Jerry Kill will remain away from Gophers to focus on epilepsy treatment

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One of the truly good guys in the game of college football will be away from the Minnesota sidelines for the foreseeable future.

In an announcement made Thursday, Gophers head coach Jerry Kill confirmed that he will continue to take time to focus on his treatment and better manage his epilepsy.  When Kill will return in an active, in-person role with the Gophers remains undetermined.

“My wife Rebecca, myself and our two daughters want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns during the last few weeks,” Kill said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision to make, but the right decision. Our staff has been together a long time and I have full confidence in Coach Claeys and them during my time away. Every decision that will be made will be in the best interest of the players and the program. I look forward to returning to the Minnesota sideline on a full-time basis soon.”

Kill did not coach in last weekend’s loss to Michigan due to a seizure he suffered the day before the Saturday game.

The seizure was at least the fourth game-day occurrence — or occurrence negatively impacting his availability on game day — for Kill, who has been battling epilepsy for years.

During his first season in 2011, Kill suffered a seizure on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of a September game against New Mexico State.  In October of last year, he suffered another seizure in the immediate aftermath of a loss to Northwestern.

At halftime of Minnesota’s game with Western Illinois three weeks ago, the Gophers head coach was treated by team medical personnel for a seizure.  Kill was subsequently taken by a stretcher off the sidelines and into the locker room for further treatment.

“Coach Kill will remain in very close contact with the team and his staff and provide direction and support as needed,” athletic director Norwood Teague said. “Our support for Coach Kill is unwavering and we look forward to his return to full-time coaching duties.

“This is a great group of student-athletes under the guidance of one of the longest-tenured and most respected staffs in college football, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to move this program forward and make us proud.”

The announcement comes two days after the university’s president, Eric Kaler, once again offered his unwavering support for the coach.

As has previously been the case, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as the Gophers’ acting head coach in Kill’s absence.

Jim Harbaugh advises President Trump to ‘check the Constitution’

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The latest controversy surrounding President Donald Trump has reached college football.  And, of course, it’s Jim Harbaugh doing the reacting.

At a campaign rally in Alabama earlier this past week, the POTUS let loose on those NFL players who have decided to use the National Anthem as a vehicle for protesting social injustice.  In essence, Trump called for those who participate in the demonstrations to be summarily dismissed.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump was quoted as saying. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.'”

Suffice to say, that hasn’t even remotely happened as condemnation of the fiery rhetoric has been far and wide from the NFL community and beyond.  It was also condemned by a former member of the NFL community as Harbaugh, whose former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, played a significant role in a story that’s enveloped professional football over the past year, had some choice words on this latest kerfuffle.

“No, I don’t agree with the president,” Harbaugh said following Michigan’s win over Purdue. “Listen, that’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Harbaugh, who was already at odds with Trump over the slashing of one particular program, also stated initially that he didn’t respect Kaepernick sitting out the anthem before apologizing for misspeaking shortly thereafter.  In the spring, Harbaugh referred to the still-unsigned quarterback as a hero.

Notre Dame has no trouble with mistake-prone Michigan State

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Notre Dame probably would’ve beaten Michigan State on Saturday night if the Spartans pitched a perfect game. But instead the Spartans hit three batters, tossed a handful of wild pitches, aiding the Irish in a 38-18 blowout in Spartan Stadium.

The 20-point margin represents Notre Dame’s largest victory over Michigan State since a 36-14 whipping on Sept. 18, 1993 and the largest win by either team since a 45-23 Spartans win on Sept. 12, 1998. The Irish have now won four of the last five in a series that dates back to 1897.

The Irish (3-1) opened the game with a 7-play, 78-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 16-yard Brandon Wimbush run, then immediately capitalized on a Michigan State (2-1) mistake as Julian Love returned a Brian Lewerke interception 59 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan State rebounded with its best drive of the night, knifing 75 yards in seven snaps for a touchdown. But another Lewerke turnover, this time a fumble in his own territory, set up Notre Dame with a short field, which Wimbush turned into an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dexter Williams. The Spartans threatened to pull within 21-14 until their third and costliest turnover of the first half, an L.J. Scott fumble at the goal line that took six points off the board and handed Notre Dame the ball at the 20-yard line. Notre Dame needed only five plays to push its lead to 28-7, where it would remain until halftime.

