The first of the top four unbeaten teams, Notre Dame, survived a hell of a scare from Pitt earlier this afternoon, needing three overtimes to fend off the Panthers.
The second of the top four unbeatens, Oregon, won a little more comfortably. The No. 2 Ducks beat No. 18 USC in a Los Angeles track meet, 62-51. There were plenty of big plays. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner rushed for 322 yards and five touchdowns, breaking USC’s opponent record previously held by Penn State’s Curtis Enis. Barner, with over 1,200 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, should be getting more consideration in the Heisman conversation.
As should USC receiver Marqise Lee, who had roughly 400 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. It still wasn’t enough for the Trojans, though, and Oregon got over its first hurdle in a tough final stretch of regular season games. Oregon should be fine next week on the road at Cal, but then faces a pair of top-25 teams in Stanford and Oregon State. The Ducks will be favored in all three remaining games, but it’s toughest remaining regular season schedule among the top four undefeated teams.
If Oregon can continue to control its destiny, there’s little doubt the BCS computer average will rise to match the voter love for the Ducks.
The Valero Alamo Bowl will keep its current configuration through the 2025 season.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 each announced separate deals to remain with the San Antonio-based bowl game through the next decade. Technically, it’s a six-year extension that kicks begins in 2019.
“The Conference’s long-standing relationship with the Valero Alamo Bowl has produced some unforgettable games,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “The Valero Alamo Bowl and San Antonio have been terrific hosts for our member institutions and their fans, and we are excited to join the Pac-12 to continue our relationship through 2025.”
“The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for exciting games played in front of sellout crowds and top TV viewership,” added Pac-12 commish Larry Scott. “Our universities and their fans look forward to their trips to San Antonio and playing top ranked schools from the Big 12 Conference.”
As part of the deal, each team will continue sending its top teams that do not reach a New Year’s Six game.
The announcement came in conjunction with the Alamo Bowl’s annual Pigskin Preview.
The Big 12 has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl continuously since 1994, meaning the new agreement takes the bowl and the league into their third decade together. The league is 11-11 to date in the Alamo Bowl, but 8-3 since 2005 and 4-2 since the Pac-12 rejoined the game in 2010. The Pac-12 won each of the first two Alamo Bowls.
TCU won the most recent edition, rallying from a 31-0 halftime deficit to top Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime.
The 2016 game (the second one) will be played Thursday, Dec. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
On the eve of the season, it appears one Buckeye will miss it.
Ohio State safety Cam Burrows has suffered a foot injury and will likely miss the season, head coach Urban Meyer revealed Wednesday. The cause and nature of the injury was not disclosed.
“Cam Burrows hurt his foot again,” Meyer told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He’s going to work in our strength room, and it looks like he won’t play football.”
Burrows was in line to gobble up snaps as the Buckeyes’ second-team safety behind Malik Hooker and Damon Webb, but will instead spend the season in the weight room, literally. He’ll work as a student assistant on Ohio State’s strength staff. With a degree already in hand, it appears this will likely be the end of Burrows’ career.
If it is, he closes with 31 tackles in 29 career appearances.
“It’s been a tough go for him,” Meyer said.
And then there were six. Or eight.
We know East Carolina is no longer in the running for the two or four new spots possibly coming to the Big 12, but the folks at The Media Guides believe they do. The site reported Wednesday the Big 12 has sent formal invitations to Cincinnati, Houston, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida, BYU and “two other AAC schools” to advance to the next round of the process, which is believed to be in-person interviews at the league’s suburban Dallas headquarters.
With ECU out, Navy showing no interest and five of the league’s 12 teams already reported in, that leaves a pool of five possible teams for the two additional spots: Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.
Local reports have stated SMU, Temple and Tulane still involved in the process as recently as today and yesterday.
So, yeah, you do the math.
While the process publicly — and painfully — rambles on, Oct. 17 is the date to watch there. That’s the next scheduled gathering of the Big 12’s Board of Directors.
Well, here’s a story born straight out of SEO heaven.
New England Patriots quarterback — and, of course, former Wolverines signal caller — Tom Brady will serve as an honorary captain for Michigan during his Roger Goodell-mandated Deflategate suspension.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed the news on NFL Network’s Rich Eisen’s podcast. The Big House cameo will take place Sept. 17 as Michigan hosts Colorado.
Brady is free, of course, due to a wide-ranging controversy stemming from allegedly deflated footballs in the Patriots’ 45-7 trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Championship that led to him being suspended the first quarter of the 2016 season.
Brady played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1995-99 and has kept close ties with his alma mater since, but those have ramped up since Harbaugh’s late 2014 hiring. Most notably, Brady made an appearance at Harbaugh’s 2016 Signing Day extravaganza in February.