Asmussen: Gimme Ohio State-Bama for the title

Asmussen: Gimme Ohio State-Bama for the title

The countdowns have begun this season. College football, which we love so much, is just around the corner. With that in mind, college football writer Bob Asmussen answers 10 questions that have been on his mind:

1. Other than Johnny Manziel, who is the Heisman favorite?
To quote Kurt Russell from “Miracle,” “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” That sums up the Heisman Trophy race every year.
Nobody, and we mean nobody, had Manziel on his Heisman radar screen going into the 2012 season. Manziel came out of nowhere after a redshirt season in 2011.
It’s very likely that we haven’t heard of the upcoming winner, just like with “Johnny Football.” The joy is in the journey. We will learn about the next legend, flaws and all, throughout the year.

2. OK, can you give us some names?
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney should be in the mix. If their teams don’t stink and they stay out of trouble. Manziel hasn’t learned that one yet.

3. Which coach is on the hottest seat?
According to Sports Illustrated, the guy who runs the team on Fourth Street, Illinois’ Tim Beckman. That seems a bit on the harsh side after only one season. Heck, presidents get four.
A few who might want to avoid answering their phones late in the season include Kansas coach Charlie Weis, Maryland’s Randy Edsall, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson, Texas’ Mack Brown, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and Eastern Michigan’s Ron English.

4. Who is at the top of the list to replace those guys, the Shaka Smart of college football?
Oklahoma assistant Josh Heupel. He won a national title as a player and contended for the Heisman. He could be the next big thing.

5. Which program is ready for a big jump?
Easy-peasy, Louisville. The Cardinals somehow held on to Charlie Strong and are recruiting with the national powers. As Kentucky basketball has shown us, you win with talent.

6. What are a few big games?
Ohio State-Michigan has some company. Namely, LSU-TCU (Aug. 29), Florida-Miami (Sept. 7), Alabama-Texas A&M (Sept. 14), Washington-Stanford (Oct. 5), Texas-Oklahoma (Oct. 12), Florida State-Clemson (Oct. 19) and Oregon-Stanford (Nov. 9).

7. Are there any new bowls?
Not this time, but look for future bids in Indianapolis and St. Louis. Somebody needs to play in the Edward Jones Dome if the Rams flee the premises.

8. Can you explain the conference alignment?
Not without a slide rule and a bunch of charts and graphs. The folks in charge of college football have sure made the game difficult to follow. Easiest thing to do would be to rename every conference the Big East. Let the fans sort it out from there.

9. Who is playing for the national title?
Ohio State-Alabama. Hate to be boring, but the traditional powers are a safe bet to meet in the last BCS title game. Now, if we can only get the lunkheads in charge to make it a 16-team party. We can always dream.

10. Will Illinois reach the postseason?
Maybe. The modest two-year bowl run came to a crashing halt last season.
The expectations are coal-mine low, which might be a good thing for the Illini.
History shows the team is at its best when hopes are at their worst. Did you see the 2001 Big Ten title or 2008 Rose Bowl coming? Didn’t think so.
Here’s a crazy idea: see what happens on the field. You will be happier that way.

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IlliniMike05 wrote on July 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

"A safe bet?" Just no. Ohio State was insanely lucky to be 12-0 last year. That team had the statistical profile of a team should have been 9-3 at best. I won't go through every last detail like last time, but they won six games- all against mediocre to bad teams- by a touchdown or less. Barring a repeat of historically good luck, they'll have to drastically improve just to win 10 games again, much less run the table. They're a borderline top 10 team, not a "safe bet" to reach the national title game.

This is getting embarassing. You're paid money to write about college football. Even worse, this site is shamefully no longer free, so we have to pay to read this. Stop it. Stop saying these things. I would've thought that getting clowned on national TV would be enough to make you put a thought into your head on these things. I guess not.

And while a Big Ten title in '01 or a Rose Bowl in '07 weren't specifically expected, both of those teams had some expectations in those seasons. Illinois was a preseason Top 20 team in 2000 and though they weren't ranked before '01, with Brandon Lloyd back that was a team expected to win 8-9 games. With the Big Ten being down that year, the Big Ten title for a veteran team with a QB like Kittner wasn't shocking. The '07 team was rightfully expected to be much-improved, too: Juice had a year under his belt, several 5-star recruits were expected to make some sort of an impact, and the defense had actually been good in '06 and returned mostly intact with a couple of impactful newcomers.

If it doesn't fit your narrative, you need to find a different narrative.