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Photo flashback: Bill Murrays life and career in pictures Most Educated City in Every State Big Ten shakes up College Football Playoff picture with decision to play this fall

The Big Ten's regular-season reboot will reintroduce some of the best teams in the Bowl Subdivision and dramatically alter the state of the College Football Playoff, which for the first two weeks of the 2020 season seemed destined to be dominated by the ACC and SEC.

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There is still a chance that holds true. While the SEC won't begin the regular season until Sept. 26, the conference has eight teams in this week's Amway Coaches Poll, including four of the top six. The ACC has Clemson and one-year addition Notre Dame, as well as several dark-horse contenders in North Carolina, Miami and Louisville.

It's more likely the Big Ten, which had six teams in the preseason Coaches Poll, leaps back ahead of the ACC to reclaim a place alongside or just behind the SEC among the four Power Five leagues. (The Pac-12, which postponed its season just after the Big Ten, does not seem close to returning to play.)

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The league's return will create a more balanced and unpredictable playoff race that now includes Ohio State, Penn State and more. Before the Big Ten was removed from the most recent poll, the No. 2 Buckeyes were joined in the top 25 by the No. 7 Nittany Lions, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 15 Michigan, No. 18 Minnesota and No. 23 Iowa. Another two teams, Nebraska and Indiana, received votes. 

From the perspective of the entire FBS, bringing the conference back into the fold greatly improves college football’s overall product and raises the number of teams in competition to 90, below the normal count of 130 but more than enough to conduct a similarly abbreviated regular season and postseason.

Crucially, the Big Ten's inclusion means the 2020 season will end with an undisputed, asterisk-free national champion. Ohio State reclaims its position atop the Big Ten and as one of the favorites to reach the playoff and win the national championship. The Buckeyes' return means that every notable preseason playoff contender, with the exception of Oregon, will now be part of the postseason chase. 

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Even those Big Ten teams which don’t figure to be in the playoff mix benefit enormously simply by being able to play a 2020 season and avoid the long-term impact on recruiting, roster management and player development that may have come with postponing until the winter or spring. 

And the Big Ten's decision to play hurts the ACC, which now has a far slimmer chance of putting two teams into the national semifinals, something only the SEC has done during the existence of the postseason format. The odds of the Big 12 doing so were never taken seriously even with just three Power Five leagues in play, though the league's relative weakness doesn't change Oklahoma's status as an annual contender.

© Jay LaPrete, AP Ohio State is back in the national title picture with Wednesday's decision by the Big Ten to play football this fall.

While the ACC has more playoff options than in the past, thanks to temporarily adding Notre Dame, the conference can't match the overall depth of the Big Ten and SEC.

One potential issue: After dialing back on normal offseason workouts and not conducting any full-contact drills since August, will teams from the Big Ten have enough time to get ready for a regular season that begins on Oct. 24?

Several coaches, including Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Nebraska's Scott Frost, have said they need three weeks to prepare before opening the season.

However, with just over a month until the league's scheduled start, teams would seem to have enough of a landing strip to be ready to compete — barring any disruptions to practice schedules caused by COVID-19, an obvious concern for every team in the FBS.

Another uncertainty is how a shortened regular season will impact the Big Ten’s standing among the playoff selection committee. Like the SEC, the Big Ten season will not feature any non-conference games. However, teams in the SEC will play 10 games in the regular season to the Big Ten's eight; teams in the ACC and Big 12, which allow one non-conference opponent, will play 11 and 10 games, respectively. 

That might prevent Ohio State from rising to No. 1 in the Coaches Poll or the playoff rankings. It would not stop the Buckeyes from reaching the top four, however, especially with the chance to add another high-profile win in the conference championship game.

Nor would the eight-game schedule greatly impact the overall reputation of the Big Ten, even if playing conference-only games will leave most teams hovering between three and six wins. By the projected end of the regular season on Dec. 19, the difference of one or two games wouldn't prevent the conference champion from reaching the national semifinals.

The result will be a season that approaches normalcy: After a bumpy road, the Big Ten will stand at the center of the playoff debate.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Big Ten shakes up College Football Playoff picture with decision to play this fall

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Ex-Bears DB Retires From NFL Despite Interest From Multiple Teams: Report

Getty Former Bears CB Marqui Christian is retiring from the NFL.

Former Chicago Bears defensive back Marqui Christian is retiring from the NFL after six years in the league.

Christian spent part of the 2020 season and all of his 2021 campaign with the Bears, playing predominantly on special teams, also contributing in the secondary when the need arose at cornerback.

“Despite interest from multiple teams, DB Marqui Christian is retiring,” ESPN’s Turron Davenport tweeted on August 8.

Despite interest from multiple teams, DB Marqui Christian is retiring. A 5th-round pick in 2016 by #Cardinals, Christian also spent time w/ #Bears, #Jets, #Rams & played in Super Bowl LIII. He was a D2 All-American & Cliff Harris Award winner in 2015. @callmequi_ @newdealsports

— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) August 8, 2022

Christian will turn 28 years old in October. It remains unclear why he is choosing to retire from the league.

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A Look Back at Christian’s Career

Christian won the Cliff Harris Award in 2015, which is given to the top small-college defensive player in the nation.

A fifth-round pick for the Arizona Cardinals (167th overall) out of Midwestern State in 2016, Christian was waived by the Cards his rookie season and picked up by the Los Angeles Rams shortly after that.

He carved out a role for himself, spending his first four seasons with the Rams, where he became just the second Midwestern State player to appear in a Super Bowl in 2019. (The other was former Indianapolis Colts running back Dominic Rhodes, who had over 100 yards rushing in the team’s 2007 Super Bowl XLI victory over the Bears).

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound defensive back appeared in 73 games over his six-year NFL career, starting two. He amassed 95 total tackles (one for loss), a QB hit and four passes defensed during his time in the league (stats via Pro Football Reference).

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Christian Had Multiple Stints Playing for Bears

Chicago signed Christian in August of 2020, and he spent time on the team’s practice squad before he was poached by the New York Jets later in the season. He played in just one game for New York before he was released. He landed back in Chicago for a second stint after that. The former DB says he felt at home in the Windy City and was glad to return.

“There was a lot going on with the Jets,” Christian said in August of 2021, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “When I got there, I played the first game and I was trying to learn the playbook and there was so much turmoil. They made me feel wanted here. It just felt like family. When I came back from New York, the first day back, the players, the coaches, it was like, ‘Man, where you been? It’s good to have you back.’ (Chicago) was a better place to be.”

Christian was the starting slot cornerback in the Bears’ 2021 season opener against the Rams and was also elevated to the team’s active roster for the its wild card playoff contest against the New Orleans Saints in January of 2021.

The newly-retired DB played 74% of Chicago’s special teams snaps last season to go with 12% of the squad’s defensive snaps.

READ NEXT: Former Bears WR Joining Coaching Staff of NFC Rival

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