By and large, the handful of spring games contested Saturday were rather pedestrian and mundane affairs, as should be expected.
Then there was Nebraska’s spring closer.
In the fourth quarter of the Cornhuskers’ annual spring game, No. 22 Jack Hoffman trotted off the sidelines and onto the field as the Red team was facing a critical fourth-and-one. Now, you won’t find Hoffman in your game-day program or on any online roster; you see, Jack is a seven-year-old little boy who is battling pediatric brain cancer and has been adopted by the NU football family.
With quarterback Taylor Martinez lined up in the shotgun, and Jake lined up directly to his left, well, the following happened:
“That was awesome for the team and for Jack,” Martinez said after the game in quotes distributed by the school. “He’s going to remember that for the rest of his life and so will I. It was awesome for him to score that touchdown.”
“Yeah, we drew up the play probably 30 seconds before so I’m sure it was all a blur for him,” fullback C.J. Zimmerer, who has been involved with Team Jack for several months, said. “I was telling some of the other reporters that he did a great job. We wanted to get him around the edge, giving him a nice lane to the end zone. He did a great job running his little legs there. He’s fast for a little guy. He did a great job for the pressure of 60,000 fans. I’m sure it was not very easy for a 7-year-old.”
To put an official stamp on the heartwarming, lump-in-the-throat gesture, here’s a portion of the box score Nebraska sent out following the spring game. Pay particular attention to the Red team’s leading rusher:
God bless little Jack as he continues his brave fight against this insidious disease. And God bless the Nebraska football program for what they have done, did and will continue to do for that little boy and his family.
One of the most efficient touchdown producers in college football in 2016 that you were probably completely unaware of appears ready to make his 2017 debut.
A vague lower-extremity injury knocked George Aston out of most of not only summer camp but also Pittsburgh’s first three regular-season games as well. With Georgia Tech on the horizon in Week 4, the fullback is listed as probable on the team’s official injury report released Thursday.
For a team that has scored just four offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS competition, Aston’s potential return could serve as somewhat of a boon for that side of the ball.
Last season, Aston totaled 75 yards on 22 carries as well as 169 yards on 22 receptions. In those 44 touches, Aston totaled 10 touchdowns — five on the ground, five through the air.
Saturday’s game will serve as the ACC opener for both Pitt and Tech.
Hurricane Irma forced a lot of shuffling and cancellations on the college football schedule but perhaps no team was more uniquely affected than Central Florida.
The Knights had two home games cancelled as a result of the storm, last weekend against Georgia Tech and a contest against Maine that was bought out as a way for the team to play their full AAC conference slate. Dropping the games left UCF with only 10 games for the 2017 season and a not ideal five home games as a result.
That has been cleared up somewhat however, as the school announced on Thursday that the NCAA has approved a waiver and that Austin Peay is now scheduled to go to Orlando for a Oct. 28th contest.
“I can’t thank Oliver Luck and the staff at the NCAA enough for their help and understanding of our situation,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate Austin Peay being willing to visit Spectrum Stadium. We’re thrilled for our student-athletes, who deserve every opportunity they can get to go out and compete. I know our fans will be excited about the opportunity to have another Saturday at Spectrum Stadium.”
The Knights are currently 1-0 heading into their trip to play Maryland on Saturday. With the addition of an 11th game to their 2017 slate, UCF needs to go at least 6-5 in order to become bowl eligible as a result.
If Clemson is to defend their national title this season, they will do so without the services of their reliable kicker.
The school confirmed various reports on Thursday evening that redshirt junior Greg Huegel was injured during the Tigers’ practice on Wednesday night — on the final kick, no less — and tore his ACL. He will have surgery and will not play again in 2017.
While he didn’t get the press of Deshuan Watson or others, Huegel was a key part of the Clemson run the past few seasons after taking over as the starter in 2015. The former walk-on was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year and had hit two of his four field goals to start off this season, one of which was a career-long 49 yard kick just last week.
Backup kicker Alex Spence is likely to take over for the Tigers in Huegel’s absence. The redshirt junior has never attempted a field goal in a game but has kicked off and made an extra point for Clemson this season.
Reserve tight end Cole Renfrow, the younger brother of title game star Hunter Renfrow, also tore his ACL in practice and is out the rest of the season as well.
Given the thin margins that College Football Playoff teams have nowadays, the loss of Huegel figures to be a big one for Dabo Swinney and company going forward. Clemson hosts Boston College this week but will face a stiff test on the road at Virginia Tech in an ACC title game rematch to end the month.
More #MACtion is heading to South Bend.
Western Michigan and Notre Dame announced on Thursday that the two schools have agreed to a single game series that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. It will mark the fourth time the two teams have met in their long histories, but a decade since they last faced off in a 44-20 Irish win back in 2010.
The Broncos will receive a $1.175 million payout from Notre Dame for the game according to a release.
While playing a MAC team is a bit of a regular occurrence for Notre Dame now, their meeting with WMU back in 2010 was actually the first time they ever played a team from the conference. The Irish play at least one opponent from the MAC from now until at least 2021 with Western Michigan added to their slate of future games.
The Irish have been busy filling out the 2020 schedule and have just one opening remaining with this contract being signed. The Broncos join home games against Arkansas and Stanford, a trip to Charlotte to play Wake Forest, Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, the annual USC game in Los Angeles and the opener at MetLife Stadium outside New York City against Navy. Additional games against Clemson, Duke, Louisville (at home) and a road trip to Pittsburgh are also on tap as part of the ACC scheduling agreement.