Power Ranking The Top 5 Teams Not Playing In 2020

The Big 10 and Pac-12 have postponed their football seasons until the spring, and barring a miraculous change in direction, that means we are missing a few great teams worth watching this coming football season. There are rumors that certain teams from these conferences are still trying to put together a season, so while all hope is not yet lost, here’s the top 5 teams we are at least very unlikely to see play in the coming months.

5. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan faced an uphill battle this season in a loaded Big 10 East with Penn State and Ohio State. However, with Ohio State visiting Penn State, and the Nittany Lions travelling to Ann Arbor, there were hopes at potentially making a run at a 9-win conference season, which would at least keep them in the Playoff conversation. That may have required Jim Harbaugh to win a big game, so it may not have happened, but regardless, one of the best divisions in football is out of action this fall. We also miss some intirguing storylines, including Michigan’s quarterback battle, as they scramble to replace Shea Patterson. The Wolverines also will not get to break out running back Zach Charbonnet, who turned heads during an impressive freshman season. He averaged a touch under five yards per carry and notched 11 touchdowns on the ground. He was largely not Michigan’s feature back, but he figured to get an increased share of the carries in his sophomore season. Charbonnet will certainly miss out on a great chance to boost his draft stock, a common and unfortunate theme for many players in these conferences. It’ll be a weird season without the Maize and Blue roaming the gridiron.

4. Oregon Ducks

Maybe a tad low? That’s alright, I can deal with the protests of Oregon fans. Most college football fans were disappointed last year when Oregon lost a late-season battle with Arizona State, nullifying the Ducks’ chance at the Playoff. They were largely disappointed, simply because the general thought, which proved to be correct, was that Oklahoma could not match up in the Playoff, and the red-hot Ducks figured to be a higher-quality team. However, their late season loss doomed them, and Oregon settled for a Rose Bowl victory. This year, they would have had to replace quarterback Justin Herbert, who was drafted sixth overall after spending four years under center for the Ducks. Oregon figured to be a prime Pac-12 contender and potential darkhorse for the Playoff – however, barring any unlikely circumstances, they won’t be getting that chance in 2020.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

I was really high on Penn State entering this season. I thought the Nittany Lions were truly one of the best teams in the country. They’re definitely one of the teams I am disappointed I won’t get to see in action. Whether it was defensive force Micah Parsons terrorizing opposing offenses, Journey Brown putting forth a dynamic season in the backfield, or quarterback Sean Clifford becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 10, Penn State had a ton of potential, I thought. Parsons opted out of the season, and Penn State also announced there would be no fans, nullifying their fairly significant homefield advantage at Happy Valley. Particularly affected was their home clash with Ohio State, which they figured to make their annual ‘whiteout’ game, which provides one of the most deafening atmsopheres in sports. That game, and this team as a whole, will be missed by the college football world in 2020.

2. USC Trojans

Entering this season, I was completely sold on Kedon Slovis as the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the nation. I believe USC had the best returning offense in the conference, a defense that could at the very least stack up as a top-5 unit. Slovis ended last season absolutely on fire, and I was ready for him to absolutely torch the Pac-12 this season. I truly could have seen him as a darkhorse Heisman contender, had the Trojans become a legitimate playoff contender. Slovis is an absolute stud, and I think he will elevate his draft stock to be one of the premier quarterbacks available in the 2022 draft, assuming he has a chance to suit up again by that point.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

This was the obvious number one. Whether you were excited to see Justin Fields ball out under center once more, or who in the Ohio States talented wide receiver corps would emerge, or exactly how well Master Teague could fill the shoes of J.K. Dobbins, or how dominant the Buckeyes’ defense could be, there was plenty to be excited for in this Ohio State team. They fell just short in the College Football Playoff Semifinals last season, and you can bet the house that they would have been raring to go out of the gate, ready to avenge that gutwrenching defeat. Ohio State was definitely on the shortlist of national title contenders in 2020, and one of the clear reasons that a national championship earned this coming fall season may have to come with a slight asterick.

We Simulated Every CFP – But With An 8-Team Field

Every year, as the College Football Playoff committee controversially selects four teams for the Playoff, there are outraged cries for expansion, as many feel that to many elite teams get shafted by the Committee due to one unfortunate result. The four-team CFP has been around for six seasons now, so we decided to look into how much an expanded field would have changed the results we’ve watched play out on the gridiron.

We expanded the playoff in each season to 8 teams. The Power-5 conference champions and top-ranked Group of 5 team were guaranteed a spot, and the other two slots went to at-large teams. We determined the field by the final CFP rankings of each season, seeding them as they were ranked by the Committee. Here’s what we got:

2014:
The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State
  4. Ohio State
  5. Baylor
  6. TCU
  7. Mississippi State
  8. Boise State

Quarterfinals

1. Alabama def. 8. Boise State 42-13 
2. Oregon def. 7. Mississippi State 37-17
3. Florida State def. 6. TCU 34-31 (OT)
4. Ohio State def. 5. Baylor 42-24
Semifinals
4. Ohio State def. 1. Alabama 38-35
3. Florida State def. 2. Oregon 40-24

Championship

3. Florida State def. 4. Ohio State 35-30

The Summary

We do get a new champion in our first year with an 8-team playoff, and I really see a distinct reason for that happening. Jameis Winston and his defending champion Seminoles seemed to really coast through an undefeated season and were simply unprepared for Oregon in the semifinals. In this simulation, they get their wakeup call in the quarterfinals, where they are still talented enough to escape with a come-from-behind OT victory. TCU awakens the beast that is FSU, and they thump Oregon in the semis to reach the championship against Ohio State, who replicated their underdog run with Cardale Jones under center. FSU wins a classic, with Winston throwing for three touchdowns and Dalvin Cook rushing for two, leading the Seminoles to back-to-back titles. 

