Notre Dame Football

National championship should excite, but this year’s BCS lineup is a snoozer

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As far as the BCS championship is concerned, viewers are going to get the game they want: Alabama vs. Notre Dame.

You couldn’t pack more hate or intrigue into a single game. In one corner, you have the Tide appearing in its third title game in four years. A win would instantly bring about the term “dynasty” and there simply is no other team that represents the face of SEC dominance in college football like Alabama right now. And the insufferable “S-E-C!” chants? You better believe they’ll be loud and clear if Alabama hoists another crystal football.

In the other corner, you have the Irish. What bass-ackwards, Twilight Zone do we live in where Notre Dame — you know, the irrelevant yet extremely relevant program with its own TV deal and privileged bowl agreement — can be the team to give the SEC its comeuppance?

You can understand why any college football site *ahem* would be giddy about such a match-up for the next four weeks (hint: page views and page views and page views and page views and page views and page views and…).

Or, Jan. 7 will roll around and the game could be a total bust. Nobody in the right mind hopes that it is, but with the rest of the BCS slate looking rather ehhhhhh, the national title can have season-defining qualities.

Oh sure, there are other intriguing storylines. The Fiesta Bowl pits Kansas State and Oregon, two teams that could have met in a nonconference game that wasn’t and at one time last month looked to be on a collision course for the national title. But some other BCS games? Not as much.

Take the Rose Bowl for example. Wisconsin blew the doors off Nebraska in the Big Ten championship and made us all wonder where in the hell that was all season, but the Badgers are still a five-loss team. Even UConn didn’t have five losses when it went to the Fiesta Bowl a couple of years ago and got stomped by Oklahoma.

#EvenUConn

Speaking of the Sooners, they have to be all kinds of mad that they got bumped from the Sugar Bowl because Northern Illinois made it into the BCS top 16 (No. 15 in fact). Now, Florida will face Louisville in New Orleans and the Huskies will try to upset Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Compelling? Not overly unless you enjoy the possibility of major upsets. For some reason, that’s lost more on college football than it is in, say, college basketball. There were people who hated Boise State once the Broncos started winning consistently on the national stage.

But don’t be mad at NIU for altering the BCS lineup and start spouting off about how the Huskies don’t “deserve” to be in an upper-echelon game. Deserving went flying out the window and smashed into your car on the street years ago. Did Georgia Tech deserve a shot at the Orange Bowl this year after backing into the ACC title game? Did Michigan or Virginia Tech deserve bids to the Sugar Bowl this past year? Did Oklahoma deserve the right to get manhandled by USC while fellow undefeated Auburn sat back and watched following the 2004 season?

The answer is sort of; what ties those cases together is that each team took advantage of what the system provided them. Northern Illinois played it just like everybody else this year. When Vanderbilt coach James Franklin casts a coaches’ poll ballot — those are used in determining the BCS standings — where he ranks undefeated Notre Dame fourth and his own 8-4 Commodores 16th, there shouldn’t be a problem with NIU getting a little love.

The BCS is tragically comical, like a circus clown trying to jump through a hoop of fire on a tricycle with one busted wheel. You know that clown’s not going to make it, and it’s going to be awful when he doesn’t, but the thought of a flaming clown running around with dudes trying to extinguish him is too tempting.

In that spirit, we’ll all still watch the BCS games this year. I’ll watch because my job requires me to keep track of all kinds of football no matter how fugly it is. Remember the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” when Malcolm McDowell‘s character has his eyes pried open for the Ludovico technique? Yeah, like that was last year’s Orange Bowl for me. And you’ll watch because no matter how busted the system is, we’re all hoping that the BCS affords us some good games.

Even if it doesn’t look so good now.

Derek Jeter leaves message in every Michigan player’s locker

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh (R) of the Michigan Wolverines  presents baseball great Derek Jeter (L) of the New York Yankees with a jersey prior to the game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Michigan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Ahead of a huge Top 10 matchup, the Michigan football team has received a bit of inspiration from a pinstriped legend.

Derek Jeter, a Michigan high school graduate who signed with UM coming out of high school before embarking on what will end up being a Hall of Fame baseball career, has been somewhat of a fixture in and around the football program since the Wolverines became a part of Brand Jordan, a brand that Jeter also represents. Along with the brand’s namesake, His Airness Michael Jordan, Jeter was a part of the opener early this year at the Big House.  He was at a star-studded National Signing Day event this year as well.

