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    Downs & Distance

    Is Ohio State headed for another defeated season?

    Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

    Urban renewal

    There’s little doubt the Southeastern Conference is the standard bearer in college football. And that the Pac-12 has gained a lot of traction this season. But there’s another big-time conference that deserves some big-time attention — and by big, we mean the Big Ten. Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all are 5-1. And how about the job Bill O’Brien is doing at 4-2 Penn State? But the big story of the Big Ten continues to be 6-0 Ohio State. Just how happy do you think officials at the Ohio State University are about hiring native son Urban Frank Meyer III? The man who led Florida to back-to-back titles is 19-0 since landing in Columbus. There are a couple of potholes on the Buckeye schedule — including Saturday’s tilt vs. Iowa, which hasn’t allowed a rushing TD this year — but it’s realistic to think the Buckeyes will finish 12-0 for the second straight season.

    Off to the races

    In what is sure to result in the largest tailgating party in the history of tailgating, officials from Virginia Tech and Tennessee announced the schools will square off in the “Battle of Bristol” at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., Sept. 10, 2016. The game, which has been talked about since the late 1990s, could produce the largest crowd in college football history, as the NASCAR venue seats about 160,000. That would obliterate the record set a few weeks back when Michigan hosted Notre Dame at the Big House (115,109). The site is perfect, as it sits about halfway between the campuses. Track owner Bruton Smith is certainly jazzed. “[Everybody wants] to make this a huge, huge deal,’’ said Smith, who also owns NHMS in Loudon, N.H. The sponsorship tie-ins are endless. How about the Virginia Tech Mobil 1 Hokies vs. the Tennessee Home Depot Vols?

    Everything must go

    Man caves are all the rage nowadays, with guys seeking to build the perfect place to get away from it all and watch whatever the big game of the week happens to be. Sometimes these refuges are in the basement, sometimes the garage, sometimes even the shed. Well, if you’re looking to start up a man cave or spruce up the one you have, we have the auction for you. The contents of the Rubber Bowl, former home to the University of Akron Zips, are being auctioned off Saturday before a renovation of the venue. Goal posts, bleachers, lockers, and even the artificial turf (would make a great wall-to-wall carpet!) are on the block. “If it’s not concrete, it’s pretty much going to go,’’ auctioneer Glenn Witchey told the Akron Beacon Journal. Imagine what the folks from “Trading Spaces’’ could do with that stuff. Check out html

    Stripped of rank?


    One of the most impressive streaks in college sports will be put to the test Saturday in that football hotbed that is Cowell Stadium in Durham, N.H. The New Hampshire Wildcats, currently No. 25 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25, have been ranked for an eye-popping 133 straight weeks, a run that dates to Sept. 13, 2004. That’s 83 weeks longer than Montana State, which owns the second-longest streak. That consistency is a testament to coach Sean McDonnell and his staff. But UNH (2-3) hosts No. 12 Villanova, and a loss would almost assuredly knock it out of the poll. UNH will need a big effort from junior Nico Steriti to knock off ’Nova, which hasn’t won at Cowell since 2003. Steriti has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of his last three games. This will be the second trip to New England for ’Nova, which opened its season with a 24-14 loss at BC.

    Jim McBride can be reached at