- Jerry Sandusky passed on the Temple coaching job? The Owls dodged one there.
- The halo over Joe Paterno‘s head on a mural has been removed. Here’s a picture.
- Obviously, the Freeh report has dominated Penn State headlines, but the annual Lift For Life did raise over $100,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.
- Spencer Hall and SB Nation take on the Big 12. If you need to laugh — and judging by many of the comments over the past 48 hours, I would say that’s an affirmative — I would recommend clicking the link.
- Frank Beamer lost 32 pounds? Good for him.
Saturday offseason one-liners
Florida’s season-opening game with Idaho wasn’t the only thing that washed away in downpour that pelted Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that defensive tackle Darious Cummings, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick had satisfied their suspensions and would be eligible to play against Eastern Michigan this week despite the fact that they, you know, didn’t actually miss any time.
“They will be back this week with us,” Muschamp told ESPN.com. “Not just as far as the suspension of a game, but they’ve handled a lot of other things for me, as well as Demarcus Robinson, who had a university sanction that’s been resolved.”
Considering the suspensions weren’t even announced until Saturday afternoon, the Gators trio has to have set some sort of record for shortest time spent in the timeout corner.
Cummings and Bostwick were suspended for unspecified violations of team rules, while Robinson was cited for the equally vague “university sanctions”.
Cummings and Bostwick were listed as the top two nose tackles on Florida’s Week 1 depth chart. The former started six of the 11 games he appeared in a year ago, while Bostwick was set to appear in his first career game after redshirting his freshman season in 2013. Robinson played in seven games and nabbed five receptions for 23 yards as a true freshman a year ago.
No decision has been made as to whether or not to reschedule the Gators-Vandals tilt. Florida and Idaho share an off week on Oct. 25, but neither side seems interested in playing on that date. Probably has something to do with the fact that it’d be a one-sided, cross-country non-conference game during the middle of the season. Idaho head coach Paul Petrino broached the idea today of rescheduling for early December provided, obviously, that Florida does not reach the SEC title game.
If the game does indeed get rescheduled, we know where Florida’s Wrist Slap Three will be – on the field.
Ohio State tight end Marcus Baugh did not play in the Buckeyes’ 34-17 win over Navy, and he will not play against Virginia Tech this Saturday, either. In meeting with the media Monday, head coach Urban Meyer provided what has to be the least informative answer of all time in explaining the reason for Baugh’s two-game suspension.
That’s what the third-year Buckeyes coach told the assembled scribes, according to Cleveland.com.
Baugh was cited for underage consumption of alcohol back in mid-July, and then again in January. Ergo, two underage drinking citations equals two games lost to Baugh’s 2014 season. The good news here is that Baugh’s father, Frank, confirmed to the paper that no new issues have popped up in the past eight months. Baugh was simply being punished for his past misdeeds.
“(My past) definitely opened my eyes,” Baugh told Cleveland.com in April. “I am out of chances and I have to do this … I (feared I wouldn’t be on the team) after my second incident. I thought I was gone. But now I am learning the offense and trying to go hard.”
A four-star prospect out of John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif., Baugh caught 30 passes for 610 yards and three touchdowns during his senior season of 2012 before redshirting in 2013. He was rated the No. 6 tight end in the nation and the No. 18 overall player in the state of California.(Photo Credit: Ohio State Athletics)
The main story line to emerge from No. 10 Baylor’s 45-0 thumping of SMU on Sunday night was not the sharp teeth and elongated claws of the Bears’ defense, but the back of Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Bryce Petty. Petty was lifted at halftime of a 31-0 game after grabbing his left hip and noticeably grimacing multiple times throughout the first half. The senior connected on 13-0f-23 throws for 161 yards and rushed twice for 21 yards and an additional score, but missed a handful of deep throws to open Bears receivers.
One day later, we officially know why.
After undergoing an MRI on Monday morning, Petty was diagnosed with two cracks in the transverse processes of his back, as first reported by Dennis Dodd CBSSports.com.
