Every conference has a down year or two, and the Big Ten is in the middle of one hell of down year right now.
No. 10 Michigan State’s embarrassing 20-3 loss to No. 20 Notre Dame now means there are no Big Ten teams that look (as of Week 3) like they can win a Rose Bowl, let alone a BCS championship.
Michigan, thought to be back on the upswing among traditional powers, was ripped apart by Alabama in Week 1; Nebraska’s early-season loss to No. 22 UCLA leads us to believe it’s another 9-4 season in Lincoln; defending Big Ten champ Wisconsin has been… well… the Badgers needed Utah State miss a field goal to beat the Aggies.
We’ll just leave it at that.
Even the Big Ten’s best option right now, No. 12 Ohio State, is ineligible to compete in the Big Ten championship and a postseason game because of NCAA sanctions, and the Buckeyes didn’t look particularly strong against Cal on Saturday, either.
Yes, we know. There are some of you — particularly in the Southeastern quadrant of this great country — who called this little factoid before the season began. We apologize, and we promise to read your emails more carefully next time.
But the reality is that there are no Big Ten teams carrying the flag for a conference ridiculed for being too slow, too old-fashioned. You know, “old man football.” To put it into perspective, Big Ten teams have a combined four wins over BCS conference opponents. Three of those are courtesy of Northwestern.
There are two times when conferences get to whip out their measuring stick: nonconference games and bowl season. So far, the Big Ten’s coming up short — way short — in the former category.
Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina. Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.
First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond. Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.
Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.
Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season. Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.
Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.
In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth. His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.
Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”
A week or so later? He gone.
MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans. And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.
Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.
However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.
A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.
The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program. As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.
The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.
Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season. Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner. OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.
The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.
It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.
The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14. The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.
The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”
The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.
“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”
Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.
Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.