With No. 8 Wisconsin on tap, Jeter decided to leave a gift and, more importantly, a message in the locker of every single player on the fourth-ranked team in the country.

“It is my personal challenge to you all to remain humble, yet hungry, every day along this journey to achieving greatness,” a portion of Jeter’s note read.

Suspension will sideline CB Justin Martin for Vols-UGA game

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Justin Martin #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers tackles Lamical Perine #22 of the Florida Gators in the second quarter at Neyland Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Justin Martin won’t get the opportunity to atone for a rough Week 4 performance against Florida after all.

Both 247Sports.com and the Knoxville News Sentinel have reported that Martin has been suspended for No. 11 Tennessee’s game this afternoon against No. 25 Georgia.  The only reason given was an unspecified violation of team rules.

Martin had started against the Gators, but head coach Butch Jones had already announced that freshman Baylen Buchanan would get the start at cornerback against the Bulldogs.  247Sports.com writes that, in the win over UF in Week 4, Martin “twice was beaten on deep throws and committed a costly penalty on the game’s opening kickoff.”

The Vols will also be without a pair of starters, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and defensive back Cameron Sutton, because of injuries.  It’s also highly doubtful that All-SEC linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin plays because of a lingering shoulder injury.

The Bulldogs won’t be coming into the key SEC East clash unscathed, though, as leading rusher Nick Chubb is not expected to play because of an ankle injury.

Oklahoma State blocks three Texas PATs in defense-optional first half

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 15:  An Oklahoma State cheerleader flies the Cowboys' flag after a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns on October 15, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Oklahoma State beat Texas 38-26.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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The early slate of games has been highlighted by blocked extra-point attempts. Three of them have come in Stillwater, Oklahoma with Oklahoma State doing the job against Texas. One of those blocked attempts was returned by Oklahoma State for two points. Oklahoma State holds the halftime edge with a 37-25 lead following a back-and-forth second quarter that saw four lead changes in the second quarter. Yep. That’s the halftime score.

Oklahoma State jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Longhorns, with Justice Hill running for a 30-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game and Mason Rudolph connecting for a 54-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Texas would settle down though and come back in the first quarter with two straight possessions with touchdowns. Tyrone Swoopes capped a six-play, 84-yard drive with a short touchdown run. One play earlier, Shane Buechele completed a 49-yard pass to Dorian Leonard.

It looked as though Texas was about to tie things up on their next possession (after an Oklahoma State three-and-out) when D'Onta Foreman ran 22 yards for a score, but special teams would help Oklahoma State keep the lead. Tre Flowers wound up returning a blocked PAT attempt to the house off a lateral for two additional points for the Cowboys.

The Longhorns did take a lead in the second quarter with a Swoopes touchdown run inside the red zone, and the lead exchanged hands twice more before the end of the first half. Rudolph capped an 80-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to regain the lead, 23-19, but Buchele launched a 42-yard pass to Beck for a 42-yard score on the ensuing possession. Four plays later on the ensuing possession, Oklahoma State was back on top with a Rudolph touchdown pass to Jalen McCleskey from 36 yards.

We could have a wild one in Stillwater in the second half.

J.T. Barrett becomes Ohio State’s all-time passing TD leader in first half vs. Rutgers

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Quarterback J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes sets up to pass in the second quarter against the Tulsa Hurricane at Ohio Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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It’s teacher vs. student this afternoon in Columbus, Ohio with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer going head-to-head against Rutgers and head coach Chris Ash. Ash was Meyer’s c0-defensive coordinator last season. Through one half of play, the teacher holds the edge on the student, by a score of 30-0. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown his way into school history with a four-touchdown first half.

Ohio State’s first offensive possession looked promising after starting at their nine-yard line, but J.T. Barrett was picked off by Anthony Cioffi at the Rutgers 36-yard line to kill the drive. The Rutgers offense was unable to capitalize on the ensuing possession and punted after five plays. Ohio State’s offense would respond with a six-play, 61-yard touchdown drive. Barrett made up for his prior interception by connecting with Dontre Wilson inside the red zone for an 18-yard score.

Ohio State would push their lead to 16-0 in the second quarter when Barrett completed a red zone touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin, McLaurin’s first career touchdown reception. The Buckeyes continued to tack on with Barrett’s third touchdown pass of the half. For Barrett, that was his 58th all-time touchdown pass, moving into sole possession of first-place in Ohio State program history.

Rutgers has tried a couple things to keep Ohio state on their toes, but nothing has proved successful thus far.