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.
It may be hard to believe, but Miami is in position to end the season with nine wins. That assumes, of course, the Hurricanes avoid a second half meltdown against Pittsburgh and close out the year with a bowl win. For now, Miami should be feeling pretty good as the Hurricanes have stomped Pitt in the first half of an early kickoff in western Pennsylvania. Miami took a 23-3 lead into the half.
Miami has more than doubled the total offensive production of the Panthers, outgaining Pitt at halftime 248 yards to 102. The Panthers have just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in the half. Pitt also had a turnover with Nathan Peterman having a pass picked off by Artie Burns.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has completed 13 of 23 pass attempts for 166 yards, with Rashawn Scott on the receiving end of the touchdown play and leading the team with 50 receiving yards. Miami’s Joseph Yardley leads all players with 64 rushing yards. Pitt’s star receiver, Tyler Boyd, has just one catch for eight yards.
If Houston is going to slow down Navy’s offense, keeping it off the field is a good way to go about it. In a battle for the American Athletic Conference West Division title, and home field advantage in the AAC Championship Game, Houston has used methodic ball control to its advantage and leads the Midshipmen 24-14 at halftime. Greg Ward Jr.‘s five-yard touchdown run gave the home team the lead just minutes after Houston successfully converted a fourth down and short after a timeout.
Houston took the game’s opening possession 82 yards for a touchdown after 13 plays for an early lead. Greg Ward Jr. completed a short pass to Steven Dunbar from five yards out for the score, but Navy answered with a touchdown drive on their opening possession. Keenan Reynolds ripped off a 52-yard run and later capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Houston again put together a lengthy and time-consuming touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. The Cougars took 13 plays to move 76 yards for a score, this time seeing Brandon Wilson complete the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The two teams exchanged punts before Navy once again tied the game with Reynolds completing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jamir Tillman.
Earlier this week it was looking as though Washington State quarterback Luke Falk might be available to play Washington in this year’s edition of the Apple Cup. Now the outlook is not so good.
According to a report from Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times, Washington State will start Peyton Bender at quarterback against the Huskies. Falk, who is recovering form a concussion last week, is not expected to dress for the game. It will be the first start of the redshirt freshman’s career. Bender has appeared in four games this season serving as Falk’s backup. In his limited playing time, Bender has completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He has been picked off twice.
The loss of Falk is certainly a blow to Washington State’s offense, although we will see if Mike Leach has a system in place where he can plug in a quarterback and still get the production through the air as has been the case during his career. There is no word on whether or not Falk will be available for the bowl season, although that would seem to look possible given more time to recover from a concussion.
Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt will not get a sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA has denied a request to extend Hunt’s eligibility by one more year, Syracuse announced today.
Hunt had his 2014 and 2015 seasons cut short due to injuries. A broken leg in 2014 forced Hunt to miss the final seven games of the season. An Achilles tendon injury against Rhode Island in the 2015 season opener has sidelined Hunt for the entire 2015 season, effectively.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing but I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the Syracuse fans who have supported me through this process and during my time here,” Hunt said in a statement shared by Syracuse athletics. “Even though my career didn’t turn how I thought it would, I still have a lot of great memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
“Right now I’m focused on my rehab and on finishing graduate school. I’m getting better every day and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to continue my career at the professional level.”
Hunt’s Syracuse career will end with 2,621 passing yards and 24 touchdowns (11 passing, 13 rushing).