Big Ten Notebook: O'Brien downplays early success
College Football Videos
An open date on the schedule gives Penn State coach Bill O'Brien a chance to catch his breath and reflect on the first half of the season.
One thing he won't ponder is his early candidacy for the national coach of the year award.
“I've only coached six games in my whole career, so that's the farthest thing from my mind,” O'Brien said Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. “We're 4-2 and we have ‘Murderer's Row' coming up here, starting with Iowa (Oct. 20).”
O'Brien has created a buzz by holding Penn State's program together in the aftermath of severe NCAA sanctions and leading the Nittany Lions to four consecutive wins after an 0-2 start.
“You really appreciate guys that play the game the way that they do,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said when asked about O'Brien's job so far. “It seems like they're playing very, very well and getting better every week. I think that's the sign of a great coach. To have guys believing the way they are, it's probably a pretty fun experience.”
Penn State is scheduled to practice Wednesday, and O'Brien will likely give players the rest of the week off. He said special teams has been an emphasis during the short week of practice, and the first-year coach acknowledged that running back Bill Belton will benefit as much as anyone from the break.
Belton is still recovering from a high-ankle sprain in the opening game of the season. The sophomore had just four carries in Penn State's 39-28 win over Northwestern last Saturday.
“I think that probably Billy's not 100 percent,” O'Brien said. “I do think that this bye week will help him heal up, but also get back into the rhythm of the offense.”
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is part of the pack pursuing West Virginia's Geno Smith — the early frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
Miller, a sophomore, is third in the Big Ten with 127.2 rushing yards per game, and he has led the Buckeyes to a 6-0 start and No. 8 rank in The Associated Press poll. Miller tormented Nebraska last Saturday, rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown in Ohio State's 63-38 win.
“Percy Harvin and Braxton Miller are the two best runners I've ever had,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Harvin starred for Meyer at Florida, and he is now a top wide receiver/kick returner for the Minnesota Vikings.
Millers' ascent is a major reason why Ohio State is the Big Ten's lone unbeaten team.
The Buckeyes will have to guard against a letdown Saturday at Indiana after back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Nebraska.
“We're not at the point where we can start overlooking anybody, because we certainly don't have the answers,” Meyer said. “That is a concern, however. These kids are 6-0, and a lot of people are telling them how good they are, and quite honestly, we have a long way to go.”
Clash of titans?
Talks are under way between Wisconsin and Alabama, and the two traditional powerhouses could meet in a season-opening game in 2015.
The Badgers had been considered for the Sept. 1 game that Alabama and Michigan played at Cowboys Stadium.
“They approached us, and we just couldn't make it work,” Bielema said. “We typically get approached with those things a lot in December and January, and because of the way things are evolving now with the strength of schedule and the playoff system, I'm sure that's something everyone's going to take into review.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Connellsville Polar Bear Club ready for New Year’s
- Greater Connellsville chamber seeks nominations
- Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
- Old-school booksellers learn to survive, thrive in digital age
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- Allegheny County district attorney prosecutors move on to state office