Big Board: Week 9 

Michael Penix

Which college football team is most likely bound for the College Football Playoff National Championship. 

That answer could remain in either No. 1 Georgia or No. 2 Michigan, while the latter is currently the subject of an alleged sign stealing investigation by the NCAA. 

PODCAST: Do we have any more clarity after some major week eight decisions?

Or, it could be any of the remaining six unbeaten teams, such as No. 3 Ohio State or No. 4 Florida State. 

Penn State and North Carolina suffered their first losses of the season in Week 8 and face an uphill climb back into title contention. 

Here are several players and notes to keep a tab on in this week’s Big Board. 

Midseason All-American lists are released 

A number of outlets released their midseason All-American lists in recent weeks, including Sporting News, The Associated Press and ESPN

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was unanimously named to all three midseason All-American lists. He is joined by Notre Dame running back Audric Estime, LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers and Georgia tight end Brock Bowers as offensive skill players named to all three lists. 

Among the others who were named unanimous midseason All-Americans includes: offensive guards Cooper Beebe of Kansas State and Zak Zinter of Michigan; linebacker Dallas Turner of Alabama; edge rusher Laiatu Latu of UCLA; defensive lineman Howard Cross III of Notre Dame; linebacker Edgerrin Cooper of Texas A&M; safeties Malaki Starks of Georgia and Jaylin Simpson of Auburn; and punter Tory Taylor of Iowa. 

How will Ewers’ injury impact Texas? 

According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers “is expected to miss some time” with a grade 2 AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder. 

The Longhorns nearly suffered a setback at the hands of Houston on Saturday. They escaped with a 31-24 win but now face questions surrounding their quarterback position. 

Ewers ranked No. 10 in completion percentage and No. 15 in passing efficiency among quarterbacks this season. He’s a key part of the Longhorns offense in year two with Ewers under center. 

So where does Texas turn from here? The answer may already have been in front of the Longhorns with quarterback Maalik Murphy. 

Murphy entered the game after Ewers departed, and he filled the role while Texas held off the Cougars. Murphy completed one pass for seven yards among two attempts. 

Murphy is a former four-star recruit according to 247 Sports, and he has the tools necessary to keep Texas afloat this season, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 238 pounds. Texas also has five-star freshman Arch Manning in the same quarterbacks room. 

Texas has five games left before conference championship season heats up, and the Longhorns are prime in the Big 12 race. Their loss to Oklahoma could loom large, as does a potential rematch, but Ewers’ absence will loom even larger until his return. 

How will Ohio State’s defense hold up the rest of the season? 

Ryan Day said the Buckeyes played “championship level” defense against Penn State on Saturday. 

Ohio State isn’t typically known for its defense. High-powered, explosive offense is usually the name of the game for the Buckeyes. 

READ: Quotables: Week 8

But in 2023, teams are having trouble moving the ball and scoring against the Buckeyes. They rank No. 4 in the country in total defense allowing an average of 260.1 yards per game and No. 3 in scoring defense allowing 10 points per game. 

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has transformed the Ohio State defense in two years under his tutelage. He attributed the dramatic change thus far to “knowing the scheme” and having it honed against opponents. 

Ohio State will face three teams among its final five games that rank within the bottom half of the Big Ten Conference in total offense: Rutgers, Michigan State and Minnesota. 

The other two remaining games are against Wisconsin, which ranks fifth in the conference, and at Michigan, which is third. It’ll be a test and fun challenge to see how the Buckeyes continue to hold up and do so among the best nationally.