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Reports: Manziel to be suspended… for first half of opener

Johnny Manziel, Kenric McNeal, Dustin Harris AP

The Johnny Manziel situation has (reportedly) come to a conclusion, albeit with a final — and bizarre — twist.

In a tweet from Billy Liucci Wednesday afternoon regarding the Texas A&M quarterback, the TexAgs.com reporter wrote that “[p]er multiple sources, he’ll be suspended for first half of season-opener versus Rice on Saturday.”  Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com and Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com subsequently confirmed the first-half suspension

As for the specific reason for a suspension — which has not been confirmed by the Aggies — Liucci writes that he is “assuming [the] suspension would involve secondary violation of by-law 12.5.2.2.”

That bylaw, titled “Use of a Student-Athlete’s Name or Picture Without Knowledge or Permission,” appears in full below:

If a student-athlete’s name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency without the student-athlete’s knowledge or permission, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. Such steps are not required in cases in which a student-athlete’s photograph is sold by an individual or agency (e.g., private photographer, news agency) for private use.

Essentially, if the reports are accurate, Manziel would be suspended for failing to take the proper steps to ensure that individuals were not profiting off his name and likeness.  It had been reported that Manziel had received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for his signature on thousands of photos and pieces of memorabilia.

What remains unclear is if this would be merely a school-driven punishment or one that would end the NCAA’s involvement in the situation.

More than likely, it’s the latter as McMurphy reported that this suspension “closes the book” on the situation, with the “NCAA [acknowledging] Manziel did not accept money” in exchange for his signature.  Over the weekend, the NCAA spent six hours grilling Manziel in relation to his involvement with autograph dealers.  Everyone connected to the A&M football program has been since barred from discussing the Johnny Football situation by the school’s athletic director.

It had also been reported over the weekend that A&M had “no plans” to sit Manziel, although that no longer appears to be the case.

If Manziel is suspended for the first half of the game against Rice — he could miss the entire game as head coach Kevin Sumlin could choose to sit him out in the second half of what’s expected to be a blowout — the Aggies would turn to either junior Matt Joeckel or true freshman Kenny Hill.  By most accounts, the latter has been the most impressive of the two during summer camp.

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Marcus Mariota sets Pac-12 record during Oregon’s 44-10 victory over Colorado

Marcus Mariota

Move over Matt Barkley. Marcus Mariota now sits atop the Pac-12 record books.

With his four-touchdown performance against the Colorado Buffalos, Mariota became the Pac-12′s all-time single season leader with 42 total touchdowns.

Mariota was nearly flawless in what could be his final appearance at Autzen Stadium.

The junior quarterback, who could be the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, completed 24 of his 32 pass attempts. Mariota added 323 passing yards to his resume and a trio of touchdown tosses. The signal-caller also ran the ball eight times for 73 yards and a touchdown.

One of Mariota’s former teammates took it a step beyond calling him the favorite for the Heisman Trophy:

With the 44-10 victory, the No. 2 Ducks improved to 10-1 overall with only the “Civil War” remaining against the Oregon State Beavers.

On the other hand, Colorado dropped to 2-9 overall. It’s a disappointing season after improving to 4-8 last year during Mike MacIntyre‘s first year as head coach of the program.

For Oregon, this is the season for the Ducks to take the next step as a program. Mariota is playing at an elite level. The team already conquered its previous stumbling block by defeating the Stanford Cardinal. Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff appearances are within the Ducks’ grasp.

Expectations should be sky high for a program ready to compete for a national championship.

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Woo pig sooie! Arkansas wins second-straight contest with victory over No. 8 Ole Miss

Bret Bielema

Don’t look now, but the Arkansas Razorbacks are one of the hottest teams in the country.

After a 4-5 start to the season, Bret Bielema‘s squad has won two in a row against a pair of ranked SEC West opponents. Arkansas latest victory came courtesy of a 30-0 stomping of the No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels.