“I’m bummed out because it’s never fun being hurt,” Petty told CBSSports.com. “Bummed out because I just watched tape and everything is off. You never want to make any excuses. When you’re throwing and I can’t torque [it's frustrating]. Every time I went to throw it would jolt. It felt like somebody was punching me in my side.”
Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com also reported that Petty’s injury is one that heals on its own. If so, it just comes down to Petty finding a way to manage the pain.
Re Petty status, same injury as TE Najvar in 2013 (missed 1 game), LB Trahan in 2012 (missed 0 games).
— Heath Nielsen (@HeathNielsen) September 1, 2014
Petty is listed as day-to-day and plans to play Saturday versus Northwestern State. Should it so choose, Baylor has both the time and the opportunity to rest its star gunslinger before the meat of the schedule arrives. The Bears visit Buffalo on Friday, Sept. 12 and then take a week off before opening Big 12 play at Iowa State on Sept. 27.
Alabama defensive back Jarrick Williams will be out of action for the next four games due to a broken foot.
Williams played the entire game Saturday in Atlanta against West Virginia. He reportedly felt he had a sore foot, but was able to keep playing for the Crimson Tide in the victory over West Virginia. He had three tackles in the game. It was not until getting x-rays done that the sore foot was sore for a reason. Nick Saban announced the injury news today.
Eddie Jackson was recently cleared by medical staff, so he could be moved into the starting job in the absence of Williams. Jackson was available to play Saturday if needed, but Saban was hoping to ease him back on to the field.
Alabama was already banged up after the West Virginia game. Wide receiver DeAndrew White suffered a separated shoulder in the game. Alabama prevailed after getting a challenge from West Virginia, and the depth on the roster is among the best in the country thanks to strong recruiting under Saban, but Alabama certainly hopes to get through week two of the season in better health than it will go into it.
Helmet sticker to AL.com.
As if losing at home to North Dakota State was not enough of a rough way to start the 2014 season for Iowa state, Iowa State was dealt a bad hand again today. Head coach Paul Rhoades announced wide receiver Quenton Bundrage is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Bundrage went down with an injury on just the fourth play of the game on Saturday. An MRI revealed a tear in his ACL. For many players the rehab work is not completed until a year later, although sometimes players come back earlier. Whatever the case, this is a big loss for Iowa State. Rhodes said freshman Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery will likely see more playing time in the offense in Bundrage’s absence.
Bundrage led the Cyclones in receiving in 2013 with 676 yards and nine touchdowns.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong says his starting quarterback, David Ash, will not be available this weekend for a home game against BYU. Ash apparently took a hit in the first quarter against North Texas on Saturday that raised a caution flag later that night. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will now be expected to be the starting quarterback for Texas.
Charlie Strong said David Ash took the hit in the first quarter, appeared fine then trainers got late-night phone call.
— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 1, 2014
Now Texas will be playing its next game without its starting quarterback and starting center. Center Dominic Espinosa suffered a broken ankle in the win over North Texas. He will likely miss the remainder of the regular season for the Longhorns. Strong confirmed Espinosa will require surgery. How long Ash is unavailable remains in question, although head injuries are tricky to predict. Given the history of Ash and head injuries, the margin for error is extremely thin.
Ash missed most of the 2013 season with concussion symptoms and he missed much of the spring with a foot injury. He was medically cleared to participate in football practices and workouts in July. Strong named Ash the starting quarterback a day later.
Ash played the entire game for the Longhorns on Saturday, completing 19 of 34 pass attempts for 190 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Texas was blown away, or rather run over, by BYU in Provo, Utah last season. Any hope for revenge may have taken a serious hit with this latest injury news out of Austin.
Only about a 30-minute drive from the Windy City, Northwestern portrays itself to be Chicago’s Big Ten team. If that is the case, then perhaps Northern Illinois should start making a claim to be Chicago’s MAC team. This weekend the two schools will meet each other on the field for just the eighth time in the series history. Northern Illinois could be ready to score its first victory in the series.