2015

The Field

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Michigan State
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Iowa
  6. Stanford
  7. Ohio State
  8. Houston

Quarterfinals
1. Clemson def. 8. Houston 27-18
2. Alabama def. 7. Ohio State 24-20
6. Stanford def. 3. Michigan State 28-27
4. Oklahoma def. 5. Iowa 28-13

Semifinals

1. Clemson def. 4. Oklahoma 37-28
2. Alabama def. 6. Stanford 35-16

Championship

2. Alabama def. 1. Clemson 30-13

The Summary

Despite the same champion, this was an interesting plug for an expanded playoff. Eighth-seeded Houston led Clemson at halftime and pushed the Tigers for most of the game, while Alabama and Ohio State played an instant-classic in the 2 v. 7 match-up. We also saw our first quarterfinal upset, courtesy of Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal, which gave us a different look in the semis, but ultimately, Alabama vs. Clemson (Episode 1) was not to be denied. The championship game was definitely less close than the championship, although the game was actually 16-13 entering the fourth quarter, but Deshaun Watson didn’t have the fourth quarter touch, allowing Jake Coker and the Tide to seal the deal. 

2016

The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Washington
  5. Penn State
  6. Michigan
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Western Michigan

Quarterfinals
1. Alabama def. 8. Western Michigan 45-17
7. Oklahoma def. 2. Clemson 42-31
6. Michigan def. 3. Ohio State 33-24
4. Washington def. 5. Penn State 40-21

Semifinals
1. Alabama def. 4. Washington 37-34 (OT)
6. Michigan def. 7. Oklahoma 30-24

Championship
6. Michigan def. 1. Alabama 29-28 (OT)

The Summary

Wow. What a stunning result in the 2016 simulation. If you remember, Michigan was left out of the CFP due to their gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State that involved the infamous “J.T was short” play. With the extended field, the Wolverines get a rematch of The Game in the quarterfinals, and they break their losing streak against Ohio State. Meanwhile, Oklahoma stuns Clemson in the quarterfinals, ending Deshaun Watson’s championship run before it started, as Baker Mayfield simply torched the Tigers. Alabama returned to the championship game, but even with Clemson out of the way, they couldn’t rise to the top, as Michigan took them to OT, and then shocked the world and went for two and the win after their overtime touchdown – “It’s Speights, rolling right, fires to Chesson and it’s caught! Michigan wins!” (My electric play-by-play call that I had in my head as I typed this article). Michigan stuns everyone and grabs the national championship. 

2017 

The Field

  1. Clemson
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Georgia
  4. Alabama
  5. Ohio State
  6. Wisconsin
  7. USC
  8. UCF


Quarterfinals

8. UCF def. 1. Clemson 37-27
7. USC def. 2. Oklahoma 49-34
3. Georgia def. 6. Wisconsin 30-21
5. Ohio State def. 4. Alabama 24-14

Semifinals
5. Ohio State def. 8. UCF 34-20
3. Georgia def. 7. USC 33-30

Championship
5. Ohio State def. 3. Georgia 31-27

The Summary

Another year, another wild result with our expanded playoff simulation. 2017 Clemson was probably the weakest of their ongoing dynasty, and they ran into probably the best Group of 5 qualifier of the CFP era in unbeaten UCF, resulting in our first 8 over 1 upset. Sam Darnold put seventh-seeded USC into the semifinals, and #5 Ohio State rolled the Tide in the first round to set up a wild second round. A little bit of normalcy was restored in the semis, with #3 Georgia edging USC, and Ohio State thumping UCF to set up a more traditional championship, where the Buckeyes rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a national championship, their first in the CFP era after they lost the 2014 title game. For the second straight year, our national champion is a team that didn’t even qualify for the CFP in reality. 

2018

The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Ohio State
  7. UCF
  8. Washington

Quarterfinals

1. Alabama def. 8. Washington 38-23
2. Clemson def. 7. UCF 66-24
3. Notre Dame def. 6. Ohio State 28-24
4. Oklahoma def. 5. Georgia 41-35

Semifinals

1. Alabama def. 4. Oklahoma 42-37
2. Clemson def. 3. Notre Dame 45-23

Championship

2. Clemson def. 1. Alabama 40-34

The Summary

There were a few notable storylines, but ultimately there were no upsets and nothing changed from the actual CFP in 2018. We got to see Notre Dame prove they were worthy of a semifinal spot by edging Ohio State, giving the Irish a needed win in a big game. We finally saw a Group-of-5 team get better than an eight seed, only to watch Clemson absolutely unload on UCF in a revenge game, and an instant-classic in the Oklahoma-Georgia quarterfinal. Once we got to the semis, it was pretty much a familiar story; Tua and the Tide edged out Kyler Murray and Oklahoma (by a slightly smaller margin than in reality) and Clemson thumped the Irish. The title game was closer than it was two years ago, but Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers emerged victorious and take home their first title of the CFP era. 

