Buckeyes (somewhat) easily extend nation’s longest winning streak

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With football program immortality just off on the horizon, it’s 13 down and 11 to go for Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes — but not after a bit of a scare.

A 35-point(ish) favorite over MAC member Buffalo, OSU came out strong, stumbled a bit in the middle, then ultimately trudged away from Buffalo in a 40-20 win.  The margin of victory is not exactly a surprise as the Bulls were coming off a 4-8 season that included seven double-digit losses; the fact that it was as close as it was late into the third quarter was.

Braxton Miller, the preseason Heisman favorite, was particularly sharp in the passing game, completing 15-of-22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.  Known more for his legs than passing acumen, the junior had just 17 yards on 12 carries before a 41-yard run early in the fourth quarter; he finished with 78 yards on the ground.  Jordan Hall, starting in place of the suspended Carlos Hyde, more than shoulder the running-game load, rushing for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns.  Hall’s two scoring runs came from 49 and 37 yards out.

As a team, the Buckeyes totaled 458 yards of offense (259 rushing, 199 passing) while a defense that featured nine new starters held the Bulls to 265 yards.

The win wasn’t as easy as some had expected and the way final score seemed to indicate, however.

Trailing just 30-20 in the middle of the third quarter, the Bulls recovered a Miller fumble at OSU’s one-yard line on a third-and-eight play.  That game-changing turnover, though, was negated by a Buffalo personal foul; the Buckeyes took the fortuitous call and turned it into a 91-yard touchdown drive that pushed the lead to 37-20 and, effectively, put the game out of reach — well, that along with the fourth-quarter goal-line stand by the OSU defense and Miller’s 40-plus-yard scamper a couple of plays later.

Despite that mild mid-game stumble, the Buckeyes have now won a nation’s best 13 consecutive games, a streak that stretches back to the first game of a 2012 season that saw the Buckeyes go undefeated but bowl-less thanks to NCAA sanctions.  OSU now stands just 11 wins shy of breaking the school record of 23 set back in the late-sixties, and could potentially set the new program mark… in The Game against Michigan in the regular-season finale.

While such talk is premature at the moment, the Buckeyes have a very “manageable” schedule that finds them as one of five FBS teams that are, at the moment, favored in every game this season.  Still, though, there are plenty of areas to work on before the Buckeyes can even begin to think of making history — and you can be certain that Meyer and his staff will stress that over what was an expected “W.”

Drag racing accident leads to arrest for Mississippi State commit

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Mississippi State commit Nathaniel Watson has gotten himself into some legal trouble before his arrival at Mississippi State. Watson, currently a high school senior, was charged with assault first degree and a handful of traffic violations following a traffic accident earlier this month. Another student from Watson’s high school was arrested for reckless endangerment and other traffic violations as well. The two are accused of drag racing.

“The accident occurred after Tyrone Davis, also a student at [Maplesville High School], lined up in front of the school with his vehicle along with Nathaniel Watson’s vehicle for a race, witnesses stated that they lined up side by side and floored it, and both vehicles were squalling their tires and fishtailing up the highway heading into town,” according to an Maplesville Police Department press release (via The Clanton Advertiser). “As the racing vehicles topped a hill, an oncoming car caused Nathaniel Watson Jr. to swerve and lose control striking a power pole, cutting it in half and knocking power out to portions of Maplesville.”

A passenger in Watson’s vehicle suffered a crushed femur, fractured pelvis, a broken right arm and internal injuries. Neither vehicle involved in the accident was insured. Watson currently awaits a date in court in a county court. There has been no update or comment from Mississippi State’s football program or head coach Joe Moorehead about Watson or his status with the football program at this time.

Watson signed with Mississippi State on February 7. The wide receiver and two-sport athlete signed with Mississippi State over Auburn.

NCAA rule prevents Penn State football players from participating in THON activity

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This weekend is the annual THON dance marathon at Penn State, which has traditionally done wonders in racking up donations to help fight pediatric cancer. This year, however, the NCAA rulebook is getting in the way of one of the events members of Penn State’s football team typically participate in.

