Big Ten unveils 2012 primetime schedule

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Unless you happen to be a Purdue fan, get out your calendars and markers as some additional times have been filled in on the Big Ten’s 2012 schedule.

The conference announced Tuesday that a total of 14 conference and nonconference games will be televised this season in primetime across the various ESPN network platforms (six) as well as the Big Ten Network (eight).

Leading the nighttime way for the conference are Nebraska, Ohio State and Indiana (?) with three primetime games apiece, followed by two each for Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin.  Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern will each take part in one night contest, although the Wolverines’ season opener against defending BcS champion Alabama at Jerry’s World is all but a certainty to be televised under the lights.  Additionally, the annual Michigan-Notre Dame game will be played at night — on NBC — in South Bend, although that game wasn’t included in the release.

As hinted above, the Boilermakers are the only Big Ten school that is not currently scheduled to play a night game.

One of the two Spartans’ night games will be the season opener vs. a Kellen Moore-less Boise State in East Lansing, televised on ESPN Aug. 31 at 8 ET.  MSU’s other night game will be its annual rivalry game with Notre Dame.

“We’re excited about the prime-time match-up against Boise State in the season opener,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “The Michigan State-Notre Dame rivalry is special, and those games routinely go down to the wire.

“The Spartan Stadium atmosphere is electric for night games, and recently, we’ve had some incredible finishes.”

As far as must-see TV is concerned, Oct. 27 is it hands down if you’re a fan of Big Ten football.  That Saturday, Ohio State travels to Penn State for a 6 p.m. ET kickoff, while Nebraska hosts Michigan at 8 ET.  Additionally, the MSU-Wisconsin rematch of both last season’s epic regular season game plus the conference’s first-ever title game will be played the same day, although it will inexplicably have a mid-afternoon start.

After hosting its first-ever game in the Big House that kicked off under the lights last season, the Wolverines will play both of its 2012 night games on the road, although, again, the neutral site opener against the Tide is already at least penciled in as a primetime affair.

Below is the complete list of Big Ten primetime games, as released by the conference:

Aug. 31
Boise State at Michigan State

Sept. 1
Indiana State at Indiana*

Sept. 8
Vanderbilt at Northwestern*

Sept. 15
Notre Dame at Michigan State
Utah State at Wisconsin*
Ball State at Indiana*

Sept. 22
Syracuse at Minnesota*
Louisiana Tech at Illinois*

Sept. 29
Wisconsin at Nebraska

Oct. 6
Nebraska at Ohio State

Oct. 13
Ohio State at Indiana*

Oct. 20
Penn State at Iowa*

Oct. 27
Ohio State at Penn State**
Michigan at Nebraska

(*televised on the Big Ten Network)
(**6 p.m. ET start; all other games will start at 8 p.m. ET)

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.