2019

The Field

  1. LSU
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Oklahoma 
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. Baylor
  8. Memphis

Quarterfinals

1. LSU def. 8. Memphis 42-33
2. Clemson def. 7. Baylor 42-20
3. Ohio State def. 6. Oregon 30-23
5. Georgia def. 4. Oklahoma 35-20

Semifinals

1. LSU def. 5. Georgia 38-31
2. Clemson def. 3. Ohio State 24-20

Championship

1.  LSU def. 2. Clemson 30-27

The Summary

2019 LSU continued to be a machine, although they survived a few scares in this expanded playoff. They dealt with a feisty Memphis offense that, last season, posted 39 points on Penn State’s elite defense. They had to beat Georgia for a second time, and the Bulldogs proved far more competent, particularly with their second crack at LSU’s defense, but Burrow and Co. still emerged victorious. Ultimately, the only changed result was Georgia walloping Oklahoma in the quarterfinals to keep the lackluster Sooners out of the semis, while we also saw an Ohio State-Oregon thriller in the first round. Clemson edged out the Buckeyes in the semis once again, and they pushed LSU to the edge, leading into the fourth quarter, but Burrow put the Tigers on his shoulders and grinded out the victory. 

The 6-year Recap

Ultimately, with six years of an 8-team playoff, we saw three different champions crowned (in 2014,2016, and 2017).We saw just two editions of the Bama-Clemson rivalry and a few shocking quarterfinal upsets, including UCF’s stunner over Clemson, and a pair of victories from the #7 seeds. We witnessed a miracle championship run from #6 Michigan in 2016, before ending our simulation with two of the greatest teams of all time triumphing over expanded fields in 2018 and 2019. 

The initial results of the addition of quarterfinals to the Playoff seemed not great on the surface as only 25% (6/24) first-round contests were decided by one possession. However, even if the quarterfinal clashes were somewhat lopsided at times, they led to more competitive semifinals, as 7 of our 12 semifinal games were decided by 8 points or less. To this date, only three of 12 actual CFP semifinals have been decided by a single score. This note, plus the fact that two of our simulated champions were teams that were actually left out of the Playoff, serves as yet another plug for the Playoff to be expanded in the near future.

Best College World Series Stories of the 2010s

The College World Series at a magical time in the baseball season – as the major league season hits the dog days of June and July, the best collegiate talent gathers in Omaha, Nebraska for a double elimination tournament that has produced some classic moments. However, with the coronavirus pandemic cancelling this past CWS, it gave me time to reflect on some of the best stories from Omaha over the past decade. Here are my top 5 inspiring CWS runs from the 2010s. 

#5.  2013 UCLA

UCLA wasn’t necessarily a massive underdog to reach Omaha, as they were a top-20 team in the nation and a top seed in their region entering the NCAA Tournament. After breezing through the Los Angeles regional with a 3-0 record, the Bruins surprised fifth-ranked Cal State Fullerton, a titan in the college baseball world, sweeping the favorites in a two-game Super Regional on the road. At 44-17, the Bruins entered the College World Series with the worst record among the eight teams, with no CWS titles to their name and just a 4-9 overall record in Omaha. 

However, UCLA continued to breeze through the field – you would have hardly known they were the 6h seed in the event. Facing traditional powerhouse and 57-win LSU in the opener, UCLA won 2-1, and they matched that score against NC State to reach the semifinals. There, they had two chances to take down the #1 team in the nation in UNC, but the Bruins needed just one. Their pitching continued to dominate, as UCLA won 4-1. In the best-of-three championship series, UCLA got a somewhat welcome surprise as Mississippi State, the 7th seed in Omaha, emerged as their challenger for the championship. The Bruins eked out a 3-1 victory in the opener, and they sealed their dominant championship run with an 8-0 victory in the championship, giving up just four runs in five CWS games. 

UCLA’s pitching staff was led by tournament MVP Adam Plutko, who’s Game 1 gem (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R) gave the Bruins the jump in the championship series. 

#4. 2010 TCU
The Horned Frogs are one of two teams on this list that didn’t win the title, but their run to the College World Series semifinals in their first ever appearance was still inspiring enough to land them at #4. TCU played the 2010 season in the Mountain West Conference, so although they put together 51-win regular season, the Horned Frogs entered the NCAA Tournament ranked just 15th in the country. They cruised through their regional on their homefield, but they found themselves in a battle versus #2 Texas in the Super Regional. After winning a 3-1 opener, TCU was clubbed 14-1 in Game 2, seemingly shifting all the momentum to the Longhorns in the winner-takes-all battle. However, TCU rebounded and stunned their in-state rival with a 4-1 victory that got them to Omaha for the first time in program history. 

TCU found themselves facing Florida State, who was making their 20th appearance in the College World Series, second most in the field. The Horned Frogs didn’t blink, dismantling the Seminoles 8-1. After a setback to #6 UCLA, TCU proved their victory over FSU was no fluke, beating the tradition-laden program 11-7 in an elimination contest. 

TCU reached the semifinals and gave the sixth-ranked Bruins a big scare, winning the first game 6-2 to set up a winners-take-all clash with a championship series berth on the line. Despite their ultimate defeat in the semifinals, TCU’s season was regarded as a highly successful one and an extremely unexpected run given their lack of history and mid-major conference. Head Coach Jim Schlossengale was named the national head coach of the year. 