Bielema told ESPN after the contest he believes his team can play with anyone. And that’s clearly the case at the moment.

Saturday’s effort was Arkansas’ second straight shutout victory. The Razorbacks officially beat LSU and Ole Miss by a combined score of 47-0.

The win also makes Arkansas bowl eligible at 6-5 overall. Every team in the SEC West is now eligible to go to a bowl game.

Ole Miss was dominated at every level, and the Rebels are no longer in position to possibly claim an SEC West crown or play in a New Year’s bowl. After starting the season 7-0, including a victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ole Miss lost three of their last four games.

Arkansas’s formula against Ole Miss was simple. The Razorbacks ran the ball 50 times for 159 yards and held an advantage in time of possession by eight minutes. Arkansas’ defense also forced six turnovers, including a 100-yard pick-6 by Rohan Gaines.

The Razorbacks will have opportunity to ruin another season next weekend when they face the No. 20 Missouri Tigers. Another impressive effort by Arkansas could knock Missouri out of the SEC championship game as the representative from the SEC East.

The way Bielema’s squad is currently playing, Missouri better be prepared or the Tigers will find themselves watching the SEC Championship game instead of playing in it.

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Badgers hang on, set up B1G West play-in game with Gophers

Wisconsin v Iowa

Whenever Wisconsin and Iowa get together, it’s rarely pretty.  At the end of the game, however, the scoreboard looked like a supermodel to the visiting team from Madison.

The Badgers jumped out to a 16-3 halftime, then extended it to 19-3 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.  The Hawkeyes, though, refused to rollover as they scored 21 of the next 28 points to pull to within two at 26-24 with just over five minutes remaining.

However, the Hawkeyes, down a controversial timeout that was taken from them by the officials, could not stop the Badgers on the last drive of the game, with UW picking up a pair of first downs to bleed the remaining five minutes off the clock and secure the 26-24 win.

Melvin Gordon, who saw the rushing record he set a week ago broken this afternoon, ran for an even 200 yards and two touchdowns on the game. Gordon now has 2,109 yards on the season, tying the single-season Big Ten record set by Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne in 1996.  He’s also the 17th player in FBS history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark in a single season

Interestingly, Gordon was also the Badgers’ leading receiver as he caught four passes for 64 yards, both career-highs.  His 10-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in the game.

With the win and Minnesota’s dropping of Nebraska, UW set up a Week 14 play-in game to the Big Ten championship game.  The Badgers will play host to the Gophers next Saturday, with the winner representing the West in the conference title game against East winner Ohio State.

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Kicking again fails Notre Dame as Irish fall to No. 24 Louisville

Kyle Brindza

It happened again.

A week after foot-inflicted vomit cost it a win over Northwestern, holder/back-up quarterback Malik Zaire and kicker Kyle Brindza were determined to not let it happen again.

It happened again.

Brindza missed a 32-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining, and Notre Dame fell to No. 24 Louisville 31-28 at a soggy Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday evening. The loss is Notre Dame’s third in a row and fourth in five games, sending a once-promising season into absolute free fall.

Of course, a three-point loss can’t be blamed on a solitary kick, and this is no exception. Trailing 31-20 in fourth quarter, Everett Golson hit William Fuller for a 28-yard touchdown and ran in a two-point conversion to pull the Irish within 31-28 with 11:17 to go, and then benefitted from a missed field goal on the ensuing possession. Starting at its own 20 with 5:03 to go, Notre Dame moved to a first-and-goal at the 10 with a golden opportunity to win the game, but Golson was sacked on second-and-goal from the 9 and threw incomplete on third down, setting up Brindza’s fateful field goal.

Notre Dame lost this game at the point of attack, as Louisville’s Brandon Radcliff rushed 17 times for 136 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Dyer added 13 rushes for 61 yards and quarterback Reggie Bonnafon added 35 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go with 180 yards and a score through the air.