Northwestern is coming off a home loss to California, in which all of the weaknesses the Wildcats have this season were completely exposed. The lack of depth and inconsistent quarterback play doomed Pat Fitzgerald‘s team. Northwestern put up a fight late in the game, but only after digging a 31-7 hole at home against a team that failed to reach the postseason last year. The offense managed just 354 yards against a team that finished next to last in all of FBS football (123rd) in total defense in 2013. Northwestern can either take its lumps and improve from this, or show that what was seen in week one is a true testament to what Northwestern football may be in 2014.
NIU may have opened against a cupcake in week one (thumping Presbyterian 55-3), but the Huskies showed signs of being able to move on in the post-Jordan Lynch era with the same basic formula and identity. The Huskies wasted no time in establishing dominance over an inferior opponent, jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and owning a 34-0 lead at the half. Northern Illinois churned out 424 rushing yards as a team, and will look to wear down Northwestern on the ground as well.
Northwestern leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1975, with a record of 6-0-1. The lone tie came in 1987. The two schools have faced each other just twice since 1991 (2000, 2005). With the Big Ten trying to get its members to shy away from scheduling games against programs from the MAC, games between the two schools may be few and far between for years. That may be why winning this game would be critical for a program like Northern Illinois. There are no future game son the schedule between these two schools, although Northwestern does have future dates against FCS schools Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and Illinois State.
Many seem to have fallen on the Northwestern bandwagon in recent years. After this weekend, they may be found jumping off the bandwagon as it bursts into flames and goes crashing off the highway.
The College Football Playoff selection committee will guarantee one spot in a big revenue bowl game at the end of the season to the highest-ranked conference champion from the so-called Group of Five — American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference. With no team from any of those conferences starting the season ranked in the top 25 polls, it was crucial for one team to step up and state its case for consideration early on. The opening weekend of the college football season saw more whiffs than home runs by schools fighting for that big bowl game at the end of the year.
Boise State and Utah State, perhaps two of the perceived leading contenders, came up small in their battles with SEC schools. Boise State was taken down by Ole Miss on a neutral field in Atlanta on Thursday night. On Sunday night Chuckie Keeton and Utah State were rolled by Tennessee in Knoxville. If either Boise State or Utah State would have won, they would have become the leader in the clubhouse for the guaranteed bowl spot. So who had the most impressive season debut from each of the Group of Five conferences? Is there a favorite at this point?
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
The favorites in the AAC did not get off to a great start this season. Houston was embarrassed by UTSA in the grand opening of Houston’s new football stadium. Defending champion UCF was sloppy for most of the afternoon in Ireland against Penn State. A change at quarterback gave the Knights a spark and UCF took a late lead on the Nittany Lions but a field goal by Penn State as time expired dropped UCF to 0-1. Cincinnati, the media’s preseason favorite, did not play this weekend due to some bizarre scheduling. East Carolina held up their end of the bargain with a home blowout of a FCS program, but you don’t win points for that.
Temple may have had the most impressive season debut out of the American Athletic Conference. The Owls opened on Thursday night on the road at Vanderbilt. After sitting through a lengthy weather delay, Matt Rhule‘s program blew away Vanderbilt and ruined Derek Mason’s debut on Nashville. Temple gets a chance to build on that start this weekend at home against a Navy team that gave Ohio State a battle until the fourth quarter.
In the opening weekend of the season Conference USA teams did not fare well against power conference competition, but the conference did score some big wins by picking on other Group of Five conferences, which is equally important in this conversation. UTSA’s win against Houston raised plenty of eyebrows and has thrown UTSA into contender status in Conference USA as a result. Perhaps just as shocking was Western Kentucky’s blowout of defending MAC champion and 2014 favorite Bowling Green. UTSA’s victory over Houston on the road against an offense that is supposed to put up plenty of yards and points may be the more complete victory in my book, but Western Kentucky smacking around Bowling Green the way they did should not go unmentioned. These two wins alone may have been enough to suggest Conference USA is ahead of the MAC early on. Conference USA is still full of young, growing programs though so let’s see how the season plays out.
