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Monday measure: Ohio State has become the Clemson of the Big Ten

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In recent years, there hasn’t been a team more dominant against its own conference competition than Clemson in the ACC.

Ohio State under Ryan Day is beginning to infringe on that territory.

Clemson has won 28 consecutive games against conference opponents dating back to the 2017 season. And that includes its wins in the ACC title game. Ohio State is approaching that level of dominance in the Big Ten. After Saturday night’s road win over Penn State, Ohio State is up to 16 straight victories over Big Ten foes, a winning streak like we’ve only seen in the last few years from Dabo Swinney’s Clemson teams and Nick Saban’s Alabama teams.

Under Urban Meyer, it was an expectation that the Buckeyes would slip up once along the way during its Big Ten schedule. It happened every year between 2015 and 2018, including surprise blowout losses to teams like Iowa and Purdue. With Day leading the program, though, the Buckeyes have avoided those lapses while widening the gap between themselves and the rest of the Big Ten. The win over the Nittany Lions was the latest example of that.

It was a typically commanding performance from the Buckeyes. Justin Fields torched a talented PSU defense, completing 28-of-34 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. He relied heavily on what may be the best receiver duo in the country: Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. The two combined for 18 catches for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Ohio State defense finished with seven tackles for loss and five sacks while limiting the Nittany Lions to just 44 rushing yards.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, left, talk with quarterback Justin Fields during the second half of their NCAA college football game against Nebraska Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Nebraska 52-17. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio State coach Ryan Day talks with Justin Fields during the second half of their game against Nebraska. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

OSU’s 2019 victory over Penn State was decided by 11 points, and it was by a wide margin the closest game it played over the course of the regular season. Including the PSU win, Ohio State won its Big Ten games by an average margin of 34.4 points per game.

By the early looks of the 2020 season, a similar level of domination should be expected from OSU. Through just two weeks of Big Ten play, the Buckeyes have convincing wins over Nebraska and Penn State with an extremely clear path to the Big Ten title game. Even clearer than usual.

Penn State is off to a surprising 0-2 start while Michigan was upset by Michigan State on Saturday. Unless you think a team like Indiana or Michigan State is going to be able to pull off an upset, the Big Ten East title could come down to the rivalry game against Michigan in the final weekend.

Or Ohio State could already have the division locked up and would only be playing for College Football Playoff implications and, of course, rivalry bragging rights.

The Buckeyes have won eight straight in the series, including winning the last two by a combined 53 points. Those latest two Michigan wins are just another example of Ohio State’s ascendance into the elite of the sport.

- Sam Cooper

Texas gets a big win after a bad recruiting week

Saturday’s overtime win over No. 6 Oklahoma State was a bounce-back victory for Texas.

Yeah, the Longhorns had beaten Baylor on Oct. 24. But Texas suffered a couple of big losses in between that win over Baylor and the win over previously undefeated Oklahoma State.

Five-star QB Quinn Ewers announced during the week that he was rescinding his verbal commitment to UT. Ewers is the No. 1 pro-style QB in the class of 2022 and the No. 6 recruit in the country according to Rivals.

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Ewers plays at Southlake Carroll High School, a Texas hotbed for college football. Losing a top prospect hurts. But it hurts even more when he plays in your home state.

Not long after Ewers decommitted, wide receiver Phaizon Wilson also decommitted. He’s a four-star recruit from Lancaster, Texas.

The loss of Ewers and Wilson was huge for a Texas team that needs great recruiting classes in 2021 and 2022 to climb back to the top of the Big 12.

The Longhorns’ 2021 class currently ranks No. 18 in the country with 17 members. None of the players verbally committed are five-star recruits.

Without Ewers and Wilson, Texas has just one verbal commit for 2022. While Jaylon Guilbeau is a four-star recruit and a solid piece to start a recruiting class with, the foundation for Texas would look a lot better with a five-star QB. But Ewers is now looking at his other (out of state) options as Sam Ehlinger is a senior in 2020.

Ewers’ decision to reopen his recruitment was easily seen as an indictment of coach Tom Herman. Texas really isn’t on the comeback trail if it can’t keep the state’s top QB recruits, right? Herman answered that question by having his team go out and beating the only undefeated team left in the Big 12 on the road.