Golson completed 16-of-24 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, but threw an interception in Notre Dame territory that set up a Louisville field goal in the second quarter, and coughed up a fumble that the Irish eventually recovered but killed a promising drive in the process, turning a 2nd-and-6 at its own 44 to a 3rd-and-38 at the 12. Both mistakes contributed to a 17-6 halftime deficit for Notre Dame.

The Irish scored consecutive touchdowns to grab a 20-17 lead midway through the third quarter, but Bonnafon hit DeVante Parker for a 21-yard touchdown to put Louisville back on top at the 5:46 mark of the third quarter, and Radcliff raced in from 15 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to provide the winning score.

The win pushes Louisville to 8-3 on the season and gives the Bobby Petrino‘s bunch a shot at a 10-win campaign with a win over Kentucky next week and in the bowl game.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, closes out the regular season at USC next week. Other than bowl positioning and the satisfaction of beating a rival, the Irish will travel to Tinseltown with purpose of improving this 2014 season from “completely” to only “moderately” disappointing.

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No. 15 Arizona defeats No. 17 Utah 42-10 despite QB concerns

Anu Solomon

The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats can take multiple positives away from its 42-10 victory over the No. 17 Utah Utes.

Unfortunately, the main concern for the Wildcats is the health of their starting quarterback, Anu Solomon. Solomon put together a strong first-half effort before injuring his ankle. The freshman didn’t play during the second half and was reportedly wearing a walking boot on the sideline.

Senior Jesse Scroggins took over for Solomon. Scroggins played well during his first extended action of his career. The senior wasn’t asked to do much, but he kept his team in position to win without making too many mistakes.

Solomon’s status for the coming week is in question as Arizona continues to compete for a Pac-12 South crown. A feat that won’t come easily. The Wildcats need plenty of help despite a 6-2 conference record:

If Solomon isn’t ready to play next weekend against Arizona’s primary rival, the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Wildcats can continue to rely on freshman running back Nick Wilson. The talented runner set a career-high against Utah with 218 yards on 20 carries.

The Wildcats’ defense was also impressive against Utah.

Arizona forced four turnovers and only allowed 4.5 yards per pass. The play of senior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant continues to be a highlight of the Wildcats season. Bondurant forced a fumble and snapped a pick-6 against Utah.

With a strong running game, talented wide receivers and an opportunistic defense, Arizona still has a chance to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game even without Solomon in the lineup.

Utah, meanwhile, fell to 7-4 with the Colorado Buffaloes remaining on the schedule. An 8-4 finish might place Utah toward the bottom of the Pac-12 South, but it’s still a successful season for Kyle Whittingham‘s squad.

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Cardiac ‘Noles survive another scare, extend win streak to 27

Boston College v Florida State

No matter what else happens this season, the defining trait of this 2014 Florida State team will be its propensity to allow its opponents into standoffs and come out alive. Seemingly every week this season the Seminoles invite a new opponent to take its undefeated record, and so far every opponent has blinked. Clemson blinked when fumbling on a would-be game-winning drive. Notre Dame did the same on that controversial offensive pass interference penalty. N.C. State, Louisville and Miami built large early leads but just couldn’t get that one last score they needed to knock Florida State off.

In a rain-drenched Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday evening, Boston College blinked and once again Florida State made them pay for it.

With the game tied 17-17 with 13:29 left in the fourth quarter, Boston College accepted the ball at its own eight-yard line. The Eagles called 14 straight runs, grabbing every available shred of momentum, until they set up a 2nd-and-9 at the Florida State 26. Boston College called a throwback pass from wide receiver Josh Bordner to quarterback Tyler Murphy, and Bordner had an open Murphy but waited a tick too long; Murphy was unable to come down with the ball at the FSU 2. It was the only pass of the 17-play drive, and it was the one that killed them. Murphy ran for one yard on third down, and Alex Howell missed the ensuing 42-yard field goal.

You know how the story goes from here.

