Chat with Mark Schlabach
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, college football reporter Mark Schlabach stops by to chat about the season.
Schlabach joined ESPN.com in July 2006 as a college football and basketball columnist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Schlabach spent nine years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Georgia and the SEC, as well as the NFL and NASCAR. Before joining ESPN, Schlabach spent two years at the Washington Post covering college football and basketball, and boxing.
Send your questions now and join Schlabach to chat Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:10 PM)
Mark is here!
Mark Schlabach (2:11 PM)
Sorry I'm late. I'm headed to Starkville for the game tonight.
r c (BR LA)
How do see the Miss St VS LSU tonight? Who wins and how?
Mark Schlabach (2:12 PM)
I've actually got MSU in an upset. I think LSU's a better team, but the Bulldogs are going to be desperate to not go 0-2 in the SEC West. State is going to have to run the ball against a very good LSU defense, it won't be easy.
How important is this game to the Noles for the future of the program? I hear Mario Edwards is now looking at Oklahoma and can the Noles slow down the Sooners?
Mark Schlabach (2:13 PM)
I think an upset win over OU would go a long way to putting FSU back among the elite. But if you talk to anybody at FSU, they really think that 2012 will be their breakout season. I think they are capable of beating the Sooners at home, but most of their best offensive players are freshmen.
What does it take for UCF to break into top 25? Wins at FIU and BYU?
Mark Schlabach (2:14 PM)
They've been very impressive in their first two games. They're probably very close to breaking into the top 25. Wins over an underrated FIU team and BYU would probably grab peoples' attention.
If the Big 12 breaks up and the Big Ten goes to 16 teams, what 4 teams do you think will join? I say Missouri, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Notre Dame (if ND does join, then Rutgers). What are your thoughts?
Mark Schlabach (2:15 PM)
I still think it's a very fluid situation. I'm not sure the Big 12 can stay intact. It certainly doesn't look good at this point. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league isn't interested in expansion right now, but I'm not sure they can stand still if the Pac-12 and/or SEC go to 16 teams.
Why is an unranked 0-2 Note Dame team that looked awful in both of its losses favored against a #15 Michigan State team? MSU has won 10 of the last 14 meetings by the way.
Mark Schlabach (2:17 PM)
I don't think Notre Dame looked awful in their first two games. Their offense is very explosive and moved the ball up and down the field against USF and Michigan. At some point, they'll stop turning the ball over. The game is being played at South Bend and Notre Dame will be desperate to not go 0-3.
Tim (Portland, Or)
Maryland being favored over WVU this week, how much do you think it has to do with all the media attention about the uniforms and a win? How depleted was Miami in your book?
Mark Schlabach (2:17 PM)
I think it has more to do with the fact that WVU trailed Norfolk State at the half.
Michigan wins 9 games...over/under/push?
Mark Schlabach (2:18 PM)
I think 8 or 9 wins are certainly possible after a 2-0 start. But Michigan's defense is still pretty bad and it's giving up a ton of yards.
Isn't anyone going to stand up against all this super-conference posturing??? This will be the end of college football as we know and LOVE!
Mark Schlabach (2:19 PM)
Every school seems to be looking out for its own interests and there doesn't seem to be a lot of cooperation. I personally believe that super conferences would be bad, because it makes programs like Army, Navy, San Diego State, schools like that even more irrelevant.
Steve (Sav Ga)
how well do you see the bulldogs finishing after starting 0-2?
Mark Schlabach (2:20 PM)
I still think UGA can get to 8-9 wins with games against Mississippi State, Florida, Tennessee and Auburn being toss ups. I think Georgia looked much better against South Carolina until it started turning the ball over. There are some good young talent there, but they have to learn how to finish and win games.
do you see Nebraska as a national title contender in the next few years as Martinez matures?
Mark Schlabach (2:21 PM)
Nebraska's defense is good enough to contend for a Big Ten title and BCS bowl game, but their offense has a ways to go. Martinez has to become a more consistent passer.
Kevin (Severn, MD)
Mark, Do you buy Denard Robinson as a QB? He certainly has the explosive plays but looks to fail at consistency. Your thoughts?
Mark Schlabach (2:22 PM)
I'm buying Denard Robinson as a great football player who makes a lot of explosive plays. I think he still forces too many throws and might have a little too much confidence in his arm.
Do you know the status of Dan Persa? How will his late start affect his playing and Heisman chances?
Mark Schlabach (2:23 PM)
I was hoping to talk to Pat Fitzgerald earlier today. I think Persa will be a gametime decision again. Coming back from an Achilles injury is no easy task. I'm sure there will be some rust.
How far with the loser of OU/FSU fall in the polls?
Mark Schlabach (2:24 PM)
I think it depends on the final score. If it's a close game, I could see either team staying in the top 10. But when you look at the bottom half of the top 10, teams like Oklahoma State, Missouri and Wisconsin are playing pretty well right now.
I am a huge Volunteer fan ever since I was little even though I live in Pittsburgh. My question is who do you think will win in the swamp on Saturday and why?
Mark Schlabach (2:25 PM)
I think I'd have to go with Florida at home. I think the Gators are better on defense and they're finally committed to a running game. Bray and Justin Hunter and Rodgers are as good as anybody in the SEC, but the Vols have to get better on both lines.
Do you think the Husker defense is overrated or Bo and Carl will right the ship this week?
Mark Schlabach (2:26 PM)
I still think they're pretty good on defense. I think they'll be better than they were against Fresno State. They still have great players.
Why has BC become so irrelevant so fast? ACC move (recruiting-wise), coaching, etc.?
