Miller returns to lead Ohio State to its 17th-straight win

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Braxton Miller showed on Saturday night why so many considered him to be the Heisman favorite coming into the season, throwing for 198 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another 83 yards as No. 4 Ohio State won its 17th-straight game by beating No. 23 Wisconsin, 31-24, in Columbus.

Miller won’t win the Heisman because he missed most of the last three games due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, but he can still lead the Buckeyes to a national title. The Ohio State team we saw against the Badgers looks capable of at least getting to the big dance, especially with Miller looking so masterful at times directing the the offense.

But this was no cakewalk. The Badgers played tough and made a run at it behind quarterback Joel Stave (295 yards, 2 TDs), Jared Abbrederis (10 catches, 207 yards, 1 TD), and linebacker Chris Borland (16 tackles), but getting the upset in the Horseshoe was just too tall of a task for this Wisky club, which has now dropped two of its last three games by a total of nine points.

Miller made it clear from the getgo that he was back. He threw TD passes of 25, 26 and 40 in the first half (the latter coming on the last play of the half) to put some spring into OSU’s step heading into the locker room. As a result, he started to look a lot like the one-man-show who finished fifth in the Heisman vote last season.

Wisconsin hung in there, coming back from a 31-14 fourth-quarter deficit thanks to a 75-yard drive that ended in James White’s 17-yard touchdown run, and then a 60-yard drive that resulted in Kyle French’s 42-yard field goal. Suddenly the score was 31-24 and a tough Badger defensive stand forced Ohio State to punt.

But Cameron Johnston uncorked a 55-yard punt that pinned Wisconsin at its 10 with 1:29 to play. The Badgers couldn’t get anything going and Ohio State ran out the clock to move to 5-0 on the season.

How far can the Buckeyes take this streak? It’s still early, but looking ahead at the schedule, it seems quite plausible that Ohio State will run the table yet again, especially with Miller now at full strength and playing with purpose.  But will an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team that has won 25 in a row be left out of the last BCS title game if the two teams currently ranked ahead of it — Oregon and Alabama — are also undefeated?

Can we start that playoff a year early?

Former Ohio State assistant leaving Minnesota for Michigan

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An assistant with history on one side of The Game rivalry is headed to the other side. reportedly.

FootballScoop.com first reported that Minnesota’s Ed Warinner (pictured, center) is leaving Minnesota to take an unspecified job at Michigan. SI.com‘s Bruce Feldman subsequently confirmed the initial report.

While the Wolverines have not yet confirmed the addition of Warinner, the coach’s updated Twitter profile indicates that he’s now at U-M. As Jim Harbaugh already has his allotment of 10 on-field assistants, it appears likely that Warinner will serve as some type of offensive analyst.

Warinner spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota. Prior to that, He was the line coach at Ohio State from 2012-16. In 2015, he added the title of co-offensive coordinator.

Oregon officially confirms swiping of assistant from Wazzu

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Washington State’s coaching loss will prove to be a fellow Pac-12 member’s gain.

Following up on reports that had surfaced throughout the latter part of this past week, new head coach Mario Cristobal announced that he has hired Jim Mastro as his new running backs coach. Mastro will also serve as the Ducks’ run-game coordinator.

Mastro had spent the past six seasons as the running backs coach at Washington State.

“We are thrilled to add Jim to the staff,” Cristobal said in a statement. “He has extraordinary leadership skills which will be of great benefit in developing our talented group of running backs. Jim possesses a wealth of experience both coaching and recruiting on the West Coast, and he has consistently been a tremendous innovator on the offensive side of the ball.”

Prior to Wazzu, Mastro spent one season (2012) as the tight ends coach at UCLA. For the 11 seasons prior to that first taste of the Pac-12, Mastro was the running backs coach at Nevada.

Mastro has also spent time on FBS coaching staffs at Idaho (1998-99) and San Jose State (1995).

QB Keller Chryst announces transfer from Stanford

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Stanford’s quarterback room will have a decidedly different look this coming season.

Keller Chryst announced on his personal Twitter account Sunday afternoon that he has decided to transfer from the Cardinal for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  Chryst will graduate from the university in June, making him eligible to play in 2018 at another FBS program if that’s the path he chooses.

Chryst gave no specific reason for the decision, although the fact that he lost his starting this past season likely played a significant role.

Chryst began the 2016 season as the backup to Ryan Burns, who started the first seven games after winning the job coming out of camp before losing it to Chryst midseason; he replaced Burns midway through that season as the starter.  While he suffered a torn ACL in Stanford’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina following the 2016 regular season, he began the 2017 season as the starter; an injury in the Week 4 win over UCLA opened the door for redshirt freshman K.J. Costello to start the following week against Arizona State.  Chryst returned in Week 6 and started the next three games.

Ahead of the Washington State game in early November, however, a healthy Chryst was benched in favor of Costello.  In what turned out to be the final three starts of Chryst’s career with the Cardinal, he completed just under 57 percent of his passes for 453 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

In parts of three seasons, Chryst, whose uncle Paul Chryst is the head coach at Wisconsin, passed for 1,926 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions in 289 attempts.

Rich Rodriguez releases statement as additional claim against his alleged behavior is filed

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Rich Rodriguez was fired earlier this month after his former administrative assistant filed an $8.5 million claim against him, saying she was forced to lie to his wife and children to cover up his extramarital affair and that he subjugated her to numerous instances of inappropriate behavior, including brushing up against her breast and making comments about his underwear and genitalia.

He admitted to the affair, but said the other claims were unequivocally false.

On Saturday, the same woman, Melissa Wilhelmsen, filed an additional $7.5 million claim against the University of Arizona, saying the school is liable for its former employee’s behavior.

From the suit, according to the Arizona Daily Star:

The document says that Wilhelmsen and her husband also have claims against Rodriguez for slander, defamation and false light, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from Rodriguez and his wife’s conduct after his firing — including “statements to football players at a team meeting on January 9, 2018.” Rich and Rita Rodriguez spoke to the players in a team meeting run by interim head coach Marcel Yates on that date. It was not immediately clear if any additional legal action had been filed.

Rodriguez on Sunday released a statement, essentially calling Wilhelmsen’s bluff.

Considering the plaintiff is now seeking a sum of $15 million here, the odds of an out-of-court settlement seem so overwhelming that they may as well be taken off the proverbial board.