Florida State cooly moved 66 yards in 12 plays, eating up all but three seconds of the remaining 4:37, to set Roberto Aguayo up for the game-winning 26-yard field goal.

No. 3 Florida State held off Boston College 20-17, keeping its 27-game winning streak and national championship hopes intact.

if a 6-4 team was ever going to knock off the Seminoles, it was this 6-4 Boston College team. Coached and quarterbacked by former Gators and sandwiched after an emotional Miami win and before the pressure-cooker Florida game, Boston College out-rushed Florida State 240-110, didn’t turn the ball over and turned a Jameis Winston interception into a touchdown, limited the Seminoles to only eight offensive possessions, and it still wasn’t enough.

The key Florida State possession of the game, other than the final one, when Boston College intercepted Winston in Florida State territory and turned it into a five-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 49-yard pass from Murphy to Shakim Phillips, to tie the game at 10-10 with 5:29 remaining before halftime. Like they always do, Florida State responded when it had to, marching 75 yards in seven plays as Winston hit Nick O’Leary for a 30-yard score to give the ‘Noles a 17-10 lead at the break.

Murphy (6-of-10 passing for 73 yards and a touchdown, 15 carries for 48 yards) rushed for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter. It was the only score of the second half until Aguayo’s game-winner.

Dalvin Cook rushed 14 times for 76 yards and Karlos Williams added 41 yards and a score to go with Winston’s 281 passing yards, but the hero for FSU – as it has been so many times this year – was Rashad Greene. He left the game in the first half with an apparent arm injury but returned before halftime to grab eight passes for 106 yards, including a couple on the game-winning drive.

Florida State will wrap up its regular season against Florida next week in Tallahassee before meeting Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship in Charlotte on Dec. 6.

Boston College wraps up its regular season against Syracuse next week.

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Marcus Mariota continues to build Heisman resume against Colorado

Marcus Mariota

There have been plenty of spectacular performances by multiple players attempting to enter the race for the Heisman Trophy in recent weeks. Marcus Mariota remains the favorite for the award, though.

As the national conversation shifted this week to “game control”, Mariota and his Ducks aren’t having any trouble with the Colorado Buffaloes. The No. 2 Oregon squad leads Colorado 30-3 at halftime, while Mariota continues to pad his resume.

The junior quarterback was efficient and effective. Mariota was 14-of-20 passing for 176 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback is also the game’s leading rusher with six carries for 74 yards and another touchdown.

In fact, Mariota’s performance in the first half propelled him to elite territory in college football history:

Plenty of other Ducks got into the act as well.

Freshman running back Royce Freeman ran the ball 12 times for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Mariota also connected with eight difference targets. Senior Keanon Lowe led the way with four catches for 43 yards.

Oregon’s quarterback was also helped by a spectacular catch from wide receiver Darren Carrington, who caught a tipped pass while on his back:

During the second half, Oregon should continue to overwhelm an outclassed Colorado squad. The Buffaloes can build some confidence by moving the ball and slowing the Ducks offense. While Oregon has a much bigger aspirations this season, Colorado can still earn a moral victory with better play during the third and fourth quarters.

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Ryan Broyles’ career receiving mark broken by ECU’s Justin Hardy

East Carolina v Cincinnati

Earlier this afternoon, one Oklahoma player added his name to the NCAA record books.  A short time later, a former Sooner found his name erased from the same book.,

Early in the first quarter of East Carolina’s game against Tulane, Justin Hardy hauled in a seven-yard catch from quarterback Shane Carden, the 349th of his career.  That tied the FBS record set by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles.

The next possession for the Pirates, Hardy grabbed a 22-yarder that was No. 350 and broke the record Broyles had set from 2007-11.  Hardy added two more catches and now has 352 for his career with the rest of this half plus three more games — two in the regular season and one bowl game — to add to the record.