#3. 2019 Michigan

The 2019 Wolverines are the other team not to win a title that makes our list. Michigan entered the season with no College World Series appearances since 1984, and their last title coming in 1962. Not only that, but the Big 10 themselves were in the midst of a ridiculous cold streak in college baseball – since Michigan’s 1984 appearance only Indiana in 2013 had reached Omaha. The Wolverines didn’t look like the class of the conference for most of the season, and they didn’t win the Big 10 championship, but they slipped into the NCAA Tournament as a three-seed in their regional. However, once in the tournament, the Wolverines turned up the heat. 

Michigan smacked Creighton and Cincinnati to quickly reach their regional final. After suffering a setback to the Blue Jays, Michigan rebounded to beat Creighton for a second time and earn a date with the #1 team in the nation in UCLA. The entire three-game Super Regional was must-see baseball, with the Wolverines clawing out a 3-2 victory in Game 1, before succumbing 5-4 in extra innings of Game 2. The series came to Game 3, and Michigan wasn’t about to waste their deep tournament run, as they edged out the Bruins 4-2 in the elimination game, earning their first CWS berth in 35 years. 

Michigan was understandably a huge underdog in Omaha, as, with the exception of Auburn (1997), every team had been to the College World Series this decade. Five of the top-8 teams had survived this far, so Michigan didn’t have a cushy schedule by any means. However, the Wolverines were rolling, and they weren’t slowing down, beating Texas Tech and Florida State to reach the semifinals. They matched up with the Red Raiders once more, absolutely dismantling the boys from Lubbock, 15-3, to reach the championship. 

Michigan didn’t quite bring the Big 10 to glory, but they came extremely close against SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt. Michigan beat the Commodores, ranked second in the country, 7-4 in the opener, but they couldn’t quite get over the hump, losing the series in three games. Despite the final result, Michigan’s resurgence put the Big 10 back on the map and was one of the best stories of the decade. They were led by Tommy Henry on the mound, and Jimmy Kerr (1B), middle infielders Ako Thomas and Jack Blomgren, and outfielder Jesse Franklin, all of whom made the all-tournament team. 

#2. 2015 Virginia

If not for the #1 team on this list, Virginia may have been the most unlikely champion of the decade. The Cavaliers had finished as the CWS runner-up in 2014, but their 2015 season had been an absolute roller coaster, as UVA went 15-15 in ACC play, and with just 39 wins in the season, they held their breath on selection day, getting into the tournament as a 3-seed in their region. However, the Cavaliers cruised, with a 3-0 record to reach the Super Regionals, where they faced and swept a fellow three-seed in Maryland. 

The Cavaliers entered the College World Series faced with a daunting field including #2 LSU, #4 Florida, #5 Miami, and #7 TCU. Virginia got unranked Arkansas in the first round and escaped with a 5-3 win, before slipping past the Gators in a 1-0 shutout to reach the semifinals. There, they matched up with Florida once more, needing one win with two opportunities to do so. They needed both, losing 10-5 in their first effort. The Cavaliers scraped through to the championship round on the strength of a 5-4 upset of Florida, earning UVA a title-series rematch with Vanderbilt. 

The championship series looked bad for the Cavaliers, who appeared overmatched in a 5-1 Game 1 loss. However, buoyed by an elite start from Josh Sborz, Virginia bounced back with a 3-0 shutout victory in Game 2, and they closed out the Commodores in Game 3, 4-2 to cap off one of the most unlikely championship runs in recent college baseball history. 

#1. 2016 Coastal Carolina

This was the obvious choice, as even though Coastal Carolina entered the NCAA Tournament as a higher seed than Virginia, the Chanticleers had zero history in the College World Series and as a member of the Big South, they weren’t taken seriously as a title contender by most major media outlets. However, the Chanticleers beat #9 NC State in two of three contests throughout their regional to reach a Super Regional against #8 LSU. There, the Big South representatives swept the Tigers to reach Omaha for the first time in school history. 

The Chanticleers earned a stunning victory to start their College World Series journey, toppling the top-ranked Florida Gators 2-1. That win alone may have been enough to call their debut journey to Omaha a success, and it looked like that would be the high point when they were smacked by TCU 6-1 in their next contest. However, Coastal rallied to edge #5 Texas Tech 7-5, followed by a pair of victories over the Horned Frogs to reach the championship against an unseeded but heavily favored Arizona team. The Wildcats blanked Coastal 3-0 in the first game, but the Chanticleers responded with a 5-4 victory in Game 2. In the deciding battle, Coastal turned to Andrew Beckwith, the national leader in wins, who had already pitched two complete games in Omaha. He didn’t go the distance in Game 3, but his 5 ⅔ innings were enough to keep Arizona at bay. The Chanticleers built a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning and staved off the Wildcats just enough for a 4-3 title-clinching victory. An absurd and unprecedented run by the Chanticleers that was the no doubt choice for the #1 slot here.

Daily Headlines: Michigan gets 2nd LB Commit in 2 days with entertaining commit video

Just yesterday, Michigan got the welcome news of linebacker Junior Colsen’s commitment, and they got a double dosage of good news on Memorial Day, with linebacker/athlete Jaydon Hood announcing his intentions to don the maize and blue. The Wolverines have been producing NFL-talent at linebacker, and that prowess is showing with these recent commitments. Hood, a four-star commit out of Florida, was seriously pursued by several teams, including Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, West Virginia, and others. However, he ultimately joins Colsen in Ann Arbor, and he released his decision in entertaining fashion – featuring some impressive (?) gymnastics from the Michigan coaching staff.