In addition to the three turnovers, Michigan State also committed nine penalties, dropped a handful of passes and lost a possession to a turnover on downs.

Michigan State opened the second half with a Matt Coghlin field goal, but Notre Dame answered that field goal and then some with a 9-yard Deon McIntosh touchdown run. Justin Yoon pushed the lead to 28 with a 46-yard field goal with 4:51 to play.

Michigan State completed the scoring with a cosmetic touchdown — a 25-yard toss from Lewerke to Gerald Holmes — and 2-point conversion with 3:09 remaining.

Wimbush was the star for Notre Dame, hitting 14-of-20 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with eight carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Lewerke carried the load for Michigan State, connecting on 31-of-51 passes for 340 yards — many of them junk — with a touchdown and an interception with nine carries for 56 yards and a fumble.

Michigan State will remain in East Lansing next week to host hard luck loser Iowa, while Notre Dame returns home to face Miami (Ohio).

Disaster averted as walk-off TD pushes No. 4 Penn State past Iowa

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Entering Week 4, the last three teams ranked in the Top Five entering Kinnick Stadium had exited with a loss.  In dramatic fashion, No. 4 Penn State flipped that script.

Trailing 15-13, Iowa scored on a 35-yard touchdown run by Akrum Wadley that put Iowa up, after a failed two-point conversion, 19-15 with 1:42 left in the game.  Penn State then proceeded to go 65 yards in 12 plays and 1:42 of game time, with Trace McSorley connecting with Juwan Johnson on a seven-yard touchdown pass with zero ticks left on the clock to secure a wild 21-19 win.

That fourth quarter also featured Penn State blocking a field goal… only to see Iowa return the favor 10 minutes later to set up what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown by Wadley.

If you simply looked at the box score, however, you would’ve thought this was a blowout that swung heavily toward the visitor.

The Nittany Lions outgained the Hawkeyes 579-273.  In fact, Penn State had more yards rushing (295) than Iowa had total offense. First downs?  PSU 29, Iowa 11.  The Nittany Lions held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game for good measure.

In the end, however, it was Penn State that came out on top on both the scoreboard as well as the stat sheet as the Nittany Lions kept their perfect season afloat as, after games against Indiana and Northwestern the next two weeks, they get set for season-defining games against No. 8 Michigan (Oct. 21) and No. 10 Ohio State (Oct. 28).  And Saquon Barkley, who set a single-game school record for all-purpose yards — 211 rushing, 94 receiving, 53 returns — will get to continue to state his case as the best football player in the country and one of a handful of Heisman Trophy front-runners.

No. 7 Washington holds slim three point halftime lead at rainy Colorado

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Colorado was anxious to extract some revenge against No. 7 Washington for their blowout loss to the Huskies in last season’s Pac-12 Championship Game and certainly went toe-to-toe against them in rainy conditions Saturday night in Boulder.

It wasn’t enough to take the lead into the locker room at halftime for the Buffs but they certainly looked like they wouldn’t be going anywhere as Washington held on to a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Jake Browning threw for just 89 yards and tossed an interception as he was forced to move around quite a bit while also dealing with the nasty weather that swirled things up on the flat irons. Counterpart Steven Montez also threw two interceptions but posted a more respectable 129 yards on 15/19 passing, most of which were short and intermediate throws.

The flip side to the signal-callers struggling at times was that the ground game was the focal point for the offenses. Myles Gaskin carried the load for the Huskies with his backup out with an injury and scored a touchdown to go along with 64 yards. Buffs’ tailback Phillip Lindsay has a tough time going against that big front seven UW trots out but still managed 46 yards and a score.

While it certainly wasn’t the sharpest half of football in Pac-12 play this season, the two teams gave every indication things would be very interesting in the second half and not the blowout we saw the last time they met down in Santa Clara.