Mark Schlabach (2:27 PM)
They were pretty relevant when Matt Ryan played there. I think poor QB play the last couple of seasons have hurt them. I think injuries have been a big problem this season.
Justin (Birmingham AL)
How many games do you see Auburn winning?
Mark Schlabach (2:28 PM)
More than I did two weeks ago. I couldn't see them winning six games after they barely beat Utah State. But I think they'll get better every week and they'll get to a bowl game. But their schedule is still very difficult.
Shawn (Washington DC)
Mark, who wins Pitt vs. Iowa this Saturday?
Mark Schlabach (2:30 PM)
I'm not sure either team is at this point. I might go with Iowa because they're playing at home. I think they're a middle of the pack team in the Big Ten. Pitt might have a better chance at a good season because they play in the Big East.
What are your thoughts on Richt? You think they're going to give him another year if they lose, say 5-6 games?
Mark Schlabach (2:31 PM)
I think if they lose 5-6 games it will be a tough call. If UGA can get to 8-9 wins he'll be safe. You have to remember he still has a $6 million buyout. Georgia's young at some key positions. He might get one more year to prove he can turn it around.
Mike (Columbia, Maryland)
Isn't all this anti-ACC bias a bit overstated? Whenever I hear the ACC equated to the Big East I get a little ill. Granted - the win/loss record has not been good over the past couple of years against OOC opponents - but that doesn't tell the entire story. Many/most of those games were tightly fought contests that could have gone either way.
Mark Schlabach (2:32 PM)
I think the ACC is probably a little bit better than the Big East, but I'm not sure what that really proves. Yes, some of the non conference losses have been close, but that doesn't excuse losing 32 straight games to top five teams from outside the ACC.
Kevin (Severn, MD)
How far away is Maryland from great perennial team? I like what I see so far from the Terps I think.
Mark Schlabach (2:33 PM)
They've got a nucleus to build around in QB Danny O'Brien. I was encouraged that Randy Edsall has opened the playbook on offense. But I don't think we can get too carried away about beating a Miami team that had several suspended starters.
Tom (Lincoln Park)
Mark, what do you think of Michigan State wearing Colorado State/Baylor's uniforms when they play Michigan in October?
Mark Schlabach (2:34 PM)
I'm so sick of every team in the country trying to act like Oregon. Just stick to your traditional uniforms and show up to play.
I am never going to see Arizona play in a Rose Bowl in my life time am I?
Mark Schlabach (2:34 PM)
With USC bared from the post season, is there a worse division in the AQ-BCS teams than the Pac-10 South?
Mark Schlabach (2:35 PM)
Let's see how Florida and Tennessee look in a couple of weeks. The SEC East is as bad as it's been in 20 years. It might give the Pac-12 South a run for its money.
Kevin (Austin, TX)
You're Brian Harsin, the OC at Texas. Who do you choose as your quarterback, Gilbert, McCoy, or Ash?
Mark Schlabach (2:36 PM)
I think Gilbert's days are over. I just don't think he has any confidence left. If I'm UT, I'm think either McCoy or Ash and sticking with one of them.
Paul (Melville, NY)
Mark, How long before Michigan's defense catches up its offense.? Can they be a championship team in next 2 years?
Mark Schlabach (2:37 PM)
It's going to take a couple of years to get the right personnel on defense. I think Greg Mattison is a very good coordinator and they're already fundamentally better on defense. But I think it's going to take a while for that side of the ball to improve.
Matt (Decatur, Al)
Mark, Im a huge Alabama fan with that said what are your thoughts on Trent and his running game so far? Is it just me or does he seem a little sluggish?
Mark Schlabach (2:38 PM)
I think his OL looked a little sluggish. I think he ran the ball better against Penn State. With the revamped OL and a new QB, the defenses are going to key on stopping him.
Thoughts on the two scandal ridden programs facing off in South Florida Saturday night?
Mark Schlabach (2:39 PM)
I think the loser of the Ineligible Bowl....just kidding. If Jacory Harris takes care of the football and doesn't turn it over, Miami is capable of winning. OSU looked pretty ordinary last week.
Who comes out on top in the SEC West?
Mark Schlabach (2:40 PM)
Right now, I would say the winner of the Alabama-LSU game. Both defenses are nasty and whichever team gets better QB play probably ends up winning the division in the end.
Marcus (Dallas, TX)
Should the Big XII somehow hold itself together, which schools do they pick up as replacements for the empty spots left by Nebraska, Colorado, and A&M?
Mark Schlabach (2:41 PM)
I think they'd have to take a look at adding schools like SMU, Houston, TCU and BYU. They'd have to convince the Horn Frogs to not go to the Big East, that the Big 12 would seem to be a better geographic fit.
Mark, does Mississippi State's two injured offensive line starters (one of whom won't play tonight) affect your pick of them upsetting LSU? It will be tough enough to block Barkevious, Freak and Ego healthy, let alone with a banged up OL!
Mark Schlabach (2:42 PM)
Yes. The center and LT are both questionable to play. I think both of them will probably end up going. State has to be able to run the ball straight at LSU, which isn't easy.
Mark, how do you see FSU's defense responding differently in the OU game from last year?
Mark Schlabach (2:43 PM)
I think they'll go after Landry Jones more and try to pressure him into mistakes. I think the biggest thing is the game's being played at home. Last year, FSU fell behind early and then things just snowballed on the road.
Mark Schlabach (2:44 PM)
Thanks for joining us. We'll be back again next week at the same time. Enjoy the games.