighter in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

4. Taking a week off doesn’t mean a fall in the rankings

The Buckeyes didn’t fall lower than No. 15 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, and they actually climbed two spots to No. 13, despite having the week off.

That’s made especially interesting considering the fact that OSU took a tumble on the rankings earlier this season despite demolishing Kent State, 66-0, that weekend.

The polls are generally unpredictable and not particularly important in the grand scheme of college football, but winning a game and moving down in the process is an unlikely and mostly unexplainable occurrence. The Buckeyes’ idle rise should come as less of a surprise, and more of a testament to the general public’s acceptance that OSU still has some life this season, even after losing a game early in non-conference play.

5. J.T. Barrett is even better this week, despite not playing

The redshirt-freshman quarterback’s numbers have been staggering so far this season, putting him near the top of the national rankings in multiple categories. 

Heading into the Buckeyes’ bye week, Barrett was No. 4 nationally with a pass efficiency rating of 186.3. Fourth best is pretty good, but the Wichita Falls, Texas, native got to watch games from his couch this weekend and still managed to become the third-most efficient passer in college football.

Barrett slots into the rankings behind Oregon redshirt-junior Marcus Mariota and Clemson freshman Deshaun Watson — two names that were much more recognizable than his own coming into the season.

Among the players Barrett ranks ahead of are UCLA redshirt-junior Brett Hundley, Alabama redshirt-senior Blake Sims and reigning Heisman winner and Florida State redshirt-sophomore Jameis Winston.

The numbers are a testament to his talent, but Barrett’s ability to rise in the rankings despite not playing is just another reminder that simple statistics must be taken with a grain of salt.

 

One comment

  1. I was just about to praise your excellent use of “off” and “idle,” and then came the 2nd sentence in #5. (tch tch tch…)

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