On the same day that Clemson lost the verbal commitment of the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the class of 2013, it also lost a little more hope in getting back to the ACC championship game. The Tigers, at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the ACC, are on the wrong end of a head-to-head tie with Florida State atop the conference’s Atlantic division and would need some help to leapfrog the Seminoles.
A Virginia Tech upset of No. 8 FSU on Thursday night would’ve done the trick. Unfortunately for the Tigers, a 39-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Manuel to Rashad Greene with 40 seconds remaining in the game to give the ‘Noles an eventual 28-22 win not only sucked the life out of Lane Stadium, it may have sucked the life out of Clemson’s hopes for a second consecutive ACC championship showing.
Florida State, at 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the ACC, now has only a road game at Maryland standing in its way for its first ACC championship game appearance since 2010. Incidentally enough, the Terps can play also spoiler this weekend against Clemson.
The Hokies nearly played spoiler against the ‘Noles Thursday. A bizarre illegal forward pass penalty in the end zone on FSU running back Devonta Freeman gave Virginia Tech a safety and the ball with seven minutes remaining. That led to a Cody Journell 21-yard field goal to give VT a 22-20 lead with 2:19 remaining. All the Hokies had to do was make one more stop, which they had been able to do most of the night. Florida State finished the game with -15 yards rushing, but seven of those came on a crucial James Wilder Jr. run on fourth down near midfield to move the chains on FSU’s final drive.
Barring an upset next week, the ACC Atlantic belongs to FSU. The Seminoles will likely meet either Miami or Duke (yes, we know) in the conference championship game. The Blue Devils and Hurricanes meet on the last regular season game of the season later this month.
Virginia Tech (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC), meanwhile, will need to beat Boston College and Virginia just to get bowl eligible.
After having a bit of a cloud of uncertainty floating above them the past few days, Georgia linebackers Natrez Patrick and Roquan Smith will not face any discipline from the university and football program. Georgia announced that decision on Monday, saying the legal manner has been resolved from an on-campus dorm search by campus police.
“After receiving an incident report last week, we determined that neither Roquan Smith nor Natrez Patrick had violated any Athletic Association rules that would require suspension,”Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said in a released statement. “This included drug testing, which was negative for both student-athletes.”
Campus police were called to Patrick’s dorm room on October 15 to investigate a potential marijuana smell. No substances were discovered and no arrests were made.
Not losing Patrick and Smith is good news for the Bulldogs, as the two are the leading tacklers on Georgia’s defense, with 42 and 39 tackles, respectively. Each player released a brief statement in addition to McGarity’s statement.
“Since November 2015, I have dedicated myself to moving forward,” Patrick said in a released statement. “I’m blessed to have done that despite hurdles I’ve had to clear. This incident was simply another hurdle and I was confident I would successfully clear it. I’ll continue to move forward and I’m anxious to play on Saturday.”
“As a student at the University of Georgia and a member of the football team, I take this opportunity very seriously,” Smith said in his statement. “I have followed the rules of the Athletic Association and I am happy this situation has been rightfully resolved. I look forward to representing my school and my team on Saturday in Jacksonville.”
Northwestern cornerback Matt Harris is retiring from football after a series of concussions have put his health at risk.
“This is an incredibly difficult decision to reach, but it is the right one for me and for my future,” Harris said in a released statement. “There are few things I love more than playing the game of football and the game has provided me with so many opportunities, including the chance to attend this University. It has been a blessing to be a part of this community and learn so many lessons. Northwestern has given me so much, I look forward to taking full advantage of my chance to give back to the world around me in the future.”
Harris, a team captain in 2016, earned All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and has been named a two-time Academic All-Big Ten player during his time at Northwestern. Harris will retire having notched 161 tackles, six interceptions and three forced fumbles on the football field.
Harris is another name added to the growing list of football players making the decision to retire at such a young age. As time goes by, we learn more and more about the possible long-term effects of head injuries seen in sports, particularly in football. As a result, we are seeing players more frequently decide to step away from the sport in order to preserve their long-term health in the years to come. It is an unfortunate reality of the sport of football today, and one that continues to be addressed at all levels.
One of Wisconsin’s top defensive players will miss the remainder of the season. Linebacker Jack Cichy, despite saying after Saturday’s win against Iowa he was determined to play this weekend against Nebraska, will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral.
Cichy led the Badgers in tackles this season with 60, 45 of which have been solo tackles. What makes the injury extra frustrating for the Badgers is the team just welcomed back Vince Biegel from an injury. Biegel and Cichy made for a very talented linebacking duo in Madison, but that will be lost for the rest of Wisconsin’s Big Ten West Division championship hunt. The Badgers lost another linebacker for the season in the first game of the season when Chris Orr went down.
So long for having a veteran option to rely on at South Carolina. The Gamecocks’ are moving forward giving a pair of freshmen the chance to lead the offense for the remainder of the season. Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain will continue to take first-team reps with the offense
“I just feel like right now, just from an ability standpoint, those two guys give us the best opportunity,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said during his Sunday teleconference, according to The Post and Courier. “And they’re just going to keep getting better. Both of them do things equally well, and we’ll continue to rep that way.”
Bentley made his season debut over the weekend, completing 17 of 26 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns against UMass. McIlwain has appeared in six games this season, completing 56-of-106 passes for 567 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. At 3-4, the Gamecocks can still make a run to a postseason bowl berth, but having a quarterback capable of lighting a spark on offense is essential. Bentley did that against UMAss, but games against Tennessee, Florida and Clemson in the second half of the season will prove to be more difficult.
Regardless, this means we may have seen the last of Perry Orth at quarterback for the Gamecocks. Orth will step aside as South Carolina’s leading passer with 661 passing yards and a completion percentage of 63.3 without a touchdown and two interceptions. The senior, a former walk-on, will remain influential on the sideline, however.
“Perry’s been great in terms of supporting our guys and talking to them on the sideline,” Muschamp said. “He’s been a great teammate, he’s a great young man, and he’s a guy who certainly is a valuable member of our organization, and a guy I’ve got the utmost respect for.”