Hardy has been a significant weapon in ECU’s passing game from the moment he stepped on the field as a redshirt freshman.  He pulled in 64 receptions in 2011 — 11 of them in his first-ever game at this level — then grabbed 88 and 114 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.  He currently has 86 this season.

If you recall, Hardy was also the subject of an unusual rebuke earlier this week, with the AAC’s commissioner calling out the Biletnikoff Award for not including Hardy among its 10 semifinalists

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Arkansas Razorbacks dominate first half against No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels

Brandon Allen, Alex Collins

Mississippi’s landshark defense has lost some of its bite in recent weeks.

The Arkansas Razorbacks lead the No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels 17-0 at halftime. The Razorbacks game plan has been simple. They’ve ran the football effectively and overwhelmed Ole Miss at the point of attack.

Despite the rankings, Arkansas’ lead shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The Razorbacks beat LSU by the same score last week. And Bret Bielema‘s squad is a stronger opponent than its 5-5 record indicates.

Arkansas’ running attack has proven to be too much for Ole Miss’ talented defense. The Razorbacks ran for 103 rushing yards compared to Ole Miss’ 12 yards. And Arkansas has held the ball nine minutes longer than the Rebels.

The Rebels defense also struggled to cover Arkansas’ talented tight ends. Drew Morgan and Hunter Henry combined to catch five passes for 81 yards.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss had to deal with an injury to quarterback Bo Wallace. Wallace’s ability to play and do so effectively in the second half could have a drastic effect on Ole Miss’ chances to make a comeback. Wallace left the game due to a leg injury before he returned. But a lack of mobility will severely hamper his game if he comes out of the half and continues to lead the Rebels’ offense.

With Wallace hampered and a struggling defense, Arkansas will continue to pound the ball during the second half. Another loss by Ole Miss will take them completely out of the conversation to make a New Year’s bowl game.

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Golson struggles as No. 24 Louisville leads Notre Dame 17-6 at the half

Michael Dyer

This wasn’t part of the plan when Everett Golson was training on the California beaches with George Whitfield last year. One of the best quarterbacks in the country in September, Golson has been outplayed through one half by true freshman Reggie Bonnafon as No. 24 Louisville leads Notre Dame 17-6 at a rain-soaked Notre Dame Stadium through one half.

Golson has completed 6-of-9 passes for 121 yards, but threw an interception deep inside Notre Dame territory to set up a Louisville field goal, and coughed up a fumble late in the half that the Irish recovered but killed a promising drive nonetheless as a 2nd-and-6 at the Notre Dame 44 turned into a 3rd-and-38 at the 12.

Bonnafon has completed 5-of-14 passes for 101 yards and a Hail Mary interception, but leads all rushers with 10 carries for 55 yards and the game’s only touchdowns. Michael Dyer has also rushed 10 times for 49 yards.

Louisville’s touchdown drives came on marches of 75 and 93 yards in the first quarter. The Cardinals have out-gained the Irish 215-141 and hold a 12-6 edge in first downs.

Louisville will receive the ball to open the second half.

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No. 15 Arizona Wildcats lead No. 17 Utah Utes in crucial Pac-12 South contest

Rich Rodriguez

The No. 15 Arizona Wildcats still have a chance at represent the Pac-12 South in the conference’s championship game.

A win Saturday against the No. 17 Utah Utes would be the first step for the scenario to come to fruition for Rich Rodriguez‘s squad. The Wildcats are off to a good start with a 21-7 lead over Utah.

As these two teams prepared for the contest, the matchup everyone eagerly anticipated was Arizona’s explosive offense against Utah’s stingy defense.

However, Arizona’s defense is dominating through two quarters of play.

Utah managed 154 total yards of offense. Quarterback Travis Wilson is 11-of-18 passing for 78 yards. And the Wildcats’ defense came up with the biggest play of the half when senior defensive lineman Dan Pettinato recovered a fumble and returned it for a 31-yard touchdown.

