For the second time in four years, divisional realignment is coming to the Big Ten.
In preparation for the arrival of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten has announced a new divisional format that will kick in for the 2014 season. Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers form the Eastern Division, while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin make up the Western division.
The new alignment emphasizes geography over historic balance, and it also does a fairly good job of preserving the conference’s many historic rivalries. The league will also transition to a nine-game league schedule in 2016, and with the exception of Indiana-Purdue, all of the permanent cross-divisional rivalries have been eliminated.
Some thoughts on the Big Ten’s realignment plan:
1. No more Legends and Leaders Divisions.
Sammy Watkins came onto the college football scene from Fort Myers, Florida as one of the best receivers in the country, ranked as a four-star prospect and No. 4 at his position by ESPN and as a five-star prospect and No. 5 at his position by Scout.com. In 2011, he took Clemson University by storm, amassing 1,219 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 231 yards and scoring on a kick off return. He showcased enough ability to be named an AP First Team All-American, joining Herschel Walker, Marshall Faulk, and Adrian Peterson as the only freshman to accomplish such a feat.
Everyone that watches Clemson football is aware of the ability of receiver Sammy Watkins.
He's dangerous anywhere with the football, so long as he's on the field. And with Deandre Hopkins having departed to pursue an NFL career, Watkins will have the opportunity to shine as the primary receiver.
But with teams sure to roll their coverage to contain Watkins, he will need help from his supporting cast of receivers. Luckily for him, Clemson happens to have a cast that is among the best in the ACC and arguably in the nation, and these supporting players' roles will be expanded in 2012.
First, we have rising junior Charone Peake.
This Moore, South Carolina native has been patient, waiting in the wings behind the now departed Jaron Brown, but got more playing time due to Watkins' suspensions and injuries last season. Peake flashed his ball skills and was reliable with his opportunities, catching 25 balls for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He has an opportunity to be a bigger part of the offense this season and could get more single-coverage looks due to the presence of Watkins.
On Monday, the College Football Hall of Fame released the list of players up for induction as part of the 2013 class. There are many quality names on the list, but one name stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else: Tommie Frazier, the option maestro that started Nebraska’s dynasty in the mid-1990s.
It is actually quite surprising that Frazier, whose playing career ended in 1996, is still on the ballot. After all, Frazier has a resume that few can match in the history of college football.
Tommie Frazier’s accomplishments during his playing days are the subject of college football lore. A four-year starter at Nebraska, Frazier threw for 4003 yards and 47 touchdowns and added another 2263 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground while running the Cornhuskers’ triple-option attack to perfection. Nebraska went 33-3 with Frazier as the starter, playing in three consecutive de facto national championship games and becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles outright since Oklahoma in the 1950s.
There is a very good reason why Alabama vs. South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game might be the safest prediction for the 2013 college football season.
It has little to do with recent history, though the two-time defending champion Crimson Tide and a Gamecock squad that has won 11 games in each of the past two seasons have both proven themselves to be powerhouses in the modern game.
It also has nothing to do with the talent on the field. While Alabama might have more future pros on their roster than any other team and South Carolina is led by the best player in college football, there are several other teams in the SEC who can put comparable talent out on the field.
The reason Alabama and South Carolina will meet in the title game is because they happen to play fewer of those teams than any of the league’s other contenders.