A message from Penn State informed media members there would be no media availability for football players at the THON event at the Lasch Building due to an NCAA rule regarding time restrictions in the offseason.

“We were informed this afternoon that due to the NCAA Time Management regulations, our current student-athletes are not permitted to participate in the THON event at the Lasch Building nor conduct media interviews [today] as it is a mandatory day off for the team,” a statement from Penn State Associate Director of Athletic Communications Kris Petersen said.

Members of Penn State’s football team have typically spent part of the day interacting with kids benefitting from THON’s mission, but that has tended to overlap with offseason days already scheduled through the athletics department for the football program. Because this was a scheduled day off for the football program, players are not permitted to take part in any organized activity while representing the football team. Although, one wonders just how far the NCAA would have been willing to challenge Penn State on this infraction in the event there was a conflict.

Players on the team can still participate and appear at the main event in the Bryce Jordan Center, and a couple already have along with head coach James Franklin.

Georgia football coaches all getting well-deserved raises

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File this one under stories that should have been expected from a mile away. The football staff at Georgia, following up on an SEC title and appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game, are getting bumps in pay. As a whole, the assistant coaching staff under head coach Kirby Smart will be paid roughly $2 million more than the staff received a year ago, according to a report from Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will see the biggest pay raise with of $900,000 to bump his total pay up to $1.5 million. That would make him one of the top assistant coaches in assistant coaching salaries. Based off last year’s USA Today salary database, Tucker would be the fifth highest-paid assistant coach, and that may even be higher now given some of the offseason changes in the assistant coaching pool. Last year, four assistant coaches received a total pay of at least $1.5 million, and three of them were in the SEC (LSU’s Dave Arranda and Matt Canada, and Texas A&M’s John Chavis; Clemson’s Brent Venables was the outlier).

Keeping in line with another growing trend when it comes to power conference programs and how much money is budgeted for the football staff, Georgia will give strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair a $150,000 raise from his previous contract of $300,000.

What has not been finalized, publicly at least, is what the future holds for the contract of Smart. After a wildly successful season, Smart is expected to receive a raise as well as Georgia continues to build something special under his leadership after just two seasons. Smart was paid a base salary of $3.75 million last year, according to USA Today’s salary database, which made him the 9th highest-paid coach in the SEC in 2017. That is fair, considering Smart was a first-time head coach and other coaches in the conference had more head coaching experience, but Smart has quickly proven himself among his peers in the conference and is likely to move up the SEC coaching salary ranking quite quickly. Nick Saban (Alabama) and now Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) may still be on another playing field in terms of salary, but Smart should manage to move up closer to the high-end of the SEC salary spectrum.

Purdue raises $388,000 in beer and wine sales at football games

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Around the nation, college football attendance took a downward trend, but the Big Ten was the rare conference to see an increase in attendance. At Purdue, not only did more fans attend games in the first season under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but Purdue saw a revenue surplus fueled by the expanded sale of alcoholic beverages at football games.

According to The Journal & Courier, Purdue athletic department recorded $567,000 in gross revenue, of which $388,000 was generated from the sale of beer and wine last fall at football games in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was the first time alcohol sales had been expanded to the entire football stadium, as opposed to limited offerings in premium sections of the stadium.

“In general, it was very positive and it added to the game day experience. Fans responded to it,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “We’ve talked to our concessionaire group (Levy Restaurants) about how we can improve the operation so we don’t create bottlenecks and long lines that cause people to miss extended periods of the game. It was a really good start.”

The success of expanded alcoholic beverages at football games at Purdue continues a growing trend of alcoholic sales at athletic events around the country and will only help to encourage other schools to explore similar options if they have not already. Ten schools in the Big Ten already offer alcohol sales to fans at football games, but Purdue is just one of four to currently offer the sales throughout the majority of their football stadium.

The games that saw the most amount of money spent on alcohol at a Purdue home football game were the Michigan and Indiana games, with $88,341 and $98,223 spent on alcohol, respectively. Bottoms up, indeed.

The other chunk of revenue that helped pad Purdue’s budget sheet was a season-opening game in Indianapolis against Louisville. The game was played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and each school received a check for $805,267.