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College Football Spotlight

The Great Debate

September 07, 2003|JAY CHRISTENSEN;JIM RHODE

In light of Ohio State's narrow victory over San Diego State and the Maurice Clarett situation, will the Buckeyes be contenders for the national championship they won last season?

POINT: It's one thing to be the hunter, but another to be the hunted. Ohio State is finding out that national champions don't repeat. And making the Buckeyes' task more difficult is the Clarett circus. No wonder Coach Jim Tressel and his players are trying to distance themselves from the troubled tailback. But the Buckeyes won't be defending any title -- Big Ten or otherwise -- without Clarett. Last season, with Clarett leading the charge, Ohio State averaged 4.3 yards a carry. This season? It's a pedestrian 3.3. The Buckeyes have won 16 in a row, but that streak will end Saturday when North Carolina State comes to "The Horseshoe."

JAY CHRISTENSEN

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COUNTERPOINT: What in the name of Woody Hayes are we talking about here? Of course Ohio State will be a national championship contender. OK, Saturday's victory over San Diego State was as ugly as Oregon's new uniforms. But hey, the Aztecs led the Buckeyes at halftime in Columbus two years ago before losing, 27-12, and seem to send as many players to the NFL as most of Ohio State's Big Ten brethren. And remember, half of the Buckeyes' 14 victories in their national championship run were by seven points or less, so they've been through this Houdini routine. The sooner that the Ohio State coaching staff forgets about Clarett and remembers how good a receiver two-way star Chris Gamble is, the better the offense will be. Craig Krenzel was a scatter-armed five for 20 passing against San Diego State, but will be on the money when the BCS chips are down. Tressel-mania will live on in Columbus

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-- JIM RHODE

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