Senior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant forced the fumble. It’s the third time he’s done so this season.

On offense, Arizona running back Nick Wilson gouged Utah for 100 yards. The Wildcats have kept Utah’s impressive defensive line on its heels by effectively using the zone read. Wilson has been the primary recipient, but quarterback Anu Solomon ran for 22 yards and a touchdown. Solomon also finished the first half 8-of-17 passing for 158 yards.

Utah was finally able to muster some offense during its two-minute drill. Wilson found senior tight end Weslee Tonga open in the corner of the end zone for a 11-yard touchdown with seven seconds on the clock.

Despite the late touchdown, Arizona controlled the first half. The Wildcats’ defense kept Utah’s offense in check. The Utes need to adjust their assignments against Arizona’s zone read if they want to get back into the Pac-12 South conversation.

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No. 3 Florida State leading Boston College 17-10 through one half

Nick O'Leary

Well, this certainly isn’t going to help Florida State in the all-important game control metrics. At a rain-soaked (what else is new?) Doak Campbell Stadium, the third-ranked Seminoles lead Boston College 17-10 at the half.

Florida State opened the game with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a three-yard Karlos Williams run, that ate 6:24 off the clock, and Boston College responded with a 14-play, 50-yard drive that consumed 8:22 to pull within 7-3.

Roberto Aguayo field goal put the Seminoles up 10-3, but Boston College clawed back into it with an interception of Jameis Winston on a tipped pass and a 49-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Murphy to Shakim Phillips.

Florida State responded immediately with a 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a 30-yard pass from Winston to Nick O’Leary.

Winston has completed 14-of-20 passes for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception while Murphy, a former Gator, has hit four of his five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Boston College holds a 95-36 rushing advantage.

Rashad Greene was taken to the locker room with an apparent arm injury, but returned to the field just before the half.

Boston College will receive the ball to open the second half.

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OU’s Samaje Perine breaks Melvin Gordon’s week-old rushing mark

Samaje Perine, Ty Darlington AP

Well that certainly didn’t take long.

Last week, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson‘s single-game record of 406 yards rushing, one that had lasted 15 years, with a 408-yard effort against Nebraska.  The new record, as it turned out, lasted exactly seven days.

In the first half of what will be an Oklahoma win over Kansas, Samaje Perine totaled a whopping 222 yards, putting everyone on alert that Gordon’s mark could be in serious jeopardy.  Early in the fourth quarter, a 42-yard run pushed the true freshman to 427 yards for the game, shattering Gordon’s week-old standard.

That will likely be Perine’s total for the game as he was taken out prior to the next play and is not expected to return to what’s now a 44-7 game in favor of the Sooners.  Perine’s 427 yards also topped the highest total ever for a freshman, breaking the mark of 386 yards of San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk in 1991, as well as the Big 12 record of 378 by Iowa State’s Troy Davis in 1996.

For those who want to compare and/or split hairs, Gordon only needed 25 carries to set his record and averaged 16.3 yards per carry; Perine averaged “only” 12.6 yards on his 34 attempts.  Additionally, Gordon accomplished his feat in only three quarters of play, while Perine played into the fourth quarter.

Regardless, it was a stunning performance by one of the most talented young backs in the country.  The scariest part of it for the Big 12?  He’s only going to get better.

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Hokies hit new low with 6-3 OT loss at Wake Forest

Frank Beamer

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech played an ACC game this afternoon. I watched it so you didn’t have to. With neither team bringing any offense to the field, the Hokies and Demon Deacons needed to play an overtime before either team could put a point on the scoreboard. In the second overtime, Wake Forest kicker Mike Weaver connected on his second field goal of  post-regulation time, from 39 yards, to win the game for the home team, 6-3. It was Wake Forest’s first ACC win since October 19, 2013 against Maryland.

