Preseason word on our college grid programs

The first slew of preseason college football preview magazines have been on the newstands for several weeks now. So it’s time to see what they say about the upcoming 2014 season for Ohio State, WVU, Marshall and Ohio U.

The Buckeyes, 12-2 last year and 24-2 overall under Urban Meyer in two seasons, look to contend for a spot in the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff, or CFP from now on. And according to the mags, OSU will finish either second (USA Today Sports) or third (Athlon Sports) in the final CFP standings – both assuring the Buckeyes a playoff berth – or fifth (Lindy’s Sports) or ninth (Sporting News) to leave them out of the playoff foursome.

With Michigan State and Ohio State both in the Big Ten East division now, there will not be a rematch of last year’s conference championship game, won by the Spartans. Instead, three of the mags have OSU winning the East and then downing West champion Wisconsin in the Big Ten title tilt. But Sporting News has the Buckeyes besting Nebraska for the Big Ten crown and then playing UCLA in the Cotton Bowl, and another (Lindy’s) pits OSU against South Carolina in the Orange Bowl.

The other two (USA Today and Athlon) both have Ohio State facing Alabama in the playoff semifinals, but not winning.

So it’ll be interesting to watch how this season pans out for the Buckeyes

For the Mountaineers, 2-7 in the Big 12 and 4-8 overall last season, the predictions don’t have West Virginia faring much better this fall either, with a national ranking anywhere from 46th to 74th. The guessaments, though, do have WVU winning between three and six games, and Sporting News even has the Mounties playing in a bowl game, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., versus Oregon State.

But of note too, Athlon listed embattled WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen as an endangered species in its “Coaches on the Hot Seat” story.

Meanwhile, the prognosticators see Marshall having a banner season in 2014 after going 10-4 last year.

Athlon predicts a 13-0 overall and 8-0 Conference USA mark for Doc Holliday’s Thundering Herd, ranked as high as 19th nationally by USA Today. Sporting News said the C-USA’s major storyline is not whether Marshall will win the East Division hands down, but can it go undefeated.

“The Herd certainly should be favored each week as long as (quarterback) Rakeem Cato remains healthy,” commented Athlon. “The schedule is set for success, with Ohio (Sept. 13 in Huntington) the toughest non-conference draw,” wrote USA Today, and also with the Herd’s closest preseason East contenders, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, both having to play at Marshall this fall.

Bowl possibilities for the Herd right now, if its season turns out as expected, see Marshall in the Chick-fil-A against Georgia or facing SMU in the new Miami Beach Bowl.

The OU Bobcats, 7-6 last season including 4-4 in the Mid-American Conference, are in a pack with Buffalo and Akron chasing concensus MAC East Division favorite Bowling Green this season. Frank Solich’s ‘Cats have more runner-up votes (2) in my four magazines, and are seen winning seven games and going to the new Bahamas Bowl in Nassau (wouldn’t that be nice to cover!) with the opponent being either Middle Tennessee or Tulsa.

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at shemmelgarn@newsandsentinel.com