Ohio State clings to No. 2 in latest AP poll while Texas, Trojans tumble

56 Comments

Following Ohio State’s closer-than-expected win against an unranked Illinois team and Oregon’s second-half shellacking of a Top-Ten Stanford squad, it was thought that the Buckeyes might slip from their season-long perch at No. 2 in the major polls.  While it remains to be seen what happens in the coaches’ poll, the media has kept the status quo.

Barely.

With Alabama tightening it’s grip on the top spot in the Associated Press poll — they picked up one first-place vote and now hold 58 of 60 — the Ducks inched closer to the Buckeyes, and leapfrogged Boise State in the process.

Oregon jumped from No. 4 to No. 3 following their impressive home win, and come in just 22 points behind Ohio State.  The Buckeyes came into the weekend with a 75-point lead on Boise State, which fell to No. 4.

TCU remains at No. 5, while both Oklahoma and Auburn moved up two spots to No. 6 and No. 8, respectively.  Nebraska fell one to No. 7, and Arizona jumped up five to No. 9.  Utah rounds out the top ten with a three-spot move to No. 10.

Both Florida and Stanford fell seven spots, the Gators to No. 14 and the Cardinal to No. 16.  Wisconsin fell even further, dropping from No. 11 to No. 20.

Michigan State made the largest jump of the week, going from No. 24 to No. 17 — ahead of in-state rival Michigan (No. 18) incidentally — on the strength of their win over the Badgers.  Nevada, which made it’s first poll appearance since 1948 last week, moved up four spots to No. 21.

By far the biggest news in the latest release of the rankings, however, is who’s not included.  Both Texas (then-No. 21) and USC (No. 18) tumbled out of the rankings following losses this past weekend; it’s the first time in nearly a decade that neither school has appeared in an in-season AP poll.  

The Longhorns are unranked for the first time since Oct.15, 2000, a streak of 162 weeks in the rankings.  Ohio State now owns the longest such streak at 90 straight appearances.

Replacing the Longhorns and Trojans, as well as Penn State and North Carolina State, were Oklahoma State (No. 22), Florida State (No. 23), Missouri (No. 24) and Air Force (No. 25).

For all of the pertinent rankings, click AP Poll Week Five.PNG

Brandon Wimbush exits spring as Notre Dame’s starting QB

Getty Images
1 Comment

Brandon Wimbush entered the 2017 season as Notre Dame’s starter, but ceded control of the job over what can fairly be described as a rough junior season. He connected on just 49.5 percent of his throws for 6.8 yards per attempt on the year — numbers that ranked 92nd and 79th nationally, respectively — and was even worse down the stretch. He hit just 14-of-36 throws for for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two picks over the Irish’s final two games, a loss to Stanford and a Citrus Bowl win over LSU.

Enter Ian Book, a redshirt freshman who carried the Irish to that Citrus Bowl win, connecting on 14-of-19 throws for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Heading into the spring, the quarterback job was open between the rising senior and the rising sophomore. But, spurred by a strong spring game, Wimbush heads into the summer as the starter. Wimbush was the game MVP after connecting on 19-of-33 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns to lead the offense to a 47-44 win over the defense.

Afterward, Brian Kelly said Wimbush wasn’t guaranteed to take the first snap in the Irish’s opener against Michigan, but that things were indeed trending in that direction.

“It’s pretty clear that Brandon went out and got a chance to go with the first group and Ian played with the second group,” Kelly said Saturday. “That’s not etched in stone, but that’s the way they’ve been trending. I don’t think there was anything today that changed that… It’s 1A and 1B.”

Hot mic appears to catch Nick Saban criticizing Jalen Hurts

Getty Images
6 Comments

There’s nothing newsworthy about a coach criticizing a player. That’s a large part of the job description, especially when that coach is Nick Saban. But to hear Saban criticize this specific player for this specific reason, well, the context of the situation screams newsworthiness.

During Alabama’s spring game on Saturday, ESPN microphones caught Saban apparently criticizing the throwing ability of Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts as the junior took off on a scramble. “Two years,” Saban says. “I mean, the third-team quarterback can move  the team right down the field throwing the ball.”

That comment comes amid two noteworthy developments in the Tide’s quarterback room. First, Hurts had an opportunity to take the bull by the horns on Saturday with Tua Tagovailoa nursing an injured left hand, but redshirt freshman quarterback Mac Jones was named the game’s MVP. (For what it’s worth, Jones went against the second-team defense while Hurts faced the starters.)

And second, Hurts’s father in no uncertain terms said this week that his son will transfer if he’s not the starter this fall.

Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that,” Averion Hurts said. “My job is to do what’s best for Jalen—and make no mistake, Jalen is a quarterback, and he wants to play quarterback. He loves Alabama, loves Coach Saban and everything about that place. But he wants to play, and he will play…”

Averion stops mid-sentence because the idea of his son not playing for Alabama isn’t one he takes lightly. What if Jalen doesn’t win the job, he is asked?

He shakes his head slowly, answers begrudgingly. “Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”

For what it’s worth, Saban praised Hurts while also criticizing his performance in Saturday’s spring game:

“I was not disappointed in the way Jalen played,” Saban said in his post-game press conference. “We have some guys that can rush, and even though we were rushing four guys most of the time, there was way too much pressure in the pocket for the quarterback to be able to operate like we would like. Jalen made some good plays and throws, and I’m sure if you were to talk to him he would say, ‘I wish there were things I did better and can improve on.’”

Colorado State adds Rice grad transfer V.J. Banks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rice’s loss has turned into a fellow Group of Five football program’s gain.

Saturday, Colorado State announced that V.J. Banks has transferred to the university and will play for Mike Bobo‘s Rams. As the cornerback will be coming to Fort Collins as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018. The upcoming season will serve as Banks’ final year of eligibility.

Banks had announced on Twitter in late January that he had decided to transfer from the Owls.

Banks started 22 of the 36 games in which he played for the Owls, including 11 starts in 2016 and nine in 2015. The defensive back started the first two games of the 2017 season before an unspecified leg injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

For the Rice portion of his collegiate playing career, Banks totaled 75 tackles (one for loss), seven passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He also returned seven punts for 30 yards (4.3 yards per return).

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.