Texas isn’t currently an elite team. It’s an achievement that the Longhorns are now 4-2 and ranked at No. 22 in the AP Top 25 this week. But if Texas keeps on winning and works its way back to the Big 12 title game, maybe Herman can convince the high schoolers he’s recruiting that Texas has a foundation for excellence.

- Nick Bromberg

Return of the #MACtion

At long last #MACtion has returned to our lives, and it is doing so in a big way.

The MAC will open up its 2020 season on Wednesday night, and all 12 of the conference’s teams will be in action. Here’s what you should be looking for in each of those games.

Eastern Michigan at Kent State

Time: 6 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: Kent State -6.5 | Total: 62.5

Eastern Michigan (Preseason poll: 5th MAC West): EMU, a bowl team in three of the last four seasons, had the MAC’s top passing offense in 2019, but QB Mike Glass has graduated, opening the door for junior Preston Hutchinson.

Kent State (4th MAC East): Sean Lewis inherited a program that won 14 games in five years under Paul Haynes and went 7-6 and won a bowl game in 2019, his second season. Lewis’ team returns two of the MAC’s best offensive players: QB Dustin Crum and RB Isaiah McKoy.

Western Michigan at Akron

Time: 6 p.m. | TV: ESPN3 | Line: WMU -16.5 | Total: 55.5

Western Michigan (4th MAC West): WMU couldn’t sustain what P.J. Fleck built, but it has been near the top of the MAC West the last two seasons. WMU had the conference’s No. 2 offense in 2019 and brings back a young skill position group with experience, though Levante Bellamy’s production will be hard to replicate.

Akron (6th MAC East): Akron was the only FBS team to go winless in 2019, and it managed to score only 43 points over its final seven games. There’s nowhere to go but up for Tom Arth’s program.

Buffalo at Northern Illinois

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN2 | Line: Buffalo -10.5 | Total: 52.5

Buffalo (1st MAC East): Buffalo had the MAC’s top rushing offense in 2019 and brings back a stud in Jaret Patterson. Patterson rushed for 1,799 yards and 19 touchdowns, helping UB win a bowl game for the first time in program history.

Northern Illinois (6th MAC West): Northern Illinois, usually a perennial MAC title contender, was picked by the conference’s media to finish last in the MAC West after going 5-7 (4-4 MAC) in Thomas Hammock’s first season as head coach.

Ohio at Central Michigan

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Ohio -1.5 | Total: 59.5

Ohio (3rd MAC East): Frank Solich, 76, is back in Athens for his 15th season with five consecutive bowl seasons under his belt. The Bobcats have been a consistent winner, but have never won a MAC title during Solich’s tenure. Could this be the year?

Central Michigan (1st MAC West): Jim McElwain led the Chippewas to the MAC title game in his first season as head coach, and now CMU is picked to win the division once again. CMU could have the MAC’s best defense.

Ball State at Miami (Ohio)

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: CBSSN | Line: Miami -3.5 | Total: 55

Ball State (3rd MAC West): Mike Neu has a 15-33 record over four years at Ball State, and the 5-7 (4-4 MAC) mark in 2019 was the best. The Cardinals seem to be trending in the right direction and should have one of the MAC’s best offenses in 2020.

Miami, Ohio (2nd MAC East): In his sixth year at the helm, Chuck Martin led Miami to its first MAC title since 2010. The RedHawks closed the season by winning seven of nine games and should be strong in the trenches on both sides of the ball in 2020.

Bowling Green at Toledo

Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ESPNU | Line: Toledo -19 | Total: 61.5

Bowling Green (5th MAC East): The Mike Jinks era was a disaster and Scot Loeffler’s first season (3-9, 2-6 MAC) wasn’t much better. The Falcons brought in Matt McDonald, who played under Loeffler at Boston College, to lead the way at QB in 2020.

Toledo (2nd MAC West): Toledo took a surprising step back in 2019, going just 3-5 in conference play. Toledo ranked either first or second in the MAC in total offense in Jason Candle’s first three seasons. Don’t be surprised if the Rockets rebound in a big way.

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