Top 50 stories of 2014: No. 35-31
As we approach the end of the 2014 calendar year, we’re looking back at the top 50 stories in college football for the year. Today, we look at No. 40-36.
- No. 50-46: McCarron, Saturday morning, Phyllis, Lattimore & Dillon Day
- No. 45-41: Penn St, Alabama flag at Kyle Field, SEC Network, DGB, Fournette
- No. 40-36: Kentucky’s collapse, Oregon, UNC academics, Michigan burns, Lutzenkirchen
No. 35 – Ohio State’s Three Quarterback System
When news broke just prior to season kickoff that Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller would be out for the season, college football fans figured Ohio State’s chances for a championship run in 2014 were over.
After a bad loss to Virginia Tech during its second game, Ohio State’s season looked to possibly unravel. The following week, however, quarterback J.T. Barrett tied an Ohio State record with six touchdowns in a 66-0 rout of Kent State, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
When Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan in the last game of the regular season, Ohio State would be forced to start its third string quarterback against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Urban Meyer showed the country that his team can win no matter who he has under center, and the Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin 59-0. Following the result, Ohio State shocked the nation as Meyer’s squad jumped into the 4th seed of the College Football Playoff.
It was quite a season for the rejuvenated Urban Meyer who appears to have his team hitting on all cylinders. Ohio State plays Alabama on January 1, 2014 in the Sugar Bowl.
As we look to the postseason, the Braxton Miller free agency could be quite a story and even impact some SEC teams.
No. 34 – Missouri Wins The East Again
Before the season, the media predicted a 4th place finish for the Missouri Tigers in the SEC East this season. Last year’s east championship was a fluke right?
Despite ugly losses at home to Indiana and Georgia, Gary Pinkel once against masterfully coached his team to a ten win season.
Missouri will square off against Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL at 1:00 PM on January 1, 2015.
Regardless of the bowl outcome, Mizzou will likely not be predicted to win the east next season. Pinkel and his players at this point not only expect it, but probably prefer it.
No. 33 – Manziel & Clowney Hit The NFL
For SEC fans, the NFL Draft last May was quite an event as the two most intriguing draft prospects were the SEC’s own Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel. Clowney was selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans, and Manziel was chosen at the No. 22 slot by the Cleveland Browns.
Despite all the hoopla and around the clock coverage, Manziel and Clowney have been quite the duds during their rookie seasons in the NFL (at least to this point in the season).
Clowney has played in only four games – starting two of them – and recently announced that he would miss the remainder of the season due to a right knee injury. The freak athlete just underwent microfracture surgery and will be out of football for nine months. We hope he recovers fully and quickly.
Manziel remains healthy and in the mix, and he has shown flashes of his Johnny Football magic at the NFL level:
It was announced this week that Manziel will start his first NFL game this weekend, so start working on your “money sign” gestures.
No. 32 – Rushing Records Apparently Aren’t Difficult To Break
For fifteen years, TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson held the single game rushing record of 406 yards. Tomlinson secured the record on Nov. 20, 1999 against UTEP. In 2014, that record went down not once, but twice… during the span of two weeks.
Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 408 yards against Nebraska on Nov. 15, 2014. It was a great moment celebrated by college football fans everywhere…
…Except that Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine broke the new record one week later. Perine rushed for 427 yards on 34 carries as Oklahoma beat Kansas 44-7.
No. 31 – SEC Bias & Danny Kanell
Despite the SEC’s streak of consecutive national championships coming to an end in January, one of the major storylines that caught fire this season was the idea that ESPN had “SEC bias.” The launch of the SEC Network provided a catalyst for media and fans to criticize the Worldwide Leader with regards to having a financial interest in the success of SEC football teams on the field.
The idea of ESPN in bed with the SEC of course is a sexy topic for message board conspiracy theorists and twitter users. Reddit users on the CFB sub-reddit began posting counts of how many minutes were devoted to each conference on the ESPN College GameDay telecast in an attempt to provide quantitative data on the bias towards the SEC.
The claims provoked responses from ESPN on-air talent such as Chris Fowler:
Meanwhile at ESPN, former Florida State quarterback and current ESPN analyst Danny Kanell made it his mission to be the voice of opposition to the SEC-centric world of college football. Kanell is a friend of SDS, and he is quick to make it clear that his intent isn’t to be anti-SEC, but rather be a voice for the other conferences which he views as not getting enough love.
When we talked to Kanell this season, he clarified his position:
I do think that some of the conversation that surrounds the SEC gets way too heavily skewed toward — I don’t want to say favoritism, but the perception and the reputation of the SEC benefits them tremendously in the big picture. When people ask me who’s the best conference, coming into the season I said it was the SEC and the Pac-12 was right on their heels. Now, I’m not going to deny the SEC is the strongest conference out there. My biggest argument is that the gap is smaller than most people think.
As we continue counting down, we’ll take a look at Spurrier and Bielema, hilarious videos, mascot protection and more.