The two most convincing victories in the MAC this weekend happened to come against a pair of FCS opponents. Akron and Northern Illinois had no problems with their season-opening opponents, but they will hardly do anything to convince voters to place them above the performances of schools like Temple, UTSA or Western Kentucky (naturally). There was one MAC contest played this weekend, resulting in Ohio getting a jump in the standings following a road win at Kent State.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
On a weekend that saw Boise State, Utah State and Fresno State all lose to power conference opponents, Colorado State’s win against Colorado could not have come at a better time. Colorado State’s 31-17 victory over in-state rival Colorado put on display every reason why the Rams are expected to make a run in the Mountain West Conference this season. Having Dee Hart at running back will be a nice luxury after rushing for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Colorado may not be a great program, but Colorado State will take it. The Rams, right now, may be at the top of the pack among Group of Five contenders thinking about the big bowl reservation.
It was not a great weekend for the Sun Belt Conference. Louisiana Monroe’s home victory over a weak Wake Forest team may be the best victory in the books in week one. Georgia Southern nearly pulled an upset at North Carolina State, which would have been the top win among Sun Belt teams this weekend. If not ULM, then Texas State should probably get the nod following a 65-0 victory over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, but again, no points for blowouts of cupcakes, even in the Sun Belt.
WHAT ABOUT BYU?
Under the new structure of the College Football Playoff and the associated bowls, there is not automatic way for BYU to be invited to the party. BYU is not eligible to be considered for the reserved spot among Group of Five champions, even if the Cougars are ranked and no Group of Five conference champion is ranked. BYU’s only way to gain a spot in the bowl rotation is to 1) be selected to play in the College Football Playoff as a semifinalist or 2) be selected as an at-large team in the remaining bowl spots that are open after conference champions and automatic bids are selected.
BYU had one of the most impressive wins of the weekend from any school not in a power conference, dominating UConn in Connecticut. It was just the Huskies, but it was a show of dominance by Taysom Hill and the Cougars that would fare well with any other victory from the Group of Five schools on the opening weekend.
SMU was the sacrificial lamb for the opening of Baylor’s brand new football stadium Sunday night. Unfortunately for the June Jones and his Mustangs, SMU was unable to play the same kind of a spoiler role as UTSA was able to do at Houston on Saturday (Larry Coker‘s Roadrunners dominated and shutdown Houston’s potent offense in the opener for their new stadium). SMU was blown away by Baylor, 45-0. Jones knew Baylor was good on defense, but even he didn’t quite expect the Bears to handle them as well as they did.
“We knew they were a pretty good defense,” Jones said after the game, per The Dallas Morning News. “We knew they were more talented than what they’ve had been given credit for. But I didn’t expect us not be able to block them at all.”
“We scripted a lot of things to get the ball out quickly, but we did not do what we needed to do to win the football game,” Jones added. “It’s hard for the quarterback to go back and throw anything when he doesn’t have the time. We could not protect the quarterback.”
Baylor held SMU to just 67 total yards of offense. The Mustangs managed 91 passing yards, but quarterbacks were swallowed up for a loss of 58 yards, SMU’s rushing offense ended the night with a loss of 24 yards on the ground.
Maybe Jones should have chosen a different script, but the end result may not have been much different. Baylor is just playing on an entirely different field SMU is prepared for.
It didn’t come with the customary fireworks, but No. 10 Baylor still made easy work of SMU on Sunday night, shutting out their neighbors to the north, 45-0.
The game was the first in brand new McLane Stadium, you may have heard something about that, featured a pre-game statue unveiling of Robert Griffin III, and was attended by former President George W. Bush. The Bears got their points and their yards (574) but it was Phil Bennett’s defense that provided the best performance of the night.