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech combined to convert eight third down conversions out of 35 attempts. Virginia Tech put together 254 yards and held Wake Forest to 234 yards of total offense. The Hokies also had three turnovers and the teams combined for 18 punts. Wake FOrest also missed three field goal attempts in regulation. Perhaps there is something to be said about the grittiness of each team’s defense to refuse to give the opposing offense a spark, but there was some poor offensive play to go along with respected defensive play. This is typically a bad combination for all watching, but Wake Forest will not care. A win is a win for Dave Clawson’s team right now.

Virginia Tech will end the regular season next weekend against in-state rival Virginia. The Hokies will have to win the game in order to go to a bowl game this season. Virginia will need a win at home tonight against Miami to set-up a winner-goes-bowling game with the Hokies next week.

This may be viewed as one of the worst losses for Virginia Tech in some time, and perhaps is a new low for Frank Beamer as head coach. Not being able to score any points on Wake Forest, a team allowing an average of 27.3 points per game, is never a good sign. The Hokies were playing through some depth challenges, but Saturday’s loss may be another example of how far Virginia Tech has fallen as the season has progressed, and where the program is situated overall today.

This is a Virginia Tech team that won at Ohio State, before the Buckeyes really found their stride with an inexperienced J.T. Barrett under center. This is a Hokies team that was blown out at home by Miami. There were close losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College and Pittsburgh, and they did beat Duke. But going into the final week of the season, Virginia Tech is in an ultimate struggle to play a 13th game. Virginia Tech has played in a bowl game every season since 1993.

Wake Forest will play on the road in Durham next week against Duke. Duke let the ACC Coastal slip away from them earlier this week with a Thursday night loss to North Carolina. The Duke loss gave Georgia Tech the division crown, but Duke will look to go out with a rebound win at home before preparing for the bowl season. Wake Forest, of course, will not be playing in a bowl game this season, but will at least look to build on a win against Virginia Tech moving forward.

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No. 23 Nebraska fumbles away a win against No. 25 Gophers

Mitch Leidner, Lincoln Plsek, Zaire Anderson

Sometimes it can be a little too cliché to say a team let a game slip through their fingers, but no other phrase may explain how No. 23 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) lost to No. 25 Minnesota (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) better than such a phrase. Nebraska fumbled away two balls around the Minnesota end zone and the Gophers managed to escape Lincoln with a 28-24 victory to remain in the running for the Big Ten West Division.

With Nebraska leading 21-7, De’Mornay Pierson-El caught a pass for a 25-yard gain inside the red zone before fumbling away the football in the second quarter. Minnesota recovered the loose football and returned it 24 yards. Minnesota was unable to do anything with it late in the first half, but it prevented Nebraska for tacking on a few more points. Pierson-El again lost control of the football in the fourth quarter, this time at the two-yard line with Nebraska trailing 28-24. The fumble was again recovered by Minnesota, and one first down later the Gophers were able to run the clock out on Nebraska.

Those fumbles were the only two turnovers in the game, and it proved costly for the Huskers, who now once again are starting to stare right in the face of another nine-win season to keep some pressure on Bo Pelini as head coach. Nebraska was unable to keep wraps on Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner, who had a terrific afternoon. Leidner was not particularly accurate, but he passed for 135 yards and led the team running for 110 yards and two touchdowns. David Cobb added 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown. Abdullah and a handful of Huskers had to be treated for medical attention at various points during the game. It was a rough afternoon for Nebraska.

Now, Minnesota is in a winner-take-all situation next week against rival Wisconsin. Minnesota will hit the road once more to take on the Badgers for Paul Bunyan’s Ax and a share of the Big Ten West championship. Wisconsin still has a game to play, but the result of that game will not matter, at least in terms of the Big Ten West. No matter how next week plays out, Jerry Kill has to be gaining some consideration for coach of the year recognition.

Nebraska will play its final game of the regular season next Friday, after Thanksgiving, at Iowa. The Huskers cannot win the Big Ten West, but Iowa is still alive with a win over Wisconsin.

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