College Football Preview: Ohio State at USC

Kickoff: Saturday @ 8:00 PM ET, ABC
Records: Ohio State (2-0); USC (1-0)
Spread: USC –12.5

Mark Sanchez
Game Matchup:
The biggest question surrounding this game is whether or not Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells will see the field. Wells injured his leg in the opener, missed last week’s win over Ohio and has been deemed “doubtful” by Buckeyes’ head coach Jim Tressel for Saturday night’s grudge match. If Wells can’t play, Daniel Herron, Mauirce Wells (who struggled against Ohio last week) and Brandon Saine will all see action Saturday night.
The Trojans are coming off a bye after dismantling Virginia 52-7 in the opening week of the season. QB Mark Sanchez threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, but he’ll face a much greater challenge against a talented, and highly experienced Buckeye defense. One thing to keep an eye on is how Sanchez and an inexperienced USC offensive line holds up against the pressure OSU will likely bring for the entire game.

Prediction:
Don’t make the mistake most will in assuming that just because Ohio State struggled with Ohio last week that they’ll get smoked by USC. The Trojans looked good against Virginia, but the Cavaliers’ talent level has dipped dramatically from last year and the Buckeyes match up very well against USC’s pro-style offense. The issue for OSU is whether or not their run game can be effective without Beanie Wells. The Trojans have the best linebacker corps in the nation and an outstanding front seven. If they shut down the Buckeye running game and force QB Todd Boeckman to beat them through the air, OSU is going to be in trouble. Pete Carroll’s Trojans are also incredibly tough to beat at home, but forget the blowout; this should be a tight game. USC 24, Ohio State 20.

Also be sure to check out our official Ohio State-USC smack talk thread.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Couch Potato Alert: 9/12

Kansas vs. South Florida
Seeking a repeat of their 2007 season, Coach Mark Mangino leads the 13th-ranked Jayhawks into Miami’s Raymond James Stadium on Friday night, when they face-off against #19 South Florida. This will be the second meeting between the two schools, the other was in 2006, a 13-7 Jayhawk victory in Lawrence. (click here for Anthony Stalter’s game preview)

Ohio State vs. USC
This game is being billed as “The Collision at the Coliseum,” but the Jaws of Life might be needed to save the Buckeyes if they do not bring their “A” game to Los Angeles. The key to this matchup is for OSU’s offensive line to get physical with Southern Cal’s defensive front. If they do not win the battle at the line of scrimmage, it will not matter who is running the football for Ohio State (RB Chris “Beanie” Wells, ankle, is a game-time decision). Road wins against the Trojans are a scarce commodity in the Pete Carroll era, as they hold a 39-3 mark at the Coliseum. This contest will played on Saturday night in front of a nationally-televised audience on ABC at 8:00 PM EST.

Wisconsin vs. Fresno State
The Badgers will travel to Central Valley, California to play in the most important game in Bulldog football history. Fresno State dominated Rutgers in their season opener, but they will need a victory Saturday night to keep their hopes of a BCS bowl berth alive. Wisconsin just needs a win to stay in the national title hunt. Tune in Saturday night at 10:30 PM EST on ESPN2 for this pivotal non-conference game.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Brewers are trying to avoid another late-season collapse after coughing up an 8 ½ game lead in the NL Central last season. The Phillies will try to use this series as a springboard in getting back to the post-season. This is a key four-game series for both teams, with the Brewers three games ahead of the Phillies in the NL Wild Card race after losing the series opener last night 6-3 in Philadelphia.

San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
Too many injuries for the Chargers to overcome this week, with Shawne Merriman on the mend until 2009 and now LaDainan Tomlinson and Antonio Gates each nursing injured big toes. (But both are expected to play on Sunday.) The Broncos offense appeared to be in mid-season form in their opener on Monday night.. Were they that good or were the Raiders that dreadful? That question will not be answered for at least another month, but a victory in this game could go a long way in establishing the Broncos as an AFC contender. Check your local CBS affiliate to see if they are televising this game at 4:00 PM ET.

Beanie Wells now doubtful for USC game

Beanie WellsOhio State head coach Jim Tressel said Thursday that running back Chris “Beanie” Wells (foot injury) is now doubtful to play against USC this Saturday. Just two days ago, Tressel said Wells would play this weekend.

Tressel said there was lingering soreness for Wells in his right foot after he worked out on Wednesday night. Wells did not practice with the team Thursday morning just before it departed for Los Angeles.

“We were hoping he’d wake up this morning and feel even better than yesterday,” Tressel said shortly before boarding the team bus to the airport. “But it didn’t happen. We’ll see from here.”
Tressel did not rule out the possibility of the junior seeing action, but did not sound optimistic.

“Beanie practiced about 20 carries yesterday, and maybe 20 percent of the practice,” Tressel said. “We didn’t have him work today. He had more soreness this morning than we had hoped for. A late afternoon practice followed by a morning practice, we’re hoping that’s a little bit of the reason why. So we’ll just have to play it by ear.”

