Own the group chat with The Weekender, highlighting the biggest stories in college sports, standout writing from Eleven Warriors, and a glance at what's next.
JUSTIN FIELDS: STILL ON FIRE
This isn't exactly "college sports" obviously but man it's hard not to talk about former Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields. The Chicago Bears wrapped up the NFL preseason slate last night and Fields went out in style.
Fields into a tight window for SIX. @justnfields— NFL (@NFL) August 29, 2021
: #CHIvsTEN on @NFLNetwork (or check local listings)
: https://t.co/fuBaH7nb4O pic.twitter.com/boIVuztVHf
Like any rookie, he had some less-than-stellar moments but there were also standout plays in each game signaling he's ready for the show.
Pretty sure this Justin Fields throw wouldnt be allowed on OnlyFans in October #Bears pic.twitter.com/jA05hnzzZQ— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) August 21, 2021
It seems he's only going to get better with increased reps and while the Bears continue to indicate Andy Dalton will start the season opener, it's just a matter of time.
With the preseason complete for Chicago, Fields posted a 96.9 QBR, completing 30-of-49 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown. Dalton? An 82.2 QBR as he completed 13-of-21 for 164 yards with a touchdown and a pick. One of his 13 completions went for 73 yards, so the other 12 went for 91.
At this point, it seems their career trajectories can be summed up by the last pass from each this preseason.
their final preseason pass attempt of 2021:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 29, 2021
Andy Dalton vs Justin Fields pic.twitter.com/fQjTzXzXOJ
B1G, PAC-12, ACC ALLIANCE SHARED IN CONCEPT
In response to the SEC snagging Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12, right under the nose of pretty much everyone, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC power brokers circled the wagons and announced an alliance focused on inter-conference scheduling in football and basketball.
The announcement signaled the conferences haven't had much time to really work out particulars - all of it was pure reaction to the SEC bomb - and nothing contractual is remotely close to complete. Obstacles ranging from existing non-conference game commitments outside the three conferences, the ACC's hilarious TV deal with ESPN and in-conference game scheduling challenges (B1G maybe going from 9-game to 8-games) remain.
With so many questions, the commissioners offered pretty vague answers.
But hey, at least the Big Ten didn't knee-jerk too badly and work to add mediocre schools like Iowa State and Kansas to the league. Yet?
BRUCE FELDMAN IS DECIDEDLY NOT ABOARD THE OSU HYPE TRAIN
Bruce Feldman, a generally very well respected reporter and writer within the college football landscape, didn't exactly have flattering things to say about Ryan Day's squad, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, as he joined Ryen Russillo's podcast earlier this week.
It's easy for fans to be outraged these days but honestly, this isn't an unreasonable take:
"The defense, I don’t know if they’re going to be that good. I think people forget, when Jeff Hafley got hired there by Ryan Day, that was a great hire. He made a profound impact on them defensively. I’m not sure how much different they’re going to be on defense. That’s an interesting one for me."
It's likely the defense will actually be much better than last season, particularly the secondary since it ranked No. 122 out of 127 teams, but it's fair to wonder if decent improvement will be enough for the Buckeyes to be an elite overall team.
Where it becomes harder to defend is when he surmises Oklahoma will have a better defense than Ohio State, as if he forgot Alex Grinch is still alive.
The cherry on top comes in the form of:
“I think they probably will win the Big Ten, but I think they are a 10-2 kind of team, more than anything.”
“I don’t know if they’re that much better than Iowa, to be honest.”
Someone must be living in a state where recreational is now legal.
FINAL PRESEASON DEPTH CHART PROJECTION
Senior reporter Dan Hope knows the Buckeyes. Ahead of next Thursday's season opener versus Minnesota, Dan dropped his two-deep projection. It's a must read before kickoff if you want to be the smartest person at your viewing party.
LATHAN RANSOM LIKELY TO BE A SWISS ARMY KNIFE OF SORTS IN OSU SECONDARY
Our shiny new beat writer, Griffin Strom, has the goods on how Ohio State secondary coach Matt Barnes plans to use Lathan Ransom this fall. With fans clamoring for some new blood in the pass defense, Ransom appears in line to see snaps at multiple spots.
RYAN DAY FOCUSING ON WHAT HE CAN CONTROL HEADING INTO HIS THIRD SEASON
Dan scored a one-on-one with Ryan Day earlier this week and the two had a chance to catch up on Day's outlook heading into the season, how he's leading the program against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, and more.
- Monday, August 30: Ryan Day's game week presser begins at 12:00 p.m. ET
- Thursday, September 2: Ohio State opens the football season against Minnesota in Minneapolis.
- Saturday, November 27: The Game