Skull Session: Peacock Strikes Back, Ohio State Would Be Ranked Seventh in the Current BCS Poll and Cody Simon Has Been Impressive in 2023

By Chase Brown on October 3, 2023 at 5:00 am
TreVeyon Henderson
Adam Cairns/USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

C.J. Stroud is The Real Deal.

Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?

 PEACOCK STRIKES BACK. On Aug. 15, The Action Network's Brett McMurphy, a.k.a. “Persona Non-Grata” to Skull Session readers, reported that Ohio State's Week 6 matchup with Maryland would be televised on Peacock, leading Buckeye Nation to lament that their favorite college football team would be forced to face the Terrapins on a streaming-only platform.

As the matchup between the Buckeyes and Terps drew closer, and Peacock approached Columbus like the Death Star closed in on Yavin 4 at the end of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, Gene Smith hopped in his X-Wing, located the thermal exhaust port and – as the NBC executives shouted, "I have you now!" – fired his ion torpedos and blew up the company's threat to Ohio State fans. The Big Ten announced on Sept. 25 that Ohio State-Maryland would be broadcast on Big Noon Saturday on FOX.

However, like the Galactic Empire in Episode V, Peacock struck back.

On Monday, the Big Ten revealed Ohio State's Oct. 14 matchup with Purdue, which will kick off at noon inside Ross-Ade Stadium, will be a Peacock exclusive. The reaction from the Ohio State faithful was... as expected.

Unfortunately, Peacock does not offer free trials. The service's current price plans include its "Premium" and "Premium Plus" packages, with the former provided at $5.99 per month and the latter at $11.99 (plus taxes and fees). That means we will all have to break open the wallets to watch the Buckeyes on Oct. 14 – that, or listen to the sweet, sweet vocals of Paul Keels and Jim Lachey on the FM radio.

 REMEMBER THE BCS? Once upon a time, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) determined college football's five marquee postseason games: The BCS National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl Game and the Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl. To select teams for each postseason matchup, the BCS relied on a combination of polls and computer selection methods to rank them, narrowing the field to two schools that would compete in the national championship.

In 2014, the College Football Playoff replaced the BCS, which eliminated computers from the selection process in favor of a 13-member committee. Despite its lack of impact on the current college football postseason, the BCS selection system, also called the Colley Matrix, lives on in 2023. On Oct. 1, the Colley Matrix released its latest college football top 25 ahead of Week 6.

We'll have a look for old times' sake.

After five weeks of the 2023 season, the top teams in the BCS would have been Texas, Penn State, Michigan, Missouri, Washington, Oklahoma and then, at No. 7 overall, THE World Famous Ohio State Buckeyes ahead of Washington State, Miami (FL) and North Carolina.

TEXAS 0.974464 5-0 0.664249: 1 1 3
PENN ST. 0.886551 5-0 0.541171: 46 1 2
MICHIGAN 0.885343 5-0 0.539480: 48 0 2
MISSOURI 0.881561 5-0 0.534186: 57 0 2
WASHINGTON 0.878223 5-0 0.529512: 63 0 0
OKLAHOMA 0.873902 5-0 0.523463: 74 0 0
OHIO ST. 0.858547 4-0 0.537821: 53 1 1
WASHINGTON ST. 0.850820 4-0 0.526230: 71 0 2
MIAMI (FL) 0.844325 4-0 0. 516487: 77 1 2
NORTH CAROLINA 0.832073 4-0 0.498110: 92 0 1

The rest of the top 25 consists of Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, Louisville, Oregon, James Madison, Notre Dame, Liberty, USC, Iowa, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Fresno State and Utah.

For those who wonder, "How does the Colley Matrix determine ranks for each time?" Here is how Wesley N. Colley explained the process:

The Colley Matrix has no bias toward conference, tradition, and history (and, hence, has no pre-season poll). It is reproducible. It uses a minimum of assumptions. It uses no ad hoc adjustments. It adjusts for strength of schedule. It ignores runaway scores. It produces common sense results.