The video was entertaining, but Michigan fans will also certainly enjoy the highlights of Hood terrorizing opposing offensive lines, as he will look to do the same in the Big 10, with Michigan’s pursuit of conference supremacy an ongoing struggle.

Terrance Ferguson narrows list to 5

Recruiting was a little slow over Memorial Day Weekend, but on of the best tight ends in the 2021 class narrowed his official list to five schools, spread over three conferences. Auburn, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oregon, and USC remain in play for Terrance Ferguson’s services. The Colorado product did not leave any in-state schools on his list. Oregon and Wisconsin are considered slight favorites, but it’s been tough to get a read on Ferguson, who hasn’t taken an official visit to any of these schools. He took multiple visits to Colorado, and visited LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas, but he ultimately left all of those teams off his list. Ferguson is the seventh-ranked tight end in the 2021 class, and he has the athleticism to play wide receiver too – he’ll be a great pick-up for whoever can secure the Colorado talent.

Daily Headlines: Ohio State Boosts #1 Recruiting Class with 4-star Cornerback

Ohio State continues to build a monster 2021 recruiting class, picking up four-star cornerback Denzel Burke’s commitment on Sunday. Burke is ranked 262 in the ESPN top-300 prospects, making him a stunning 16th commit to the Buckeyes out of that group. That’s by far the most of any team so far in the 2021 class. Burke had cut his last down to Ohio State and four Pac-12 schools – Colorado was thought to be a potential destination for the Arizona product, but ultimately, Burke elects to head for the three-time defending Big 10 champions. The Buckeyes most recently saw stud cornerback Jeff Okudah drafted third overall, and Damon Arnette picked nineteenth, so they are a great destination for top-10 cornerbacks like Burke with NFL aspirations. Burke is the 19th overall commitment for Ohio State’s #1 ranked recruiting class. 

Michigan picks up big linebacker commit

Michigan also made waves on the recruiting trail on Sunday, bringing in Junior Colsen, one of the top linebackers in the 2021 class. ESPN has Colsen at 184 in their top-300 but Rivals.com is very high on the four-star Tennessee product, ranking him in their top 100 prospects. Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, and Oregon were also players in Colson’s recruitment. For the Vols, who made a late charge in an effort to secure Colsen’s services, it’s tough to see such an elite in-state talent elude their grasp, but they’ve been dominating the recruiting front recently, so they have plenty of other options. Meanwhile, Michigan lands one of their priority targets of the 2021 class, as Colsen becomes their third-best prospect according to ESPN’s rankings. The Wolverines have had a lot of success producing linebackers in recent years, with Josh Uche being a second-round draft pick and one of three Michigan LBs to head to the NFL, while Devin Bush Jr. was the tenth overall pick in 2019, so Colsen will hope to become next Michigan stud at linebacker.

We Simulated A Series Between The Best Possible Ohio State And Michigan Rosters

We all know the best rivalry in college football is Ohio State vs. Michigan. It’s simply an undisputed fact. Alabama may try to push the Iron Bowl, but no two teams – even two states – hate each other more than Ohio State and Michigan. The “M” is literally a forbidden letter throughout Ohio in the weeks leading up to the game – Michigan residents are born hating the Buckeyes, and the same is true on the flip side. Now who has been better throughout the years? Michigan leads the all-time series, but the Buckeyes have completely dominated the Wolverines in the past decade. But what if – hypothetically – the best to ever put on the maize and blue faced off against the best their archrivals have produced? Let’s find out.

Our All-Star Rosters will cover from 1996 to the present day for two reasons. First off, if you’re going back more than 25 years to try and prove your program’s superiority, it’s annoying – nobody cares what happened in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. To quote podcast personality Cal Christoforo: “It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of league” so that’s what this rivalry simulation will emulate. The other reason is much more practical – The WhatIfSports simulator we are using only allows ‘dream team’ rosters using players from 1996 and onwards, due to the evolution of the game.
A second disclaimer – the all-star rosters use the best season from a given player, and roster spots are not allowed to be taken up by a certain player. For example, even though Michigan’s best three seasons at quarterback came from Denard Robinson, only Robinson’s best individual campaign will be factored into his virtual rivalry series self. 

Roster Comparison

Quarterback Room
Ohio State
2014 J.T. Barrett
2013 Braxton Miller
2018 Dwayne Haskins
2005 Troy Smith

Michigan
2010 Denard Robinson
2013 Devin Gardner
2003 John Navarre
2019 Shea Patterson

Analysis
Michigan has the advantage at starter here, but if Robinson goes down, I’d take any of Ohio State’s four quarterbacks over their alternative option. A true dual-threat quarterback who ran for over 1600 yards, Robinson has been Michigan’s best signal-caller of the past 25 years by far. Meanwhile, Barrett beats out Miller for the Ohio State starting job, on the premise that he’s a better thrower, but he’s still capable of doing damage with his legs. Ohio State has reeled in quality QB after quality QB, and they’ll be in good hands with any one of these four guys. 

Running Backs
Ohio State
2019 J.K. Dobbins
2013 Carlos Hyde
2016 Ezekiel Elliot
1996 Pepe Pearson
1998 Michael Wiley

Michigan
2000 Anthony Thomas
2003 Chris Perry
2007 Mike Hart
2018 Karan Higdon
2011 Fitzgerald Touissant

Analysis
Not even close. Huge advantage to the Buckeyes in this department. I mean, a fourth overall pick is their third-string running back?? I firmly believe Dobbins to be the best running back in Ohio State history, at least in the past couple of decades, and Hyde, Pearson, and Wiley round out an intimidating backfield. Not too many names out of the Michigan running back room scare me much at all. 

