The demise of both Wisconsin in general and Montee Ball in particular?
It may have been greatly exaggerated.
The Badgers staggered out of the gate at 4-2, with three of those wins coming against Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP by a combined total of 18 points. Against Purdue, however, UW put together its most solid performance of the season, throttling Purdue 38-14 and (finally) taking control of the Leaders division of the Big Ten.
The Badgers are now 2-1 in conference play while the Boilermakers dropped to 0-2. The other postseason-eligible members of the Leaders division, Indiana and Illinois, entered Week 7 winless in league play. So, with Ohio State (2-0) and Penn State (2-0) ineligible for the Big Ten championship game thanks to NCAA sanctions, the Badgers currently sit in the Leaders driver’s seat; whether that seat’s attached to a Yugo matters not.
One of the biggest reasons behind UW taking control of its division also happens to be one of college football biggest disappointments of the season. Montee Ball, who entered 2012 as one of a handful of preseason Heisman contenders, had averaged just four yards per carry and had totaled just eight touchdowns after totaling 57 in the previous 26 games.
On this day, though, the old Ball was back as the senior rushed for 247 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns in the rout. The three touchdowns give Ball 72 for his career — 66 rushing, six receiving — which sets a Big Ten record for total touchdowns.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.