Sure. That explanation makes sense. It doesn't necessarily explain how Missouri is a top-four team in the nation, but I suppose that explanation makes sense.

Ohio State is No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll before its Week 6 showdown with Maryland, which would indicate that human voters have some bias toward conference, tradition, scores, strength of schedule – all that good stuff. But who knows? Regardless, the Buckeyes are one of college football's best teams in 2023, and I love the sound of that.

FWIW, here is where the Colley Matrix has each of Ohio State's remaining opponents ranked after five weeks: Maryland (26), Purdue (72), Penn State (2), Wisconsin (33), Rutgers (35), Michigan State (73), Minnesota (57) and Michigan (3).

 CODY SIMON STOCKS ARE HIGH. Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers are Ohio State's clear-cut starters at linebacker and should be for the remainder of the season. Still, I have admired the collective performances of backup Cody Simon in Ohio State's undefeated start to the year.

Across four appearances as a backup linebacker and special teams standout, Simon has recorded 11 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. None of those tackles have been more important than a crucial fourth-down stop of Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman in the Buckeyes' 17-14 win over the Irish on Sept. 23.

With that heads-up play and more, Simon's efforts have impressed Jim Knowles. The Ohio State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach made that known when he appeared on The Ryan Day Radio Show to discuss the Buckeyes' defense at the end of last week.

"Cody Simon is really a guy who has practiced well, who is accountable, who is dependable," Knowles said. "We have to find ways to get him more snaps."

Simon has also excelled off the field in 2023.

Last week, Simon was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, an award given annually to the best football scholar-athlete in America who exemplifies "academic success, football performance and leadership" in his program. Simon is one of 201 semifinalists for the accolade. Those semifinalists average a GPA of 3.65, and more than half of them – 121, to be exact – have already received their bachelor’s degree.

Simon is a three-time Ohio State scholar-athlete and two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. A finance major in the Fisher College of Business, Simon is now a candidate to become the third Buckeye to win the Campbell Trophy after quarterbacks Bobby Hoying and Craig Krenzel won in 1995 and 2003.

All that said, Simon's stocks are up as Ohio State barrels toward its Week 6 matchup with Maryland. I expect those stocks will continue to rise after the Buckeyes' off week.

 EMEKA, EMEKA, HE'S OUR MAN. I didn't praise Emeka Egbuka for his performance in Ohio State's win over Notre Dame. Egbuka had seven receptions for 96 yards in the contest, including a crucial catch on 3rd-and-19 in the Buckeyes' game-winning touchdown drive to beat the Irish. 

Thankfully, I was reminded of Egbuka's excellent efforts when Ohio State posted that Egbuka was named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll for his performance in the top-10 win in South Bend, Indiana.

Egbuka has been the perfect WR2 for Ohio State this season.

That sentence is insane to write, as the Steilacoom, Washington, native would be a WR1 at the 132 other schools in the FBS – or, in other words, all the schools Marvin Harrison Jr. does not attend.

Here are the stats for Ohio State's pass-catchers after four weeks:

  • Marvin Harrison Jr.: 17 receptions, 336 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Emeka Egbuka: 19 receptions, 263 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Cade Stover: 17 receptions, 240 yards
  • Julian Fleming: 13 receptions, 108 yards
  • Carnell Tate: 4 receptions, 75 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Xavier Johnson: 3 receptions, 46 yards
  • TreVeyon Henderson: 3 receptions, 45 yards
  • Miyan Williams: 2 receptions, 39 yards
  • Chip Trayanum: 2 receptions, 24 yards
  • Gee Scott Jr.: 4 receptions, 20 yards
  • Dallan Hayden: 1 reception, -2 yards

Of course, Harrison will garner the attention and headlines for the rest of the season – and deservedly so. He is the best receiver in college football, after all. Still, we must remember how incredible it is that Egbuka, Mr. Reliable, lines up next to Marvelous Marv, Route Man Marv, Super Marv, etc. He is almost as marvelous and super as Harrison and will continue as one of Ohio State's top offensive options from here on out.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "China Grove" by The Doobie Brothers.

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