Wide Receivers
Ohio State
1998 David Boston
2014 Devin Smith
2018 Parris Campbell
1998 Dee Miller
2001 Chris Vance
2005 Santonio Holmes

Michigan
2004 Braylon Edwards
2001 Marquise Walker
2013 Jeremy Gallon
2005 Jason Avant
2007 Mario Manningham
2008 Michael Shaw

Analysis
Ohio State may sound like a more traditional wide receiver school, but although some of their alums may reach higher prominence in the NFL, the Wolverines boast the better collegiate careers, and I’ll take their wide receiver room over Ohio State without hesitation.

Tight Ends
Ohio State
2016 Marcus Baugh
2012 Jake Stoneburner
1998 John Lumpkin

Michigan
2018 Zach Gentry
2001 Bill Seymour
2005 Tyler Ecker

Analysis
Give this one to Michigan again. Tight End has not been one of Ohio State’s calling cards, and I’d draft any of Michigan’s three tight ends on this roster before dipping into the Buckeyes’ stash. 

Other

Defenses
1998 Ohio State
1997 Michigan
Advantage: Ohio State

Special Teams (Kick and Punt returns)
2004 Ohio State
2015 Michigan
Advantage: Michigan
Kicker
OSU: 2013 Drew Basil
Michigan: 2018 Jake Moody
Advantage: Michigan

Punter
OSU: 2016 Cameron Johnston
Michigan: 2018 Will Hart

Advantage: Michigan

Michigan has a lot of advantages on their roster, but Ohio State has a lot of quarterback depth, and they absolutely dominate the running back conversation. Can their ground game and defense be enough to take down Michigan’s superiority in other areas? As Michigan leads the overall series, they will host Game 1 – Ohio State will host Game 2, and Game 3 will be played on a neutral field if necessary. 

The Series
Game 1 (@ the Big House)

Ohio State 20 Michigan 6

Defense was the name of the game. In a game reminiscent of the recent history between these two teams, Michigan simply could not do anything against the Buckeyes, whose 1998 defense recorded three sacks and picked Denard Robinson (2010) twice. Robinson ran for 93 yards, but only 119 passing yards doomed the Wolverines. J.T. Barrett (2014) ran for 54 yards, and he was 21-26 for an efficient 188 yards and two touchdowns. J.K. Dobbins (2019) ran for 58 yards, as Ohio State built a 17-0 and claimed a huge victory to start the rivalry series.

Game 2 (@ The Horseshoe)

Ohio State 42 Michigan 17

What a beatdown. Ohio State cruises to victory in this rivalry series with an absolute throttling of their archrivals. Michigan didn’t get on the board until they notched two touchdowns in the final five minutes, as Robinson was once again picked twice and sacked three times. Braylon Edwards (2004) caught 4 passes for 133 yards, and Anthony Thomas (2000) ran for 63 yards and two touchdowns, but that was it for Michigan highlights. It was J.T.  Barrett’s world in this series, as he threw for 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 87-yard TD toss to Jake Stoneburner (2012) early in the fourth quarter made it 28-3, virtually icing the result. Dobbins ran for two first-half touchdowns and 62 yards, sparking Ohio State to a two-game sweep in this All-Time Rivalry Classic.

Despite Criticism, Michigan Football Remains Elite

You can say what you want about the success of Jim Harbaugh since he took over the head coaching job at Michigan back in 2015. In Harbaugh’s tenure, the Wolverines are just 47-18, have lost at least three games in every season, are only 1-4 in bowl games, and they haven’t beaten their hated rival Ohio State. But Harbaugh has had one major success at Michigan that is undeniable: He produces pros. 

The 2016-17 season at the University of Michigan was the best season Jim Harbaugh has had in Ann Arbor. In his second season as head coach the Wolverines finished the season at 10-3 losing two games by one point and the other in triple overtime, a couple of bounces away from the Playoff. But it is what happened that off-season that is even greater. 

Two big things happened for Michigan that off-season. In two years Harbaugh took in a group of underclassmen that he did not recruit and developed them into the largest draft class in Michigan history. After only having 3 players drafted in 2016, the Wolverines had 11 players selected in the 2017 draft, two of them going in the first round, the most of any team in college football. 

What also happened in the  2017 off-season is that Michigan brought in the 5th ranked recruiting class in the country, sandwiched between the 4th ranked class of USC and Florida State at #6. In three seasons, Harbaugh turned that fifth-ranked recruiting class into 10 picks in the 2020 draft, the second most of all of college football. USC and Flordia State had 3 combined players picked in this year’s draft.  

It is easy to criticize the job that Jim Harbaugh has done as the head football coach at the University of Michigan. But, after playing 14 seasons and coaching 4 years in the NFL and reaching the Super Bowl he knows what it takes to become a professional football player, and that is exactly what he turns his players into. In Harbaugh’s 5 years at Michigan, he has had 31 of his players drafted, five of them in the first round. So despite being underwhelming in the win and loss column, Michigan recruits at a high level, and they turn that talent into NFL-ready players. Make no mistake, the Wolverines are still a college football powerhouse.