Three SMU quarterbacks took the field, and all three failed to average three yards per attempt. Neal Burcham started the game and hit 15-of-26 passes for 159 yards. He was relieved by Texas A&M transfer Matt Davis, who hit 3-of-6 throws for 12 yards and an interception. Finally, true freshman Kolney Cassel finished the night by connecting on 3-of-8 throws for a grand total of 20 yards. Only Cassel managed to move the Mustangs into Baylor territory, and not until the 10:05 mark of the fourth quarter. And that was SMU’s most efficient mode of transportation. Led by Prescott Line’s four carries for 18 yards, SMU was credited with 25 rushes for minus-24 yards.
In all, the Mustangs’ offense took the field 15 times on Sunday night, went backwards four times, traveled less than 10 yards a dozen times, and strung together more than seven plays only once.
Baylor’s offense – though lightyears ahead of SMU – was not without its opening night struggles, either. Bryce Petty hit 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards for two touchdowns (and added another score on the ground) before sitting the second half with a back injury. Petty spent much of the first half grimacing and grabbing his left hip. Both Petty and backup Seth Russell (124 passing yards, 46 rushing yards, one touchdown) left a number of points on the field by consistently missing open receivers behind the SMU defense. Eight Baylor rushers totaled 50 carries for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Antwan Goodley also played only two series after aggravating a quad injury suffered in fall camp.
Freshman kicker Chris Callahan missed three of his four field goal tries, and was replaced by Kyle Peterson for the Bears’ sixth and final extra point try.
The health of Petty and Goodley are the key story lines for Art Briles’ team moving forward, but with Northwestern State, Buffalo and Iowa State waiting in September, the Bears have time to be patient.
They know what’s coming. They’re well aware of those consecutive road trips to Norman and Athens in the coming weeks. And they’ve not forgotten about those three weeks requiring a road trip to Ole Miss, a home date with Alabama, and a road trip to South Carolina later this season. Your reminders are not necessary.
For one night, though, none of that mattered.
Tennessee crushed Utah State 38-7 on Sunday night and, before its first sellout in seven years, had 102,000 in orange rocking Neyland Stadium like it did so many times throughout the 1990’s. The Vols used a Pig Howard eight-yard end around, a fumbled kickoff return and a 12-yard Justin Worley touchdown toss to Brendan Downs all in the span of three plays to build a 14-0 lead six minutes into the first quarter, carried a 17-0 lead into halftime, and then dealt the Aggies a knockout blow when Worley found Von Pearson for a 27-yard scoring strike with 5:31 to go in the fourth quarter.
Worley hit 27-of-38 attempts – connecting with 10 different receivers – for 273 yards and three touchdowns. He was much better than his Heisman darkhorse counterpart, as Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton connected on 18-of-35 throws for only 144 yards with one touchdown and two picks.
The Vols’ defense dominated Utah State throughout the night, allowing only 244 yards of total offense, 11 first downs and three third-down conversions in 14 tries.
A 31-point thumping may against a physically overmatched visitor from the Mountain West may have seemed preordained after the fact, but Utah State was the hottest upset pick in college football’s opening weekend. In fact, the line sank all the way down below five points by kickoff. Tennessee covered with ease.
This is not to say Butch Jones’ Vols were perfect, however. College football’s only offensive line tasked with replacing all five of its starters failed to control the line of scrimmage. Seven Big Orange ball carriers combined to rush the ball 39 times for a mere 110 yards and two touchdowns. Jones has recruited exceptionally well, but offensive lines are not built overnight. This will be a theme throughout the 2014 season for Tennessee, and there are monsters waiting in those woods.
For one passionate night at Neyland Stadium, however, none of that mattered.
Baylor makes a living of scoring through two- and three-play drives. That’s a fact of life if you’re an opponent. What you don’t need to do, however, is start those drives inside your own 10-yard line.
That’s exactly what SMU did.