Obviously this is a huge game, but Tressel has to keep Wells’ best interest in mind. If he plays hurt and further injures his leg, the Buckeyes could lose Wells for the entire season or worse, possibly screw up his career. But as a college football fan, it’s incredibly disappointing that Wells might not play Saturday night. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Tressel sticks with Maurice Wells, who was incredibly ineffective last Saturday against Ohio.

Athlete Profile: Chris “Beanie” Wells

Chris For someone who stands 6’1” and 235 lbs., Chris “Beanie” Wells rushes with the speed of a 100-meter sprinter and the finesse of a rhythm gymnast. He’s able to see the tiniest of pockets in a defensive line, or seems to have a sixth sense for where they’ll open up. After using this intuition to map his route, he exploits his opposition’s vulnerability like no other. He spins out of tackles using his craftiness, burrows through them with his strength, and gathers extra yardage with his exceptional speed.

Wells once told his father that he wanted to be the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Though this did not come true, Wells was a true freshman in his first year at Ohio State, playing in all 13 games. Even though he was just one player on a talented offense, Wells still finished second on the team in rushing with 576 yards on 104 carries.

By his second year, the spotlight was officially on Wells, and he was voted Most Valuable Player by his teammates. Wells rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns, which ranked him fourth among all-time OSU single-season running backs and first among sophomore rushers.

But a memorable 38-24 loss to LSU in the 2008 BCS title game still haunts Wells and the Ohio State campus. In his third (and likely final) college season, Wells is projected by many to win the Heisman. Along with quarterback Todd Boeckman and an outstanding defense, Wells is expected to lead the Buckeyes to yet another BCS national championship.

An Ohio boy through and through, Wells was raised by his parents in Akron, Ohio along with his ten siblings. Ohio State was always the first choice for Wells, who was scouted by many prestigious schools after his time at Akron Garfield High School. It’s only been two years at OSU, but former Buckeye and two-time Heisman Trophy Winner Archie Griffin is already comparing “Beanie” to Jim Brown.

Obviously, this young man has boundless potential. If he can get over his nagging ankle and wrist injuries, he’ll likely fulfill it.


Read the rest after the jump...

Week 3 College Football Primer

Time to check out the big games, top matchups and potential upsets as college football heads into Week 3.

Mark SanchezTop 25 Action:
No. 5 Ohio State (2-0) at No. 1 USC (1-0), Saturday 8:00 PM ET ABC
OSU head coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that Heisman candidate Beanie Wells will play Saturday in Southern Cal. The Buckeyes are going to need all the offensive firepower they can get against one of the best front sevens in the nation. USC quarterback Mark Sanchez shredded Virginia for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1, but OSU’s defense is loaded with experienced talent. This is one of the most anticipated college football games of the year and should be a tight contest, although oddsmakers have made the Trojans 10.5-point favorites. (Check out our offical Ohio State-USC smack talk thread as well.)

No. 13 Kansas (2-0) at No. 19 South Florida (2-0), Friday 8:00 PM ET ESPN2
This is a tremendous matchup to kick off the Week 3 schedule as Kansas and its high-powered offense take on South Florida, which has the No. 1 ranked defense in college football. In their two wins, the Jayhawks averaged over 450 yards a game, but they go up against a Bulls’ defense Friday night that has only allowed an average of 161.5 yards per game. Oddsmakers have listed South Florida as a 3-point home favorite.

No. 10 Wisconsin (2-0) at No. 21 Fresno State (1-0), 10:30 PM ET ESPN2
Marshall rolled out to a 14-0 lead on the Badgers last week before Wisconsin eventually settled down and hammered the Thundering Heard 51-14 to improve to 2-0 on the year. Fresno State dismantled Rutgers 24-7 in New Jersey in Week 1 and should be well rested coming off a bye last week. One thing to keep an eye on is the health status of Wisconsin TE Travis Beckum, who missed the Badgers’ first two games this year with a bad hamstring. Beckum is highly regarded as one of the top tight end prospect in college football and is expected to play this weekend.

Chris SmelleyNo. 2 Georgia (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1), Saturday 3:30 PM ET CBS
Before being upset by Vanderbilt last week, the Game Cocks were supposed to be Georgia’s first real test of the 2008 season. One has to assume that South Carolina is going to come out fired up after being bounced from the top 25 following their loss to the Commodores. The Bulldogs absolutely hammered Central Michigan last week, but can’t take anything for granted this Saturday playing a pissed off Steve Spurrier squad. SC is a 7.5-point home underdog.

Upset Watch:
UCLA (1-0) at No. 18 BYU (2-0)
Washington gave BYU all it could handle in Week 2 before the Cougars eventually eked out a 28-27 win. And the last time we saw the Bruins, they were upsetting Tennessee in the first week of the season. While this wouldn’t be a huge upset, it would be the second time in two chances that UCLA knocks off a ranked opponent. And with Fresno State, Oregon, California, ASU and USC on their schedule, the Bruins will have plenty of opportunities to make some noise and possibly become one of the best surprises of the season. BYU is currently an 8-point favorite.

Other notable games:
No. 14 East Carolina at Tulane – Saturday, 3:00 PM ET
No. 3 Oklahoma at Washington – Saturday, 7:45 PM ET
Arkansas at No. 8 Texas – Saturday, 3:30 PM ET

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