Thomas: Michigan State, opponent of many, rival of none

Rivalry weekend is an amazing weekend to be a college football fan. Across the country, college football teams line up against their biggest rivals. Some of these contests are more lopsided recently, with the Georgia-Georgia Tech or Clemson-South Carolina games coming to mind, but the hate is still strong between the two teams. And in most of these regular season finale contests, the records simply don’t matter. Minnesota-Wisconsin, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Alabama-Auburn, the rivalries are fierce, the games are classics, and the college football fan is content to sit on their couch and watch some of the most intensely contested games of the season.

Of course, there’s the greatest rivalry of them all as well. Often the site of College Gameday that weekend, Michigan and Ohio State do battle at the end of each regular season. The hate between these two teams is unmatched, so much that Ohio State, and indeed much of the state of Ohio, replaces the letter “M” with a giant ‘X’ in all signs and tweets leading up to the game. But then what about the hate between Michigan and Michigan State? Well, as much as the Spartans would like you to believe this is a true rivalry, it quite simply has not been, and it likely never will be. Michigan States’ rivalry-weekend match-up? It varies; last year it was Maryland, the two years prior it was Rutgers – a couple of cellar-dwelling Big 10 teams for Michigan State to beat up on while their hated rivals goes and plays their biggest game of the year with someone else. 

Michigan States’ inability to get a true rivalry-weekend match-up, or even a rivalry with anybody, goes well beyond the Michigan saga. If you look up Michigan State rivals, you get a list of just four teams: Michigan, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Penn State. Not an inspiring list, especially considering every single one of these teams has bigger rivals.
The Spartans’ biggest hope comes in Penn State, another team who may lack a true rival. But the Nittany Lions don’t care, often proclaiming themselves as their biggest rivals, competing against the premier Penn State teams of previous decades. Plus, Penn State has big games closer to home in Pitt and Maryland, a more historic rivalry in Nebraska, and a budding rivalry with Ohio State. They don’t need Michigan State. 

How about Notre Dame? There’s been some big games, and there is no doubt about that, but Michigan State has tried to fuel this rivalry far more than Notre Dame, and it’s hard to do that when you have a .373 winning percentage against them. The Spartans’ planted their flag at Notre Dame’s home stadium after a 2005 win, and they won in 2010 on the infamous “Little Giant” fake field goal. But, Notre Dame has their rivalries with USC and Michigan, their uninterrupted series with Navy, and the Holy War with BC. In a recent survey of their student body, Notre Dame didn’t even vote for the Spartans as one of their top-6 rivals. Ouch. They clearly don’t need Michigan State. 

Indiana? To be honest, even if Michigan State could consider Indiana a rival, it wouldn’t be saying much. The Hoosiers are far more known for their basketball prowess, and they have not ever really been particularly relevant in football. They have never eclipsed nine wins in a season, and they haven’t even reached that mark since 1967. Plus, Indiana has their own in-state rivalry with Purdue, so even they’ve got bigger fish to fry than the Spartans. If that’s Michigan State’s best rival, it’s a pretty sad one for a big-name program with six national championships. 

And that brings the list full circle to Michigan. The Wolverines will call Michigan State “Little Brother” and for good reason. Despite some recent success in the series, the Spartans are just 36-71 against Michigan, good for a .344 winning percentage. It’s embarrassing, and it’s more embarrassing because they’re not even Michigan’s biggest game of the year. They sometimes aren’t even second, as you can debate whether the Notre Dame versus Michigan rivalry is a bigger one too. 

Michigan State has had success on the field, and under current coach Mark Dantonio, they’ve been in the Top 5 in four different seasons. But seemingly no success will make Michigan State relevant unless something drastic changes. 

They can plant a flag at Notre Dame Stadium. They can fuel their hatred for Michigan. They can claim that Penn State hates them, or maybe, if they’re desperate, fall back on their ‘rivalry’ with Indiana. But come rivalry weekend, Michigan State will be in Maryland, or hosting Rutgers, or playing some other low-level Big 10 team, desperately searching for a team that will hate them back. 

2020 NFL Draft Reactions Episode: Oregon as RBU? Michigan a big draft winner?

If you’re tired of the same old “Which NFL teams won and lost the 2020 NFL Draft”, but want to still relive the only live sporting event of the past month and a half, then please check out our latest episode! We launch a must-watch show on which players made a mistake by entering this most recent draft, which college programs won and lost the draft, and who is QBU, RBU, and WRU right now in the world of college football. Check out a hot (or really cold?) take by Andrew, some controversial arguments by Cal, and Nathaniel’s undying love for the Georgia Bulldogs.

NCAA HOCKEY BEST POSTSEASON MOMENTS COUNTDOWN – #5: The Longest Game in Frozen Four History

Postseason hockey is one of the most exciting events sports has to offer. Many say that the ramp-up in intensity from regular season to playoffs is the greater in hockey than in any other sport. This is especially true in college hockey, one of the few NCAA postseason tournaments that turns a profit due to its rabid following and popularity. One part of what makes postseason hockey so thrilling is the sudden-death overtime, which is almost undoubtedly the most exciting overtime format in sports. Watching two teams battle it out, with their season on the line, in a situation where just one goal will send one team packing and the other to the next round or to a title is breathtakingly exciting. That’s why, coming in at #5 on our top NCAA hockey moments countdown is one of the most thrilling Frozen Four games to ever occur, and, to this point, the longest. At 100 minutes and 28 seconds of game time, the 1995 semifinal between Maine and Michigan took regulation plus three overtime periods to decide, making for an instant classic between the Black Bears and Wolverines. 