With the Bears holding a 3-0 lead, SMU’s Stephen Nelson coughed the ball up at his own six-yard line. Baylor recovered, and two plays later Shock Linwood had a four-yard touchdown run. One possession later, Levi Norwood returned a punt 43 yards to the SMU 4, and three snaps later Bryce Petty hit Tre’Von Armstead for a three-yard touchdown.
Speaking of Petty, he and his left hip have been the storyline of the half.
His numbers – 13-of-23 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns, plus two rushes and 21 yards and another score – look better than his actual play on the field. Grabbing his hip and grimacing at multiple points throughout the half, Petty has consistently overthrown receivers, thereby keeping a 31-0 halftime spread from becoming even more lopsided.
With the Bears leading by 31 and dominating the SMU offense (49 passing yards, -10 rushing), expect to see lots of heralded backup Seth Russell in the second half.
The first Tennessee possession of the 2014 season was an ugly of a three-and-out as you’ll see. It got better from there, though, and quickly. After forcing their own three-and-out, the Vols marched 70 yards on six plays, capped by a Pig Howard eight-yard end around scoring dash.
One play later, Tennessee had the ball again.
Kennedy Williams fumbled the ensuing kickoff at his own 12 yard line, recovered by Tennessee’s Todd Kelly, Jr. Justin Worley hit Brendan Downs on the next play for a 12-yard scoring strike to put the Vols up 14-0 six minutes into the game.
The Neyland Stadium crowd was rocking, but the Volunteers did not deliver the knockout blow the 102,000 orange faithful expected.
Chuckie Keeton amassed only 79 passing yards, but Tennessee had issues along its offensive line – shocking, for a group replacing all five starters – and only an Aaron Medley field goal dotted the scoreboard in the final 24 minutes of the first half as the Vols staked a 17-0 halftime edge.
In an otherwise stellar debut, just about the only thing to go wrong for Charlie Strong and Texas was losing veteran center Dominic Espinosa to an apparent ankle injury late in the Longhorns’ 38-7 defeat of North Texas on Saturday night.
One day later, the results are in and they don’t look good for the ‘Horns.
As first reported by Orangebloods.com, Espinosa suffered a broken right ankle and will likely miss the rest of his senior season. The report was later confirmed by HornsDigest.com and the Austin American-Statesman.
A fifth-year player with 40 starts under his belt, Espinosa was supposed to be the glue of a revamped offensive line under coach Joe Wickline. Espinosa was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson and the offense suffered for it. Texas suffered numerous center-quarterback exchange issues following Espinosa’s injury, including one inside its own end zone that directly led to the Mean Green’s only touchdown.
Strong did not provide any comment on Espinosa’s situation following the game, and the school has not issued any statement today. Strong is scheduled to meet with the media on Monday.
Texas faces BYU on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).
Still six months shy of his 25th birthday, Robert Griffin III may be the youngest person in America with his own statue. Though, if you’d brought to Baylor what RGIII has – a Heisman Trophy, boatloads of wins, a brand new (and since shattered) offensive record book and, perhaps most importantly, a basis for the support needed to construct a new stadium – in your first quarter-century on Earth, perhaps you’d have your own statue, too.
The 9.5-foot statue stood under a black cloak before its ceremonial unveiling in advance of tonight’s McLane Stadium opening game versus SMU.
— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) August 31, 2014
“It just wasn’t me,” Griffin told the San Antonio Express-News. “If you look at the guys who came in with me, the guys who were there before we got here. They are all a part of it from Grant Teaff to Coach Briles. Kendall Wright, Lanear Sampson, Terrence Williams, Phil Taylor, Danny Watkins, Jason Smith, I can go on for days.
“I know my guys and I know they know when I say this is for them, they believe me. They know we couldn’t have done it without each other. So I appreciate them. I know a couple of them will be here today and I can’t wait to see them.”
Griffin, on leave from his job as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins, wore a sport coat on top of jeans and tennis shoes because, as he told the assembled green and gold crowd, “I’m here to party.”
No. 10 Baylor and SMU kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.