The ‘94-95 Michigan hockey team was a powerhouse team, winning 30 games and throttling their opponents by large margins. Throughout the course of the season, the Wolverines averaged 5.6 goals per game and allowed just 2.8. Defensively, it was national Rookie of the Year and freshman Marty Turco leading the way between the pipes. Turco won 27 games his freshman year, posting a 2.76 Goals-Against-Average along the way. His stellar performance in net was more than enough of a cushion for a powerful Michigan offense led by 38 goals from winger Mike Knuble and 76 points by center Brendan Morrison. Michigan’s season was marked by some dominant performances, particularly in rivalry games. The Wolverines played Notre Dame three times, winning twice and posting 20 goals in those two games. Including the postseason, Michigan was able to play Ohio State five times, and they stomped all over the Buckeyes, sweeping those five contests by a combined score of 38-6. They also put up a season-high 13 goals in a shutout victory over Michigan Tech. The slip-ups were few and far between, and although they lost in the semifinals of the CCHA tournament, the Wolverines were still granted the #1 overall seed in the tournament. 

Maine was one season removed from their national championship season – featured in our #6 moment on this countdown -, but they were also coming off a rebuilding season that saw them go just 3-20-1 in Hockey East play. However, under legendary head coach Shawn Walsh, the Black Bears didn’t stay down for long, and they posted another stellar campaign in the ‘94-95 season. They were led largely by an elite defense, powered by All-Americans Chris Imes – a holdover from the ‘93 championship team – and goaltender Blair Allison. Allison led the nation with a 2.68 GAA, and Imes was named the Hockey East Player of the Year. Offensively, Maine saw three centers exceed 20 goals, with Brad Purdie, Dan Shermerhorn, and Tim Lovell all doing the deed for the Black Bears. Defenseman Jeff Tory led the team with 55 points. Maine got off to a very strong start, going 15-0-5 in their first twenty contests. They would only lose four times in the regular season, and, much like the Wolverines, the Black Bears also experienced success against their rivals, going 2-0-2 versus Boston University, taking three of four from New Hampshire, and posting a 2-0-1 mark against Boston College. Maine’s conference tournament run was cut short by Providence in the Hockey East Semifinals, and Maine got a 2-seed in Michigan’s region, setting the two teams up for their Frozen Four clash, after both teams won their quarterfinal match-ups. 

Michigan looked like the top seed in the early stages of the game, dominating the flow of play and beating Allison twice in the opening five minutes for an early advantage. Kevin Hilton and Matt Herr scored for the Wolverines. Maine crawled their way back into the game, and after finally getting their legs under them, the Black Bears got a goal from Tory to halve their deficit at the first intermission. 

Just 1:06 into the second period, Maine made it a brand new hockey game, as Purdie beat Turco to tie the score at two goals apiece. The two defenses settled in from there, with both goalies coming up huge for their teams. Turco ended up finishing the night with 52 saves, while Allison was just as impressive with 47. The rest of the second period went scoreless, as did the majority of the third. Both teams struck in lightning-quick fashion, as Dan Shermerhorn gave the Black Bears their first lead on a power-play tally with 5:58 to play, but Knuble tied it for Michigan, just 49 seconds later.

The game went into overtime, where the defenses continued to dominate. 

Michigan had the better of the chances in the first overtime, none greater than Morrison received a cross-ice pass but saw his bid for the open right side of the goal ring off the post. That was just 3:48 into overtime, but the fate of this game was not to end so quickly. The teams battled on, but neither squad was able to put the game away after twenty minutes of extra hockey. Although the teams pushed back and forth, the Black Bears had the best chance of the second overtime, as Jamie Thompson broke in alone on Turco, but the freshman stonewalled the Maine forward, smothering any potential rebound with 4:40 to go. Neither squad was able to seriously challenge the opposing netminder for the remainder, and the game rolled into the third overtime. 

However, it would not be another 20 minutes of scoreless hockey; rather, only 28 seconds had elapsed when Maine slipped the winner past Turco. Earning a faceoff victory in the offensive zone, Shermerhorn flipped the puck backwards and crashed the net. Reg Cardinal collected the puck and sizzled a pass towards Shermhorn, who shoveled it past Turco on his backhand to send Maine to the national championship, ending one of the greatest college hockey games ever. It went down as the longest game in NCAA Tournament history, and the second longest game in Division I history. 

The Aftermath

The thrilling win was the peak of Maine’s season, as they had absolutely nothing left in the tank to face Boston University two days later in the national championship. They lost 6-2 to the Terriers, unable to close the book on a second title in three years. Both Maine and Michigan would win titles in the near future, however, as the Wolverines, whose triple-overtime loss cost them their first championship-game berth in 18 years, would rally to win it all the next year. The Wolverines handled Boston University, 4-0, in the semifinals, before escaping Colorado College in a mere single-overtime victory to take the title. Michigan won again in 1998 for their second title in three years. Maine had a two-season postseason ban due to NCAA sanctions regarding ineligible players. In ‘98, Maine almost stole an automatic bid, but they came up one goal short in the Hockey East final, missing the NCAA Tournament. They returned with an upset run in 1999, winning two overtime contests in the Frozen Four against Boston College and New Hampshire to win their second, and as of now, latest championship. Maine and Michigan have met twice in the NCAA Tournament since their record-holding game in ‘95, splitting the contests in 2000 and 2003.